Where Are They Now? Glacier

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January 12, 2012

The awkward teenagers at Marietta, Georgia’s Lassiter High didn’t know what to make of Ray Lloyd when he showed up at their school in 2001. A year prior, the kids who watched wrestling — WWE’s Cody Rhodes among them — had seen their new teacher throwing karate kicks as a ninja named Glacier on WCW’s Nitro. (PHOTOS) Now, all of a sudden, he was standing in front of them in gym shorts, stressing the importance of stretching before a workout.

“I knew Ray Lloyd from WCW when my dad used to bring me around there,” Rhodes told WWE.com. “But I was quite surprised when I found out he was going to be the health and lacrosse coach at my high school.”

Glacier makes his Nitro debut in September of 1996
The five years leading up to this moment had been the most thrilling, frustrating and surreal of Lloyd’s life. A journeyman wrestler since the late ’80s, the Georgia native received what was perhaps the most heavily hyped debut in sports-entertainment history when he emerged in WCW in 1996 as Glacier — a coldblooded kung-fu master from Japan’s Shorinji Temple. (WATCH) Arriving with an entrance so elaborate that it featured lasers and fake snow, he went on to brawl with Goldberg, appear in video games and see his mug plastered across toy cars and T-shirts.

So how did he end up in a PE class in Marietta?

“After my run in WCW, I was at the point where I wanted to go back to a normal life,” Ray Lloyd told WWE.com during a phone conversation in December. “I knew for the first few months of being a teacher I was going to have to constantly answer questions like, ‘You’re Glacier. Why are you teaching school?’ But I prepared myself for that.”

In truth, it wasn’t Lloyd’s first time dealing with a classroom full of kids. He had earned a master’s degree in education at Valdosta State University in Georgia before he ever slipped into a pair of trunks. After that, Lloyd taught health and physical education while pursuing professional wrestling on weekends and in the summertime. Competing under his real name, he was the type of nondescript local competitor you’d see getting kicked around by The Freebirds or The Varsity Club on “NWA World Championship Wrestling.”

“I came in at the tail end of the territories and I got a chance to work with some of those real old-school veterans,” he recalled.

Glacier tangles with Mortis at WCW Uncensored
For nearly a decade, Lloyd's Monday mornings consisted of limping into class battered and bruised from that weekend's matches before a conversation with Diamond Dallas Page changed his career. Over pizza, Lloyd told his friend about his idea to mix martial arts and professional wrestling. He had been a state champion in karate as a teenager and figured it was something that hadn’t really been seen in the ring. Knowing WCW President Eric Bischoff practiced Tae Kwon Do, Page pitched him the idea, and the executive flipped for it. From there, things quickly got out of hand.

“Eric’s initial idea was that he wanted a video game come to life,” Lloyd remembered.

Inspired by the “Mortal Kombat” franchise, Bischoff envisioned a group of arcade-ready personas that could battle in a style right out of a Sega game. Lloyd — a straightforward Southern guy who cites Lou Thesz as a mentor — became the Sub Zero-inspired Glacier. The late Chris Kanyon donned a fright mask and a robe of skulls to become Mortis. Bryan Clark — the man once known as Adam Bomb in WWE — was turned into an intimidating monster named Wrath. (WATCH) It was all very fun in a hokey, B-movie kind of way, but that wasn’t how WCW intended it. In their eyes, this was serious business.

“The hand we were dealt was, ‘Okay, you’re going to take these types of characters and let’s try to find a way where it’s taken seriously,’” Lloyd said. “It was really hard.”

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