The Owl has been trying to showcase some videos on weekends, because it’s one time when insomniacs may enjoy relaxing with some odd filmmaking without the pressure of a waiting alarm clock the next morning. Also, earlier this week we showcased the highly questionable decision to spin off the World Wrestling Federation into the World Bodybuilding Federation.
If you’re wondering what other options WWF owner Vince McMahon might have had, we wanted to provide one answer: action heroes.
It may seem like a natural fit; after all, many wrestling stars have made the leap into film roles. Some, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have become better known for the movies than their wrestling. Others have simply had a few tv or movie roles but still had success there, like Roddy Piper in They Live or Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride.
The problem is that while the wrestlers may become movie stars, they’re doing so while distancing themselves from wrestling. That would have been counterproductive to the WWA. So, what to do?
They could have looked to international markets.
In the late 1970s, Japanese science fiction author Haruka Takachiho brought a visiting Australian author, A. Bertram Chandler, to watch a wrestling exhibition by the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling organization, an organization affiliated to the World Women’s Wrestling Association. Haruka didn’t have any particular love of wrestling, but his studio was trying to entertain the visiting author in the hope of generating a lucrative working relationship. Haruka was inspired by the tag team of the “Beauty Pair” to create the Dirty Pair, a female duo of interstellar troubleshooters for the Worlds Welfare Work Association who preferred to be called the Lovely Angels but whose efforts often caused accidental destruction and death tolls, often in the thousands. The comedic novels were turned into animated shows and comics, occasionally including throwbacks to their wrestling roots.
For anyone curious, here’s a Youtube link. Because it’s presented by a licensed group, I can’t embed it for simple clicks.
What I can embed, however, is another international idea. While the notion of the Mexican Luchadores may seem strange to American audiences, they’re really not very different from the WWF-style over-the-top characters. They simply wear masks (and don’t toss quite so many folding chairs around.)
The most famous hero by far is El Santo, who either by himself or with his tag-team partner Blue Demon fought against vampires, werewolves, the Frankenstein monster, mummies and other traditional horror villains. Most of them remain available only in Spanish, but at least one was translated fully into English. Granted, they changed El Santo’s name to “Sampson” rather than actually translate it, but the idea of a heroic wrestler fighting monsters might have been workable for the wrestling-happy teens of the late 1980s.
Instead, McMahon went with what he knew… licensing. In a decision appreciated mostly by trivia mavens, kids who loved crossovers and people who wanted one more toy to buy, a pro wrestler was inserted as a training expert into the G.I. Joe cartoon. Which one? Well, Sgt. Slaughter, of course.
The irony of having someone named “Slaughter” training what had to be some of the worst marksmen in the United States military was apparently lost on the series creators. Thankfully for the Joes, their enemy Cobra were equally poor shots.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite movie or tv show to feature an ex-wrestler?