Santo contra el Doctor Muerte (1973)

Don’t you think Santo would stop and look at his cases and say, “You know, I fought Satan himself. Like, I have first-hand evidence of Lucifer, the First of the Fallen, the Lord of the Flies. I’ve battled aliens, vampires — male and female, werewolves — also both genders, gone back in time and tangled with witches. Now it’s art theft?”

Yes, art restoration expert Dr. Mann has quite the plan. His men deface a canvas — like “Los Borrachos” by Velázquez — and then he gets paid to restore it using tumors that he has introduced into the bodies of the women that he has chained up. He gets paid to fix the painting and keeps the original while giving the museum back a copy.

I mean, what’s Santo going to do, put an art forger into La de a Caballo?

This installment was directed by Rafael Romero Marchent, a Spanish director better known for Spanish-made Italian western fare like the Gianni Garko-starring Sartana Kills Them All and Dead Are Countless which had Anthony Steffen in it. He also made Disco Rojo with Paul Naschy.

Santo’s female co-stars include Helga Liné (My Dear KillerThe Blancheville MonsterMission Bloody MaryNightmare Castle) and Mirta Miller (Get MeanDr. Jekyll vs. The WerewolfCount Dracula’s Great Love).

Magic (1978)

William Goldman — who pretty much owns cinema when you think of it, between writing HeatThe Princess BrideButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidMarathon Man and so many other great scripts — wrote the book and screenplay for this one, which concerns the relationship between Charles “Corky” Withers (Anthony Hopkins) and his foul-mouthed dummy Fats.

You’ve seen it before with The Great Gabbo, but have you seen it with Ann-Margaret hooking up with a mentally ill man who channels his rage through a wooden doll? Or a scene where Burgess Meredith is killed by being bludgeoned with said inanimate person and then drowned?

Richard Attenborough may have directed this, A Chorus Line and Ghandi, but did he get an action figure made from any of those movies? Many kids will know him only as the man who welcomed us to Jurassic Park, John Hammond.

When asked what role he’d always wanted and didn’t get, Gene Wilder revealed that it was the role of Corky. Attenborough and Goldman wanted him for the part, but producer Joseph E. Levine said that a comedian would take away from the emotional story.

You can watch this on Tubi.

MAT MONSTERS: King Kong themed wrestlers

With the hype surrounding Godzilla vs. Kong and all the talk of Team Godzilla and Team Kong, we thought it was time to bring up some of the wrestlers who took the name King Kong and added it to their own to make themselves sound much larger than they are.

The first example that we could find was Emile “King Kong” Czaja, an Australian-Indian star who was active from 1937 to 1970, starting his career in India and gaining the name after playing the actual role in a proto-Bollywood remake of the tale. He wrestled for Japan’s JWA, teaming with Tiger Joginder Singh (who inspired Tiger Jeet Singh, a later rival of Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba) to defeat Rikidozan and Harold “Oddjob” Sakata on November 16, 1955 to become the first All-Asian tag team champions. He was also the wrestler that Rikidozan defeated to become the first All Asia Heavyweight Champion. Sadly, Czaja was injured in a car wreck on May 12, 1970 and the star — remembered for his feud with Dara Singh for decades afterward — would die four days later.

Angelo “King Kong” Mosca is a Canadian Football League Hall of Famer who became a major star all over the world, winning titles in Stampede, the NWA, AWA, WWC and more. In his WWF runs, he feuded with Bob Backlund over the title and had a memorable series of matches with announcer Pat Patterson. While he was often a face in his native Canada at this point, he was a major heel during this run.

Bruiser Brody was a legendary brawler and perhaps the most independent wrestler of all time. While he didn’t use the King Kong name all that often, when he would work in St. Louis or in territories where The Bruiser was a draw, he would switch to being called King Kong Brody — which ls a great name — as a sign of respect.

King Kong Bundy is perhaps the best-remembered name to use this nickname. The so-called “Walking Condominium” was a mainstay of the Hulk Hogan era and was the Hulkster’s steel cage opponent at WrestleMania 2. Starting his career under the names Chris Cannon and Chris Canyon, he got his first run in Texas as Baby Daddy Bundy, a friend of the Von Erichs who was turned heel by Gary Hart. This feud led to him losing his red hair for the trademark bald look he’d use for the rest of his career and he was also Fritz Von Erich’s opponent for his 1982 retirement match. The master of the five count, Bundy also appeared on Married…With Children and in the Richard Pryor film Moving.

The Colossal Kongs were Scott Thompson, who wrestled as King Kong, Krusher Kong and Texas Terminator Hoss (his name for a run with All Japan Pro Wrestling) and Dwain McCullough, who was Awesome Kong. They feuded with the Ebony Experience in Texas, who would become Harlem Heat in WCW. The Kongs also made their way to WCW, where they faced Sting and Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions XXIV and battled one another in a random draw BattleBowl match, as King Kong and Dustin Rhodes beat Awesome and The Equalizer, who would soon become Dave “Evad” Sullivan. King Kong would also do a single PPV enhancement loss to The Shockmaster before heading back to Texas.

The better known Awesome Kong is Kia Stevens, who has used that name in All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, Gaea, Ring of Honor, TNA, WWE and now AEW. She also played Tammé “The Welfare Queen” Dawson on the Netflix series GLOW. She got her name as a play on Japanese female star Aja Kong — we’ll get to her in a moment — and together they formed a near unbeatable tag team known as W Kong.

Perhaps the most dominant female wrestler of all time, Aja Kong started her career in All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling as a member of Dump Matsumoto’s Gokuaku Domei, known in English as the Atrocious Alliance, along with her classmate Nobuko “Bison” Kimura. After Marsumoto’s retirement, the two would form a team called Jungle Jack and feud with Bull Nakano. On November 15, 1992, Aja would end Nakano’s three-year reign as WWWA world champion. She also wrestled for WWE, WCW, formed the company Arsion and now is part of AEW.

Malcolm “King Kong” Kirk was a former miner and rugby player who became a British pro wrestling star. On August 23, 1987, in a televised main event tag match where he teamed with the British version of Kendo Nagasaki against Big Daddy Crabtree and Greg Valentine (not the second generation American star but Steve Crabtree), Kirk had a heart attack that some attributed to the decline of native UK pro wrestling. That’s because Kirk had had six heart attacks already and was still wrestling. And after the accident, Big Daddy refused to break kayfabe and reveal that his Big Daddy Splashdown finisher was not the real cause of Krik’s death. “King Kong” Kirk was also in the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer movie I’m for the Hippopotamus.

Kongo Kong got his name from Insane Clown Posse rapper Violent J and wrestled for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling and Impact before leaving in March 2019. He now runs his own wrestling school, Prof. Kongo Kong’s Pro Wrestling Academy.

Now using his real name — Takashi Yoshida — to wrestle for Japan’s Dragon Gate, Cyber Kong was an arm wrestler that started in the New Japan LA Dojo. His short size didn’t fit there, so he found his way to train with Dragon Gate USA. A strongman who often rips a pineapple apart with his bare hands, his American wrestling origins made many think he was a gaijin. However, he was born in Osaka.

Other wrestlers who have used the King Kong name include…

New Japan Pro Wrestling star Togi Makabe is famous for his King Kong Kneedrop. He also has the nickname of “Sweet Gorilla Maruyama” and provided the voice for Rictus Erectus when Mad Max: Fury Road was dubbed for Japan.

Tatsuki Fuji, one of the original Torymon graduates, has had plenty of nicknames, perhaps most famously Don Fujii and Sumo “Dandy” Fuji. One of those nicknames was El King Kong.

One of the toughest men alive — you have to be to team with Meng — Sione Havea Vailahi is better known as The Barbarian. However, he spent some of his ring time being called Konga the Barbarian and King Konga. He also appeared in the Hal Needham movie Body Slam as Axe, a member of The Cannibals tag team alongside Thomas Leroy “Teijo Khan” Kasat. In the film, they were managed by Captain Lou Albano and battled “Quick” Rick Roberts (Roddy Piper) and Tonga Tom (The Tonga Kid), who were managed by M. Harry Smilac (Dirk Benedict). Benedict was smartened up by this film, as he had no idea that pro wrestling is, well, pro wrestling. Also, perhaps even more amazingly, Barbarian and Khan faked that the match was a complete shoot to convince the extras watching to take the match seriously. PS – his Powers of Pain tag partner, the previously mentioned Meng, also wrestled as King Kong Tonga.

Gorilla Grubmeyer is mainly remembered for the murder/suicide of his wife Geraldine, who had just served him with divorce papers. He shot her multiple times, ran out of bullets and hung himself next to her. He also used the ring names King Kong Frankenstein — the best name perhaps ever — and King Kong Grubmeyer.

Kintaro “Il Kim” Ohki was a Korean wrestler who became a big star in Japan. He feuded with Rikidozan, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, often teaming with other rulebreakers like Kim Duk, Pak Song and Umanosuke Ueda. He also used the ring name Kintaro Kongo.

A Malenko School student, Jeff Bradley has used many names in pro wrestling, most famously as one of the first Dudleys, Dudley Dudley. He also used the names Bruiser Kong and Man Mountain Kong.

Dee Booher started her career in wrestling in the mud, wrestling as Queen Kong and even battling against bears. She also did roller derby for five years, using that name as she played for the Chicago Hawks, the New York Bombers, the Detroit Devils and the Texas Outlaws. She was also in the movies Theodore RexGrunt! The Wrestling Movie and Deathstalker II before she worked with David McLane and director Matt Cimber to cast, recruit and train performers for the original GLOW. She also helped write the theme song and played the Matilda the Hun. As that character, she ate raw meat, something she’d done for some time, even recording a song “I Eat Raw Meat.”

Trained by Animal Hamaguchi, Nanae Takahashi started her career by teaming with Momoe Nakanishi and became the final WWWA champion, handing over the belt to promoter Takashi Matsunaga immediately after she won it on March 26, 2006. AJW was over, but she moved on to start Pro Wrestling Sun, a Zero-1 affilaite that used the old AWA titles. She also founded World Wonder Ring Stardom with Fuka and Rossy Ogawa before leaving to start her own promotion Seadlinnng. She has used the name NANA Kong in her career at one point.

Brazo “Super Porky” La Plata’s daughter wrestles as well, doing a comedy style much like her father. She’s known as Goya Kong.

According to LuchaWikiAlthar Kong was “an American wrestler from Santa Monica, California that toured in Monterrey for 6 months as a giant gorilla from the Planet of the Apes movie in the 2005 before returning to America to pursue a career in acting.”

Interestingly enough, the video game Rampage started with a character named George who is pretty much Kong. And when the video game became a movie also named Rampage, only the Rock — a former pro wrestler — could be in it.

No discussion of wrestling and kaiju can be complete without mentioning Kaiju Big Battel, which features ongoing stories of all manner of monsters battling one another in the squared circle.

There’s also Origin Ape VIRGON who famously battled Survival Tobita and these guys, a trios that wrestles in District Federal who are known as Bongo Jr., Congo Jr. and Gorila Jr.

Did we miss any Kong themed wrestlers? Let us know. We can always use your help to learn more about not just movies, but pro wrestling.

Special thanks to Kris Erickson, Chris Hero (whose amazing podcast you can listen to at Ad Free Shows and follow on Twitter) and Joaquin Wilde, who are three of the best experts on wrestling in the world, for their help in putting this together.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Varan the Unbelievable (1958 and 1962)

How can a movie be made twice with the same footage and not be the same movie? Welcome to the world of kaiju cinema, where American producers only wanted the monster footage so that they could add in familiar Western faces and all monster kids wanted was more time for rubber suited destruction.

Originally made as Daikaijū Baran by Tomoyuki Tanaka, the creator of Godzilla, this was acquired by our friends Crown International Pictures — the company I love so much that I made a Letterboxd list to ensure that I see every one of the films they released — and put on a double feature with a re-edited, shortened and retitled East German/Polish science fiction movie they called First Spaceship on Venus.

Where the Toho film is filled with menace and an astounding close where Varan goes bonkers and destroys everything he possibly can, the American movie has Myron Healey* as Commander James Bradley (he was also a military man in The Incredible Melting Man) and as a kid, he would be the kind of leading man that I was instantly bored watching.

I mean, who would you rather watch? An embittered old army guy or a god monster who looks like a flying squirrel?

You know why I love Toho? Varan shows up briefly in Destroy All Monsters. Ah, if only we got to see more of him than this one film, which was originally a co-production with the ABC Network!

*This may be a made up story, but supposedly Healey believed he was going to shoot his scenes in Japan like Raymond Burr and not in Bronson Canyon. When Healy guested on Perry Mason, he shared the story with Burr, who told him that all of his scenes in Godzilla were shot on a Hollywood set.

LUZ (2020)

Ruben and Carlos (Ernesto Reyes and Jesse Tayeh) are two men who have met in prison. Ruben is there because of an accident, which causes him problems with the cartel he works for and the family he comes from. Within the walls of the jail, the two men find comfort, stability and what seems like love with one another. But is it real? Or is it just a port in a storm?

Director and writer Jon Garcia tells an intriguing story here. While not a movie I would look for on my own, I grew to appreciate the love between the two men despite the very macho world that they both come from. LUZ does not shy away from showing every aspect of their story, with some very well-shot love scenes.

You can see this movie in select theaters on March 19 and on demand and on DVD April 6 from Dark Star Pictures.

Mat Monsters: Aliens

Sure, Roddy Piper may have battled aliens in They Live and Jesse “The Body” Ventura fought the Predator, but even pro wrestling couldn’t be silly enough to have aliens get in the ring. Could it?

Yes, that’s right. Even the sacred squared circle is not safe from extraterrestrial invaders. Here are but a few — actually we had to look pretty hard — out of this world grapplers:

Max Moon was the man of a million names when he debuted in 1990. Also known as Maximilian Moves, Relamapago, Latin Fury and The Comet Kid, he was originally lucha superstar Konnan.

This was a completely ridiculous — and awesome — gimmick. I mean, take a look at this photo from WWE.com: Konnan was going to be a real-life giant robot.

Image from wwe.com

Image from wwe.com

Eventually, the man who would one day be known as K-Dawg went back to Mexico and Paul Diamond discovered that the suit fit. The highest Max Moon got on the card was a loss to Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels on the debut episode of Monday Night Raw. How do I know he was an alien? He was billed as being from “Outer Space.”

Extraterrestrial Life comes to us from Japan’s small Zipang promotion, where he comes to the ring on a stretcher instead of being taken out on one. He also used to team with Giant Watermelon Head. Ah Japan, you happily bring us the strangest pro wrestling there is.

Speaking of Japan…

This old site — back from the days when the Death Valley Driver message board was the end all, be all of smart wrestling fandom — proves that someone, somewhere (David Bixspan) loved the war between former All Japan star Ryuma Go and a series of, well, space alien Jewish men.

It got to the point that when Weekly Pro Magazine ran a huge all promotion show in 1995, Go’s Go Gundan promotion presented a battle between Go, as the Interplanetary Champion, against Uchu Majin Silver X and an entire team of space monsters (including one that oddly wore overalls and dressed like an American redneck).

Here’s all you need to know: the aliens came out to Gustav Hoist’s “The Planets: Mars: Bringer of War”, Go came out to “Eye of the Tiger” and a dildo was used as a weapon.

To top that, the aliens once battled one another in Yokohama’s Yong Dong Village.

Ryuma Go’s life is pretty tragic. After some initial success as one of the first independent wrestlers in Japan, he was soon overshadowed by Atsushi Onita and his Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW). Despite a string of money marks and promotions like Pioneer Senshi, Oriental Pro, Go Gundan and Samurai Project — he also wrestled for Tenryu’s WAR — by the end of his life Go was a heavy drinker and was publically derided for appearing in gay pornography and stealing a woman’s purse. After a bicycle accident, he suffered a wrist injury that later became infected and killed him.

Just as sad, the wrestler who was Super Uchu Power, Koichiro Kimura, died of pneumonia in 2014. Beyond wrestling for Dramatic Dream Team, Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling and W*ING, Kimura also did MMA. He lost a high profile match to the legendary Rickson Gracie in the 1995 Vale Tudo Japan. Yes, in the same year he was a space alien, he also battled in this historic encounter.

When you need to know about strange wrestlers, you should always ask the amazing Kurt Brown. He responded with this: “South America ROCKED the alien scene, especially with YOLANKA, with his magic pacifying gun in 1973! Plus he was lowered into the ring in Luba Park on the big October show of that year!”

His LuchaWiki entry claims that this left side working ET “would usually wrestle by the rules, but when rudo got out of control, Yolanka would shoot him with his raygun, that would freeze his opponents, making them unable to move, or even lay down for a pin, taking a win after that.”

LuchaWiki also introduced me to the AAA wrestler named Alliens. He was also the leader of a stable known as Los Alienigenas that also included the gray monster Kriptor, the chameleon-like Mungo and their mini snail-like monster Mandrox, all of whom feuded with Alebrije and Cuije. Supposedly one of those guys was MS-1 and the other was El Verdugo. Alliens is pretty much 100% the wrestler now known as Monster Clown. Regardless, when Antonio Pena died, the aliens all went back to their home planet, which is a shame, because their promos were insane.

Speaking of lucha libre, by the second season of its Americanized-cousin, Lucha Underground, it was revealed that Aerostar was actually an alien with some time travel abilities. That would explain why he can do these things and not die.

A note for lucha fans — before he was Aerostar, this luchador also wrestled as Chiva Rayada II, one of the soccer playing wrestling goats. Yes, that really happens in Mexico.

I’ve also heard of an alien wrestler near Philly that works for PWE named Telepo-1. I’d love to learn more about him — or her — so someone please fill me in!

There’s also “The Alien” Kristen Stadtlander, who has been making some big waves on the indy scene as of late. She recently told 1495 Sports about portraying an alien: “It is a weird extreme version of myself. Most of the greats in wrestling will always say be the best character you can be is one where you take yourself and times it by ten. My whole life I never really fit in anywhere, but I always had something interesting about me not everyone knows. Aliens don’t fit in with humans and there is so much curiosity about them that is so intriguing. That is kind of how I feel.”

There are several instances of aliens battling wrestlers in pop culture, too.

In Sega’s Pro Wrestling for the Master System — based on the arcade game Gokuaku Doumei Dump Matsumoto (released outside Japan as Body Slam), the final hidden bosses are an alien tag team.

Known as M.U.S.C.L.E. in the US, Japan’s Kinnikuman is all about the adventures of Suguru Kinniku, a superhero who must win a wrestling tournament to become the prince of Planet Kinniku. That’s just the start of the story that’s been going on for multiple generations and four decades, even crossing over into the real world at times.

If aliens are coming to Earth and want a battle, who better than the Von Erichs to lead the fight? This blast of pure insanity, published in 1989, posits a place where Kevin, Kerry and Fritz are beamed into space to use Iron Claws and Tornado Punches against bug eyed monsters. You can read more — and you totally have to — right here.

I mean…just look at this page:

If you could Superman as an alien, you can always look back on the time he fought against Antonino Rocca, too.

When it comes to wrestling toys, Mattel released a line of WWE Mutants action figures. Along with a scorpion-looking Sting, a metal John Cena, a demonized Finn Balor, a four-armed Brock Lesnar and an alligator man Bray Wyatt, future AEW boss Cody Rhodes’ character Stardust would become an alien.

Despite how silly this glow in the dark figure is, it’s still cooler than his Star Trek: The Next Generation entrance at All Out.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the alien-filled Champions of the Galaxy game, which has been around since I read PWI in the 1980’s. It’s still available — along with plenty of other cool games — from Filsinger Games.

Want to know about more mat monsters? We’ve already covered:

What would you like to see us get to next?

NOTE: The awesome Star Wars wrestlers that we used for this article come from Healey Made.

Thanks to Kurt Brown, LuchaWiki, Kris Erickson and Emily Fear for their help with this article.

Mat Monsters: Zombies!

We’ve covered plenty of monsters in wrestling, but it’s been awhile. Just in time for Halloween, we’re back to talk about the living dead in the squared circle.

Plenty of pro wrestling promotions have done zombie wrestling shows — I’m on one this Saturday night in Pittsburgh, cheap Foley plug — but right now, we’re talking about individual wrestlers that have become zombies and some zombie vs. wrestler themed films.

Probably the most famous zombie wrestler is The Undertaker. You could argue that he probably has the best gimmick — or the longest lasting — of the modern era of wrestling. He’s been an undead minion of Paul Bearer, the leader of a quasi-Satanic church, an unliving biker, an MMA fighting member of the walking dead, a semi-retired once a year fighter and now, inevitably, he’s back for “one more match.”

The Undertaker has been around since he made his official on-camera debut at the 1990 Survivor Series as Kane the Undertaker (he had done a previous TV taping three days earlier), making one of the best pushed first-night appearances ever, eliminating Koko B. Ware with his tombstone piledriver and Dusty Rhodes by double elimination. Soon, he’d be in the title mix and off to a career to has seen him be a face, a heel, somewhere in the middle and finally the kind of legend that no one wants to boo. Throw in his incredibly confusing connection with his brother Kane, that moment when Mabel crushed his face and he had to wear a mask, getting buried by all the heels and coming back to battle his twin brother after Leslie Nielsen (!) searched for him, that time he had the American flag inside his trenchcoat because undead dudes are jingoistic babyfaces, his association with managers Brother Love and Paul Bearer, his Ministry of Darkness, the Corporate Ministry and his epic 21-0 Wrestlemania streak and you have the kind of first ballot Hall of Fame career that few wrestlers will ever match.

Undertaker doesn’t do many full on zombie spots, instead of relying on a Michael Myers-like instant recovery and the power to a funeral urn that can heal him. He also used to use a body bag on his foes after he beat them, but we can only assume that parents got angry when little brothers got shoved into sleeping bags and put a stop to that.

ECW had one zombie. And only one. On June 13, 2006, the premiere of the SciFi version of ECW featured the late Tim Arson as The Zombie, who lasted all of a few moments before The Sandman mercifully Singapore caned him in the brain.

Finally, there’s Onryu, the Japanese wrestler Ryo Matsuri, who is just as much a ghost as he is a zombie. He won a cursed championship, died and must now forever walk the Earth. He has magic powers, such as being able to appear and disappear to his opponents, as well as disconnecting his hand so that he can make impossible rope breaks.

When I wrestled for Pittsburgh’s International Wrestling Cartel promotion, we were lucky to get to use Onryu for the Super Indy 3 tournament, which was won by Chris Sabin. In the first round, Onryu defeated fellow WMF wrestler Soldier before losing to Alex Shelley in the second round.

I first met Onryu in Tokyo after wrestling a six-person intergender match for the bonkers DDT promotion. Someone told me that Onryu wanted to meet with me before he came to America and I was honestly pretty excited, as I was a big fan of his work. I was kind of worried though — how does one talk to a zombie? The reply came: Onryu is a rock star. I’m not putting myself over — I’ve met plenty of pro wrestlers, big, small, famous and unknown. Only Onryu was legit a rock star, appearing before me like a miniature Japanese David Bowie in full zombie paint, wearing a long shirt and bell bottom pants with a dragon pattern all over them.

This is not my most insane Onryu tale. He stayed in my home for several days on his tour and we made sure to take him to plenty of places in the USA so that he got to see what our country is all about. His favorite? Target, where he stocked up on dishwands, those sponges that you fill up with liquid soap. He’d never seen one before and wanted to bring them back for all of his friends in Japan. Keep in mind, he was still dressed like a rock star in a small town Target, standing out as no one has ever stood out before.

Beyond wrestlers who have shuffled off this mortal coil, there have been plenty of wrestling vs. zombie movies, dating way back to Plan 9 From Outer Space. In this Ed Wood opus, or Johnson, formerly known as the wrestling Super Swedish Angel, rose from the grave to aid an alien invasion alongside Vampira. His part was played by pro wrestle George “The Animal” Steele in the Tim Burton biographical film.

Even better, there was a movie called Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies, where pro wrestlers like Roddy Piper, Kurt Angle, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy and Shane Douglas.

I had the chance to speak with Ashton Amherst, who is more than just a pro wrestler who has torn it up all over the country. He also played Angus in Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies

B&S: So how did you get involved in Zombies vs. Pro Wrestlers?

ASHTON: Originally, I was asked to be cast as a pro wrestler extra in the film. But, with real work and real life, I couldn’t commit to the 2+ weeks of filming in WV for that amount of money. So, in a twist, Sylvester Turkay, who was originally going to be the lead villain, backed out. I auditioned for the role and they liked me and kind of tailored it more to me than a big monster like Sylvester. Funny side note, he did come for one day of filming and is the monster that rips Kurt Angle off of me in the one scene.

B&S: Had you had any acting experience before?

ASHTON: Other than the acting that is pro wrestling, I had no real movie set experience.

B&S: What was it like working with some of the bigger names?

ASHTON: It was awesome. I remember the first morning, we had gone late the night before. It’s 6 AM and I’m at the hotel Starbucks and it’s just me, Shane Douglas, Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Duggan in line. I’m like, “Oh shit, this is pretty damn cool.” Over the two weeks, I got to hang with them a lot and really got to know Shane, who was my idol as a teenage wrestling fan. Roddy really took a liking to Ryan Reign, who I had brought in as an extra a few days into filming and Roddy ended up helping Ryan a lot and taking him to Raw and some WWE stuff with him. So, it was very cool to meet those guys and get to hang with them.

B&S: Any stores (that you can legally share)?

ASHTON: Oh man. So many (laughs). Day two, we were filming and they needed some extras to work with Matt Hardy in a fight scene. I was done filming that day and offered to get into some zombie gear and work kind of under a hood, so no one would know that it was me. We did a scene where he knocked me off a prison cell and when I fell the crash pads moved and I separated my shoulder badly!  

They had to put me under at the hospital to pop it back in and when I woke up it was just Shane sitting next to my hospital bed. Very surreal (laughs).

But yeah, so after that I was in a sling the next week or so and I took it off to film scenes. The scene I mentioned early with Kurt, I reminded him probably five times that my shoulder was recently separated. He either forgot or didn’t care, because he jacked me up against the wall for about nineteen takes straight (laughs).

But we were put up in a nice 5-star hotel and the room service guys always remembered my hurt shoulder and would deliver me ice packs every morning or night after filming. Since Parkersburg is such a small place, the filming of the movie was a much bigger deal than it would have been other places.

It was also probably 10 degrees or less most nights of filming. And the second week, the filming shifted to 6 PM to 6 AM. So we had some nice warm trailers to chill in, but the other like 1,000 extras that were just Parkersburg residents wanting to be in the movie stood in freezing temps just to be part of it, which was awesome. But yeah, all the fight scenes on the hill at the end?  It was freeeezing.

Then after those filmings, most of us would go to this local pancake house place. So you’d have a bunch of pro wrestlers, a male porn star guy, a Penthouse Pet of the Year, and all the other oddities in our troop just posting up eating pancakes at 6 AM in zombie makeup and ripped up clothing.

SAM: Are you a horror movie fan?

ASHTON: Absolutely!  My poor wife has to live thru watching all the Halloweens roughly 100 times each October!

Thanks, Ashton!

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that WWE has made several series of zombie action figures and characters for their Supercard and WWE2K19 games, including a skull-faced “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, an even paler than normal Paige and even a brains craving Shinsuke Nakamura. Yeaoh! Brains!

I didn’t even get to the luchador named Zombie Clown! Man! But are there any pro wrestling zombies that I missed? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Do you have a wrestling monster that you’d like to tell you more about?

In case you’re wondering, past Mat Monsters have included:

MAT MONSTERS: Robots!

Whew! It’s been awhile, but we’re back with plenty of new about the monstrous side of pro wrestling. And that brings us to…robots.

You can’t discuss mechanical grapplers without Shockwave the Robot. He’s wrestled all over the world, feuded with Mecha Mummy (you can even get a set of figures of the two of them via his website) and he breakdances!

Our good friend Kurt Brown noted that “Oh man, we had Robot C3 here in SoCal in ’78, but he had more staying power in Mexico. Let me think about it… OH! Of course, Lars Anderson as “The Bionic Wrestler” in ’76!” Yep, that’s right. For a short time, Lars Anderson was known as “The Man with the Bionic Arm!”

Even better, Kurt shared an image with us: For Sam Panico, My past, RUR 2000 (Rossum’s Universal Robot, from the Russian play that first coined the term “Robot!”

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You can also call up The New Breed here, as Chris Champion returned from a car injury with a bionic arm.

The New Breed also battled a babyface robot named Lazer Tron, who dressed in gear that looked like the kids’ Lazer Tag game. He teamed with Jimmy Valiant in the hopes of sending the New Breed back to the future they came from…2002, where Dusty Rhodes had become President of the United States. They also proclaimed Lazer Tron a “Go-Bot” and swore allegiance to the Decepticons.

Also, John Cena did a cyborg-style character while he was “The Prototype” before making it to the WWE. That said, it was more in promo and not like he dressed like a robot.

Believe it or not, C3PO and R2D2 have wrestled, notably in the most conservative promotion ever, All Japan Pro Wrestling! Here’s a rare photo of them gearing up to battle junior sensation (and pre-death match king) Atsushi Onita and Masa Fuchi!

According to a member of the WrestlingClassics message board,  Robot R2e was “better known as El Rebelde. The other guy is small time wrestler Barba Negra (Raul Rodriguez). In one of these interesting wrestling stories: the original Robots R2/C3 wrestled in Mexico City but they had a disagreement with the magazine that created the gimmick, so they basically became independent wrestlers all over the country. Eventually, two new guys took the masks (Rebelde, a veteran by then, and Rodriguez), with support from the magazine.There was a nasty war of words, and a feud was teased, but eventually, the two Robot R2 became a short-lived tag team after the original C3 got injured. However, the original R2 hit it off with the second C3 so they became a regular tag team all over the country where they could make money without having to give a percentage to the magazine. The second R2 kept working for EMLL and was eventually unmasked as Rebelde.”

But if you really want to discuss Star Wars-based robots in wrestling, go no further than Michinoku Pro Wrestling. For years, they’ve been having the Great Space War, where the Mu no Taiyo cult…defend planet Earth from Superman, Darth Vader, Yoda, R2-D2 & C-3PO.

Also, for a short amount of time, Osaka Pro Wrestler Kuishinbo Kamen was forced to give up his character and wrestled as Super Robo K.

Finally, I wouldn’t be doing my job right if I didn’t mention the time that RoboCopo showed up to help Sting against the Four Horsemen. The less said, really, the better. But here it is…

What’s next? Well, we’ve covered the following so far:

Pro wrestling vampires, part one and two

Frankenstein’s monster as a wrestler

A three-part series on wrestling mummies, including Argentina, Mexico and an interview with Prince Kharis himself!

Undersea and amphibian grapplers

Jason, Nightmare Freddy and Leatherface, too!

But we haven’t gotten to zombies yet, so look for that coming soon! And please share any feedback or ideas you have with us!

Mat Monsters: Jason

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.

Mat Monsters: Vampires part 2

During our last installment, we discovered the vampiric ring denizens of Mexico. This time, we’re going to grab a spray bottle of holy water and load our fanny packs up with crucifixes as we go in search of more ‘rassling Nosferantus!

The 1990s/2000s promotion 100% Lucha, based in Argentina, seems to be the bastard son of Titanes en el Ring with a more WCW Nitro-esque flair. With a six year lifespan, the promotion even gave birth to a few movie spin-offs and action figures. They had their own resident evil vamp in Molok el Vampiro, who had a bevy of batty beauties that followed him to ringside. He looks more like Bobby Liebling of doom metal giants Pentagram than Bela Lugosi, but let’s give him some credit for rocking out that sick spandex spider-laden ensemble!

Traveling to America and the abortive SciFI Network relaunch of ECW, we find Kevin Thorn. Once known as Mordecai, a religious zealot character poised to feud with the Undertaker before strangely being phased out, he reappeared with a new valet, Ariel, as part of The New Breed, an upstart team of rookies who would routinely defeat the ECW Originals. The new ECW was a bust for many reasons — it was a few years too late, the biggest stars of the past were often booked to lose, SciFi/SyFy asked for fantasy characters that the fans rejected — but Thorn had an interesting look and he and Ariel seemed to make for an intriguing couple.

Ariel, or Shelly Martinez as she is now known, went on to be part of The Search for the Next Elvira, as well as appearances in several independent horror films and work as a correspondent for MoreHorror.com.

But when it comes to the most well-known American vampire wrestler, Gangrel would be the go-to ghoul. Born David Heath and trained by the famous Malenko family, Gangrel started as a black masked member of the tag team The Blackhearts known as Destruction. His first vampiric appearance was on WWF TV in 1994, when they showed his marriage ceremony to Luna Vachon in a segment entitled “Wedding to a Vampire.”

Heath wrestled as The Vampire Warrior in USWA (Of course! Memphis!) and was named the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year for 1993. Five years later, he was hired by the WWE and became Gangrel, with the name taken from the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. Gangrel had one of the greatest ring entrances in wrestling history — he literally rose to the stage in a circle of fire, drinking the blood of his victims. And when he found Edge and Christian to be his teammates as The Brood, things really got vampy. They’d attack their victims with a blood bath, ala the first Blade movie, and were also part of The Undertaker’s ultra-creepy Ministry of Darkness faction.

After leaving the Ministry, the Brood feuded with Michael Hayes and The Hardy Boys, with Gangrel turning the Carolina boys into The New Brood. It was short-lived, however, Gangrel soon left the WWE, although he’s returned several times. And if you like the work of Rusev, thank him, because he — along with Rikishi — trained the Bulgarian bully.

Gangrel’s been super active in the indies and has had quite an out of the ring career, too. In 2007, he signed a deal to direct 12 films for a company called the “New Porn Order,” using his Vampire Warrior name (of note, he also used the ring name Lestat the Vampire) and his debut film was to be called Miami Rump Shakerz 2. He also appears as a prisoner in The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), or so Wikipedia says.

Finally, I’ve discovered a few vampiric footnotes in Japanese wrestling, with Tracy Smothers having gone under a hood as Golden Vampire XIII, Tomokai Honma’s nickname of Vampire Chicken and a strange tale of “The Fashion Plate of Wrestling” Freddie Blassie. One could write an entire library of books on Blassie, but this nom de plume came from his propensity to bite his opponents. To get over on one of his first trips to Japan, Blassie bought a file at a hardware store and walked off the plane filing his teeth into sharp fangs so he could more effectively bite into the skin of his Japanese competition. From his legendary in-ring career to insane appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and a starring role in Andy Kaufman’s Breakfast with Blassie, there will never be another Fred.

Do you know of any more wrestling vampires? Please share in the comments below — I’d love your help! And if you have any comments — good or bad — share them as well. Next time, we’ll see what happens when Jason leaves Crystal Lake for the confines of the wrestling ring!

This article originally appeared at http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/mat-monsters-legend-of-the-wrestling-vampires/