Day 285: 1996 Was The Year Of The Imposter [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]
The mid-90s were a strange time for professional wrestling. In the wake of the great Hulkamania crash, both WWF and WCW were doing whatever they could to get ratings. But their desperation showed in different ways. Ted Turner showed his desperation with WCW by opening his wallet wide to hoover all the talent. Meanwhile, the WWF spent a lot of their energy replicating the talent they lost. Back in 1996, this was something that could easily be pulled off, or at least they thought it could. The cameras weren’t HD enough and the industry was much less transparent. If they tried to pull off an imposter wrestler in 2021, we would know everything about it before they even made it to the ring. But back in ’96, secrets were a lot more safeguarded. Their first major foray into this was in early ’96, when they brought back two fan favorites in the form of the Huckster and Nacho Man:
They were the source of countless promos with “Billionaire Ted” and “Scheme Gene” that eventually culminated into a dark match at Wrestlemania 12 [or maybe it was in the Free For All? Regardless, it sucked]. To this day, we still don’t know who played the Huckster and Nacho Man. It’s one of the WWE’s closest guarded secrets, right next to who ran over Elias and the man behind GTV. It’s not so much a secret as it is that we just don’t care enough to demand a straight answer. Even though nobody really cared about these segments, the powers that be decided that the only way to get ahead was to keep sticking it to WCW. So when two of the biggest Superstars defected in the Spring, the best that they could do was pretend that it didn’t happen. Enter the two dumbest imposters in Wrestling history:
Fake Razor Ramon. The Bad Guy realized that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side and came back to Stanford with his toothpick between his legs. After his return, he had some moderate success that torpedoed by December. He finished up his tenure in the WWF with a 6-5 record [6-6 if you want to count the Royal Rumble]. Afterwards, he spent a couple of years with New Japan under the name Big Titan, before quietly hanging up his boots in 1999. Razor Ramon, real name Rick Bogner, passed away a few years ago at the age of 59.
At the same time, we were [re]introduced to
fake Diesel. He spent the summer with WCW, but the life of luxury caused him to pack on a few pounds. Wanting to get back into shape and get his sunglasses back, he defected back to the WWF. Diesel went on to have a career in the WWF that lasted decades. He’s now a Hall Of Famer and former multiple-time champion. He’s now the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee under his birth name, Glenn Jacobs.
So, obviously, the imposter angle didn’t work out. The fans weren’t as dumb as Jim Ross hoped and immediately greeted them with thunderous boos. At that point, the only logical move was to keep putting them out there as heels because fuck it. It was all just an obvious nut flex from Vince, who gets a hard-on over owning the names of wrestlers. This still rings true today. They just put in to trademark Dean Ambrose earlier this year. Does this mean that we’re going to get a fake Dean Ambrose? Probably not, but Vince likes having his finger on that button. This is also why Keith Lee has been taken off of TV, as he is in a legal dispute as they both race to trademark his name. And honestly, that’s just fucking sad. It’s his real name. Just let him have it!
However, there is one wrinkle to the story that I just discovered. As I mentioned last week, I’m well on my way of plowing through the entire NWO era. Minutes before writing this, I watched an early September episode of Nitro where Sting comes out of a limo and attacks Lex Luger, thus joining the NWO. But it very clearly was not Sting. I’m not trying to read too far into spoilers, but it looks like they had an imposter Sting storyline start just a few weeks before the WWF unveiled their imposters. So not only did the WWF rip off WCW wrestlers, they also ripped off the idea of using imposter wrestlers! The fucking state of it.
Obviously, the one good thing to come out of this experiment was that it kept Glenn Jacobs employed while they came up with a much better gimmick for him. But then again, later on, Glenn also had an imposter:
MAY 19TH! MAY 19TH! MAY 19TH!