95. KEVIN SULLIVAN
Aliases – Merlin the Wizard; Johnny West;
Kevin Caldwell; Masked Lucifer; The Taskmaster
Hometown – Boston, Massachusetts
Debuted – 1970
Titles Held – WCW Tag Team; ECW Tag Team; NWA United States Tag Team
Other Accomplishments – led the Dungeon of Doom in WCW in 1995; wife Nancy divorced him in 1997 and married on-screen rival Chris Benoit
The tale of Kevin Sullivan should be mandatory study material at every wrestling school across the country. You leave your wife at home. It’s very important that you do not take her with you. If you have to take her with you, keep her out of storylines. If she has to be in storylines, don’t have her betraying you for another man. If she does betray you for another man in a storyline, well, don’t encourage them to really get into it and live the gimmick. I guess, well, they’re going to wind up sleeping with one another.
Kevin Sullivan and his wife, Nancy, had a nice little early career. He worshipped Satan in Florida, she worshipped Satan with him, not a bad little life. If only he had stayed in Florida worshipping Satan. Instead he moved to NWA and founded the Varsity Club with Mike Rotunda and Rick Steiner in 1987. Members came and left, but Kevin Sullivan was always a constant. After the Varsity Club wore out their welcome Sullivan formed a brief partnership with Cactus Jack they would later rekindle. Before they could have some amazing matches against the Nasty Boys, Sullivan had to fulfill his greatest role as Merlin the Wizard, manager of the Great and Powerful OZ!
So Merlin didnÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½t work out all that well and Sullivan left WCW for Smokey Mountain Wrestling, where he was lucky enough to reunite with his wife Nancy Sullivan. He beat on Brian Lee for a bit before jumping to ECW to team with Taz and feud with Public Enemy. Realizing he was spending too much time with the wife and was quite close to putting her into a storyline where sheÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½d be required to cheat on him and might actually do it in real life, he left for WCW.
And thus we come to the awful years. IÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½m not sure thereÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s enough blame in the world to go around for what happened in the early 90ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s with WCW, but Kevin Sullivan always seemed to be right in the middle of it. He did have some great hardcore matches with Cactus Jack and the Nasty Boys, but the focus was on his relationship with his fake brother Evad, or Dave. Imagine Eugene but bigger and a worse actor and you have Evad. Anyway, Evad came back from an injury dressed as Hulk Hogan. This pissed off Kevin so Kevin feuded with Evad and vowed the destruction of Hulk Hogan.
So Kevin decided to put together a stable to defeat Hulk Hogan. This stable was comprised of himself, Brutus Beefcake (The Butcher) and John Tenta (Avalanche/Shark). They feuded with Hulk Hogan, Sting and Randy Savage. Someone figured out that having three of the most dominant wrestlers of the modern era feud with #95 and two not listed stars wasnÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½t too fair, so Kevin Sullivan added about 1000 lbs of shit to his stable and called it the Dungeon of Doom. Kevin Sullivan was known as the Taskmaster.
To really skip over this area is to skip over the Brian Pillman angle, but that was more a highlight of PillmanÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s career than SullivanÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s. LetÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s just say that the Dungeon of Doom and the resulting Alliance to Destroy Hulkamania was probably the dumbest thing ever. Not just in wrestling, ever. There have been greater evil perpetrated upon mankind by other men, IÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½m just not sure there was anything as stupid and misguided as this angle. New Coke? I think that caused riots it was so lousy. Maybe New Coke.
Woman, meanwhile, had been a valet for the Steiners and Doom but most famously for the 4 Horsemen. Kevin Sullivan needed to wash that awful New Coke Dungeon taste out of everyoneÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s mouth. HEY! He knew what to do. He was booking after all. How about Woman reveals that she was really SullivanÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s wife and pretend to sleep with Chris Benoit? And because fans had to be fooled, Chris and Nancy should spend all their time together and stay in the same hotel room and hold hands in public. My thought as to why Kevin Sullivan wanted it to go this far is because wrestling fans had only been made aware that it was all fake for about a decade at this point and needed to be swerved. This was a pretty good angle and led to about a million stiff Chris Benoit/Kevin Sullivan matches. Some of them were really good and brutal. The reason they looked like they really hated each other was because Chris and Nancy started having sex. Sullivan divorced his wife, forced her to quit wrestling by booking her to get topless, lost a retirement match to Benoit and disappeared. When he regained the booking job in 2000 it caused Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Perry Saturn to quit WCW.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The preceding article was written before the horrible double murder/suicide committed by Chris Benoit. We extend Kevin Sullivan our sympathies on the loss of his ex-wife.
Sullivan owns a gym and still wrestles occasionally in Florida.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.