There’s an old saying that lightning doesn’t strike twice. In wrestling, that seems to be true more often than not. However, that doesn’t keep promoters from trying out similar gimmicks on multiple workers in hopes of recapturing past glories.
Take the Honky Tonk Man, for example. Right here and now, I will tell you that an Elvis impersonating wrestler should have never worked in the first place. But by turning heel and thanking the irate audience after each of his performances, Wayne Ferris made the gimmick work. So much so that he was one of the greatest bad guys of the 1980’s.
Vince McMahon thought he could rekindle Honkymania by having Ferris pass the torch to a younger grappler in search of an identity. (Apparently, he didn’t learn from an earlier experiment trying the same thing.)
Honky started showing up on WWF TV promising to unveil his new protege at the upcoming Revenge of the Taker PPV. He promised he would shock the world. He promised that his announcement would change the landscape of wrestling and there was nothing Vince McMahon could do about it.
Oops, wrong promotion, wrong time.
Anyway, the WWF usually sucks at surprises too, and this was no exception. Honky Tonk even seemed to recognize that this was going to bomb, as is evidenced by the unusual amount of nervousness when he introduced his new protege, the artist formerly known as Billy Gunn, henceforth known as Rockabilly.
Out pranced Billy Gunn, now bedecked in a really cheap black denim jack with rhinestones spelling out his new name. It looked for all the world like an outfit some indy wrestler’s mom might make for him. He also had some cheesy music, which I suppose lends credence to the fact that this wasn’t something the WWF threw together at the last minute.
He danced about with all the flexibility of Yokozuna after an all night bender at the Old Country Buffet. He really did make one yearn for HTM’s original “Double Hitchike” move.
After a short while, Vince realized that he had failed once again to figure out what to do with Billy Gunn. Things turned around for Gunn, though. A few months later, Vince teamed him up with Rockabilly’s first opponent – The Real Double J, Jesse Jammes.
The two formed a tag team you might have heard of by the name of the New Age Outlaws.