The last two editions of The Thread Count caused dissension over the exact definition of the terms “hillbilly” and “hippie.” This week we aim to exhibit wrestlers who, beyond a shadow of a doubt, are a part of the criminal justice system. These wrestlers can fall into one of three categories: criminals, law enforcement, or attorneys at law.
To further clarify, these distinctions are not extended to those who have been prosecuted for real life crimes, nor those who have/should have been arrested for their onscreen actions. A police officer gimmick belongs, but what Triple H was wearing when he had sex with Kane’s dead girlfriend because wrestling? Yeah. Not so much.
In the United States, the popularity of an orange jumpsuit for the incarcerated is a fairly recent development. The first trend in penal uniforms was horizontal black and white stripes. As the types of offenders and attitudes towards incarceration versus rehabilitation started to change, so did the uniform. Prisons adopted more versatile work clothes, better suited for both hard labour, as well as the idea that one was literally working off their debt to society. Federal prisons opted for a khaki look, whereas state facilities eventually decided upon yellow or orange jumpsuits or scrubs. The style lent for easier care, durability, comfort for longer-term inmates, and, of course, made it harder to blend in should an inmate happen to escape.
Rather than attempt to blend in, Nailz made it quite clear exactly what he was. Claiming to be a wrongfully-imprisoned victim of prison abuse, Nailz followed the Big Boss Man to enact revenge on the perpetrator of said abuse, and also somehow prove his innocence by … enacting more violence. The orange jumpsuit seems super comfy and roomy enough to wrestle in without it being constricting, but the motorcycle boots are kind of confusing. Their feud ended in a Nightstick On A Pole Match at Survivor Series 1992, which is a must-watch if you like ridiculous gimmick matches with two guys with awkward sweat patterns on their clothes.
The Repo Man was a sneaky bad guy who wore a trench coat with studded rubber tire epaulettes that said REPO in the same rubber across the back, a domino mask that made him look like a cat burglar, and a tow rope that he used to tie up and then attack his opponents. He had a full gray leotard with tire tracks all over it, acted like a creepy Frank Gorshin, tried to hang the British Bulldog with his tow rope and got into a feud with Macho Man Randy Savage over stealing Savage’s hat. If I were texting this description to someone, it would be bookended by at least four different kinds of heart emojis.
Shad Gaspard and elder statesman of the WWE JTG were paired together as the tag team Cryme Tyme, who … well, okay. Here’s the thing. Prior to their debut, WWE ran a disclaimer that read:
Tonight a new tag team, Cryme Tyme, will be introduced to the RAW audience. In an effort to humor and entertain our fans the tag team known as Cryme Tyme will be parodying racial stereotypes. Shad Gaspard and JTG do outlandish, outrageous “stunts” to ready themselves for tag team action on RAW. This attempt at Saturday Night Live-like humor is bound to entertain audiences of all ethnic derivations.
We hope you enjoy the weekly adventures of Cryme Tyme.
This “training” included robbing a smoothie shop and assaulting the cashier, throwing hot coffee on a police officer and stealing his donut, a carjacking and various other crimes because holy shit I don’t even know. The look for Cryme Tyme, and JTG up until his recent release, stayed pretty much the same. Do-rags, grills, baggy jeans, oversized chains, a flak vest for JTG, afro picks, classic Timberland Yellow Boots, bandanas … it’s like they put a bunch of old white conservatives into a room and got them to write on a whiteboard everything they thought a “gangsta” would wear, and then used all of them. They even bedazzled YO! all over JTG’s pants once:
In and out of the company for years, Homicide returned to Ring of Honor in 2013 with Eddie Kingston in tow as his tag team partner. Their team name backed up the idea that they were there to take down the corporate aspect of ROH and focus on getting the product back to its roots. For a brief time they eschewed baggy shorts and cutoff shirts/tanks for suits and ties to suck up to Matchmaker and/or GEICO Gecko Nigel McGuinness. They also donned creepy clown masks, which was maybe slightly counter-productive in ingratiating themselves to ROH higher ups. Once, on the all-night Queen street car in Toronto, an extremely drunk fellow took off his dirty tank top so he could show a friend and I his collection of poorly drawn “clowns with guns” chest tattoos. If I had to sum up the Outlaw, Inc aesthetic, that dude’s chest would be it.
Okay, I know I said I would avoid real-life crimes, but I have to at least mention Lucky Cannon. This guy was a former deputy sheriff arrested for impersonating a police officer. This has nothing to do with fashion, I just need to point out that had this former NXT wrestler served as his own counsel, he would have covered this entire list.
Speaking of NXT, here we have WWE’s latest attempt at keeping their finger on the pulse of pop culture: a hacker. Solomon Crowe is a digital criminal so savvy he created a virus that can turn Full Sail’s lights on and off with a swipe of his iPad. Crowe is, of course, well-known indie wrestler Sami Callihan. Gone are the deathmatches (thank god), the big hair (boooooooo), and his singlet with its bottom cut like a retro fifties swimsuit that I actually really loved. From what little you can find, Crowe has alternated between dark suits and a cane (whether it turns into a USB key is unknown), and silver tights with motherboard-inspired designs and a vest. Man, WWE sure does love a good vest. I know everyone’s all nutted up for your Kevin Steens and the what not, but I miss Sami Callihan and his stretch muffler on the indies and really hope he gets to be more than “Adam Rose’s DJ that one time.”
The first wrestling lawyer on the list also happens to be the first real-life lawyer as well. Clarence Mason served as attorney for Jim Cornette and WWF’s Crush before moving onto his most notable role, attorney and manager to the Nation of Domination. Hid round glasses and bow-tie colour palette are insanely nineties, and I’m pretty sure are still worn by more than one Western New York personal injury lawyer to this day.
Judge Jeff Jones
Speaking of the nineties, here’s Judge Jeff Jones – bad boy referee turned Mike Awesome Manager – reminding us that at some point it was super cool to look like your hair was super wet all the time.
David Otunga is one of the most fashionable pro wrestlers in the world. The Harvard graduate (he went to Harvard, not sure if you knew that) always makes sure his colors and patterns coordinate, down to matching the colors on his sweaters and omnipresent coffee thermos. It’s a work of art, really, and surprising considering how difficult it must be to shop for classy street clothes when you’re built like an adonis. You should just be wearing loincloths and animal horns or whatever.
The most signature aspect of Otunga’s look is the bow-tie. I’ll let Otunga explain it:
Before he was a lawyer who played a lawyer on TV, Otunga’s strongest fashion choice was his bedazzled, zip-up Nexus hoodie, which is the one item of WWE clothing that most needs to be reproduced and sold. The upgrade to high-intellectual fashion was welcomed, however, even if his in-ring style (in both wrestling AND fashion) never seemed to catch up. For example:
All he needs is animal horns.
Barrister R.D. Evans
R.D. Evans, barrister and George Clooney lookalike, made his debut for Ring of Honor in 2011 as part of Prince Nana’s Embassy stable. Evans used his legal expertise to broker business deals for the stable and tried to sue Homicide for attempted murder, assault and battery, attempted sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is the golden age of Evans for me, where he would don loudly coloured suits and turtleneck (the green and gold is the best). Evans would then move on to manage QT Marshall and his ill-fitting spangly robe. Currently Evans, accompanied by Veda Scott, has stepped into a singles role, and is currently undefeated in what he’s calling The New Streak. I lost track somewhere around 117-0. His wrestling gear looks incredibly similar to that of Chikara villain-turned-hero Archibald Peck, for whom he also serves as counsel. They have fairly similar body types, so who knows. Maybe he just borrowed it?
Side note: Ring of Honor hasn’t updated his bio on their website since 2012. You go, Ring of Honor.
Oh man, Veda Scott. If I’m ever going to mention someone with legitimately impeccable style, she’s it. Veda has wrestled all over the place: Shimmer, AIW, Joshi for Hope, Wrestling is Respect, TNA, and most importantly (as far as this girl and probably also her editor are concerned) Inspire Pro Wrestling. Veda gets to play a lot of different roles, but like two of her listmates, actually gets to claim “law school graduate” as more than a gimmick. She used her legal knowledge to represent Greg Iron in AIW, negotiating specific match clauses around his having Cerebral Palsy, such as his opponents must pin him for a four-count instead of a three-count. That partnership did not end so well, with her recently donning a wedding dress for a cage match against Iron. Thankfully, she fared better than the dress did.
Her ring gear is usually a variation on the same design, mostly her signature houndstooth (but the pinstripe and green plaid are also great). When managing Evans, her style is a little more sophisticated, usually a cropped blazer, bodycon dress, and a killer pair of heels. Veda also has the best hair in wrestling, hands down. I mean, I love my bouncy magical anime girl hair, but her’s is kind of perfect and puts mine to shame. And also she doesn’t eat meat and we have the same glasses and she’s really nice and super cute and … okay. Look. All I’m saying is if you’re not into Veda Scott, you’re doing wrestling fandom all wrong.
For those of you who don’t read the Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling, hey man, it’s cool, we’re still internet bros. But you, specifically, need to know more than anyone that Joseph Park is the light of my life, and usually about once a week I get real sad for a few minutes that he’s not on television any longer. Joseph Park, clean cut be-suited lawyer from the firm of Park, Park, and Park, showed up at the Impact Zone in March of 2012 looking for his brother, you know, Abyss? Over the next two years we went on a magical journey with Joe Park, from the search for his big scary monster brother, to being kidnapped by an evil biker gang, to going to OVW and training to become a real-life Impact Wrestler.
Park alternated between suits and the black tracksuit pictured above. At one point he debuted a new track suit, a gray and black number, and trust me, it was…incredibly similar. Joseph Park would eventually go from goofy, lovable wannabe wrestler to the subject of harassment by Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, goading him into realizing that he was, in fact, an alternate personality of Abyss’s. Of course, this was during a change in writers, and what should have been a unique and fitting end to one of the most well-rounded, layered characters on wrestling television turned into a sad piece of now-ignored TNA history.
The Mountie was a cattle prod-wielding member of the RCMP who would shock his opponents in the stomach with said cattle prod after beating them (because Canada?), and once beat Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. It was claimed that Hart was suffering from the flu, but in reality was going through contract negotiations. The Mountie would hold the belt for two days, and is the greatest transitional champion our country has known. While the actual dress uniform for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a bit more complicated, the Mountie adopted enough traits that it would still be recognizable. Those he cut the sleeves from the trademark scarlet tunic, the Stetson, black breeches with yellow tuxedo stripe, and Strathcona boots were more than enough to represent the iconic look.
The RCMP agreed, and after taking litigious action, enjoined The Mountie from being referred to as such while within Canada, with him instead being billed by his real name, Jacques Rougeau. He also could not wear the tunic and Stetson to the ring, and commentators would quite forcefully note that rougeau did not, in fact, represent the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Rougeau would later retain most of the look when he tagged with Pierre Oullet as The Quebecers, aka the team with one of the best themes ever.
Big Boss Man
Ray Traylor, a former prison guard from Cobb County, Georgia, is best known as Big Boss Man, a wrestling prison guard from Cobb County, Georgia. If I were to go over his entire career I’d have to give him his own page. As a diehard fan of hoss wrestling, Boss Man is pretty high up on the list of dudes I liked watching slam the shit out of people. His gear is some of the most recognizable when it comes to the late eighties/early nineties wrestling scene: simple blue police-inspired prison guard uniform blue shirt with leather strap across the chest and insignia patches, black breeches with yellow tuxedo stripe (much like the Mountie’s), mirrored aviators, and a night stick. Occasionally he would mix it up by adding a leather jacket, something he continued in his updated look years later. He would never do up the top buttons of his shirt, and I know he would get real sweaty, but i always thought it made him look a bit unseemly. Once, after a notable cage math against Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hogan stole the Boss Man’s nightstick and the hat of his manager, Slick, and I still get burned up about it 25 years later.
Traylor took a break from WWF and his role as a prison guard to explore vigilante justice in WCW. During that part of his career he was known as ‘Guardian Angel.’ Though the trademark red jacket and beret made him look like a fancy delivery man in photos, this video of Traylor training with the Angels is dated and precious and should be wrapped in a blanket and cradled in the warmest part of your nostalgia:
Big Boss Man would return years later to the WWE, retaining the sunglasses and nightstick, but donning a new, all-black SWAT-inspired uniform with more pockets than a Rob Liefeld comic. The best accessory, however, is most certainly Al Snow’s pet chihuahua Pepper:
The State Patrol
Part of 1990s WCW’s love affair with occupational jobbers (what’s up, The Gambler?) Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker and Lt. James Earle Wright were THE STATE PATROL, a pair of police officers who ignored their most basic job description — driving around and enforcing various laws — by wrestling professionally. They were basically as good at wrestling as they were at being policemen.
Their entrance gear made them look like someone had split the Big Boss Man in half and given him Ranger Ross’s hat. In a wrestling world where Boss Man turned face and became everyone’s interpretation of “wrestling policeman,” it’s weird that more teams haven’t simply dressed as State Patrol officers to get that “ugh, COPS” heat. Their entrance should just be them coming up behind you during YOUR entrance and flashing their lights.
I don’t know much about Osaka Pro’s Policewoman other than her police lady mask reminds me of Great Sasuke, she has a luggage-sized briefcase that she DDTs people onto, and Osaka Pro is weird and I wish I could watch more of it more often. Remember, this is the same promotion that has Yohnel Sanders, the wrestler you didn’t know you needed in your life until now.
Officer Colt Cabana
Supercop Dick Justice
Supercop Dick Justice wrestles mainly out of New York State’s 2CW. His police outfit is pretty similar to that of Big Boss Man’s prison guard uniform, but the standout is the bright blue nightstick that holds his donuts before he throws them out into the audience.
Bill Carr worked in WWE Developmental until 2012. On his return to the indie circuit, he worked in tandem with Ken Scampi and his partner, the handsome Dan Barry. Team Tremendous was formed in 2013, after Ken Scampi decided to leave wrestling. With Scampi’s retirement, Bill and Dan Barry decided to become a tag team – the only problem being they had no gimmick. Inspired by both buddy cop movies and cheesy eighties and nineties crime dramas, the two reinvented themselves as two cops who had been undercover in professional wrestling for a number of years. The story was that Ken Scampi had died in a wrestling match at InterSpecies Wrestling which brought them out of deep cover.
According to Dan Barry,
The crowd had no idea this would happen. Suddenly our music was the theme song to Axel F, I came out dressed like Tom Selleck and Bill like a character from Law and Order. We instantly knew we had something, and decided we would use it everywhere we went. Aviators, kitschy shirts, pale shorts, suspenders and strong facial hair define us. We use common tropes from TV and movie in our matches, like Good Cop/Bad Cop, and a move sequence named Book ’em Danno. The original idea that we were undercover cops looking to break up an illegal denim ring in indie wrestling is a nod to the Simpsons.
While Bill keeps it simple and monochromatic, Dan Barry favours brightly Hawaiian shirts, and most recently/amazingly, a shirt with tacos all over it:
Spoiler alert: I love them.