WARHORSE: Acceptable in the 90’s

Safe bet; you probably have a strong connection to the time in which you grew up. Like many millennials I am often obsessed with the 90’s; a decade during which I was a child and have little memory of. Today, things from that time I’ve never experienced personally hit me with waves of nostalgia. Such is the strength of aesthetics; playing video games and watching movies that remind me of the ones I grew up with feel like a cozy, familiar blanket. Basically, if it features in the title sequence of Malcolm in the Middle, I’m all about it. There are plenty of wrestlers today who aim to be throwbacks – they base their look, their style or their approach on something from the past. I only know one who hits my 90’s nostalgia right on the button.

From the moment I saw him, I fell in love with the WARHORSE. He’s like something I would create in a wrestling game, but so much more. On the surface, he’s a pastiche of 80’s and 90’s wrestling. A larger than life character who bellows his promos down the camera directly into your face. The obvious comparison is to the Ultimate Warrior; he has the energy, and he has the face paint. Where Warrior was glam rock, WARHORSE is heavy metal.

However it would do WARHORSE a disservice to simplify him like that. I could draw comparisons to the thrash bands of the 80’s, clearly because he takes heavy inspiration from that era. However, I feel it’s more accurate to focus comparisons on the media of the early 90’s, a time also heavily inspired by the thrash and heavy metal of the 80’s.

It was a transformative time; the camp excess of the 80’s gave way to grunge and doom. The youth of the time would become known as Generation X, which says about everything you need to know about the culture. In the nerdy corners of the world, video games and comic books were changing. Mario gave way to Mortal Kombat. The babies (me) played Sonic the Hedgehog, and the real cool gamers were playing Doom. In the comic world, artists like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld led the charge to a grittier, excessive style. Muscles were huge, waists were paper thin, weapons were massive and everyone was covered in pouches. Nerds and metal heads were becoming one.

I didn’t start reading comics until adulthood, but these comics take me straight back. Credit: Marvel, Image Comics, Top Cow

I was a little too young to have properly grown up with all of this, but I certainly grew up with the vibe. If I were to break down the ingredients, it would be a bit of leftover camp from the 80’s, a heaping spoonful of testosterone-fueled violence, and a pinch of ironic indulgence. Today, there’s a self-awareness in our nostalgia. We all know it’s not okay to rip someone’s spine out, we still giggle when Sub-Zero does it. The point is it’s over the top, and it’s light hearted. When WARHORSE cuts a promo he is so in the 90’s he probably has to stop himself from addressing it to Mean Gene. The difference is, he pokes fun at himself. He cracks jokes, he makes ridiculous claims. He tells you he’s 4000 pounds of heavy metal and he says it with his whole chest. He knows he’s ridiculous, and he loves it. He revels in the nonsense, and so do I.

There’s a whole generation of us who grew up on this madness. These days most of us are at least self aware enough to know it’s dumb, but dumb can be fun. To this day I love the likes of Killer Instinct or Korn, both ironically and sincerely. There were no comic book shops in my hometown but when I listen to people talk about buying their first issues of Spawn and The Darkness, I’m enthralled. I have a sneaking suspicion that under the face paint, WARHORSE is a 90’s kid just like me.

I mean, he’s just so dang cool! Credit: Mouse’s Wrestling Adventures

I fear this article makes little sense to anyone outside of this particular bubble. Unfortunately there isn’t really a specific name for the group of people I’m talking about. Millennials, for sure, but I wouldn’t lump everyone in with us. We were 25 to 30ish year olds, who probably got hand-me-down video games and comics from their older siblings and cousins. Inexplicably we had toys and lunchboxes from Robocop and Terminator, strictly adult films targeting children with their merchandise. It was a weird time!

I write this because I adore WARHORSE. He is living everything I love about my childhood. He belongs on the pages of a McFarlane comic book, or on the cover of an Iron Maiden album. I love him because I get the kind of character he is, and I think it’s perfect for pro wrestling. He’s an over the top ass kicker, a testosterone-fueled screaming lunatic who’s not so fragile that he can’t make fun of himself. He’s regularly the butt of his own jokes because he knows that his character is dumb, awesome fun. Wrestling is insane and ridiculous, and in a world of dudes trying to look legit, WARHORSE is insane and ridiculous.