Adzop: Vintage Gimmick Flashback: Damien Demento

They’ve been discussed more than enough – those over-the-top gimmicks that WWE have created that would never have gotten over in a million years. I don’t even want to talk about Isaac Yankem DDS, Repo Man, The Red Rooster, Aldo Montoya, or the fake ‘Razor Ramon’. I want to spend my time writing about some of the gimmicks that, with a bit of time and effort, could have been a success in WWE.

“From the outer reaches of your mind…”

Damien Demento. Here’s a gimmick that is often looked back on by old-school WWE fans as a total failure. While I’d have a hard time arguing with that, based on the treatment and exposure Demento received, I’m going to try. Why? Because I always thought that if he’d had the WWE machine behind him, they could have made it a success. Although when I look back at old videos of Demento I can see that there are major flaws, it is a gimmick that I remember fondly, regardless of its misgivings.

Demento arrived in WWE in 1992. The idea of the character was a guy that was obviously completely nuts, a guy who heard voices in his head (sound familiar?). Demento got a few wins against mostly jobbers (or ham-n-eggers, if you like) on TV before losing in the main event of the very first episode of Monday Night Raw in 1993 to The Undertaker.

I always liked the dark and mysterious characters like Demento & Undertaker. What’s interesting is that from that Raw main event in 1993, Demento pretty much slipped off the face of the Earth (at least from WWEs perspective) while The Undertaker went on to be one of the greatest of all time. Obviously, you can’t compare the two these days. But if you think about it, this was just before The Undertaker started getting his spectacular entrances with the dry-ice & purple lights. It was just before they started doing the major Hollywood-style stuff, like the big ‘Undertaker-going-to-Heaven’ angle with Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rumble (after losing his Casket Match). The Phenom got some major help with his character presentation in the mid 1990s which really assisted him in becoming must-see TV and really helped to build his legacy. Some of it is taken for granted these days – and some of it is completely overdone, but in 1993/94, this was all new and exciting.

If Damien Demento had received the same treatment that The Undertaker did, would he have been a much bigger success? Quite possibly. I think it could have worked. With some character development, some entrance music and some creepy lights, I think he could have been a really big deal. As I wrote about Mordecai in ‘VGF Part One’ – Damien Demento never got the chance. He didn’t even have an entrance theme.

Because most of his matches were against jobbers, it’s hard to gauge how good he really was in the ring. But at that time, WWE was just a massive showcase of the most ridiculous characters, the bizarre matches and the over-the-top acting.

Perhaps Demento’s biggest obstacle was not getting his character lost in the shuffle with the likes of The Undertaker, Doink, Crush, and Yokozuna – maybe it was the fact that the WWE was starting to go in the direction of a smaller and more technically sound grappler. Bret Hart was already at the top, and Shawn Michaels was on his ascension. Bret would be the main man from 1993-1996, while Shawn slowly began his takeover in 1995, and after usurping the ‘Hitman’ in 1996, dominated the headlines until 1998. While The Phenom survived this takeover of the ‘real’ wrestlers, many characters were lost and simply didn’t have a place saved for them in the ‘New Generation’.

It’s difficult to say, but I’m fairly sure that the curious case of Damien Demento would have been different, had he arrived just a couple of years later than he did. This way, WWE would have already presented some of the wild and wacky Undertaker-related stunts and light shows, and Damien could have benefited from that by receiving similar treatment. He may not have been in the main event picture with Hart and Michaels, but he could have been an attraction, nonetheless. Had he stuck around, he could have been a mainstay through the lean years of WWE when it was really struggling in the mid 1990s. Given THAT opportunity, who knows what he could have achieved?

When I watch old Pay-per-View events such as Royal Rumbles from 1994-1996, I can’t help but feel that WWE were really missing a lot. The Rumbles had special guest entrants from Mexico to fill up the numbers. Star power was very low. I understand that WWE’s business was not doing particularly well throughout most of this period, and I’m not going to say Demento would have been the man to save it. But it would have been nice to see him continue on as a mysterious and dark character, because had he been dealt a better hand by WWE, he could have really added some value to those shows that were seriously lacking in the 1990s.

Wrong place, wrong time? Or total waste of time?

Damien Demento: October 1992 – October 1993.

April 2012.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this look back at what could have been an interesting character. Feel free to email me with feedback on what you think.