I have no witty or punny title, and I can’t even succinctly describe my latest project. It’s been over a year (my oldest existing file says this all began on August 22, 2011), but my cubist wrestler project is finally complete!
If you want to know more, read on:
The final product is a 40″ x 40″ print, the square shape and grayish blue background meant to convey a wrestling ring, circa 1980s–early 90s.
The poster features 1023 cube characters representing wrestlers who competed in the then WWWF through the then WWF between the dates of April 29, 1963 and December 9, 2001.
The significance of those dates is that Buddy Rogers (#1 on the poster) became the inaugural champion on April 29, 193 and Chris Jericho became the first ever Undisputed World Champion – unifying the WWF and WCW titles – on December 9, 2001. The other 1021 characters all fall between those dates.
While I’m NOT claiming that this is EVERY wrestler to have graced the squared circle in the Federation during those years, I have to think it’s pretty darn close. The order of characters begins with World Champions, then Intercontinental, Tag Team, European and Lightweight Champions, followed by Royal Rumble Winners, Kings of the Ring (from 1993 onward) and then every other superstar I could dig up some research on from Jake “The Snake” Roberts (#656, #859) and Bobo Brazil (#507) down to Angel Marvilla (#600) and Phantasio (#835).
Some characters repeat several times, once for every title run, and once for every significant costume/gimmick change. Savio Vega, for example, appears as he debuted (#833), a member of the first Nation of Domination (#903), and as the leader of Los Boriquas (#909), not to mention Kwang (#813). I think either The Rock or Edge make the most appearances, upwards of 13 or so.
To the top left of each character is their corresponding number, which can be referenced in the extensive key below the layout, an homage to the classic 1980s World Wrestling Federation logo. In addition to each wrestler’s name, there is a date. These dates represent the night said wrestler wore the outfit depicted on the poster. For example, find #790 on the poster, then in the key, and you’ll see that it’s Hulk Hogan (as if you couldn’t already tell) on April 4, 1993, when he teamed with Brutus Beefcake (#238, #791) at WrestleMania IX. I even gave him the mysterious shiner he sported that day in Vegas.
The “c.” before some of the dates means I couldn’t find any images or video from that date, so the character’s depiction is an approximation of what he looked like.
I listed all dates as the actual date the wrestler performed, not the date the match was aired on TV. I think technically, each way is correct, but I made a choice early on to be historically accurate whenever possible.
Wrestlers from the 60s – like Gorilla Monsoon (#513) and Waldo Von Erich (#529) – are designed in black-and-white. A slight sepia overlay makes all the 1970s stars – from “Superstar” Billy Graham (#7) to El Olympico (#567) – slightly yellowish. From the early-to-mid 80s, you might notice a grayish haze over wrestlers like former tag champs, the Moondogs (#213-215). This was way before high-definition and in the infancy of cable.
The criteria for being included in the poster was to have wrestled a match in a WWWF/WWF ring as someone other than a jobber. Managers like Slick and the Grand Wizard are not included, but others like Jimmy Hart (#665), Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (#675), Brother Love (#1005) and yes, even the Gobbledy Gooker (#752), all make appearances, because they wrestled at least once. (In the Gooker’s case, I HAD to include him during his 1990 Survivor Series debut, because it was such an epically low moment in wrestling history. He didn’t actually wrestle until 2001’s Gimmick Battle Royal, also Brother Love’s debut.)
The only exception to the above rule is that I omitted the NFL players from the WrestleMania II Battle Royal. I don’t know why I had a harder time accepting them into this fold than I did Chuck Wepner (#580) or Butterbean (#972), but I’m calling the shots here.
Only Andre the Giant (#11, #252), Giant Machine (#674), Giant Baba (#742), Yokozuna (#25, #27, #295, #300) and Haystacks Calhoun (#170) have different dimensions from the rest of the cast. A couple others have shape variations due to their costumes, like the robotic Comet Kid (#778), who also appears as Max Moon (#783).
There are approximately 22 all-black silhouettes scattered throughout the layout. These are all times a title was vacant.
My personal favorite is either Tiger Mask (#612; Tiger Mask II is #738) or the Wolfman (#571).
God bless you if you read all this!