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9 Pro-Wrestlers Who’d Make Great SPIDER-MAN Villains

9 Pro-Wrestlers Who’d Make Great SPIDER-MAN Villains

Professional wrestling and Spider-Man have been intertwined ever since 1962, when Peter Parker tried out his new identity as Spider-Man at an in-ring challenge against a bruiser named Crusher Hogan. This, of course, was decades before both Hogan and the Incredible Hulk’s names would be combined to create the biggest World Wrestling Federation star of the ’80s. And years later, that same wrestler’s arch-rival, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, would fill the Hogan spot as “Bonesaw McGraw” in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie.

Terri Schwartz at IGN only emphasized the similarities between pro-wrestling storylines and Spider-Man adventures when she tested Tom Holland‘s ability to tell the difference between sports-entertainment characters and spider-foes, noting correctly that sometimes they can share a name, like Rhino (or Sandman, though his persona is quite different in each medium). And part of her quiz did feature Arachnaman, World Championship Wrestling’s ill-fated attempt at a Spidey ripoff who shot party popper streamers from his hands. (I’d be remiss also in not mentioning WWE‘s Finn Balor, whose “Demon King” persona is a thinly veiled Venom knockoff).

So it got us thinking: which wrestlers besides the ones mentioned above would make great Spider-Man villains, with few to no tweaks in their established characters? Plenty, actually. But here are my top picks:

Goldust

Nowadays, the erstwhile Dustin Rhodes is a comedy nostalgia act, usually seen goofing around with younger talent and acknowledging that his odd body paint is more funny ha-ha than funny bizarre. But when he first debuted the character, he came off a little unhinged (and more than a little transphobic, a trait we’d gladly remove in translation, as WWE has in the years since). A human being painted to look like a cross between an Oscar statuette and a German expressionist villain, he obsessively quoted movies and stalked his opponents like a deranged suitor. It’s not hard to imagine comic-book version of the character as an out-of-work actor hired to be a “living statue” at a movie awards party. Unfortunately, someone accidentally spills an experimental chemical into his gold body paint, and the resulting compound gives him both indestructible metal skin and makes him crazy enough to imagine himself as different movie characters—his initial clash with Spider-Man would ensue when he starts to believe he’s a wild west bank robber.

Skinner

While he may not have signified Steve Keirn’s finest days in the ring, the “Skinner” character seems like he’d be a good ol’ boy hunter upset that a Commie named Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, has the best reputation for catching the most dangerous prey. Wanting to bring prestige back to the good ol’ U.S.A., Skinner would compete with Kraven to see which one of them could trap Spider-Man first, and he might even win…only to have Kraven make a temporary face turn and briefly team up with Spidey just to thwart his new archrival.

Battle Kat

In his very short-lived career, this bizarre animal-masked competitor with a name stolen from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was too unbelievable even for the then-WWF. But what if he fell in a vat of radioactive waste, and the mask fused to his head, also giving him the power of a sonic meow? Now you’re talking.

Mantaur

See Battle Kat, above. But with a giant bull head, and a name derived from Vince McMahon mis-hearing the word “Minotaur.”

The Million Dollar Man

Like the Kingpin, Ted DiBiase can fight extremely well if he has to. But his real powers are those of capitalism and influence. In his most famous storyline, it was the Million Dollar Man who ended Hulk Hogan’s epic four-year title reign by first buying the contract of Andre the Giant, then paying off a referee’s evil twin to call the match in Andre’s favor, and finally bribing Andre to hand over the belt. When the powers-that-be ruled a title couldn’t be bough or sold, DiBiase nearly won the title legitimately anyway, until Hulk Hogan interfered. The point is that while he may or may not have the power to beat Spider-Man in a fight, his ability to turn every aspect of the world against his foe—and his supervillain cackle—is what really makes him dangerous.

It’s notable that DiBiase’s ultimate championship defeat happened at Trump Plaza, the owner of which would go on to prove that the perceived persona of a confident rich man can get you absolutely anywhere in life.

Adam Bomb

Billed as being from Three Mile Island, Adam Bomb wore bright yellow and red contacts and a “bleeding” tongue to further the gimmick that he gained his powers from radiation. While his name sounded slightly less threatening if you knew it came from one of the original Garbage Pail Kids, he was nonetheless a blatant throwback to the days of radioactive spiders, living in a post-Cold War era where fans knew better.

Phantasio

This magician with a creepy mask didn’t last much more than a week on TV, but his special power is notable: the ability to magically remove his opponent’s underwear (check the 2:10 mark on the video). That might seem like no big deal until you realize that a superhero’s entire costume usually IS long underwear. Phantasio might not offer the biggest battle, but he’d be the most direct threat to Peter Parker’s secret identity being exposed.

The Ultimate Warrior

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Yes, you might say the heavily muscled Warrior would get winded quickly in a battle with a web-slinger, and you might not be wrong. But consider that in a comic book written by Warrior himself, the face-painted champion beat up Santa Claus, stripped him naked, and chained him up before usurping his role. If he can do that to jolly old Saint Nick, imagine what he’d do to your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.

Kane

An emotionally scarred boy who was nearly burned to death by his brother and grew into adulthood with delusions of disfigurement, the power to conjure fire, and a penchant for burying people alive. Yeah, the Undertaker’s storyline “baby brother” is probably the most comic-book like character to ever main-event U.S. arenas—the bright red-and-black costume only enhances the effect—and his remorseless persona has been played for both humor and horror.

Which is why it totally makes sense that he’s running for public office now.

Obviously there are many more possibilities; these selections were just my favorites. What wrestling foes would you like to see roaming Spidey’s world? The comments section is yours to command and suggest.

Images: WWE, Ultimate Creations

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