A Modern Batman Guide

Batman is invariably one of the biggest and most significant franchises in comics at any given time. However, this fall is a particularly noteworthy time for the Caped Crusader. Grant Morrison is wrapping up the current phase of his extended Batman saga next month as Batman: the Return of Bruce Wayne draws to a close. When the dust settles, Bruce Wayne will be back as Batman and a new era for all the Bat books will begin.

No doubt there will be some new readers attracted by all the hype behind the launch of Batman Inc. and the changes to the many other Bat books on the stands. Also, there may be many readers who haven't followed every one of the 60+ issues that make up Morrison's story so far. In this guide, we summarize the major storylines and conflicts that have defined Batman's career in recent years. Beginning with Batman and Son and leading to the present, we trace the path of Bruce Wayne's fall, Dick Grayson's rise as Batman, and the many friends and enemies that have appeared along the way. We also provide notations so interested readers know exactly what trades to pick up to read these stories for themselves. (It's worth noting that most things marked "HC" - or hardcover - are also available in "TPB" - or trade paperback/softcover - and vice versa.)

Following the events of Infinite Crisis and 52, Batman and Robin returned to Gotham City re-energized and ready to wipe out crime for good [Batman and Son - TPB]. Initially this renewed mission went well. With most of Gotham's criminal leaders locked away in Arkham, Batman faced the unusual prospect of having extra time to devote to being Bruce Wayne.

Several strange events served to complicate Batman's life during this time. First, he came face to face with his previously unknown son, Damian al Ghul. Second, a GCPD officer in a Batman costume shot Joker in the head, grievously wounding him. Third, Bruce struck up a relationship with African royalty/fashion model Jezebel Jett.

After a brief attempt at playing father to young Damian, Batman sent the boy back to live with his mother. He then battled a resurgent Joker, now in the grip of a new personality known as "The Clown at Midnight". As for the impostor Batman, Bruce came to learn that he was but one of three stalking the streets of Gotham. The second was a gigantic killer hopped up on Venom and Monster Formula, one who nearly killed the real Batman before being dispatched by his fellow police officers.

More troubling still was the surprise return of Ra's al Ghul [Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul – TPB]. Now inhabiting the body of his son, al Ghul's vendetta against the Dark Knight continued anew.

Amid all these strange events, the romance between Bruce and Jezebel continued to grow. The tabloids even predicted marriage for the perennial bachelor and ladies man.

His encounters with the first two "Ghosts of Batman" showed Bruce that a larger, shadowy enemy was preparing a major strike against him [Batman: The Black Glove - TPB]. That enemy revealed itself to be an organization known as the Black Glove. A reunion with the Club of Heroes, a group of international heroes inspired by Batman and Robin, turned deadly when the Black Glove's minions struck. The organization gathered the enemies of each hero into a new group called the Club of Villains. In the end, John Mayhew, the original founder of the Club of Heroes, stood revealed as a Black Glove member.

Back in Gotham, Batman finally came face to face with the third and final Ghost of Batman. Another ex-cop named Michael Lane, this third Ghost attempted to torture and kill Batman. He revealed the true nature of the program that birthed the three Ghosts. Years previous, the GCPD partnered with the federal government to mold a group of officers into replacement Batmen for the eventual day when the real Batman died in action. Doctor Hurt, leader of the experiment, realized that the key ingredient in building an effective Batman was personal tragedy. Lane was driven insane by the deaths of his family members, making him a perfect candidate for Hurt's brutal indoctrination. Hurt had previously assisted Batman in undertaking an isolation experiment.

Batman escaped this final replacement, but he knew it would be only a matter of time before Doctor Hurt and the Black Glove resurfaced for their final strike. Even so, his love for Jezebel had grown to the point where Bruce was seriously considering a different path in life. Even after discovering his extracurricular activities, Jezebel remained devoted to Bruce.

The Black Glove finally unleashed its master stroke against Bruce and his allies [Batman R.I.P. - HC]. Robin and Nightwing were attacked by the Club of Heroes. Doctor Hurt and the rest invaded the Batcave, knocking Alfred unconscious and kidnapping Jezebel. Doctor Hurt used a special code phrase implanted in Bruce's mind - "Zur en Arrh" - to destabilize the Caped Crusader and send him into the streets of Gotham with no memory. Simultaneously, faked documents and photos leaked to the press suggested that Bruce's parents had a secret, sordid past and that Thomas Wayne may actually have faked his own death.

Though this hypnotic suggestion had been implanted during Batman's isolation experiment. Hurt underestimated the true depth of Batman's self-induced psychological conditioning. He fashioned himself a new costume out of rags and became the "Batman of Zur-en-Arrh." This unbalanced but effective Batman took down the members of the Black Glove one by one.

The final confrontation between Batman and the Black Glove took place in Arkham Asylum, with Joker seated as guest of honor. Hurt intended to destroy Bruce's mind once and for all with the revelation that Jezebel was also a member of the Black Glove. But even this had been deduced and accounted for. With Batman triumphant and Joker making short work of the Black Glove, Hurt fled into the night with Lane at his side. He claimed first to be a vengeful Thomas Wayne and then the Devil himself. His last promise to Batman before disappearing into Gotham River was this - the next time Batman donned the cape and cowl would be his last.

His body bruised and his public reputation in tatters, Bruce returned to Wayne Manor ready to pick up the pieces of his life and repair the damage caused by Hurt. He also had a new mystery to contend with. A hidden room in Wayne Manor concealed a Batman cowl dating back to prehistoric times. Scrawled on the walls was the word "Barbatos" and the name "Thomas" [Batman #701].

But Batman had no time to devote to these troubles, as Justice League matters soon called his attention [Final Crisis - HC]. The New God Orion was found shot dead in Metropolis. Batman turned his attention towards solving an extraterrestrial murder mystery. The killing soon proved to be the tip of a much larger threat. A war had been fought between the New Gods of Apokolips and New Genesis. Darkseid and his minions were now on Earth, disguised as humans and quietly building an army to enslave the planet.

Batman discovered the truth too late to warn his allies. He was imprisoned and taken to the Command-D bunker in Bludhaven, where Darkseid's scientists embarked on a quest to clone an army of Batmen. Once again, twisted doctors sought to weaponize the world's greatest warrior. Over the course of a month, Batman slowly freed himself from the influence of his mind control. The clones proved ill-equipped to handle the pain and suffering that drive the original, and all were destroyed in the psychic backlash [Batman #672-673].

Batman emerged from his prison just as Darkseid was closing his grip around humanity [Final Crisis - HC]. He retrieved the gun that killed Orion and confronted the god of evil. Making a one time exception to his rule against firearms, Batman mortally wounded Darkseid. In return, Darkseid blasted Batman with the Omega Sanction, "the death that is life." Like so many of Darkseid's victims, Batman was doomed to experience an endless cycle of deaths, each more terrible than the last.

A glimpse of this terrible cycle may have been seen in the pages of Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. In this story, the disembodied soul of Bruce Wayne watched as his friends and enemies gathered at his funeral, each one telling a different tale of how Batman met his ultimate end. Though officially presented as an out-of-continuity tale, Whatever Happened could easily be seen as an exploration of Batman's ordeal in the Omega Sanction.

With Batman apparently dead and the world still reeling from Darkseid's attack, Gotham City was in worse shape than ever [Batman: Battle for the Cowl – HC]. A new Black Mask was quickly exerting control over Gotham's underworld. Gotham needed a new Batman, and so his former protégées – Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Jason Todd – battled for the right to wear the cowl.

In the end, it was Dick who earned the right, while Tim donned the costume of Red Robin and Jason became the new Red Hood. Dick took on Damian as his Robin, and the two began a campaign to clean the streets of Gotham just as Bruce had done months earlier. This new Dynamic Duo found it difficult to work as a team, but an early battle against Professor Pyg and his mind-controlled Doll-o-trons cemented their partnership [Batman and Robin Vol. 1 - HC].

Dick also settled into a solo career as Batman. Countering Black Mask's attempts to rule the Gotham underworld, Penguin and Two-Face launched their own campaigns of destruction [Batman: Long Shadows – HC]. Following thes eearly battles, Dick battled Black Mask himself [Batman: Life After Death - HC]. This villain was revealed to be none other than Jeremiah Arkham. Arkham is now imprisoned in the same facility he once supervised, suffering from severe disassociative identity disorder. Dick has also struggled to take on Bruce's role within the Justice League [Justice League: Team History – HC].

The second major team-up between Dick and Damian proved a bit more difficult [Batman and Robin Vol. 1 - HC]. Jason Todd re-emerged as Red Hood. His sidekick, Scarlet, was a former victim of Professor Pyg. As a darker counterpoint to Batman and Robin, Red Hood and Scarlet executed criminals and made a public campaign out of their pledge to "let the punishment fit the crime". Matters were complicated further when El Penitente, a mysterious European crime lord, dispatched an assassin named Flamingo to eliminate both Dynamic Duos.

In the end, Flamingo was defeated and Red Hood arrested. However, Damian was seriously injured and paralyzed in the battle. As he was dragged away by the GCPD, Jason taunted Dick with a hard truth. Dick had access to Bruce Wayne's corpse. He had the means to bring him back to life using a Lazarus Pit. Why wasn't he doing everything he could to bring his mentor back to life?

Just prior to the events of Batman R.I.P., another enemy of Bruce Wayne was plotting his destruction [Batman: Heart of Hush – TPB]. Tommy Elliot, former childhood friend and now the villain known as Hush, sought to destroy Bruce Wayne before the Black Glove had it chance. Hush first targeted Catwoman to strike at Bruce. He then revealed that he had surgically altered his own face to resemble Bruce's. Hush's true goal was to steal his former friend's identity and reclaim a lost life of power and luxury. In the end, Catwoman herself is the one to apprehend Hush.

This Bruce Wayne doppelganger was locked away in Wayne Tower. Of the Wayne family, only Damian found Elliot's presence agreeable, finding in him an indirect way of experiencing life with his father. Elliot soon escaped his captivity and reentered Gotham's public life. While troubling, Elliot's actions had the benefit of convincing the world Bruce Wayne was still alive and well. Dick and his friends were faced with no other choice than to allow Elliot to continue his masquerade, so long as he only waged war Bruce Wayne's bank account [Batman: Streets of Gotham Vol. 1 – Hush Money – TPB].

Naturally, it wasn't long before Hush began more actively antagonizing Batman and Robin. He attempted to form an alliance with Ra's al Ghul when the Demon's Head arrived in Gotham, but Red Robin countered Hush by activating one of Bruce's failsafe plans. Elliot now faced no hope of gaining control of the Wayne empire [Batman: Streets of Gotham Vol. 2 – Leviathan - HC].

Currently in the "House of Hush" storyline, Elliot is attempting to abuse his position even further. He hopes to use his standing in Gotham to cause as much unrest and disorder as possible. Should Batman and Robin finally be forced to kill him and end his scheming, Hush will have gained true victory over his enemies.

The corpse of Bruce Wayne was briefly reanimated during the events of Blackest Night. This, along with Jason Todd's lingering words, influenced Dick to bring Bruce's body to England and attempt to truly bring Bruce back to life [Batman and Robin Vol. 2: Batman vs. Robin - HC]. Along the way, Dick teamed with the Knight and Squire, England's own Batman and Robin. Complicating the hunt for London's hidden Lazarus Pit was the growing mystery of the Domino Killer. Some mysterious assassin was targeting various rich and powerful figures throughout the world, leaving only dominoes at the scene as clues.

Dick succeeded in placing Bruce's body in the pit. However, he discovered too late that it wasn't truly Bruce's body at all. Instead, it was the corpse of one of Darkseid's failed Batman clones. Traveling back to Gotham, Dick and a revitalized Damian defeated this Bat-monstrosity. Despite the failure of his mission, Dick had a newfound source of optimism. If the corpse didn't belong to Bruce Wayne, then Bruce must be alive somewhere.

Further evidence for this theory surfaced as Dick and Damian explored the hidden recesses of the Batcave. Rearranged portraits, architectural oddities, and the discovery of the hidden Barbatos chamber all suggested that Bruce was alive and stranded somewhere in time. But before Dick could complete his explorations, Damian's mother Talia activated a mind-control chip embedded in her son's new spine. Damian unwillingly began to attack his companions. After regaining control of his body, Damian accompanied Dick on a trip to visit Talia. He made his intentions very clear – in a choice between the League of Assassins and the Batman family, Damian's loyalties lay with the latter.

The Dynamic Duo were now joined by Oberon Sexton, a costumed detective investigating the Domino Killer. Dick was none too pleased to learn Sexton's true identity – none other than Joker enjoying his latest personality shift. As Sexton, he wasn't investigating the Domino Killer; he was the Domino Killer. His victims were all members of the Black Glove.

As currently seen in the Batman and Robin story arc "Batman Must Die", the Dynamic Duo find themselves uneasily teamed with Joker. El Penitente stands revealed as Doctor Hurt. Hurt has returned to Gotham to finish the campaign of destruction he began against Bruce Wayne. Joining him are the surviving members of the Black Glove and Professor Pyg. With Hurt once again playing every angle against Batman, perhaps only the Joker's involvement in the fight offers the wild card Batman and Robin need to survive.

While Bruce Wayne's allies have been fighting and bleeding to carry on his legacy, Bruce has been undergoing his own strange journey. At the end of Final Crisis, Bruce had escaped the cycle of the Omega Sanction and found himself stranded 11,000 years in the past. With only the faintest memories of his old life, Bruce has begun a long quest to return to his own time [Batman: the Return of Bruce Wayne #1-6].

So far, Bruce has battled Vandal Savage's tribe in Paleolithic Gotham, hunted witches and battled demonic monsters in the Puritan era, escaped the custody of Blackbeard the pirate, and again battled Savage and Jonah Hex in the 19th Century. Each time, Bruce was pulled forward into the future moments after completing his current quest. Along the way, Bruce has inadvertently influenced the growth of the Wayne family line and the legend of the Batman. His discarded cowl is the same one now concealed within the depths of Wayne Manor. His actions as Batman inspired the Miagani Tribe to adopt the symbol of the bat.

It seems only a matter of time until Bruce returns to the 21st Century. However, his return also spells certain doom for mankind. Superman and the Justice League have discovered that Darkseid's attack turned Batman into a living weapon. If he makes it back to the present, a great disaster will befall humanity. Superman, Rip Hunter, and Booster Gold are desperately trying to track down Bruce in the timestream [Time Masters: Vanishing Point #1-6]. So far, their efforts at averting disaster are proving unsuccessful.

As both Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman and Robin's "Batman Must Die" arc draw to a close in October, one thing is clear. Bruce Wayne will return to his own time and reclaim the mantle of Batman. With a new costume and a new mission in mind, Batman will emerge triumphant in the DCU once again.

This new era of Batman will be explored in many different books. Batman: The Return, a one-shot due at the end of October, will lay the groundwork. In the new ongoing series Batman Inc., Bruce's mission truly begins. Dick and Damian will be left to defend Gotham as Batman and Robin. Not only will Bruce see the wisdom in having multiple Batmen active, he'll begin the process of actively recruiting and training new heroes in different countries. John Mayhew's original vision for the Club of Heroes is alive and well. In Batman, Inc. Bruce Wayne will travel to Europe, Asia, and other destinations to grow his network of allies.

Plenty of challenges will face the Dark Knight along the way. He still faces the arduous task of restoring the Wayne family name after the damage done by Doctor Hurt and Hush. Once Joker's temporary alliance with the Dynamic Duo ends, he'll likely pose a great threat to Gotham once again. Batman also faces danger from both Ra's al Ghul and his estranged daughter Talia. Though father and daughter work separately, both have goals that run counter to Batman's mission to defend the innocent and keep Gotham safe.

Facebook Fails of Iconic Fictional Characters

The 5 Army Plastic Men Least Useful In Combat

The Rules of the Game

For a toy that's been around so long, there surprisingly still seems to be no consensus on what the rules (if any) are for Plastic Army Men battles. These are the general outlines we eventually agreed on:

  • Both sides have to have an equal team. One guy can't have all the grenade throwers and machine gunners while the other just has a squad of people pointing to their left.
  • The only exception being if one side has a base. If that's the case, the person who has the base has less soldiers. This works well if there are only 5 yellows, but 15 greens.
  • The game progresses by pointing at one of your soldiers, or grabbing him, and making the appropriate sound effect. The power and effectiveness of each soldier is based entirely on how good your sound effects are.
  • When you've done the correct sound effect, you then tell the other player who got killed. This is accomplished by grabbing the other person's guy, making a sound that signals death ("uurggh") and knocking him over.
  • The other player can challenge this death if he thinks that the kill was unrealistic.

The Pros and Cons of Pros and Cons

The Pros and Cons of Pros and Cons of Pros and Cons:
  • Pro: Just enough pros.
  • Con: Not enough cons.

Avatar and Aliens - Both are the Same Movies

Avatar and Aliens are the same goddamn movie

The Oatmeal

Is Jordan Using Kobe to Protect His Legacy from LeBron?

Finally. Michael Jordan, widely considered the Greatest Of All Time, has weighed in on the Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James debate. He has chosen to do so on the heels of LeBron's "Decision". First there was his one word answer on whom was the better player between Kobe and Lebron. The answer? Kobe. Now, he has gone on record on video stating that he would have never done what LeBron did in going to Miami.
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said after playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada. The interview aired on the NBC telecast of the event. "But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
His Airness is throwing dirt on LeBron in a preemptive strike. Here's why...
First the props to Kobe, then the smear campaign on LeBron's competitive nature. After 2-3 years of the Kobe vs. LeBron debate, Michael is just now letting himself be recorded saying Kobe is better, and letting his thoughts on LeBron be made public. Why now? After never seeming to give any answers on the subject so publicly.

Jordan, also known as the "Black Cat," has pounced on a great opportunity to protect his own legacy in the wake of LeBron's choice to join a super team in Miami. Michael Jordan is a man who wanted to destroy everything in his path and make sure you knew he did it. Jordan is laying the groundwork to make sure we never view LeBron in comparison to himself.
Jordan has been at this same point in his career. He has been the LeBron to Kobe's Magic. He had zero rings to Magic's five, but all these great stats to show for it. So, he knows all too well what it can mean for LeBron to "figure" it out. From gaudy stat machine to true champion. But the "King's" path would be different. LeBron opted out of getting over the hump, like Mike did. LeBron's Cavs teams were right there, just like those Chicago teams were. Jordan and the Bulls took their lumps and overcame though. They finally beat the Pistons, then Magic's Lakers, then owned the NBA for years. Jordan's assumption of power was natural because of the long journey it took to get there. Then he did it while Magic, Larry and Isaiah were still dominating the NBA.

Not only were they still playing, but Magic, Larry and Isaiah combined to win the previous five championships. Michael took the league from them while they were still reigning. Which brings us to Kobe and LeBron. Right now, this is Kobe's league. Never mind LeBron's MVP's and pretty stats (which aren't much better than Kobe's, by the way); LeBron still has not beaten the previous generation, like Michael did. He was swept by Tim Duncan's Spurs in the 2007 Finals, and has failed to show up to the Finals as Kobe builds his second dynasty. So, Michael wants to exploit that fact and let us think about it. He beat Magic. Why can't LeBron beat Kobe?
I have always thought the best ways for Kobe to gain more favor in the VS. debate between he and LeBron was for Jordan to back Bryant publicly. There are many people who dislike Kobe due to his similarities to Jordan. They feel Kobe is trying to emulate Michael, and hold that against him. Whatever. You read in articles, blogs, and comments: He's no Jordan; He will never be Jordan; Jordan was better at this; Jordan was always the man on his team; Jordan never lost in the Finals.

It goes on. The way LeBron's career had gone until July 8th, many of those arguments could not be used against LeBron. This is what Jordan realizes. So now, he is backing Kobe, and highlighting LeBron's public relations gaffe. I do not think Michael's endorsement was truly sincere. It seems more self serving and opportunistic.
Jordan's endorsement of Kobe helps Jordan out just as much. If Jordan can paint in our minds that Kobe is definitively better than LeBron, then there is no way LeBron can ever be better than Jordan. Or at least perceived that way. That is what all this boils down to. The reason Jordan can be safe finally backing Kobe is because he knows that Kobe will never viewed as the better player than he. Never. It will not hurt Jordan to put Kobe on his pedestal. Jordan's image as a player is too clean. Too perfect in most people's eyes for Kobe to ever overcome the slights and personal disgrace he has endured in his career to overcome the shadow that is Jordan's G.O.A.T. legacy.

In reality, Kobe has put together a resume that should keep people legitimately putting Kobe and Jordan in the same breath. We can debate whether or not it's true another day, though. But LeBron? With the way his career has played out so far, he still has had a shot at the G.O.A.T. tag. He had perception working in his favor. LeBron's career path was eerily similar to two players. Jordan's and Shaquille O'Neal's. Both player's were dominant players who did not win titles until their seventh years in the NBA.

At this respective point in their careers, like Jordan, they had the great stats, accolades, and were both considered by some the best player in the NBA. Like LeBron, Shaq was a physically gifted force that could not be matched by any other player in the NBA. But Shaq never had the determination that Jordan did - that Kobe also has. Its that determination that Michael used to dominate his peers, and why Kobe is still dominating today. LeBron has now put himself in a situation that could lead to domination. Will we respect it the same, though?
Whatever path LeBron's career takes now, Jordan wants us all to know that it will never be greater than Kobe's, thus never becoming better than his own. If LeBron does finally overthrow Kobe, it will not be organically like Jordan's coup over Magic, Larry and Isaiah. If it happens, it will feel like it is supposed to happen. There is no journey that comes with the path that LeBron has chosen. So that when the time comes to pick apart the small differences in what separates the truly elite all time greats, we will all remember the choice LeBron made, and how the greats before him would in "no way" have gone out like that. Jordan will be there to remind us. If you don't think Jordan would bother himself with these kinds of thoughts, I have seven words for you: Michael Jordan Basketball Hall of Fame speech.

Wrestlers Who Achieved Awesomeness... Outside the Ring

The phrase “looks can be deceiving” certainly holds true for this unlikely group of overachievers. What follows is a unique assortment of professional wrestlers who gained notoriety not only in the field of smashing other men with chairs, but also achieved awesomeness outside the ring.

JBL/ John Bradshaw Layfield

john bradshaw layfield

In the ring:

Throughout his WWE tenure, this grappler’s personas changed considerably. He went from being a rugged cowboy to a gothic member of Undertaker’s “Ministry of Darkness”. The latter basically consisted of a group of seven foot tall emos all weighing around 300 plus pounds each. You’d likely be too busy s@#$%*ing your pants to make fun of them.

john bradshaw layfield01

After one last U-Turn in wrestling gimmick land and we arrive at “JBL” which was something a lot more close to home. JBL was a J.R. Ewing-esque businessman who often dressed in a fine suit complete with a classy cowboy hat.

john bradshaw layfield02

Outside the Ring:

John Charles Layfield’s most popular identity was cleverly based on his real-life accomplishments as a stock market investor. Layfield is a regular panelist on Fox News Channel’s “The Cost of Freedom”, has appeared on CNBC, and he has written a best-selling book on financial planning called “Have More Money Now”. Really, who doesn’t want more money now? Layfield also hosts a weekend talk radio program, in which he discusses his conservative political views. Those who disagree with his observations face the possibility of a steel chair to the face or a gorilla press slam onto a filing cabinet.

john bradshaw layfield03

Chris Nowinski

chris nowinski

In the ring:

Chris Nowinski made his television debut as one of three finalists on WWE’s popular MTV series “Tough Enough”. He began his official WWE career as Chris Harvard, wisely capitalizing on his Harvard alumni status. He performed with the federation until 2003 when his promising career was unfortunately cut short due to a concussion he sustained at a house show. After a year of post-concussion symptoms, he officially retired. The trauma however led him to his next path in life.

chris nowinski01

Outside the Ring:

Chris first made waves outside the squared circle with his book “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis”. This telling book has been credited as the birth of the sports concussion movement. It helped to bring about an awareness which had been sorely needed.

chris nowinski02

After the publication of his book he went on to gain a considerable amount of media attention, making appearances on ESPN and CNN where he spoke openly about sports related head injuries. Nowinski (now known as the “Concussion Expert”) also makes public speaking appearances at schools and medical conferences around the world. The work being done at his foundation, “the Sports Legacy Institute” was featured on “60 Minutes” in 2009.

George “The Animal” Steele


In the ring:

George Steele is known as one of the legendary 1980′s wrestlers who truly was “crazy” in the ring. His most popular stunt was tearing up the turnbuckle with his teeth and either eating the insides or using the stuffing as a weapon to be used as his opponents promptly soiled themselves.

The green tongued “Animal”, as he was known, had a stooped ape-like posture, bald head and a thick mat of fur on his back (think Robin Williams – but worse). Wrestling broadcasters often called him “The Missing Link.” His interviews basically consisted of him mumbling “Duh-da-dahh”. Still, his ramblings were a great deal more coherent than anything the Ultimate Warrior ever spewed.

Outside the Ring:

Prior to his successful wrestling career, William James Myers (his real identity, shhh) received a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. Eventually he went on to become a teacher.


Aside from that, he was also an amateur wrestling coach and a football coach. He was even a member of the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame. You may also have seen him as Swedish wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson in Tim Burton’s awesome flick, Ed Wood.


His casting was perfect because for many years Steele was often mistaken for Tor Johnson. Steele has even mentioned a story during one interview wherein a store in New York was selling the popular Tor Johnson mask as a George “the Animal” Steele mask. We are fairly certain he “conveniently” left out the part about him mauling the store owner for not cutting him in on the deal. Kidding! We kid!


El Hijo Del Santo

el hijo del santo

In the ring:

Jorge Guzmán Rodríguez, better known as “El Hijo del Santo” (“The Son of the Saint”) is a professional wrestler and Mexico’s most famous living luchador (freestyle wrestler). His long career in the sport has been filled with nothing but success. He even started his own promotion called “Todo x el Todo”. Wrestling runs in the family for the Latino superstar – his father was “El Santo”, the legendary professional wrestler, actor and Mexican folk hero.

Outside the Ring:

Aside from kicking culo, Jorge is also a noted political activist. In the summer of 2007, he gained media attention (and major props) for his campaign to save sea turtles from extinction as the spokesperson for “Wildcoast”, an environmental non-profit organization. He has also been involved on gray whale campaigns as well as Tijuana clean ups.

el hijo del santo01

Mick Foley

mick foley

In the ring:

Mick has worked for all of the major promotions over the years and is currently active in TNA. Wrestling fans know this grizzled and hardcore veteran as a man of many faces.

mick foley01

Mick is also well known within the wrestling world for his colorful personality, strong opinions and his creative way with words. He’s one of those rare people that can actually keep you from changing the channel during his interview segments.

Outside the Ring:

Foley first broke out successfully into the writing world with his 800 page autobiography, “Have a Nice Day” which topped The New York Times bestseller list for several weeks. The follow-up, “Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling”, also debuted at number one on the Times list. Not bad for someone who spent most of his life with barbed wire and staples embedded in his skull.

Foley has also written three successful children’s books proving kids just love frightening looking authors. He has also authored “Tietam Brown”, a coming-of-age story which was nominated for the WHSmith People’s Choice Award in 2004. You get the point, the man can write.

Interestingly enough Mick is not the most unusual looking person in the world of wrestling…or in writing.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura


In the Ring

Jesse Ventura was one of the most colorful personalities both as a performer and later as a broadcaster. As a wrestler, he proudly performed as a heel and often spouted the catchphrase “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!” This is a sentiment shared by many on Wall Street nowadays. Much of Jesse’s flamboyant character was directly inspired by “Superstar” Billy Graham.


In fact the two performers were so similar that even their figures are basically interchangeable.


Like many wrestlers Ventura honed his craft in smaller promotions before hitting his peak in the big two, the WWE and later in WCW. In 1984, Jesse’s in-ring career nearly came to an end due to blood clots in his lungs. The setback forced him to miss a title match against then Champion Hulk Hogan which certainly could have been a career highlight.

Surprisingly, Jesse made a comeback and thrilled crowds for a few more years before finally settling in as an announcer. His wrestling commentary style was an extension of his in ring persona, thus he was usually partial to the heels. This was notable because it gave the often one-dimensional villains a voice that they otherwise never had. Jesse served as an announcer for both the WWE and WCW. Hilariously, it was in WCW where Ventura was fired for supposedly falling asleep during a taping of “WCW Worldwide”. It was speculated that his departure probably had more to do with Hulk Hogan’s arrival to the company. Hogan was one of many Ventura had a beef with. However, we’d like to think the falling asleep story was the true reason because it’s far more amusing.

Outside the Ring

Upon his departure from the world of madcap hi-jinks and backstabbing, Ventura entered the political arena (a world of madcap hi-jinks and backstabbing – where everyone wears suits and ties). In 1998, he famously ran for governor of Minnesota. Ventura maintained his tough-guy wrestling persona and launched himself into the national spotlight as a unique political figure and pop culture icon.


Like many politicians, his stretch was far from perfect. During his controversial run as governor Jesse made many enemies and stirred controversy on a number of occasions. As far as accomplishments go, he was the driving force behind the overhaul of the property tax system. Ventura’s push for a simpler system was body-slammed through Legislature. His reforms shifted the cost of education to the state and reduced business and apartment property tax rates. Ventura also persuaded (re: piledrived) the Legislature to cut car license tab fees and gave rebates to billions of taxpayers in what were referred to as “Jesse checks”.


Also, 900 million in Endowments set up by Ventura were used for smoking prevention, medical education and research. The money came from the state’s tobacco settlement. Jesse is also well known for writing several books and his continued passion for broadcasting. Alas, let’s not forget his memorable role as a non-bleedin’ solder (along side future California governor Schwarzenegger) in Predator.


Kurt Angle


In the Ring

“Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence”, these are the three I’s Kurt has often mentioned as his motto. Although we’re sure if we think hard enough, we can come up with some filthy acronyms to use instead. Kurt (sort of) began his professional career in ECW as a guest commentator. We say “sort of” because he was so offended by a controversial gimmick involving the mock crucifixion of a wrestler named Sandman that he immediately hit the road. Ironically, he joined the WWE where storylines were often just as outrageous and crude. In fact, by 2004 the Undertaker was regularly “sacrificing” people by tying them to his “T” symbol, in “non-violent crucifixions”.


Backed up by his tremendous in-ring ability, Kurt played up the persona of a smug, moralizing character who constantly referenced his Olympic achievements – which we’ll get to shortly. In his first year alone, Angle won numerous WWE titles as well as the King of the Ring tournament. By 2000 he snagged the Heavyweight Championship from The Rock. Kurt wrestled at the top of the WWE’s roster for the next several years, until he was sidelined by serious neck injuries. Eventually, he ended up at TNA where his success has continued as of this writing.

Outside the Ring

Prior to his sports entertainment career, Kurt won the Olympic Gold Medal for wrestling. Okay, so about now you may be thinking such an achievement, while significant, may be too closely related to professional wrestling to apply. We disagree in this instance, mainly because amateur wrestling and professional wrestling as we know it are two very different animals. One involves pure, genuine mat wrestling and the other involves midgets, laser light shows, William Shatner, barbed wire, pantsings, soap opera antics, blabbing on a mic for 20-30 minutes and spankings…


We’re also giving Angle a bit of a pass based on the fact that he went through quite an ordeal on his road to the gold medal. For example, in 1995 Angle began preparing for the Olympics (between eight and ten hours a day) under the famous Olympic athlete Dave Schultz. Shockingly, in January of 1996, Schultz was murdered by John DuPont: the sponsor of Schultz’s team of Olympic prospects. Angle promptly quit Eleuthère’s team, was forced to find new sponsors, and joined the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club in Schultz’s memory.

However, that was far from the end of Kurt’s issues. During the Olympic Trials he fractured two of his cervical vertebrae, herniated two discs, pulled four muscles…and broke a nail. Surprisingly, he won the trials anyway and spent the next five months rehabilitating. By the time of the Olympics, he was able to compete with the aid of numerous pain-reducing injections to his neck. He won a gold medal in the heavyweight weight class despite his severe injury and setbacks.

As you can see, Angle earned his pass.

Diamond Dallas Page


In the Ring

Better known as DDP, this veteran’s storied career has spanned two decades. He began with WCW as a manager before finding his true calling as a wrestler in 1991. Page went on to hold the WCW Heavyweight title three times and eventually was dubbed “The People’s Champion” long before The Rock used the namesake. He also enjoyed success in the WWE by winning championships and gaining a new fan base, although his stay there was brief.

As an interesting side note, during his wrestling career DDP created (and copyrighted) the “Diamond Cutter” hand gesture. Basically it was made by joining the thumbs and index fingers on each hand to form a diamond shape. In 2005, (after his wrestling career had ended) DDP filed a lawsuit against hip-hop icon Jay-Z, whom he claimed illegally adopted his hand gesture. Page accused Jay of copyright infringement and sought “prohibitive monetary damages”.


The suit was settled in 2007 after the court signed off on an agreement reached between the two parties. The settlement included a monetary fee that was paid by Jay to Page. In exchange for the fee, Page agreed to drop all claims in regards to the infringement suit…and stop being a douche about the whole thing. Regardless of his win, the entire internet collectively handed DDP his head for that fiasco.

Outside the Ring

When not suing rappers, DDP has managed to keep himself very busy as an actor, an author and most notably as a successful yoga / fitness guru.


In 2006, DDP’s program was credited as saving the life of Lee Marshall, a radio DJ and the famous voice of Tony the Tiger. Lee went from being a dynamo capable of bench-pressing 500 pounds to a nearly crippled, 70-pound-overweight heart attack waiting to happen… that was until DDP stepped in. DDP, who had also suffered severe injuries and physical hardships throughout his wrestling career, could relate to Lee. Lee underwent DDP’s exercise therapy program and it worked like a charm.

YRG (aka Yoga for Regular Guys) is a workout routine which is a “hybrid of traditional yoga, calisthenics, isometrics, isokinetincs and breathing methods. Rather than work body parts separately, YRG engages the entire body and mind simultaneously, providing a dynamically effective workout in a third-less time.” You can read all about it on his website. That is unless you are too busy chomping down on a double bacon burger with extra cheese.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson


In the Ring

The Rock’s in-ring status is the stuff of legend. He is clearly one of the most popular and recognizable WWE superstars of all time. He’s right up there with Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Bushwacker Luke. For years, The Rock rocked WWE fans, won numerous titles and pretty much accomplished everything a person could hope to achieve in professional wrestling. Just watch this vid and witness the incredible aura and presence he had… and this was arguably not even his prime.

As we mentioned earlier, he also made use of the “People’s Champ” moniker and took it to whole new level. For some reason DDP never saw fit to sue The Rock. Perhaps DDP failed to copyright the catchphrase on time.


Outside the Ring

The mega success of The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson’s wrestling persona paved the way for his cross over into pop icon / mainstream celeb status. Dwayne (as he is now regularly called) has appeared in numerous TV and film roles. He has also made a variety of guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, reviving his classic character "The Rock Obama".

Although Dwayne has arguably had more ups than downs in Hollywood, we do have to warn him… one more film like this and he’s off the list.


Antonio Inoki


In the Ring

Antonio is one of the most famous and popular wrestlers in the history of Japanese professional wrestling. We’re can’t even begin to describe the awesomeness of his jaw alone. He began his historic career in 1966 in Tokyo Pro Wrestling. By 1972, he founded his own promotion called New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He spent his career doing everything in his power to prove that wrestling is a sport worthy of respect. Known as a remarkable grappler in his own right, he had many prominent matches. His most famous bout was a wrestler vs. boxer match in which he battled the legend Muhammad Ali. The odd pairing helped pave the way for Mixed Martial Arts, which has since grown in popularity. UFC fans best recognize!


WWE welcomed Antonio Inoki into their Hall of Fame Class of 2010. Surprisingly, they didn’t dress him up as a giant turkey, make him dance with Snoop Dogg or get splashed by Hornswoggle as WWE Divas dressed in Baywatch outfits jiggled around in the background.


Outside the Ring

In 1989, Inoki established the Sports and Peace Party in Japan. He was also elected to the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan. During his time in office, Inoki represented his nation in meetings with Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein, whom he met with for the release of prisoners from Iraq prior to the Gulf War. Saddam respectfully presented the wrestler with a pair of golden swords.

Speaking of respect, during one visit to a school in the 1980s, Inoki was punched twice by a student during a demonstration. Inoki followed up the punches with a strong slap to the student’s face. You know you want to see this…

As it turned out the student, was a big Inoki fan, and couldn’t have been happier for the slap. The outrageous incident became very famous in Japan. Since then, many grapplers have respectfully requested that Inoki slap them to install courage in them. The slap has come to be known as the “Fighting Spirit (or Tōkon) Slap.”

Inoki is always happy to oblige.