Best: The Way Bobby Heenan Says “Narcissist”
One of the weirdest developments of 1993 was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s brief run as the GAYEST MAN ALIVE. That’s not used in the pejorative sense, he was just super, super gay.
On the first Raw he dresses up like a lady to try to get in, then cuts a two-ish minute long video promo where he calls Mr. Perfect “horse manure” and, from behind his pink v-neck and sparkly jacket, assures us that NARSISSUS is the most perfect man. NARSISSUS, of course, turns out to be “The Narcissist” Lex Luger, clearly identified by video graphic as NARCISSIST LEX LUGER, and “narsissus” just makes him sound like he’s lisping. He might as well have been telling Mr. Perfect to watch out for BIGGUS DICKUS.
Seriously, watch Lex’s introduction and tell me it shouldn’t be on Pornhub.
He should’ve just started screaming SHOW THEM YOUR DICK, NARSISSUS
Best: The Executioners
Oh man, these guys.
Disclaimer 2 comes into play here as I quietly mark out for THE EXECUTIONERS, one of the last true jobber tag teams. I miss the good old days when you could fill out a show by putting two guys who could work under masks to make two other guys look good and put ABSOLUTELY NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER INTO NAMING THEM. You know how whenever pro wrestling gets mentioned on a sitcom it’s always THE MASKED MARVEL or whatever? Actual wrestling writers were less creative than that.
I also like pretending these guys have a big long kayfabe backstory. Like, they really wanted to wrestle but didn’t want their families or anybody they worked with in real life to know (a la ‘Learning The Ropes’) and had to cover up to live their dreams. Or maybe they’re like the Mark St. John lineup of The Executioners where one of the original guys didn’t want to wrestle anymore, so a young guy put on the hood knowing it was a terrible, go-nowhere thing. Or maybe they’re just two guys living in an era before Comic-Con who really like executions.
Worst: What WWF Did To Me In The Mid-90s
I mentioned earlier that the early-to-mid-90s were the darkest timeline for me and almost made me stop watching wrestling, and here’s why. I grew up an NWA kid, so I liked a big group of wrestlers who had personalities and characters but made wrestling seem tough and real and fun (the Steiner Brothers, Great Muta, Vader, Sting even). As Casey Campbell put it, “they were sweatier and I thought that meant they wrestled harder”. WWF had big slow guys and magical monsters who made wrestling look like a dumb thing for idiots (Undertaker, fake Road Warriors Demolition, whoever). I didn’t really like Hogan and Brutus Beefcake and the Hacksaw. I loved Ricky Steamboat and Cactus Jack and Stunning Steve Austin.
In the mid-90s, everything kinda switched. Hulk Hogan showed up in WCW, instantly made Vader and Ric Flair look like helpless goons and replaced guys like Cactus Jack and Stunning Steve with, seriously, Brutus Beefcake and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I couldn’t just go watch WWF, either, because when they’d get someone like Lex Luger they turn them into BIG DICK NARSISSUS or whatever. I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. It’s Ricky Steamboat wearing dragon wings and spitting fire. It’s Stunning Steve Austin becoming “The Ringmaster”, or Dustin Rhodes becoming a movie-themed gay sexual harasser. All I was left with was neutered Sting and a neutered Four Horseman on one side and Man Mountain goddamn Rock on the other.
The Steiners briefly bucked that trend, because I’m like 99% sure the Steiners don’t know wrestling is fake.
Best: Steiner Brother Finishers Where You Think The Guy Is Literally Dead
There are few things I like more than the very end of a Steiner Brothers match, because Rick and Scott turn into perverse erector sets and set guys up for shit like doomsday bulldogs and doomsday DDTs and Steiners Screwdriver and 9 times out of 10 the guy they do it to is never seen again, and you just imagine him rolling around an ICU crying about it. I can’t remember how many guys I saw them shoot murder on television, and it was the greatest. Scott Steiner was the best wrestler in the world from the time he started backflipping onto his own head in WCW until … well, he started tagging against the Executioners on Raw.
One of my favorite Steiner memories, because I probably won’t get to write about a Battle Bowl on With Leather, is when Scotty got put into a team with Firebreaker Chip (the Chip that BREAKS FIRES) against Johnny B. Badd and Arachnaman, and Scott just stands on the apron for 80% of the match yelling C’MON FARBOOKER CHIP or whatever. He tags in at the end, destroys everybody and wins.
I think that’s what WCW did to me: they had phony cartoon wrestlers too, but they always let the real guys beat the shit out of them. Subliminal messages.