The WWE may be on to something with their plan to make both Erick Rowan and Luke Harper singles stars. The idea of continuing to make oddities a major part of the program on both Raw and SmackDown is also part of a century-long continuation of keeping fans interested in the “It’s a train wreck, but I have to watch it” style of the business.
Whether it was the use of midgets or gimmicks like bears or even stars like Louie Tillet – wrestling has been a staple for taking carnival like oddities and making them hits in and out of the ring.
[adinserter block=”1″]Harper and Rowan – two huge, strapping grapplers – have their own still of “odd” that entertains, plus the fact they can actually wrestle and perform, making them more marketable to the WWE and its loyal fans.
I remember the days when Little Tokyo would wrestle and would watch tape of Mae Young in her “younger” days getting in a ring with a bear. There was Oz and the Munchkins (Kevin Nash) and Kevin Sullivan and his cult following that included his wife, the former Nancy Benoit.
Since wrestling dates back to carnival events where strong man competitions would be held where two men would battle for round upon round and hour upon hour, the gimmick attracted crowds and made money as well. It was only natural for promoters to use them on television and in live shows at town halls, arenas, circuses and other public events.
Even if he became an international and regional star, Andre the Giant was an oddity. So was Haystacks Calhoun. The same could be said for Kamala and The Boogeyman and Papa Shango.
So, with a new wave of odd wrestlers hopefully on the wrestling horizon, here are some of my all-time favorites.
THE MISSING LINK
Dewey Robertson wore blue and green face paint and shaved portions of his head while letting the hair grow in other areas. His gimmick was similar to that of George Steele and Kamala, a crazy out-of-control wild man that needed a trainer or manager to lead him to the ring. During his matches, Robertson would often ram his own head repeatedly into the turnbuckle or wooden chair, head butt and dive head first onto an opponent.
He achieved his greatest fame late in his career, wrestling in WCCW, managed by Skandor Akbar and in the WWF, managed by Bobby Heenan in the mid-1980s.
As flamboyant as there ever was in the wrestling ring. A retired Welsh professional wrestler and author known for his flamboyant, androgynous wrestling persona, brought to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Street was often accompanied to the ring by his long-time manager Miss Linda, and the two worked primarily as villains.
GEORGE THE ANIMAL STEELE
A true crazy heel, he acted like a wild man in the ring, tearing up the turnbuckle with his teeth and using the stuffing as a weapon as well as sticking out his green tongue (an effect accomplished by eating green Clorets breath mints).
The Animal had a stooped posture and a hairless head, but a thick mat of fur on his back; wrestling broadcasters often speculated that The Animal was indeed “the missing link.” At best, The Animal could occasionally manage to utter a word or two during interviews with one of them usually being “Duh-da-dahh” or “YOU! YOU go!”.
ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER
Larry Shreve was a Canadian professional wrestler better known by his ring name Abdullah the Butcher, also known as the Madman from The Sudan based on where his character was from in storyline. Shreve has a reputation for being involved in some of the most violent, bloody hardcore wrestling matches of all time.
One of Shreve’s trademarks is a series of divot-like scars on his head that he has due to excessive use of razor blades during his career.
The scars are so deep that, according to Mick Foley, Shreve was able to put gambling chips into them. Foley said Shreve would do this at casinos to get a rise out of patrons.
An amateur martial artist, Shreve also has knowledge of judo and karate, often including this knowledge in his professional wrestling matches. This knowledge was mainly displayed by him using judo style throws, and karate chops.
Dustin Runnels’ enigmatic, sexually ambiguous gimmick of “Goldust” has frequently been praised as one of the central figures of the Attitude Era—which was a period of very adult content in the WWF/WWE.
He is also known for performing in various promotions such as World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) under the name Dustin Rhodes. Among the other names, Runnels has performed under are Black Reign and Seven. Runnels is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes.