Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past – Unemployed Norman Smiley


Unemployed, Norman Smiley – WCW, 2000

It was a bad time to be Norman Smiley. When Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff had returned a couple of months earlier, Norman had thrown his lot in with the New Blood. And, at Spring Stampede, Norman had been the only New Blood to lose his title match – in his case, the Hardcore title to Terry Funk. At Slamboree, Norman had come up on the losing end again despite having a mystery partner (who turned out to be Ralphus).

The next night Norman was given more bad news – he and Ralphus would take on Terry Funk again for the title, and if they lost they were fired. So they won. Just kidding. Funk pinned them both, and they were both fired. Apparently, Ralphus’s shirt, which read “Just say no to” and had an arrow pointing down, could not save them.

The next Wednesday we were welcomed to Wackyville, as we caught a brief glimpse of Norman Smiley and Ralphus outside the arena with a cardboard sign which read “Will wrestle for food.” You know, maybe if they’d save some money instead of following WCW around, they could eat.

On Nitro, we again saw Norman and Ralphus begging for money. Unfortunately, they’d only been able to make $1.25. That was when Norman had an idea – he and Ralphus got jobs selling popcorn at the arena! Brilliant, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, Ralphus reached into the popcorn right after digging in his rear end and got them fired. Oh, well. Keep Ralphus away from the food. Lesson learned.

Norman and Ralphus had another brilliant idea for Thunder. They set up outside the arena and started selling fake FUNB shirts. (In case you’re forgotten, the NB stands for New Blood, the FU I’ll let you figure out on your own). This time misfortune struck when Terry Funk was defending the Hardcore title against the Cat. The brawl destroyed Norman and Ralphus’s shirt stand. Just to top off the evening, the guys were then arrested for selling bootleg shirts.

Coming up to Nitro, they had put their heads together and started washing cars out behind the arena. The Filthy Animals (Konnan, Disco, Rey, etc.) pulled up behind them in a lowrider, and apparently wanted their car washed. Major Gunns (the Animals were feuding with the Misfits in Action) then distracted Ralphus with her two best features while Major Stash (aka Van Hammer) switched Ralphus’s bucket of water with another mystery bucket, which turned out to be white paint. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that the switch had occurred until after they had “whitewashed” the Animals’ car. The Animals responded by attacking Norman and Ralphus, and left Ralphus laying. Fortunately, the MIA were good guys and volunteered Major Gunns’s incredible medical abilities. Major Gunns gave Ralphus mouth-to-mouth, then let out a yell when Ralphus tried to slip her the tongue.

On Thunder, the guys were trying to sell things to Shane Douglas who finally gave up and gave them a shot at the Hardcore title later on that night. The match ended when Ralphus, who was wearing a gorilla suit, nailed Douglas with a chair for the win. The gorilla then unmasked to reveal… Terry Funk. A furious Douglas later confronted Norman, asking what Terry had paid them for the double-cross. Norman said that Terry had doubled Shane’s offer. Douglas leveled Smiley, then dragged Ralphus out to the ring and began punishing him. The Wall came out and put Douglas through a table while Norman and Ralphus escaped and headed to the back.

Things were really bleak on the next episode of Thunder. No one was interested in Norman and Ralphus’s Lawn Care Service or Ralphus’s Babysitting Service. Norman then saw a sign that announced that wrestling was today in a backyard and kids were running for it. Norman had an idea.

Two kids were fighting in the back when they arrived. Norman asked if everyone knew who he was. Of course. Booker T. An unperturbed Norman continued by explaining that backyard wrestling was dangerous and offered to teach the kids to wrestle. Norman found the 130 pound champion and got into the makeshift ring with him. Norman demonstrated a half nelson – then rolled the kid up! Ralphus counted the pin, and Norman was the champion! Unfortunately, they couldn’t celebrate for long. Those kids were chasing them.

That was the end of the angle. No payoff, no nothing. It just stopped. Maybe Norman and Ralphus went on welfare.

Okay. This was a comedy gimmick done right. First, Norman and Ralphus had the personality to pull this off. The two made a great team and really helped to get this over with fans.

The length of time was great, too. Unlike Positively Kanyon, this wrapped up in under a month. The only gripe I had was the lack of a payoff. Norman & Ralphus should have done something in the end to win their jobs back.

Where are they now?
Norman Smiley is still active on the indy scene. He recently appeared on the Tampa Wrestlereunion show, where was in a battle royal which was won by Greg Valentine.

As for Ralphus, I have no idea. He seems to have disappeared after WCW was shut down. He was originally a truck driver for them, so I would not be surprised to learn that he is still working with the Turner organization driving a semi for them. If anyone out there can help fill me in on his whereabouts, I’ll go ahead and update next week with them.

Next Week
What happens when a WCW wrestler snaps?