WCW’s Glacier Talked About Having Second Thoughts Before His Debut

We here at With Spandex are of course purveyors and boosters of the glory of 1990s-era WCW, so if someone does a big beautiful feature on the life and career of Glacier, you bet your ass we’re gonna let you know about that.

Over at Vocativ, Joe Lemire talked to the man behind the Glacier gimmick, Ray Lloyd, and got to know about the motivations and feelings behind the time that the blood ran colder than it ever had before. Lloyd talked about how a stray conversation with his buddy Dallas Page led to a dinner with martial arts enthusiast Eric Bischoff, and suddenly WCW was pouring money into a costume and fancy entrance for the newly-dubbed Glacier.

But Glacier, who was trained in part by the legendary Lou Thesz and was a for-real pro wrestler, started to get second thoughts about WCW dropping over half a million dollars on making him into a mock video game character karate expert of supernatural origins.

Lloyd said he was told by WCW producer Keith Mitchell that his entrance cost WCW $400,000 with an additional $10,000 bill for three specialist technicians who had to be flown in every time the full entrance routine was deployed. The reported $35,000 bill for Glacier’s costume seems paltry by comparison. However, money alone is no guarantee of a successful pro wrestling gimmick.

“Ray could never live up to the hype of what we provided,” AFX Studios owner Andre Freitas, who created the outfit and entrance, said. “Eventually I came up with the idea for the lasers and the snowfall and all the show because I’m thinking like a special-effects movie guy. I’m not thinking like ‘Ray’s sort of a mid-card guy, and I’m giving him an Undertaker-type entrance.’ I had no concept of that. I didn’t know all the politics of wrestling. I’m thinking, I want to make my character as cool as possible.”

Even Lloyd had his misgivings. So much so that he phoned a mentor from his time with the Union of Wrestling Forces International, a Japanese promotion that Lloyd moonlighted for while holding down a teaching job. (He was a middle school health and P.E. teacher in Marietta, Georgia at the time and jokes about wanting an “I’m huge in Japan” t-shirt.) After the premise of Glacier had been presented to him, Lloyd, a self-proclaimed pro wrestling traditionalist, called on Thesz for advice.

“Lou, I never expected my break to come like this, and I don’t know if I want this,” Lloyd told him.

“Ray, pro wrestling is never going to go back to what you and I want it to be,” Thesz replied. “This is your opportunity. Go make your money.”

The entire feature is definitely worth your time, because any insight on WCW history is always worth your time. That’s the With Spandex guarantee. You’ll especially enjoy the moment Glacier and Mortis realized they were about to become second or third bananas to the nWo.