A new idea I had while flu ridden: Given how easy it is to find old footage, let’s look at the complete career and matches of short-lived crap. Let’s find out how exciting it is with the first pick: Mantaur.
”No-one sets out to make a piece of shit” – Jim Cornette
Mantaur was one of the many awful cartoon-y gimmicks to come out of The New Generation era of WWF that saw King Mabel headline Summerslam and Bret Hart fight pirates for jackets. After the steroid and sex scandals of 90-91, the company needed an image change to move on from the 80s Hogan era (especially with the majority of those superstars jumping to WCW) and they decided to go for anyone dumb enough to spend money on cow people. I picked Mantaur for this because I wanted to know if they did anything with him. Even short-lived stuff like Waylon Mercy got pre-debut vignettes explaining their character so let’s see how well a man with a bison-head did with something other than ”hailing from The Island of Crete.”
Mantaur vs. Walter Slow (WWF Superstars January 5th 1995)
Mantaur’s TV debut is on WWE’s YouTube and even they can’t resist ripping the piss in the description: ”No, that’s not decorative taxidermy. That’s the absurd WWE Superstar Mantaur.” Absurd is right, as soon as the big MOOOOO theme music hits Vince gets shook up on commentary. ”What is THIS?” he exclaims, making a mental note to fire whoever it was that came up with this and to rib Jim Ross just because. Camera looks for usable crowd reactions and these two are the best they can come up with:
Yeah that’s definitely awe on their face. Mantaur charges towards his opponent with his goofy cow head still on like he’s going to gore him but the jobber doesn’t flinch.
You’d think the jobber would jump out of the ring out of fear or shit himself but Slow’s not having any of it. He must be used to fighting with a name like that. After removing the cow-head, Mantaur looks a bit like Bam Bam Bigelow but with hair instead of tattoos. Or maybe he has a tattoo of hair, it’s pretty short. Lawler does his best to defend Mantaur’s cow-head attire by saying it’s no different than Duke The Dumpster Droese bringing trash cans to the ring. Aye, they’re both rubbish.
Match starts, Mantaur charges the corner, lifts his opponent and slams them into the turnbuckle in one motion. That would be cool if he followed up on it, but that’s the move in it’s entirety so he gets his breath back and gives him some shoulder charges. After a belly-to-belly suplex, Mantaur moos and the crowd boos back. Vince lets us know Mantaur is entering the Royal Rumble. ”No-one knows anything about Mantaur, which could work to his advantage.” Thanks for giving us info Vince. Jobber tries some slow strikes but Mantaur grabs him and gives him a falling powerslam, followed by more mooooos. Clothesline, a final moo and a standing splash ends it.
Winner: Mantaur (It’d be polite to say the crowd were bemused by Mantaur. His offence was the same boring big-man offence you’d get from any 90s era crap big guy. Except with mooing.)
Mantaur vs. Buck Quartermaine (WWF Wrestling Challenge January 15th 1995)
Slow didn’t do much to make Mantaur look good (well, as much as he could feasibly do) so let’s hope future TNA guy Buck can do better. As Mantaur makes his entrance you realise why there’s so many crowd shots (other than ”Kevin Dunn loves them”), it’s because Mantaur’s gear is so big he needs to scale the ropes to get in the ring so he looks even goofier than a man with a cow-head and mooing music already does. Buck reacts with fear as Mantaur charges so someone must have had a word with the jobber’s union. ”Look scared or you’re not getting served at catering.”
Bell rings and Mantaur does the mega-charge into the corner but Buck’s so skinny it looks deadly and you can hear women in the crowd go ”aaaaaaaah!” Big hip-toss across the ring and a belly-to-belly almost make you think there’s something credible about Mantaur. Then he moos again and kills it. Mantaur misses two charges in the corner so Buck collides with a clothesline off the top…which doesn’t make Mantaur blink. Mantaur slams him then sends him flying with a biiiig back body drop. Then the finishing sequence of ordinary clothesline-mooo-ordinary splash ends it.
Winner: Mantaur (Mantaur would have been a star if he’d wrestled Buck every night. And didn’t moo. And had a better finishing sequence. And wasn’t Mantaur.)
Mantaur vs. Jason Ahrndt (WWF Monday Night Raw January 16th 1995)
This is the episode of Raw with William Shatner helping Bret Hart beat Jeff Jarrett so we’re clearly at peak WWF. This is Mantaur’s Raw debut with new facepaint, no cow-head and Jim Cornette as a manager. I forget which of Jim’s 9,999 shoot interviews discusses Mantaur but he originally thought it was a rib. Then when Mantaur was ready for his entrance, someone told him he was up and Jim responded with ”well, the rib’s going to the ring!” and he followed.
Oh, the paint is supposed to look like horns to go with his pointy beard. Yeah that’ll help him. Mantaur charges Ahrndt, whose surname could do with some vowels. Mantaur misses some clotheslines but Ahrndt jumps into his welcoming arms for a slam. Mantaur ends it with the clothesline/crap splash and I need to GIF the clothesline to show how it’s 80% shoulder, like supermarket beef.
Winner: Mantaur (Vince spent most of the match explaining HBK wasn’t the odds-on favourite to win the Rumble, thinking that if the audience is still watching when there’s a fat heifer in the ring he might as well give them bullshit.)
Royal Rumble January 22nd 1995
Here comes Mantaur at #20. Rumble 1995 gets a lot of criticism for the one-minute intervals but the star level was so low that year their best option was to have the Rumble play at fast-forward and hope no-one noticed. Mantaur saunters down as British Bulldog, Lex Luger and Shawn Michaels are brawling in the ring and crowd isn’t impressed when this lump shows up. He goes right for Luger as Vince raves over his hooves. Bulldog makes him look good by flying over the place for him until Aldo Montoya enters at #21 and changes nothing. After some stomps and punches, everybody takes a rest until Henry O Godwinn enters. Mantaur pounds on Aldo while the camera decides to look at Pamela Anderson at ringside instead. Billy Gunn at #23 to a decent reaction (in the sense that 1 is a higher number than 0) and nothing happens. Bart Gunn at #24 and Mantaur goes for him until everyone stops to rest yet again. Holy shit this Rumble is bad. You’d think with the quick entrances there’d be action, but everyone’s acting like they’ve been wrestling for hours. Backlund enters but gets immediately attacked by Bret Hart. YEAH GREAT, ATTACK ONE OF THE ENTERTAINING WRESTLERS BEFORE HE ENTERS. Steve Dunn is here to no reaction and he doesn’t deserve one dressed in pink and green. Luger eliminates Backlund as he enters the ring so Bret attacks him again on the outside. If only their Wrestlemania match had the same intensity. Dick Murdoch is the surprise entry for this year and he’s more fired up the wrestlers half his age. Adam Bomb is next and I’m begging someone to throw Mantaur out so I can stop typing. He nearly throws Luger out, which would have been a sight. Fatu enters and mercifully Luger tosses Mantaur out after a good rope-fucking to end this recap. Anyone tells me 2017 Rumble was bad can go and watch this for perspective.
Mantaur vs. Gary Scott (WWF Superstars February 4th 1995)
Cornette doesn’t stop smiling during the whole entrance, swinging his racket and letting everyone know that this moo-thing isn’t going to ruin him. Scott charges to start but he bounces off him like half-backs trying to stop Jonah Lomu. Gary Scott jumps on his back and unloads punches but Mantaur simply falls back. Cornette’s so great at ringside, laughing maniacally at Scott getting beat up. Vince reminds us Cornette took Yokozuna all the way to the WWF Title so he could do the same to Mantaur. Big belly-to-belly suplex crunches Scott and Mantaur follows with a sidewalk slam (the must-use move for fatties everywhere) and changes the script by finishing with a walking spinebuster.
Winner: Mantaur (Much less moo-ing, better finisher and Cornette being a dick. LOOK OUT WORLD, HERE COMES MANTAUR.)
Mantaur vs. Ben Jordan (WWF Wrestling Challenge February 12th 1995)
Jim Ross: ”Look at the size of Mantaur’s thighs!” Corner charge and moos to start but Ben Jordan remembers his mum’s watching and tries to make a thing of it with clotheslines but he can’t cow-tip Mantaur who plants him with a Belly-To-Belly. Mantaur pulls up Jordan at two because he’s not had enough and drops a big elbow. Another mooo makes Todd ask ”Is that his mating call?” Wait, the Toddster is making fun of him? What hope did Mantaur have after that? Walking spinebuster ends it and Todd again asks if it’s a mating call in case we didn’t hear his great line the first time.
Winner: Mantaur (Eat shit Todd.)
Mantaur vs. Aldo Montoya (WWF Action Zone January 29th 1995)
Aldo gets PYRO. It’s a shame they put so much effort into bad ideas. I think this counts as Mantaur’s first non-jobber match, but that’s up for debate. Aldo uses his quickness to slide under Mantaur’s legs and get a near-fall off a knock-down but the resulting kick-out sends Aldo outside. Mantaur misses a charge and Aldo gets a two-count off a schoolboy. Mantaur gets the scoop-and-ram which still looks like a set-up move for something else. Nerve hold (the number one rest hold for fatties) allows Todd to discuss National Geographic. Todd had some moments as an on-screen personality but he’s one of those commentators that that’s focused on crap jokes than adding to the product. Crowd cheers for Aldo so the match can hurry up and end but he takes the Jannetty flip after a Mantaur clothesline. More nerve pinches and amazingly the crowd starts chanting ”Man O’ War” in support of Aldo. Mantaur ends that with a Belly-To-Belly but Aldo escapes pin-fall by using the ropes. Mantaur misses a charge and lands outside thanks to momentum so Aldo follows with a dive off the top as the crowd explodes. Cornette helps Mantaur get back in the ring but he’s dizzy so Aldo comes off the top with a dropkick as Aldomania runs wild in the crowd but it ends when Mantaur pins him abruptly after the delayed spinebuster.
Winner: Mantaur (Crowd didn’t care about the match until Aldo looked like he was going to win and they went BANANA. Decent match thanks to a loud crowd and Aldo flying around like a daft sod.)
Mantaur vs. Leroy Howard (WWF Monday Night Raw February 6th 1995)
So they gave Mantaur one of the greatest managers and talkers of all time and so far there’s been zero talking from him. Mantaur charges Leroy but Leroy avoids a second so he goes up top only to dive and land in the beastly arms of Mantaur. HBK wonders if he’s half-man beast and if so, which bit is which. Sidewalk slam and Vince wonders if Mantaur will be joining HBK at Wrestlemania and Shawn does his best to not laugh. Leroy takes over again and Mantaur shows that selling is not his best attribute. He looks constipated. More moos and slams as this squash doesn’t want to end. Eventually a Belly-Moo-Belly finishes it and Vince calls it an easy victory for Mantaur even though the guy was jumping off the top rope and shit.
Winner: Mantaur (Yeah whatever.)
Mantaur appeared in a Battle Royal on Superstars the following week but it’s a Battle Royal and it’s fun to type ”and then this guy hit that guy and then that guy hit another guy.” Bulldog won.
Mantaur vs. Geza Kalman (WWF Wrestling Challenge February 26th 1995)
Geza Kalman has a Sherdog profile, having competed in UFC and other MMA companies. He looks big and soft but hey, good for him. Todd describes Mantaur as smelling like a bag of Cheatos right after J.R. put over Mantaur’s bully nature and aggressiveness. Geza tries to knock down Mantaur which means a lot more than Buck because Geza’s a big guy. Mantaur clotheslines him and gives him a big-ass Belly-To-Belly to the boredom of the crowd. Well fuck them I thought it looked impressive. Some more mooing and Mantaur switches it up and lands a walking side slam for the win.
Winner: Mantaur (Mantaur messing up a fellow fattie was mildly interesting, but not as interesting as Geza’s fights on YouTube, which include stuff like this:)
Mantaur vs. Razor Ramon (WWF Superstars March 11th 1995)
Finally Cornette gets mic time where he threatens to take Ramon out before Wrestlemania. Oh and this is the perfect time to mention Kevin Nash’s story about Mantaur:
Nash gets it a bit wrong (hey, memories are a bitch) as Mantaur only had that cow-head the first two appearances, but Razor definitely bitch-slaps him like Rick James.
Razor still takes him seriously which is one of the reasons he was so good during this period of shit gimmicks. He takes Mantaur down with an armbar but keeps his distance so he looks threatening. But he remembers to paint-brush him for good measure because he’s Razor, dammit. Mantaur doesn’t like that so Razor gets slammed and charged in the corner. Razor stunned walks into the other corner and gets charged again. Oh man that looked beautiful. Mantaur wears down on him until he misses another charge and Ramon nails the middle rope bulldog. Ramon slams Mantaur and the crowd reacts like it’s Wrestlemania III. Only good for two though and The Roadie shows up cleaning Jeff Jarrett’s Intercontinental Title. Razor isn’t distracted as he’s not an idiot and dunks Mantaur off the second rope with an elevated back drop. Roadie tries to get his attention some more and Mantaur charges but Razor helps throw him over the ropes. I guess Roadie was supposed to break Mantaur’s fall but Roadie’s not insane so he gets the fuck out the way and Mantaur gets counted out after splatting.
Winner: Razor Ramon (Once again Scott Hall helps to end a streak. Crowd couldn’t stop cheering for Razor because he was the closest thing to cool in 1995. Mantaur getting a back drop off the top was impressive for a big guy.)
There’s a load more squash matches for Mantaur but given that there’s nothing in the way of a storyline or a feud for M(assive) Bison, I’m going to guess they’re going to be roughly the same as the others already recapped so I’ll skip to his next competitive match:
Mantaur vs. Bret Hart (WWF Action Zone May 7th 1995)
J.R. talks about Mantaur being an impressive college wrestler who dresses the way he does to intimidate his opponents. I think he was filling in the gaps of Mantaur lore there and bless him for trying. Bret’s wrestling Hakushi and Jerry Lawler this Sunday at IYH but Mantaur wins the strength battle. J.R. says Bret’s giving up 100lbs in this battle and Todd adds Mantaur’s giving up 100 IQ points. Sums up the differences in these two commentators. Bret turns a test-of-stretch into a wrist-shagger and Mantaur takes a breather outside. Bret follows and Manaturs tries to sneak attack him but he’s a giant guy with painted horns on his head so Bret somehow spots him and moves. In the ring, Mantaur wiggles the stick to get his Spirit Meter going as the MOOOOS power him and he takes over with suplexes. He’s too dumb to capitalise on Bret being down which draws the ire of both commentators. Bret tries a comeback but Mantaur bearhugs him and he’s saved by a commercial break. When we return, Bret gets a two-count off a Russian Leg Sweep. Bret goes back to trying to knock Mantaur down but as he comes off the ropes Cornette grabs his foot which lets Mantaur put him in a Canadian Backbreaker. Bret’s able to wiggle out of it because using a Canadian move on a Hart is like using Thunder Shock on Raichu. The second rope elbow sets up the Sharpshooter but Cornette gets on the apron so Hart goes to tell him to politely piss up a rope. Mantaur uses this time to charge but Bret side-steps and rolls up Mantaur for the win.
Winner: Bret Hart (This is why I loved Bret Hart as a kid, it didn’t matter who or what he was wrestling he’d always make it look like the fight of his life. Bret made Mantaur look like someone more credible, like Vader or The Goon.)
Mantaur vs. Bob Holly (WWF Monday Night Raw May 15th 1995)
This is a King of the Ring qualifier and Mantaur’s entrance is used to shill IYH t-shirts. Bob’s in full Spark Plugg gear, complete with big Please Cheer For Me smile. Bob gets launched like Dale Earnhardt to begin. That’s the only NASCAR thing I know, sorry. Bob comes back with some awful dropkicks considering he’s the king of them. Mantaur tries a clothesline but Bob doesn’t want any of that so they turn it into an awkward scoop slam instead. Vince reminds us KOTR is taking place in Philadelphia this year, something he probably regretted after the massive ”ECW” chants. Mantaur pounds and plods away until he gets a scoop slam which he celebrates with moooos. Crowd doesn’t react, thankfully Jim Cornette is at ringside to get something out of the crowd with his insults. Mantaur misses a charge in the corner and Bob gets a two-count via school boy. The match breaks down and turns sloppy until Bob takes Mantaur down with a top-rope dropkick. Bob follows that with a crossbody for the win.
Winner: Bob Holly (Match was bad, but I liked Jim Cornette’s Looney Tunes tie.)
Mantaur vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (WWF Superstars June 24th 1995)
Here we go, Mantaur’s last WWF match. Cornette’s still following him with a smile on his face. Bigelow’s wearing the flame suit with the fire wrists.
Not his best look. He already wore flames on his gear so the next step was looking the guy on the front cover of the Rage Against The Machine album. Mantaur attacks while Bam Bam takes his various crap off. This is the week before King Of The Ring 1995 which Bigelow headlined in that tag match even wants to forget. Mantaur attacks and moos until Bigelow has enough and slams him like he’s nothing for two. It’s fun watching the begining and ending of a character in one big session as you can pretty much pinpoint the exact moment it all ended. That body slam was it. Commentators don’t even talk about it. They go punch-for-p(a)unch until Mantaur falls down throwing a clothesline. Mantaur adds the Big Boss Man crotch-shove when Bigelow’s dangling in the ropes. Doc Hendrix makes an awful ”Mantaur’s favourite cartoon is The Flintstones” joke which Vince didn’t even fake-laugh for. Bam Bam escapes a deadly nerve pinch but gets cut off and suplexed by Mantaur. Bam Bam doesn’t give a fuck and reverses an Irish Whip into the corner to Flair Flip and run to the other turnbuckle to come off the top with a headbutt for the win.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (Bammers was feeling it there with that ending sequence.)
After appearing at ringside for the Lumberjack Match at IYH 2, that was the end of Mantaur who left WWF with no feuds, notable wins or promos. He’d come back as Goldust’s Bodyguard and had the honour of being stripped and slammed during Ultimate Warrior vs. Goldust (Worst Match Of The Year 1996).
He then made a few appearances for ECW as Bruiser Mastino where he beat amazing talents such as The Dark Ninja and El Puerto Ricano before losing to 911 and Hack Myers. After re-appearing as Tank in 1997, nothing of note happened in the world of Mantaur before PWS booked the Once In A Lifetime match of Mantaur vs. El Matador.
Mantaur is still remembered by supporters of The New Generation era (of which there are plenty, proving retro goggles are very powerful) for representing the awfulness of the period and being the worst gimmick Cornette was involved with. His best match was probably against Aldo because Ramon and Bret had hundreds of great matches with their opponents but I couldn’t tell you one must-see Aldo match.
Mantaur wasn’t a missed opportunity but I enjoy his original gear with the cartoon cow on his front and back. Maybe if he’d kept that and continued to struggle to get into the ring he could have been someone.