Ahh, Thanksgiving 1990. An Italian family gathering I remember quite well as the entire clan was not only unbuttoning our pants to make room for the 12-course-meal that awaited, but for the beerfest that was assuredly going to happen with the adults in conjunction with the highly-anticipated Survivor Series! And this PPV event brought on by the glorious WWF at the time would both mark the debut of one of the greatest Wrestling Superstars of all time, while also bringing about the company’s greatest blunder- the goddamn Gobbeldy Gooker.
Recently, I went over the great introduction of the phenom, The Undertaker, which marks his 30 years in the WWE. Now, let’s dive into this weird gimmick that really pissed people off. Oh, how I miss the days where we only had men dressed up as giant turkeys to be upset about.
Well, anyways the WWF promoted this “Big Surprise” they had in store for us that would be revealed at the Thanksgiving Survivor Series via promos and displaying this oversized egg at live events leading up to the big day. So of course, we were all riddled with anxiety, placing bets on what exactly was inside this damn thing.
I’ll never forget the reaction from my family when the moment finally came where Mean Gene debuted this monstrosity. It may as well had been an episode of The Steve Wilkos Show in the Butrico house.
That weird anger, although I certainly understand it, I feel was misplaced. It certainly wasn’t the Thanksgiving surprise anyone expected; or even wanted for that matter. However, over the years Vince McMahon had said this was something more for the kids and not the adults. It seems to me while ol’ Vince might be savvy to what we wanted to see in regards to Wrestling, it’s pretty clear he was kind of out of touch with what us kiddos wanted. I mean, I wasn’t really impressed. I was eight-years-old and more confused than anything. That thing with its protruding golf ball eyes was umm…. a little terrifying actually.
JUST LISTEN TO THOSE BOOS! Looking back as an adult, I feel really bad for this poor guy (later identified as Hector Guerrero) as the blame really falls on Vince and the higher-ups for this debacle. It’s quite clear the trio of Okerlund along with Piper and Monsoon announcing tried to make the best of this now awkward situation. It was and still is, so damn amazingly cringe-worthy.
While most of us know by now that Hector Guerrero of the infamous Guerrero wrestling dynasty donned the outfit, it was acknowledged pretty recently that The Undertaker himself was scared to death thinking that HIS debut was going to be not as the iconic dead man, but this awful gimmick instead as he described in Steve Austin: The Broken Skull Sessions:
“So about the time I got my phone call, they were doing this promotion where, on the show — back then they’d do three or four weeks in a row — they had this gigantic egg on the set. So this egg appears on the show, right? And all of a sudden my mind just starts going like, ‘Aw, man, they’re going to bring me in — now this is how outlandish the gimmicks were back then too — I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.’ I had convinced myself, to the point where my stomach hurt, that I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.'”
I mean, that would have fucking sucked for Mean Mark Calaway.
Instead, Guerrero pulled on the Turkey get-up and according to an interview with Sports Illustrated, he has little regrets about it and seems to have embraced the big Razzie Award of the WWF. He also recalls just how awful and visually limiting that costume really was- I mean, looking at it are we really surprised by that?
“The Gobbledy Gooker is called the biggest flop in professional wrestling history, but it wasn’t meant for the adults. It was for the children. Vince wanted to do something noble, which I take my hat off to and respect. But the circumstances were not favorable. I couldn’t see. The eyes were outside and they were bubbled out—it was almost like they drilled holes through golf balls.“
“I had to get in the egg early before the show. There was a box under the egg, and I had a fan down there to keep me cool. I had a light, I had a monitor, and that’s where I was. As soon as I came out, you heard the boos—the real bad ones, and a lot of them. Gene Okerlund went through our routine, and he worked really hard, even going in the ring with me. I was flawless and didn’t miss a cue, but the stares and looks from the crowd made me feel like the biggest flop in the history of wrestling. That’s just the way the people reacted. I was in a bad situation, and you don’t blame the boss. You blame the performer.“
“We went to Madison Square Garden two months after the Survivor Series flop. We shouldn’t have showcased the Gobbledy Gooker at Madison Square Garden. I came out cold turkey, and they told me they’d spotlight me when I walked out. The building went black and they shone the lights on me, and all I could see was white. I couldn’t see down, up, left, or right. I tried to feel my way to the ring. I handspringed into the top rope, but I couldn’t see the floor. I landed on my bottom, and then they finally turned the lights on and I went through my routine—cartwheels, high-fives, a little jiggle-jiggle-jaggle, and dances with the kids. I get back into the dressing room, and they were giving me the dirtiest faces. Vince wouldn’t even look at me and then he walked away. I started to undress, and Gorilla Monsoon walked in and said, ‘We finally figured it out. You couldn’t see, right?’ You think? Everything was wrong. They wanted to put me in a spot, but I was blind and couldn’t see.“
So now that we know all that, do we really have to continue this undefined hatred for the Gooker? I think enough time has passed where we can learn to embrace the whacky Thanksgiving mascot and I for one would love to see the gimmick one more time for Turkey Day via the WWE.
So, let’s partner up with The Bushwackers, Tugboat, and others to show some love for the Gookster this holiday season!