Classic Induction: Das Wunderberlyn – Never Replace a Crappy Gimmick with a Crappier Gimmick

22 Submitted by on Sun, 26 May 2013, 17:05

WCW, For A Whole Bunch of Years

You know the only thing worse than having a horrible gimmick? Getting rid of that horrible gimmick, then being stuck with something just as bad.

It’s funny, because when I originally typed that sentence above, I wrote “with something even worse.” Yet when I think about the focal point of today’s induction, I must concede: as horrible as Alex Wright’s second gimmick was, it was, ever so minutely, better than his first.

Before we get into the horrors handed down to this poor sap from the WCW braintrust, a bit of backstory. Alex Wright was a German import, hitting WCW about 1994, looking to become a huge star like his father, Steve Wright. (That’s Steve Wright, not STEVEN Wright, though I can just imagine what a fine wrestler his son might have been.) And as he was a pretty good high flyer as well as being like 6′ 6″ and pretty well put together, it seemed as though superstardom was inevitable. Throw in the fact that he was cute as the dickens, and it seemed like Wright was a true “can’t miss” prospect.

And yet, like so many others who had the potential for greatness, he instead crashed & burned, not once, but twice.

So what went wrong? Let’s start with his late 90′s character and work our way backwards.

Instead of showcasing Wright’s better than average in-ring ability, the braintrust at WCW decided he should become Berlyn, Rivethead heel.

His teen idol good looks? Gone. In their place, a mohawk, sunglasses, and unquestionably the wimpiest goatee known to man.

While we can safely state this transformation was pretty much a disaster, we do so with a disclaimer: his little metal finger covers? Those things rocked.

Seriously, if they started selling those things at the Gap, I would so be there.

Achtung!

Ich habe meine scheussele verlosen!

What’s that? You don’t know German? Well, then you had no prayer of understanding what Berlyn was ranting about in his promos, as that was the ONLY language he would speak. See, because he was too good to talk in Yankee blabber.

For the record, though, we somehow doubt he was telling a nationwide audience that he had lost his keys (as we did above).

Berlyn would soon have a whole posse of fellow evil goosesteppers, including translator Ute Ludendorf and the Wall.

Hey, does anyone remember that time in WCW when Hulk Hogan was feuding with the Wall? And he was on the roof of a building about 3 miles away and Hogan somehow saw him and was screaming, “It’s the Wall, brother! It’s the Wall!”

Man I miss WCW sometimes.

But Alex wasn’t always an American hatin’ Neo Nazi. No, back in the day, he was “Das Wunderkind”.

Say that aloud, would you? “Das Wunderkind!”

Let me tell ya, if I were given that gimmick, I’d probably have wound up hating America too.

Because Alex Wright wasn’t just Das Wunderkind.

Alex Wright was the German Dancing Machine!

HIT THE MUSIC!!!

And what a dance it was. Seriously, take a look at that routine to your right. Now imagine that you would hear that music and see a guy dancing like that…and now imagine that he was supposed to be a BABYFACE!

Seriously, no joke! Heck, they even had videos of little kids swinging their arms and kicking their legs, no doubt believing themselves to be the second coming of Das Wunderkind.

I remember this one little potbelly, who was flailing about, looking so happy. No joke, as he huffed and puffed out Das Wunderdance, he had this look on his face like, “I am so going to get a girlfriend by doing this.”

Trust me, kid. That wouldn’t happen.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t try.

And it wasn’t that Dr. Keith didn’t try.
And it wasn’t that Sean Carless didn’t try.

And it wasn’t that Figure Four Weekly‘s Vince Verhei didn’t try.

(And I bet Bryan wishes – WISHES – he could cut such a rug. Dream on, pally!)

We all tried. We all thought that by doing Das Wunderkind dance, we were so gonna get some.

We all failed. No girls.

Just many, many odd looks.

But there was one man that claims to have used this dance routine to obtain that ultimate goal. He further goes on to state that all of us failed due to the fact that we didn’t go, and I quote, “Balls out.”

Apparently this means actually wearing the leather jacket, no shirt, and with nut hugger shorts, the latter being done “to show off that Alex Wright-sized package”, he claims.

And while I doubt seriously he did, he looks like such a fool, I can’t help but give him the stage to demonstrate.

But before I do, a word of warning: you may want to shield your eyes for this one.

Yes, ladies and germs, that’s your friend and mine, Mr. Blade Braxton.

And if a hobo like that can ride Das Wunderdance to Poontangland, maybe we should all give it one more go.

*Looks at those shorts again*

Nah, probably better not.

*Shudders*

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22 Responses to "Classic Induction: Das Wunderberlyn – Never Replace a Crappy Gimmick with a Crappier Gimmick"
  1. Jed Shaffer says:

    I think I’m the only person who LIKES the Berlyn gimmick.

    • Donald R. Maust says:

      You’re not the only one, it’s just that it fell victim to the “Vince Russo Short Attention Span Theater” booking. Berlyn worked, because unlike most foreign heels he wasn’t an enemy from an enemy state: He was just a dick. If WCW would have been booked right, he could have been the next Raven.

  2. Sir Thomas says:

    I actually liked Berlin. Then again, I liked the German language, and Oh Fortuna, and he had both. I’m pretty sure that was Oh Fortuna he came out to as Berlin. Or at least a knockoff that kinda sounded like it. I can’t remember anymore.

  3. RD Reynolds says:

    I think you are too, Jed.

  4. E-Squared says:

    I am sure I am not one of the very few who remembers this, but prior to Alex Wright’s character change, we started getting some signs of Berlyn before the gimmick change. In late 1998, he started talking bad about Americans and how they only know one language and that they should go to Germany to, and I quote, “get a good education.” Kayfabe-wise, he had issue with other European wrestlers in WCW like Finlay, British Bulldog and Norman Smiley. I think those were signs that he was going to change his gimmick.

    Also, I remember one night on Nitro, Wright was seen in his Berlyn getup in the front row and Tony Schivaone mentioning that it could have been Alex Wright, which I think blew the whole thing in which the audience at home were probably supposed to wonder who that guy was. I think the gimmick debut was supposed to debut around that time but then Columbine happened and the gimmick didn’t debut until Fall Brawl of 1999.

  5. STAYMATIC says:

    I loved the dancing Alex Wright!! I remember the match him and Disco had with Tokyo Magnum and CIMA (!!) where Tokyo was stealing their routine. It was great, not main event level and all but it was pretty damn funny.

  6. Jerichoholic Ninja says:

    Wait a second here. Isn’t that Triple H in that image being dropkicked by Wright? I think I know what he’s thinking: “I can’t wait to join a clique so that this never happens again.”

  7. TMS says:

    One of the few things I remember about Alex Wright’s first go round in WCW as “Das Wunderkind” was Bobby Heenan constantly calling him “Das Wunderpunk”.

  8. Down With OPC says:

    THE STORM IS COMING! RETURN TO YOUR HOMES!

  9. Tenchi says:

    Surely “Wunderdance” should read “Wundertanz”?

  10. Stephen says:

    I think a current wrestler should bring back the Das Wunderkind dance. Let’s see a 2013 revival!

  11. Ingobert says:

    Being German, I liked Alex no matter the gimmick, just because I had the chance to root for one of my fellow countrymen. More often than not, he was the sole reason I watched WCW back then, because I was like ten years old and the cartoonish WWF did appeal more to me. But rest assured, I never was a fan of “The Dumpster”. :)

    By the way, I know you don’t have these fancy “Umlaute” accross the big pond, so I forgive you for the slightly incorrect speeling of “Ich habe meine Schlüssel verloren”. Also, I agree that that might not have been what he said. Maybe he instead lost his underwear? (“Ich habe meinen Schlüpfer verloren”)

  12. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Personally I think Michael Cole had a MUCH wimpier goatee…

  13. The Scanian Maniac says:

    The WCW in 1994 had ambitious plans to expand to Europe and hired a number of European wrestlers for this purpose, like Asbjørn Riis from Denmark (perhaps best known for his movie role in “The 13th Warrior” with Antonio Banderas) and Olympic gold medalist Frank Andersson from Sweden.
    They were just as crappy as Alex Wright.

  14. 80's Guy says:

    I, also, liked the Berlyn gimmick. I thought it was much cooler than the dancing fool one.

    Wish they would have done more with it.

  15. Matninficent Matt says:

    Alex Wright was always fun to watch and I liked the Berlyn character as well. It’s just a shame that there was a combination of Hacksaw Jim Duggans Fall Brawl 1999 no selling and Vince Russos booking posistion (which seen things like Brad Armstrong go over Berlyn in the stupiest way imaginable) that ultimately killed the character.
    It was a great character and Alex Wright stated that it was a great gimmick but used poorly and at the wrong time (debuted on screen in the audience the night before the Columbine shooting)

  16. stopdancinginwrestlingplease says:

    Worst part is that WWE is trying to do some kind of wunderdance with Emma in NXT, and after one match, it’s already old and dead to me.

  17. CP says:

    Is it just me or is Blade doing the dance with a raging boner?

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