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The Ghostbusters 'n' Wrestling Connection

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Oct. 10, 2017 at 11:30 PM , Categories: Miscellaneous
The Ghostbusters 'n' Wrestling Connection
(Thanks to Matthew Jordan for making this look so nice)

(This is an updated and revised version of an article originally published on September 28, 2012)

Ghostly Greetings to all of my fellow 'Crappers coming to Spook Central via the link in my Someone Bought This - Bootleg WWE Coloring Books article on Wrestlecrap. I thought I'd take the occasion to write a lengthy article about all of the Ghostbusters connections there are in the wacky world of wrestling and vice-versa.

The Ghostbusters franchise itself doesn't have many wrestling connections. In fact, I can only come up with two...but they are good ones. A rather obscure connection is the image you see below, which comes from 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game. It's a piece of concept art from the Central Park Cemetery level showing a Ghostbuster fighting a ghost luchador in a spectral wrestling ring amongst the tombstones. This idea never got beyond the concept stage, which is sad, because that would have been a cool fight to have in the game. The image below links to the original full-size image.

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Did you know that a former wrestler starred in Ghostbusters II? Would you believe that he's one of the film's main stars? No, Bill Murray didn't don the gold bodysuit and moonlight as Conquistador #2, but the film's Big Bad himself, Vigo, was once a Viking!

In the 1950s, Norbert Grupe (aka Wilhelm von Homburg) and his father Richard Grupe emigrated to the U.S. where they launched a career as professional wrestlers. Billing themselves as "The Vikings", father and son did the circuit in barbarian costumes and cow-horn helmets. The young man learned to project a bad-guy persona as part of wrestling drama. In 1962, Norbert traded his wrestler's leotard for the satin trunks of boxing. (Information in this paragraph comes from the excellent Norbert/Wilhelm biographical article "Bad Boy Boxer: Wilhelm von Homburg" by Patricia Nell Warren.)

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Below is a better photo of Robert and Norbert Grupe (though, not in their Vikings costumes, as seen above) provided by Robert's daughter, Rona Grupe Weber.

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Now the wacky world of professional wrestling, on the other hand, has paid respect to Ghostbusters on many occasions. Soon after the first Ghostbusters movie came out, Jerry "The King" Lawler was feuding with manager Jimmy Hart down in the Memphis territory. Hart became known as "The Wimp", a nickname given to him by Lawler and chanted by fans, and was the subject of the song "Wimpbusters", which was sung by Lawler to the tune of Ray Parker, Jr.'s hit "Ghostbusters". A music video was also made, featuring Lawler, legendary announcer Lance Russell, and wrestlers such as Randy Savage, Jimmy Valiant, Dutch Mantel, Tommy Rich, and Rufus R. Jones, along with footage of Lawler beating Hart and his "First Family". A very young Brian Christopher (Lawler's real-life son) also made an appearance as a young child being bullied, and another child is seen wearing a replica of Tully Blanchard's West Texas State jersey. Jerry Lawler would reference "Wimpbusters" years later on WWE Raw (more on that later). Here's an MP3 of the song for you to download, ripped from the video below. (Information in this section provided by Ghostbusters News.)

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Meanwhile, over in the World Wrestling Federation, there was a weekly talk show called Tuesday Night Titans, hosted by Vince McMahon (at the time, only known by the audience as a commentator) and Lord Alfred Hayes. The wrestlers would come on the show to talk and build their characters/storylines, and sometimes participate in really weird sketches. Some pre-taped wrestling matches would also be shown. The wrestlers would often say things that are not politically-correct, and certainly wouldn't pass muster in today's PG-rated WWE.

Anyway, Episode 13, which aired on October 30, 1984 contains a few Ghostbusters references. At the start of the show, Vince McMahon introduces Lord Alfred Hayes as a "ghostbuster". A running gag in the series in that Vince would introduce Hayes in some wacky manner. Later when Junkyard Dog comes out, they say "Something strange in the wrestling ring... Who ya gonna call?". This second one perplexes me because it seems to come out of nowhere. I have a feeling that this version of this episode, which is from the WWE Network, is edited. I'd bet that in the original airing, they played "Ghostbusters" before JYD came out, which prompted the Ghostbusters comments.

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One of the big highlights of the the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection era was the animated series Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, starring a then-unknown lowly voice actor by the name of Brad Garrett as the voice of the immortal one himself. In the episode "Ghost Wrestlers", Hulk Hogan and his crew use Ghostbusters-style equipment to help an old wrestler rid his boarding house of ghosts. (The back of the SP-speed VHS incorrectly says it's a retirement home.) What's rather surprising is that the actual Ray Parker Jr. song is used, but only eight seconds from the instrumental intro portion of it. Even though his vocals aren't used, Ray is listed in the end credits: "Ghostbusters, performed by Ray Parker, Jr., Courtesy of Arista Records". The series was produced by DiC, who also produced The Real Ghostbusters. The episode is available by itself on SP-speed VHS and is included with "Superfly Express" on WWF's EP-speed "Vol. 4" VHS release. (I uploaded more images to the Ghostbusters Wiki.)

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Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling would reference Ghostbusters again in the episode "A Lesson In Scouting". Tito Santana, Wendi Richter and Junkyard Dog take the Grizzly Scouts on a camping trip, and that includes the Fabulous Moolah's niece, Dangerous Donna. Donna misbehaves throughout the trip, even getting Wendi (voiced by Jodi Carlisle) covered in some gunk that causes her to exclaim, "I've been slimed!" This episode was one of three ("Rock 'N Zombies" and "The Duke of Piperton" being the other two) edited into a one-hour special that is available on the "Round 1: The Champs Win Again" VHS released in 1987 by Lorimar Home Video's "Kideo Video" label, which includes the live-action segments and about a minute of the "Land of a Thousand Dances" music video (off of 1985's The Wrestling Album).

Around the same time the Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling series premiered on television, Koko B. Ware premiered in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Koko, best known for coming to the ring with a colorful bird named "Frankie", had a finishing move called the "Ghost Buster" (sometimes called the "Bird Buster"), which is described as follows: Brainbuster (Suplex): Put opponent in a Front Facelock, throw his right arm behind your neck, and grab his tights with your left hand; lift him straight up so he is inverted vertically above you, then fall straight down, driving him headfirst into the mat. Called the "Ghostbuster" by Koko B. Ware; also used as a finisher by the late "Captain Redneck" Dick Murdoch.

In The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists!, on page 274, the move captured the #15 spot on the list of "The 15 Most Idiotically Named Wrestling Moves": The Ghost Buster: This move was actually a brain buster, performed by a guy dubbed The Birdman, who sang a song called "Piledriver." In fact, the video for "Piledriver" showed him performing the Ghost Buster, which means the name of the move makes even less sense than it did before.

Here's a clip of Koko using the Ghost Buster to put away perennial jobber Iron Mike Sharpe in a match they had at Madison Square Garden on December 28, 1989. That's Gorilla Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim on commentary.

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Fast forward ten years - because nothing much happened in the 1990s in wrestling - to September 12, 1998. Degeneration-X would come out on WWF's flagship program Raw Is War (episode #276) to brag about their victory the previous night at Summerslam. Triple H, the leader of the group, proclaimed that, "We came, we saw, and we kicked their asses."

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The following year, on August 9, 1999, a "Slimer 3:16" sign would be seen several times in the crowd on Raw Is War. "Slimer 3:16" is a Ghostbustin' nod to Stone Cold Steve Austin's famous "Austin 3:16", which is itself a nod to the even more famous "John 3:16" signs made part of popular culture by that guy who used to show up at sporting events with his sign and a rainbow fright wig.

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Fast forward another ten years, and the WWF is now WWE thanks a legal bodyslam by a panda. At the WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony on March 29, 2008 (in Orlando, Florida the night before Wrestlemania 24), Triple H remarks that Michael Hayes "looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Pimp". In addition to the WWE Network, you can view/own the ceremony on the Wrestlemania 24 DVD and Blu-Ray. The reference pops up at the 2:45:28 mark.

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In this new era of WWE, anything even remotely resembling "edgy" entertainment is long gone from the Raw program, so it's not very "raw" anymore; and the same "work ethic" that excited kids in the 1980s when Hulk Hogan was on the scene is now boring the hell out of those same kids as grown-ups now that Jor-El's son John Cena is doing it. That's not to say that John Cena doesn't occasionally do something that's entertaining to those of us over the age of 13. Case in point: On the November 16, 2009 edition of WWE Raw, emanating from Madison Square Garden in New York City, in his promo before the main event, champion John Cena mentioned that "the Ghostbusters once saved this city from a giant marshmallow man." (jump to 2:17 in the video below)

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A few months later, on January 14, 2010, the official World Wrestling Entertainment website published a photo gallery entitled "WWE Magazine showcases its favorite 'rejected covers', in honor of the January edition of WWE Magazine, on newsstands now." The tag team known as Cryme Tyme, comprised of members Shad and JTG, were featured on a fictitious WWE Magazine cover promoting their appearance in the movie "Ghostbusters III: Slyme Tyme". The team's catchphrase, "Money. Money. Yeah! Yeah!", is parodied as "Ecto. Plasm. Yeah! Yeah!" (An archived copy of the original webpage, minus the images, is still available.)

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The following year, at WrestleMania XXVII on April 3, 2011 (available on 2-Disc DVD, 3-Disc DVD, 2-Disc Blu-ray), Kofi Kingston wore an outfit that was inspired by Slimer from Ghostbusters. What makes this even better is that there's a Mattel action figure based around this attire, part of the WrestleMania XXVII Elite Collection that was available exclusively at Toys R Us. You can get it at Amazon and Ringside Collectibles. Kofi's even wearing this outfit on the cover of the WWE Superstar Collection: Kofi Kingston DVD. (Info and image provided by Ghostbusters News.)

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Kofi's obviously a huge Ghosthead (Ghostbusters fan) because later in the year he wore yet another Ghostbusters-inspired outfit. At the 25th annual Survivor Series event on November 20, 2011, emanating from Madison Square Garden in New York City, Kofi competed in a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-inspired outfit. Maybe he remembered the promo John Cena gave two years earlier at the same venue. (Info provided by Ghostbusters News, image provided by WWE.)

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As big of a Ghosthead Kofi is, he's nothing compared to his co-worker (and my fellow Long Islander) Zack Ryder. Let's run down the ways Zack has professed his love for Ghostbusters... I'll start with the November 2011 issue of WWE Magazine, which ran an article entitled "Superstar Nerds!" featuring quotes from nerdy WWE wrestlers with 8-bit illustrations by Jude Buffum. Here's what Zack Ryder was quoted as saying, along with his illustration.
I don't think the word 'nerd' is an insult. I think it's a trend. You can go to stores like Hot Topic and buy T-shirts for Ninja Turtles or Ghostbusters. In elementary school, they'd make fun of me. Now, 20 years later, it's cool? I don't think being a nerd is such a bad thing anymore. I collect Ghostbusters action figures, but that's not really nerdy. My room used to be decked out in WWE merch, with all these action figures on display. Girls would come over and be all like, 'What is this?'

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Zack also hosted his own online web show called "Z! True Long Island Story" (Eps 1-50 at LongIslandIcedZ, Eps 51+ at WWEFanNation). In it, he covered a variety of topics including wrestling, boy bands, and occasionally you'll see a Retro-Action Peter Venkman show up (skip to around 2:00 in Ep #3 to check it out). See, he wasn't lying about collecting Ghostbusters action figures.

To further cement the fact that Zack's a Ghosthead, WWE.com posted an interview with him on October 26, 2011 in which he discussed his collection of Mattel Ghostbusters figures, his then-upcoming Ghostbusters themed episode of "Z! True Long Island Story", and if he fist pumps to Ray Parker Jr.. In case WWE ever decides to take the interview down, here's it is in all it's glory.

Who's Zack Ryder Gonna Call?
By James Wortman
October 26, 2011

Spend a few hours with Zack Ryder, and you're bound to hear him profess his love for Slimer and The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man nearly as often as he waxes poetic about tanning, fist pumping and Justin Bieber. Director Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters was a major part of the self-professed Internet Champion's childhood, and Ryder's fascination with the 1984 supernatural comedy has hardly dissipated over time. Even though he's sporting ring gear a lot more often than his plastic toy proton pack - at least in public - Long Island Iced Z is as passionate about Ghostbusters as he was as a Broski-in-training growing up on Long Island, N.Y.

In the spirit of Halloween, Ryder spoke with WWE.com about his upcoming Ghostbusters-themed episode of "Z! True Long Island Story," his lifelong obsession with the film and which Superstars he would want on his team of "Ghostbroskis."

WWE.COM: You're not shy about your Ghostbusters fandom. What is it about the film that you love so much?

ZACK RYDER: I saw it for the first time when I was very young, as a kid, chasing ghosts and busting ghosts looked so fun. Then as I grew up I got all the jokes, and I loved it on a different level. Now, it's my favorite movie of all time.

WWE.COM: Keen-eyed members of the WWE Universe have noticed a Mattel "Retro-Action" Real Ghostbusters action figure making cameo appearances on "Z! True Long Island Story." How big is your Ghostbusters collection?

RYDER: I have all of the new Mattel Ghostbusters action figures, and they're awesome. I had the Kenner ones as a kid, and I think I'm going to be a Ghostbuster for Halloween this year. So I'm pretty excited about that.

WWE.COM: How often do you pump your fists to Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters tune?

RYDER: Pretty often. It's on my iPod. I even have the instrumental version! I listen to it at least a couple of times a week, 'cuz I'm planning for my next "Z! True Long Island Story," which will actually have a Ghostbusters theme. So I'm working on something big for all of my YouTube Broskis out there.

WWE.COM: Speaking of Broskis, what would Slimer have to do to become "Broski of the Week"?

RYDER: He can't really take care or spike his hair, but he ingests a lot of protein. So if he's fist pumping and getting that protein in, I think he'll do alright.

WWE.COM: We know your reputation with the ladies. Which Ghostbusters girl would you rather take to the club: Dana (Sigourney Weaver) or Janine (Annie Potts)?

RYDER: Janine's pretty hot. She's got those glasses and I wouldn't say she's a nerd, but I think when she takes those glasses off, she gets a little wild.

WWE.COM: What's your take on Ghostbusters 2: Lackluster or underrated?

RYDER: I think it's underrated, and it's one of my favorites for sure. I liked it. I was definitely bummed out that there wasn't a third.

WWE.COM: Well, there's been a lot of talk about Ghostbusters 3 going into production. What role do you think you could play in such a film?

RYDER: I think I'd be an additional Ghostbuster, because you have to go with the original four (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson). You can't do it without them. I'll be a rookie Ghostbuster. That's cool with me.

WWE.COM: And what makes you an ideal candidate to be a Ghostbuster?

RYDER: I have the Tobin's Spirit Guide, I know the facts and I'm always ready to bust some ghosts.

Remember that then-upcoming Ghostbusters themed episode of "Z! True Long Island Story" I mentioned? That would be Episode #37, which Zack posted on October 28, 2011. Here's the Ghostbusters-related portion of that episode.

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At this point in time, Zack's internet antics got him noticed with WWE brass, and they started to promote his stuff on their shows. Here's a clip from the October 31, 2011 episode of WWE Raw in which, during his match against Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero screaming at ringside), Zack's love of Ghostbusters and the new Ghostbusters-themed episode of his web show, are mentioned by commentators Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. At the end, Lawler antagonizes Cole by saying that if he were in such a movie, it would be called "Wimpbusters". No doubt the significant of this reference went over the heads of the TV audience. Scroll back up to the near-top of this article to find the origin of "Wimpbusters". I love that Lawler referenced something obscure he did over 25 years earlier.

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In honor of Zack's love of Ghostbusters, BarberShopWindow.com released a "Brobusters" shirt on January 5, 2012. About two weeks later, on January 21st, Zack posted a picture of himself wearing the shirt on Twitter. (Info provided by Ghostbusters News.)

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Zack loved the "Brobusters" logo so much, he incorporated a near-identical version of it into his ring gear. On June 9, 2012 he posted an image of it to Twitter, then debuted the outfit in November 2012. (Info provided by Ghostbusters News, image courtesy of WWE.)

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I never thought to ask Zack about that gear when I met him at the BBQ Films Ghostbusters event on June 8, 2016. I did think to get his autograph and take a few pictures of him...but none with him :-(

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Koko B. Ware is not the only wrestling with a move named after Ghostbusters. In Ring Of Honor episode #198 (July 8, 2015), we see Michael Bennett and Matt Taven of The Kingdom performing a double-team move on Michael Elgin that the announcers call the "Proton Pack". Likely named as such because one wrestler "wears" the other like a Proton Pack.

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A few months later, on the Halloween episode of WWE Smackdown (October 29, 2015), Dean Ambrose mentions a "Ghostbusting Monster Squad" in his promo with his future real-life wife Renee Young. Skip ahead to 0:55 in the video below for the mention.

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The most recent reference I have is for Paul Feig's Ghostbusters parody remake, which was mentioned a few times on WWE programming in 2016. While I don't have them all noted, I do have this one. On the March 7, 2016 episode of WWE Raw, the Social Outcasts - a team comprised of, from L-R, Adam Rose, Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel - give a promo in which they respond to Ryback's comments. Bo says that because Ryback doesn't want to be a part of a team, he can't be one of the new Ghostbusters. Adam corrects him by saying that Ryback can't be a new Ghostbusters because he's not a girl.

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While WWE and TNA get the lion's share of exposure, they're not the only companies in the wrestling business. There are tons of small promotions all across the world filled with up-and-comers, and the occasional star of yesteryear, who put on shows for small crowds of local folks. The men and women who ply their trade in these organizations get to try lots of absurd and wacky stuff that you'd never see in the big promotions. Freddy Krueger, the wrestler? Yeah, that happened in Memphis AND Japan! Those wacky Japanese also once had a blow-up doll wrestler..no joke! Suffice it to say, if I told you that in some of these indy promotions there are Ghostbuster wrestlers, you wouldn't find that so hard to believe, would you?

Here's a match from Animation Supercon (Sat. October 3, 2009) in Miami, Florida, in which the Ghostbusters team of Eli Spengler and Alex Venkman takes on Michael Myers of Halloween fame in a Handicap match! (Thanks to Ghostbusters News for the link.)


While that Ghostbusters team seems to be off-the-cuff, there was a permanent Ghostbusters team in the New Era Wrestling Federation (NEWF). Hailing from "A Firehouse in New York", The Ghostbusters were Ryan Venkman & Johnny Stantz, and they were the NEWF Tag Team Champions back in 2012. You can view a whole bunch of their videos on the YouTube profiles of TheGhostbusterspro and MsKabimarie. Here's a photo of them from the now-defunct NEWF website. While the t-shirts definitely look familiar (I have one myself), I don't think I've ever seen "Ghostbusters" vinyl pants before. It's a nice touch.

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And that finally...

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Yes, Rock, FINALLY concludes my look at the Ghostbusters 'n' Wrestling Connection. Thank you to all of you who've made it this far. I hope it was as fun and educational for you as it was for me.

Oh, and for all of you 'Crappers playing along at home, I counted 3 Ghostbusters/wrestling connections that were also inducted into the anals of Wrestlecrap: Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, Koko B. Ware's "Ghost Buster" Finisher, and WrestleMania XXVII. We can make it 4 when Cryme Tyme is eventually inducted; it's just a matter of time on that one.
4 comments »

4 comments

Comment from: devilmanozzy [Visitor] · http://ghostbusters.wikia.com
Really dig the Hulk Hogan episode, tho I was left with rather "wimpy" questions about both the Green Ghost and the pink gunk they were spraying. The pink stuff I guess is soup/shampoo, and if the ghost isn't real, where was the hologram projector. I know I'm reading way too much into it, but can't help it. The credits at the end list voice talents of James Avery (RGB:Killerwatt, TMNT:Shredder) , Pat Fraley (aka Jake Kong Jr. in Filmation Ghostbusters), Charles Adler (RGB: Genie?, Slimer!:Rafael). Also, being a Dic cartoon, much of the staff are indeed the same comparing.

Anyways, cool collection of trivia in this blog.
Sep. 28, 2012 @ 03:43
Comment from: Alex Newborn [Visitor] · http://endorexpress.net
I skimmed the article hoping for a mention of the PKE Meter prop being in two movies that starred wrestlers (Suburban Commando w/ Hulk Hogan and They Live w/ Roddy Piper), but if it's in there, I missed it.

Chuckling... did you intentionally misspell 'annals' in the last paragraph?

Considering you were talking about 'Wrestlecrap', it's kinda fitting
Sep. 28, 2012 @ 04:27
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
@Devilmanozzy - Yeah, it's best not to think too heavily about the plots in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling. Much like the capers in classic Scooby-Doo, if you think about it too much, you'll realize that it just doesn't make a whole lotta sense. You just have to enjoy it for what it is :-)

I was gonna mention the Hogan voice cast that's also in The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, but I was already getting quite long-winded in my effort to provide details and still have an article that flows well. Here's the cross-over cast:

* James Avery - Junkyard Dog (EGB:Dry Spell, RGB:Killerwatt, RGB:Jailbusters? [one where he voices a ghost judge])
* Ron Feinberg - Andre The Giant (EGB:Witchy Woman)
* Jodi Carlisle - Wendi Richter/Fabulous Moolah (RGB:Banshee Bake A Cherry Pie)
* Charlie Adler - Rowdy Roddy Piper (RGB: Genie?, Slimer!:Rafael)
* Lewis Arquette - Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka (S&RGB Guest Voice?)
* Pat Fraley - Hillbilly Jim (Jake Kong Jr. in Filmation Ghostbusters)


@Alex Newborn - I didn't include the PKE Meter prop being in Suburban Commando and They Live because the movies themselves are not wrestling-related; they only starred wrestlers. That's why I also didn't include Ernie Hudson's appearance in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show; as the show stars a former wrestler/manager (Capt. Lou), but isn't about wrestling itself.

Yes, I did intentionally misspell 'annals' in the last paragraph. The creator of Wrestlecrap makes that joke from time to time, and I felt it was appropriate. I wasn't sure if anyone was gonna get it, but I'm glad someone did.
Sep. 29, 2012 @ 00:41
Comment from: Fernando Whorley [Visitor] · http://www.topwrestler.com/
This reminds me of that song from Ghostbusters - Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!! Old times! I have also seen some Zack Ryder match, not bad at all.
Oct. 2, 2012 @ 20:31

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