Scrollboss: Minus World header

Into the Drink Blondes will get you killed ...are you gonna eat that? Electric Slide comics Oil Drum Captain Commando's secret identity? Bootleg Wrestlers Sidbillies The Most Evil Man in Video Game History
Return to ScrollBoss main menu

ScrollBoss: Bootleg Wrestlers

Bootleg Wrestlers

last updated: 2012/01/11

From the Cylon-like robotic killers in Bezerk to Duke Nukem straight jacking the best one-liners of every third action hero, games have been encrusted with all sorts of tributes to other forms of entertainment. One of my favorites is the Bootleg Wrestler. No, these aren't those crappily-produced dollar store knock-offs made out of cheap plastic and wobbly molds. I'm talking about video game characters who were based on actual wrestlers to varying degrees. Some are just loosely based on real-life grapplers while roll deep in copyright infringement territory.

It's no surprise to see them in wrestling games, but Bootleg Wrestlers refused to stay within the boundaries of their own sport. This seemed to happen more in games from Japan, a country that apperciates pro-wrestling to a degree higher than the strong niche status it has in the United States. Bootleg Wrestlers can be found everywhere in gaming, but I'm just going to focus on those found in the main genres that this site covers: action games and beat-em-ups.

Naturally, the more famous wrestlers were referenced more than the rest. Here are some of the most commonly referenced legends that you'll see both in and outside of wrestling games.
Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan Well you know something, Mene Gene, you're probably already reading this in the Hulkster's voice! Hogan became a household name during the 80's in both the US and in Japan. Hogan has more unofficial video game characters based on him than most wrestlers appear in actual wrestling games.
the Road Warriors (a.k.a. Legion of Doom), Animal and Hawk
AnimalHawk Considered one of the most legendary tag teams of all time, their brutal wrestling style, Mad Max II-inspired post-apocalyptic look and muscular builds took the wrestling world by storm in the early 80's. They stomped a path through multiple wrestling organizations in the U.S. but their tours in Japan made them wrestling legends there as well. Just as many promotions tried to duplicate the Road Warrior formula, Hawk (R.I.P.) and Animal inspired characters in manga and video games.
the Ultimate Warrior
the Ultimate Warrior Known for having one of the most electric ring entrances ever and some of the most cosmic and cryptic promos ever witnessed by the human mind, the Ultimate Warrior became a top-tier name in the WWF for years. His running clothesline and gorilla press drop demonstrated his sheer power in the same way that a video game's stage boss would.
Now let's look at the video game characters.

Final Fight (Capcom)

Andore (Final Fight) Andore, an obvious tribute to the late, great Andre the Giant, is probably the most well-known wrestling homage in video games. The Andore family debuted as Mad Gear gang members in Final Fight, Capcom's blockbuster beat-em-up of 1989 that was originally planned to be a sequel to Street Fighter. Andore and Andore Jr. appear as enemy drones throughout the game, but players have eventually have a cage match vs. F. Andore and G. Andore (and U.Andore when playing on higher difficulty levles). Along with being the only other villains to return with Rolento in Final Fight 2, the Andores were the only Mad Gear members to return in Final Fight 3. Andore makes cameos alongside his fellow Mad Gear members in the Street Fighter Alpha series and finally becomes a playable wrestler as Hugo in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. Poison, another former Mad Gear member, returns from obscurity to be his manager.

Vendetta (Konami)

Vendetta, Konami's arcade side-scrolling brawler, has a thinly-disguised Hogan clone named Hawk who tries to throw the copyright hounds off his scene by wearing blue instead Hawk even possesses Hogan's legendary elbow drop. The game also features a boss named the Missing Link that doesn't look like that particular wrestler. He does look familiar and I'll try to dig up more on him.

Burning Fight (SNK)

Burning Fight, SNK's early beat-em-up for the Neo Geo, has an enemy who looks like a mixture of both Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. Tom Anderson, the version with the Hogan-y red and yellow palette, waits for you in stage 2 where smashes a mall fountain with his bare hands before trying to take you down with running clotheslines. Mad Dilly, a palette swap in red-and-black gear, turns up in stage 5's gauntlet of bosses. Stage 3's midboss, Gary Powell, is another palette swap with a purple outfit and a new mohawked head. You'd think they'd have used the mohawked head with the LOD-ish colors of Mad Dilly, but that may have been a bit too obvious.

Kunckle Bash (Toaplan)

You'd think that a beat-em-up with a wrestling theme would be filled with gimmick infringement, but Knuckle Bash pulls a swerve by not doing that. Most of the characters seem to be based on different wrestling archtypes without any blatant tributes... except one. Of course, when your tribute is to this gentleman, that's all you need.

Ninja Gaiden / Ninja Ryukenden (Tecmo)

Copping the early Road Warrior look with the spiked vests wasn't enough for the wrestling bosses in this game. They take it a step further by having their own BGM track that pays homage to "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, a song that the Road Warriors used as entrance music in many territories. BIllboard in Round 5

Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja (Data East)

Animal from Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja Another possible Legion of Doom reference is Animal, a boss from Bad Dudes. Animal borrows the name and quite a bit of the LoD visual style from the mohawk and war paint to the shoulder pads and Hawk's habit of taunting his foes by growling and flexing with his tongue out. In this case, it's hard to tell if certain characters are a homage to the Legion of Doom tag team, The Mad Max series, Fist of the North Star or a mix of all three.

Ginga NinkyouDen (Jaleco)

This entire game is filled with tribute characters and one of them looks a lot like Animal of the Road Warriors.

the Peace Keepers / Rushing Beat Shura (Jaleco)

And if you don't like me, bite me! These two guys are bootlegs of one of my favorite wrestlers, Rick Steiner, the Dog Faced Gremlin. While they both look like Rick, they have a combination of both Rick and Scott Steiner's grappling arsenal and ring attire from the early 1990's before Scott became Big Poppa Pump. At times, Rick got kinda nutty in the head (even talking to his imaginary friend, Norman), much like Gor in this game. It's nice to see a tribute to two of my all-time favorite wrestlers show up in one of my favorite beat-em-up games.
This one is a bit sneakier. Although the characters themselves look like your garden variety swordsmen, their face-icons look an awful lot like Meng/Haku, hardcore wrestler/brawler and possessor of the world famous Tongan Death Grip. These swordsmen were nowhere near as cool as Meng, but it was kinda nice to see his face in a non-wrestling game. Sadly, this was before he got his 'fro, which is loved by all. Can't you just hear Dusty Rhodes yelling "Kick o' FEAR!" during commentary?

Silent Dragon (Taito)

Check out this wanted poster in the background of a character who never appears in the game. The face looks a lot like one of my favorite wrestlers, Abdullah the Butcher, the madman of the Sudan and a wrestler beloved in both the U.S. and Japan. As a wrestler known to sticking a fork in someone's scale whether they're done or not, he was hardcore before hardcore was cool.

Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 (Sega)

AbadedeZ.Kusano Abadede and Z.Kusano are obvious tributes to the Ultimate Warrior who use modified versions of his running clothesline and jumping splash attacks. Abadede first appeared in Streets of Rage and Kusano appears by name as a palette swap in Streets of Rage 2.

Ultimate Fighter (Culture Brain)

I know I said that I wouldn't have fighting games in here, but don't forget that Ultimate Fighter is multi-genre game that has a beat-em-up mode that isn't just tacked onto the engine. Like Z.Kusano, Zebra here looks a lot like the Ultimate/Dingo Warrior gimmick. Wait a minute... Z.Kusano... Zebra... Zebra Kusano? Hmmmm... I wonder... oh well.

Ninja Commandos (SNK)

You've got... no chance in hell. ... Enough said.

I'm sure that this list of bootleg wrestlers is nowhere near complete. Stay tuned!

By the way, the great Fighting website has an ultra-solid section all about tribute characters in the Street Fighter/Final Fight universe. This link will take you straight to the Final Fight section.

Return to top