The relation between comics and wrestling are clear and well known. You can make the obvious connections with the “face” (hero) and “heel” (villain) roles that appear each week on television. Wrestling portrays people as larger than life characters, menacing foes bent on domination regardless if it is the world in comics, or the World Title in professional wrestling, to be the end-all king of the mountain. In any event, the battle between good and evil rages constantly. Almost all of the time, without fail, the hero overcomes gargantuan odds to prevail. Everyone likes a happy ending, and happy endings sell seats and merchandise. However, ties run much deeper than the metaphoric though.
It was in the early 90′s when wrestling and comics converged as Valiant Comics released “Battlemania”, a five-issue series revolving around a number of WWF (back before the wildlife people forced the change to WWE) wrestlers (before that became a dirty word). The series involved the likes of The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Road Warriors, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Bushwhackers, to name a handful. The comics opted for encounters in the most unrealistic of settings (such as a forest, for example). The series ran for less than a year in total.
In 1992 Marvel Comics released Secret War Games, based off the defunct World Championship Wrestling. Wrestlers such as Lex Luger, Sting, Ron Simmons, Johnny B. Badd, Big Van Vader, The Steiner Brothers, The Diamond Studd (aka Razor Ramon, Scott Hall), and Cactus Jack. The plot behind said 12-issue run was fairly silly and nonsensical. There was quite a bit of wrestling involved (where dudes could do things they should have never done in real life like moonsaults and whatnot), with some story sprinkled in, but pretty out there. Unfortunately, there were never any actual Marvel crossovers involved in the run, because that would have been a good idea. The run ended to a sub-par reception from the masses, almost as much as it was forgettable.
After several years, The Ultimate Warrior came back with his own run that lasted all of five issues (one a Christmas special) under the Ultimate Creations brand. One can safely describe the content as crazy steroid rambling. If you’ve ever seen an Ultimate Warrior promo, try and expand that over the course of five issues on paper and ink. So… that was a ton of crazy, however it was better received than the attempts that came before it, if only for the unintentional humor that the over-the-top character brought to the table.
It wasn’t until the turn of the century that we were given another dose of square-circled comic mayhem. From December ’99 to 2001 Chaos Comics released individual stories for The Undertaker (two issues), Stone Cold Steve Austin (three), Chyna (somehow got two issues), as well as ones for The Rock and Mankind. These tended to revolve around our cover wrestler and some specific nemesis at the time. None really struck readers’ fancy and were discontinued.
I suppose it is fair to say that wrestling’s introduction into comics wasn’t really met with much in the way of success. Whether it was the fault of writers or the source material, who knows. It’s to be seen if anyone takes on the challenge of taking the Superstars (the preferred title in the WWE these days) of this generation back to page, though with a solid writer, I’d imagine it could succeed where so many have failed.
Throughout the years, we’ve heard little bits about this wrestler or that wrestler being a fan of the comic book industry. All of those seem to be dwarfed by that of reigning WWE Champion CM Punk. The “straight-edge superstar” has taken to twitter countless times, tweeting pictures of fresh stacks of comics, suggesting reads to followers, and even praising the occasional series. Last year, during a program in which he had left the WWE, citing his contract being up, Punk paid a visit to San Diego ComiCon to continue the story by crashing a WWE and Mattel toys joint panel (the video can be found on Youtube). More recently, CM Punk visited Philadelphia Wizard World this year to host his own panel. As a whole, wrestlers have been more consistently appearing at comic conventions the last several years, promoting their ties to certain projects, or their industry.
So you see, the relationship between the comic books and wrestling have existed for twenty years now. While nobody would ever mistake them for well-written or well put together, there does exist the potential somewhere down the line. As companies such as WWE seek to expand their media coverage in the future, maybe they will stumble across a story worth writing, someone capable of writing said story and an artist capable of bringing these larger than life characters back to ink. As a life long fan of the squared circle, I can only hope so.
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