“...From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” -Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
Just like human life, throughout the years, wrestling has undergone a process of evolution. One of the biggest changes that occurred over this evolution process has been the use of props or objects by wrestlers. It was simple at first: an object to go along with the wrestler’s shtick for support. A simple accessory. But, as evolution and natural selection always does, the weaker objects would be weeded out. This would cause the objects to become bigger. And bigger. And bigger. In the past 30 years, the nature of these objects have evolved from an small urn or simple pair of hair cutting shears to extravagant cars and insane amounts of worms or blood. Certainly, as natural selection goes, the weak and simple does not work anymore.
However, one big problem arises when it comes to this evolution of objects and props. In some cases, arguments can be made that the object is more important than the wrestler himself. This was never supposed to happen, but it has become the nature of the beast now. If it wasn’t for these objects, there is a chance that a number of wrestlers wouldn’t have reached the level of popularity that they did. Due for the call for bigger and better items, there is a chance that the wrestlers become overshadowed and popular for the wrong reasons. It becomes a case of the object shaping and becoming the wrestler rather than the wrestler just utilizing the object. If you think this has happened only a couple of times throughout the years, then you are sorely mistaken. That is why I decided to dive into the bowels of wrestling history, discuss a few examples and answer the million dollar (cue Ted DiBase’s laugh) question: Can an object really be more over than a wrestler?
1. Undertaker VS Urn
There is no doubt that the Undertaker is one of the most powerful and intimidating wrestlers ever to step foot in the WWE. When he first debuted in the WWF in 1990, he was one of the most fearful wrestlers ever to debut. In fact, some people, including me, would say that he is still one of the most fearful wrestlers today. Thankfully, he didn’t end up being the “egg man” (but that’s another story). What is unique about the Undertaker is that when he came into the WWF with Paul Bearer, the storyline was that he derived all of his power through an urn that Paul Bearer carried. While it was unknown whose ashes were in the urn, it was how the Undertaker became the intimidating wrestler that he was. The urn played a part in some, but not all, of the Undertaker's major storylines. With the Undertaker changing his character from his old character to American Bad Ass and then to his old character remastered, the urn was not even used constantly. It has probably only been part of a handful of important storylines. It doesn’t even matter. Do you really think that a simple object like an urn is going to be more over than ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL WRESTLERS EVER AND A SURE HALL A FAME INDUCTEE? If you said yes, you don’t deserve to be a wrestling fan. Straight up.
Winner: The Undertaker
2. Jake Roberts VS Damien
When it comes to this article, this is probably the most well-known wrestler and object combination. When Jake Roberts made his debut in the WWF in 1986, it was not his wrestling abilities that caused a stir with the audience. It was his pet python, Damien and boy, did he use him at every chance he could get. He would lay Damien on top of unconscious wrestlers. He would use Damien to scare wrestlers. He even had his own segment known as "The Snake Pit." However, after Damien was "killed off," you would think that Roberts was getting over enough that he didn’t need the prop of an actual snake anymore. And you would be wrong! Before Roberts’ heel turn later in 1991, he started sporting a larger python named Lucifer which was supposedly Damien’s big brother. Roberts even had a live cobra bite "Macho Man" Randy Savage in the arm (strangely, the snake died a month later). When Roberts came back to the WWF as a Bible-preaching face, he still sported a snake. This time it was an albino python named Revelations. So here we stand. We have this great wrestler who revolutionized wrestling by inventing the DDT and was part of the “glory days” of the WWF against the object that he was known for. I mean, his nickname was “The Snake” for God’s sake! With all of this in mind, I have to give the edge to Damien. If Roberts went on to wrestle and have a career without a snake, it would be different. But, he continued to sport a snake even after Damien was “killed off.” Even during his second tenure when there was no call for a snake at all! I mean, if you know of a preacher who has a snake, please tell me where he is from to make sure I never go to his church at all. In any event, snake trumps Jake.
3. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan VS 2x4
Hoooo! Never in my life has a simple cheer like that invoked such a big response out of me and I’m pretty sure I am not the only one. When “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan debuted in the WWF in 1987, he came in already with the moniker that we came to love with him. His nickname of “Hacksaw” and trusty 2x4 was created by himself during the onset of his wrestling career. When he came into the WWF, his moniker only added to his patriotic gimmick while he feuded with wrestlers like the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. During his initial stint in the WWF, Duggan did not win any titles. However, he did win matches and big ones at that. He was a member of the winning team in the first ever Survivor Series match. He was the winner of the first ever Royal Rumble match. He was a part of feuds with big names throughout his initial time with the WWF including Andre the Giant, Harley Race, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Yokozuna and Shawn Michaels. Duggan's WCW career saw him win both the US and TV Championship. Duggan’s wrestling history is one of the best there is compared to other wrestlers in this article. This certainly was not thanks in part to a simple piece of wood. His patriotic gimmick that he was given when he first came into the WWF is what really put him over with the fans. Even though there was a lot of that going on in the 1980s, Duggan is probably the most well-known patriotic wrestler ever to wrestle for the WWE. It’s a gimmick that he still runs with today, close to 30 years later. Even though he did put on bowtie on the 2x4 at his WWE Hall of Fame induction, it’s still not enough to top Hacksaw. USA!
Winner: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
4. D-Lo Brown VS Chest Protector
It’s time to get serious. I mean, we are messing with the real deal now. And if I’m not careful, he’s gonna kick my sorry ass out into the streets. In 1998, when he started tag team with Mark Henry (yep, Henry’s been around THAT LONG), D-Lo debuted the chest protector that went along with the storyline that he was healing from a torn pectoral muscle. Of course, it was used to make his frog splash called “The Lo Down” that much more devastating. I mean, the frog splash had been done before, but not like that. It was unique. It was great. It has caused great people like Rich Camillucci and I to perform it while jumping in the pool. He did have some success winning both the European and Intercontinental Championship. However, after 1999, success evaded Brown like dancing abilities evaded Jonathan Coachman. Some failed tag teams and no more titles. It’s a close battle, but I have to give it to the chest protector. It gave D-Lo the great gangsta look that turned him into a great heel and he became even better when he used it for his benefit. A little fun fact: D-Lo is one of four wrestlers (Jeff Jarrett, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle, and himself) to hold the European and Intercontinental titles at the same time, but he is the only one out of the four to not win a World Heavyweight Championship of some sort. If he wore the chest protector, he might just have.
Winner: Chest Protector
5. Al Snow VS Head
What does everybody want? Not Al Snow. I mean, honestly, once you put your object into your theme music and make it the center of attention, you instantly make it more over than you are. Nuff said. Sorry Al. Loved you on Tough Enough, though.
6. Triple H VS Sledgehammer
And of course, we have come to the point in the article where it is time to PLAY THE GAME! His first big heel turn was supported by his first time using the sledgehammer in 1999. This is when Triple H started to come into his own and become the great wrestler that he is. Ever since that moment, the sledgehammer represented the dark and extreme side of Triple H. It made you go from saying, “Go Triple H,” in a giddy voice to saying, “Oh, shit just got real!” As far as the sledgehammer goes, it is easily one of the best weapons ever used. It is also interesting to know that every sledgehammer that Triple H used was real! Or so he says. Once he became “The Game,” there was no more changing of his character. The only thing that changed with him was when he was changing back and forth from face to heel and he played both sides well. However, this refers to the sledgehammer as well. Once you start to do things you did well as a heel while you are a face and the crowd loves it, it loses its uniqueness. It loses its badassness, I guess you can say. It’s like Randy Orton. When he was punting people in the head as a heel, it was evil. It was lowlife. It was awesome. Now as a face, the crowd loves it and it loses its power. Therefore, I have to give this battle to “The Cerebral Assassin.” I wish I had a nickname as badass as that.
Winner: Triple H
7. Gangrel VS Blood
Hold up. Can you hear it? It’s time to get a little messy here. Right off the bat, is it such a coincidence that he debuted in the WWF two months after Vampiro debuted in WCW? Seriously, this is like McDonald's and Burger King ripping off each other’s ideas. Anyway, Gangrel was true blue. He came up through a ring of fire. He had the teeth and all. And he had blood. Lots of it. He would drink blood out of his chalice. The bloodbaths were a hit. The lights would go out on a wrestler and when they came back up, the wrestler would be COVERED in blood. It was a staple in the Attitude Era. But as far as Gangrel’s success goes, he had none. I mean, he was in the Brood with Edge and Christian and even had the New Brood when he joined with the Hardy Boyz. His Brood was even part of the Ministry of Darkness with the Undertaker for a while. Consider this: Edge and Christian and the Hardy Boyz had more success without Gangrel. He did not even win any titles while with the WWE. NOT ONE. So ask yourself this: If there was no chance of a bloodbath, would you watch Gangrel? Now you know why he is my least favorite wrestler of all time. I just hope the lights in my apartment don’t go out on me for any reason.
8. Finlay VS Shillelagh
Now if you are one who loves to fight, do I have the guy for you! When Finlay first debuted into the WWE, he had already had numerous years of experience. What made him even more of a heel was his weapon of choice (cue Christopher Walken!): the shillelagh. It was a great object that not only tied him to his Irish character ,but also made him more of a badass. Every time he would come to the ring, the shillelagh was right with him. He would place it in the corner of the ring and most of the time use it or try to use it. It was his way of being able to win matches the most heel way possible. When Finlay turned face in 2007, WWE did a good job of making sure that it was not used a lot. When looking back at Finlay’s WWE career, he was a much better heel than a face and I contribute that to Finlay’s use of the shillelagh. It was evil. It was low. That is what made it move over than Finlay. Plus, any man who would script to interrupt the “Star Spangled Banner” the way that he did at a house show does not deserve to win this matchup in my opinion. Don’t hate me because I am a patriot with my United States Championship spinning belt. Yeah, I have one. Get off me.
9. The Boogeyman VS Worms
I think it goes without saying that the Boogeyman was one of the most weirdest and unique wrestlers out there. I mean, the only way I can mimic his movements is if I am having a seizure. What really got him over was the worms. Oh, the worms. It was the second incarnation of Jake Roberts and Damien. What made it better was that not only did the Boogeyman intimidate his opponents with the worms, he would eat them! Truth! He ate them! He would make his opponents eat them too! But here’s the thing: Even though the worms were unbelievable, they were not the Boogeyman’s only gimmick. Besides the weird walking, he also had the smoking walking stick, the smashing of the clock on his forehead and the makeup. I mean, how many hours did it take to get all of that makeup on? It was definitely one of the best makeup jobs ever in the WWE. Due to all this, the Boogeyman gets the edge. For those of you who disagree, watch out. He’s coming to get you!
10. Alberto Del Rio VS Cars
This one is a more recent argument and a good one at that. Using cars as a mode of entrance has been used before, but never to this magnitude. It has been done before by wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero (low rider) and John Bradshaw Layfield (limo with longhorns). However, the one difference was that Guerrero and JBL came out to the same vehicle every week. Del Rio comes out in a different vehicle EVERY WEEK. What makes it so good is that these aren’t everyday vehicles. Rolls Royces. Lamborghinis. Maseratis. Audis. It is a great fit into Del Rio’s “rich aristocrat” character. How the WWE is getting these vehicles, I have no idea. Now, would Del Rio’s character still be as strong if the cars were taken away? Would he still be the aristocrat that he is if he just simply walked to the ring? I believe so. Del Rio plays the character really well with his talks of “destiny” and his condescending smile. I swear, it is probably one of the best smiles I have seen in wrestling. Plus, he would still have Ricardo Rodriguez. That man provides me with my weekly Spanish lesson. So even though the cars are a great fit, Del Rio plays the character so well he could come out in a Flying Wagon and still make you believe it cost thousands of dollars. But…you already knew that.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio