@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
(Photos are from WWE.)
Part of the big boom of wrestling in the 1980's was the fact that Vince McMahon was trying to make the product more kid friendly. If you think the PG environment today "sucks" (I do not), then you really would have hated the 80's. This formula meant the use of all kinds of cartoony characters and larger than life gimmicks. Real live animals also became a part of the show.
Perhaps the most famous wrestling animal (okay, he never wrestled, but you know what I mean) was Jake "the Snake" Roberts' pet python Damien. When Jake arrived in the WWF in 1986, he was a dastardly dude. He would knock out his opponent with the dreaded DDT. Then after the match, he would open up his green sack and dump Damien onto his unconscious opponent. Sometimes he would even stick the snake's head in the knocked out man's mouth. The fans of course where horrified by these actions and would boo the Snake even more.
|Andre doesn't like snakes|
|Snake vs. Dragon|
|The Bulldogs, happy together|
The British Bulldogs were my favorite tag team back then, and still remain in my top 5 of all time. Part of their gimmick included the use of a bulldog of course. Matilda was the beloved sidekick for this team. She would chase evil managers around the ring prior to a match. I can remember her nipping at the heels of Slick, Jimmy Hart, and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan. And it was Heenan who took exception to this and he and his Islanders dog napped the pooch. The dog was so popular that the WWF started a campaign for fans to send letters of support for the dog. The company was also able to market a plush version of Matilda.
The kidnapping set up a feud between the Islanders and the Bulldogs and culminated with a six man tag team match at Wrestlemania 4, with Heenan dressed as a dog catcher to protect himself from the dog. The heel team even went over that night, and the Bulldogs soon left the company.
|Davey Boy and Winston|
These are the animals that immediately came to mind when this idea was presented to me (thanks Chad). I'm sure there are others that I've forgotten. Al Snow's dog Pepper during the Attitude Era ended up as dinner for the Big Bossman. There were also Bad News Brown's sewer rats during his feud with Jake, but I don't recall ever seeing a rat. And I recall someone riding a horse to the ring, at least briefly, but I don't remember who.
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