I enjoy goofy WWE as much as serious WWE. And one of the goofiest, stupidest matches in the history of the company took place at the 1993 Survivor Series. It was the Four Doinks vs. Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger, and the Headshrinkers, and it set a high bar for low comedy.

WWE is defined by eras. There’s the Attitude Era, obviously. We’re currently in the middle of the New Era, or as some fans derisively call it, the PG Era. But the era that I grew up watching was the New Generation Era, which lasted from 1993-1997.

Those five years were the most challenging ones in the company’s history, from both a financial and a creative standpoint. Many of the top stars from the 80’s Golden Age, such as Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, left WWE to sign with WCW. Others, such as the Ultimate Warrior, were either suspended or fired.

Eventually, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart rose to the challenge and engaged in an epic feud for the ages. But in the meantime, sales went down. Audiences dwindled. Because that’s what happens when your top superstars bounce and the company has no backup plan.

The match, if you can call it a match, wasn’t wrestling so much as a series of pratfalls, as the Doinks disposed of their opponents with a series of physical gags. One of the Bushwhackers bit Booger on the ass.

The New Generation Era was characterized by light-heartedness. WWF Superstars was on every Saturday morning, and that was appropriate, because much of the era’s wrestling resembled a Saturday morning cartoon. There were wrestlers whose personas were based a single joke or premise. There was Tekno Team 2000, the “Tag Team of the Future.” There was Adam Bomb from 3-Mile Island (Atom? Adam? Get it?)

There were also what I like to call “occupation wrestlers,” whose personas were based on some type of career. There was Phantasio, a wrestler who performed magic in the ring; he performed the types of tricks that wouldn’t even go over at a child’s birthday party.

The most infamous occupation gimmick was Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS—a wrestling dentist with awful teeth. The character was performed by Glenn Jacobs, who would later have a lot more success playing Kane.

And then there was Doink the Clown.

Many wrestlers performed as Doink. But the the first and best Doink was Matt Osborne, who only performed the role for several months in late 1992 and early 1993. Osborne’s Doink was an evil clown who inflicted mean pranks on audience members and fellow wrestlers. His entrance is particularly memorable; it starts off with a happy, cliched circus theme, and then it devolves into something out of a nightmare. Here’s Doink’s debut on WWF Wrestling Challenge, squaring off against Bob East.

 

But eventually, probably because it was way too subversive for its time, WWE did away with the evil clown gimmick, and the writers made Doink into a standard, happy-go-lucky clown. This is also around the same time that Osborne left WWE and was replaced by Ray Apollo.

It’s this Doink who is best known to casual WWE fans. He started a feud with Bam Bam Bigelow, and that led to the aforementioned trainwreck at Survivor Series. The opening promo, which showed Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger, and the Headshrinkers eating turkey carcasses, didn’t start things off well.

The Headshrinkers were billed as wild, savage Samoans. They never communicated in English, and they were portrayed as subhuman; for example, their skulls were so thick that their heads were impervious to pain. Racist and politically incorrect as hell? Absolutely. But in professional wrestling, these sorts of broad stereotypes were par for the course.

Bastion Booger’s entire gimmick was to be as disgusting as possible. And because Vince McMahon has an eight-year-old boy’s sense of humor, he dressed Booger in the skimpiest singlet possible. Fans, needless to say, were horrified.

So these four gross, “savage” wrestlers all waddled and ate their way to the ring. And now, they had to fight four Doinks. But who would the Doinks be? Most fans figured that it would be Doink and three wrestlers dressed like him. But instead, the Four Doinks were two tag teams. The first tag team was the Bushwhackers, Luke and Butch, who came to the ring pulling a wagon and riding a scooter.

The second tag team was Men on a Mission, Mabel and Mo, who danced to the ring with balloons. Meanwhile, Doink himself was nowhere to be found.

The match, if you can call it a match, wasn’t wrestling so much as a series of pratfalls, as the Doinks disposed of their opponents with a series of physical gags. One of the Bushwhackers bit Booger on the ass.

They took down the first Headshrinker, Samu, with a water balloon.

Bastion Booger got pinned after he got hungry for a banana. Headshrinker Fatu got pinned after slipping on a banana peel.

And then, all four Doinks piled on top of Bam Bam for the win. The match ended with the real Doink taunting Bam Bam on the Titantron.

Was this a good match? No, of course not. This was an awful match, by any objective standard. But it certainly was entertaining; even the worst match can be engrossing if the participants are enthusiastic and commit to their performances. And in this match? Everyone was grinning the entire time.

Sunday was the 30th annual Survivor Series, and fans were all but assured there would be no match on the card that was as awful as the Four Doinks match. Today, all of the matches hit a uniform mark of quality, because everything is so professional, corporate and carefully controlled. It is better that way; fans get a reliably good show on a weekly basis. But personally, I’ll take horrible but zany over solid but boring every time, which is why matches like the Doink match still hold a place in my heart.