Teacher Appreciation Week: Matt Striker and WWE's Greatest Educators
photo courtesy of wwe.com
This week is a time to appreciate our favorite teachers and with that WWE’s greatest educators of all time. Matt Striker is the only current character in the WWE who once used the teacher gimmick and there haven’t been many others.
However, WWE has taken advantage of various Superstars’ educational experiences.
The Genius was an educational poet, who wore a cap and gown to the ring. Chris Nowinski and David Otunga have incorporated their degrees from Harvard University into their characters. An argument can even be made for Damien Sandow who preaches to be the Intellectual Savior of the Masses.
Yet, these Superstars were not actual educators in or outside of the ring. In fact, WWE has only used some variation of the gimmick for five characters.
Here I will discuss each character and give them a grade based on their accomplishments in the company.
As an educator myself, I hope we all appreciate the impact teachers have in the World and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Matt Striker can now be found interviewing various WWE Superstars and Divas for the WWE App, but his career began in the classroom.
Striker used all of his sick days when teaching to pursue a career in professional wrestling, which ultimately led to his dismissal as a teacher. Striker used his background as an educator to create a segment called “Matt Striker’s Classroom,” which he used to show off his heel persona.
After a couple of years on the ECW brand, Striker was moved to commentary and aside from a recent moment involving Kane, has ended his in-ring career for now.
Striker did not accomplish many accolades as a wrestler, but has the skills to be an outstanding commentator and interviewer.
Grade: As a Wrestler—F, As a Commentator/Interviewer—B+
Michelle McCool and her "pets" (photo credit: onlineworldofwrestling.com)
Before debuting in WWE, Michelle McCool used her knowledge in the classroom as a seventh grade science teacher in Florida.
McCool began her wrestling career in the 2004 Diva Search, but was eliminated and finished in seventh place.
After brief stints on SmackDown and in WWE’s developmental territory, McCool returned to the blue brand and used her experience as an educator. She began acting as a villainous sexy teacher who threatened to take her opponents to school.
McCool also spent time as a manager for K.C. James and Idol Stevens, who is now known as Damien Sandow. Together, the two were known as The Teacher’s Pets.
Though McCool’s teacher gimmick wouldn’t last too much longer, the Diva would go on to become Women’s Champion and be one-half of the famous duo of Lay-Cool.
Now, McCool spends her time at home with her new daughter and husband, The Undertaker.
Dean Douglas' Report Card Segment
Although Douglas made a brief appearance for WWF, including at the 1991 Royal Rumble, he returned to the company with a college dean character in 1995.
This was a great form of a teacher gimmick, but not in the traditional sense like Matt Striker.
Douglas’s tenure in WWE is famous for the In Your House 4 event when he was scheduled to face Shawn Michaels for the intercontinental title. Michaels had to forfeit the belt due to injuries so Douglas was awarded the championship.
However, he immediately defended and lost it to Razor Ramon that night.
Douglas didn’t stay in WWE too much longer as his last appearance with the company was just over a year later. Douglas has been outspoken about his feelings on WWE and his time there. He spoke of it during an interview with WrestlingInc.
Dean Douglas was a great character that used the educator gimmick well, but poor booking and a lack of interest on Douglas’ part hindered his career in WWE.
Coach John Tolos
photo courtesy of thewrestlinglegendsforum.com
Coach John Tolos only had a brief stint in WWF in 1991, but he played the teacher gimmick in a unique way. He acted as a coach, with a whistle and everything, while managing The Beverly Brothers and Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig.
The latter Superstar was the intercontinental champion at the time, but lost the belt to Bret Hart at SummerSlam. Shortly after, Hennig was injured and off TV. The Beverely Brothers replaced Tolos with the Genius, who also had an educational type of gimmick.
Tolos would leave WWF at this time, but he is the only one to ever have played a stereotypical coach gimmick.
Jonathan Coachman was also known as The Coach, but that was because of his actual name, not his character.
Grade: As a manager—D
Professor Toru Tanaka
photo courtesy of thewrestlingrevolution.com
Professor Tanaka’s most successful time in the company, then known as WWWF, was as part of a tag team with Mr. Fuji. Although the latter would become one of the greatest managers of all time, he first won tag team titles with Professor Tanaka.
Tanaka, like Fuji, would throw salt in his opponent’s eyes. The Superstar would also challenge Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title at times, but was never able to defeat the Living Legend.
Tanaka accomplished a great deal of singles titles in other promotions, such as the IWA and NWA, but in WWWF, he was more popular in tag teams.
Who is your favorite WWE teacher gimmick of all-time?
How would you grade these educators? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Also be sure to thank your teachers this week!
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