The World Bodybuilding Federation was Vince McMahon’s ill-advised foray into the sport of bodybuilding. I say, “ill-advised” for a number of reasons. For one, it launched just as former WWF steroid supplier Dr. George Zahorian was standing trial, leading to the WWF’s steroid scandal of the early 90s and McMahon’s indictment on distribution charges.
That, and nobody likes bodybuilding. Basically, it’s a freak show, except the people on display choose to look that way, for some reason.
Vince’s formula for bringing bodybuilding into the mainstream was simple: make bodybuilding as much like pro wrestling as possible. That meant that each “BodyStar” was given an outlandish gimmick and would perform campy, themed posing routines full of props and special effects. Watching a WBF event was like watching a WWF event, if a WWF event consisted only of the wrestlers’ entrances and the participants got paid substantially more per year.
In June 1992, Vince held the second of what he hoped to be many annual WBF championships, which aired on pay-per-view just like Wrestlemania or Summerslam. Unfortunately, the new steroid-free policy, implemented just three months before show time, scared off both celebrity guest participant Lou Ferrigno and many potential viewers, who weren’t keen on the possibility of competitors having realistic physiques.
Facing impending disaster, Vince ramped up the wrestling factor, bringing in Bobby Heenan to provide commentary (along with himself and bodybuilder Tom Platz), enlisting Mean Gene Okerlund to serve as MC, and showcasing former NWA champion Lex Luger (who was waiting out the rest of his no-compete clause).
What ensued were two of the silliest hours in the history of live sports.
The show kicks off with a preview of the show’s competitors, whom Tom Platz calls, “the most unbelievable bodybuilders in the world – on the face of the earth for that matter!” Well that’s just great, Tom. Now you’ve excluded all the bodybuilders from the earth’s core.
Mean Gene welcomes all the fans in attendance and the viewers watching at home around the world. He then rattles off a list of no-shows, including guest poser Lex Luger, whose in-person appearance was cancelled at the last minute due to a near-fatal motorcycle accident that broke his arm.
To his credit, Lex plays down his accident so well you’d swear it was just a kayfabe injury. The bedridden Luger says the other Bodystars should be glad he’s not there to upstage them tonight. But for now, he’s cooped up in a hospital, where he has to contend with bedpans and rectal thermometers.
Our first Bodystar of the evening is “Major Guns” Eddie Robinson, who’s a lot like WCW’s “Major Gunns” Tylene Buck, except with much more revealing clothing.
Robinson guns down a few extras…
…before getting down to the serious business – posing. The killing was just for fun. “I think I’ve seen him a little bit sharper in the past, though, Vince,” says our bodybuilding expert Tom Platz.
Major Guns mows down a few more mooks before leaving the stage.
Next, we go from Major Guns to Top Gun – Okerlund’s segue, not mine.
The plane in Jetman Tony Pearson’s logo offers a preview of what his Speedo is going to look like from the front.
Since you can’t enter the WBF Championships without killing someone the day of, Pearson shoots down a plane en route to the competition.
On stage, Pearson demonstrates the dangers of wearing corsets…
…then pulls off one of the most grotesque maneuvers in all of bodybuilding.
Mean Gene has some bad news about the next contestant, Mighty Mike Quinn. Apparently, the Mighty One has been wrongfully arrested by the LAPD. “Oh, I didn’t know about this,” says a concerned Vince McMahon, expecting the ensuing footage to be completely on the level.
Mighty Mike, it turns out, has not only been arrested, but straitjacketed – a situation he can only rectify with lots and lots of grunting.
After busting out of his straitjacket and cell, Quinn beats up the corrections officer, strips off all his clothes (Quinn’s that is), and charges down the cell block in bikini briefs all the way to the arena.
Unfortunately, the new drug-free policy in the WBF means Quinn has let himself go significantly since we last saw him. Now, I know Quinn still looks better here than I ever, ever will, but the commentators certainly notice his more leisurely physique.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say, Tom, in terms of physique, that Mighty Mike Quinn has been better in the past.”
“Yeah, he was much better last year, he’s uh, pretty soft this year.” Fortunately, what matters isn’t how his muscles look, but how they work, especially with the dead-lift and car-pull events.
Oh, did I say dead-lift and car-pull? I must have confused this sporting event for a strongman competition. I meant rap and dance.
But what’s this? Two police officers show up to arrest the escapee…
…but end up falling victim to the double noggin-knocker.
Up next is David Dearth, the Rock & Roll Wild Child.
Despite this video being ostensibly a showcase for Dearth…
…this guy gets most of the screen time, probably because Dave can’t actually play his instrument. “Dearth of Talent” might have been a better nickname.
But the live audience at this LA rock venue can’t get enough of the Wild Child, especially these aggressive groupies who strip Dearth to his thong. Where’s The King to squeal “Bra and panties!” when you need him?
Dearth picks up his ax, which starts spraying fireworks out of its head. I’m sure it symbolizes something, but what?
Mike Christian the Iron Warrior, whom Vince describes as “a consummate poser” (which is a compliment)…
…breaks out of a mold.
Tom notices again that Iron Mike doesn’t look quite as sharp as he did last year. “I think he’s had a hard time with the transition to steroid-free,” he says, just in case the viewers couldn’t connect the dots.
“He’s bigger than the Four Tops!” says Bobby, who was always ahead of the cultural curve.
Next up, the 5’2” Giant Killer Danny Padilla wanders through the Land of the Giants while whimsical flute music plays.
“Beware of the Giant”? Phooey to that!
Lo and behold, soon arrives the giant. At long last, Danny has a chance to use the big muscles he’s been building for years and years.
Instead, he stomps the giant’s foot.
Once again, Tom Platz comments that the competitor is a little soft compared to last year.
To make up for it, Padilla employs some booty-shaking.
But Danny can’t win the championship if he’s slain by a giant! Fortunately, the Giant Killer spanks him with his own cap.
Next is “The Future” Jim Quinn, who unfortunately suffers from long loading times. Those biceps won’t initiate themselves, after all.
“They must be creating” – says Vince, in awe – “the perfect human form.” Tom cackles in laughter, apparently not taking the proceedings as seriously as the WBF owner.
“Very powerful breasts,” says Tom. Or possibly, “very powerful presence.”
“I am turned on!” says Bobby. Or possibly… no, he definitely says he’s turned on.
“Dutch Oven” Berry DeMey is next.
Kidding! His real nickname couldn’t possibly be that stupid, right?
International secret agent DeMey begins his evening at the roulette table, where he meets a real good luck charm. He parlays his luck at the tables into luck in the lady’s hotel room. In no time they’re, shall we say, doing the tango…
The vertical tango, that is!
Then they of course have sex. DeMey takes a short break to pose in some bodybuilding contest…
…stepping out of the hotel room, which evidently is connected to the stage. So, has he been having sex backstage the whole night?
Vince eats up DeMey’s routine like a big, greasy slab of beefcake – beefcake with “international flavor”, no less.
Mean Gene tries to get a word with the Flexing Dutchman…
…but he has some more “flexing” to do back in the hotel room.
Unbelievably, this skit is not over, as DeMey’s date for the evening, presumably a spy herself, roofies his champagne.
Vince gasps, but the Bond-like Barry DeMey is too crafty to fall for a trick like that, taking the glass his lady meant for herself. An amused Vince then urges the lady to down the GBH-laced drink.
“Ladies and gentleman,” says Gene. “It looks like the Flexing Dutchman will not be taking a powder!” The camera then pans to the big sign for ICO-PRO, the supplement the WBF stars have all supposedly been taking all along instead of steroids. It comes in the form of a powder.
Aaron Baker moonlights as superhero “Dark Angel”…
…or as Vince calls him, “sculpted ebony.” Such a fan of the superhero is McMahon that you can almost hear him, uh, extend his cinematic universe as he speaks.
Troy “Zuke” Zuccolotto plays a lifeguard until it comes time to actually rescue a drowning swimmer, in which case his puny underling does all the work.
Except, of course, when the swimmer needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then the rookie lifeguard calls on Zuke to get the job done. What kind of man passes on the chance to give mouth-to-mouth to a beautiful woman? One who realizes how much phlegm will be involved, probably.
But Zuke saves the day, leading the rescued swimmer to wonder what she could ever do to repay him.
The answer: show him how to get from the beach to the bodybuilding stage. Turns out, you just have to walk through this big tunnel.
Yet again, Tom Platz says the bodybuilder on stage looks soft, which Vince blames on a virus Zuke has suffered from in recent weeks.
I think what he means to say is that the steroid-free lifestyle is infectious!
The Executioner Johnnie Morant rescues some would-be victims from another, blubbery executioner, whom he slices open with his axe.
Rumors that this other executioner is Mike Quinn are totally spurious.
Reigning WBF champion Gary Strydom visits some young street toughs in LA, who wonder what exactly he wants, and I quote, “like some… DRUGS! Ha ha ha ha.”
Strydom sets the gang members straight about drugs, using the old, “get high on life” line. Nice try, Gary, but if you really want to convince young men to ditch crime and turn to bodybuilding, you should give them the Arnold Schwarzenegger speech from Pumping Iron.
The secret to Strydom’s success? He is, to quote MC Hammer, too legit to quit.
“Oh my goodness, LOOK AT THIS MAJESTY!” says Vince as Strydom is still emerging from the shadows. Once in the spotlight, he shows off that perfect martini-glass figure all the men want.
“Unbelievable! Gary Strydom – I don’t believe he’s quite as big as he was last year,” admits Vince. “But overall, he may even be better!”
McMahon isn’t alone in showering Strydom (the only contestant without a silly gimmick) with praise; Bobby Heenan, who all night long has been changing his favorite to whomever is currently on stage, finally settles on Strydom, who happens to be the last man to go on.
Strydom, via a lip-synced voiceover, opines that he is “too sexy for this stage”.
“He may be too sexy for this stage,” says Vince. Is this show timeless, or what?
After quoting Hammer once more, Strydom becomes the commentary team’s unanimous choice, but what really matters is the decision of the judges, who are, “unquestionably a very subjective group of individuals”, in one announcer’s words. Guess which one.
Before we get to the finals, Lex Luger appears in a pre-tape that was clearly supposed to precede his now-cancelled guest-posing routine. Lex is constantly in front of the flash bulbs in some photo shoot or another.
By the time he’s done, Lex has appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated…
…and of course, Playgirl.
But Luger’s ultimate goal is to be on the cover of the WBF Magazine. Oh, come on, Lex. Be realistic.
Lex’s satellite feed appearance is cut short by his nurse, to whom he promises to go to sleep right after the pose-down.
The superhero, the rock star, the secret agent, the cyborg, and the Gary Strydom all make it to the finals.
Sean Mooney interviews a less-than-enthused Mike Christian, who gives a half-hearted endorsement of the new no-steroid policy and vows to win next year’s WBF championship. At least he’s extremely optimistic about one thing: the WBF lasting another 12 months.
Gene sets the stage for the finals of the “World Bodding Build-a-Bacon Championship”.
Bobby Heenan is just happy to finally see some big muscular guys who, unlike wrestlers, don’t have bruises and welts all over them. After all, you just hate to see guys have to actually *use* their muscles for something athletic.
In the final pose-down, the remaining contestants vie for the attention of the cameras and judges, posing and preening in a five-way free-for-all.
Vince’s WBF BodyStars co-host Cameo makes a brief, unannounced appearance to add a little bit of star power to the broadcast. What would one call that type of appearance?
It comes down to Jim Quinn and Gary Strydom, who are not, it turns out, the same person…
…with Strydom taking home the championship for the second year in a row.
Could he make it a three-peat in 1993? No, as the pay-per-view bombed so thoroughly (with a mere 3000 homes purchasing it) that its buyrate rounded to 0.0.
The WBF closed up shop a month later.
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