Black Blood was a short-lived French executioner gimmick played by Billy Jack Haynes in WCW. I remember thinking he was going to be a big monster heel like Vader, but he was quickly forgotten about by me and WCW.
The Ministry of Darkness
This was the Undertaker’s stable during his “Amish Goth” days as a heel. Though the wrestlers weren’t AS bad as WCW’s Dungeon of Doom guys, they were still pretty bad and it was almost just as horrible television dealing with these guys week after week because they were the main angle at the time feuding with Steve Austin, Kane and Vince McMahon.
With Undertaker at the helm, original members included his manager Paul Bearer and the Acolytes (Bradshaw & Faarooq). They then began abducting wrestlers during their matches and brainwashing them, I guess. Dennis Knight became Mideon and Mabel became Viscera. Why you would want Phineas Godwinn and King Mabel in your stable, I don’t know. Why didn’t they just start at the top and abduct the Rock and Stone Cold? The Brood (Gangrel, Edge and Christian) would also join, becoming sort of a stable within a stable.
In a SWERVE, the group would later merge with Vince’s Corporation stable (The very group they were feuding with! SHOCKING!), giving us the Corporate Ministry.
One of my earliest memories of watching WCW full-time is seeing the Juicer wrestle on WCW Saturday Night. The Juicer is better known to wrestling fans as “American Love Machine” Art Barr, who had his biggest successes teaming with Eddie Guerrero in Mexico. I remember thinking “what the heck am I watching?” as this Beetlejuice knockoff ran to the ring in a denim jacket and jeans while dust came flying out of his hair. It really drove home the point that WCW was the #2 promotion, but it’s not like Furface was too far behind.
Vampiro is a legend in Mexico, but a mid-card joke in the United States. I was pretty excited about his arrival to WCW in 1998. He had a cool look, cool entrance and was given a decent push by crossing over with the Insane Clown Posse, the Misfits and forming alliances with Raven and the Great Muta (the Dead Pool and the Dark Carnival stables had a lot of potential).
Unfortunately, upon his arrival, he was almost immediately stuck in a feud with the aging “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and the matches were not pretty. Neither was his feud with Sting which ripped off many Undertaker/Kane angles by having “blood” drop from the ceiling and culminated in a “human torch” match.
Eventually, I came to realize it wasn’t just Vampiro’s opponents that was causing the bad matches, it was Vampiro himself. Yeah, the guy has a cool gimmick, but he doesn’t have the skills to accompany it. He’s lazy and he’s sloppy.
Vampy is back in Mexico these days, still a headliner. His last notable U.S. appearances were as a part of MTV’s horrible Wrestling Society X show.
NOT talking about the bleach blonde “man called Sting”, but the Crow version that terrorized the nWo in 1997. As much as I was a nWo-ite, Crow Sting was actually a pretty cool gimmick, where he didn’t need to wrestle or talk, he just repelled from rafters dressed in black and smacked people around with his trusty black bat. At times, he used trained vultures and voiceovers narrated by spooky children for intimidation as well.
He later joined the “good” nWo, the Wolfpac, and his colors went from the cool black & white to the goofy red & black, which made him look like he made a trip to Bayside High and bought some zit cream from Zack Morris. He also started talking again and, IMO, it kinda killed the cool mysterious vibe Sting had going (Sting was never a good talker).
Abdullah the Butcher
Okay, this guy, the “Madman from Sudan”, is just a nut. I was terrified of this guy as a kid thanks to all the pictures and tales from wrestling magazines about the weapons he would use to make his opponents bleed (the fork was his preferred weapon of choice). Abdullah was a famous (if not very good) hardcore wrestler, with legit martial arts skills, who started his career in the late FIFTIES and was always extremely fat and has seemingly never aged. I also remember him for the huge scar tissue he had on his own forehead from all the blade jobs he did over the years.
Abdullah is a big name in Japan and Puerto Rico, where his bloodiest matches took place. He has also wrestled in North America for the original ECW, World Class Championship Wrestling, and Stampede Wrestling (he’s actually from Ontario). His biggest platform in the United States was an early 90s run in WCW where he teamed/feuded with Cactus Jack and also feuded with Sting. He was a part of the infamously goofy “Chamber of Horrors” cage match at WCW’s Halloween Havoc 1991 where he was “electrocuted”.
The man still wrestles on the indie scene to this day.
Not much to say about him other than he was pretty much WWE’s revamped version of Gangrel. Kevin Thorn (real name Kevin Fertig) was often billed as the “Fanged Freak” and a “follower of vampirism” and was a part of their ECW brand. For a time, he had the quite busty Ariel (aka TNA’s Salinas aka Shelly Martinez, gothic soft porn star) as his valet. I loved her ring entrance!
Thorn’s gimmick wasn’t really been taken as far as Gangrel’s was. No goblet of blood, no ring of fire. Just a guy who has fangs and dresses gothically. After Ariel’s dismissal from WWE, he disappeared then reappeared still as Kevin Thorn, but with a more generic wrestler look, leaving the “follower of vampirism” gimmick behind. He quickly disappeared again and is now in WWE’s developmental Florida Championship Wrestling.
Before all of that, back in 2004, he was brought to the Smackdown brand, intended as an opponent for the Undertaker. His character was something of a religious zealot who wore all white and carried a crucifix to the ring. Nothing much came of it and he was taken off TV and shipped back to Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was then WWE’s developmental grounds.
In OVW, before his promotion to Smackdown and after his removal from the brand, he played a somewhat gothic character called Seven (no relation to the Dustin Rhodes gimmick).
Viscera/Big Daddy V
How this guy lasted so long in WWE, I don’t know. I guess it just shows you how obsessed Vince is with large men (in more ways than one, is my guess), no matter how horrible they are in the ring. Real name Nelson Frazier Jr., he originally got his start in the Memphis-based USWA as Nelson Knight teaming with his “brother” Bobby as a team called the Harlem Knights.
In 1993, the team was signed by the WWF and were repackaged as Mabel (played by Nelson) and Mo, the Men On A Mission. A heel turn and 1995 King of the Ring win gave him the King Mabel gimmick and a failed main event run for the WWF title against Diesel and later the Undertaker. He was then released in 1996 and spent some time in the indies and ECW and went back to the WWF for a two year run where he became the aforementioned Viscera (his most well known role), a member of the Undertaker’s Corporate Ministry. The guy was a joke (not that he ever wasn’t), pretty much wearing a big black trash bag, white contacts and bleach blonde hair. Despite his massive size, he was just cannon fodder in the group and was released again in 2000.
He was re-signed by WWE AGAIN in 2004, still playing Viscera but evolving into the “World’s Largest Love Machine”, pretty much ripping off Mark Henry’s “Sexual Chocolate” gimmick. He was eventually drafted to the ECW brand in 2007 and was repackaged as shirtless Big Daddy V. Yikes. He was given a renewed push as the WWE’s newest monster and often wrestled on Smackdown (thanks to the Smackdown/ECW trade agreement) as an upper midcard title contender for their heavyweight title. He was officially drafted to Smackdown this past summer, but was released before debuting. Look for him to return in 2010.
The king of the monsters and supernatural gimmicks. What can I say about the Undertaker that most wrestling fans don’t already know? Mark Calaway struck gold with this gimmick once joining the WWF after toiling way in the indies and WCW using such names as “The Master of Pain”, “The Punisher” and ‘”Mean” Mark’.
The character has been part of some of the most gimmicky matches, lamest feuds and matches (most of which took place during the 90s), but has always maintained a high level of popularity and has perservered thanks the great wrestler Calaway eventually turned into. The guy can really go when not saddled with whoever WWE’s “next monster for the Undertaker to beat” is.
Part of the longevity of the character has been tweaks to it throughout the years. He originally had an actual undertaker gimmick, looking the part and could be seen building coffins in vignettes. He was very sloooooooow moving in the ring and had the famous “zombie sit up”. Later, the character became more supernatural than ever, then a gothic and demonic cult leader, then a complete makeover occured in the form of him becoming the “American Badass” dressed like a reject from the Disciples of Apocalypse. After THAT for a few years, the Undertaker has returned to his more traditional supernatural look, though all of those parlor tricks have been mostly downplayed and the character has become a lot more action-oriented in the ring tossing in a few MMA moves and grappling here and there. The current version is my favorite version of the character as I think, 43 years old and all, this is Mark’s prime as a wrestler.
Though the guy can definitely still go (heck, he brought out the best matches from Batista), his on again/off again run on Smackdown as a main event guy has become tiresome to me. He frequently disappears for weeks and months at a time to recoup from nagging injuries or just to vacation and always comes back to dominate someone in a feud. I just don’t think that’s very good business to continually put someone over so strong and then have him leave after burying (no pun intended) his opponent. All you’re left with is a bunch of guys who got squashed, while the winner is nowhere to be seen.