Hello blogsphere! I'm back and ready for some action!
You know, I got a lot of feedback about my Shockmaster post from last February. The most asked question I got about that one was Who the hell thought this was a good Idea? (Ole Anderson apparently). The other question I got asked a lot was Why would the wrestler agree to do such a ridiculous gimmick?. The answer is quite simple really. It's their jobs. The gimmicks aren't always the greatest, obviously, but if one wrestler says no, there are a thousand others out there that would be more than happy to do it just because it means getting a steady paycheck. I bring this up because there once was a wrestler who firmly believed that beggars can't be choosers, and that feeding his family was his top priority when it came to his profession. And that man was the late John Tenta.
Most people remember John for his WWF stint as Earthquake, where he had main event runs with Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior. He would also win the World Tag Team Championships with partner Typhoon (Fred Ottman, the future Shockmaster). John would later surface in WCW as Avalanche, where he had a main event run with Sting. Things seemed to going great for Tenta, save for one problem: Eric Bischoff didn't like Tenta very much. So after a solid start, it was time for a gimmick change.
Which brings us to this polished turd...
That's right. He became a member of the Dungeon of Doom! Or, as most longtime fans refer to it, Kevin Sullivan's Circus of the Absurd. A little backstory here. When Hulk Hogan first came to WCW, the initial success was phenomenal. After a couple of months though, Hogan began to wear on WCW fans, who more accustomed to action rather than spectacle. WCW, in their infinite wisdom, thought that the best way to make the aging Hulkster look unstoppable was to feed him a whole stable of monsters that he could more or less destroy with ease, Thus creating the Dungeon of Doom. This practice wasn't new to wrestling, as Devastation Inc. ruled over the World Class territory a decade earlier. The problem here was that the monsters Hogan was facing were so ridiculous that fans couldn't take any of the seriously, such as the Yeti, a horny mummy, Lochness, an 800lb. blob, and the Shark, a man fish.
As the Shark, Tenta painted teeth on his beard and spoke about wanting eat all "Hulkamaniacs" out there. He even sacrificed his tiger tattoo (an homage to his Alma Mater, LSU) by having it changed to Shark. Naturally, WCW dropped the gimmick after a couple of months, never even bothering to reimburse Tenta for his tattoo. With long term planning like that, is it any wonder WCW went under.
After his run as the Shark ended, with a memorable promo in which Tenta yelled out "I'm not a shark! I'm a man! My name is John Tenta!", Tenta hung around WCW until the spring of 1997. He would return to the WWF in 1998 as Golga, a member of the Oddities, but was released the following year. He made a one night return at Wrestlemania 17, competing in the Gimmick Battle Royal, and spent the rest of his in ring career in Japan.
In 2003, he wrote the forward to Wrestlecrap: the Book, which is pretty much where I learned the answer to that oft asked question Why do they do it?. Sadly, John Tenta passed away in 2006 after a long battle with cancer. Whether he was heel or a face, John Tenta will always be remembered as one of wrestling's best big men inside the ring, while being one of wrestling's kindest outside of it.
Well, that's all for today. I can't say when I'll be back, but hopefully it will be next week. In the meantime, y'all take care now, and I'll catch everybody next time!