4:48 pm

Stupid Wrestling Gimmicks #2 -- Max Moon

A lot of characters from other media seem to be a perfect fit for wrestling, and wrestling, being about as respectful of copyright as a Chinese carmaker, has never been reluctant to take the opportunity--or intellectual property--and run with it. Sometimes, the transition is flawless, and a legend is born whose gimmick is 50% Tony Montana and 50% extra grease, or 100% The Crow. Sometimes the transition falls a little flat, such as when the WWF decided that Max Cady from cape fear would be threatening when played by a wrestler so injured and stiff that he looked like a stop-motion movie in the ring. That gimmick isn't bad enough to be inducted into this hall of shame, though; said wrestler's promos were quite good, and the basic idea wasn't flawed--after all, tweak it a bit and you have Bray Wyatt.

No, this is a list of the worst of the worst, and just like in the Matrix, we have to go deeper. Further down, all the way to where the characters that make absolutely no sense in wrestling live.

First, though, it may be helpful to clarify what makes a character a good fit for wrestling. Chiefly, they should have a distinctive look or personality trait. For instance, Nathan Drake from Uncharted would be a bad choice--even though he's a physically active character who gets in a lot of fights, his appearance is that of a default setting on a character creation menu with some added handsome. As noted with Nathan, though, the character should have some sort of physical ability--it wouldn't make much sense to have Professor X wheeling himself around a ring, now would it?

Not that they haven't already tried the "beating up a cripple" angle.

At the same time, the character's central feature shouldn't be something that's impossible to portray well enough to be believable. That means no laser cannons, no aliens, and no robot suits. Of course, there's no way even the WWF during its universally-recognized shit period in the early to mid 90's would do something that ridiculous... right?

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Max Moon:

Part clunky robot suit and part off-brand Megaman, Max Moon has a history as convoluted as his outfit. The gimmick was the brainchild of Charles Aschenoff, better known as Konnan. Yes, that Konnan. How did the guy who ended up playing a rapping wrestler in WCW create the cybertronian monstrosity above, you ask? Well, like most bizarre things that children were exposed to in the early 90's, it came from Japan. Konnan had happened to see one of the era's bread-and-butter robot shows while wrestling there, and brought the idea up to Vince McMahon while discussing possible gimmicks for his WWF debut. Vince had just snatched Aschenoff from WCW's clammy grasp, and was eager for something he thought would be new, exciting, and as I imagine him saying, "hip with the kids." Vince asked if Konnan knew anybody who could design the suit, Konnan said yes, and $13,000 of McMahon's money later, the "Komet Kid" was born.

"Wait, Komet Kid? I thought he was Max Moon." Fear not, hypothetical reader I rely on to patch up my inability to transition smoothly between paragraphs; while Max Moon was the name used for most of the character's run, he debuted as Komet Kid. Moreover, he was alternatively referred to as "Comet Kid" or "Maximilian Moon" depending on what day of the week it was and/or the phase of the blood moon that haunts Vince McMahon's deepest subconscious. To avoid needless confusion over a bunch of names that all pretty much blow, I'll be using Max Moon for the rest of the article.

Also, as some of you may have noticed, that's definitely not Konnan in the second picture--unless Konnan magically became a white guy while in the WWF. As we all know, magic isn't real unless you're a History channel documentary writer or a Disney protagonist; the guy in the suit above is Tom Boric, ring name Paul Diamond, who formed one half of Badd Company and The Orient Express (after Akio Sato left) with Pat Tanaka. In fact, it's quite hard to find any video footage of Konnan as Max Moon; all I've managed to find so far are photos. Even in matches that Wikipedia states have Konnan under the mask, it's clearly Boric; so what gives?

Konnan's tenure as the character of his own creation was actually remarkably short, for a few reasons. As he recounts during interviews, other wrestlers were more than a little jealous of the new guy getting so much attention--and monetary investment--from Vince. Konnan describes himself as being naive and totally oblivious to this as it happened, though he admits his departure from the WWF was mostly of his own doing. He was making good money in Mexico, being a popular luchador as well as acting in a kids' TV show. In America, he was lugging 5 boxes of robot suit parts from place to place for every house show. He got in a fight with the Nasty Boys, which got him in trouble with pat Patterson. The backstage issues only mounted as he started missing TV tapings, culminating in him being fired after only a few months as the character.

As for how Diamond got into the Moon suit, it was simply a matter of timing and Vince not wanting to waste the money he spent--Diamond approached Vince, told him he fit in the suit, and that was that for Konnan in the WWF.

With Max Moon's sordid history and cavalcade of corny nomenclature over and done with, let's look at his entrance!

To be completely fair here, the little flash paper cannons were pretty cool for the time. They would've been much cooler if he was a heel who shot people in the face with them instead of leaving them by ringside then getting his ass kicked, but oh well. His costume looks about as threatening as a basket full of puppies and manages to seem uncool next to the intentionally comedic Repo Man, which is no small achievement. Not helping that fact is Diamond's insistence on rolling around like he's trying to fight a boss in Dark Souls. I'm sure it was to attempt to drive home the "from outer space" thing more, but he just ends up looking like that one kid in elementary school who thought doing tactical rolls would help in a fight. You know, the same kid who thought the Vulcan nerve pinch was an actual technique and had like 20 pockets full of lighters for some reason. In other words, less than convincing. Also less than convincing was the utterly flaccid "jetpack" he wore to the ring occasionally:

Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping up the cybertrail.

As for the rest of the robot suit, it seems to have disappeared from the WWF along with Konnan. The only images of the thing are taken backstage, with Konnan--I can't find any in-ring or with Diamond. That means you'll just have to imagine poor Charles waddling awkwardly to the ring inside of his LEGO Gundam, instead of seeing it in glorious .gif form as I originally intended.

But I digress. As much as I'd like to continue making fun of his costume and entrance for the next 15 paragraphs, we eventually have to get to the actual wrestling part of wrestling--which both men under the mask were good at. Konnan's fame in Mexico was well-earned, and his tenure in WCW is nothing short of miraculous when you consider all the acrobatic moves he managed to do while wearing pants saggier than Jimmy Carter's neck. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, I can't actually find anything taped of him as Max Moon, so I'll have to take his word for it when he says his matches weren't very good due to not being knowledgeable about the North American style of wrestling at the time.

Paul Diamond may not have held a candle to Konnan's popularity, but he was no slouch either. Badd Company is one of my favorite tag teams, and were one of the first (along with the Rockers) to creatively implement two-person moves beyond finishers and the standard "you grab 'im while I punch 'im" deal. He was above average in singles competition as well, able to put on consistently enjoyable matches when booked against other competent wrestlers. The only exception to that I've seen is his match with Repo Man, which has approximately 700 too many rest holds for a seven-minute match. He didn't have a Shawn Michaels level of ability to pull a great match out of a sedated koala, but he certainly deserved more than ending up as such a jobber that volunteering to become a cyberpunk mardi gras dancer seemed like a good way to move up in the WWF.

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit too tough on the gimmick. At least one of his signature moves, a flying heel kick to the corner, was pretty darn cool.

His finisher is also mildly exciting, though it does look like Boric was one small botch away from breaking his neck every time he did it.

It's fine, they have hospitals in space.

Unfortunately, no amount of good ringwork can overcome flaccid booking, a complete lack of storylines, and a costume that the Men on a Mission would consider tacky; the gimmick quietly disappeared shortly after a loss to Shawn Michaels on the very first episode of Raw.  

That match, incidentally, was very good--despite the best efforts of Vince McMahon and my personal antichrist, Rob Bartlett, on commentary. Bartlett spends half the match doing the worst Mike Tyson impression I've ever heard, and the rest of it trying to be a funny heel like Bobby Heenan but forgetting to actually be funny. Even if he comes up with something that might be amusing, he ends up delivering the line like a disappointed parent about to beat their child and sucks all the possible fun out of it. This match sorely needs Gorilla Monsoon on commentary to say "Will you stop" every single time Bartlett opens his mouth. I will give him credit for two jokes, though. I think the first one was wholly unintentional, as he innocently asks McMahon to identify a move. After a few palpably uncomfortable seconds as McMahon racks his brain for the actual name of something wrestlers do, he quietly mumbles that it's "some sort of reverse chinlock." The second one is this:

McMahon, thankfully, actually calls the match beyond shouting "What a maneuver!" every ten seconds like a brain damaged parrot. Unfortunately, he still has to fake a laugh every time Bartlett spits out another late-term abortion of comedy, and McMahon's fake laughs sound like an old woman choking to death on crackers. Also, he instigated the Mike Tyson bit, which should, in my opinion, get him at least 5 years in a North Korean gulag.

Savage valiantly attempts to save the commentary team from itself, but one man--even a Macho Man--cannot overcome the dreaded McBartlett combination.

Try one now for only $9.99!**
*And your basic dignity as a human being
*And your ability to sleep without hearing WHATAMANEUVER every time you close your eyes

As long as you turn the sound off, it's a fun match full of reversals and the kind of acrobatic... maneuvers that didn't get showcased too often in early 90's WWF. Diamond even manages to pull off a #combat roll that doesn't look stupid, using it to do the "escape the corner as the other guy is running at you, causing him to hit the turnbuckle" spot that I'm pretty sure is in every single WWF match from 1984 to 1997. Michaels sells Max Moon as a legitimate threat, taking a count of about 2.9 after Moon lands his finisher before bouncing back to end it with a superkick and a teardrop suplex.

The match really encapsulates Diamond's run as Moon: good wrestling slathered in a big, heaping pile of bad everything else. No matter how hard he tried, it was clear from the first crowd reaction that Max Moon began his life destined to end up lost in space. 

Alone and unloved. Much like Pluto.

1 comment:

MinionOfPhysics said...

Holy crap! You ARE still alive! O.o

Post a Comment