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The Machines

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The Machines were a professional wrestling stable that performed in the World Wrestling Federation in 1986 and 1987. The team consisted of well-known WWF wrestlers working under masks which strongly resembled that worn by Super Strong Machine (Japanese wrestler Junji Hirata) in New Japan Pro Wrestling at the time. The gimmick was very much tongue-in-cheek, as the identities of the masked men were obvious to the fans but frustrating to heels when they were unable to prove them. The Machines was the last tag team Capt. Lou Albano managed in the WWF until he returned in 1994 to manage The Headshrinkers.

Story

After feuding intensely with André the Giant for more than a year, Bobby Heenan's Heenan Family challenged André and a partner of his choice to face King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd in a tag team match on April 26, 1986. When André did not show and was replaced by Ted Arcidi, Bobby Heenan launched a campaign to get him suspended from the WWF. After deliberating on the matter, WWF President Jack Tunney was forced to suspend him for missing the tag team match and subsequent matches against the Heenan Family. (This was, of course, only a wrestling storyline.)

Less than two months after the suspension was announced, vignettes appeared on WWF Television hailing the debut of a masked tag team from the Orient, known as ”The Machines”: Giant Machine and Super Machine. The team announced that they were coming to America soon with their manager Lou Albano and that their only mission was to prove that they were the number one tag team in the world. Super Machine was portrayed by Bill Eadie; his ring name was a play on his previous gimmick, “Masked Superstar”. Though it was clear that Giant Machine was none other than André the Giant, commentators implied that it may be Giant Baba and not André under the mask.

In the following weeks Bobby Heenan made repeated claims that Giant Machine was André the Giant attempting to circumvent his suspension. To illustrate the obviousness of the ruse, Heenan went so far as to introduce his ”New team from Korea” on an episode of Jesse Ventura’s ”Body Shop”; the team was merely King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd wearing paper bags over their heads. Heenan's claims led to Jack Tunney decreeing that if the Giant Machine was revealed to be André, André's suspension would become permanent.

On August 5 (shown August 23), The Machines made their WWF debut with Super Machine wrestling in a singles match while Albano and Giant Machine were at ringside. Later that night, Bobby Heenan sneaked around at ringside taking pictures of the Giant Machine to try to prove his true identity. One week later, Albano introduced a third Machine to the WWF: Big Machine, who was played by Blackjack Mulligan. André had been suffering from (legitimate) severe back injuries, and the introduction of the Big Machine character was meant to reduce André's wrestling role. "The Machines" angle was designed to put him in a lighter tag-team role. Due to the severity of the back injury, Mulligan was brought in to reduce André's wrestling role even further, thereby keeping the popular superstar on TV.

Big Machine and Super Machine would wrestle the majority of the matches against Bobby Heenan's cronies, occasionally with Lou Albano joining them to face Bundy, Studd and Heenan in six man tag-team action. Soon, other masked wrestlers (whose identities were generally obvious) would appear and temporarily team with The Machines. On September 10 Big and Super Machine were joined by Animal Machine to defeat King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd and Bobby Heenan. . On September 16 the Machines were joined by Hulk Machine as the trio defeated the Heenan Family. The Hulk Machine would return on September 22 and help the Machines win in the main event at the Madison Square Garden. A few weeks later the Machines received help from the kilt-wearing Piper Machine. On a house show in St. Paul, Minnesota the Machines even got the help of Crusher Machine, pinning John Studd to gain the victory for his team. On October 28 the Machines wrestled their last match under that gimmick, a loss to Bundy and Studd. This also marked the last appearance as a manager in the WWF for Lou Albano.

After the Machines last match was shown on November 23, the angle was ended and André was announced as being reinstated on November 29. In the following weeks the mystery of why André the Giant was reinstated built up until it was revealed that Bobby Heenan had arranged for the suspension to end so he could turn on Hulk Hogan in the buildup to WrestleMania III. After the angle ended Super Machine was repackaged as Ax, one half of Demolition while Big Machine worked for the WWF as Blackjack Mulligan in late 1986 and the first half of 1987 before leaving the promotion.

In wrestling

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