If you’ve read the previous entries in this list, you would know that copyright infringement and professional wrestling go hand in hand. For some reason, copyright infringement as it pertains to horror media is especially apparent in the world of wrestling. In the 1980s, Freddy Krueger was a pop culture powerhouse. Despite being a child molesting, undead dream killing monster, Krueger managed to transcend his horror niche and become a mainstream figure. There were Freddy Krueger toys, trading cards, costumes, dolls and video games galore! Pair wrestling’s pensiveness with societal trends and horror movies, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Nightmare Freddy.
Photo credit: The Wrestling Universe
The United States Wrestling Association (and any wrestling to come out of Memphis for that matter) was absolutely bonkers. Sunday Mornings in Memphis meant potentially catching glimpses of “The Dragonmaster,” “The Christmas Creature” and “Ta Gar, Lord of the Volcano.” Yes, those are professional wrestling characters and not Beatles song titles. The absurdity of the promotion meant that many outlandish characters came and went, yet one of the most blatantly bizarre characters, Nightmare Freddy, managed to make a name for himself. The gimmick was brought into USWA after spending a year in the Continental Wrestling Association to minimal success. How Doug Gilbert, the man behind the mask, didn’t fear having the mask forcefully taken off by network executives eludes me, but surprisingly, the gimmick thrived.
Nightmare Freddy was one of USWA’s top babyfaces, and by 1992, he had won the tag team championships alongside fellow horror icon, Leatherface. As that year progressed, Freddy began a singles feud with “The Boogeyman” in the hardcore Japanese promotion, Wrestling International New Generations (W*ING). You probably have a million questions, but I’ll explain everything. Freddy wasn’t feuding with THAT Boogeyman. You know that scene in Halloween where Laurie asks Dr. Loomis if Michael Myers is “The Boogeyman?” Yeah, USWA’s Boogeyman was Michael Myers (who happened to be Doug’s brother, Eddie Gilbert playing the role). You know, when I was a kid, I would play Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 on my Playstation 2 and desperately try to recreate some of my favourite horror villains. If they ever created a W*ING game with playable versions of Jason The Terrible, Super Leather, The Boogeyman and Nightmare Freddy, I would never leave my bedroom
The gimmick continue up until the late 1990s, making its final resting place in another notoriously hardcore Japanese promotion, IWA Japan. Freddy, and in turn Gilbert created a legacy that many other horror wrestlers have left in their wake. The brutal, bloody matches consisting of copyrighted horror villains that blurred the lines between horror film and wrestling match were a strange blip in the history of deathmatch and hardcore wrestling. Despite the strangeness, it’s badass to see these villains in the squared circle nonetheless. Nothing’s cooler than Freddy Krueger delivering a Von Erich-style Iron Claw with his bladed gloves on a helpless opponent. Nightmare Freddy still makes occasional deathmatch appearances, most notably in the modern underground hardcore powerhouse that is ICW: No Holds Barred.