If there’s anything I have as much of a passion for as horror movies, it’s professional wrestling, which has been a lifelong obsession of mine since well before the days my parents allowed me to make friends with guys like Jason and Freddy. Not surprisingly, it’s been the horror-inspired characters that I’ve always found myself gravitating towards – guys who looked and acted like they belonged inside the confines of horror films, more than they did the squared circle.
With WWE’s WrestleMania 31 on the horizon, taking place this Sunday night, now’s the perfect time to shine the spotlight on some of the scariest grapplers in the history of the business, which is precisely what I’m here to do today. So here are 10 professional wrestlers who have channeled the spirit of horror cinema over the years and have brought together my two biggest passions in life!
I’ll never forget my first introduction to Kamala, which came courtesy of a VHS tape at a friend’s house, in the formative years of my childhood. On the tape was a segment from a 1980s WWE broadcast, which saw the ‘Ugandan Giant’ consuming a live chicken, with the feathers of the ill-fated bird dangling from his mouth and stuck in his beard. Unbeknownst to me, the segment was of course faked, but it nevertheless forever made me terrified of the character, who truly felt like a cannibalistic madman that had been plucked from the wilds of Uganda. Kamala was oftentimes escorted to the ring by a handler named Kim Chee and always wrestled barefoot, further driving home the idea that he was essentially an untamed animal. Though the character was toned down in later years, Kamala remains one of the scariest wrestlers to ever step foot inside the ring, and one of the few to actually strike fear in my childhood heart.
When it comes to horror-inspired pro wrestlers, they don’t get any more iconic or well-known than The Undertaker, who is one of the greatest entertainers in the history of the sport. Undertaker made his WWE debut in November of 1990 and was essentially portrayed as a dead guy who was totally impervious to pain, with an urn serving as his source of power. It wasn’t long after his debut that Undertaker acquired a manager in the form of the late Paul Bearer, nor was it long before the character became one of the most beloved in the company. Coming to the ring in a black trench coat and stetson hat, and escorted by both Bearer and an eerie, funereal theme song, The Undertaker made a name for himself by zipping his opponents inside body bags and stuffing them into caskets, usually after delivering his deadly finishing move: the Tombstone Piledriver. Undertaker is still a member of the roster to this day, competing annually on the WrestleMania stage.
Charles Wright has cycled through countless different gimmicks throughout his career as a professional wrestler, and though he didn’t quite achieve the height of his success as the Papa Shango character, it’s nevertheless Shango that remains the most memorable to me. You need only look at the above picture to get the gist of the character: a voodoo practitioner who wasn’t above using his devious dark magic on his opponents. Decked out in creepy skull face paint, wearing a necklace made of bones and carrying around a smoking human skull, Shango became known for casting all kinds of spells on his opponents, most memorably placing a curse on the Ultimate Warrior, which forced him to uncontrollably vomit in one particularly nauseating segment. The character lasted only about a year in the company, which was plenty long enough to leave a lasting impression.
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