Bring it Back!: Minis
WWE has always been known for its larger-than-life personas. But for all the Andre the Giants and Great Khalis, there have been diminutive grapplers half the size of The Eighth Wonder of the World. In the 1950s and ’60s, pint-size legends like Fuzzy Cupid and Sky Low Low dazzled fans with their athletic ability. Little people were a staple of ring action. And then things took a turn for the amazing.
As the world of sports-entertainment became increasingly colorful in ’70s and ’80s, some mini stars began to emulate their larger peers. Superstars including “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Dick the Bruiser and Jerry “The King” Lawler all received the honor of acquiring a diminutive doppelganger. Some of these itty-bitty clones even competed in marquee pay-per-view matchups. ( PHOTOS OF MINIS)
But where have the minis gone? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why haven’t minis remained a constant presence in WWE rings? Minis elicited smiles from fans for decades, but they were anything but a punchline. These performers were true competitors in every sense of the word, and were owners of the most unique visual moments in wrestling history. The WWE Universe deserves the opportunity to experience those moments again. So, bring back the minis! ( WATCH MINIS IN ACTION)
Two of the first minis, Little Bruiser and Little Bobo, borrowed their monikers from Dick the Bruiser and WWE Hall of Famer Bobo Brazil, respectively. The mini versions of Bruiser and Bobo had a series of matches in Georgia Championship Wrestling in the late 1960s, but their highest profile bout against one another was in front of 12,000 AWA fans on Sept. 1, 1972 in Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Little Bruiser did not originally look exactly like his larger counterpart, but competed with The Bruiser’s brawling style. Only later when he adopted similarly colored ring gear and a cropped blond hairdo that Little Bruiser’s popularity began to soar. The four-foot, 95-pounder’s most significant spotlight came in Dick the Bruiser’s own organization, the World Wrestling Association. After a dispute over the WWA Tag Team Championships, Bruiser and The Crusher demanded a six-man tag team contest against The Blackjacks and their manager, Bobby Heenan. Bruiser and Crusher selected Little Bruiser as their partner, and the two Bruisers standing next to each other was a sight to behold for the Indianapolis crowd. It set the standard for minis moving forward.
AWA was an early adopter of minis as a novelty attraction. Their signature mini, Little Mr. T, took on a tinier version of the mohawked “A-Team” star who main evented the first WrestleMania. But even the smallest of athletes can compete in the largest of venues. At SuperClash, AWA’s answer to WrestleMania, Little Mr. T mixed it up with Little Tokyo in a big title bout ( WATCH). The show attracted more than 20,000 fans to legendary Comiskey Park on the south side of Chicago. A follow-up contest the following year saw Little Mr. T team with Cowboy Lang to take on Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook at AWA’s WrestleRock. The event packed even more fans into the massive Metrodome in Minneapolis.
It took WWE a little while to catch on to the phenomenon of minis, but after featuring little people in the ring for many years, minis finally began to break out in 1993 thanks to one small but amazing man: Claude Giroux. The Quebecois four-footer made a name for himself in the ring as Tiger Jackson, but almost single-handedly built WWE’s minis division. On the Aug. 2 edition of Raw, he dressed as a smaller version of Randy Savage and helped “Macho Man” defeat the demonic Doink the Clown. The following week, the Macho clone teamed with The Bushwhackers to face off with Blake Beverly, Little Louie and The Brooklyn Brawler. The bout ended with the mini Macho pinning The Brawler after a splash off the top rope. Needless to say, it was one of the most unique matchups in Raw’s young history. ( WATCH)
After appearing as Little Hulkster, a mini version of The Immortal One, Giroux began the most successful portion of his career as Dink, Doink’s much smaller associate. Together, the two clowns became one of WWE’s most popular attractions. At long last, minis finally appeared on The Grandest Stage of Them All when Doink and Dink took on Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon at WrestleMania X inside Madison Square Garden. ( WATCH)
But one bite-size clown wasn’t enough for the mini-hungry fans of the mid-1990s, and two more soon debuted. At Survivor Series 1994, the team of Doink, Dink, Wink and Pink — who went by the name Clowns R’ Us — faced off with Jerry “The King” Lawler and his own team of minis: Sleazy, Cheesy and Queasy (the aforementioned Little Louie). The match was one of the wildest spectacles of the era, and the minis continued to compete against each other throughout the first half of 1995. ( WATCH)
Two years later, WWE attempted to grow their minis division by debuting small luchadors from Mexico, where minis competition is standard practice. Mini versions of Vader, Mankind and Goldust all appeared in 1997 ( WATCH), but they slowly faded into obscurity as WWE began to change. When WWE transformed its “Attitude” in the late ’90s, the minis took on a more mocking role. But it wasn’t the minis who were mocked, it was their twins of considerable stature.
Two weeks after Survivor Series 1997, Shawn Michaels instigated a moment that nearly rivaled the controversy in Montreal in notoriety. Bret Hart, who had infamously departed WWE for WCW, was introduced by HBK, but it was a mini version of the “Hit Man” who strutted to the ring. ( WATCH)
Over the following 10 years, similar incidents featured Superstars antagonizing their rivals by recruiting minis of Booker T, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker ( WATCH), The Spirit Squad and all four members of the Hardy and Dudley Boyz ( WATCH). But it was the villains, never the minis, who were booed. To the contrary, WWE fans always respected these tenacious entertainers. ( WATCH THE MOCKING MINIS)
Minis made a brief comeback in 2007 when Hornswoggle began appearing alongside Finlay. The Boogeyman, embroiled in a rivalry with The Belfast Bruiser, brought in a mini version of himself. Together, the worm-devouring savage and his equally repulsive clone battled the team of Finlay and Hornswoggle throughout the first half of the year, including memorable tag team contests at No Way Out ( WATCH) and Saturday Night’s Main Event. The appearances were such a success, a Mini Royal Rumble Match was held on Raw in early 2008 that featured Hornswoggle competing against minis of Mr. Kennedy, Mankind, Batista and Kane. ( WATCH)
It’s been nearly five years since that quirky Rumble bout, and the only miniature occurrence since was earlier in 2012 when Hornswoggle briefly donned a tracksuit like Brodus Clay ( WATCH). The entertaining pairing left the WWE Universe smiling, but Hornswoggle can’t do all the mini work. He needs the help of others to lovingly pay homage to larger WWE Superstars.
Imagine a diminutive Daniel Bryan with an equally unkempt beard, a pee-wee Sin Cara as lucha libre fans might see in the rings of Mexico, or even an itty-bitty Ryback asking fans to “feed him slightly more.” These athletic copycats have proven themselves to be competitive, entertaining and a pure joy to watch. WWE needs a new crop of minis to keep the sports-entertainment tradition of tiny clones alive and there’s only one way to make these potential scenarios a reality: bring back the minis!