Tony Hernandez As ‘The Monster’ – LeBelle Promotions (1981)
The promotion was on its last legs as the WWF grew stronger, so in one of its last-ditch efforts they introduced Tony Hernandez as “The Monster”. Needless to say .. it was a blatant rip off of Frankenstein’s monster. The only footage I could find is in the video. As the promotion was on deaths door it was only scheduled to air on a Spanish language network.
But it was not only the introduction, LeBelle proceeded to push the character to the moon as a ‘real monster’ made in a lab. And then in no certain order (details are sketchy), he was made to job to Andre The Giant, unmask, turn face, and even become a kiddie attraction who signed photographs .. all in the same year. Do I need to say more?
Bob Backlund As WWF Champion – WWF (1982)
He was billed as the successor to the living legend Bruno Sammartino. Backlund defeated Superstar Billy Graham for the WWWF Champion ship in 1978, and went on to hold it for 2,135 days. But by 1982 the WWF fans were tired of him, as he was noticeably smaller and not as good in the ring as he once was. The fans wanted change, but the company stood by Backlund despite the NWA growing in popularity with Ric Flair as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
It wasn’t til December 1983 did Backlund finally agree with Vince McMahon (jr.) to have the title change hands, but he would not do the job for Hogan, so The Iron Sheik was brought in as a transitional champion. Backlund never officially submitted to Sheik’s camel clutch, but the referee decided to end the match and award the title to Sheik after Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel.
Eddie Gilbert’s Broken Neck – WWF (1983)
Eddie Gilbert was used as a jobber in 1982 before being promoted to the mid-card. In 1983, he was seriously injured in a real car accident, but was able to make his return a few months later after recovering. The Masked Superstar used neckbreakers as trademark moves, and in a feud with the returning Gilbert (who was now the protegé of WWF Champion Bob Backlund) promised to break his neck again in their encounter.
The Masked Superstar repeatedly nailed Gilbert with neckbreakers before the referee stopped the match. An ambulance came to take Gilbert away as his neck (in storyline) was injured again. Backlund arrived and cried over his protegé being taken away, before turning to The Masked Superstar and (while still crying) challenged him to a match. In other words, WWF used a real-life neck injury to further a feud between two wrestlers who had nothing to do with Gilbert. He was released from the company the following year.
Blackjack Mulligan Fakes Heart Attack – Championship Wrestling From Florida (1984)
There’s been several instances of promotions using life threatening conditions in promos and wrestling angles. Blackjack Mulligan was one of the first to do this in the defunct (by 1987) CWF where he faked having a heart condition before faking a heart attack.
I scoured the net for more information but there’s literally nothing out there. The only thing I could find was that it certainly wasn’t tame and it didn’t help the company in the slightest. And what’s ironic in a very morbid way is Mulligan died this year of a heart attack.
Let’s agree that faking heart attacks is never a good idea in any context, and it will always make the fans lose respect with those in charge. I mean no disrespect to the legend Blackjack Mulligan (RIP). Thanks for reading everyone! Til next time, stay cool.