Did You Know Bane Was Once a Luchador?

Probably goes without saying that I’m a HUGE Batman fan. After all, I just did an over two year (!!!) podcast run with none other than Vince Russo as we dissected every single show from the 1966 run of the Batman television show. But while a lot of folks only like the Batman they grew up with, I’ve found I find a lot of enjoyment in the Batman of pretty much any time frame.

I really became a fan in the mid 80’s – the first Batman comic I ever bought would be one where we learned that Bruce and Dick were heading back to Wayne Manor. I’d read a few comics herre and there, but this one was the one that really got me hooked. I loved the art style – I have the cover blown up to like 24″ x 36″ on the wall in my own personal Batcave. I loved the stories, I loved everything about it. Still to this day I read the comics pretty much daily thanks to the magic of DC Universe. I promise you I’ve logged more time on that app that anything else on my iPad. Probably not even close.

Reading this far you may be asking, “RD, this is WRESTLECrap. We want crazy wrestling stories, not your Bat memories!” Don’t worry kids, we’re getting there. And we’re getting there thanks to one of the biggest Bat villains ever – Bane. Unlike such stalwarts as Riddler, Penguin, Joker, and Catwoman, Bane is a ‘newer’ member of the rogue gallery, coming onto the scene in the early 1990s. He was the key player in the legendary Knightfall series that started by a mysterious someone breaking all the inmates out of Arkham Asylum and sending them essentially in rapid fire manner to battle Batman.

That man of course would be Bane. His goal? Wear the Dark Knight down so he’d be easy pickings. And he did so while sitting in his easy chair and drinking coffee. Look at how relaxed he is, watching the telly and contemplating his next move. Even sipping on a cup of tea it seems!

Soon enough, Bane would jack himself up with a super serum called venom, which made him even more gigantic than he already was. In wrestling terminology, you might say he was roiding up. But unlike other muscleheads, Bane was far more cerebral. He had a plan and that plan was to send others to do his dirty work before landing the final blow himself.

Which he did by breaking Batman’s back in an incredible manner. That image there is still one of the most famous in all of Batman lore. Unlike others that may have slowed Batman down or beat him for a comic or two, Bane literally BROKE the Bat. And just like that, he became a mega star for DC Comics. So much so that he would soon be featured in his first film!

To be played by a wrestler no less (see, this is wrestling related)! Yes kids, in the horrible Batman & Robin, Bane made his big screen debut being portrayed by none other than Jeep Swenson!

Ah Jeep Swenson…anyone remember him? Card carrying member of the Alliance to End Hulkamania? Have I ever inducted THAT? If not, why not? It was horrible. Not as horrible as this movie, but still. Anyway, people lambast Batman & Robin and rightly so for a myriad reasons, but in my mind, none may top the fact that they utterly ruined Bane. Neutered him beyond belief. I mean, in the comica Bane was this incredible villain who was not only a massive physical threat, but a mental one as well. Here he’s a sack of meat that can’t even string a sentence together.

I mean for crying out flavin, he wound up as Poison Ivy’s chauffeur. By golly, that’s almost bad enough to make the poor guy want to run to Mexico and spend his remaining days working lucha libre shows. And that my friends is exactly what he did!

In the comics, that is. Entitled “Batman: One Bad Day”, we witness Bane having lost the ability to obtain venom, as Batman and his pals have destroyed every last remnant of the drug. Deciding to lead a simpler life, the mastodon heads south of the border, now taking on all comers in the squared circle as an honest to goodness LUCHADOR!

Now you might be asking, “Who on earth would be a worthy foe for Bane?” Waitaminute, if that guy’s from Gotham, could it possibly be…

Well, yeah. Kinda sorta. Still, were you expecting someone else? Mad props to The Bat for doing his research and coming up with a canonically accurate catchphrase. I will also say I wish we got to witness the rest of this card – look at those banners hanging from the rafters! This looks like a DCxTripleMania for the ages!

And here’s the man of the hour, the heavyweight champion of this here particular world, your friend and mine, Bane! No idea what is happening to his skin there. Maybe he and Killer Croc should work together robbing dermatology clinics to improve their skin care. Wait, wasn’t that the plot of that horrible Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry? I should probably just leave well enough alone.

Despite admittedly being gassed and old throughout the match, Bane has enough left in him to bust out his trusty finisher, the back breaker. Or is that the Batbreaker? Yeah, gotta be the latter.

Despite being a villain elsewhere in the world, here Bane is beloved. It’s nice that he’s found his little slice of heaven inside a lucha wrestling ring. Bane! Bane! Bane!

Backstage after the match, we find out that the Bat is actually a big fan and was honored to do the job for the big guy. So apparently this wasn’t a shoot. It was, in fact, the pro wrestling we all know and love.

As for Bane? Well, he is as you might expect rather morose. No longer a top level super villain, Bane is now simply living out his remaining days in his gloomy home with his greatest achievement immortalized in a newspaper on his mantle as a constant reminder of what was. Truly, life was better back then.

Suddenly, a young goon invades Bane’s home and explains he has discovered that venom is being manufactured once again at a secret location. And he’s more than willing to let Bane have some…for an exorbitant price of course. Still, even for a ridiculous amount of money, one would expect Bane to relish the opportunity to return to the life he once knew, right?

NO SIRREE. Instead he throws the vial into the fire and demands that the punk take him to the location so that not only will Bane himself never have it, but no one else will either.

This leads him to Gotham and a run-in with the real Batman once more. Instead of another fight, Bane instead requests a truce, wherein they will work together to destroy the venom manufacturing facility and anyone else who may stand in their way.

Batman reluctantly agrees, and the two battle other venom-fueled villains, such as the one above Grudge. I know, I know, you comic book geeks might be thinking “that looks kinda like Marvel’s Abomination from that one Hulk movie, doesn’t it?”

Regardless, it all leads to a showdown in which Batman sacrifices himself for Bane so that together, they can bring the madness of venom to an end. One giant kablooey later, Batman is dead and Bane lives on.

Really, see – the kid right there says Batman is dead!

At this point, Bane battles on his own, including tearing a guy’s face in half. That’s not hyperbole – he literally ripped out the man’s jaw! LOOK AT HIM TONY – HE’S A NO JAWED GEEK!

One more baddie to beat, and Bane is successful and venom is no more.

It’s all burned to the ground, with the end boss lying in flames. As for Bane, he winds up in a hospital bed when who should emerge from the shadows but…

…well, yes, of course. He notes that once more, Bane beat him. But this time, it was doing something good in destroying what had helped to make himself so powerful in the first place.

Bane breaks down to Batman, noting that since his greatest triumph, everything in his life has paled in comparison. Batman gives him some sage wisdom, noting that maybe they shouldn’t keep fighting. And maybe, just maybe, Bane should leave the past in the past and concentrate on a new future.

Which he does by symbolically throwing the newspaper of what he thought was the best moment of his life in the fire.

I know this is WrestleCrap, but I have to say – this was not crap at all. It was a really fun read and I urge y’all to check it out because I’ve literally just scratched the surface here. DC Universe is a blast, well worth the price for what you get. And in case you’ve not figured it out yet, the guys behind this comic are big wrestling fans. If you want to know why they thought this would be an interesting idea for a Bane one off, I leave you with this interview snippet with Joshua Williams (courtesy of CBR.com):

“Last year I was watching Wrestlemania, and at the start of the show, Triple H came out to the ring to set his boots down. Triple H is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. It was an emotional moment as he had some intense health issues the year before and was forced to retire. He never got to have his last match, but it was for the best. For his family, the sacrifice was worth it. Watching him leave his boots in the ring made me think about what we consider to be our “life’s greatest moments” and our ideas on legacy. Then it hit me. “The LAST Vengeance of Bane.” This wouldn’t be “Year One” — this would be “Dark Knight Returns.”

It became a story about someone trying to recapture the greatest moment of their life and how it was impossible to do. Then I had the story, and it all came together in my head pretty quickly after that. Then I had to find the balance between the future storyline and the present-day one. How to make it so the issue had pieces that we could then continue into present-day stories if we wanted. Bane’s original look was partially based on lucha libre, so it made sense to me to bring him into that world. Also, Bane and his crew were based on Doc Savage. In some ways, he’s an evil version of Doc Savage. I wanted to get back to the root of all those pieces, and doing an “Old Man Bane” story seemed like the best place to do that.”

As long as I never see this again, you can do whatever you want, bub!

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