What Is He Thinking!? Vol. VIII - The Dungeon of Doom
by Scrooge McSuck
- It's the 4th Annual DWS Halloween Havok! The last time in the series everyone calls the biggest waste of time since watching Jaws the Revenge, we looked at one of the worst stables in wrestling history, the WWF'S Million Dollar Corporation. With the lack of credibility the stable had, it at least featured a handful of decent workers. No, they weren't the worst stable ever... you want the worst? Well keep on reading, because it's so bad, it's SCARY! Yes, I'm aware that pun sucked.
It all begins with Kevin Sullivan. Growing up a WWF fan, I wasn't very familiar with Kevin Sullivan, other than that he was included in a video game for the NES, and that through old Apter mags, he once worked an angle that bordered being a devil worshiping cult leader. So, as I started checking in more frequently on WCW towards the tale end of 1994, forgive me if I wasn't blown away by a terrible program he was working with his "brother" Dave (or Evad as smart fans had enduringly remembered him as). It just screamed of a lame attempt at ripping off the WWF's (successful) programming pitting real life brothers Bret and Owen Hart. Anyway, Sullivan seemed to recieve more and more screen time (possibly because he was also working on the booking team at the time), which included an angle where he, along with the freshly turned heel Butcher (formerly Brutus Beefcake, in need of a new name thanks to WWF's trademark of the gimmick) and freshly debuted Avalanche (formerly Earthquake, see previous parenthesis comment for explanation) feuded with Hulk Hogan and freshly relocated Randy Savage, until a match on a Clash of the Champions ended with one of the most ridiculous moves ever seen: The reviving elbow drop. For those unfamiliar, mid-match, Randy Savage delivered his signature elbow drop on Hulk Hogan, resulting in Hogan "Hulking Up" and cleaning house of the Faces of Fear en route to victory. But that's for another review!
As 1995 chugged along, Kevin Sullivan ended his feud with his "brother", turned on The Butcher, and feuded with him through Slamboree, which meant a third name for Ed Leslie in less than a year with WCW: The Man With No Name. Despite clearly being listed and advertised as such, so there's your contradictiory creative team thought process right there. After their match, however, Kevin Sullivan would be called upon by a man simply known as "The Master". His mission: To put an end to Hulkamania once and for all. Rebranded as "The Taskmaster" of the Dungeon of Doom, Kevin Sullivan would soon recruit some of the most feared and disgusting heels ever assembled in one place... if you're a 5-year old who's never once watched a wrestling program in your life.
One of the earliest recruits, and one that wasn't simply being repackaged, would be none other than the Ugandon Warrior, Kamala. Yes, it's 1995, and someone was still thinking this one trick pony that was a borderline draw in the early 80's was still an attraction people would spend money to see headlining shows. Remember, the last we saw of Kamala on nationally syndicated wrestling, he was a loveable babyface that was learning to bowl under the guidance of the Reverend Slick, so forgive me if that history lesson doesn't strike fear in my heart when I think of Hogan's chances. Other than Kamala, the Dungeon of Doom was nothing but repackaging mid-level heels who either had nothing better to do or were positioned into the main events because of their relationship with the guy who was calling all the shots (that would be Hogan).
The first, and most acceptable, would be Meng. Formerly known as Haku in the WWF, Meng was repackaged as a badass bodyguard for Col. Robert Parker and his Stud Stable. Over time, he simply developed into a "martial arts" fighter, and pretty much retained all his mannerisms from the past. As Meng, he would paint his face, wear what looked like a paper-mache' mask, and would threaten people with his "golden spike", which I think was just his way of saying jamming his thumb in someone's butthole. To be fair, Meng was being groomed as an upper-midlevel threat, going undefeated until a loss to Sting in the Finals of a Tournament to crown a United States Champion. But a top foil to Hulk Hogan? I just don't see...
Which brings us to the next two members of the Dungeon of Doom: The Zodiac (or sometimes known Zodiac Man) and The Shark. Uncreative names aside, it's repackaging (again) for Ed Leslie and John Tenta. Yes, two men who were already associated with Kevin Sullivan and cast aside were back under his command, and they had the BALLS to try and ignore who they were, despite it being quite obvious. So obvious, in fact, that Zodiac wore tights that were almost entire designed as if they belonged to the Brutus Beefcake character. I can understand repackaging people because they need a makeover, but this was nothing more than Hogan's buddies getting pushed because he demanded it. I liked Beefcake, but his WCW run was terrible, and god bless the memory of John Tenta, but his act was very one dimensional, and by 1995, it had ran its course long ago. So there you have it: the initial squad of the Dungeon of Doom: Kamala, Haku, Earthquake, and Brutus Beefcake. WCW loyalists must've LOVED that one.
Our next member to be introduced to the Dungeon of Doom: The mysterious "son" of Andre The Giant, simply refered to as "The Giant." Modern fans know him as the Big Show, but in 1995, and at 23 years of age, the Giant was definitely something to see, and was actually capable of performing high risk moves that seemed unlikely to see from a man of his stature. Despite decent booking, with the Giant being made out to look strong at almost every chance, there was one thing that always bothered me about the angle: Most notably Hulk Hogan refering to him and "his father" as big stinky Giants, and threatening to bury him like his father. OK, so that last one might be a figment of our imagination, but the way he would refer to the memory of Andre The Giant, he might as well have.
After weeks (and weeks, and weeks) of build up, debuts, attacks, and double crosses, the first Pay-Per-View Main Event consisting of Hulk Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom was about to take place. It wasn't going to be any kind of normal match, as Hogan would recruit a team of "Hulkamaniacs" (how much of an egomaniac must you be to constantly call your posse' the Hulkamaniacs?) consisting of Randy Savage, Sting, and fresh from jumping from WWF, Lex Luger. Oh, and the latter of which might or might NOT have been working for the Dungeon of Doom, and would create problems between Savage and Sting over his trustworthiness. Did I mention this was going to take place in a War Games Match? Yes, the most brutal match in WCW was going to consist of a bunch of comedy gimmicks, WWF cast-off's, and has-beens, the likes of which the cage had never seen before... and the might sucked monkey fuck. Other than the atrocious 1998 edition, this was far and away the runner up for worst War Games Match of all time. The work was boring, the performers were given half-hearted effort, and the result never seemed in doubt: The DOD would dominate their opponents until WCW Champion (and going into his 16th MONTH as Champion at this point) Hulk Hogan turned the tide with ease, never selling a move, and going over The Zodiac with a seated chinlock. A really terrible looking seated chinlock.
The whole point of the match was to establish the Giant as the next top contender, which meant a World Championship Match at Halloween Havoc. In yet another historically bad moment in WCW History, the two would engage in a "Sumo Monster Truck Match" on the roof of Cobo Hall, which not only ended with Hogan going over (do a job for once, dammit!), but also saw Hogan PUSH THE GIANT OFF THE ROOF, ONLY FOR THE GIANT TO SHOW UP FOR THE SCHEDULED MATCH, COMPLETELY UNHARMED. Oh, and the Giant won the match, his Debut Match I might add, and the Title... BY DISQUALIFICATION. And after interference from The Yeti.
Yes, The Yeti. Unlike all the other incarnations in mythological history, this Yeti was not an abdominable snow monster, or whatever you would want to classify it as. No, this Yeti was a MUMMY that was frozen in a block of ice, like a really poorly done villain in an episode of Scooby Doo Where Are You?. This Yeti, along with the Giant, would proceed in double dry-humping Hogan as a means of causing him physical harm. Fortunately for us, the Yeti only lasted a handful of appearances before mysteriously turning into a Super Giant Ninja, and later on, as a member of Raven's Flock. When you sit and think about it, maybe the Yeti wasn't the guy's worst gimmick while working for WCW.
Other new members of the Dungeon of Doom as the new year came and went: The return of the One Man Gang, who was given a mild push and the United States Title, possibly for being relevant once back in 1987. Also introduced was Loch Ness, a mammoth of a man who was a well known worker in England. Only problem was he weighed about 500 pounds, had zero mobility, and couldn't work a North American style to save his life. The fact we were threatened a possible match between him and the Hulkster was more than enough to keep anyone from watching WCW again. There was also Braun, a Leprechaun type character played by Power Plant trainer and former curtain jerker Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, acting more as an annoying sidekick than an actual in-ring performer. There was also The Barbarian and Hugh Morrus (get it, humourous?), but no one cared about them.
The final nail in the Dungeon of Doom coffin came at the 1996 edition of Uncensored. For those who recall the inaugural PPV in 1995, it would take a lot for the 1996 version to suck as hard as, or even harder, than that effort. While the show as a whole was good enough not to deliver on that level of suckitude, the Main Event is long considered the absolute worst match to ever Main Event a PPV, EVER. It was Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against... deep breath now... Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, Meng, The Barbarian, Kevin Sullivan, Z-Gangsta' and The Ultimate (Final) Solution. Inside a triple-level Steel Cage. Among other things that plagued this match were: The fact Hogan and Savage were at the "disadvantage" of 8 on 2, and dominated the majority of the match, Ric Flair doing a clean job when you check the rest of the heel side, Z-Gangsta' being a repackaged Tiny Lister, a.k.a ZEUS FROM NO HOLDS BARRED, and Ultimate Solution being Jeep Swenson, a long-forgotten wrestler who found minor fame (AFTER this appearance) as Bane... in Batman & Robin, not the good Batman movie with a "Bane" character. Oh, and then there's the repackaged Booty Man (yes, ED LESLIE, AGAIN, repackaged as Booty Man, who was a spy working for Hogan the whole time) running in with frying pans to help them overcome odds they had no trouble with until the final two minutes. This match was bad enough for a complete backlash to Hulk Hogan's run as it's top babyface, as he was soon taken off television until returning for Bash at the Beach, where a much needed heel turn took place.
The Dungeon of Doom would chug along like an empty train for another year, working primarily as a bottom of the card act before quietly disbanding, and most of the remaining members staying on through the years as Jimmy Hart's "First Family." The big point of the matter is this: The Dungeon of Doom not only consisted of some of the worst workers in the company in significant roles, but in some of the worst gimmicks, participating in two of the worst Main Events of that time period, and was the angle that put the final nail in Hogan's coffin as the top babyface in wrestling. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this prior sentence is more than enough for me to conclude that the Dungeon of Doom is, and forever will be, the worst stable that any professional wrestling company could ever put together.
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