With WWE still in the early days of its post-Vince McMahon era, it will be interesting to see where the most famous wrestling promotion in the world will go in the upcoming Halloween season. While WWE has dabbled in the spookier stuff before, it is interesting to see the correlation between their wrestlers and horror movie icons.
The superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment, both past and present, have mined inspiration from the legends of cinematic horror for decades. However, sometimes these grapplers, either intentionally or otherwise, resemble horror movie characters that many wrestling and horror aficionados would not necessarily expect.
10/10 Waylon Mercy & Max Cady (Cape Fear)
This one feels like cheating, as wrestler Dan Spivey’s short-lived heel character Waylon Mercy is inspired by Cape Fear’s villain Max Cady, played by Robert De Niro. Whether it be the Hawaiian shirts, the southern cadence, the serial killer aura, or even the very 90s hair, it’s clear that someone at WWE was an admirer of Martin Scorsese’s hidden gem.
Mercy was an interesting character, as he would be polite to the crowd, the referee, and even his opponent until the bell rang, which led him to become a vicious animal, violently picking apart his opponent before resuming the niceties. It’s clear that WWE was building to something with Mercy, but a collection of injuries ended those plans. To be fair to the man, Waylon Mercy’s crimes weren’t as heinous as Cady’s, but the character feels very similar.
9/10 Dexter Lumis & Francis Dolarhyde (Red Dragon)
NXT’s Dexter Lumis, who only recently returned to WWE, is inspired by many a movie serial killer. Still, the parallels between the character and Red Dragon’s Francis Dolarhyde are fascinating. At their core, both Lumis and Ralph Fiennes’ characters are terrifying serial killers, but both of their storylines lead to them being somewhat humanized.
In both cases, their humanity is showcased through a love story, with Lumis it’s with former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion Indi Hartwell, with their unconventional romance being a bright spot during some of the brand’s darker days. Meanwhile, Dolarhyde falls in love with blind co-worker Reba McClane, but whereas Lumis and Hartwell are still in happily-ever-after, Dolarhyde and Reba’s love can only end in disaster.
8/10 Finn Balor & Mr. Hyde (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
On the surface, WWE superstar Finn Balor is a multitalented high-flyer with near-endless potential, but he has a dark persona that he dips into at his most trying moments. Balor’s demon persona is reminiscent of another dual-icon that has terrorized celluloid and cellulose simultaneously, none other than Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Making their debut in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, both the kindly Dr. Jekyll and his more malicious persona Mr. Hyde have become legendary horror characters, up there with Frankenstein and Dracula. Balor’s Demon persona is very emblematic of the Mr. Hyde archetype, as both represent the dark sides of their respective counterparts.
7/10 The Rock & Ash Williams (Evil Dead)
Not every horror icon has to be chaotic evil, as there are many horror heroes that have made an impact, with Evil Dead’s Ash Williams being one of the most famous examples. The similarities between Bruce Campbell’s beloved Deadite killer bears many similarities to WWE legend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as both have very similar personalities and character progressions.
The Rock and Ash both started as “everyman” characters before the negative experiences they were a party to turned them into acerbic jerks. That is until the charisma the people behind the characters possess turned them into roguish trash-talkers that fans grew to adore, both with powerful weapons stored in their appendages.
6/10 Mr. McMahon & Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Vince McMahon’s wealthy dictator meets raving lunatic persona is oddly reminiscent of the “protagonist” from one of the best indie thrillers ever made, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
Both McMahon and Bateman live the “me first” lifestyle that many wealthy people embraced in the 80s, but both have a violent edge that they dip into. While McMahon wasn’t a serial killer, the violent actions he’d perform on his “independent contractors” proves that it wouldn’t take much to get him to consider it.
5/10 Kane & Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th)
Kane, brother of fellow legend The Undertaker, was one of WWE’s reliable horror characters before being diminished with the passage of time. Many agree that Kane’s best era was during The Attitude Era of the late 90s to early 2000s, where Kane bared many similarities to the endlessly scary Jason Voorhees from Friday The 13th.
Jason, much like Kane, is an immovable monster that inflects violent vengeance upon those he perceives as his transgressors, but while Jason focuses on promiscuous teens, Kane wants revenge on his brother The Undertaker. At the same time, both were accidentally killed as children by elemental forces, with Kane dying in a fire and Jason drowning in Camp Crystal Lake.
4/10 The Fiend & Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Bray Wyatt was one of the most creative superstars on WWE’s roster for over a decade, but his most famous character was birthed towards the end of his first tenure with the company. In 2019, Wyatt began airing promos as an unhinged children’s show host who would turn into a violent, terrifying demon known as The Fiend.
At WrestleMania 36, Wyatt challenged John Cena to a Firefly Funhouse Match, where Wyatt brought Cena to a dark realm where his failures were used against him before The Fiend finished him off for good. This is very reminiscent of how Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street would bring his victims to his nightmarish world and would use their personal issues to torture them before killing them.
3/10 Karrion Kross & Pumpkinhead (Pumpkinhead)
Monster heels are a dime-a-dozen, but there was just something about Karrion Kross’ days at NXT that made him a hair scarier than most. Kross’ presentation bares a striking resemblance to the underrated terror that is Pumpkinhead from the film of the same name, as it felt like if they were called upon, everyone was doomed.
Besides that, Kross’ ring entrance had the ominous pageantry that the arrival of Pumpkinhead would entail. The eerie theme, the red lighting, Kross’ cohort Scarlett terrifying chants, and finally the fog that stayed in the ring while he demolished his opponents gave Kross real Pumpkinhead vibes.
2/10 Mankind & Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Before Mick Foley was the lovable punishment-glutton WWE fans became familiar with, he debuted as Mankind, a mentally disturbed individual who, despite being a heel, had a sympathetic edge that would be emphasized as Mankind became more like Foley. Though he obviously resembles Leatherface, albeit, without his signature weapon of a chainsaw, it’s a later incarnation of the slasher villain that resembles Mankind more.
Whereas The Texas Chainsaw Massacre portrayed Leatherface as a remorseless killer, the sequel made the character more comical and childlike, making it clear that had he not been raised by such toxic people, he wouldn’t be the monster fans fear to this day. Unlike Leatherface, Mankind ended up becoming a good guy, and then two other people.
1/10 The Undertaker & Pinhead (Hellraiser)
Never has a WWE wrestler been as mailable as The Undertaker, as his gimmick as a malleable as it is captivating. A fascinating aspect of The Undertaker is that he is WWE’s embodiment of True Neutral morality, as he faced both faces and heels during his career regardless of his current alignment, which calls to mind another supernatural horror character of neutral standing.
Though the latter Hellraiser movies portrayed him as a stone-cold villain, the first two films showcase Pinhead as a powerful being connected to a rather unique version of Hell, but nonetheless, he and his Cenobite compatriots were fairly neutral in those movies. Another similarity between Taker and Pinhead are their booming voices, which make them feel otherworldly.