Send angry mail to sfx@ futurenet. com about this. Please do. Because I don’t have the space here to properly convince you that professional wrestling – a wacky self contained universe of evil villains, gallant superheroes and unbelievable violence and resilience – deserves to be firmly stuffed into the SFX canon. But humour me. Let’s talk about about The Zombie.
His story starts with Extreme Championship Wrestling. The Philadelphia independent group gained a cult following thanks to its grungy presentation and mix of niche wrestling styles, from Mexican Lucha Libre to ( primarily) gaudy ultra- violence, but suffered from some creative financial mismanagement which led to its assets being purchased by powerhouse World Wrestling Entertainment. After exploiting the brand for two successful pay- per- view events and several DVD releases, WWE struck a deal with the Sci- Fi Channel ( later Syfy) to launch a brand new weekly ECW television show.
Would wrestling as- was fit the then genre- focused content of Sci- Fi? No. But WWE jefe Vince McMahon and Sci- Fi boss Bonnie Hammer concocted a plan to present ECW as grappling with a twist that would suit its home channel. This manifested itself – after passing through the often questionable filter of WWE’s creative team – on ECW’s 2006 re- debut event. Independent wrestler Tim Arson, clad in torn plaid and filthy jeans, shambled arms- outstretched to the ring as stock library funereal organ music played. Thus The Zombie was born. And following a quick promo (“Uuuurrrrrrrrrgh!”) The Zombie was subsequently killed at the hands of The Sandman, a beerswilling, cigarette- smoking figurehead of the old ECW ethos. After a kendo stick assault which generated a pleasing plume of grave dust, the first match of ECW was in the books, and The Zombie returned to the grave, never to be seen again.
To me, no five minutes of programming has better summed up what makes wrestling brilliant. It was silly, needless, violent and even slightly petulent. I was happy to join the commentators in their exasperated laughter as they tried to fathom what the hell was going on. And while ECW ended up shedding both the extreme and fantastical elements over the course of its 193- episode run, this ludicrous moment is the one I keep coming back to. And hey, there’s no reason The Zombie couldn’t claw his way out of the soil once again. I live in hope.
“Hey, not the brrraaains!”