As the only tag team to win titles in the AWA, NWA, and WWF, The Legion of Doom cut a swath of destruction everywhere it went and was unquestionably one of the most dominant pairings of all time. These guys worked stiff. They hurt people for real. They were hardcore monsters during an era of cartoon gimmicks. They used Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" as their entrance music. They once made a bloody attempt to gouge out Dusty Rhodes's eye with a spike. There are two words for what these guys were: "bad" and "ass". But "road" and "warriors" would also be an acceptable answer, as the alternative name of the Legion of Doom was in fact the Road Warriors, which was taken from the Mad Max sequel of that name, as was their post-apocalypic S&M gear look.
But by 1992, Hawk and Animal had lost their edge, so they enlisted their former manager Paul Ellering to rejoin them in the WWF. Ellering took them back to their old stomping grounds on the mean streets of Chicago, and, rooting through the rubble of their former apartment block, they found just what they needed to regain their killer instinct:
Rocco, their old black-leather-jacketed, sunglasses-wearing ventriloquist's dummy, which Ellering brought to ringside for advice and moral support until their WWF stint ended mercifully shortly thereafter. To put this shameful neutering of a legit bad-ass gimmick into perspective, imagine if the producers of 24 saddled Jack Bauer with cartoon pup Scrappy-Doo as his new partner.
In 1996, the hottest angle in wrestling was the invasion of WCW by the New World Order, a faction led by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who had recently jumped from the WWF, where they had been respectively known as Razor Ramon and Diesel.
Then, WWF announcer-turned-heel manager Jim Ross dropped a bombshell: Razor Ramon and Diesel were coming back. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon contradicted him, insisting that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were not returning.
It turned out they were both right: At the pay-per-view In Your House: Mind Games, Jim Ross presented Razor Ramon and Diesel, now played by superficial look-alikes Rick Bogner and Glen Jacobs, respectively. The rationale: As the WWF owned both trademarks, the old roles could be filled with new actors.
The crowd reaction: a chorus of boos. These doppelgängers were welcomed about as warmly as Coy and Vance, the scabs who filled in while Bo and Luke held up The Dukes of Hazzard for more money. The problem is that fans are willing to suspend disbelief only so far. Fans want wrestlers to be real guys, even if they're kicking fake ass, not just actors playing a role. Sure, promoters had recast new wrestlers in old gimmicks before without anyone really being able to tell the difference, but it only works with masked wrestlers or if you slap clown makeup on some random guy, push him through a curtain, and call him Doink. It was glaringly obvious right away that the new guys weren't the same Razor and Diesel, not least because they were both noticeably fatter.
Needless to say, the sham didn't last long. Glen Jacobs, previously known under the awful gimmick of wrestling dentist Isaac Yankem, went on to achieve lasting fame as the Undertaker's brother, Kane. Rick Bogner, previously known for pretty much nothing, went on to do pretty much nothing.
Peter Lynn is a Contributing Editor to CRACKED Magazine, and owner of the hilarious blog Man vs. Clown.
A special thanks to WrestleCrap.com, the Very Worst in Pro Wrestling, for the assist on this article. You rule, guys.