Wrestling takes you to some funny places. Sometimes, you’re facing a lion/tiger hybrid who grew up in Hiroshima that hits you with palm strikes. Other times, you’re battling a robot. And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up on the wrong side of a boy who drowned and came back to life to kill some camp counselors.
There’s no way that a few words on this page can explain the huge influence of Friday the 13th on pop culture. And wrestling, the ultimate sponge of what is popular, seized on this slasher favorite and gifted us with some amazing gimmicks.
The most well-known Jason was Karl Moffat, who started his career in the Hart family’s Stampede Promotion. His career didn’t start normally — he was a fan who charged the ring to see how tough the wrestlers were and then had to endure the pain of Stu Hart’s infamous Dungeon training. After working under his own name, he was given the new gimmick of Jason the Terrible, complete with coveralls and goalie mask (one would assume there are plenty of those in Calgary).
He was paired with Randy Orton’s uncle, Barry O (who was essentially blackballed out of the business after he spoke up against the WWE ring boy scandal) who worked as his manager The Zodiak. Orton’s promos during this time are, well, legit insane. I had never seen them before and they blew my mind. They’re near stream of conscious Lovecraftian odes to evil and darkness. They’re like the best song lyrics ever (some of them ARE song lyrics) for songs you never heard of. Please watch these and be mindblown. I’ll be waiting a few paragraphs down.
Moffat was known as a willing bleeder, a fact that seems to disturb the Hart brothers to this day. He also was part of the Gaspar Brothers tag team with Bob Orton Jr., hockey masked “brothers” that were part of Antonio Inoki’s numerous 1988 attempts to create new foreign heels (they even made it into one of the first versions of the Fire Pro Wrestling video game). Of those gimmicks, one of them, Big Van Vader, became a legitimate hall of fame candidate and is, in my opinion, the best working big man wrestler of all time. The Gaspars? Only marks like me remember them.
Moffat’s career progress was curtailed when he was injured on July 4, 1989, when a car containing the Moffat, Davey Boy Smith and Chris Benoit was involved in a head-on collision in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. It took five years and nine operations to get him back into the ring, at which point he wrestled for several Canadian promotions before retiring.
In Puerto Rico, there was another Jason the Terrible who took the gimmick to W*ING, IWA Japan and FMW. He was also a willing bleeder, getting more juice in his matches than nearly anyone I’ve ever seen, nearly every match. From what I can tell, his name was Robert Rodriguez and he was trained by Johnny Rodz. He had a crazy feud with a second Jason who was played by Tracy Smothers, including a match where Smothers Jason wins by dropping Jason the Terrible neck first onto a coffin. It’s seriously one of the craziest, most sickening bumps I’ve ever seen.
Somehow, Jason survived that and even made his way to ECW, as the W*ING promotion was starting up again and brought in early ECW stars the Pitbulls, Sandman, Jason Knight and Public Enemy for a tour. Jason was the main star of the promotion and was brought to Philadelphia to team with the Pitbulls to battle Hack Myers & The Young Dragons to gain some magazine publicity for the W*ING comeback. There were only six shows or so of this new W*ING, with Jason feuding with Boogie Man (ECW’s JT Smith) and the Gravedigger.
I’ve always loved this version of Jason the most. Maybe it’s the strangeness of seeing a hockey masked Vorhees in the ring, perhaps it’s that his face underneath is always smiling in skull makeup, maybe it’s just because he is so good at being a selling, bleeding Southern babyface halfway around the world.
Finally, I’ve been debating where the Undertaker should fit in as a Mat Monster. Part zombie, part Michael Meyers and definitely part Jason. He definitely picked up that sitting up, no selling, back to hurting people move somewhere!
Next time, we’ll take a trip into the future and discover several wrestling robots. Do you have any comments or suggestions for future episodes? If so, let me know!
This article was originally written for That’s Not Current. Their loss is your gain.