Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Val Venis


Before we get into the column this week, I wanted to bring up an email I received from Frank Sullo, who’d met Lenny Lane at an autograph signing. Frank took advantage of the opportunity to ask if Lenny had ever returned Jericho’s Loverboy tapes, and Lenny replied that he hadn’t because he was still waiting for his money. The mystery has been solved. Looks like Jericho’s Loverboy collection will have to go CD. Now, let’s go ahead with something new…

Val Venis – WWF, 1998


March 30, 1998 was a big night for the WWF. It was the night after Wrestlemania XIV, a huge show that had drawn mainstream attention for their use of Mike Tyson as a guest referee in the main event. Also noteworthy was the shocking reformation of D-Generation X, when Sean Waltman returned from WCW and immediately did an interview slamming WCW, Eric Bischoff, and Hulk Hogan.

Right after the interview, we went to commercial. During the commercials, we discovered a man watching porn in bed. He turned to the camera and bragged about his performance in his latest film – Live Hard. He dropped more “subtle” innuendo about himself and gave his name, Val Venis. The screen then went black and lit up with a message – Val Venis Is Coming.

The vignettes continued for several weeks where Val told us about several of his movies with titles like As Hard as it Gets and Lust in Space. On May 4, the WWF switched gears – now instead of talking about his movies, they brought in Jenna Jameson to do a vignette with him. Surely he’s legit!

That brought us to May 18. Val Venis made his in-ring debut against (2 Cold) Scorpio, winning easily. Val continued his win streak by defeating opponents such as Papi Chulo (Mr. Aguila/Essa Rios), Dustin Rhodes, and Chainz (Brian Lee).

Val’s womanizing ways started getting him in trouble on June 29th. During a match with Kaientai’s Dick Togo, Val noticed that Togo’s manager – Yamaguchi-san, had brought his wife out to ringside with him. Val won the match, and then began flirting with Mrs. Yamaguchi-san. Mr. Yamaguchi-san got angry and slapped Val. Val slapped him back. Kaientai’s remaining members (Sho Funaki and Men’s Teoh) jumped him, but Val simply dropped them all with chair shots.

Kaientai got revenge on the next Raw as Val took on Dustin Runnels. They jumped him from behind during the match and beat him down, which Mr. Yamaguchi-san taunted him from the ramp. Curiously, Mrs. Yamaguchi-san had a concerned look on her face.

The story behind that look came out the next week, while Kaientai was in a six-man tag against Taka Michinoku and Too Much (Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor/Scotty Too Hotty). During the match, Val came on the Titantron and announced that he was debuting his latest film – Land of the Rising Venis. Val’s lovely co-star? Why, it’s Mrs. Yamaguchi-san!

Mr. Yamaguchi-san decided that his wife must be punished for her transgression, so on the next Raw he informed her of the punishment she would endure – she would have to crawl on her hands and knees while he paddled her behind. Unfortunately for perverts everywhere, Val showed up and saved the day, running off Kaientai and saving the girl, whose name was now revealed as Kyoko.

On a side note, Val took time off from this feud to beat Jeff Jarrett at the 1998 Fully Loaded pay-per-view.

Yamaguchi-San came out with Kaientai for a demonstration during Val’s match the next night against Too Sexy Brian Christopher. Kaientai set up a chopping block and began their demo – which involved sausages and a samurai sword. You get the idea. After the match, Scott Taylor jumped Val, only to have Taka Michinoku run out for the save. On top of the ramp, Kaientai replaced the sausages with a bratwurst. Yamaguchi-san let out the cry which has echoed through history – “I choppy choppy your pee pee!” Then he chopped the bratwurst in half with his sword.

Val teamed up with Taka to take on Funaki and Togo on the next Raw, only to have Taka turn on him and join Kaientai. Apparently Kyoko was Taka’s sister. And you thought the writing these days was like a soap opera. Anyway, all five of them drag off Val to the bowels of the building.

The cameras caught up with security as they busted a door down just before Raw went off the air. The door went down and we saw a naked Val with his hands tied above his head in front of a chopping block. Yamaguchi-san stood on the other side, samurai sword raised and ready. The lights suddenly went out and we heard a scream, a whack, and another scream. Then the show ended.

On the next Raw, Val came out in a wheelchair for a press conference. He was being pushed by John Bobbitt. To make a long story short (too late), Val jumped up and explained that everything had survived intact due to a cold butcher block, shrinkage, and John Bobbitt, who’d cut the power. Val concluded the segment by dumping Kyoko, saying she wasn’t worth the trouble.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story. The next week, Val had to run a gauntlet through Kaientai, and if he won he got five minutes in the ring with Yamaguchi-san. Taka managed to defeat Val and save his manager. The next Raw, Val was going to get his revenge until Triple H showed up, dropped them both with chair shots, and threatened the Rock. Okay…

Things changed the next week as Dustin Runnels, taking a pro-morality stance (and also mentioning that HE was coming back), talked about how horrible Val was. Val countered by debuting another film – The Preacher’s Wife, costarring Marlena (Terri Runnels). Dustin fell to his knees in tears as Val gloated.

Val took on Owen Hart the next Monday, only to have Dustin rush the ring. Val tied Dustin up in the ropes facing the Titantron and debuted another new movie – There’s Something About Terri.

On the next Sunday, Val took on Dustin at the Breakdown PPV. Long story short – Val won and made out with Terri as Dustin returned to the back.

The next night, Val beat X-Pac by DQ in a European title match when Chyna interfered. After X-Pac and Chyna were taken to the back by officials, the Titantron lit up with the familiar “Shattered Dreams Production” logo and gold dust began falling from the ceiling. Goldust’s music played and Goldust’s voice came over the PA saying that he’d warned Val HE was coming back.

The mind games continued the next week. Val defeated Gangrel by count out, only to have an usher come out with an invitation for Val. Val read it and got nervous. The lights dimmed and the Shattered Dreams logo came up again. Over the PA, Goldust’s voice promised a world premiere the next week.

The next week Val pulled double duty in a tournament for the vacant Intercontinental Championship. Val’s first match saw him defeat Marc Mero and move him along the brackets. Shamrock defeated Venis in the semifinals with the ankle lock. As Val lay in the ring with a damaged ankle, the Shattered Dreams logo appeared and Goldust emerged from the back. Goldust propped Val up in the corner and gave him the Shattered Dreams.

On the next Raw Val resumed his winning ways as he defeated Mankind (well, with a little help from Ken Shamrock and a chair). After the match, Goldust warned Val that nothing was over. Things got worse as Terri whispered something to Val that seemed to spook him.

Val took on Goldust at Judgment Day, and suffered the Shattered Dreams once again. Goldust picked up the win in spite of Terri’s attempts at distraction.

Things really went sour the next week on Heat. Terri Runnels announced to the world that she was pregnant, and Val dumped her like a bad habit. The next week Val revealed that it was impossible for him to be the father, because he’d had a vasectomy to prevent just such an occurrence.

That was the end of Val’s involvement in major angles for quite a while. He tagged with the Godfather for a while, but he had no more major singles angles.

Oh, boy. This was the WWF’s Attitude was all about – pushing the envelope. Val certainly did that – turning himself into a face despite stealing wives left and right.

That was also the problem with Val’s angle – what happened when there were no more wives for him to steal? They tried pairing him and the Godfather as a tag team (I remember a rumor that they would have been called Supply and Demand) but nothing came of it.

Val just exposes the innate problem with “shock” gimmicks. After a while, viewers get used to it and it’s not shocking anymore. Look at the Cactus Jack – HHH brawl from 1997 on the Mick Foley DVD. It was unbelievably brutal back then and now the violence is just something that happens everyday. Fortunately for Mick, he walked away before things wore thin for him.

Where are they now?
Val remains in the WWE. In 2000, he was abducted and brainwashed into becoming a member of the Right to Censor group – created by the same brilliant satirists who gave us Billionaire Ted. As the RTC gimmick wound down, Val was injured and disappeared from WWE TV.

Val returned at the 2002 Royal Rumble, along with Mr. Perfect, the Godfather, and, ironically, Goldust. After an initial appearance on Raw, Val headed over to Smackdown where he was injured and disappeared again after a few months.

In November Val returned to Raw in a different guise. As Sean Morley, he now served as Eric Bischoff’s chief of staff. That lasted until May, when he lost a match to Jerry Lawler, giving Jim Ross his job back. A furious Bischoff immediately fired Morley.

At the 2003 Judgment Day, Morley returned to the Val Venis gimmick and has remained as Val ever since. Val has also received a very important second job as well. Apparently he is responsible for making sure that the lights are working properly at the end of his matches, because they always end with him flat on his back while the referee counts to three. This is a shame, because Venis is a talented wrestler and could be used much better.

Next Week
What could be worse than being a WCW midcarder in 2000? Being an unemployed WCW midcarder in 2000!