Shock and Awe: The oral history of the Shockmaster incident

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August 27, 2014


RHODES: I remember Cody was a young baby, a young kid. He and all the nephews and cousins were watching TV live, and when the helmet rolled across the floor, Cody looked up and said — and this is just a kid here, we’re talking young — he looked up and said, “That looks like Uncle Fred!”

It's live TV. There's no do-overs.STING: I don’t remember the actual day [that it happened], but I remember the moment, just standing there in disbelief. “Oh, is this really happening? Oh, man.”

BOOKER: That was just like the beginning of one of the moments, you know? I’ve been like a fly on the wall in so many moments, seeing everything happening. That just happened to be one of those moments where my brother and I, two green guys, just happened to be Sid’s protégés, and we just happened to be in that main event picture with all of those top guys. Sid, British Bulldog and us. It was just like, “Wow!” You know, it was a moment.

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STING: It was a shock for everybody, everybody was in disbelief.

RHODES: Booker T, his brother Stevie Ray, Davey Boy, I mean, they reacted perfectly. And even Ole Anderson, who was doing the voice-over across the arena, the Shockmaster’s voice, reacted like, “Wow.”

STING: I was embarrassed for him; I was embarrassed for the company, for everybody.

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SHOCKMASTER: It was live TV. There’s no do-overs, no “I’m sorry” or whatever … Everybody, I’m sure, got a good laugh at it.

RHODES: I laughed so hard I nearly passed out. They had to bring me to, I think, because it was an amazing moment … I don’t even remember the next segment. We were live and I don’t even remember what we were doing next because it was so unbelievably funny.

BOOKER: It was like comic relief. It was funny for everybody, except Fred.

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STING: It’s just one of those moments where you just have a complete backfire. Just a complete flop. You have two choices: either put it in the can and don’t do anything about it, or you try to carry on with the, “he trips everywhere, he falls everywhere” kind of gimmick. I think we tried that.

BOOKER: They just killed it immediately after that and made him Uncle Fred, kind of giving him a lighthearted feel.What can you do? All you can do is laugh.

SHOCKMASTER: I went along with what the character was going to be, but they weren’t secure enough, I believe, [to continue]. I went with it. They just started to take advantage of the stumbling, bumbling Uncle Fred-type deal.

RHODES: All the kids loved him and you know, he was a little short in the head — not really, you know. He did some funny stuff and we tried to capitalize on the humor [of The Shockmaster]. I was just really shooting in the dark with it.

SHOCKMASTER: Stumbling, bumbling, I’m very good at that. [Laughs] I remember they did the deal for Christmas where they had me dressed as Santa Claus, reading “The Night Before Christmas” to the kids, and then I wound up standing up and crushing all their toys.

STING: It got to a place where after it settled down a bit, now we can all laugh about it. Even him.


SHOCKMASTER: Nowadays, some movies, probably more than half, show the outtakes and the bloopers and the bad things that happen. And sometimes they’re more entertaining than the movie itself. So, going by that, you know, the old adage, if you can’t laugh at yourself …. It was what it was, and like I said, it was live. And there’s nothing that can be done about that. I’ve seen similar things happen to other guys. I remember working in Texas and I saw Kerry Von Erich go to jump over the top rope and both of his feet got hooked on the top and he fell on his face.Every time I think I'm smart, someone will bring it up.

RHODES: I thought the polka-dot thing would be the funniest thing I’d ever see ... But I look at that and Shockmaster and I say, if I’m gonna hang my hat on a 47-year career, going on 48 years in the business, on these two things — luckily, I don’t have to — the debut of The Shockmaster is the funniest [idea I ever had].

BOOKER: I’ve heard it was Dusty’s idea, but even geniuses get it wrong sometimes. [Laughs] I think that was just a bad one right there. If Dusty did come up with it, it was probably one of Dusty’s worst ideas in the history of his career.

RHODES: The guys around me now, they always got it on. They’ll bring it up or they’ll turn it on. Billy Gunn will air it all the time. Kidman, Norman Smiley …. Every time I think I’m really smart or did something really good, they’ll bring it up. Hunter will bring it up daily.

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BOOKER: It’s one of those great blooper moments that will be immortalized due to YouTube, such as one of my moments. It’ll be here forever.

SHOCKMASTER: It can happen to anybody. And it has happened to many guys, whether [fans] want to believe it or not. Maybe not as bad as mine, but they all have their episodes. So that’s my cross to bear, I guess, in life. But you know what? There’s a lot of people who have it a lot worse, and I enjoy it. I enjoy answering questions from the fans. They’re good. And that’s all that really matters. That, and when you look in the mirror, the opinion you have of yourself. And the opinions of others — some like you and some don’t, just like every other place in this business and any other industry.

RHODES: I was at a fan-fest deal a couple weeks ago and I was looking at the rundown of who was there, because I was isolated in a different room, and it said Fred Ottman — Uncle Fred, The Shockmaster — was signing autographs for two hours or something. And he had the original outfit, so if he can make a buck off of it, it’s cool.

SHOCKMASTER: The Shockmaster travels with me when I do autograph signings and stuff like that. I bring the mask with me, I have fun with it. You’d be surprised how many people take pictures of it; they want to wear it. So it is what it is.

RHODES: Fred’s cool with it, and I’m glad. He’s a good guy. It was an attempt on live TV that failed. And it had a good rehearsal! … That was the funniest thing ever in the history of TV. Not of wrestling. Of TV

BOOKER: It’s a moment that will live in infamy in the wrestling business.

SHOCKMASTER: Hey, it was my deal and I feel like I dealt with it. I was embarrassed and heartbroken when it happened, but, you know, it was live TV. In this particular case, they had this big, pumped-up deal and all the rigmarole and the mystery partner and everything like that, and it happened. So what can you do? All you can do is laugh.

RHODES: It was funny [stuff], buddy.

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