Since the late 2000s, the so-called “zombie apocalypse” has dominated pop culture. And for the most part, it’s been very, very annoying. From social media tags to compatibility questions on dating sites, one can’t go anywhere online without having to explain one’s role in a fictitious undead survival scenario.
For years, posts about the zombie apocalypse littered my Facebook news feed until I used a browser extension to block the phrase from appearing. That, and all variations of “yass”.
Grown adults apparently take this movie trope deadly serious. It’s bad enough when sites like Buzzfeed and Cracked churn out listicle after listicle on the topic, but even serious media outlets and the New York Post occasionally publish stories on how a zombie apocalypse could actually happen…
…even though it obviously could not, because zombies aren’t real, you absolute moron.
I’m not fond of musicals, either, but at least Global News never entertained the notion that, under the right circumstances, a group of human beings might spontaneously break into a song about their lives.
Amazingly, nine full years after the premiere of The Wrestling Dead on Youtube, WWE finally got in on the action with their own zombie invasion. All it took was a check for one million dollars from the creators of Army of the Dead.
The Netflix film, starring Dave “Dave Batista” Bautista, already had a built-in connection to WWE, but The Animal still couldn’t be bothered to show up to the ThunderDome. Instead, he sent sent some of his “friends”.
And by “friends”, he meant zombies. I haven’t actually seen the movie, but Wikipedia suggests the zombies were actually his enemies.
At Wrestlemania Backlash (that’s what it was actually called), Damian Priest was to settle his months-long feud with The Miz in a match type of Priest’s choosing. Given the choice of any stipulation in the world, Priest picked a lumberjack match.
The night of the match, John Morrison attempted to bribe the lumberjacks into siding with The Miz, but when he opened the locker room door, it was full of guys dressed up like zombies. Because Morrison thought zombies existed, he assumed these people in heavy makeup and prosthetics were actual undead cannibals. And so did the announcers.
JoMo tried to warn Miz about the living dead, spouting some of the stupidest lines the Shaman of Sexy had ever uttered. Of course, his partner assured JoMo that there was no such thing as zombies. Halloween being six months away, Miz had forgotten the concept of a “costume”, so he convinced Morrison that he had hallucinated the zombies. And Morrison believed him.
Little did they know, the zombie lumberjacks were just down the hall, shambling their way to the ring. Under the makeup were the future stars of NXT 2.0, plus a few cruiserweights that WWE would cut that August. With hindsight, one can easily pick out the likes of Joe Gacy and Ikemen Jiro. Von Wagner didn’t even bother with a disguise.
After the official entrances, the zombies emerged to spook Miz & Morrison good. And Damian Priest was just as surprised about the zombies as Miz and Morrison were. That meant that the zombies simply showed up to the building that day, where some WWE higher-up let them in, gave them their own locker room, and told them to wait there until the third match of the card.
In what will be a fascinating piece of trivia in ten years, Bron Breakker made his WWE debut as a well-dressed zombie lunging for John Morrison over the barricade.
Even the announcers weren’t safe; one zombie turned up under the commentary table, emerging from the ground like a W-O-R-M…
…which Graves, Virk, and Saxton didn’t think was too cool.
Miz had no choice but to flee into the ring, while Morrison retreated backstage.
With the match underway, the announcers called the action while maintaining the proper fear and reverence for the zombie lumberjacks. Granted, the action was completely secondary to the bizarre product placement playing out on screen; Miz and Priest could have tried putting on a five-star classic, and the match still would have stunk because of the zombie lumberjacks. Such is the fatal flaw of the Zombie Lumberjack Match.
Miz tried to escape the zombies surrounding the ring by crawling under the ring and emerging on the other side….
…where he was met with more zombies. I think they were surrounding the ring!
The Miz put Damian Priest in a figure four, but when Priest attempted to reach the ropes, he and Miz were both pulled to the outside.
The two opponents put their differences aside to dispose of the hordes of walking corpses, as one does in a blow-off match. The alliance proved short-lived once the two men reached the safety of the ring, where the zombies dared not enter. Even flesh-eating zombies don’t want to see a double-disqualification.
John Morrison then returned to ringside to interfere on Miz’s behalf and to mow down some movie monsters.
But when Morrison got cute and perched on the railing to jump on Grayson Waller, Julius Creed and August Grey pulled him behind the barricade and consumed his flesh.
Damian Priest then hit his finisher on The Miz, who was foolishly distracted by his partner being cannibalized. While the zombies proved remarkably well-behaved bell-to-bell…
…once Priest scored a pinfall, all bets were off.
Priest moved to higher ground as the zombies crawled into the ring and ate The Miz alive.
As the last few straggling zombies struggled like piglets vying for a free teat…
…Damian Priest shot his invisible arrow at the overhead tron, causing the movie logo to appear.
The segment’s only saving grace was that it played out in an empty arena; WWE removed even the virtual fans typically on the video screens. And while a live audience would have booed this fiasco out of the arena, a din of white noise bathed the closed ThunderDome set throughout the match.
Like a scaled-down version of their deal with the Saudi royal family, WWE gladly accepted a huge sum of money to put on a match no one wanted to see. The end result was a glorified commercial for murderous, bloodthirsty ghouls (the zombies).
It wouldn’t be WWE’s last shameless piece of paid promotion that year, though. In November, Netflix released Red Notice, starring Dwayne “Rocky ‘The Rock’ Maivia” Johnson…
…and once again, they paid WWE seven figures to plug the movie on pay-per-view.
WWE promoted its 2021 Survivor Series as the 25th anniversary of The Rock. After all, it was at that same event in 1996 when The Rock made his WWE debut.
Throughout the night, WWE aired highlights of Rock’s career and even held a 25-man battle royal in his honor (perhaps to honor his 1998 battle royal victory on Shotgun Saturday Night).
The only thing missing was, you know, The Rock. Unfortunately, as Dwayne Johnson was out of the country shooting a movie, he was only able to film a pre-taped message to the WWE Universe.*
*I should clarify that he didn’t actually film such a message, but he was able to.
While it had been 25 years since the debut of The Rock, it had been 31 years since the debut of The Gobbledy Gooker at Survivor Series…
…which could have explained this giant egg Vince brought to the event.
But the official story was that, as a token of his appreciation, The Rock had given the chairman Cleopatra’s egg — not the prop used in his movie, mind you, but Cleopatra’s real egg.
Now, I’m no expert on classical antiquity, but I’m fairly certain Cleopatra never had an egg. Not a golden one, in any case.
Cleopatra’s or not, Vince claimed this solid gold ovum was worth one hundred million dollars.
But not an hour later, it was gone; somebody stole his egg.
“Somebody stole my egg!” said Vince.
Time being of the essence, Vince ordered Adam Pearce to find the thief and, failing that, round up every Superstar for an interrogation…
…22 hours later on Raw.
The next night, McMahon wanted answers from his authority figures. Vince couldn’t stand the thought of someone violating his space and stealing something that belonged to him. He’s never reacted well to that.
The bad news was, neither Sonya DeVille nor Adam Pearce had found the egg thief. The good news was, they had some blurry surveillance footage with some inconclusive clues.
Sonya was able to tell from the footage that the perpetrator had “a bare chest and bare legs.”
“Then it could be a woman?” asked Vince. The thoughts that pop into that man’s head…
Horny old Vince had some good news and bad news of his own. The bad news was, if no one found the culprit that night, he’d fire both Pearce and DeVille. The good news was, should anyone manage to find the culprit, that person would face Big E for the WWE title that night.
Backstage, the Superstars tore apart entire rooms in search of the egg, including Aliyah, who must have really wanted that title shot against Big E.
In the chaos, R-Truth accidentally barged into the women’s locker room. “It ain’t in there!” he said, being overly hasty in his judgment. After all, one of those bare-chested women could have been the thief.
While the rest of the roster ran aimlessly around the Barclays Center, Sami Zayn was in Vince McMahon’s office with a major lead.
Sami knew who the egg thief was, but he hadn’t arrived at the building yet.
No, it wasn’t Veer (though he was coming).
It was Austin Theory, whose name the furious WWE chairman didn’t even know. If he had, he’d have already shortened it to just “Theory”.
Theory’s one-hundred-million-dollar explanation for his grand, grand theft? He just wanted to take a selfie with it.
Suddenly, Vince changed his tune. A bold risk-taker like Theory reminded him a lot of himself (quite frankly).
Not only was Vince dropping the charges, but he was awarding Theory the title shot against Big E.
As for Sami Zayn? “No one likes a snitch”, said Vince.
McMahon came off as totally capricious, going back on his word and abruptly changing his mind about his employees. Imagine!
So what’s next for WWE and Netflix tie-ins?
Booking Dennis “BTK” Rader as guest Raw GM to promote the next serial killer documentary?
Stephanie McMahon feeding Triple H to a big cat to plug the new season of Tiger King?
How about re-booting NXT as a Squid Game-style game show before the next round of releases?
Speaking of which, how does the WWE roster feel about all these “budget cuts” now that Vince carries around a hundred-million-dollar egg?