The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Monstrous bodies and body horror
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Introduction
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Carnivals and the counter culture
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Good versus evil
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Hardcore wrestling and the slasher film
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Monstrous bodies and body horror
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – The unkillable monster
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – A Word On The Devil
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – The Covid era and cinematic wrestling
- The Hammerlock of the Gods – Pro Wrestling and Horror – Conclusion
Monstrous bodies and body horror
The body is everything in professional wrestling. Like the sport itself, the bodies of its practitioners can be seen to represent excess. More so in the past than the present era, the actual size and freakish look of a wrestler was enough to get them noticed, and hopefully, to draw mainstream attention and fans to the arena. This list of mammoth wrestlers rolls off the tongue – Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, The Undertaker, Giant Gonzales, the Big Show, Kane (the Devil’s favourite demon), Abdullah the Butcher, Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Umaga, The Great Khali, Omos. These human monsters are replicated in traditional horror by outsized freaks like werewolves, mummies, zombies and other flesh rending ghouls.
An addendum to the outsized monstrous figure in wrestling is that of the truly grotesque, the villain whose body is designed to repulse the viewer. Wrestlers fitting this paradigm include Bastion Booger, the Adorable Adrian Adonis, and Playboy Buddy Rose. The excess in these bloated wrestling bodies is mirrored by the misshapen monsters of horror, like the Blob or the Toxic Avenger.
The hideous power of the villain is exacerbated by the murderous blows he delivers upon his foes, the forearm smash, the clothesline, the body slam, the headbutt. All of which are applied to do immense harm to the opponent. In the evil wrestler characters the blow is accentuated by applying a sinister name to it – the Undertaker’s Tombstone piledriver despatches another soul to Hell. The grotesque imagery is accentuated by the spectacle of the defeated and broken body of the beaten wrestler. Barthes (op cit) commented that the function of a wrestler is not to win or lose, but to go through the exact moves which are expected of him. Thus, in following the script, the wrestlers engage in a dance, a form of ritual which ends in the inevitable demise of one, and the triumph of the other. In the horror narrative, a similar ritual occurs between the monster and the victim. Their paths are pre-determined, and they must enact a dance, a series of ritualistic moves to reach their destination.
The pain and tragedy of defeat are personified in the broken body of the loser, the victim. The victor, and we the audience, are left to enjoy the spectacle of the defeated body. In wrestling, quite often victory is not enough for the evil villain. He will return to attack the vanquished victim again and again, even after the bout has ended. In more extreme horror cinema, the monster will continue to toy with the victim, tormenting them before applying the final death blow.
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Anthony Ferguson is an author and editor living in Perth, Australia. He has published over seventy short stories and non-fiction articles in Australia, Britain and the United States. He wrote the novel Protégé, the non-fiction books, The Sex Doll: A History, and Murder Down Under, edited the short-story collection Devil Dolls and Duplicates in Australian Horror and coedited the award-nominated Midnight Echo #12. He is a committee member of the Australasian Horror Writers Association (AHWA), and a submissions editor for Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (ASM). He won the Australian Shadows Award for Short Fiction in 2020.