Here’s a tip you learn in Wrestling 101: “Trust no one.”
Not your manager, who may abandon you for a higher-paying client. Not your tag team partner, who may betray you for a chance at singles gold. Not your on-screen boyfriend/girlfriend who may decide you’re not worth the trouble. Not your long-time ally who may use you as a catalyst for their turn.
Wrestling is full of betrayal as that’s one of the quintessential themes of the industry. But do you know what won’t betray you, say mean things behind your back, trade you in for a newer model with a better jawline, or demolish your team and friendship for individual goals?
Ol’ reliable. Your kendo stick, your potted plant, your stuffed cat or your real cat, your trombone, your mannequin head, your title belt, your barbed wire baseball bat or your 2×4, your sock, your snake, your sledgehammer…your prop. And while sometimes props break or can be stolen, at the end of the day, no one loves you like they do and no one’s got your back unconditionally like they do either. As Eddie Edwards recently said to his best friend, Kenny the Kendo Stick, “We’ve been through it all, and you’re always there. You’re always there and I appreciate that.”
So on this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to give a shout out to the real love stories in pro wrestling, a wrestler and his/her prop (NOTE: real animals were not considered props for the sake of this list).
Tommaso Ciampa and Goldy
Happy #DAY200 to the love of my life.
Then. Now. Forever.
— CIAMPA (@ProjectCiampa) February 11, 2019
While a title belt is not exactly a prop, nor does it normally receive a name, the love story between Tommaso Ciampa and Goldy, the NXT Championship, is one of legend. Ever since breaking up #DIY and turning on his best friend Johnny Gargano in 2017, Ciampa has been the main attraction in NXT and with good reason. Goldy has been along for most of that ride and it would be remiss not to mention that the two lovebirds recently celebrated their 200-day anniversary. Ciampa and Goldy are undoubtedly relationship goals. There’s something special about these two as everyone should be so lucky to find a partner who looks at them the way Ciampa looks at Goldy. If only their love story could last forever but alas, Ciampa may one day find a new Goldy on the main roster and Goldy will find a new Ciampa in NXT. Although, there is nothing like your first love and for both Goldy and Ciampa, theirs is a love that won’t soon be forgotten.
Chris Jericho and the List
In his surefire future Hall of Fame career, Chris Jericho has had no shortage of memorable gimmicks and moments, including in his likely-to-be final WWE run where he introduced the world to “The List of Jericho.” In 2016, born out of Jericho’s frustration and annoyance with then-Raw general manager Mick Foley and others in the locker room, Jericho began his list which noted all of the people he didn’t like along with reasons they had “made the list.” For parts of the next two years, Jericho inked it in, mannnn, as his list became one of the best segments in WWE. It became extremely popular with fans and ridiculously over that live crowds popped every time Jericho held his pen in the air dramatically before adding yet another name to the list. Some people were added to the list more than once and no one was safe, not even, as shown above, Super Bowl-winning QB Tom Brady. Jericho has since moved on and broken up with the list, but the legacy of their pairing remains, forever immortalized in WWE history.
Triple H and the Sledgehammer
While most of the props on this list received names by their owners, there is perhaps no prop/wrestler relationship more synonymous and more longstanding than that of Triple H and his trusty sledgehammer. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when that glistening sledgehammer first caught the eye of the Game, but one of the earliest occurrences of its use was some 20 years ago. Interfering in a casket match of the Rock vs the Undertaker, Triple H hit Rock with a sledgehammer and continued to rain down blows on the locked cast after the match. Triple H followed this up by introducing the sledgehammer into his feud with Cactus Jack in 2000 as somewhat of an equalizer to Jack’s barbed wire baseball bat. From that point onward, the sledgehammer, a weapon that had previously been mostly foreign to wrestler, became Triple H’s weapon of choice. In his career, Triple H has doled out sledgehammer shots on many, many wrestlers including Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon, Edge, John Cena, Randy Orton, Kevin Nash, Batista, Rock, Mick Foley…the list goes on.
Eddie Edwards and Kenny the Kendo Stick
Almost one year ago, Sami Callihan accidentally hit Eddie Edwards in the eye with an errant shot of a baseball bat. In the ensuing months, Edwards became fixated on getting his hands on Callihan as the two became embroiled in a highly personal feud involving Edwards’ wife, Alisha. As time went on, Edwards’ quest for revenge turned into a crazed obsession that only got worse and resulted in a psychotic break when Edwards believed Tommy Dreamer and Alisha were having an affair. Starting to act more and more deranged, Edwards turned on Dreamer beating him down with the same kendo stick he had begun to use on Callihan and oVe (Jake and Dave Crist) in weeks prior. This led to a match between the two at Slammiversary in July which Edwards won. Afterward, Dreamer handed Edwards a kendo stick, seemingly passing the torch to a new face of hardcore. Edwards and Kenny, the name he gave the kendo stick, became an inseparable pair with Kenny even being introduced in Edwards’ new children’s book and featured prominently in his IMPACT photo shoot for Pursuit Channel. Just six months in, these two are definitely in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. Here’s hoping the love continues to flourish after that!
Dean Ambrose and Mitch
In April 2016, Dean Ambrose added his name to a long list of wrestlers who have hosted talk shows when the Ambrose Asylum debuted much to the ire of Chris Jericho whose Highlight Reel had been canceled. But unlike the Highlight Reel or Piper’s Pit or the Cutting Edge or the Barbershop, Ambrose’s talk show was very, well, Ambrose. There was no Jeritron 3000, no red carpet, and very little in the way of a set. In fact, Ambrose’s set was entirely portable as it consisted of a sign drawn on poster board, an easel, a stool and of course, Mitch, the potted plant. Wherever the Asylum went, Mitch went with it and soon, went from being just a prop to a co-host of sorts. Ambrose even went out of his way to protect Mitch by sending him out of the ring when things looked to be getting dicey. Unfortunately, Mitch was cut down in his prime as Jericho, during his feud with Ambrose, smashed the Lunatic’s beloved plant over his head, sending dirt flying, pieces of clay scattering and fans genuinely upset. But while the love affair was short-lived, they always say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. RIP Mitch.
Hiromu Takahashi and Daryl
Following the loss of his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Hiromu Takahashi began carrying around an emotional support animal who went by the name of Daryl, and who was, or should I say is a plush toy cat. Daryl quickly became a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon, receiving fist bumps from Tetsuya Naito and even seconding Takahashi to the ring on more than one occasion. While many of the props on this list got over, Daryl did more than that as he warmed his way into the hearts of the fans, so much so you could even buy replicas of the stuffed cat. Daryl was on top of the world until he wasn’t. Perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time, Daryl found himself the victim of Bad Luck Fale‘s mean streak during the G1. Fale ripped Daryl to shreds, stuffing flying all over the announce table in a devastating scene. Even Ring of Honor officials commented their sadness at the passing of Daryl. There is no denying it was true love as Takahashi, who even took Daryl to Disneyland with him, was so devastated he lost his edge for several weeks. Fortunately for Daryl, stuffed cats have nine lives too. Not only did Daryl make a full recovery but he also got married to Carol and they had a son Daryl Takahashi Jr. who made his debut at WrestleKingdom 12 and his in-ring debut during the War of the Worlds tour.
Al Snow and Head
When it comes to wrestling, sometimes a gimmick, a catchphrase, a theme, it can all make or break you. For Al Snow, who had been a 13-year wrestling veteran at the time he got his first big story in ECW, his gimmick spurred a catchphrase which spurred lyrics to his theme song. And while not the most iconic catchphrase, wrestling fans everywhere know the answer to the question, “What does everybody want?” Head! Snow credits Mick Foley with the origin of Head recounting a story where Foley was pretending a mannequin head was his girlfriend during one of their road trips in the ECW days. At the time, Snow was reading psychology books in order to act out a full-on mental break and as he developed the character who was driven insane from years of jobbing, he remembered the head. Head went on to become Snow’s best friend, someone he could talk to and even have matches with and against. ECW officials even began handing out mannequin heads prior to Snow’s matches. One of the most iconic moments with Snow and Head came when special guest referee Jerry “The King” Lawler gave Too Much (Brian Christopher and Scotty 2 Hotty) a bottle of head and shoulders dandruff shampoo so that Head’s “shoulder” could be pinned to the mat. If only creative was still that creative…
Mick Foley and Mr. Socko
It’s hard to believe it, but Mr. Socko was only intended to be a one-time thing. But sometimes that’s how love works, you go on a first date reluctantly because a friend sets you up only to find out the person is your soulmate. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how Mick Foley came to find Mr. Socko, but the two made it work since day. During a storyline where Foley was trying to befriend the hated Vince McMahon, he once took a sock off his foot and turned it into the sock puppet, Mr. Socko. This only irritated McMahon but while he didn’t like the gag, the fans instantly loved it. This led to Foley using Mr. Socko was part of his Mandible Claw finisher. Over the years, Foley and Socko went through it all, including both in WWE and TNA. Mr. Socko also, on separate occasions, adopted elements of Foley’s other personas including when he was wrapped in barbed wire a la Cactus Jack and when he was colored tye dye a la Dude Love. It was supposed to be a short-lived gimmick but now, some 20 years later, Foley and Mr. Socko are no doubt a match made in Heaven.
Xavier Woods, Francesca and Francesca II
In 2015, while New Day (Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston) was still finding their footing in WWE, the trio transitioned from a somewhat stereotypical gospel/Baptist gimmick to one all about the power of positivity. It was during this time that Xavier Woods, introduced a trombone to his character, an instrument he began playing in middle school. There was no real plan for the instrument but Woods’ trombone playing helped get New Day over and soon, the trombone, which received the name Francesca, became more than just a way to play the trio to the ring. Francesca was a vital part of New Day’s gimmick as Woods would play it mid-match to taunt opponents, often playing their themes on it, or play it to get the crowd hyped. It was also a handy weapon, one that members of the New Day used on occasion. Unfortunately, like Mitch the Plant, Francesca met her untimely demise just several months after her debut, destroyed by Chris Jericho, killer of beloved props. And unlike Daryl, Francesca was damaged beyond repair. New Day even held a funeral to say goodbye. Francesca’s death was tragic but Woods was eventually able to move on with Francesca II and Francesca II: Turbo and even briefly with Francesca’s Scottish cousin, Agnes the bagpipes.
R-Truth and Little Jimmy
If there’s a rule that you can’t have an imaginary friend after childhood, then clearly no one ever told R-Truth. But then again, if you told R-Truth Little Jimmy was imaginary, he probably wouldn’t believe you. In June 2011, following an assault on a young fan and his father, Truth was made to apologize and he did so in the form of a song. Truth referenced the child and all children as “Little Jimmys” saying he’d no longer be the character that sang and danced for their amusement. A few months later, as Truth turned back into a babyface, Little Jimmy, thanks to the creative genius of Vince McMahon, grew into a character of his own. Truth’s invisible friend, Little Jimmy effectively worked as his manager, accompanying him to the ring and even getting involved in matches. Truth’s theme music, as well as his finisher, came to be named after his imaginary friend and there was even Little Jimmy inspired merch. Jimmy took his licks in the ring and every time he did, Truth went into full berserk mode. As did the fans, who responded like a real child had been attacked every time one of Truth’s opponents assaulted Little Jimmy. Truth’s relationship with Jimmy wasn’t perfect, but love rarely is. And while Jimmy wasn’t perfect, he was perfect for Truth and vice versa.
Abyss and Janice
In the midst of a storyline where he claimed to be controlled by an unknown entity, the monster Abyss introduced a brand new weapon to his hardcore arsenal, a board covered in nails. Abyss named his creation Janice, which some have said was a thinly veiled reference to one of TNA’s investors, Dixie’s mom, Janice Carter. Regardless of how Janice got her name, one thing was certain, she was a destructive, vicious piece of equipment. Janice first debuted in a Stairway to Janice match in 2010 as Abyss faced Rob Van Dam for the World Heavyweight Championship which was won by Van Dam. This was the beginning of a blood feud, quite literally between the two men and in one of the most violent and disturbing angles in TNA history, Abyss attacked RVD with Janice leaving him in a puddle of his own blood. Of course, the attack happened off screen but just the visual of Abyss holding Janice maniacally afterward was enough to show the power of Janice, even if he never actually used her. Over the next two years, the deranged and psychotic Abyss would wield Janice frequently and was even attacked by those wielding his own creation. But that’s the thing about love, sometimes it hurts, hurts like getting hit with a wooden board covered in nails.
Jack Gallagher and William I, II and III (umbrella)
Known for being 205 Live’s resident gentleman or rather, former gentleman, Jack Gallagher was one of the more popular cruiserweights when the show first launched in 2016. His unique style quickly made him a fan favorite as did his trusty sidekick, William the umbrella. A babyface at the time, Gallagher mainly used William in his entrances and in flying spots off the top rope a la Mary Poppins. When needed, however, William also served as a great equalizer such as in Gallagher’s Gentlemen’s Duel with Ariya Daivari. In September 2017, Gallagher turned heel, aligning with longtime rival Brian Kendrick. At this point, the umbrella became like his sledgehammer or brass knuckles or Singapore cane, as Gallagher began to use it as a weapon out of sight of referees. Perhaps not unique to him as Marty Scurll first popularized the use of an umbrella as a weapon, Gallagher has become known for it as his signature among WWE audiences.
Perry Saturn and Moppy
One of the common themes you may have noticed about this list is that oftentimes, inanimate objects take on a life of their own when a performer starts to act a little off their rocker. Such is the case with Eddie Edwards and Kenny, Abyss and Janice, Al Snow and Head, Hiromu Takahashi and Daryl, the list goes on. But when it comes to Perry Saturn and Moppy, it was more than just Saturn going crazy. If anything, he was crazy in love. Following a real-life attack of jobber Mike Bell, Saturn’s gimmick was changed as he became obsessed with a mop. As time went on, Saturn’s obsession turned into infatuation as he fell in love with Moppy believing it to be alive. Also a trend on this list you’ll notice, the mop got over so the gimmick continued ultimately with Saturn choosing Moppy over Terri Runnels. Exacting her revenge, Runnels aligned with Raven who fed Moppy to a wood chipper. Moppy’s loss was tragic but Saturn did manage to avenge the loss of his beloved, defeating Raven in one of his final WWF angles shortly after.