Throughout the nineties, Manuel and Victor Santiago traveled the world as the Headhunters, touring the US, Mexico, and Japan as a duo of physical oddities. Standing under six feet tall but each weighing in the mid-300 pound range, the pair made a name for themselves by physically squashing opponents with moonsaults. Truth be told, probably only one of them could do a moonsault, but they were identical, so no one ever caught on.
The twins got their big break in 1996 when they appeared in the WWF’s Royal Rumble. Normally, a crowded battle royal is the worst kind of match to show off one’s aerial arsenal, and this one proved no exception.
The ’96 Rumble was hardly a star-studded affair; fans had already witnessed entries by Takao Omori, Doug Gilbert, and a 54-year-old Dory Funk, Jr. But even if fans had seen every Dok Hendrix Slam Jam leading up to the event, they’d still have no idea who entrant #15 was when he walked through the curtain. And the announcers weren’t much help.
“It’s one of the Squat Team members“, Vince McMahon told the fans at home. As viewers struggled to wrap their heads around what a “squat team” might consist of, Squat Team member #1 started ineffectually punching Yokozuna…
…before getting interrupted by Bob “Spark Plug” Holly. The two then disappeared into a corner for about thirty seconds before Mr. Squat set his sights on Vader.
This proved to be a mistake, as Vader clubbed his compact opponent and chucked him over the ropes. Total time in the Rumble: one minute, eleven seconds.
But Squat Teamer #1 wasn’t quite done! As the more astute viewers had anticipated with dread as soon as Vince introduced him as “one of the Squat Team members”, there was indeed a second Squat Team member on the way. In fact, he was up next!
The identical twins marched to the ring together, and since the referees couldn’t tell them apart, they had to let both men into the match. Actually, there was a way to tell them apart: Squatter #2 was the one wearing the less-revealing singlet and who, more tellingly, wasn’t completely winded from the previous seventy-one seconds of in-ring action.
The twins struggled to get into the ring, but once inside, they were sure to wreak havoc on the Rumble like no one else before. Never had identical twins gamed the system like this; they could go on eliminating wrestler after wrestler, with either twin re-entering repeatedly until, at last, someone managed to eliminate both twins at the same time and settle the issue once and for all.
Instead, Vader and Yokozuna eliminated both Squat Teamers in less than 30 seconds.
Though they had failed to make any eliminations, the newcomers did manage to make Vader and Yoko look like veritable kings of cardio.
The Squat Team were never mentioned before or after this match, but their two minutes or so in the limelight left the indelible impression on WWF fans that these guys were really short and fat.
Though WWF viewers would hear the name “Squat Team” again, they would have a chance to see the duo again the following year.
In 1997, following Shawn Michaels’s third forfeiture of the tag team titles, the WWF held a tag team tournament. In the semifinal round, former champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog defeated The Headbangers.
Following the match, a familiar voice yelled over the loudspeaker: It was Jim Cornette, who had spent the last six months announcing the occasional B-show and getting sprayed with a Super Soaker by Sunny.
Cornette told Davey & Owen that his new tag team hadn’t arrived in the Federation in time for the tag team tournament, but he’d still like to show his former clients “how bad they are”.
The tag team formerly known as the Squat Team ran to the ring like two Üters after a chocolate binge…
…where Hart and Smith, having had plenty of time to prepare, attacked them immediately. The Headbangers joined the fight within seconds, at which point Owen bailed out.
At the same time, Davey Body picked up and bodyslammed one of the Squat Teamers — not the best way to put over a new team whose whole gimmick is that they’re really heavy.
Bulldog then rolled out of the ring, leaving Mosh and Thrasher to battle with the visibly blown-up twins. Thrasher thwarted one of the Squatters’ attempt to jump from the top rope; the debuting monster heel seemingly broke his ankle just by landing on his feet…
…then nearly fell over while running the ropes.
With his new team laid waste, it was up to Cornette himself to save the day by distracting the Headbangers. It was only then that the Squat Team could finally show off how utterly dominant they were.
The two “unusually constructed individuals” (which is, I swear, what Vince McMahon called them) bodyslammed their opponents and headed to the top rope.
One Squat Team member headbutted Mosh, then stared into space like he had just concussed himself.
The other guy hit a moonsault to finally pay this segment off, then hiked up his pants. Cornette whistled for his team to back off, with the cameras cutting to backstage just as a fan can be heard shouting, “Stupid!”
The Squat Team was never mentioned again on WWF television; during the following weeks, Raw viewers could be forgiven for thinking they had simply hallucinated the segment.
The following year, Jim Cornette would finally bring in another tag team in the form of the New Midnight Express…
…but the Santiago twins’ five minutes in the WWF would amount to, well, squat.
For more 1997 WWF curiosities, be sure to check out my Raw reviews, which return Sunday, August 7th, right here on WrestleCrap.