“I’m The Boogeyman and I’m coming to getcha!” is one of the most iconic catchphrases to come out of WWE’s ruthless aggression era. The 260-pound Boogeyman struck fear into the hearts of many a fan and superstar, as his worm-eating, clock-shattering and maniacal-laughing persona was akin to that of a true boogeyman. In turn, this unique and iconic gimmick would go on to be one of the most recognizable and memorable characters in WWE’s long line of horror-themed wrestlers.
Photo credit: Online World of Wrestling
During the fourth season of Tough Enough (think Survivor but for hopeful and aspiring WWE superstars), Martin Wright stood out as a clear potential winner, showcasing his amazing strength, impressive physique and obvious charisma throughout his appearances on the show. Despite making it to the final eight in that year’s competition, he was quickly booted off the show after it was revealed that he had lied about his age. This however, did not deter the powers that be in WWE from recruiting him into their developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, to demonstrate his incredible potential.
During his OVW run, Martin Wright became “The Boogeyman,” a demented monster who would squash any and every opponent in his way in short and easy fashion. He’d also use the Candyman gimmick, where if another wrestler said his name in a promo, Wright would appear out of the shadows and attack them. He donned long black devil horns, black face paint, and carried around a voodoo shaman-like staff. Pair this with the lack of front teeth and it was evident that this was not some silly attempt at creating something kind of spooky for the kids in attendance. The Boogeyman looked and acted genuinely creepy, especially relative to the rest of the OVW roster in 2005.
The Boogeyman’s official WWE debut came in the form of vignettes that looked like trailers for a horror movie. After months of these promos, kayfabe “network executive” Palmer Cannon brought The Boogeyman into the ring, stating that the “Boogeyman” trailers we had been seeing on Smackdown were for a cancelled horror show, yet he still had the titular actor. Being in charge of the network, and in turn Smackdown, Cannon brought The Boogeyman into Smackdown as a wrestler as part of a “new talent initiative.”
Over the next few weeks, The Boogeyman would give us glimpses into his twisted character, often appearing in backstage segments, where he would smash clocks over his head, sing nursery rhymes and burst out in genuinely terrifying laughter.
The Boogeyman’s in-ring debut saw him against Simon Dean, squashing the founder of the Simon System in under a minute, only after feeding himself a handful of live worms as red smoke encompassed the ring. The crowd loved it. This clearly wasn’t WWE’s typical jobber-crushing big dude, this was something different. It was fun, it was creepy, but it was believable. As a six-year old watching this match, I loved every second of it. This guy looked indestructible. But I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I didn’t have nightmares for weeks about The Boogeyman force-feeding me worms.
Over the next year, The Boogeyman would go on to further develop his disturbing ways during a feud with John Bradshaw Layfield and his manager, Jillian Hall. Before defeating JBL at the 2006 Royal Rumble, he had bitten off and eaten a massive mole/growth on the side of Hall’s face in a backstage segment. It was gnarly as fuck.
Later that same year, The Boogeyman feuded with Booker T, with a match culminating at Wrestlemania 22. During the match, The Boogeyman shoved his mouth full of worms, grabbed Sharmell and open-mouth kissed her, before pinning Booker T and winning the bout. It was clear that The Boogeyman played a role, and that role was to terrorize the heels while delivering gross outs, before eventually defeating them. Over the summer, The Boogeyman would continue his shtick, this time against The Miz, where the most memorable part of the feud would come in the form of chewed up worms drooled all over the former reality star’s face.
The Boogeyman would eventually lose his year-long winning streak against another ruthless aggression era mainstay, Finlay. The match between the two saw interference from Hornswoggle, Finlay’s “Little Bastard,” which would eventually set up a feud between the two culminating in a series of tag team matches. Who was The Boogeyman’s partner for these? Little Boogey of course! Say what you will about WWE’s booking of midget wrestlers, but you can’t deny the fact that this was entertaining as hell. It was like Dr. Evil and Mini Me in the flesh! Except instead of trying to take down Austin Powers, they ate worms and smashed clocks over their heads. It was good fun, and would go on to be The Boogeyman’s last big storylines in the WWE.
In 2007, The Boogeyman was brought in to WWE’s ECW and would stay relatively stagnant. He would beat enhancement talent, show up in backstage segments being all creepy and whatnot and eventually put over the up-and-coming stars the brand was home to. During this time however, he did have a pretty badass backstage segment, spitting worms into the mouth of MTV’s Jackass’s Chris Pontius. The Boogeyman was released from the WWE in early 2009 after four memorable years in the company.
The Boogeyman has since sporadically returned to the WWE a number of times since 2012, and why shouldn’t he? As late as January 2021, The Boogeyman has returned to spook other wrestlers, and he’s always a welcome surprise. That’s why people remember The Boogeyman. He was always just… welcome! He’s a nice break from the serious, emotional storylines. He’s a horror movie come to life, and watching him was always entertaining. Whether it be the matches, the backstage segments or the vignettes, The Boogeyman will always be one of WWE’s most iconic and entertaining scary wrestlers.