Carve your pumpkins and prepare your candy, because the scary season is here! What better way to celebrate than to turn our eyes to the squared circle? Pro wrestling is no stranger to incorporating the spooky and the scary. Whether it be through its presentation, its stories or even its celebrity appearances (Chucky from Child’s Play cutting a promo on Rick Steiner still doesn’t make sense to me 24 years later), there has always been an element of horror in wrestling.
So the Wrestle Inn team came together to share with you their personal favourite horror themed wrestlers. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there is only six of us so if you’re wondering where The Boogeyman is, then consider him an honourable mention. Otherwise he’ll be coming to get’cha!
These are the wrestlers and the gimmicks that stuck with us when we think ‘spooky’. So read on below, and see if our list is full of tricks or treats…
Selected by Thumbly Squeezed
An obvious choice, maybe, but every single piece of Gangrel’s package was tuned perfectly to put a chill down your spine when he appeared. Kids could think he was an actual monster, while adults still found themselves backing away slowly. A legit frightening look (fangs and all), a badass entrance that’s still being recycled today, and “blood” galore to go into his mouth and all over his enemies. Even his finisher, a spike DDT, came across vicious and on-point (he’s going for the neck, get it?!).
Gangrel established who he was and how he should be feared without needing to say word. In fact, his mystique vanished a bit when he did start talking for himself. Before then, though, he was a landmark part of the Attitude Era and his vampiric gimmick helped launch two Hall Of Fame legends in Edge and Christian Cage towards superstardom.
Match to watch: vs X-Pac @ Royal Rumble 1999 (January 1999); a fast-paced good match that, despite a botched count by the referee, still features both talents well.
Selected by Corey Michaels
Why didn’t I just pick Cactus Jack? Mankind would fit more aptly, too, of course. Well, my reason for this is simple. What’s more terrifying than someone who is many? Someone haunted with multiple personalities? No, not someone who suffers from a disorder, but rather a plague of beings. Be it the sadistic Cactus Jack, the masochistic Mankind, or the laid-back, comedic Dude Love, Mick Foley was host to an unpredictable trio.
And on his own, as his normal self, he can be just as viscerally formidable. Foley had this ability to make audiences feel whatever he needed to, and when he can blend reality and fiction to go with it, nobody was mentally safe. You’re about as safe as any opponent he would suffocate and choke out with his Mandible Claw, as he squeals, grinning with broken teeth and scars abound.
Match to watch: vs Triple H @ RAW (September 1997); the fear of Cactus Jack was well known to audiences who had clamored for the wild man, and his own personalities were fearful of him too.
Selected by Trent Breward
Amidst the many bright and cheerful characters found on the TJPW roster stood a dark, flesh hungry counterpart. Although Maho Kurone’s career was a short one, wrestling for just over two years before retiring due to mental health issues, she made a lasting impression on fans.
Few embodied a gimmick quite like she did. TJPW’s resident zombie would stumble out to the ring, a severed hand hanging out of her bloodied mouth, and go about scaring both the wrestlers and the audience with manic glee. Maho took the assignment and ran with it. While she was naturally quite gimmick heavy, her in-ring work was coming along nicely while still maintaining the essence of a zombie thrust into a wrestling ring. One can only wonder what she would have managed if her career could have continued.
Match to watch: vs Miyu Yamashita @ TJPW Let’s Go! Go! If You Go! When You Go! If You Get Lost You Just Go To Yokohama (10/03/2018); a key example of Maho combining gimmick and in ring workrate to put forth arguably the best match of her short career.
Selected by CiaranRH
The demonic side of Jyushin Thunder Liger; such a sadistic form that in Liger’s 35+ year career it only showed its twisted face on four occasions! The only time the majority of fans were able to experience the Kishin Liger phenomenon would have been in 2019, amidst a rivalry with Minoru Suzuki.
Furious with Suzuki consistently being a dickhead, Liger elected to unmask himself and reveal his ghostly painted face and torso, much to the shocked horror of the crowd. Spitting mist in the face of not only Suzuki but the referee as well, Kishin Liger tried his utmost to impale Suzuki with a spike. Literally. In a death-defying moment, Suzuki dodged at the last second and the dangerously large spike exploded through a table, the same spot Suzuki’s head was a second earlier.
Match to watch: Suzuki-gun vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jyushin Thunder Liger, Rocky Romero & Tiger Mask @ Destruction In Kobe (NJPW, 22nd September 2019); The match ends as soon as it begins, but the aftermath sees the aforementioned awakening of the fierce god, Kishin Liger.
La Parka/L.A. Park
Selected by Steve Howard
During the influx of cruiserweights into WCW in the mid 1990’s, one stood out as something different. The ‘Chairman of WCW’ had a unique look due to his skeleton outfit, a nod to Mexico’s Day of the Dead ceremonies. Bigger than most cruiserweights, La Parka still had a high flying in ring style. The chairman moniker was more than apt, often use a chair to injure his opponents.
After a dispute with AAA over the ownership of the name, the original La Parka rebranded himself as L.A. Park, but he maintained the ‘spooky’ skeleton outfit. Having wrestled for 40 years, 2022 has seen him compete in a number of promotions including The Crash, AAA and Major League Wrestling. During an incredible career, he has both excited and scared audiences around the world.
Match to watch: Juventud Guerrera & Rey Mysterio Jr vs La Parka & Psychosis (WCW Monday Nitro, 15th December 1997); one of many exciting cruiserweight must see tag matches from that period.
Selected by Adam Ryan
What list of spooky wrestlers isn’t complete without The Undertaker? He’s the original spooky gimmick in wrestling. Debuting at the 1990 Survivor Series, he immediately struck fear into anyone he was in the ring with. A year later, he was the WWF Champion and was the first man to pin Hulk Hogan in what seemed like forever. Throughout his long and illustrious career he won multiple world titles and was the originator of such ghoulish and barbaric matches as the casket match, the boiler room brawl, the buried alive match and hell in a cell.
Whenever that first bell of his entrance music tolled and the lights went out, you just felt a chill. Be it in the arena live or even on TV, it was something special when The Undertaker would appear. Undertaker has always been a personal favorite of mine and when I started watching wrestling, he was one of the first wrestlers I remember seeing on RAW. At that time, he had the ghostly and morbid Paul Bearer at his side and I was drawn to them, they were completely different from anything else on the show.
Match to watch: vs Mankind, Hell in a Cell Match (WWF King of the Ring, June 28, 1998); This match is still talked about today as one of the most violent and barbaric matches in WWF/WWE history.