25 YRS AGO – Keller’s editorial critical of the “Cinematic” heavily post-produced other-worldly “Dungeon of Doom” skits WCW was airing


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

BBL Editorial by Wade Keller
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Original Headline: Sullivan’s Dungeon skits lack credibility because his “message” gets in the way
Originally Published: August 12, 1995
Torch Newsletter #348


This editorial was originally published in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #348 (cover-dated Aug. 12, 1995). Over 1,600 back issues of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter chronicling pro wrestling since the late 1980s are available with a PWTorch VIP membership. Dive in and explore our unmatched archive insider stories, fascinating interviews, big story coverage, hard-hitting editorials, PPV results, house show reports, and more. CLICK HERE FOR VIP INFO

VIP MEMBERS, explore the entire year of weekly 1995 Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter HERE.


This week’s Entertainment Weekly has yet another cover feature on the $200 million dollar movie “Waterworld.” The reason Waterworld has received so much attention is that so much money was spent on the movie’s special effects and production costs – more than any other movie in history.

Even with all that money being spent to add realism – and thus increase the level of enjoyment of the viewing audience – Entertainment Weekly found ten relevant questions to ask regarding credibility gaps. They asked, “Since when do Jet Skis run on crude oil?” and “If the Mariner’s feet are webbed, why aren’t his hands?” and “If everyone is exposed to the sun all day, how come only the Deacon has a savage tan?” and “How do the Smokers (the heels) get all their cigarettes (where is the tobacco grown)?” and “How long can an oil tanker remain at sea before it rusts and sinks?”

There weren’t good answers to any of those questions and that, in the eyes of critics and viewers, cost the movie some points when it came to its overall quality and marketability.

How can $200,000 be spent on a movie and obvious plotline credibility problems be ignored or not be satisfactorily addressed? Sure, the movie-makers coyly respond by saying that viewers are just supposed to suspend their disbelief. If that’s the case, then why not spend only $2 million and have the viewers imagine that the set was actually filmed in the ocean, but really do it in a swimming pool at a movie studio? In reality the reason the gaps exist is because of either laziness or because competing motivations overrode the importance to be credibile, consistent, and realistic.

Waterworld’s producers drew the “credibility line” where it was convenient. The reason the Exxon Valdez was the ship the heels were on was to convey an environmental message. The reason the heels were called “Smokers” was to get across a political message. The moviemakers felt it so important to preach their point of view on environmentalism that they left gaps in credibility. Credibility that moviegoers have noticed. Gaps that took away from their enjoyment of the movie. Moviegoers don’t want to be distracted by inconsistencies in timelines and credibility while hundreds of millions are spent in other areas to create realism.

Kevin Sullivan continues to sacrifice realism and credibility and even plausibility in his pet project, the “Dungeon of Doom” skits. Why? Perhaps it’s to get across his historically consistent Satanist/Demonist/Hindu god/Occult message. Just as the “Waterworld” producers were blinded to their gaps in credibility by the message they were trying to sneak by everyone, Sullivan may be doing the same thing.

Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart, who have the strongest veto power in WCW, were convinced by Sullivan that the Dungeon of Doom skits were going to be a good thing. When others brought up the apparent occult-oriented theme in the skits and characters, Hogan and Hart were naive to them. They said there was no such theme.

It’s surprising that the “Dungeon of Doom” skits have lasted as long as they have given the sensitive nature of TBS. Bill Watts was fired the day his racist and homophobic comments in a two year old “Torch Talk” were faxed by a columnist to top brass as TBS. Why is Sullivan allowed to put some inflammatory messages on TBS? Whether you believe the strange skits are wrong for kids to watch or not, and whatever you think are Sullivan’s motivations, TBS isn’t usually the type of company to allow such potentially controversial material to air. The ripping of the crucifix off Hogan’s neck is only the latest of a string of religion-oriented themes.

Sullivan, in a Jan. 29, 1994 “Torch Talk” talked about the constant controversial themes that follow him from territory to territory, from Florida to Atlanta. He said that his themes never mention the “devil” or “Satanism,” but instead have mentioned “Abudiune,” a Hindu god. He said the accusations of his “devil worshipping” going to too far were brought about by sensationalism in tabloid magazines.

“I might have studied the occult and some Hindu Eastern philosophy, but that doesn’t mean studying it is horrible,” Sullivan said. “Are we going into book burning? I thought America was past that… I don’t say, “˜If you don’t got to the same church I do, you’re wrong.’ I don’t believe that.”

Apparently TBS feels such themes are appropriate for a show aimed at young children. But controversial themes aside, it’s hard to imagine how these skits could be so poorly produced. Is it out of sheer laziness that gaps in credibility are ignored? Is it out of incompetence?

The point of the skits is to establish a heel foundation – a united evil heel corps of wrestlers who live below the earth – who are out to destroy Hulkamania and all that is good in the world. To do that, viewers shouldn’t constantly be shown gaps that take away any sense of realism (such as the arrival out of nowhere through “stage right” of Vader or from “stage left” of Jimmy Hart, Sting, and Randy Savage to save Hogan).

Those gaps exist. Perhaps it would be too difficult to avoid gaps in credibility while still getting across the same theme. If that’s the case, Sullivan as a booker has fallen prey to the same problems the producers of Waterworld fell. Both of their messages turned out to be more important than the credibility and viability of their product.

Waterworld is on pace to lose between $50 and $100 million. Where is WCW headed?


This editorial was originally published in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #348 (cover-dated Aug. 12, 1995). Over 1,600 back issues of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter chronicling pro wrestling since the late 1980s are available with a PWTorch VIP membership. Dive in and explore our unmatched archive insider stories, fascinating interviews, big story coverage, hard-hitting editorials, PPV results, house show reports, and more. CLICK HERE FOR VIP INFO

VIP MEMBERS, explore the entire year of weekly 1995 Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter HERE.


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