In the early days of the site, it was a challenge to find any footage of wrestlers who only showed up a few times. There was no YouTube, there was no WWE Network, no Daily Motion, whatever. It was me, some tape traders (like the amazing Bill Brown), and whatever I could find at video stores within a 100 mile radius. So when I first brought the Ding Dongs to this here site, I believe I had one match at my disposal. Now I have exponentially more.
And by exponentially, I mean four.
That may not sound like much, but this is the legendary tag team of the DING DONGS we’re talking about. For those of you young ‘uns, in the late 1980’s WCW was trying to figure out its best path to battle the WWF (now WWE). At the time, the man running things for the company was Jim Herd, a name that would cause many who were around then to grind their teeth and roll their eyes. Herd was reportedly not well liked by many in the company, as he had some…unique…ideas as to how to bolster WCW’s popularity. For instance, he felt that Ric Flair, fresh off a series of bouts with Ricky Steamboat with which you may be familiar, should cut off all his hair, drop the Nature Boy persona, and rechristen himself as Spartacus, a roman gladiator.
Yep, you said it kid.
Another of Herd’s ideas was to appeal to kids, which were in fact a huge part of his competition’s audience. One of the WWF’s top tag teams at the time were a goofball duo known as The Bushwackers, and while I have absolutely zero evidence to back up the following claim, my gut tells me that Herd saw them and decided he could out zany Vince McMahon’s zany.
As if anyone could do such a thing.
Still, the wheels started turning and he came up with the Hunchbacks, a tag team that would physically resemble Quasimodo and thus be unable to be pinned as you couldn’t hold both of their shoulders down at the same time.
Laugh if you want, but obviously Daniel Bryan was a big fan of the idea.
With the Hunchback idea shot down, Herd went back to the drawing board and came up with the fine men we are here to talk about today. Hailing from Belleville, USA (unfortunately we never found out what state it was for those of you wanting to make vacation plans), the pair debuted at Clash of the Champions VII, running to the ring like goofballs and slapping hands all the way. I should note that their theme music started with a doorbell, and then led into the most amazing carnival music you ever did hear. Trust me, if The Menagerie had come out to this, TNA would still be in business today.
What do you mean they’re still alive? I’ll never be able to write that book at this point!
Back to the Ding Dong theme, I should also note it’s worth giving the extended mix of it on YouTube a listen. While it’s missing the opening clang (for shame!), it goes for a whopping 2:47 and somehow transitions midway through into every 80’s TV theme song you’ve ever heard. My fortune for the opportunity to hear Arnold Drummons asking, “What you talkin’ bout, Dong?”
These mysterious masked men came to the ring wearing neon orange outfits with white bell graphics. If ever a costume needed the Bedazzler treatment, it would be this one. #missedopportunity
Don’t get too upset, though – check out their hands in the photo above. At first glance, you may think those are spiked leather wrist bands. You know, like the Road Warriors would often wear.
I know I am here to mock the Ding Dongs, but seriously, what on earth is up with Hawk’s face paint in this photo? Was he trying to get a Skittles’ sponsorship? Anyway, it wasn’t spikes, but rather bells on the Ding Dongs’ wrists. Why they didn’t go for the matching choker like Animal above we will never know.
Also, where did they go to ask for such a contraption? I know there are a lot of weird fetish shops in this world, but leather gauntlets with bells seems rather extreme.
In their debut, the men in orange battled the tandem of Cougar Jay and George South. A very snide Jim Ross noted that he was going to call them Ding and Dong, with every syllable of his commentary having a bit more disgust than the last.
As Dong was battling his foe on the mat, Ding was on the apron living up to his name, literally ringing a bell to help cheer his man on to victory. You’d think the constant clanging of a bell for two minutes straight would drive a crowd into a fever pitch, but the no good hillbillies in North Carolina had the temerity to begin booing our heroes out of the arena.
Hey Fort Bragg, you want to know why you never got another Clash of Champions following this? Giving such a harsh welcome to these great men and their bell, which was only there to bring you joy, would be the answer.
Whether they had the fans behind them or not didn’t matter, nor did the fact their bells were falling off and littering the ring with tiny bits of shrapnel. Dong was able to come off the top rope with a splash and pick up the victory. So screw you Fort Bragg, and eat it Jim Ross!
The Ding Dongs were here to stay!
Next up for our boys was a battle with Fred Avery and The Enforcer. Unfortunately, in this instance it was not Arn Anderson. Prior to locking up with their foes, Ding decided to do the old Polaroid gimmick that you still see at indy wrestling shows to this very day.
The difference here was that they took a photo with the referee instead of a fan. If they would have asked him for the customary twenty bucks, this would have been the greatest spot of all time. Don’t be surprised if you see the Young Bucks stealing that gimmick with Red Shoes on the next New Japan show.
I should also note the commentary duo for this match, which I had absolutely zero memory of: Lance Freakin’ Russell and Paul Freakin’ Heyman! How did this ever happen? More importantly, how did this not happen more often? You could tell they were having a great time calling this one, specifically as Lance noted the slimmer of the two was Ding, which allowed Paul to note we were looking at a Big Dong.
The Ding Dongs of this night had very obviously amped up their routine, and something funny happened: the fans actually started…cheering?
It wasn’t like Hulk Hogan showed up or anything, but there were some noticeable cheers for the guys. Which just proves RD’s age old adage: if you are saddled with a stupid gimmick, go the full monte and make it as idiotic as you possibly can!
And sure enough, as they headed into battle with the New Zealand Militia, they bounced around the ring and waved to the crowd like the two biggest…well…Ding Dongs you could possibly imagine. Tommy Young may not have looked amused (it kinda looked like he was throwing up over his shoulder), but others were.
Don’t believe me? Let’s ask some random kids in the crowd!
The following is actual dialogue on this nationally syndicated television program:
Kid one: “Them Ding Dongs is real funny!”
Kid two: “Which one’s Ding and which one’s Dong?”
But again, here was Jim Ross being a total sour puss, noting how these men were a controversial team, as well as claiming a lot of “traditionalists” didn’t care for them. He then bemoaned the fact he went to college (and the UWF!!!) and now had to call a match with the Ding Dongs.
Up yours, JR!
Didn’t you hear the kids? They’s real funny!
Sadly, Ding took a pinfall loss via a canteen to the back of his head, which is the first time I’d ever seen such a finish. It was also the last time, so I guess it wasn’t very good.
Still, I am sure there were better days ahead for our clanging clan.
Or maybe not!
The Skyscrapers were to be the NWA’s tag team of the 1990s, consisting of Dan Spivey and a man who was essentially making his national debut, Sid Vicious. The pair looked awesome on the way to the ring, and absolutely devastating inside it, being booked like movie monsters, destroying everything in their path.
Could the Ding Dongs be the team to turn the tide?
Yet another reason for this induction to be updated: where else would you learn that WCW actually spent money to make at least two different versions of the Ding Dong outfits?
A pair of power bombs by Spivey spelled the end of the match for Ding, then Sid jumped in after the victory and absolutely waylaid Dong with a clothesline for good measure. It was a total annihilation, a squash match by which tag team squash matches should be forever judged.
Not content with this destruction, the Skyscrapers proceeded to rip the masks of our heroes as they hid their heads in shame on the mat. The reign of glory on which our bell ringing friends had been so kind to bring us was sadly over.
As if all that weren’t humiliating enough, the Skyscrapers’ manager, Teddy Long, decided to hand the masks over to his other protege…
…Norman the Lunatic.
Wait, you don’t remember Norman? Are you unfamiliar with the saga of the giant key?
Sorry, kids – that’s a double dip for another day.