It’s that time once again, when the creatures of the night are unleashed from their dungeons of doom. A time when darkness comes earlier, but there are still fireflies to be found. Night and day, warm and cold, death and life – these opposites wreak havoc upon us every Halloween. Before the cold specter of winter has us down for the count, let’s head down to ringside to take a look at some of the scariest wrestlers of all time.
Halloween is meant to be a scary good time. We put on costumes to scare away the real terrors. With that in mind, let’s all agree to stay away from real life horrors and concentrate on the characters who spooked us in this very ring tonight.
These are the men and women who took things too far. Sure, we all know wrestling isn’t real (right? I mean, if you say so) but these superstars bent reality within the squared circle. Fear for their opponents, fear for the fans at ringside, and fear for yourself watching at home. These wrestling promotions are on tour and heaven forbid something wicked this way comes to your home town.
10. Yoshi Kwan
This is an odd and little known one. Yoshi Kwan isn’t on this list because of the character’s brief run in WCW or because of one of his matches in the indies. No, he is here because of an article in one of the wrestling magazines that haunts this writer to today. In Pro Wrestling Illustrated (or, honestly, one of the other Apter magazines) Kwan was built up to be an unhinged mad man. He tortured his opponents. He loved the violence. And, what got me, he grew his fingernails long and sharpened them to points so he could stab his opponents with them. Now that’s too far! There’s nothing supernatural about strong keratin. This ridiculous detail in a kayfabe article from many years ago still sends a shiver up my spine every time I have to grab the nail clippers.
9. Luna Vachon
Women are meant to be tiny little princesses in the world of professional wrestling. At least that’s what Miss Elizabeth taught us. Then Luna Vachon ran through WWF/WWE and all points in between. Well deserved credit to women like Chyna and Beth Phoenix for breaking through stereotypes and showing what strong women can do. But Luna was the first woman I saw make a man take a step back. I didn’t know what a “dominant” woman was, but after seeing Luna on her own or alongside Goldust – I was well aware of certain things before the internet was everywhere.
8. Abdullah the Butcher
There may be no other wrestler who makes fans question the script more than Abdullah. Sure we know it’s all fake, except for the Butcher. He was the perfect short term foil for any hero. Immediately a threat in any territory. Across generations and continents he was an immediate large and violent challenger. The only color he made flow more than red was green. While he may have not held a lot of gold, he always had a grasp on silverware. Get your order from his House of Ribs to go, because if it comes out of a box, it’s guaranteed to get over.
7. Brodie Lee
It’s the number seven pick, and you know what that means. Brodie was the biggest, most intimidating wrestler I ever saw on the independents. No matter where I saw him wrestle across New York State I never had any doubt he could beat up anyone in the building. As his career grew he was more than just a member of a Family (more on that in a bit). He was a team player but always stole the spotlight. Put a giant hammer in his hands and wait for hell to be unleashed. Put him in a suit and a new kind of terror emerges. A quieter and more subdued version of fear that tears opponents apart while wearing three pieces.
No matter how ridiculous the horror movie, there can still be some iconic kills. No matter how absurd the Glorious Ladies of Wrestling may have been there were still some standouts from GLOW. Dementia may or may not have given her family forty wacks. What she definitely did was show a bit of recklessness in the ring. I’ve watched a lot of scary moments in wrestling, but this woman waving around a weapon in a ring full of women wrestlers had me convinced I was about to see a beheading. Wrestling is all about suspension of disbelief, and fooling me into thinking I’ll see violence on a decades old copy of a syndicated show earns her a spot on this list.
5. Kevin Sullivan
Fooling the audience once is an accomplishment, but building a career out of deceit is legendary. Sullivan is the entire Satanic Panic wrapped up in a short package. Not only did he scare fans in every territory he worked, but he didn’t do it alone. He summoned all sorts of dangerous men (and one Woman) from the deep, from the club, from the dungeon, and all parts unknown. Is this man a cult leader or a creative genius? Talent or taskmaster? Beelzebub or Booker-man? He could be called the godfather of fear in wrestling. If we thought he believed in God.
4. Sensational Sherri
Many a wrestling fan has realized that we loved Hulk Hogan as kids, but as adults we realize how good Roddy Piper was. Miss Elizabeth was for kids, but Sherri Martel is for adults. Queen, Sensational, or Scary – she was the baddest “witch” in any company – and grossly underrated. She spoke for some of the greatest talkers in wrestling history. She never hesitated to risk her well being for her men. Strong, beautiful, and somehow even surrounded by giant men she was always the most intimidating one in the ring.
3. Jake “the Snake” Roberts
The absolute master of psychology in wrestling. His tongue slithered out of his mouth and his words wrapped around the ears of rock and wrestling era fans. He may be billed from Stone Mountain, Georgia but we all know he’s really taking up residence in the Tree of Knowledge. Does anyone have more evil iconic moments? Ruining a wedding. A DDT to Steamboat on the floor. A snake bit a legend in the arm and didn’t let go while Jake reveled in the glory. The demons he made us believe in are second only to the ones he actually battled. His words and matches showcased a calm control that proves why a walking slasher killer is more frightening than a running one.
2. Bray Wyatt
“I am the color red in a world of black and white.” If Sullivan and Roberts are superhero comics, Wyatt is Alan Moore. He deconstructed heels into something innovative and new. He took everything we thought a bad guy in wrestling could be and forged a new path. His “match” against John Cena is one of the most dissected moments in wrestling. He not only got into his opponent’s head, he got into the fans’ as well. There’s a difference between making someone think, and making someone question. Bray won most of his matches before the bell rang. It’s easy to kick out of a move, but how do you kick out of doubt and confusion? In 10-20 years we’ll see new wrestlers who take the mental manipulations that Bray began and will create their own art from it.
All of that said, no one compares to the Undertaker. This is like putting the Beatles or Michael Jordan first on their respective lists. There is no debate and you’re lying or trying to make some sort of point to suggest otherwise. Undertaker had everything. The size, the presentation, the moves, the intimidation, all of it. He looked like death and the devil walked beside him, and if there were only one set of footprints – that’s when they went to lands only the Undertaker was brave enough to travel. He was a villain for so long he became a hero, and then an icon. Bigger than wrestling and eventually bigger than even fear itself. The monster under the bed became the protector of the house, and it may be impossible for anyone to ever do it better.