Fred Ottman (August 10, 1956) is a retired American professional wrestler best known as Tugboat or Typhoon and teaming with Earthquake as The Natural Disasters in the World Wrestling Federation. Ottman is also well known for his infamous "Shockmaster" character in World Championship Wrestling.


World Wrestling Federation

Ottman made his first appearance in the WWF in June 1989 in a dark match under the name Big Man Steel with Slick as his manager. He debuted on television in January 1990 as a face under the name Tugboat Thomas (later just "Tugboat"), his costume consisted of a red striped shirt, white pants, and a sailor's hat. Part of his gimmick included raising his fist into the air and then pulling it down (similar to the way one would signal a trucker) and make a "Toot-toot" noise, like a foghorn on a ship. Tugboat aided Hulk Hogan in his feud with Earthquake and "Canada's Strongest Man" Dino Bravo. This coincided with a substantial push that saw Tugboat emerging victorious on television against numerous opponents. In May 1991 Ottman foreshadowed a heel turn when he fought Hulk Hogan in a battle royal on the final NBC Saturday Night's Main Event. Shortly afterwards he turned heel, changing his character's name to Typhoon and aligning himself with Earthquake as the The Natural Disasters, managed by Jimmy Hart. The Natural Disasters turned face early in 1992, feuding with and eventually winning the WWF World Tag Team Championship from Hart's Money Inc. ("Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) in July, before losing the titles back to Money Inc. three months later. When Earthquake took a leave of absence from the WWF early in 1993, Ottman wrestled in low-profile singles matches before leaving the company that spring.

World Championship Wrestling

The Shockmaster incident

After departing from the WWF, Ottman would find himself the center of the most embarrassing moment in wrestling history. World Championship Wrestling (WCW) had recently signed Ottman, and he was to make his debut in a match alongside Sting, Dustin Rhodes, and Davey Boy Smith. He would be their mystery partner in the upcoming eight-man tag match against the heel team composed of Sid Vicious, Big Van Vader, and Harlem Heat at Fall Brawl.

On "A Flair for the Gold", (an interview segment hosted by Ric Flair) in front of a live audience at Clash of the Champions XXIV, Sting and Smith were confronted by Sid and Harlem Heat, demanding to know the identity of their new partner. Sting exclaimed, "All I can say is, he is going to "shock" the world, because he is none other than... The Shockmaster!!" The camera zoomed in on a particular section of the set where two torches set off a small pyrotechnics explosion in front of a sheetrock wall. Ottman was supposed to make a dramatic entrance by crashing through the wall. His new costume consisted of a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet painted silver and covered in glitter, a pair of jeans, and a long black vest. Instead, in perhaps the most humiliating moment in wrestling history, Ottman tripped over a piece of lumber that was framing the set, causing his helmet to fall off and slide across the floor. As he scrambled to put the helmet back on and get to his feet, Flair audibly exclaimed "Oh, God!". Ottman stood menacingly for a moment in an attempt to salvage the disaster, during which Smith could be heard saying that he "fell flat on his fucking arse!". Dusty Rhodes later revealed on an episode of WWE 24/7's Legends of Wrestling that the piece of lumber previously wasn't there during a successful practice run and it was later put there by David Crockett without informing Ottman.

Ottman walked up to Sid and Harlem Heat, all of whom were visibly struggling to contain their laughter. The interview, which was actually voiced by Ole Anderson, only got worse as Anderson started giggling at the beginning and mistakenly called Sid 'Stid' at one stage. Despite zero crowd reaction and leaving the announcers speechless, WCW decided to continue with the feud.

World Wrestling Entertainment, which now owns all rights to WCW and its video library, has described The Shockmaster's debut as "one of the most unintentionally funny moments in sports-entertainment history," and "a debacle many still consider one of the worst gaffs in the history of sports-entertainment." While Ottman was displeased with the turn of events, he now finds humor in the incident.


WCW attempted to salvage the incident by introducing a new character called the "Super Shockmaster." Also portrayed by Ottman, this was intended to be the Shockmaster's nephew, who would then refer to the Shockmaster as "Uncle Fred." Subsequently, entering the ring to a distorted version of the Beatles song "Day Tripper," the Shockmaster was then portrayed as a klutz until the character was eventually abandoned.

Ottman returned to the WWF as Typhoon in May 1994, primarily being used to put over other talent, before departing in August.

On the August 31, 2009 edition of Monday Night RAW, D-Generation X and Dusty Rhodes had a segment regarding The Shockmaster while advertising "The Rise and Fall of WCW." After commenting that the DVD didn't contain his favorite WCW moment, Triple H began explaining the incident to Michaels, while Rhodes tried to stop him. A robotic voice then said HHH's name and then Shawn's. Triple H stopped and said the voice was coming from the a yellow wall set piece decorated exactly like the wall from "A Flair For The Gold". Pyrotechnics hit and the Shockmaster came out similar to the original WCW segment and Santino Marella revealed himself to be the Shockmaster after DX left.

Arn Anderson (replacing his kayfabe cousin Ole) was caught on screen doing the Shockmaster voice-over.

Personal life

Ottman retired from wrestling after WCW folded in 2001. Ottman was one of the participants of the 20 Man Gimmick Battle Royal match at WrestleMania X-Seven as Tugboat. He now lives in Lakeland, Florida and works as a safety manager for Gaffin Industrial Services, a building cleaning service. He also coaches the little league team of his two sons and daughter, Berkley, Beau, and Bailey.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

  • SWS Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Earthquake

See also

External links

1991 PWI Top 500 Wrestlers
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