With the new wrestling-themed comic book Ringside, coming out last week, and with AiPT! having already conducted an interview with Ringside creative team Joe Keatinge and Nick Barber, I figured I would take a different approach to celebrate its debut. Instead, I’ll take a look at past notable comic book wrestlers. Here’s hoping Ringside‘s new top draw is just as memorable or, at the very least, searchable on Google.
10. Johnny Cougar (Tiger)
Johnny Cougar was a Canadian Seminole native wrestler who appeared in the British sports-themed weekly comic Tiger. He was a stereotypical native in both look and speech pattern, which really shouldn’t surprise anybody considering he first appeared in 1962. He was most notable for being really strong and teaming with Flash Gordon’s bootleg cousin, Splash Gorton.
9. Joe Somiano (Super Pro K.O.)
If you ever wondered what Matt Jackson of The Young Bucks would look like as a Scott Pilgrim-type of comic book character, this series is for you. Joe Somiano is the over-anxious rookie in the Super Pro K.O. federation looking to make a name for himself. But wrestling being wrestling, what with the backstage politics and all, obstacles abound.
8. Rex Hauser (The Nail)
Despite his rough exterior, deep down Rex Hauser A.K.A. The Nail is a caring family man. So when a group of bloodthirsty satanic bikers disrupt his humble indy wrestler lifestyle, The Nail has no choice but to fight back and protect his family. Rex Hauser is the wrestler that 70’s era blood and gore grindhouse/exploitation films deserve, but in comic book form. And we all have Rob Zombie to thank for that.
7. Eric Layton (Swerve)
What Eric Layton lacks in a cool, badass wrestling name he more than makes up for in… well, not his actual wrestling, but in his commitment to being a hired henchman on the side. “Forced” into wrestling after suffering a football career-ending knee injury, and caring for a sick mother who requires medical treatment, Layton finds that protecting a promoter’s side drug venture is the best way to supplement his 70’s era territorial wrestling pay.
Now, if only he could come up with a decent finisher.
6. Roger “Steel” Pulse (Steel Pulse)
Steel Pulse celebrates the over-the-top craziness of wrestling in the 80’s and goes a step further. Roger “Steel” Pulse was a heel who had changed his ways, thanks to love of his life Betsy. During his main event match against Sardonicus for the UCW title, a steel chair shot to end all steel chair shots, due to the dynamite rigged to it, came into play and seemingly killed Betsy and Sardonicus.
And you thought the ECW fire incident with Terry Funk was hardcore.
Pulse supposedly retired until a reanimated Sardonicus started terrorizing the wrestling world forcing Pulse to lace up his boots once more.
5. Mike Hartmann (Headlocked)
Former theater major, Mike Hartmann, decides to drop out of college and focus on becoming a professional wrestler after seeing a live event. I only read the first three issues (“A Single Step“) that originally came out, so I’m not sure if he actually makes it. But you get the feeling he just might. Especially, after hanging with salty bastard, Stu Hart-inspired, Leo “The Legbreaker” London during a try out. Not bad for a former theater major.
4. Xochitl “La Terrible” Nava (Whoa, Nellie!)
Xochitl Nava knows she’s past her prime and holding back her much more talented, younger partner, Gina Bravo. Yet, even at the twilight of her career, Xochitl is considered a good enough hand to be given the Women’s Texas Championship belt just so she can lose it “in spectacular fashion”. She does the job, but wants more for Gina. Her motherly instincts and seasoned vet status cause her to lash out at Gina, but only because she wants something more for her. That’s why she finds it hard to accept that Gina is determined to stick by her side. Unlike every other tag team partner in professional wrestling, ever.
3. Crusher Hogan (Marvel)
For whatever reason, Crusher Hogan was reimagined as Bonesaw McGraw in the first Spider-Man movie, but in the Marvel comic book universe he’ll always be the bald, barefoot roughneck who lost to Spider-Man, and supposedly helped Peter Parker pick out what would become his signature Spider-Man outfit. Even though, to quote Raven, Spider-Man ruined Crusher’s last-ditch effort to save his career.
Many comics have positioned the world of professional wrestling outside the gravitational pull of earth and placed it within intergalactic space. But the first to do so was the Kinnikuman manga. Suguru Kinniku is basically Clark Kent, in that he finds out he’s from another planet called Kinniku, of course. Unlike Clark Kent, Suguru is actually the missing prince of that planet. But Suguru is a dope and needs to prove himself worthy of the Kinniku throne; hence the intergalactic grappling. He’s also a bit of a perv because otherwise it wouldn’t be manga, I guess.
1. Tiger Mask
The comic book character that inspired a real pro wrestler and light heavyweight pioneer. While Jushin Liger was also “inspired” by a comic book, he wasn’t actually based on one, like Tiger Mask. Once an orphan and a villain in America, in Japan Tiger Mask basically became a superhero wrestler fighting off villainous graduates from the Tiger’s Cave wrestling organization. Much like in real life, the original Tiger Mask was also eventually succeeded by someone else.
Thankfully, the real life version quit because of backstage politics and not because he was killed while saving a child from a speeding car, like the comic book version.