Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Hak – WCW, 1999
The Sandman had debuted in ECW as a surfer named Mr. Sandman. It didn’t take long until Sandman evolved into the smoking, drinking, Singapore cane-wielding wrestler we’re familiar with today. The new Sandman connected with the ECW fans, and it didn’t take long for him to rise to the top of the organization.
Then he decided to accept an offer to jump to WCW.
He debuted as Raven’s friend Jim, who soon disappeared.
On the February 1st Nitro, a new wrestler debuted. The former Sandman (although he was not named here), carrying a Singapore cane and wrapped in barbed wire, made his way to the ring and challenged Bam Bam Bigelow by naming all the things he’d done in ECW. Bigelow accepted and soon won the match.
It was the February 20th Saturday Night before he showed up again. Now known as Hardcore Hak, the former Sandman was set to take Bull Pain. Hak easily won with a (White) Russian leg sweep.
Hak took on Damian (CMLL’s Damian 666) to open the February 25th Thunder. Damian wound up gaining control of the cane and giving Hak three shots with it, but a missed fourth one gave Hak the opening to hit the Russian leg sweep for the win.
On the March 1st Nitro, Raven and Bam Bam Bigelow were brawling backstage. Hak then ran in and caned everyone in sight.
One week later, we had a falls count anywhere match between Raven (being accompanied by his sister Chastity) and Hak. The brawl was going nicely when Bigelow came out and attacked both men. The bell rang as the referee ruled the match a no contest. You can imagine the crowd’s reaction and the three men brawled.
On Thunder, Hak was taking on the Barbarian. After Barbarian’s manager Jimmy Hart tried to throw his man the cane behind the referee’s back, Hak intercepted it and started choking Barbarian with it. One Russian leg sweep later, Hak had the win.
Hak made another appearance that week on Worldwide, where he used his trusty Russian leg sweep to put Damian away.
That brought us to Uncensored. On this show, we had Hak taking on Raven and Bam Bam to determine the king of hardcore. Hak finished off a great hardcore match by rolling on top of Raven (after Chastity gave him a shot below the belt) for the win.
On Nitro the next night, Hak didn’t put in an appearance. Instead, Raven gave an interview where he talked about how he’d gotten Hak and Chastity jobs in WCW, and that was how they repaid him.
Hak showed up again the next Nitro. Rikki Rachtman was preparing to start the “This Week in WCW Motorsports” segment when Hak showed up. He demanded that he be called “Hardcore Hak, the King of Hardcore.” Rachtman responded by saying that he’d heard that Hak had a match against Goldberg later in the night.
Later in the night, Hak did indeed take on Goldberg. Goldberg ignored the cane shots, then hit the spear and jackhammer for the win.
The April 5th Nitro opened with Hak (now being accompanied by Chastity) taking on Barry Windham in a kendo stick match. Hak wound up cracking Windham with the kendo stick, then hit his Russian leg sweep for the win.
Hak faced off against the returning Mikey Whipwreck (who’d been out for injury) on Thunder. Hak wound up winning, then Bam Bam Bigelow came out after the match and attacked him. Chastity tried to fight Bigelow off with the Singapore cane, but Bigelow simply grabbed it and took a swing at her to drive her out of the ring.
That brought us to Spring Stampede, where Hak took on Bigelow. Bigelow finally gained the advantage and put Hak through a table with a Death Valley Driver for the win.
On the 19th, Hak took on Brian Knobbs. Knobbs ended the match by splashing onto a trash can on top of Hak.
Thunder opened with Hak taking on First Family member Hugh Morrus (Bill DeMott). While Jimmy Hart and Chastity fought over weapons on the outside, Hak hit the Russian leg sweep and got the win.
The following Nitro saw Hak taking on Brian Knobbs, Horace, and Mikey Whipwreck. The stipulation was that the winner would take on Bam Bam Bigelow at the next pay-per-view – Slamboree. Knobbs finally splashed Mikey with a ladder and won the spot.
On Thunder, Hak and Chastity came out for Chastity to pick Hak’s opponent for the night. The lucky opponent? Kevin Nash.
As expected, Nash easily won the match. Hey, he was the booker at the time! You didn’t think he’d lose, did you?
Hak took on Bam Bam Bigelow on Nitro. Bigelow finally suplexed Hak through some tables, which brought out a trash can-carrying Brian Knobbs. Knobbs and Hak beat down Bigelow, then Knobbs and Hak started brawling.
Hak was back on Saturday Night as he took on Bull Payne. Rack up another win for the former ECW world champion.
That brought us to Slamboree. However, Hak wasn’t there, so let’s move on.
Hak had Finlay the next night on Nitro. They were brawling when Brian Knobbs put in an appearance to have the match thrown out.
Hak opened the May 31st Nitro by taking on Kidman. Kidman was getting ready to win when the First Family came out and attacked. While Hugh Morrus and Jimmy Hart beat up Kidman, Knobbs went after Hak.
Hugh Morrus took on Kidman on Thunder. Kidman was getting ready to go for the Shooting Star Press when Knobbs pushed him off the top and the entire First Family attacked him. That brought Hak out to break it up and send the Family to the back. After that, Kidman offered Hak a handshake, so Hak cracked him across the head with his Singapore cane.
The following Nitro saw Hak taking on Prince Iaukea. Schiavone was quick to verbally jump on Hak when he came out smoking a cigarette. Eric Bischoff (on commentary) said that the match wouldn’t start until Hak put out the cigarette. JJ Dillon came out of the back and informed Hak of this. Hak responded by blowing smoke in his face. That sent Bischoff to the ring with the same message, so Hak blew smoke in his face as well. Bischoff slapped Hak, then security intervened as Hak readied his Singapore cane. Bischoff then allowed Hak to wrestle, while pointing out flaws in his conditioning on commentary. Hak won the match, and then got jumped by the First Family. Kidman ran out to save him but wound up overwhelmed as well.
Hak had a match against Hugh Morrus on the next Saturday Night. As soon as the bell rang, Knobbs interfered for the DQ. They attacked Hak until Kidman ran in for the save.
Then we arrived at the Great American Bash, where Hak fought Brian Knobbs. Hak wound up winning the match, and then the First Family attacked and left him lying.
On Nitro, Finlay was taking on Knobbs. As Finlay was struggling with Jimmy Hart over a chair, they both wound up clocking Knobbs with it. Then Hak ran in and caned Knobbs, which gave Finlay a clear shot to get the win. This Nitro was also notable for one reason – Sable (who’d recently left the WWF) was in the crowd.
Worldwide saw Hak taking on Rick Steiner. The match ended when Sting appeared and went after Steiner.
Things, however, had changed for Hak. WCW President Ric Flair had appeared at Thunder with a new executive ruling – no hardcore matches in any of his WCW arenas.
On Nitro, Hak took on Bigelow. Hak started by calling out Flair, who failed to answer. Hak had things under control until Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon, Bigelow’s fellow members of the Jersey Triad, ran in. After a Diamondcutter, Bigelow had an easy win.
The following Nitro saw the picture fuzz out and come back in to Hak and Chastity standing in the back. Hak talked about Flair banning hardcore matches in WCW arenas, and then said that he’d just take them outside. Hak then challenged all the hardcore wrestlers to a junkyard match at Bash at the Beach.
That brought us to the infamous Junkyard Invitational match at Bash at the Beach. The rules were simple – the competitors would start out in the middle of a ring of cars, then fight their way to the outer wall and hop the fence. The first one out won.
The entire match was chaos, and most of it couldn’t be seen on camera. In the end, Finlay hopped the fence and won the Hardcore Invitational Trophy.
That was it for Hak. He vanished from WCW television immediately after the match, and turned back up in ECW shortly thereafter.
Let’s face it – Sandman is a character who thrives in a unique, rule-free environment. That environment perfectly describes ECW. However, WCW never had a decent hardcore division, instead treating the entire division like a joke. Hak merely fell into the joke and did the best he could, but he didn’t fare as well in an environment where his character was this neutered (no cigarettes, no beer, no blood). It was even being reported that WCW wanted him to do away with the tattoo of his bleeding face on the inside of his arm. It’s no shocker that Hak never fit in.
Where are they now?
As mentioned above, Sandman was back in ECW by the end of the year. In 2001, Sandman recaptured the ECW world title and then immediately lost it to Rhino (the last ECW champion) at Guilty As Charged (the final ECW pay-per-view).
After ECW closed, Sandman worked the independents for a while and joined TNA in 2003. While there he feuded with former ECW mainstays such as Raven and New Jack, but eventually wound up allied with Raven to feud with Father James Mitchell’s New Church. In early 2004, Sandman left TNA and returned to the independent scene.
Sandman worked WWE for ECW One Night Stand and Shane Douglas’s Hardcore Homecoming in 2005. In 2006, with ECW being restarted by the WWE, Sandman was one of the first to sign. At the second One Night Stand pay-per-view, Sandman made an appearance and caned Raw’s Eugene to the back.
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