In the previous article, I wrote about the “Mad Dog” butchering some hapless kid and that got me thinking about the many Monsters we see in pro wrestling. One of the most common tropes presented in the ring has been the Regular Guy trying to defend himself against some crazy Man-beast. Why is this?
You know what you’re going to get in these one-sided squashes from the moment they announce Tommy Walters vs. The Soul-Crusher, or Team Electricity vs. The Gruesome Twins. The Big Ugly Monsters in their Halloween costumes seem so cheesy and campy, yet the gimmick persists and remains very common in the wrestling world.
The Monster’s appearance and costume sets him apart as inhuman, or at least not from around here. Maybe he is fully clothed, or wearing a mask, or clad in a bloody leather apron, or dressed in animal pelts. Something about his look creates a contrast with the Regular Guy jobber he is dominating, who is usually young, fit, and nearly naked in traditional Trunks n Boots.
People are naturally fearful of the unknown, so giving the Monster an other-worldy vibe creates tension. We are worried for sweet but stupid Jimmy Gold who agreed to get in the ring with the psychopathic Foreign Killer. It stirs up feelings of compassion for the Hero. If the Monster is ugly, we feel even more attracted to his victim. If he is clothed, his shirtless opponent seems even more naked and vulnerable.
The Monster Heel is so common that the TV Tropes website wrote about it. Their theory is that the gimmick is used by wrestlers who lack the acting chops or grappling talent to perform a convincing match.
If some big lug doesn’t know how to suffer for example, just dress him in a black leather costume and tell the viewers he feels no pain and can’t be harmed.
For a middle-class white boy from the suburbs, inner-city Thugs could serve as the Monsters. We didn’t see Bad Boys like this in my neighborhood. You just knew they were envious of your privilege and they wanted to hurt you. You also knew they would never follow the rules because they are thugs.
To see them capture and punish some white pretty-boy stirred up all sorts of feelings: fear, arousal, pity, and anger.
The Monster has a natural Monster’s Advantage because of his sheer size, because he feels no pain, because he is ruthless and cruel by nature. It feels unfair to put cute Sammy Stevens in the ring with such killers, criminals, and psychopaths.
And this unfairness, this one-sided sado-masochistic booking, is at the heart of why the Monster gimmick is so popular and never goes out of style.
The Monster gimmick plays off every man’s fear and fascination with rape. The Monster is a freak, not only in the ring, but presumably also in the bedroom. And we see that he has power over his victim thanks to that natural Monster’s Advantage. As we watch the Monster man-handle and torture poor Johnny Blue-Eyes, we think to ourselves, “Wow, that beast could do anything he wants to the poor kid — even fuck him if he felt like it!”
Every man is terrified, and at the same time, titillated with the thought that some stronger Alpha Male is going to bend him over a knee and spank him, or throw him down on the bed, sit on him, and command him to obey. The Monster gimmick plays out this scenario for the viewer’s fascination.
So the Monster fights dirty, and by dirty, I mean in a sexually dominant manner. He kicks his victim in the nuts, or pulls his trunks up his ass, or sits on his face, resting his balls on the opponent’s mouth.
The implication is that the Freak is out of control, that if he can molest and humiliate the pretty-boy so blatantly right in front of our eyes, just imagine what kinky shenanigans he’ll get into backstage or in the hotel later.
So there are two critical components to successfully implement the Monster gimmick: First, you need a big ugly animalistic predator, and second, you need a gorgeous but utterly weak and submissive cute kid. The viewers of the match need to feel some measure of attraction to the victim for this gimmick to work.
The Monster acts naughty and sexually expressive as he works over his pretty victim, performing dirty and degrading acts on his attractive opponent that we wish we had the balls to pull off with another man.
In our minds, the Monster becomes, not only a freak to be feared and respected, but also a role model, a liberated and hyper-masculine Real Man that we aspire to become. Who wouldn’t want the job of over-powering and dominating cute, athletic studs every night?
Here we see the handsome British baby-face, “Gentleman” Chris Adams, being run against his will into a metal post by some hairy middle-eastern beast. When we next see Adams acting dazed and powerless, we can easily imagine the dirty cheater inflicting all sorts of nastiness and degrading assaults on his helpless victim’s body.