The Ninjabot

Oh, the Horror: Remember When Chucky the Doll Invaded WCW?

Posted on October 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm by Nathan Tolle

curse of chucky

If you happened to be a fan of both professional wrestling and horror films in 1998, then surely you remember cringing at the sight of Chucky the Doll confronting a dog-faced gremlin on live television. In October of 1998, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment and Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling were in the midst of the Monday Night Wars, the six-year-period where the two professional wrestling companies intensely battled each other for Nielsen ratings by having WWE’s Raw and WCW’s Nitro in the same time slot on Monday night. WWE’s hugely successful feud between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and mega-villain Mr. McMahon, as well as their strategy to create new stars by giving some of their younger talent more screen time, allowed the pendulum to once again shift in WWE’s favor.

But WCW—who desperately needed something fresh and exciting now that their once dependable nWo angle was growing increasingly dull and repetitive—soon found a game-changing ratings winner in the form of a former NFL star-turned-wrestler named Bill Goldberg who won over fans immediately despite having pedestrian ring abilities. Still, the momentum was perpetually up for grabs so both companies were extreme pressure to deliver the greatest product possible and destroy their competition for good, which is why a particular segment on the October 12th episode of Nitro proved to be absolutely inconceivable. It was an inopportune time to deliver what is regarded in the wrestling community as one of the most embarrassing and idiotic payoffs of all time. Sadly, it involved one of the most iconic characters in modern horror cinema.

For weeks leading up to this particular episode, the Nitro audiences were teased with sudden bursts of maniacal laughter playing over the sound system. Nobody knew what to make of them, but speculations were everywhere because this was obviously the initial indications of a brand new wrestling character. Since the writers were stirring up excitement and keeping fans guessing, something big was clearly in the works. Did somebody else defect from the WWE? Was this the return of a fan favorite that had been missing in action? Or was this a brand new wrestler that was promising enough to justify a lengthy build up? It wasn’t until a rare promo by Rick Steiner—who was being interviewed inside the squared circle by “Mean” Gene Okerlund about his upcoming match against his turncoat brother—that fans learned the identity of this mysterious character and united in a collective cringe that stung for over four minutes.

After the evil laughter interrupts the promo, the camera hovers over the shoulders of “the dog-faced Gremlin” Steiner and Okerlund as they stare at a large video screen, and even though the screen is far away, we notice right away that this is no ordinary wrestler. Our suspicions are confirmed when Okerlund says, “Get that dummy out of here, we’re trying to conduct an interview,” and Steiner asks him, “Who’s that? Who the heck is that, Gene?” We then get a full close-up and disbelief and disappointment immediately permeate throughout the arena. The heavily scarred and wounded Chucky finally stops laughing and responds, but Brad Dourif had clearly taped his voice-over beforehand, causing the timing with Steiner and Okerlund to be way off, with the three constantly talking over each other.

The crowd did manage to pop a couple times for some of Chucky’s earlier taunts, but once the words “my new movie Bride of Chucky” were spoken, a deafening chorus of boos accompanied the rest of the promo, as it became clear to everyone that this was all just an elaborate promotion for a lousy movie. It’s one thing to get a cheap plug in for something unrelated during a wrestling broadcast, but when it infiltrates the storylines and takes the attention away from the talent, that’s when the fans lose their patience, and boy, were they ever annoyed with our beloved Good Guy Doll. Wrestling and horror movies have attracted similar audiences for years (WWE even has its own film studio which produces horror movies) so maybe it was assumed that one of horror’s most recognizable icons would have no trouble getting over with an audience, but when you have a character everybody knows is fake intruding on a show that everyone pretends is real, the fans are left befuddled and insulted.

On the bright side, at least Chucky remained consistent in his evilness and was rooting for the bad guy, “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner (Rick’s vile brother, who betrayed him weeks prior and would be facing him at the upcoming pay per view). And Okerlund, to his credit, did the best he could; after all, if he could get through the infamous Gobbledy Gooker moment in 1990’s Survivor Series, he can withstand anything.

By surviving one of the most disastrous segments in wrestling, “The Dog Faced Gremlin” Rick Steiner was rewarded by winning the big match against his brother at Halloween Havoc, and Chucky and his bride went on to gross over $32 million at the box office, making it the most successful Child’s Play in the whole series. WCW failed to keep to learn from this embarrassing concept and continued a dreadful streak of incorporating people in the music and film industries into their storylines, most notably by having David Arquette winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in a fluke match in 2000. Yes, David Arquette, the actor, was WCW’s champion for two weeks! Jerry Only from The Misfits even had a couple televised matches and even though he certainly had the physique of a wrestler, he had little-to-no wrestling experience and it showed. Even more embarrassing was when Diamond Dallas Page picked Jay Leno of all people to be his tag team partner to face Hulk Hogan in the main event of the Road Wild pay per view in 1998. And of course, “The People’s Chin” got to pin Hogan to win the match. Disgraceful.

leno wcw

Another embarrassing collision of horror and WCW came when Kevin Sullivan and his villainous faction known as the Dungeon of Doom introduced a new character called the Yeti. On the October 23, 1995 episode of Nitro, an iceberg was brought out before thousands of confused fans, to which Sullivan claimed was recovered by his father from the Himalayan region, and that encased in the ice was the body of the Yeti, which will serve as their insurance policy for an upcoming match with then-champion Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc. After this incomprehensible promo, Eric Bichoff proudly says, “Forget about Nightmare on Elm Street, we got Nightmare Live.” The Yeti is one of the most famous creatures whose existence has never been proven, and also goes by the name The Abominable Snowman; however, WCW didn’t do their research because the Yeti that debuted on Halloween Havoc was a mummy, and a terrible-looking one. He makes his big debut at the climax of the pay-per-view, and as you can imagine, a lumbering giant wrapped from head-to-toe in toilet paper isn’t going to demonstrate much athleticism in the ring, but surely people expected better offense than a loose, gyrating hug. This doomed-from-the-start character would be gone in less than three months.

robocop wcwBut none of these events were able to surpass the level of sheer stupidity that took place many years ago, back on May 19, 1990 for WCW’s Capital Combat pay-per-view. Once the match between all American babyface Lex Lugar and the jet flying, limousine riding, kiss stealing son of a gun Ric Flair had ended, a melee broke out that resulted in the company’s top good guy, Sting, being locked in a small cage by Flair’s villainous troupe The Four Horsemen. With the trapped Sting being taunted and tased by the Horseman, somebody had to emerge from the locker room to be the hero, but instead of a real human being, Ted Turner’s suits bestowed that honor to a crime-fighting cyborg who not even the most gullible of wrestling fans could believe actual exists. Robocop himself—on the promotional tour for Robocop 2’s release date the following month—plodded down the aisle with the stiffness and speed of Frankenstein, towards the cage. Robocop showed off his super strength by gently tugging at the flimsiest cage door in history and freeing Sting to end the pay per view as a reminder that the worlds of professional wrestling and science fiction films have no business colliding. Fans of wrestling need to possess a suspension of belief to get into the storylines (which usually always contain a level of believability no matter how preposterous), but it’s asking way too much of them to get behind the idea of Robocop and Chucky escaping the magic of the silver screen to appear on live television, in the flesh, to enter the world of professional wrestling while simultaneously plugging their product.

WCW was finally put out of its misery in May of 2001, when Mr. McMahon purchased his own competition, officially ending the Monday Night Wars. And in October of 2013, Chucky finally got his groove back in the suspenseful and surprisingly creepy Curse of Chucky.

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