The mid-90’s was the start of a real change at World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In 1994, Eric Bischoff was promoted to executive vice president and signed the legendary Hulk Hogan, who immediately beat company mainstay Ric Flair for the heavyweight title belt.
Hogan needed people to feud with so they brought in Ed Leslie and John Tenta and teamed them with Kevin Sullivan as the 3 Faces of Fear. Sullivan was mad at Hogan because his dyslexic brother, Dave Evad Sullivan, was a Hulkamaniac. The "dyslexic" Hulkamaniac storyline was terrible (and just wrong) but it eventually led into the creation of something entertainingly terrible: the Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom was a group of monster gimmicked wrestlers who started out trying to rid the wrestling world of Hulkamania and it was laughably bad, even compared to 1980’s WWF. This is what Hogan was doing in WCW before the creation of the New World Order (nWo).
So let’s look at the Dungeon of Doom through the time travelling magic of streaming video:
The Master (1995)
Curtis Iaukea was a relatively successful wrestler in the 60’s and 70’s and managed Kamala as The Wizard in the WWF in the 80’s. He also managed Kevin Sullivan in ICW in the 80’s. I guess that is how he got talked into this, he rambles and yells and looks like he is covered in dirt in awful videos as he aids his “son” the Taskmaster in trying to destroy Hulkamania.
The Taskmaster (1995-1997)
Kevin Sullivan is the guy who came up with a storyline where his wife would leave him for Chris Benoit to start a feud but then the storyline actually happened in real life. Kevin was on the booking committee for WCW so there is a good chance he wasn’t just playing the role of Taskmaster, he was writing all this too.
James Harris made quite a career out of playing the Ugandan Giant Kamala (but unfortunately not enough money). He wasn’t in WCW long but he fit well with the Dungeon of Doom.
Big Van Vader (1995)
In 1995 Vader had been feuding with Hogan and conspired with the Dungeon of Doom to give him the edge in his cage match at Bash at the Beach. Apparently even the magical power of the Master couldn’t help Vader escape the cage first, or keep him from getting fired shortly after for a locker room fight with Paul Orndorff.
The Shark (1995-1997)
John Tenta was better than this. He is not a fish.
The Zodiac (1995-1996)
Ed Leslie travelled over from WWF to WCW with Hogan and went from Brutus Beefcake to Brother Bruti to the evil Butcher to the amnesiac Man with No Name to the deranged Zodiac in the Dungeon of Doom. Later it was revealed that he was really a spy sent to join the Dungeon by Hogan (oh the drama) and his ”real” identity was The Booty Man, a wrester obsessed with assholes. Later he was the Disciple who was kidnapped and brainwashed by the Ultimate Warrior and in 2004 he caused a scare in Boston when the bag of cocaine he took to work with him was mistaken for Anthrax. Ed Leslie is a true master of character and gimmick. Currently he can be seen on TNA playing the character of Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke. (Editor's note: What a brilliant one-liner.)
Tonga Fifita (Haku in WWF) may very well be the toughest man the sport has ever seen and there are outlandish stories all over the internet about what a bad man he is. Apparently he is also a real nice guy; he must have been to agree to wear that thing on his head.
The Giant (1995-1996)
In 1995, Paul Wight debuted as Andre the Giant’s son out for revenge . It started out hilariously bad and just kept getting dumber and dumber as it went . Hogan turned evil after they shaved off his mustache (apparently Hogan confused “evil” with the dread pirate Roberts ). At Halloween Havoc 1995 they had a Sumo truck battle on top of a building and Hogan tossed the Giant off the building. Luckily the Giant no-sold his own death and made it to the main event for his wrestling debut, which included The Yeti.
The Yeti (1995)
At the end of the Halloween Havoc match the Yetay! lumbers down to the ring and starts dry humping Hogan for no real reason then wanders around aimlessly. To quote Bobby Heenan; “You will never see a PPV like this again, you can bet on that.” The Yeti was apparently supposed to be Giant Gonzalez but ended up Ron Reis wrapped in what looks like toilet paper and wearing lifts in his boots. Yes, you are thinking that wasn’t a Yeti and you know a mummy when you see one but in the end it actually turned out to be Super Giant Ninja.
Ron Reis would later go on to have some success as the character “that really tall guy who did what Raven told him to do”.
Lex Luger (1995-1996)
Not sure what Lex Luger’s monster character persona was so I am just going to go with big jerk.
Jimmy Hart (manager) (1995-1997)
Career Hogan remora Jimmy Hart also got in on the turning on Hogan and joining the Dungeon of Doom act to become their manager at Halloween Havoc. He stayed with them till the very end.
Hugh Morrus (1995-1997)
Before Bill DeMott was abusing developmental wrestlers for the WWE he was in the Dungeon of Doom.
One Man Gang (1996)
That isn’t a clip from the Dungeon of Doom but it is hilarious. Gang wasn’t in WCW long during his run with the Dungeon of Doom.
The Barbarian (1996-1997)
Sione Havea Vailahi came from Tonga at the same time as Meng did. Both were sent to Japan to study Sumo as teenagers and both ended up in the US as professional wrestlers. Him and Meng re-formed the tag team that they were in while in the WWF and called it the Faces of Fear, which outlasted the Dungeon of Doom.
Loch Ness (1996)
Martin Ruane was a relatively successful wrestler from England where he went by the name Giant Haystacks (he was a 650+ lb man). He debuted in WCW in 1996 as Loch Ness (at the age of 50) but was only there a short time before he was diagnosed with cancer and returned to England.
Tiny Lister from No Holds Barred and Jeep Swenson were brought in as part of the Alliance to End Hulkamania and be part of the “Doomsday Cage” match at Uncensored 1996. Z-Gangsta was pretty much the same character from the movie but they couldn’t call him Zeus or refer to the movie. Basically Hogan and Savage took on Flair and Arn Anderson and Meng and the Barbarian and Lex Lugar and Sullivan and Z-Gangsta and Ultimate Solution in an 8 on 2 convoluted gimmick cage match and won.
The Ultimate Solution (1996)
Originally the character was called “The Final Solution” but it was pointed out to WCW that naming a character after Hitler’s plan to kill the Jews probably wasn’t a good idea. Jeep Swenson also played Bane in the 1997 Batman and Robin movie.
Big Bubba (1996-1997)
The always entertaining Ray Traylor was in the Dungeon of Doom too. Maybe prison guard is a Monster character? By this time the nWo was taking off and the Dungeon was on the backburner.
Is former bodybuilder a monster character? How about jobber? That’s pretty much what Maxx Muscle was in WCW.
Braun the Leprechaun (1996)
Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, a trainer at the WCW Power Plant, dressed as a Leprechaun. Yes, it was as stupid as it sounds but that was par for the course for the Dungeon of Doom.
The scariest monster character of them all; Mexican gangster.
Jacqueline (valet) (1997)
Jackie Moore has an underrated and underappreciated article on the site already. In WCW she was with Sullivan as part of the storyline where Chris Benoit stole Sullivan’s wife Woman. When she turned on Sullivan in a retirement match with Benoit at Bash at the Beach 1997 it pretty much marked the end of Dungeon of Doom stable.