The Time RoboCop Became A Pro Wrestler ... Sort Of
Detroit police officer Alex Murphy goes through a pretty crappy first day on the job. It starts with Red Foreman and friends turn him into Swiss cheese, then his corporation-backed police force doing this to him:
Thus, Murphy becomes RoboCop, serving and protecting in one of the most violent socio-political satires in cinema. He’s also Jesus, but that’s another article.
We’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about when RoboCop got into professional wrestling. (You knew this. It was in the headline. Read.)
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there were two top organizations in professional wrestling, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment) and World Championship Wrestling (now known as Wrestling Cautionary Tale). The WWF was known for having insane characters such as snake handlers, hairstyling strippers, and neon-dripping, tie-dyed space Neanderthals. As a counter-balance, World Championship Wrestling was built for wrestling fans that wanted their professional wrestling less like McMahon’s circus and more “realistic” with wrasslers like Barry Windham, Steve Williams, Somedude Regularguy, and other grapplers that look like they worked alongside your dad at the cannery. However, the hyper-grounded WCW still left room for mysterious ninjas …
During 1990, the WWF was the more popular of the two organizations, stemming from the younger fans’ meteoric love of superhero-like good guys Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior (unlike those jerkhoses playing them, Terry Bollea and Jim Hellwig). Those two headlined and drew big money as the main event of 1990’s Wrestlemania VI.
The Executive Vice-President of WCW at the time, Jim Herd, wanted that money from the youngsters. He wanted those kids’ money. Bad.
Despite RoboCop being so violent that it had to be trimmed to achieve an R-rating, it was incredibly popular with young ‘80s kids that watched it on VHS at their older cousin Jeff’s house because Aunt Mary is cool and doesn’t care if young kids watch ultra-violent movies as long as they go to church. Seeing that untapped market, cartoons, and toys were immediately made from the character. With this in mind, the producers of Robocop 2 were really looking for that youth boost to add more ticket sales to the 1990 summer box office. What better way to reach kids with their brand of theatrical violence than through the theatrical violence of pro wrestling?
So a deal was made for RoboCop to show up and back up the blond dynamo called Sting.
Uh, no, the other one:
With RoboCop at his side, Sting could even the odds when he went up against Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at their next pay-per-view, Capitol Combat ‘90. Sting wouldn’t have to worry about Flair’s cronies, The Four Horsemen, from interfering in the match since RoboCop would take care of them if they refused to comply. But, you know, without shooting a torrential bullet swarm.
This was perfect for Herd. The kid-friendly Sting was at one point the Ultimate Warrior’s tag team partner, and RoboCop was a bigger movie star than Hulk Hogan. RoboCop 2’s producers were also happy since they got promotion for the film as the pay-per-view was subtitled “The Return of RoboCop.”
Since this is a Cracked article and you never saw another RoboCop wrestling mash-up, you have already rightfully assumed that this failed. The first issue was that Sting legitimately got injured a few weeks before the event, so instead of fighting for the title, he would support his replacement/buddy Lex Luger as he challenged Flair, making RoboCop the backup to Sting’s backup of Luger. Secondly, the higher-ups added another Prime Directive. RoboCop couldn’t actually wrestle alongside The Man They Call “Sting” anyway because The Man In The RoboCop Suit At The Wrestling Event Who Was Not Peter Weller No Matter What IMDB Tells You could barely move in the costume, much less be able to get up from a bodyslam. It was doomed from the start.
But Herd and the movie execs were hellbent to get that sweet, sweet kid money. In the middle of the pay-per-view, the Horsemen attacked Sting and put him into a small cage outside the ring that was there because it’s pro wrestling, shut up. Unable to escape the “locked” cage, RoboCop came down the aisle in his methodical, deliberate, structured, restricted, lagging pace to rescue the Stinger. RoboCop bent the foam-covered bars of the cage and lifted the lightweight door off the hinges with his mighty strength, scaring the Horsemen away. The two heroes wouldn’t chase after them because that would have incited excitement. Instead, they just casually walked to the backstage area as RoboCop tried to hold his thigh armor in place.
This appearance stunk so much that RoboCop didn’t even show up to help Sting and Luger fight off the Horsemen during the actual main event later in the show. You can literally watch RoboCop’s entire wrestling career here:
It didn’t just fail as a pop culture crossover; it failed financially, too. Capitol Combat ‘90 tied for the worst-selling WCW pay-per-view in 1990. Robocop 2 drew in $8 million less in the box office than its predecessor. In a 2021 interview, Sting said it was one of the most embarrassing things he had to endure. However, Sting was ultimately glad that it happened because if this fiasco didn’t occur, one of his favorite t-shirts would never have been printed.
The moral of the story? Most IP crossovers are better and more profitable as t-shirts and t-shirts only.
Top Image: WWE