Well, it’s Survivor Series season, folks. That means that someone has to talk about a turkey of a subject. I drew the short straw, so here we are - let’s just get it over with - we’re talking about the Gobbledy Gooker.
Héctor Guerrero, I am so very sorry about this article.
"Everybody has speculated as to what might be in the egg. Is it a dinosaur? Is it a rabbit? Balloons? Is it the Playmate of the Month? Heh, who knows?” - Mean Gene Okerlund
Many wished in hindsight that they never knew.
Maybe if the debut we received on the night of Survivor Series 1990 was coming out of a large box, everyone would have accepted it, since that’s what wrestling fans expect: to paraphrase Jim Cornette, “Anyone who comes out of a box is over.”
But, an egg? A big egg, a big bad egg, ovum malus? An egg which was featured and incubated for months on then-World Wrestling Federation syndicated television, set and hyped to hatch during the 1990 Survivor Series pay-per-view event?
Many had expected that either Mark Callaway (nobody knew then what would become of The Undertaker he would debut on this very event and portray going forward - in fact, as stated on the Stone Cold Podcast, Callaway revealed that thought he was debuting from the egg himself!) or Ric Flair, known then to the casual fans of the day, even in the Bill Apter magazines, as having difficulties working with WCW management.
No. What we got instead… was a big bird. No, not that Big Bird, not the San Diego Chicken. We got the Gobbledy Gooker.
Further, if we had gotten the previously Mean Mark Callous, or Ric Flair, or even Slick Ric with a flat top haircut and earring while portraying a guy named Spartacus… well, we’d have definitely wanted to see any of those coming out of a wooden box instead of a giant egg.
Mean Gene Okerlund may have been on to something that night. If it was indeed the Playmate of the Month to be revealed, as he suggested to a huge pop - the only pop you’re getting out of this entire calamity - then perhaps we’d have forgiven her for coming out of the egg… but probably nothing or nobody else.
What followed after the hatching? Gorilla Monsoon and Rowdy Roddy Piper trying to convince everyone at home and on WWF Coliseum Video that the kids loved what was going on with Mean Gene as they headed into the ring. That commentary would be, as we say, a bit of stretch. A few of the kids (as the cameras desperately tried to find) loved it. Most of the young'uns in the crowd were nonplussed. Their parents were universally unimpressed, unless they were there against their will laughing at their captor for bringing them. Meanwhile, Mean Gene had to eat a crap sandwich and smile trying to match the Gooker move for move, roll for roll, rope run for rope run, cartwheel for cartwheel … and badly.
Let’s not lose context of what they were trying for. Vince McMahon wanted a mascot, a mascot you’d see in college or professional sports. The Gooker wasn’t going to be a wrestler (we’ll get to that in a moment), he was there for intermissions to keep the kids happy and engaged. The primary concept wasn’t horrible. The promotion to get people to buy Survivor Series to see what the Hell would come out of the egg wasn’t horrible (it worked). The only miss to be seen here was in the gimmick we got.
Further, we must allow for the man in the outfit to offer his testimony and defense as well. In 2020, Héctor Guerrero (the poor guy wearing this suit) spoke to to Justin (no relation) Barazzo via Sports Illustrated: “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.”
As one of those children, seeing Mean Gene have to roll around and try to dance with this abomination… it was mildly funny to 12 year old Justin, but then, so was a shirtless Mean Gene while Hulking up with the Hulkster years earlier.
The television build-up to Okerlund and Hogan was also far better than the time spent on the ever-present egg, while we’re on the subject.
But, Héctor? You tried to turn Gooker crap into Gooker salad. I really and truly applaud your effort.
But worry not, folks, the ol’ Gooker wasn’t done yet!
The Gooker, again, was supposed to be the WWF's version of the San Diego Chicken (confirmed by Bruce Prichard on his podcast), a mascot, a cheerleader, an early version of Wild Cat Willie (hi Eric).
With that, the next week on WWE syndicated television, he would hang out and Gook it up backstage on camera with the likes of the Junkyard Dog, Koko B. Ware, and others.
Bruce Prichard also confirmed that the idea was for Héctor to work an underneath match and come back out later as the Gobbledy Gooker, which means the Gooker wasn’t ever intended to be wrestling itself (we would never know the Gooker’s gender).
After this, the Gooker was off television, but he was doing the house show rounds. For a while.
Héctor would state in a later interview the kill shot for the avian ace. Essentially, the house lights went down, the spotlight went up, and he couldn’t see anything. He eventually found the ring, found the steps, found the ropes, tried to springboard in… and flopped. You can’t really blame anyone for being in this position. He did get up and grab his Gooker hip and feign it for the audience. But to Vince, the experiment was over immediately.
Or… was it? It wasn’t. Kinda.
Years later, we’d see the Gooker (Héctor in the suit) at the WrestleMania 17 Gimmick battle royal. Everyone worked to eliminate the Gooker immediately, with the credit going to Tugboat (or Typhoon, Shockmaster, Roadblock, and/or /Uncle Fred if you will).
And further on, the Gobbledy Gooker (no longer portrayed by Guerrero) would win the WWE 24/7 Championship pinning R-Truth in a surprise. That’s right, folks, the Gobbledy Gooker once held WWE gold!
There’s additional appearances afterwards, but that’s not the point of the conversation here.
The then-WWF wanted a mascot. It didn’t work. That happens. Almost everyone crapped on it, and maybe they should have - the blame lies solely on creative, and at the time, that’s Vince McMahon. That’s your Okerlunds, Heenans, Prichards, and later even Vince himself crapping on the bird. Why rehash what’s been said thousands of times?
And on the note, Héctor did it for a try on some needed work, and he tried to make it work for the kids... it didn’t pan out, but bless him for trying, and try hard he did.
And for a very few, the goal… was reached. We don’t link out over here very often, but for at least one kid, it worked for a Mr. Jon Harder. You should take the time to read his story, but I’m going to steal a little bit from him.
But, unlike everyone else, I watch [this show] for one reason and one reason only: the hatching of the egg. What was born at Survivor Series 1990? THE GOBBLEDY GOOKER, of course! [...] Finally, the Gooker makes me nostalgic. It takes me back to days of sitting down in front of the TV on and the day before Thanksgiving and just watching wrestling with my old man and family. Just spending time and BSing and eating while wrestling on the background was nothing but greatness. I miss doing that. I miss my old man. That 1990 Survivor Series was one we watched a few times over together and loved. And as much I loved the Gooker, my Dad didn’t. But he did always pop over Mean Gene doing the cartwheel.
While the Gobbledy Gooker lives on in many minds as nothing more than a trope, a shame, a failure… we keep going back to it when it’s turkey and potato time here in the United States. And some kids of our vintage hold it in our hearts dearly.
For me, I think this Thanksgiving, I’ll opt for the ham instead. We can give the turkey a pardon.
Well done, Héctor Guerrero. Well done.