Matilda and the 10 Greatest Props, Pets and Accessories in Wrestling History
Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne may have helped to create the American-style of professional wrestling we know today, but it was "Gorgeous" George Wagner who perfected what we call the gimmick.
Before Wagner came along most wrestlers had very little to distinguish them. It was all plain singlets and trunks with the occasional bright color mixed in. George added music to his entrance, a flashy robe to his attire and things like a mirror and a bottle of Chanel No. 10 to his arsenal (Because Chanel No. 5 wasn't good enough).
George was such a hated heel with his over-the-top pretty-boy gimmick that he would often be escorted to the ring by real police officers to keep the overzealous fans at bay,
As time went on, George's influence spawned many individuals to find ways to make them stand out from the crowd. Wrestling became just as much about the performances and the gimmicks as it was about the actual wrestling.
Some Superstars have used crazy wardrobes, others have used pets and many have used weapons and props to help them carve their legacy in the wrestling business.
This slideshow will look back at 10 of the greatest pets, props and accessories in wrestling history. This slideshow will be in no particular order since comparing Damien the Snake to a prop is like comparing apples to trousers.
The British Bulldog and The Dynamite Kid were amazing talents on their own, but add a friendly bulldog named Matilda to the gimmick and you have guaranteed fan favorites.
Because let's face it, who doesn't love dogs?
Matilda wasn't around for very long, but she left a lasting impression on fans of 80's wrestling. She was even at the center of a major feud with The Islanders which saw her get dognapped by the duo and their manager, Bobby Heenan.
Watching Heenan actually yell at the dog as if she was his enemy was hilarious. Matilda seemed very calm in front of thousands of people, which was probably the reason why she got the job in the first place.
Frankie the Bird
Koko B. Ware was one of those midcard babyfaces who really made sure he stood out in a crowd. The ultra-bright color schemes he liked to wear were enough, but Frankie the bird was just as big a part of his gimmick.
The way Koko B. Ware liked to celebrate was flapping his arms like a bird, so naturally bringing a giant macaw to the ring made sense at the time.
It was like a party every time Frankie and Koko came out to the ring, with fans dancing and singing right along with the WWE legend.
And who could forget the Piledriver music video he made for the WWE album. Only in the 80's would it have been possible to have a music video with an over-quaffed Vince McMahon and the biggest stars of the time whistling like construction workers at pretty women.
The original Frankie unfortunately perished in a house fire a long time ago, but Koko still keeps a bird around just in case he gets called in for the occasional wrestling appearance.
Frankie and The Birdman entertained fans around the world during WWE's big boom in the 80's and 90's, and Koko was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
The energetic Superstar and his well-trained bird will always have a place in the annals of wrestling history.
Damien the Snake
Frankie and Matilda were great, but no pet was more important to his owner's gimmick than Damien the Snake.
Jake Roberts was a one-of-a-kind talent who possessed both the charisma and in-ring abilities to be a big star, but having a snake that scared his opponents and fans alike made him even more feared.
Roberts used a few different kinds of snakes throughout his career, but Damien the Python was the most well-known of them all.
Even Roberts already having a victory over his opponent wouldn't stop him from dropping the snake on his foe to scare the life out of them and make the crowd cheer.
When his opponents would catch sight of the burlap sack in the corner, it would always remind them that there was the very real possibility that they would be up close and personal with one of Mother Nature's more feared predators.
Watch Alex Trebek run away in fear of Damien in the video above.
Many wrestlers have been associated with signature weapons, but few have been as synonymous with one another as Sting and his black bat.
The bat was integrated into Sting's character during the start of his "Crow" phase. The n.W.o. were using gangland tactics, and the bat was Sting's way of evening the playing field.
To this day you will occasionally see Sting employ the use of the bat in TNA.
Edge and Christian have their chairs, Jeff Jarrett and The Honky Tonk Man have their guitars and The Big Bossman had his baton, but Sting and his bat may very well be the most popular combination of wrestler and weapon in wrestling history.
Triple H's Sledge Hammer
Sting's bat was dangerous, but Triple H's sledgehammer made you think he might possibly kill his opponent.
The average sledgehammer has a head that weighs 25 pounds. While 25 pounds doesn't sound like a lot of weight, it becomes very dangerous when it is compressed into a 2" by 2" by 6" metal rectangle at the end of a wooden handle.
Many of you will probably remember the Hell in a Cell match where Triple H swung his sledgehammer like a home run hitter right into the head of Vince McMahon.
WWE used some Hollywood magic to make the hit look real, but had it been a real sledgehammer, Vince would be eating from a straw for the rest of his life in the best case scenario, and dead in the worst case.
The idea was to make us believe the violence, and a sledgehammer did that better than almost any other weapon used by a WWE Superstar.
These days WWE is more kid friendly, so the hammer stays under the ring most of the time, but Triple H will still grab his trusty weapon during his occasional PPV match to make the crowd pop.
The Undertaker's Urn
During a time when WWE was using more unrealistic characters, The Undertaker was one of the more fictional gimmicks.
The idea was that he was supposed to be a dead funeral home undertaker who would draw his power from a mythical urn held by his manager, a real-life, fully licensed funeral home director we knew as Paul Bearer.
When the lights would drop, the ominous music would fill the arena and the smoke would come down the aisle, fans of all ages went wild. The Undertaker was, and still is, one of the most iconic characters in the history of the entire business, and his urn was a big part of the show.
The light that would beam out from the top of the urn made you feel like he really could draw more power from whatever it was we were seeing. He was like a superhero come to life.
People would steal the urn during feuds, it would be used as a weapon and it made for a great toy WWE could sell to kids. Thinking of a more iconic wrestling prop would be pretty hard.
Bret Hart's Sunglasses
Thousands of lucky kids around the world have a memory that will last them a lifetime because of Bret The Hitman Hart.
Bret Hart was one of the most popular WWE champions of his day, and he was a big hit with kids because he would always select one lucky youngster at ringside to give his trademark sunglasses to.
WWE sold these things like gangbusters because they were really cheap to make (Trust me, I had a pair and they were not what you would call high-quality) and they were popular with kids.
Bret and his sunglasses were so well-known in the 90's that he booked a special appearance on The Simpson, something even Hulk Hogan had not been asked to do.
Rey Mysterio's Mask
Many luchadors have come and gone over the years, and many of them have had iconic masks that made them stand out amongst their peers, but nobody's mask is more well known around the world than Rey Mysterio's.
Mysterio has used a variation of this mask for nearly his entire career, and because of that WWE can make a logo using just a few shapes and people will know it is for Rey Mysterio.
Rey credits his uncle, the original Rey Mysterio, for creating most of the design to his mask in the video featured above.
Rey will sometimes use special outfits and masks for WrestleMania to honor movie characters like The Joker or Captain America, but the basic design of the mask will always utilize the cross, bird wings, slanted eyes and eyebrows.
When Rey is not injured, you will see almost every kid in the crowd wearing a Rey Mysterio mask. WWE can sell so many different combinations of colors and designs that it would be impossible to collect them all.
LOD's Spiked Shoulder Pads
Wrestling used to contain tag teams that would stay together for years while travelling through the various promotions, and The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors were one of the most recognizable.
The face-paint and crazy hairstyles they used made them stand out enough, but the spiked shoulder pads added that extra layer of intimidation to their character.
Nobody would dare attack them while they had the pads on in fear of being hurt by the spikes, and sometimes those spikes would be huge.
Hawk and Animal were the kind of Superstars that sold tickets, and that is why they held the titles in just about every promotion they stepped foot in.
The spiked shoulder pads were another popular toy for young WWE fans to buy so they could imitate the entertaining tag team, and I'm sure more than a few kids ended up hurt because of the plastic spikes.
But we didn't care if a toy was dangerous back then, we just cared about having fun.
Ric Flair's Robe
Ric Flair is not the first wrestler to use a sparkly robe. He isn't even the first Nature Boy, but his robe is without a doubt one of the most popular accessories in wrestling history.
How can you not think of Ric Flair when you see a bedazzled robe worn by any athlete?
His robes have been rumored to cost upwards of $10,000 on some occasions due to the high quality materials and stones used in its construction, and they have been known to go for big bucks at auctions.
Flair has used just about every color and design you could imagine for his robes, and it is one of things that makes his character so memorable.
Without the robe Flair is just another wrestler in trunks, knee pads and boots, but with the robe he is a shiny icon who any wrestling fan would recognize immediately.
What do you guys think? Did I miss anything important? Share your opinions below on the best pets, props and accessories in wrestling. You never know, maybe there'll be a part 2.
Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.
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