When you look back in the history of WWE you notice they have a pretty solid trend of brining in the characters known as “Monster Heels.” This has been a pretty common practice for most wrestling organizations, but it would seem that WWE has the edge with some of the gimmicks they’ve come up with through the ages. Then again there are also the missed opportunities with workers with potential to live up to this prominent role in the company. We all know the list of successful workers in the role, but we sometimes forget about the characters that just didn’t quite seem to stick. No matter if it’s because of bad timing, a lack of a substantial push, not quite being believable, or even some outside element occurring that makes it impossible to continue to push the character, they just seem to fade away over time.
Looking back on it everyone seems to remember the most obvious, the standard bearer for ages, of the “Monster Heel” being Andre The Giant. He was the biggest man in the business and didn’t really need to do anything crazy, as Jim Ross used to say about Big Show he could do the most basic moves but his size and power would make it hurt much more than if a regular worker were to do them. Another on the list is King Kong Bundy, the man who demanded a 5 count because he would beat people so badly. A lot of younger fans just think of him as the egg brought in by Ted DiBiase, but he played the monster gimmick for a while and worked well in that role. Then there was the one and only Yokozuna. While he may not have had the height he easily had the girth to rival Andre on the size scale. He was one big, powerful Samoan from the Anoa’i family who flattened his competition for many years in the early to mid-nineties.
The list of people who fit this role would be severely incomplete if you didn’t include two of the most successful in this position in the history of the business. The Brothers of Destruction have had long lasting careers and impacts in the business while being able to successfully transition back and forth between the “Monster Heel” and top face characters through the years. Kane was the unstoppable monster for many years, wreaking havoc through the ranks of the WWE until he finally fell victim to his “brother” The Undertaker. Over time he lost his mask and was able to become a more likable comedic character, but he’s always able to step right back to that dark place and be evil again. Many younger viewers won’t remember it because he’s been the good guy for so long, but The Undertaker was a pretty successful “Monster Heel” back in the day as well. He’s one of the few I can think of who has endured through many different incarnations as a face and heel, and kept relevant over the years. From the days of trying to kill Hulk-A-Mania, to the Ministry of Darkness, even to the evil biker who drug Hogan through the building from the back of his bike; very few, if any, have been able to fade in and out of evil like The Undertaker over the years.
While those are some of the success stories, WWE is littered with characters that either never got the chance to be the monster, had the plug pulled early, or just couldn’t seem to connect with the fans enough to continue in that role. Two of the more recent to fit this description have been paired as a tag team now, that being Brodus Clay and Albert. Clay had the look, the vignettes, everything (as did Albert) but they decided to change him up last minute. Albert just wasn’t taken seriously with the powerhouse Japanese gimmick, mainly because everyone remembered him from his old days. One that didn’t seem to get a fair shake in my opinion was Snitsky, the name even went so far as to dye his teeth for the gimmick. He was big, he was bad, he was ugly, and the man could have easily filled the role of monster for a few years. Knox had the potential as well, just never got over. One character that I thought had a ton of potential but disappeared quickly was Kevin Fertig as Mordecai. This would have been the perfect next version of The Undertaker; unfortunately he just fizzled out apparently. Even when he came back as Kevin Thorn he was completely changed and wiped from existence. The vampire gimmick was over, and he was a hell of a worker, unfortunately he fell victim to the “well, we’re tired of vampires now” deal.
We’ve seen many incarnations over the years, from Andre to Undertaker, Lesnar to Henry, so on and so forth, but lately it seems as if there haven’t been many people built up to that level as a new talent. Either they’re too green to get it, or they just don’t connect with the fans. It looks as though Ryback may be the next attempt, which could be a positive sign but we’re still missing out on the Big Show, Undertaker, or Kane of the new generation. We need that one giant monster and it doesn’t seem there are too terribly many of them left in existence. One guy I’ve put over in articles a couple times is Baron Corbin, he seems to have the size and look to be a giant villain from the darkside sometime down the road, it will be interesting to see how he pans out. Another suggestion I have is Terrell Brown, as a former football player he’s massive, he can move at least a big, and could easily dominate if given the opportunity. In a business built on the backs of giants, there doesn’t seem to be many of them left standing. Hopefully that changes in the coming years, until then I’ll be on the lookout for the next Phenom.