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|8th||The Missing Link|
The blood-red visage of WWE.com’s No. 10 Wildest WWE Superstar can quite literally stop a clock—especially the ones he smashes over his skull. His victims, meanwhile, are more concerned that time has run out for them. Emerging from the darkest shadows, thickening smoke and intense red lighting, this powerful, menacing creature casts a maniacally gleeful grin while his body spasms uncontrollably toward the ring. Many of his opponents want desperately to run, yet find themselves virtually mesmerized by fear. His wild eyes are transfixed on theirs, his breath reeking of foul, disgusting things digested only moments before. Yet it’s the predator’s frightening words that echo through their minds before he strikes.
I’m The Boogeyman! And I’m comin’ to getcha!
Since first he surfaced from the Bottomless Pit in October 2005, Boogeyman has relished inflicting punishment on WWE’s Superstars. Many claim that his very presence—punctuated by his recitation of nursery rhymes and demented riddles in a creepy sing-song tone—is enough to unsettle his in-ring quarry. Those who don’t scare so easily, however, are often immobilized by Boogeyman’s freakish strength. The power of his Pumphandle Slam or Chokebomb is matched only by his hunger for in-ring mayhem, or his voracious appetite for nourishing himself on live worms—a tasty treat he has shared with more than one unwilling victim. (In a fashion that could be compared to a bird regurgitating food to share with its young, only more disgusting.)
It’s hard to explain in layman’s terms what exactly Boogeyman is trying to accomplish in WWE; although championship gold is the greatest incentive for a WWE Superstar, at times he seems more interested simply in feeding off others’ trepidation to face him. Many suspect that even he may not fully comprehend his own actions, and...well, let’s face it. Boogeyman’s unpredictable nature doesn’t exactly make him an “open book” that fans want to read. Nevertheless, he does achieve results, having defeated many of WWE’s greatest Superstars, including World Champions like JBL and King Booker.
Boogeyman may not be the only member of his kind (as evidenced by the occasional appearance of “Little Boogey,” a diminutive version of himself), though he is clearly one of a kind in World Wrestling Entertainment. Only time will ultimately reveal what he desires most—time that, unfortunately for his adversaries, is on his side. He savors the “tick-tock” of the clock, counting down the seconds before meeting his next unsuspecting challenger in the ring. So before that time comes, it seems somewhat appropriate for WWE.com to offer a word of advice in the paraphrased words of an Edward D. Wood screenplay: “Beware. Take care. Beware….”
Contrary to popular opinion, crocodiles and alligators are not one and the same. Crocs sport elongated, V-shaped snouts and an interlocking jawline (making their fourth upper tooth visible), as opposed to alligators’ shorter, U-shaped proboscis and overlapping upper jowl. Plus, their habitats are literally worlds apart—the modified salivary glands on crocodiles’ tongues place them in the salt waters of tropical regions throughout Africa, Asia and Australia, while freshwater-dwelling gators are located primarily within the Americas and China. Regardless, we can all agree that no one in their right mind desires getting close enough to differentiate between either species—that is, no one but the predatory huntsman-turned-WWE Superstar, Skinner.
Long before “Crikey” achieved legendary TV catch-phrase status, Skinner was a crocodile hunter as ferocious and unpredictable as the testiest of reptiles, and his conduct was far more reprehensible. Rather than study or educate others to the behavioral intricacies of all 23 remaining species of Crocodylia, this tobacco-droolin’ bottom feeder from Florida’s Everglades lived for stripping—and wearing—the pelts of his scaly-armored prey. In the late summer of 1991, however, the predator with gator-pawed neckwear opted to hunt a different kind of game. Abandoning his swampland habitat, he claimed the squared circle as his new territory, thereby causing justifiable apprehension among WWE’s Superstars and announcers.
Though he never sported the leather hide of a WWE championship, the bowie knife-wielding Skinner often proved a cut above many opponents, baiting and ultimately subduing them into unconsciousness with his reverse-DDT Gatorbreaker. He’d then add a personal touch by spitting his wad of chaw onto his “fresh kill,” in effect grossing out all the fans watching from a relatively safe distance. This marauder from the marshes would continually go jaw-to-jowl against WWE’s finest until early 1993, when he finally slinked out of the ring and back home to the Everglades—or so we assume. To be honest, WWE.com is hesitant to track down its No. 9 Wildest Superstar, lest we become the latest notch on his gator-skinned belt.
The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (third edition) defines the term “missing link” as “a supposed animal midway in evolution between apes and humans.” However, the same source also notes that this popular term is based on a misinterpretation of the theory of evolution—one that inaccurately asserts that humans, rather than sharing a common ancestor with apes (as the theory states), are actually descended from the tailless primates.
If that’s the case, then both humans and apes can now breathe a sigh of relief, as neither have to admit being affiliated to WWE.com’s No. 8 Wildest Superstar, The Missing Link. With his face and beard painted puke-green and blue, and clumps of hair that closer resembled the shaved tufts of a deranged Chia Head, one could easily opine that this wide-eyed whacko from “Parts Unknown” was more animal than man—though that would hardly be fair to the animal.
Debuting inside a WWE ring in 1985, it was painfully apparent that The Missing Link wasn’t just “disconnected” from the evolutionary chain; he was severed from it. His powerful, 260-pound frame and less-than-upright ring behavior—highlighted by a primitive offense and a coconut-strong cranium—proved wildly effective at throwing his ill-fated opponents off their game, and their vertical base. Referees and fans also cringed with every devastating noggin-knocker he delivered, as did his personal handler, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who’d often have to beg the Link to not perform his post-match flying headbutt onto a chair.
Realizing that his stable of Superstars housed a transitional throwback whose intellect was matched only by garden tools, it’s no surprise that the weaseling “Brain” would eventually trade the Link’s contract to Jimmy Hart (in exchange for another “charmer”—King Kong Bundy). Yet it wasn’t long before even the megaphone-wielding “Mouth of the South” became dumbstruck over the head-banging antics of the crazed Cro-Magnon. Within the space of a year, The Missing Link broke apart from the ones that kept him attached to WWE, and returned to Parts Unknown—a location that to this day best remains unknown.
There have been few tag teams as outrageous yet loveable as The Bushwhackers, the New Zealand tandem sharing the No. 7 spot among WWE.com’s Wildest WWE Superstars. From 1989 to 1996, Luke & Butch thoroughly licked countless opponents inside the ring—and, more literally, the hairless scalp of poor WWE announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund.
Carrying their homeland flag and making their emphatic arm-swinging walkabout toward the squared circle, these sardine-eating rascals clearly enjoyed sharing a laugh and interacting with fans—often at the expense of their rivals. It was through sheer frustration, not intimidation, that The Bushwhackers bewildered adversaries. Sudden unprompted stances, crazy arm waving, spontaneous hootin’ and hollerin’ to the crowd…tag teams just couldn’t figure these guys out. And those who simply dismissed Luke & Butch as kooky Kiwis in camo usually paid a painful price—through a dual knee-powered Double Gut Buster, or a hardheaded Battering Ram to the midsection.
The Bushwhackers may have lacked the finesse of a Beverly Brothers, the sheer maliciousness of a Nasty Boys, or the half-ton bulk of Natural Disasters Earthquake & Typhoon. Nevertheless, they threw every ounce of their combined 499-pound weight into every match. It may not have always been pretty—particularly during thankfully brief alliances with über-nerdy manager Jamison or a giant kangaroo mascot (which they must have picked up while visiting Australia)—but they often got the job done.
Smashing the badly tuned guitars of Rhythm & Blues at WrestleMania VI. Clowning around in green wigs and face paint as “The Doink-whackers” at Survivor Series 1993. Returning for a brief over-the-top appearance at WrestleMania X-Seven’s Gimmick Battle Royal. Although Tag Team gold would ultimately elude WWE’s working-class wild men, Luke & Butch earned their long-lasting fame through more than wins and losses; their oddball antics, plus their ability to visibly convey how much fun they were having, have forever distinguished The Bushwhackers as champions in the eyes of their fans.
From the late 8th to the 11th centuries, common farmers and fishermen from Scandinavia became seaborne Norse warriors who raided, pillaged and ultimately conquered the British Isles and mainland Europe. The impact created by these longship-sailing combatants—“Vikings,” as they’d come to be known—was immediate and long-lasting, resulting in the formation of independent kingdoms in England and Scotland.
In 1991 World Wrestling Entertainment entered its own Viking Age with WWE.com’s No. 6 Wildest Superstar, who possessed an incessant Viking rage. Garbed in cloth fibers and pelt boots, and geared with rather disturbing ring accessories—including a long sword, shield and horn-rimmed helmet—The Berzerker was at first dismissed as a Mighty Thor wannabe. However, it didn’t take long for his barbaric behavior to show everyone why he had been aptly named after those Vikings in the midst of battle-crazed fits of fury.
If you were an opponent expecting to face a mat technician, you were sorely disappointed; this Nordic nutjob’s sole interest was to pound you six ways from Sunday. His other ring skills consisted primarily of dropping to his knees, licking his hand, holding out one wrist and shouting gibberish like “Huss! Huss!” Winning via pinfall was also pretty much a lost cause; when The Berzerker was done toying with his battered conquest, he’d toss them over the top rope, thereby giving him the count-out victory. His master, Mr. Fuji, generally didn’t mind; he seemed more satisfied that his 6-foot-6, 323-pound vanquisher lived up to the ancient Scandinavians’ conquering customs.
Because he was unable to consistently grasp traditional methods of winning, The Berzerker never won the prize that would grant him access into sports-entertainment Valhalla—the WWE Championship. Still, overpowering well-established Superstars like Kerry Von Erich and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, plus instigating brutal assaults against the British Bulldog and Undertaker (the latter of whom he tried to introduce to his sword, on one occasion), would earn the wild throwback much respect from peers and fans alike.
Thankfully, The Berzerker’s reign of terror proved significantly shorter and far less widespread than his ancestors’. By early 1993, he had completely disappeared from WWE and modern-day civilization, sparking varied opinions regarding his whereabouts. Some suggest that he hopped into his longship and journeyed back to his Norse homeland. Other suspicions range from sightings of a pyre-style Viking funeral, to his encasement in a block of ice that’s floating throughout the Northern seas. Whatever the case, WWE’s waters remain calm so long as The Berzerker follows the Nordic track elsewhere.
If you think plants can’t be “hardcore,” then you don’t fully appreciate the power of the cactus. Generally leafless and visually stoic, these fleshy-stemmed members of the Cactaceae family can withstand the hottest, most arid regions throughout the Americas, distinguishing them among the toughest organisms on the planet. So it’s only fitting that WWE.com plants firmly as its No. 5 Wildest Superstar none other than Cactus Jack, a glutton for punishment who flourished inside sports-entertainment’s cruelest, most violent surroundings.
Before assuming the multiple personae of the masked maniac Mankind, tie-dyed tough guy Dude Love, or just Mrs. Foley’s little boy Mick, Cactus Jack was born from the bone-dry climate of Truth or Consequences, N.M. He was unkempt by traditional ring garb standards—think more Oscar the Grouch than Oscar de la Renta—and not your prototypical sports-entertainment athlete by way of physique or mat skills. However, this frizzy-haired, gap-toothed wild man stored pain and suffering like a spiky xerophyte hoarding precious water in a desert. In truth, he seemed to thrive on a good beating, even when it came from the hardened hands of Vader, Sabu, Terry Funk or Triple H.
If you pricked him hard enough, Cactus Jack was sure to bleed…though wounding this Superstar ultimately made him more hazardous for your health. Over the years, he has collected more stitches than a truckload of baseballs; gushed enough blood to fill a swimming pool; felt his teeth knocked out…through his nose; and even had two-thirds of his right ear torn off by overly tightened ring ropes. Yet the physical mutilation that would reduce other men to uncontrollable weeping seemed only to fuel his frenzied state of mind. In fact, once given the choice to reattach his severed ear or team with Kevin Sullivan to compete for WCW’s World Tag Team Championship, Jack chose the latter, and won the championship for his troubles. (In retrospect, it’s possible that he only heard half his options.)
Whether inside the squared circle, atop a steel cage or just about anywhere else he could point his “finger-pistols” and shout “Bang! Bang!” at you, Cactus Jack’s blood-soaked name became the red stuff of hardcore legend—which made it all the more reason for you not to trigger his landmine-sensitive temper. Telltale signs that you had done so included his voice going hoarse, like he had swallowed grated pieces of glass, and ranting hysterically at the very mention of your name. If he started pulling out his hair or smacking his head, angry Jack quickly became a very mean boy, and you were destined to meet some of his closest friends head-on: steel chairs, flame-engulfed tables, thumbtacks, barbed-wire baseball bats or the occasional C4 explosive.
It’s not surprising why both our fans associate the prickly Cactus Jack with the most violent confrontations in sports-entertainment history, or why our Superstars respect his outrageous accomplishments. Granted, Triple H forced him into stipulated retirement after winning their crimson-drenched Hell in a Cell Match at February 2000’s No Way Out (highlighted by a frightful fall that sent Jack through the roof of the cage and halfway through the canvas). However, The Game himself would tell you that particular encounter, plus their Royal Rumble Street Fight less than a month earlier, rank among the most hellacious match-ups in his own storied career.
In extreme cases, Jack breaks out the old “Wanted: Dead” T-shirt and unwashed tights to come out of retirement, though why he does so isn’t always clear. Some believe that it’s because of personal rivalries that occasionally brew between himself and other WWE Superstars. The hardcore legions of fans who love him know better; they know that once Jack steps into the ring, it’s another opportunity for him to execute some insane stunt, all in the name of carnage and mayhem.
Still think a cactus can’t be hardcore? Then you don’t know Cactus, Jack.
Some people believe domesticating a wild animal means suppressing its inbred instincts so that it will conform to human control—a difficult task, no question, and virtually inapplicable toward WWE.com’s No. 4 Wildest WWE Superstar. George “The Animal” Steele was a torso-maned, green-tongued brute who, despite never reigning supreme as the dominant species in WWE, you antagonized at your own risk.
First arriving at WWE in the late 1960s, this George of the canvassed jungle was near-impossible for opponents to hold in check—or in any conventional wrestling maneuver. Outwitting the cerebrally challenged wild man was an exercise in futility; even he never seemed to know his next move. Fighting to keep him at arm’s length also proved equally hopeless, since it usually resulted in The Animal lifting you by said appendage in his agonizing Flying Hammerlock.
When Steele’s eyes weren’t rolling forever upward (as if he were trying to examine his own hairless head), they were focused on his ring quarry, who he’d take great pleasure in biting. Through such indigestible tactics, The Animal tasted great success within the squared circle, even when he clearly preferred dining on the insides of a ring turnbuckle (which likely accounts for his green tongue—blecch!).
Sports-entertainment’s finest managerial minds—including The Grand Wizard, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Mr. Fuji and Capt. Lou Albano—each attempted to guide this mindless hulk up the competitive food chain, and bring WWE Championship gold into their respective stables. Several of them even came close, by unleashing The Animal in memorable matches against title-holders like Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan. However brutal these rivalries, they ultimately ended the same way: With simple, apelike George always falling just short of becoming WWE’s top banana, and left on his own to follow more primitive pursuits.
It may seem cliché, but in 1986, beauty would tame this once-despised beast, who displayed a softer, human side as he became heavily smitten with the lovely Miss Elizabeth. Over the next year, Randy “Macho Man” Savage pulled out all the stops to ensure that Steele’s infatuation never touched Elizabeth’s affections, though he was powerless to stop George from winning fans’ undying adoration during their long-lived rivalry. He also couldn’t prevent The Animal from exacting a measure of revenge at WrestleMania III, during which he aided Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in defeating the Macho Man for the Intercontinental Championship. Though he may not have gotten the girl, the monosyllabic Steele would find true love soon after…in the puppeted form of a bald-headed furball he affectionately dubbed “Mine.”
The Animal was a natural selection to receive one of sports-entertainment’s most prestigious honors in 1995: being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Even then, when his baser instincts wouldn’t let him pass on another opportunity to pounce on tasty turnbuckles, he briefly prowled around WWE rings in the late ’90s as a mostly-upright member of the aptly named Oddities. Though now he spends his days in some secluded pasture, George Steele remains uncultivated, and instantly recognizable by our fans—as an Animal of iconic proportions.
“Hakuna Matata,” a Swahili term immortalized into song for the 1994 Disney classic The Lion King, translates into “There are no worries.” Simba and friends could never have adopted this problem-free philosophy, however, had their particular circle of life been occupied by a six-foot-seven, 375-pound Ugandan headhunter like Kamala.
A belly-slappin’ savage draped in form-fitting loincloth, the face-painted Ugandan was a sight forging sore eyes. Yet WWE Superstars were more visibly concerned over what sat inside his gastronomic gut; within hours of first setting (bare)foot inside a WWE ring in mid-1984, Kamala had earned the unpalatable locker-room reputation of being a cannibal—and not of the “fine young” variety. His terrifying tribal headgear did nothing to dissuade such perceptions, nor did the bellowing bestial wails that represented his words. And he sure didn’t make a case to prove otherwise during a now-infamous TV interview with Vince McMahon, in which the famished giant pulled an Ozzy Osbourne and feasted on a live chicken.
Before everyone starts running to cancel their subscriptions to National Geographic, consider how restless this native must have felt within WWE’s four-corner surroundings. Plucked out of darkest Africa, Kamala was essentially exploited by those he let get close enough to him, from masked handler Kim Chee to managers like King Curtis Iaukea, Mr. Fuji and Harvey Wippleman. Nevertheless, knowing that couldn’t afford Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant or other legendary Superstars the luxury of “taking it easy” on the big guy, lest Kamala crumple their insides with a canvas-flattening Ugandan Splash.
While many opponents feared the culture-shocked brute, he was not without his own share of phobias. Ironically, despite being part of his natural habitat, the mere sight of snakes—especially those slithering under the care of Jake “The Snake” Roberts—made Kamala react like a babbling (and extremely overweight) Indiana Jones. His other, more rational fear came in the form of Undertaker, who’d claim victory over Kamala in WWE’s first-ever Coffin Match (which soon evolved into the more familiar Casket Match) at Survivor Series 1992.
Strangely enough, losing to The Deadman that night ultimately guided this ostracized outsider toward a semblance of inner peace and tranquility. Under the newly ordained guidance of the Reverend Slick, Kamala would learn to serve man—and not as some appetizing entrée. Though he’d remain a terrifying threat in the ring, adversaries no longer had to think about counting fingers and toes following a match.
On occasion, the savagery of Kamala returns to rear its ugly headgear inside the ring—most recently at WrestleMania X-Seven’s “Gimmick Battle Royal,” plus in matches against Randy Orton and Umaga. Though his appearances are few and far between, it’s clear that the Ugandan giant will forever consider the squared circle as his habitat. And WWE.com knows better than to disagree with its No. 3 Wildest Superstar—or make any sudden movements around him.
Hailing from the Isle of Samoa, WWE.com’s No. 2 Wildest Superstar is far from any average Joe; he’s a savage of the highest order. His power is fierce, his fury explosive. Reasoning with him is useless. The only language he recognizes, other than his native Samoan tongue, is brutality; he continually batters his prey until it can no longer move. And he answers by only one name: Umaga.
Since making his debut in April 2006, this 6-foot-5, 350-pound Samoan Bulldozer has plowed through —nay, decimated — the Superstar ranks of World Wrestling Entertainment. His ire runs far deeper than the tribal tattoo ink imprinted heavily across his face. What’s he mad about? No one can say for certain…likely because they’re not conscious long enough, or at least in any mindful condition to find out.
Handled — supposing that term can even apply to Umaga — by Armando Estrada, the insane Islander’s intimidating size and unending rage makes it understandable why adversaries overlook his uncanny speed and agility. By the time they notice, they’re hoisted across his broad shoulders and crashing to the mat in a Wild Samoan Drop. Those struggling to their feet in a ring corner instead face the oncoming eclipse of a Samoan Wrecking Ball, charging into them with the velocity of a bullet train. And should one still remain upright somehow, Umaga finishes them with a mighty roar and a Samoan Spike propelled by his taped right thumb.
Umaga may look and smell like an unrestrained savage, but he’s not stupid; before his bare feet trample upon opponents, his in-ring instincts often catch them completely off-guard. A thick, rhino-like hide enables Umaga to absorb almost any punishment you can dish out, while his raw power is surpassed only by a near-inhuman stamina, one that cannot be subdued by the most potent of tranquilizer darts.
As a result of such intangibles, the Samoan Bulldozer went unbeaten in his first nine months at WWE, against top-flight Superstars like Kane, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy, whom he defeated for the Intercontinental Championship. Even those who have bested him in combat, John Cena and Bobby Lashley, would admit that Umaga is a threat unlike any they’ve ever seen: a nigh-unstoppable force of nature that obliterates anything, and anyone, who crosses his path.
WWE.com’s No. 1 Wildest Superstars actually run as a pack, though not the kind you’ll find inside a box of Girl Scout cookies bearing the name of their Pacific island home. Afa & Sika, The Wild Samoans, were a primal tandem that dominated tag team divisions around the globe, claiming 21 tag titles amid a 30-year path of destruction—most prominent among them, three World Tag Team Championship reigns in WWE during the first half of the 1980s.
If you witnessed well-spoken ring strategists or technically sound mat wrestlers in the ring, you were probably looking at The Wild Samoans’ unsuspecting adversaries. Afa & Sika were the imposing duo in the opposite corner grunting and picking their noses before obliterating their opponents. “Hardcore” long before the word ever became part of sports-entertainment’s vocabulary, these brothers in brutality would sometimes even literally butt heads with each other to get first crack at ripping apart their prey, like a pack of rabid dogs fighting over a single bone. Even Captain Lou Albano, an often-wild mongrel in his own right, knew better than to get between his savages when they were at their most vicious.
While many grapplers rely on their basic instincts inside the ring, Afa & Sika existed almost solely on it. Although their fraternal bond was undoubtedly one key to their success, they were legendary in squared circles for throwing self-caution to the wind. It wasn’t just enough to defeat their enemies; if anything, it was more important to punish them with bone-crushing Samoan Drops (a move they forcibly imprinted onto the wrestling map), or propel their Afro-maned, granite-strength foreheads into more fragile skulls. The fruits of inflicting pain and chalking up wins often materialized into their favorite treat—raw fish—so this relentlessly ruthless duo made certain that times of fasting were very few and far between.
No longer an untamed terror within WWE’s canvassed woodlands, The Wild Samoans now run among a different, more elite pack—the WWE Hall of Fame, as of 2007. Afa & Sika’s membership is a result not so much of their inelegant table manners, but of an unorthodox style and sheer dominance that continues to epitomize the excellence of tag team competition within World Wrestling Entertainment.