Let’s face it, pro-wrestling isn’t the same. The youth absorbed in the current product will say the same thing twenty years from now. Trust me. But this isn’t a soapbox. I’m not going to beat my chest how live television has ruined the art of telling an awesome pro-wrestling adventure. This blog entry is focusing on what I found so exciting about pro-wrestling when I was kid. Yeah, I dug the work. But if I was going to invest interest in a guy, they had better have a sweet entrance. So many wrestlers were made on their entrances alone. Some displayed their hold on the audience. Some immediately gave you an idea on how the following match was going to go down. Some were just zany and fun. Then you had the few that had the entire package–the look, the music, and the attitude.
Names like HOGAN, FLAIR, AUSTIN, and THE ROCK are no-brainers. Aside from the easy targets, there were specific entrances that made me such a fan of pro-wrestling–particularly in the 90s. They made me say, “I really want to do that one day.” Here are (in my opinion) what I consider to be some of the best wrestler entrances ever to have graced the sport/business/industry/whatever.
THE GREAT MUTA – I could write an entire entry on Puroresu wrestling entrances. On second thought, just writing about how impactful Japanese pro-wrestling has been on my life from a visual perspective may be an idea for future entries. But as far as entrances go–and I have a lot of friends that will agree with me–none were or are better than the Great Muta’s. To any pro-wres novice, the moment you see a Muta entrance (especially during his era as Triple Crown Champion in 2002), you’ll think to yourself, “This guy is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.” The video I provided is just a cornucopia of Muta radness.
RICK “THE MODEL” MARTEL – So in 1990, I say to you, a total novice, “Hey, ‘The Model’ is getting ready to hit the ring.” It’s the (then) WWF, so there are an abundance of characters. They have a ‘model’ so it makes sense right? If Martel’s entrances don’t literally scream “Arrogence,” and you don’t think this guy is greatness, then you’re insane. This is also an example of how a sweet track can help accompany the wrestler to the ring.
STAN HANSEN in Japan – Here’s another example of how awesome wrestling in Japan can be. In the States, Stan Hansen was a nomadic, territorial worker whose wild, cowboy demeanor complemented his role as a heel in most companies. But overseas in the Orient, Hansen was one of the top dogs. Hansen’s antics and style were each appreciated in Japan more so than in America. His entrance is a prime example. Again, tremendous music. It starts off sounding like a “Disco-Cowboy” is on his way to the ring, after the break, pure terror for the Japanese fans in the arena. In contrast, this is the most uninspiring KENTA KOBASHI entrance ever. I love it.
UNDERTAKER – The wrestling entrance has always kind of been The Undertaker’s thing. Especially today when we get our one-shot Taker match at Wrestlemania. (I could do an entire entry on Mania entrances as well.) You know it’s Mania when Taker’s on his way to the ring. And you also know (with but one exception) that whoever is waiting on Taker is fundamentally screwed. My personal favorite arrival of the Undertaker came at Wrestlemania 21 (above). To this point, I always wanted him to do the “Virtual Insanity” entrance and at this particular Mania, I got my wish. I’m not necessarily looking at specific entrances for all of these wrestlers, but this is one that particularly stands out.
Anyone managed by SLICK – If I were a pro-wrestling bad guy in the 80s, I wouldn’t go to BOBBY HEENAN or J.J. DILLON for managerial services. I’m calling up “The Doctor of Style.” The video speaks for itself. No one gets down like the Slickster. Or AKEEM.
MR. PERFECT – Remember what I said about the look, the music, and the attitude? Curt Hennig in the WWF was a case and point example. Even before “THE BRAIN,” Mr. Perfect was good to go as far the presenting himself on his way to ring that made me at 9-years old believe he was perfect.
MAXX MOON – I just thought the fact that this dude shot pyro out of his arm-gimmicks was dope. Could you imagine if they had a heel disguise himself as Maxx Moon, interfere in a match, and shoot BRET HART in the face? Oh, what a waste. (No it wasn’t. #TeamPaulDiamond.)
BIG VAN VADER – A couple things here with “The Mastadon.” Firstly, say you were “Job Boy” Silky Bartlett, and you were backstage looking at the rundown of the schedule for “Disney tapings.” If you saw you got Vader that afternoon, well… Yeah. “####.” From the curtain, he looked like a total badass to any 8-12 year old. I wasn’t scared of him, but I sure didn’t want anything to do with him. And Silky didn’t either. All of those poor “Silkys.” Finally, this particular clip I found has BAM BAM BIGELOW being led to the ring by young-boy KENSUKE SASAKI. That’s like an issue of UNCANNY X-MEN where they are flown into Genosha with thanks from Reed Richards’ Fantasticar. Just didn’t happen.
THE FREEBIRDS vs. THE VON ERICHS – In my youth, two wrestling entities made me want to dropkick someone in the face inside the squared circle: THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (I’ll get to him) and The Von Erichs–the true “rock stars” of pro-wrestling’s wild history. But the Von Erichs would’ve have never been as crazy awesome as they were without The Fabulous Freebirds. Never in my life has there ever been such a distinguishing reaction between factions of wrestlers from opening theme to final bell. But this is about the entrances. So I chose these two as prime examples of what pro-wrestling entrances are all about. We don’t get this anymore.
THE WWF “KINGS” – Remember when this was so cool? Too bad this stopped being a thing. (Oh, wait. It is again?) One of the great caveats to the “WWF Kings” was that they were always “carried” to the ring. A bunch of jobbers carried–what I imagine was–a wooden throne spray painted in gold. It fit KING HARLEY RACE, KING HAKU, and even KING DUGGAN (which made total sense). But then, in 1989, Vinnie made a wise decision during the evolution of RANDY SAVAGE to make him the “The Macho King.” The best “wrestling king,” in my opinion. Anyway, my friends and I used to make a joke about Savage’s entrance at Wrestlemania VI: “He’s STILL on his way to the ring.” Indeed.
THE FACE PAINT GUYS (Ultimate Warrior, Sting, The Road Warriors/L.O.D., The Demolition, Renegade, etc.) – I saved my personal favorite “types” of wrestling entrances for last. There were none better than the dudes with their faces painted. All of the above (except for RENEGADE) had a unique awesomeness to their approach down that aisle. Warrior was a racing rampage of power and excitement. The music fit, as did “Iron Man” by BLACK SABBATH for HAWK, ANIMAL, and PAUL ELLERING. And their look? Simply put, the Road Warriors were the 80s action movies in real life, only the bad guys were the good guys. Sting’s entrance evolved from the bleach-blonde, hand-slapping wildman to a slow walk, gathering his thoughts on his way to the ring to finally meet Hogan at Starrcade ’97 and save WCW for us all. My first example to kick off this entry about sweet entrances is a painted up wrestler (Muta). Go back and look for a wrestler in face paint that didn’t have a burnt entrance.
Although many fans prefer the “work” to the everything else that makes a pro-wrestler cool. I feel that the general introduction of any character in general is key to any story. I want to care about the character if I am going to get invested in the story. Pro-wrestling has always been the same way for me–since I was eight.
EX. 1) The music hits. Okay, this song isn’t too generic. Here comes a pro-wrestler with a generic appearance. Nope.
EX. 2) “Cool Cocky Bad” hits. What is going on? It’s the HONKY TONK MAN. This is life.
That about sets my mind at ease. Pro-wrestling is the best. I miss being around it, but at least I have an opportunity now and again to share my thoughts on why it’s the best. In the midst of putting the entry together I’m saddened at the loss of DUSTY RHODES. He was one of the table-setters. Pro-wrestling wouldn’t be where it was today if not for a little “American Dream” along the way.
Have an awesome weekend. I’m going to do my best JESSE “THE BODY” at the ROLLING STONES gig tonight.
Matt de Simone is a lifelong fan of pro-wrestling. He has always believed it’s like comic books and ‘General Hospital,’ but sort of real. He also knows how real it can get. How real? He once was involved in a massive street fight with TRACY SMOTHERS. A lot of people can say that. But he lived to tell the story.