Halloween is right around the corner and the spooky season is well and truly upon us. So it is time binge watch all the horror movies your Netflix account can handle and take a look at some WWE Superstars who are influenced by your scary heroes.
Hailing from the shadows and sideshows around the world Professional Wrestling and the horror genre have a lot in common. The very nature of the two genres with their poor acting, bad special effects, depictions of violence and lowbrow humour put them on the outskirts of entertainment.
Despite being looked down upon by other “mainstream” forms of entertainment the horror genre is extremely influential. It has launched the careers of many A-list Hollywood stars and directors while being a major channel of inspiration for pop and counter-culture.
With horror having such an effect on society of course WWE has taken its fair share of inspiration from the genre and implemented it into its Superstars. There a multiple gimmicks based on horror movies and their characters. So, here are 13 WWE wrestlers inspired by characters of the horror genre.
To say Shotzi Blackheart is a horror movie lover would be putting it mildly. In fact, her signature emerald green hair is inspired by the 1954 classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Although released in black and white all the promotional material for the film pictured the green monster capturing the movie’s star Julie Adams. The movie is one of Universal’s most popular “creature feature’s” and is still applauded to this day for its cinematography most notably the underwater shots.
Speaking to Lilian Garcia on her Chasing Glory, Shotzi explained how her hair is an ode to the horror movie classic:
“I’m a big Creature from the Black Lagoon fan, so [my hair] is inspired by Creature….I have a lot of horror tattoos because I love horror movies, so most of them are tributes to horror movies.”
The link between her wrestling character and horror doesn’t stop there. She was a member of the Cave Girls on a Californian cable show called Creepy KOFY Movie Time and has actually also starred in some horror films. Blackheart starred in World of Death (2016), Murder Doll Spree (2017), and Executioner (2022).
Shotzi’s horror affiliations made her the obvious choice to host wrestling’s most spooktacular event, Halloween Havoc. In 2020 NXT revived the popular WCW PPV to much fanfare along with all the favourite concepts such as Spin the Wheel Make the Deal and Shotzi paying tribute to horror icon Elvira who appeared as a special guest commentator alongside WWE legend Jessie Ventura at WrestleMania II.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Shotzi spoke about her excitement about being allowed to express her love for everything horror:
“Before wrestling all I ever wanted to do was be a horror host. I’m obsessed with horror movies and I’m obsessed with everything spooky. So I was just like, ‘oh I could die now, like this is the happiest I’ve ever been.’
I definitely want to pay tribute to Elvira and Vampira, all the great horror hosts so you’ll see a lot of that vibe, but I also have four different costume changes. I’m going all out!!”
12. Alexa Bliss
When Alexa Bliss sided with The Fiend she unleashed a twisted and horror movie-esque persona that featured a multitude of inspirations from the genre. Bliss’ “twisted” persona unearthed itself when she became involved with another character heavily influenced by horror, the Fiend.
Bliss incorporated elements of Chucky from the Child’s Play franchise when she appeared in the Firefly Funhouse and Alexa’s Playground. The introduction of Lilly brought comparisons to another haunted doll Annabelle.
The horror movie incarnation of Bliss took wrestling fans down a path of hypnotic possession, mind control, and levitation all borrowed tropes from many a horror movie. But when speaking on Out of Character with Ryan Satin Bliss revealed several other inspirations she used to channel her dark side :
“I jumped fully in with the amount of cult documentaries and the amount of different scary movies I would watch. So for me, I wanted to have my character have a bit of an identity crisis.
That’s why I kind of reverted to a child mentality, because I know for me personally, to get real real about it, when I had my eating disorders, it was a traumatic thing for me. My brain went back to a childlike defence mechanism. I took part of that into my character. I remember thinking like, what did I like watching when I was a child? I liked watching the Big Comfy Couch. So I got the concept of having Lilly from the girl from The Comfy Couch’s doll, Molly.
I took a lot of things from my childhood that I loved and brought that into the character. Then also I took a part of the movie, ‘The Orphan’, where the girl is like 30 posing as a child, and took that into the character as well. So there were a lot of things about my real interests and real things as a child that I actually brought into the dark Alexa character.”
11. Papa Shango
Masked in a creepy skull face paint, wearing a necklace made of bones and carrying around a smoking human skull, Papa Shango was one of WWE’s most outrageous and memorable characters.
Forever remembered for casting voodoo spells upon his victims most notably throwing a curse onto the Ultimate Warrior who mid-interview began perspiring black ooze before convulsing uncontrollably.
It is clear to see the influence of occultist villain Baron Samedi from 1973’s James Bond movie Live and Let Die in Papa Shango. Although not technically a horror movie Baron Samedi is very a figure associated with it. He is a loa of the dead in Haitian Vodou and is often depicted as something almost identical to the iconic Papa Shango.
The WWE Hall of Famer revealed in an interview with I Met A Wrestler, where he discussed how much he used legitimate voodoo literature for Papa Shango:
I used to read books on voodoo, in fact I built an entire voodoo library. Everything I said in my promos was real and legit. All the props were from voodoo stores. It was totally authentic. The effects guys worked with the staffs and sticks so that they all did something different. I had a bunch of them – some would shoot sparks, others had smoke and lights that came out of them.”
10. The Brood
The trio of vampires led by the blood-spurting Gangrel easily had one of WWE’s best and most memorable entrances. The young group clad in neo-gothic frills and leather surrounded by flames brought comparisons to the iconic 80’s teen horror the Lost Boys.
Released in 1987 the vampire movie for the “MTV Generation” follows two teenage brothers who fall on opposite sides of a gang of cool biker vampires who terrorise a coastal town in LA. The film was a huge hit due to the young and attractive cast, hit soundtrack and pop-culture references. The movie remains a cult favourite to this day and launched the careers of several stars, just the Brood would do for Edge and Christian.
When the head vampire, Gangrel appeared on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness he spoke about how he devised the faction on the basis of the movie.
“I was really big on The Brood because of The Lost Boys. I came up with it through The Lost Boys. And I said, ‘man, they don’t even [have] to win! It’s going to be cool. When they get their asses kicked, I’m telling you people will like them.’ And they were like, ‘no.’ I said, ‘old man, I’m telling you nobody hates a vampire.”
9. Chainsaw Charlie
In 1997 the great Terry Funk appeared for WWE under the guise of Chainsaw Charlie. Donned in a scruffy red t-shirt, jeans, a tattered mask with tufts of hair protruding out, and of course, a chainsaw. The look is distinctive of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s chainsaw-wielding maniac, Leather Face.
The hugely controversial movie was banned in several countries due to its disturbing and violent content. The notoriety only boosted its popularity and over the decades is regarded as one of the best and most influential horror movies of all time.
In his book, Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore, the legend wrote about his debut and creation of the Chainsaw Charlie gimmick:
“I got ready for my big debut on Raw that Monday night in December, and the plan was for me to come out of a box. Bruce Prichard, one of the backstage guys, was describing to me what they wanted me to do. I said, “That’s it? You just want me to come out of the box?” “Well, yeah,” he said. “Just come out of the box. Do you want to come out as anything?” Before my brain could fully process the question, my lips blurted out, “Chainsaw Charlie! Get me a chainsaw, so I can go out there!” I can’t explain it. It just popped into my mind.
They asked me what I wanted to wear and then got me some Levi jeans and a pair of suspenders. I already had a red shirt, so I kept that. Then, they got me a woman’s pantyhose stocking and some baby powder to put on my head, all at my request (what an idiot). I guess I could have just gone out there without anything over my head, but I wouldn’t have been Chainsaw Charlie with Terry Funk’s head, would I? I’d have been Chainsaw Terry!
I came out of that box with my chainsaw and my stocking over my head, and the crowd, expecting some great surprise, let out a sound that seemed strangely reminiscent of escaping gas. I had visions of coming out to a tremendous roar, but that wasn’t exactly the reaction I got.”
8. Waylon Mercy
Dan Spivey returned to WWE in the gimmick-heavy era of 1995. No longer was he the wrestler who teamed with Sid Vicious as part of the Skyscrapers in WCW he arrived with a new character based on Robert De Niro’s interpretation of Max Cady in Martin Scorcese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear.
Cady is a violent and vengeful murderer who stalks and terrorises the lawyer who put him away for rape. De Niro portrayed the psychopathic character with chilling conviction. Something that Spivey would also recreate right down to the manic eyes, slicked black hair, Hawaiian shirt and slow Southern drawl.
Spivey spoke about the Mercy character in an interview with WWE.com and how it was lifted directly from De Niro’s version of Cady.
“That persona was inspired by the Robert De Niro movie Cape Fear. I had the idea of bringing the southern way of being polite and nice, yet also very devious. It was easy for me to do.”
7. Dexter Lumis
WWE’s resident stalker and kidnapper Dexter Lumis possesses many horror traits and inspirations. The most obvious is Dexter Morgan from the hit show Dexter, about a serial killer that kills serial killers.
Not only do the two characters share the same forename but the same tendencies for targeting and exacting their revenge, in their own special way of course.
The creepy WWE Superstar sat down with MCW Backstage Pass and confirmed that both his first and second name are directly lifted from well-known horror characters.
“So I was always a big fan of the horror movie genre. ‘Halloween’ is one of my favourite horror movies from the 70s, early 80s. Dr Loomis, Sam Loomis, that was the guy who I sort of based that name on, and Dexter obviously being the famous TV show, the vigilante serial killer that kills bad people.”
In 1996 WCW’s megs-popular babyface, Sting was the first wrestler in the promotion to stand up to the invading Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the Outsiders. The resulting feud with the nWo that followed saw him turn the fan who loved him and leave the company for a long period of time.
He would be spotted sitting in the rafters of the arena watching, stalking and plotting revenge on Hollywood Hogan and crew. During these ominous appearances, Sting sported a drastic new look based on the 1994 movie The Crow.
The film starred Brandon Lee as Eric Draven a murdered musician who was resurrected to avenge his and his fiancé’s death. Donned in black leather and white face-paint he stalked the took out those who did him wrong. Sting took all of these aspects of the character and adapted to his situation in WCW to huge success.
In an interview with NBC Elmira at Big Time Wrestling, Sting spoke about why he needed to change his gimmick and became a new, darker character.
“It was a different time for sure. It was special. Wrestling fans were really really changing, and wrestling was changing. Fans wanted to see something a little bit more gritty. You know, a little darker, a little more mysterious, whatever.”
5. The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom
Hawk and Animal are known as one of the toughest tag teams in wrestling history and for very good reason. Not only were they two humongous dudes with a penchant for legitimately beating their opponents black and blue but they also modelled themselves on the savage raiders from the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max 2.
Everything from their mohawks, facepaint and infamous spiked entrance attire is an ode to George Millar’s Gel Gibson starring franchise. But there is another thing the duo did that was taken directly from one of the most famous horror movies of all time, Nightmare on Elm Street.
Speaking on an edition of Table Talk, D-Von Dudley revealed that the movies inspired one of wrestling’s most famous catchphrases:
“Something was already taken from A Nightmare On Elm Street, it was by the legendary Hawk. ‘Ohhh… what a rush!’ That was when [Freddy Krueger] had the needles on his hand and the girl was the drug addict, he took the needles and [killed her with them] and then rolled his eyes back [and said the phrase],”.
“The next thing you know, about a month later [after the film came out] you see Hawk on TV doing it, and everybody knew it was [inspired by] Freddy. That part of that scene in the movie got over so good that everybody was talking about it, so the minute Hawk did it, we knew exactly what it was in reference to.”
Mick Foley used several horror movie influences when he portrayed his first version of Mankind. Before he was the lovable Mr Socko-wielding character, Mankind was a much darker and disturbed individual. He would squeal like an animal, rock back and forth and manically pull his hair out.
Initially pitched as Mason the Mutilator before being named Mankind Foley took the deranged elements of Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface and his creepy love for boiler rooms from Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger.
Speaking on his podcast, Foley is Pod, the WWE Hall of Famer recalled sitting down with McMahon to come up with a new name. During the exchange, Foley said that the Chairman pitched one of the worst things he’s ever heard.
“Vince said, ‘In this business, we’ve had crushers, we’ve had destroyers, we’ve had executioner’s, but we’ve never had a mutilator.’ He gets that bass in his voice, ‘Mutilator, that’s what you are.’ Then he gives me the name Mason.”
“He alludes to the Manson name but tells me that we can’t go there, and I don’t want to go there. I was very uncomfortable with being Cactus Jack Manson. I did it because I really had no other choice. I felt Mason the Mutilator is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. It sounds to me like something that would be in a bootleg version of an old Fish card game. It just sounds awful.”
“He said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘I like it a lot, but what if.’ Those were the three biggest words. ‘But what if instead of being Mason the Mutilator, I was Mankind the Mutilator?’ He says, ‘I don’t think I understand it.’ I said, ‘This way when they’re talking about the future of mankind and the destruction of mankind, it means two different things. You know, it’s talking about me and the people’, and he’s writing all this stuff down on a yellow legal pad.”
With Paul Bearer’s help, The Undertaker’s brother Kane emerged at Bad Blood in 1997 to shock The Phenom to his core. Despite wearing red and black attire and a facemask the Big Red Machine was his brother’s doppelganger. Similar in size and stature he cut the same imposing figure, did the same moves and used the same horror movie inspirations.
Like the Undertaker, Kane adopted a slow and methodical style to his offence while being unstoppable in his approach. But if an opponent did happen to get him down he did the signature sit-up, which was borrowed from Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise.
Although Kane was an imitation of the Undertaker, Jim Cornette revealed that the Halloween villain was very much at the forefront when they originally devised the character. Cornette was interviewed by our very own Kenny McIntosh and spoke about the thought behind the iconic WWE character:
“My favourite horror movie was Halloween, Michael Myers and that was my original vision for Kane when I was told that Kane would be the Undertaker’s evil brother who’s existed all this time… I thought what if he was like Michael Myers, the main character in Halloween, what if he was like the embodiment of evil. That’s the flavour that not just wrestling fans but everyone watching the show, they got,”
2. The Undertaker
Easily WWE’s most successful character, The Undertaker struck fear into every single fan as they watched him enter the arena draped in black and approaching the ring with menace.
The horror movie inspirations are many and dependent on which version of the Deadman you look at. For example his early incarnation he was almost zombie-like, then due to a broken cheekbone, he wore a white mask that had Phantom of the Opera vibes.
Over the years he altered his image to fit with the times. His Lord of Darkness phase was similar to Pinhead from 1987’s Hellraiser. The Phenom persona with his duster and Stetson phase had a striking resemblance to the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers.
But no matter the version there are always two famous horror characters that he will be linked to forever. While speaking to Steve Austin on The Broken Skull Sessions the Deadman revealed that Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers were always his main source of inspiration.
“As I thought more about the character and what I could do athletically my presentation became, ‘I wanna lull people in I wanna stalk somebody when I get ’em hurt. I want people to feel like the Boogeyman is gonna come down the hallway and grab ya, right?’ That’s what I was trying and honestly, I don’t know why, but it clicked.
Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees and Friday The 13th I wanted to be like those guys were like those guys never moved fast at all, but they always seemed to be at the right place when it was time to cut somebody’s throat.”
1. Bray Wyatt
Be it the original incarnation of Bray Wyatt, the cult-like leader of the Wyatt Family, the Eater of Worlds, or the Fiend one can easily see heavy influences of the horror genre the man behind the characters used.
Starting with the initial Bray Wyatt character it is easy to see the Waylon Mercy/Max Cady influence. The fedora hat, Hawaiian shirt, and sinister promos all harkened back to the crazed Cape Fear villain. Wyatt, however, brought his own twist and elevated the character. The addition of Luke Harper and Eric Rowan turned Wyatt into the leader of the Wyatt Family. As the cult leader, he used several subjects to influence his warped demeanour. In an interview with the Miami Herald in 2017, Wyatt revealed Mr. Robot, the aforementioned Robert De Niro and Kevin Smith’s independent horror thriller about a fundamentalist Christian sect, Red State.
The film features Micheal Parks as a religious zealot and hatemonger against an unjust world he believes should be judged and cleansed by the Almighty God. He cuts marauding sermons that are rambling yet unsettling with each word delivered with purpose and meaning – a trope Wyatt would adapt perfectly.
“There is this show about a cult with the Monopoly masks. I’ve been studying it. Then there is Robert De Niro, ‘Red State.’ There are so many things I’ve taken from over the years. All over the place. You find inspiration everywhere.”
The other influences he mentions range from a who’s who of horror icons. Famous haunters of nightmares such as the Joker, IT’s Pennywise, Freddy Kruger, and Leatherface can be seen in his portrayal of the Fiend.
As the Fiend, Wyatt explored an even darker version of himself. A disturbing vision of his multiple personalities that intertwined with one another to transform into the supernatural, psycho clown that terrorised WWE until he was burned alive and then disappeared. Now Wyatt is back with a new version of his character and a whole lot of interesting ideas.