EJ Moreno looks at the best horror-themed pro wrestling gimmicks…
Horror and wrestling are a match made in heaven, or I guess hell for the sake of this article. Throughout the sport’s history, there are countless wrestlers to embrace horror elements or a bit of the dark side. From demonic creatures to creepy clowns, every genre of horror with the success of those gimmicks ranging from scary good to oh so cruel.
Below is a collection of the most terrifying, most horror-inspired wrestlers of all time! This list will span every promotion, every era of wrestling, with the focus being on someone who’s gimmick takes inspiration from a horror film OR if the person is channeling something a little spooky for their persona.
10. Killer Kowalski
While Killer Kowalski is far less “gimmicky” than the others on this list, don’t let that take away from the horror of this man. Killer Kowalski is most known for training numerous modern wrestlers including Triple H, Eddie Edwards, and Tommaso Ciampa; but the wrestler is a legend in his own right. Not only did he perfect the ravenous heel persona, but his legacy contains stories of actually maiming wrestlers. Killer Kowalski is terrifying without having to be a cartoon character, like New Japan’s Minoru Suzuki. Also, Kowalski is the first man in America to pin Andre The Giant…a monster feat!
9. Doink The Clown
Clowns scare a lot of people, and throughout pop culture, they’re inescapable. From the Stephen King’s IT franchise to John Wayne Gacy, the once-friendly character is forever horrifying. In the 90’s, WWE came up with the idea of their clown character, giving birth to one of the most haunting wrestlers on this list. Doink The Clown started friendly, but slowly became the twisted clown that would cement his legacy. This clown scared kids with his cruel breaks and terrifying laugh. If it’s Matt Osborne or Chris Jericho for one night, the legacy of Doink The Clown is intact.
8. The Boogeyman
No one will call The Boogeyman a fantastic in-ring performer, but the man has one hell of a gimmick. From the bizarre backstage antics to his passion for eating worms, everything The Boogeyman would scream campy horror movie. You also can’t forget to mention he once ate a gross fake mole off Jillian Hall’s face; no denying the man was committed to the bit. If only this character were around during the gimmick-filled Attitude Era, as his appearance during the mid-00’s wrestling scene felt like seeing Jason Voorhees in the middle of a romantic comedy.
7. La Parka
The addition of La Parka on this list switches from Halloween to another macabre holiday, Día de Muertos. The Mexican wrestling legend based his look on a skeleton, a common theme in Day of the Dead celebrations. Think Disney’s Coco, but with a lucha-libre flair. During La Parka’s illustrious career, there have been many matches that felt brutal or scary like a horror film; Mexican wrestling usually being a bit more theatrical. There are also a few “mask vs. mask” matches with La Parka that get pretty scary, even if it for the safety of the wrestlers involved.
6. Kevin Sullivan
There have been a few cult leaders in wrestling, but none are quite like the Florida legend Kevin Sullivan. During his time in Championship Wrestling From Florida, Sullivan crafted eerie promos and got a gang of followers to do his bidding. This gimmick blurred the lines of real and fake, really adding the realism of everything. You also can’t forget Kevin Sullivan’s time in WCW, where he made the campy Dungeon of Doom. His cartoony horror villains took on Hulk Hogan and other wrestlers at various Halloween Havoc PPVs throughout the stable’s run.
5. Abdullah the Butcher
If there’s any wrestler on this list that scares me the most, it’s Abdullah the Butcher. With his scar-covered face and a legacy of infamous matches, the hardcore icon makes Halloween’s Michael Myers look tame. If you were to watch his entire 60-year career, I’m sure the Saw movies would feel like Disney films after. Though he is known to be a nice man in real life, there is no messing with this man between those ropes. It’s like stepping into the ring with the scariest horror slasher. Abdullah the Butcher is only semi-retired, so this insane man is still maiming opponents to this day!
Wrestling has its fair share of vampires, with one of them popping up in nearly every promotion. What makes Vampiro so special is the longevity and various companies he’s worked for, as well as how much he loves the darkness of his gimmick. While there’s some horror-inspired work in WCW that made Vampiro infamous, his recent work on El Rey’s Lucha Underground is the stuff of B-movie dreams. Go look up the bloody and brutal match Vampiro had with Pentagon Jr, another scary wrestler, and tell me that the battle isn’t perfect for a Halloween viewing.
Mick Foley’s resume has more scares than your average horror film. If it was losing part of his ear or going through a flaming table, everything this man did was terrifying. But none of his personas embodied “horror” quite like Mankind. Especially when you look back at the character’s early work, a boiler room dwelling psycho who likes to pull out his hair. It wasn’t until Mankind went through a table while falling off a massive cage that he became the extreme icon we know today. Seeing that stunt desensitizes you to that kind of insane violence. Kind of like binging a lot of horror films!
2. Bray Wyatt
No modern wrestler has turned horror into gold quite like Bray Wyatt. What started as a creepy homage to Cape Fear eventually turned into this supernatural Charles Manson, complete with his own house of horrors. Bray Wyatt owns every bit of this gimmick and makes the campiness work in this self-proclaimed “Reality Era.” If he can have the longevity of someone like Undertaker is still to be seen, but the once “Eater of Worlds” is well on his way to a hall of fame career with his commitment to perfecting this bizarre horror-inspired character. Just no more Sister Abigail impersonations.
1. The Undertaker
WWE’s Phenom; The Undertake made his living in embracing horror and the hilarious tropes that came along with the genre. No other wrestler on this list used the horror-themed gimmick to such success quite like this legend. The Undertake has also found ways to reinvent his character throughout the years as well; it’s not always the usual “Dead Man” as he’s been a cult leader, biker, and mortician. Mark Calloway truly deserves his iconic status just for the sheer fact he made the most of this gimmick and seemed to have fun along the way. Basically what any horror fan wants!
Who is the scariest or most horror-inspired wrestling you know?
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This article was originally posted on October 31st 2018.