Wrestler of the Day – May 18: Hercules

Time for a strong guy! It’s Hercules.

Hernandez got his start back in the very late 70s and often played a masked character. One of those was Assassin #2, who appeared at the first Starrcade in 1983.

The Assassins vs. Rufus R. Jones/Bugsy McGraw

This is one of those matches with no given story behind it. Jones is the reigning Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion at this point, McGraw is a fat guy and the Assassins are guys in black sweaters and pants with yellow masks. They’re called Assassin #1 and #2 so it’s not going to be easy to remember which is which. Bugsy starts with we’ll say #1 and the match is shockingly fast paced to begin. Bugsy drops him with a shoulder block but both guys miss elbow drops. A slam sends #1 to the floor and the fans are VERY into McGraw.

Back in and they lock up with McGraw hitting a quick elbow to the head before pounding away on #1 over and over to knock him into the corner. Here’s Assassin #2 who is much smaller than his partner. Another slam puts #2 down and it’s off to Rufus for an even louder ovation. He gyrates a lot and pounds away as the cameraman seems to slip, sending the shot all over the place. Rufus works on #2’s arm with some headbutts before it’s back to Bugsy.

The Assassins make a tag but #1 winds up running away from McGraw instead of fighting him. #1 grabs the wrist and cranks on it a bit but Bugsy looks much more annoyed than anything else. Bugsy elbows his way out of trouble and brings Rufus back in for more headbutts to the shoulder. Jones pounds on #1 in the corner and knocks him down with a hard Irish whip. Assassin rakes him in the eye to finally take over but the advantage lasts for all of ten seconds before Jones fires off some headbutts to the ribs.

Back to Bugsy for some wild punches to take over. Everything breaks down until it’s just McGraw backdropping I think #1. In a pretty bad ending, #2 causally walks into the ring and rolls up McGraw for the fluke win. The referee seemed to be perfectly fine with the lack of tagging there.

Rating: D. The match sucked but the crowd reactions for McGraw/Jones were great. I have no idea what the point was in having the Assassins win here was as they were in control for roughly ten seconds out of just over eight minutes. Nothing to see here at all and the ending sucked the life out of the crowd.

That didn’t last much longer as Hercules (then called Hercules Hernandez) went to Mid-South and became a pretty big heel. Here’s a big tag match from August 19, 1984.

Dusty Rhodes/Jim Duggan vs. Hercules Hernandez/Butch Reed

Street fight. The good guys clean house to start and the crowd is so loud you can’t even understand the announcer. We finally settle down to Dusty hammering on Reed to start but Hercules gets a few elbows as well. Rhodes stands tall (and fat) as the heels bail to the floor. The referee settles things down and it’s Reed hiding from Dusty in the corner. Butch finally comes out but gets elbowed right back down to the floor as we’re still in the “let’s not really do much yet” period.

Reed comes in again and gets punched and elbowed a lot. Duggan finally comes in to stare down Hercules and nail him with a big clothesline. A bunch of right hands in the corner have Hercules in even more trouble and Duggan slams him down for good measure. Back to Dusty who stomps on Hercules’ head before Duggan slams it into the mat.

Duggan found a belt from somewhere and everything breaks down with the heroes in full control. More rights and lefts have Hercules in trouble as Jim Cornette gets on the apron for a cheap shot to slow Duggan down. Everything breaks down and Reed nails Duggan in the head with a chair before Hercules rams him into the post.

Now it’s Dusty getting double teamed in the ring but he fights back and cleans house as Duggan is back in to help. A double clothesline puts the heels down but Dusty is whipped into Duggan. Cornette blinds Duggan with powder as Dusty drops the big elbow on Hercules. Reed sneaks in and kicks Dusty in the back of the head though, allowing him to steal the pin.

Rating: C+. This was more of Dusty’s style: a high energy match that kept the fans into things and didn’t involve him having to actually wrestle. I’m not a fan of the guy but he’s more than capable of driving the fans into a frenzy at the drop of a hat. Mid-South always had some insane crowds so they were way into this. Fun match which is often better than it being good.

After a few more years in the territories, Hercules would head to the WWF where he probably had his most fame. One of his first high profile matches was at Wrestlemania II. His spot was originally going to go to Bret Hart, but the WWF saw more potential in Hercules. No one ever said they were all that bright in 1986.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez

Lee Marshall of non-fame in WCW is the announcer. This was supposed to be Steamboat vs. Hart but WWF saw more star power in Hernandez. This wasn’t their best time from a thinking standpoint. Hercules pounds on him to start but Steamboat goes to the arm as is his custom. A kick to the ribs puts Hernandez down and it’s off to an armbar. Back up and Steamboat does some leapfrogs before elbowing Herc down.

We head to the armbar again until Hernandez rams him into the buckle and hits a clothesline to take Steamboat down. A hot shot has Steamboat in trouble again but he comes back with a failed slam attempt that gives Hercules two. A pair of elbows get two more due to a very lazy cover. Hercules hits a tilt-a-whirl slam for two and there’s a gorilla press slam to go with it. Make it a pair of gorilla presses but Hernandez’s splash hits knees, allowing Ricky to hit the top rope cross body for the pin.

Rating: C-. Very basic match here with power vs. speed, although most of the speed guy’s offense involved an armbar. That’s something you have to get used to in Steamboat matches though so it’s not a disappointment or anything. The match itself was pretty dull stuff but Steamboat in the 80s is never a bad thing.

Hernandez would get Bobby Heenan as a manager around this time and since he was a strong man, Hernandez would get a WWF Title shot at Saturday Night’s Main Event #8.

WWF Title: Hercules vs. Hulk Hogan

Before the match we have promos from both. Heenan says that his credit is good anywhere which means very little. Hercules says he’s already the champion just without the belt yet. We cut to a shot of Hogan’s chest doing the pec dance with hard nipples.

He says he’s checked Hercules out and Hercules might be a Greek god. To continue his completely insane promos, Hogan says he’s been hanging out in the Garden of Eden with his main squeeze Eve to prepare to face a Greek god before going 20,000 leagues under the sea to see the Titanic. Apparently the power lies in the palm of his hand. If there has ever been proof that cocaine was rampant in the 80s, this is it.

Back in the arena, Jesse is only confused about the power in his hand part, which might be the most normal part of what he said. He thinks Hogan has lost it and will lose the title here. This is a standard title defense, but Hogan apparently said this is his ultimate title defense. Remember this is before Mania 3 and Hogan is in the middle of his multi-year long feud with Heenan and his goons.

We hit the test of strength and it’s the same as happened at Mania 6. Even Jesse is having a hard time trying to sell Hercules as a major threat to Hogan. He’s still called Hernandez here which was phased out almost completely soon after this. Hogan has yellow tights and boots and blue kneepads. That just looks odd. In a cool looking spot, Heenan is being chased by Hogan and dives over the top rope in a great looking jump.

I mean he cleared that thing and landed on his feet in one movement. For your unintentional comedy of the match, Jesse says that Hogan looks good on his knees. After some very brief work on the back which was more or less back breaker and bear hug, Hercules goes to the backbreaker submission, more commonly known as a torture rack.

Jesse of course can see and hear Hogan quit but in this case Hercules lets him go early. That’s just flat out stupid from a kayfabe sense. Hogan hits the power kickout and you can connect the dots from there. Vince says this is a celebration of Hulkamania. Well that’s better than saying Wrestlemania was a celebration of life. Vince sucks on Hogan so much here you would think it was a porn movie.

Rating: D+. This was what it was. It’s about 8 minutes long and is Hogan with a very generic title defense. This was to do nothing more than get Hogan on television and have him look good, so if nothing else it accomplished that goal. Hercules was as cookie cutter of a wrestler as you could ask for, so this went well enough. It’s nothing special but it did its job. The length was good too as it got the story told in a brief method.

Here’s a little historical curiosity from November 30, 1986.

Hercules vs. Jack Foley

I think you can figure this one out for yourself. Hercules easily takes him down as Luscious Johnny V. and Monsoon keep admiring Hercules’ physique. A wicked clothesline puts Foley down and the Rack gets the submission. Total squash.

He was in a big battle royal at SNME X, just before Wrestlemania III.

Battle Royal

André the Giant, Ron Bass, Demolition (Ax and Smash), Billy Jack Haynes, Hercules, Hillbilly Jim, Hulk Hogan, The Honky Tonk Man, The Islanders (Haku and Tama), The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell), Blackjack Mulligan, Paul Orndorff, Lanny Poffo, Butch Reed, Sika, Nikolai Volkoff, and Koko B. Ware.

So in other words, it’s everyone but Savage and Steamboat plus a few tag teams. Smash is the original Smash and not Barry Darsow and Honky is wearing suspenders. Andre won’t let Hogan get in. Orndorff jumps Hogan to prevent the showdown. More or less all of the heels jump Hogan and all of the faces jump Andre. Honky is out thanks to Hogan. Andre puts Sika out.

These are hard to commentate on as it’s just eliminations and fights. Haku, a face at this point, is out. Andre headbutts Lanny Poffo and he’s BUSTED OPEN, and I mean BAD. Totally hard way too. That is a sick cut. They have to get a stretcher to get him out. That’s impressive. Other than that it’s pretty much you punch me and I’ll punch you in the ring. Ron Bass is out as is Mulligan.

The ultimate Hogan jobber, Volkoff, is gone. We’re just killing time to get to Hogan vs. Andre as Blair is out. HERE WE GO! Hogan blocks a punch…and Koko jumps on Andre to be annoying. Hogan throws out Orndoff but gets jumped by Andre who does the headbutts to the back of the head and throws him out easily. WOW.

In a VERY funny moment, Hogan and Andre are doing a staredown and Koko tries to jump Andre. Giant just smacks him in the head without even turning around. That was hilarious. Everyone gets together to throw Andre out.

Ok we’re down to Koko, Reed, Smash, Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules. Koko puts Reed out and we get faces vs. heels. Koko is out thank goodness and then we get rid of Smash too to get us down to the full nelson guys. Haynes goes for Bobby and there he goes for Hercules to win, which is probably the biggest win of his career somehow.

Rating: D. This was about Hogan vs. Andre and while that did happen, it was all of ten seconds long. Before and after that though, no one cared. This just wasn’t that interesting at all and it was about ten seconds out of eleven minutes. That can’t be a good sign, though it was buildup for one of the biggest shows ever so what do I know?

Here’s Hercules’ match from that Wrestlemania.

Hercules vs. Billy Jack Haynes

This is power vs. power so expect some pretty weak chemistry. Hebner tries to get in between them in the corner which is more than a referee should do. Haynes hits a press slam but Hercules bails to the corner to avoid the full nelson. Hercules comes back with a big old clothesline and both guys are down already. A backdrop puts Haynes down and Herc pounds on the back a bit. This is very slow paced compared to the opener.

A suplex gets two for Hercules as he picks Haynes up. Billy can’t suplex Hercules because of the back so the Greek guy hits a backbreaker to keep the momentum up. Hercules hooks the full nelson but can’t get the fingers locked, allowing Billy to escape. Jack fights out of it and they clothesline each other down. Haynes grabs a quick atomic drop to fire the crowd up but his back messes up again. A clothesline sets up a legdrop on Hercules and a middle rope fist to the head keeps Hercules in trouble. Jack gets the full nelson but Hercules pulls them both to the floor. Herc gets put in the hold again but a double countout ends this.

Rating: D+. The fact that the crowd is hot for everything tonight is all that made this passable, which can be a great tool to bring a match up a lot. At the end of the day, they’re WAY too similar and neither guy is exactly someone that can carry a match. It’s not terrible but it didn’t go anywhere at all. This would be the only feud of note that Haynes had and he would be jobbing soon.

Hercules would get an Intercontinental Title shot at Saturday Night’s Main Event #11.

Intercontinental Title: Hercules vs. Ricky Steamboat

We see a clip of Savage in the back watching the match and cutting this insane promo about wanting the title back. Gene standing there is funny in some weird way. Savage cheers for Steamboat so that he can take the title from Steamboat. Hercules dominates early on but there is about as much chance of a title change as there is of TM getting admin. I need a minute to recover from that thought.

Hercules gets the Full Nelson and here comes Savage to break it up so that he can take the title from Steamboat. This planted some very small seeds of a face turn for him later on down the line. After Mania he was far too over to continue being a heel that much longer. Hercules goes for a top rope splash and eats knees. Heenan hands Hercules the chain and of course gets disqualified in a freaking stupid looking moment. Savage pretends to help him up and then drops the elbow on him just to be a jerk.

Rating: D+. Not much here at all and really just a continuation of the Savage/Steamboat feud which was aborted soon after this so that Honky got the belt. I think Steamboat said he wanted to take some time off for his son being born and Vince flipped over it, causing Honky’s year plus title reign. Anyway, this was just a little TV match that set up an angle.

The Heenan Family would go to war with Paul Orndorff around this time. Here’s Hercules trying his luck against Orndorff on October 6, 1987.

Paul Orndorff vs. Hercules

This is Orndorff vs. Heenan Family, which went on forever and involved Orndorff hiring and firing Heenan twice. Orndorff is part of the House of Humperdink. Orndorff is a power guy but he’s using speed here because he’s also smart. Hercules gets in a shot to break up Paul’s momentum after he skins the cat. Paul did the skinning if that was unclear. A clothesline gets three twos.

We’re in Milwaukee if you care. The fans cheer for Paul but he can’t make much of a comeback. Off to the bearhug which is a power man staple of the late 80s. Actually the 80s in general. Bearhug is countered into a small package for Orndorff, getting two. Orndorff makes his comeback and hits the Piledriver (finisher) but Rude runs in for the DQ. This was Rude’s first feud as he had only been in the company about three months at this point.

Rating: D+. Not a bad match but it didn’t have the time to get going. Orndorff was WAY over at this time though and Heenan and his boys were hated so the crowd was very into things here. Orndorff would be retired for the first time very soon after this due to a very bad arm/neck injury he suffered when feuding with Hogan the year before. When you’re making somewhere between $10,000-20,000 a week though, you don’t bother taking time off for arm surgery.

Next up was a feud with the Ultimate Warrior, including this match at Wrestlemania IV.

Hercules vs. Ultimate Warrior

They collide to start as the announcers recap the tournament. Hercules hits three straight clotheslines to put Warrior down to Jesse’s amazement. Warrior fires off some chops but gets backdropped out to the floor. They brawl on the floor for a bit as Heenan is reaching in his pockets. Both guys head back inside and pound on each other a little bit more with Warrior hitting the ten punches in the corner. Hercules comes out of the corner with an atomic drop and sends Warrior into the corner chest first. He puts on the full nelson but Warior climbs the corner and falls back ala Bret and Austin at Survivor Series 96 for the fast pin.

Rating: D+. Warrior was rapidly becoming a force but it wouldn’t be another six months before he finally hit something special. Hercules would be around for a few more years but would never do anything of note. This was just a filler match to bridge the gap between the first and second rounds of the tournament.

Since he’s been losing a lot, we’ll take a look at an actual win for him. From Prime Time Wrestling on August 22, 1988.

DJ Peterson vs. Hercules

Peterson has a good look to him and would wind up being a moderately big deal as The Trooper in the dying days of the AWA. Anyway, he’s easily shoved into the corner to start before Hercules puts on a headlock. Peterson grabs a few rollups for two each before Hercules bails to the floor. Back in and Hercules misses a charge in the corner and gets caught in a headlock. They slug it out with Peterson getting the better of it and elbowing Hercules into the ropes. Hercules easily comes back with a hard clothesline and the full nelson for the win.

Rating: C. This was actually better than I expected it to be. Peterson would actually win a few house show matches so they clearly saw something in him. He could have been a decent power guy with the right character and push, but unfortunately he died in 1993 in a motorcycle crash.

Hercules’ contract would be sold to Ted DiBiase soon after this. Ted would refer to Hercules as his slave and that just wasn’t cool. This led to a match at The Main Event II on February 3, 1989.

Hercules vs. Ted DiBiase

In short, DiBiase bought Hercules and referred to him as a slave, causing Hercules to rebel and turn face in the process. Obviously no one cares at this point after their minds have been blown to Mars at this point by what they just saw. The announcers rightfully talk about almost nothing but the Mega Powers which for once I’m fine with.

We cut to an interview with Hogan which isn’t going to happen. Instead we’re told he’s in no condition to talk. No music for DiBiase yet. Hercules jumps him before he can take the fake suit off and beats up Virgil for fun. All Herc so far as DiBiase’s movement in the ring is still impressive over twenty years later. Ted finally sends Herc to the floor.

The crowd is staying in this one which is kind of surprising. Herc keeps having those power kick outs which are always kind of cool. Very basic match here but fairly well done. Then again I like both guys out there so that might have something to do with it. Powerslam by the power dude means it’s time for…Hercules to charge and have no apparent move in mind.

Virgil wraps Herc’s chain around the buckle but DiBiase goes into it for two. Hercules gets his backbreaker (torture rack) but Virgil grabs the leg, allowing Ted to get a quick rollup with the tights to end it. DiBiase gets beaten up a bit post match but it’s nothing special at all.

Rating: C-. Just a match to fill in some time after the huge angle earlier on. It’s not bad or anything but there was nothing that would separate this from a house show match or something like that. It’s ok enough though and more or less blew off this mini feud which is a plus I guess.

Hercules would open Wrestlemania V against a member of the Heenan Family.

Hercules vs. King Haku

The crown isn’t on the line here. Haku jumps him from behind to start but Herc comes back with a hip toss and a slam followed by a release flapjack. A clothesline puts Haku on the floor but Hercules suplexes him right back in. Some elbow drops keep Haku down but Hercules goes after Heenan like an idiot. Haku jumps him from behind and we head back inside for a pair of backbreakers for a pair of counts.

Since this is a power match we hit the bearhug as even Jesse says this isn’t going to get a submission. Gorilla criticizes Haku’s technique, prompting Jesse to ask what a gorilla would know about bearhugging. Herc breaks the hold and the King yells at the referee, only to get caught by a cross body. Hercules pounds away and hits a running knee lift followed by some clotheslines. A powerslam gets two but Hercules jumps off the top into most of a superkick. Haku misses a top rope headbutt and Hercules wins with the belly to back suplex with a last second shoulder raise.

Rating: C-. Nothing special here but it was a basic enough match to get things going. Hercules was a generic power guy so there wasn’t much to get interested in with him. Haku would join up with Andre to win the tag titles by the end of the year. I’m not sure if there was much of a feud here other than Hercules vs. Heenan which was only touched on.

Hercules would be in action at Summerslam 1989.

Greg Valentine vs. Hercules

Ronnie Garvin is guest ring announcer after being fired from being a referee. He takes a ton of shots at Valentine (“Weighing in at 249lbs…..but he looks about 30lbs heavier and wears a robe with cheap rhinestones.”) since Valentine got him suspended in the first place. Hercules jumps Valentine to start and powerslams him down for two. A quick rollup gets two for Greg before they head to the floor for nothing of note. Back in and Valentine pounds him down with some elbows but the Figure Four is broken up. Hecules suplexes him down but gets rolled up with Valentine’s feet on the ropes for the fast pin.

Rating: D. This was all about furthering Garvin vs. Valentine with the stuff before the match and a bit we’ll get to in a second. I’m no Garvin fan at all but this was an amusing angle given where you could turn your brain off and laugh at some stupid jokes for a few minutes every show. There’s nothing wrong with comic relief and having a talented guy like Valentine out there made it a bit easier to sit through.

Post match Garvin announces Hercules as the winner, which apparently is good enough to get Valentine disqualified. Like I said, this is the time to turn your brain off.

Here’s a match from later in the year on Supertape II.

Akeem vs. Hercules

Tony Schiavone never sounded right commentating on WWF programming at all. Ten punches in the corner as Hercules likes to beat on big fat men. Akeem gets caught in the ropes a bit but hits the floor like a good fat man . Slick gives him a hug which must be a heel manager in the 80s thing in general.

Apparently Slick’s peace and love doesn’t last long as he wants to get in the ring and fight, even taking his jacket off. Akeem says let him do the fighting here. Back in and it’s time for some boxing. Hercules likes to punch to put it mildly. A slam doesn’t work so maybe he should have stuck with the punching. Slick chokes with some tape or something and Hayes thinks they planned that in advance. NO! THAT’S NOT TRUE! Had to channel some Empire Strikes Back there to break my boredom.

Hercules fights back with some clotheslines but Slick pulls the rope down and there goes Hercules for the CHEAP DQ! I’m not considering it a win yet as there’s every chance that another wrestler turned referee could come out for the reversal to give Hercules the win because he has a lighter shade of blue on. Post match Hercules slams Akeem to show off a bit.

Rating: D+. Just a quick little comedy match that went nowhere. Not bad I guess but there wasn’t much here at all. Also can we get a clean finish on this tape or is that something that’s too much to wish for? So far we’ve had two managers hooking feet, one hooking a rope and a reversed decision. I guess we’re saving that for a “big star” or something? Whatever indeed.

Hercules would turn heel again in 1990 and team up with Paul Roma as Power and Glory. One of their first feuds was with the Rockers, including this match at Summerslam 1990.

Rockers vs. Power and Glory

Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma) get a jobber entrance. The camera immediately goes wide during the opening brawl so you don’t see Shawn’s knee get grazed by Hercules’ chain. His knee was REALLY badly hurt at this time so he’s just here for an appearance, making this a handicap match for all intents and purposes. Marty hits a quick dropkick to both guys and gets a small package on Roma but Slick has the referee.

Vince is freaking out over the referee missing stuff as Marty clotheslines Herc to the outside. We officially start with Roma vs. Jannetty and Roma tagging his way out of a sunset flip. Shawn is still on the floor as Hercules pounds away and slams Marty down. Roma plants Jannetty with a backbreaker for two but Marty comes back with a powerslam. The top rope fist connects with Paul’s head but Hercules breaks up the pin. Roma sends Jannetty into a clothesline from Herc as Shawn is screaming in pain. The superplex/top rope splash combo is enough to finish the massacre of Jannetty.

Rating: C-. The match wasn’t too bad all things considered. The crowd is white hot here and they carried the match to a higher level than it could have reached on their own. It’s kind of a shame that Marty had to be Shawn’s partner as his own skills were overlooked by his far more talented partner.

Here’s a TV match for Power and Glory, from Wrestling Challenge on May 5, 1991.

Power and Glory vs. Sonny Blaze/George Anderson

Roma shoves I think Blaze into the corner to start as the announcers talk about some fitness convention that a lot of wrestlers will be attending. A powerslam gets two on Sonny and it’s off to Hercules. We hear about Power and Glory’s current feud with the Bushwhackers as the beating continues. The Bushwhackers have an inset interview to say they’re not worried about their upcoming match with Power and Glory. Back to Roma for some more backbreakers before Hercules puts George in the Rack, followed by a top rope fist to the chest from Roma for the pin.

Rating: D. Nothing to see here as Power and Glory were at the weaker end of the tag team division. Peterson and Blaze were also pretty weak jobbers even for this time period and the match wasn’t even interesting when they brought the Bushwhackers into things. Boring match but it’s the norm for TV at this point.

One more WWF match as Power and Glory would be in a six man at Summerslam 1991.

Ricky Steamboat/British Bulldog/Texas Tornado vs. Warlord/Power and Glory

Steamboat is just The Dragon here, complete with what looks like a lizard man costume and breathing fire. The heels get the jobber entrance and have Slick with them. Steamboat and Roma get things going as Gorilla is listing off the rest of the card. Roma slams him down and mostly misses a dropkick before posing. Paul goes to the middle rope but dives into the armdrag and Steamboat cranks on the arm even more. Ricky hits a much better dropkick to put Roma in the corner for a tag to Hercules who gets caught in some armdrags of his own.

Off to Tornado and the fans go nuts as he rams Herc’s head into the buckle. Ten right hands to the head in the corner have Hercules in even more trouble but it’s off to Warlord vs. Bulldog which was a decent power feud. Bulldog hits the suplex for two and it’s off to Steamboat for a top rope chop to the head. Warlord blocks a monkey flip though and it’s back to Roma with a suplex of his own for two. Three straight backbreakers have Steamboat in even more trouble before it’s back to Hercules for a gorilla press.

Steamboat starts fighting back but gets caught in a big hotshot to put him down. Here’s Warlord again but he dives into two feet from Steamboat, allowing for the tag off to Tornado. The Texan cleans house but makes a blind tag to Bulldog who hits a cross body. That plus the Tornado Punch to Warlord is good for two as everything breaks down. Bulldog powerslams Roma down and Ssteamboat adds the high cross body for the pin.

Rating: C+. Nothing wrong with this as it was a basic six man tag to fire up the crowd. Everyone looked fine and the crowd was WAY into the smark god known as Ricky Steamboat. The heels were all about to be gone from the company with only Warlord making it to 1992.

Soon after this it was off to WCW where Hercules became the Super Invader. Here’s one of his earlier matches from WrestleWar 1992.

Super Invader vs. Todd Champion

Super Invader is Hercules in a mask. Champion was half of a tag team that was completely awful but got the US Tag Titles anyway. Harley Race is Invader’s manager here which doesn’t help him that much. This isn’t much at all but it’s just filler until the main event because everyone worth anything is in that match. We go to a chinlock early on as this isn’t much of a match at all.

Something tells me they weren’t planning on this being anything resembling a classic at all as yet again it’s just there because they’re fairly competent in the ring and can fill a total of 8 minutes or so out there. Jesse mentions that he’s got a job at Beach Blast, which would wind up being the judge in the bikini contest. Invader does the jump off the top into a boot while clearly doing nothing but going to the top to jump into the boot so the other guy can take over spot. Champion makes a very brief comeback and a powerbomb ends it.

Rating: D. This was just bad. The majority of the match is a chinlock and since Hercules was on the downside of his career and not very good even at his best, this wasn’t anything at all of note. Champion was a guy with a good look but nothing to back it up at all. Boring match and can we please get on to something else?

We’ll wrap it up with this, from Clash of the Champions XX.

Steiner Brothers/Sting/Nikita Koloff vs. Rick Rude/Super Invader/Big Van Vader/Jake Roberts

This is under elimination rules. Rick Steiner and Vader get things going and Rick Steiner (I apologize for the repetition of the full names but there are two people in this match named Rick and two named Steiner) hammers away but Vader takes his head off with a clothesline. A running splash in the corner crushes Rick Steiner, only to have him come out of the corner with a belly to belly suplex on the 400lb Vader. Koloff comes in to face the masked Invader in a power match. No one goes anywhere off a double clothesline and shoulder block but Koloff’s second and third shoulder blocks work a bit better.

Nikita hurts himself trying another clothesline and it’s off to Rude who gets his arm pulled on a few times. Scott comes in to stay on the arm but Rude pulls him over to the corner for a tag to Invader. The masked man sends Scott into the ropes but gets caught in a tiger bomb and a quick suplex but Rude breaks up the Frankensteiner. A swinging neckbreaker gets two on Scott and it’s off to Jake with right hands to the jaw.

Roberts doesn’t last long though as Vader comes in to hammer away on Scott in the corner and run him over in the middle of the ring. Rude comes back in and keeps the pressure on Scott but walks into a clothesline, allowing Scott to tag in Koloff. Nikita cleans house but gets caught with a knee to the ribs, allowing Roberts to get a quick rollup for the elimination. Sting comes in to get his hands on Jake but the Snake immediately tags in Invader. That’s fine with Sting as he hammers away and bulldogs Invader for a pin in maybe thirty seconds.

Rick Steiner comes and hits a HUGE German suplex on Vader but gets pounded in the head, allowing Vader to hit a middle rope splash for a close two. Off to Rude to make it Rick vs. Rick with Rude slapping on a front facelock and driving Rick Steiner into the corner. Vader comes in but gets powerslammed off the middle rope for two as Rude makes the save. The Steiners try a Doomsday Device on Vader but can’t get him up.

Instead it’s a top rope clothesline from Scott for a DQ and elimination as Rick Steiner and Vader fight to the floor. Rude drops the other Rick with a Rude Awakening on the concrete and only Vader can make it back inside. That leaves Sting 3-1 against Vader, Roberts and Rude. He gets Vader first and avoids a seated senton before getting his hands on Roberts.

The Stinger Splash looks to set up the Scorpion but Rude breaks it up with a clothesline from the apron. Sting punches Roberts and Vader off the apron before bulldogging Rick down for two. A slingshot suplex puts Rude down but Vader comes off the top with a splash to crush both guys, earning him a disqualification. Jake pulls the unconscious Rude to his corner and tags himself in before ending Sting with the DDT.

Rating: C-. This was long but messy with the top rope DQ being more annoying than anything else. Roberts getting the pin on Sting was a good idea but there were too many people and eliminations to get through to get there. Drop a Steiner and the Invader and this match is much better all around.

Hercules was the definition of a one note character but there was a long stretch in there where he was a midcard fixture. There’s nothing wrong with having a power guy on the roster and while he wasn’t the best in the world, he kept steady work for a long time on his physique alone. Think of him as the original Chris Masters, which isn’t the worst job to have.

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