Dan Spivey had an illustrious career throughout the 80s and 90s across the United States and Japan. While his name is well known within hardcore wrestling fandom circles, his distinction pales in comparison to some of his former tag-team partners, including Johnny Ace, Sid Vicious and “Mean” Mark Callous, the future Undertaker. Before he unfortunately had to retire in 1995 due to built-up injuries, he gave the fans a taste of one of the most unique characters the World Wrestling Federation had seen up until then. And when I say taste, I mean a taste.
Photo credit: 411Mania
Waylon Mercy only wrestled for three months in 1995, often cited as one of the worst years for professional wrestling, both in gimmicks and in storylines. Among the Mantaurs and Isaac Yankems, Spivey stood out from the influx of cheese that was coming out through Titan Towers. Through vignettes, fans were introduced to Mercy through soft-spoken, whispering promos, threatening that the lives of his opponents “... are gonna be in Waylon Mercy’s hands.”
This was a far cry from Bob Holly cutting promos about his favourite race cars. When it came time to wrestle, Mercy would shake the hands of fans and referees, and even sometimes his opponents. Why should the fans be scared of a man so… polite? When the bell rang, however, he became a man-possessed. This is what those cryptic promos were all about.
He would rip off his Hawaiian shirt, expose his tattoos, ruthlessly swing his arms and choke his opponents until they turned dark purple, then go right back to soft-spoken, Cape Fear-esque promos. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that watched Cape Fear and professional wrestling in the 1990s that Waylon Mercy was directly inspired by the film’s antagonist, Max Cady. Inspiration comes full circle however, as Dan Spivey’s portrayal of Waylon Mercy would go on to influence one of this past decade’s most popular characters in the industry.