Monday, September 5, 2011

They Call Me the Working Man

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter
Photos from WWE.

Since it's Labor Day, I'm looking at some of wrestling's "working man" type gimmicks.  Of course all wrestlers are truly hard working men and women, this post though is a little tongue and cheek.  The gimmicks profiled are ones I'd more like to forget than anything else.  Enjoy.

From Cobb County, Georgia
The Big Boss Man stood for law, order, and justice.  Or that was his claim.  When this former prison guard from Cobb County, Georgia arrived in the WWF in 1988, he was the classic heel.  With his manager Slick, Boss Man created chaos as he climbed his way up the ladder.  After he beat an opponent, he would then handcuff them to the ropes and brutalize them again with his nightstick.  It was alleged by the announce team that was why Boss Man was no longer working at the prison in Cobb County.

Big Boss Man soon entered a feud with Hulk Hogan.  A highlight from that was a 1989 Saturday Night's Main Event steel cage match in which Hogan superplexed the ex prison guard.  Eventually, the evil guard changed his ways, and became a face.  One of Boss Man's former prisoner's Nailz plotted revenge and attacked BBM with his own night stick and left him a broken heap in the middle of the ring.  It didn't take long for Boss Man to extract revenge.

Return of the Boss Man
Eventually BBM left WWF, but returned in 1998, this time with an updated uniform and that previous bad attitude.  He served as a body guard type figure for Mr. McMahon and other members of his corporation.  Highlights this go around included a tag team title run with Ken Shamrock, an almost laughable feud with Al Snow (and the Big Show, remember the funeral scene?), and a horrendous Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 15.  Sadly, Boss Man died in 2004

The Real Man's Man (WWE)
When Steven Regal came to the WWF in 1998, he was no longer the snotty aristocrat that he was in WCW.  His blue blood pedigree was replaced with a blue collar.  He was the Real Man's Man.  A hardworking guy.

Regal traded the long flowing robes he wore in WCW for a flannel, sleeveless shirt and a hard helmet.  The only memorable thing about this time was his feud with X-Pac.  I don't know exactly how long this Man's Man gimmick lasted, but it just didn't fit the Regal persona.  While I think he is a great performer inside and outside the ring, this was a painful gimmick for me to get behind.  I was glad when he finally returned to the British blue blood character.

Betsy makes an appearance
The 1990's seemed to be a time of transition for wrestling.  The mid 90's may have been the worst period in the 30 years that I watched the sport.  The gimmicks were lame.  Very lame.  Case in point, our next "working man", T.L. Hopper, the wrestling plumber.  Hopper was played by "The Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony, who was a star in Continental, USWA, and Smoky Mountain Wrestling.  The Hopper gimmick only lasted about a year in the WWF.  He was nothing more than a lower midcard wrestler.  However, he brought his trusty plunger, Betsy to the ring and when he did win, he plunged the face of his opponent.  It was kind of like Brutus Beefcake cutting hair or Ted DiBiase stuffing a $100 bill in an opponents mouth.

Now if that action, along with the stained wife beater and the plumbers' crack wasn't gross enough, consider this.  During SummerSlam 1996 (the Free for All Beach Party), Hopper found something in the bottom of the pool.  Something brown.  Hopper grabbed it and took a big bite out of it, just like the movie Caddy Shack.  Of course just like the movie, the "turd" in the pool was nothing more than a candy bar.  Thank goodness.

These of course are just a few of the blue collar gimmicks in wrestling.  A few other honorable mentions, Duke "the Dumpster" Droese, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, and Trucker Norman.  Nevertheless, thanks to all how labor year round, and those who put their bodies and lives on the line for us, whether in the name of safety or for entertainment purposes.

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