This week TRN Podcast 048 covered classic vehicles from movies and TV shows of our pop culture memories. There were Batmobiles, The A-Team van, KITT and so much more. I gave my own picks to the larger conversation, but as one of the hosts of The House Show podcast I felt an obligation to look at some of the most memorable vehicles in professional wrestling history.
Eddie Gilbert runs over Jerry Lawler.
Someone reading this is more of a car person than I am and can provide the exact make and model in the comments. The car itself isn’t the most important thing here, it’s the entire angle. Eddie Gilbert was thrown out of Memphis Wrestling during their live TV broadcast. He gets in the car, and there’s Lawler standing across the parking lot. Making sure Gilbert left. Eddie hits the gas and hits Lawler sending him over the car.
The behind the scenes details of this make the angle even more legendary. Lawler and Gilbert came up with the spot the previous week. Eddie shows up with a truck, which is too high up to “safely” hit Jerry. Lawler says he can roll over the car and used to do it all the time in high school as a prank. They convince fellow wrestler Brian Lee to borrow his girlfriend’s car and they’ll take good care of it. Gilbert hits the gas, the car has more power than he expects, Lawler is hit hard and not only shatters the windshield but also drops to the ground in a heap. Gilbert takes off for the car wash and gets rid of any evidence, I mean cleans up the car so it’s nice and pretty for Lee to take back home. They arrive back at the building and see the police have already arrived. Live viewers flooded the local police station with calls reporting a hit and run. Jerry breaks character and tells the police it was all a well planned out stunt and everyone is fine. In reality, he is trying to hide the fact he has broken his hip and can’t reveal how much pain he is in.
The “Stone Cold” Steve Austin collection:
Steve Austin drives a Zamboni to the ring.
At the Breakdown pay per view in September 1998 there was a triple threat match for the WWF title, Austin vs. Kane vs. the Undertaker with the stipulation Kane and Undertaker could not pin each other. They both pin Austin. The next night Mr. McMahon was going to announce which man was now the World champion when the camera shows Steve Austin in the back driving a zamboni. He bursts through a fence, runs over equipment, and takes it all the way to the ring. Stone Cold runs over the top of the zamboni and tackles McMahon.
Stone Cold’s cement truck vs. Mr. McMahon’s Corvette.
Weeks later the feud between Austin and McMahon continues to be the hottest angle in wrestling, maybe even wrestling history. Every week had to be something crazier, and they succeeded. Mr. McMahon arrives to Raw in a brand new beautiful white Corvette. At the prime ratings time, Steve Austin shows up driving a cement truck. Will he crush the Corvette? Even better! Austin moves the funnel just right and starts dumping the cement truck’s contents right into the open hood of the Corvette. The car keeps filling up with more and more cement. Clearly a total loss. In a moment no one could have prepared for the glass shatters and the concrete pours over the doors. Just a little something extra that moves this moment into history. Later, Mr. McMahon is surveying the damage while Mankind tries to salvage any of the contents with the help of Mr. Socko.
Stone Cold drives a beer truck.
One of the most iconic moments in pro wrestling history and probably in the top 5 of the Attitude Era. The Rock has become the Corporate champion. He and Austin will be facing off at WrestleMania but the odds are against Stone Cold as long as the McMahons are behind the rock. While McMahon is in the ring with his son Shane and The Rock, suddenly Steve Austin starts driving a giant beer delivery truck into the arena. All of the bad guys line up, as soon as Austin gets in the ring the beat down will begin. Steve knows he’s outnumbered and grabs some help. A fire hose full of beer! Austin sprays everyting. Rock, Vince, Shane, the front row, beer is everywhere! He takes a drink from the hose and almost knocks his teeth out. Vince starts to “swim” through the beer in the ring. This was one of the most fun moments during the Monday Night Wars.
DX drives a “tank” (jeep) into WCW Monday Nitro.
Speaking of the Monday Night Wars. In a moment of either coincidence or poor planning both WWF’s Monday Night Raw and WCW’s Monday Nitro were taking place within a few short miles of each other. Thanks to Austin, Rock, Mick Foley, and DeGeneration X the WWF was taking back the lead. DX never met a boundry they wouldn’t cross and decided to “invade” the foreign arena. An act of actual war. Triple H, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn rode this jeap with a cannon/”tank” to Nitro. They hung out with fans, cut promos, and tried to drive into the arena before the gates were closed. Years later, many WCW wrestlers have said there was debate on not only letting them in the arena but also recording the events for Nitro.
The Lex Express.
On July 4, 1993 Lex Luger saved America when he bodyslammed Yokozuna at a promotional event on board the USS Intrepid. Usually this would lead to an immediate title match and hype up interviews on Raw. Not this time! When Lex slammed the sumo champion he was a heel but this act immediately turned him into the blonde haired red white and blue hero WWF had been looking for since Hulk Hogan left. Lex spent six weeks travelling the country in a tour bus named the Lex Express. He met fans, got interest in WWF going strong, and petitioned to have a title match against Yokozuna. Luger appeared in countless interviews wearing his now standard red white and blue Zubaz sweat pants. While Lex never became the next great WWF champion as expected, this cross country tour is more memorable than many other title reigns.
Hulk Hogan and the Giant Monster Truck battle.
At WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 the Giant (now known as the Big Show) battled Hulk Hogan for the WCW title in the main event. Coincidentally this show took place at the Joe Lewis Arena which was also the site of the zamboni. The night before (but played the same night as if it just happened) the Giant battled Hulk Hogan on top of the nearby Cobo Arena. This wasn’t just any match though. This was a Monster Truck Match! This was under sumo rules and the winning truck would be the one that pushed the other out of a circle. Hogan’s truck won and the upset Giant came out to confront him. The two battled and in a horrible heel act, Hulk Hogan let the Giant fall off of the arena! Miraculously the Giant lived to fight in the main event. Also miraculously still alive are these wrestler themed monster trucks. The Giant’s Dungeon of Doom truck has been rebranded over the years as Bone Crusher and then Skeletor. The Hogan truck got a fresh coat of pain as a black and white Hollywood Hogan vehicle. After WCW ended the truck was called American Badass until Kid Rock got upset. It is now known as both American Muscle or Canadian Tough Guy depending on where the next monster truck races takes place.
The WrestleMania III ring carts.
If you’re a child of the 1980’s then chances are this is the biggest wrestling event from your childhood. Hogan vs. Andre. Savage vs. Steamboat. It was the largest spectacle of the Rock n’ Wrestling era. Over 93,000 fans jammed the Pontiac Silverdome. One of the largest buildings to ever hold professional wrestling. The arena was so large the wrestlers were driven to the ring in golf carts so the dead time wouldn’t be so long. Regular golf carts wouldn’t be enough for this showcase. Thus the carts became more like parade floats. Dressed up to look like smaller wrestling rings. Every Superstar and manager rode out either waving, dancing to their music, or looking menacing. It created a platform on top of an already elevated platform. To this day fans will make their own entrance carts for their wrestling figures displays. Behemoths like Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, midgets, and tag teams all pushed these carts to their limits. Sometimes extras like this get cut along the way for timing or budgetary issues but every wrestling fan who has ever watched this WrestleMania will agree these carts added to the majesty of the event and probably laid ground work for the elaborate entrances we see today.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many more moments involving a variety of vehicles across large and small promotions all over the world.