The Emancipation of a Babyface…
When Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez saved the Spanish announce team from 3MB at the recent TLC PPV, I was taken aback by how silly this face turn seemed. The Spanish announce table being constantly mistreated by everyone has never elicited a reaction from a wrestler, Hispanic or not, for anything other than laughs. However here we were, Del Rio and the also recently turned baby face Miz were teaming with the Brooklyn Brawler against 3MB and the crowd more or less just accepted it. Del Rio of course has recently run over Santa Claus bringing into question how long this face turn is going to last, but this caused me to think about other ridiculous face turns. There are plenty, but none stick out anymore in my mind than the turn of the Mighty Hercules.
When Ted DiBiase arrived in the World Wrestling Federation he made a point of showing that he could have whatever he wanted because of him enormous wealth. The Million Dollar Man had paid people to kiss his feet, wipe sweat off his body, paid other wrestlers to take his matches for him, and he even paid for a random person to get plastic surgery to look just like Dave Hebner in an elaborate scheme to try and steal the WWF Championship (however Jack Tunney put a stop to that). For weeks DiBiase was bragging about a special new possession that he had acquired, and on Superstars of Wrestling he was interviewed by Gene Okerlund with Bobby Heenan, Virgil, and Hercules present.
DiBiase declared that he has acquired something that few men have had the money to own and even fewer had actually purchased. He then handed Bobby Heenan a gold briefcase supposedly filled with cash for his purchase and announced that he had bought himself a slave! DiBiase, Virgil and Heenan laughed as Hercules smiled along and flexed apparently oblivious of why he was probably out there with Heenan. Gene Okerlund, somewhat accepting that you can own a slave in 1988, asked him who his slave was. DiBiase then announced that his slave was none other than Hercules! Not surprisingly Hercules wasn’t pleased by this. He confronted Heenan about it, and when his back was turned to DiBiase he was attacked by The Million Dollar Man and his bodyguard. After a good beat down, Hercules made a comeback and chased them off.
Perhaps DiBiase didn’t think that Hercules would mind being his slave and would just accept being bought. If you had followed Hercules’ WWF career, you would know that he originally was managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie before his contract was sold to Slick, and then not too long after that Bobby Heenan had purchased the services of Hercules from Slick. Despite his previous acceptance of being bought and sold by managers he balked at DiBiase’s claim of ownership. Now one would think in 1988 that a claim of owning a slave would be a pretty cut and dry case, but that is not so in the WWF. Researchers for both DiBiase and Jesse Ventura had found evidence that this slavery contract was in fact valid. DiBiase, not wanting to be bothered with going through the legal system, agreed to put Hercules’ freedom up for grabs in a match on Saturday Night’s Main Event. If Hercules could beat Virgil he would be a free man.
Luckily for the abolitionist movement, Hercules won his match against Virgil and it was no longer a question of whether or not he was a slave. Hercules was a free man and perhaps more importantly a full-fledged babyface. The Mighty Hercules would battle the Million Dollar Man and other heels for over a year getting cheered by adoring crowds everywhere.
*** Check out my previous posts on the wacky world of wrestling at http://clintoniyh.blogspot.com/ ***
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