I get letters: Following last week’s ITR, where I mentioned that Cookie Monster had signed a lucrative contract with NWA T&A, I received the following (legit?) email from a (concerned?) reader:
Bulldog, Cookie Monster never wrestled. I can’t help but think you just made that whole story up.
Me? Make up something? Perish the thought!!!
The truth is, Cookie Monster has a long, storied history in the “squared circle”, most of which happened well before inking a contract with the startup TNA promotion earlier this month. For those of you too stupid to remember it all, I will present you with but a few of his career highlights.
This column, by the way, is dedicated to my four year-old son, who helped me select some of the (less-offensive) artwork.
Peace, out, Bulldog
By the way, most of this information can be found on the following DVD:
Chapter One: Early Days
Our story begins in Minnesota, circa 1974. A young Cookie Monster injures his arm while in training camp for the Minnesota Vikings. After trying his hand at various jobs (bouncing at nightclubs, personal trainer, cookie baker), a friend suggested the fuzzy blue monster try out professional wrestling.
After graduating from Verne Gagne’s wrestling camp in an all-star class that included ”American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Tony “Cannonball” Parisi, ”Whipper” Billy Watson, ”The Alaskan” Jay York and Oscar “The Grouch”, Cookie debuted wrestling in armories, VFW halls and high school gyms throughout the U.S. Midwest.
Initially wrestling under a hood as the luchador sensation “El Cookie Monstiero”, he eventually dropped the mask to the delight of fans in the territory. His straight-forward, no-nonsense style was an instant hit with crowds.
Cookie was like a fuzzy blue sponge, soaking up valuable experience while tangling with established greats and legends in the making. It was during this time when he began battling to one-hour draws across the circuit with a still-wet-behind-the-ears ”Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
Two greats -- Flair and Monster -- stare each other down prior to a bout in Japan. (Date Unknown).
However, the promoter’s stingy payoffs, even at the main event level, forced him to make a change of scenery.
Chapter Two: Branching Out
1977: Cookie engages “Superstar” Billy Graham in a test of strength at the old Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Cookie Monster took to the California wrestling scene almost as quickly as he took to, well, eating cookies.
Competing against some of the era’s greats such as Red Bastien, ”Rowdy” Roddy Piper and ”Big” Bird, fans would line up for miles outside of any of the arenas he helped to sell out.
For the first time in his career, Cookie’s outings were televised to the masses. This meant valuable exposure to the world of public television, which would prove handy later when he signed a “multiyear” contract with the Public Broadcasting Service.
California also provided a life of excess: plenty of women, drugs and Chips Ahoy were his for the asking. It would be another decade before his personal demons caught up to him.
“Me thought me was invincible,” Cookie wrote in his 1998 autobiography Bite Me. “Nothing could stop me back then. Um num num!”
Chapter Three: Monster In Demand
A brief run with the Missouri title in 1980 -- which, at the time was seen by many as a steppingstone to the NWA World Championship -- led to increased bookings around the world. Cookie terrorized Texas, slaughtered St. Louis and toppled Tennessee.
He also became an international superstar, commanding at least $5,000 a night -- an unheard of fee at the time -- to headline shows in Europe, Latin America and Puerto Rico.
“Me able to name own price,” Cookie was quoted as saying in the December 1982 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated (“Press Conference”).
1981: Wearing the proverbial crimson-and-fur mask, Cookie does a rare blade job during a match with Abdullah the Butcher in San Juan.
Chapter Four: The Federation Years
In the mid-1980’s, Vince McMahon revolutionized the wrestling industry by signing the biggest names in the business. Cookie was no exception.
“Quite frankly, we loved him,” World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon once told Sports Illustrated. “He was larger than life and yet he could appeal to WWF fans young and old.”
Debuting in the company shortly after the first WrestleMania, Cookie started a long-running feud with Nikolai Volkoff, where Cookie would interrupt the Soviet national anthem to sing “C is for Cookie” (which, sadly, did not make the final cut of songs on the Piledriver album).
Like most hot babyfaces during that era, Captain Lou Albano became his manager. During one memorable episode of the television show Tuesday Night Titans, Albano coaxed his client into baking his famous Oatmeal Raisin cookies. This, of course, was merely a setup for Jimmy Hart to slip corn syrup into the mix, starting a six-month-long feud with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine over the Intercontinental Title.
1987: Cookie and Hulk Hogan pose together prior to a main event against Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy
However, Cookie’s biggest threat wasn’t one of the WWF’s evil villains, it was then-WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan.
“Hulk always see me as threat,” Cookie recalled during a shoot interview with RF Video in 1998. “Me supposed to be first one to slam Andre the Giant in ‘87, but me get screwed because of Hulk.”
“Brother, I don’t even know what the dude is talking about, brother,” Hogan said in a 2002 ‘Torch Talk’ with Wade Keller. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard about that, brother. Brother, we would go to some towns and the dude would help to sell out the place, brother. I had nothing but respect for the dude, brother.”
Regardless of Hogan’s good intentions, Cookie found himself sliding down the card after each time he and Hogan butted heads (backstage, that is; the WWF would never match up two babyfaces). Soon, Cookie went from main-eventing WWF’s “B shows” to teaming with George The Animal Steele on the company’s weekly syndicated television shows. He wasn’t even invited to the Slammy Awards in ’88.
“Me knew me had to leave,” Cookie said in his biography. “Me said so long to Vince McMahon. Vince McMahon said so long to giving me merchandise royalties.”
Chapter Five: That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles
After a brief stint in Stu Hart’s Calgary Stampede promotion, Cookie decided to “retire” and open up his own wrestling school. Although one student (Elmo) became a later success, the school got a nasty reputation because of its owner’s propensity for skipping out on lessons and instead bringing in “guest instructors”, such as Harley Race and Rick Steamboat.
Soon, the world learned why the once-beloved Cookie Monster was so negligent: addiction problems.
1990: Cookie facing his problems head-on
He was addicted to prescription cookies, and so-called “mark doctors” were only to happy to keep supplying him with the stuff. After one shaky and controversial appearance at a Montreal indy show (he bit a fan instead of his cookies post-match), some friends sat him down and forced him to recognize he had a problem.
“He was out of control, chico,” said Scott Hall, who, for some reason, agreed to use his old Razor Ramon voice for this interview. “I sat him down and say ‘Yo, you have a problem’, maing, but it went in one ear… and out the other, chico. Even though he doesn’t have ears. I told him the drugs were going to carve… him… up, but he had too much machismo to listen to me, maing.”
It wasn’t until several months later that Cookie checked himself into the famed Betty Crocker Institute for baked-goods addiction. This wasn’t to say he didn’t fall off the wagon a few times, but he was definitely making progress.
Chapter Six: Spending Time Down South
In the late-1990’s, WCW Vice-President Eric Bischoff scoured the earth to sign former WWF talent. When he discovered that ex-headliners like Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog and Adrian Adonis were mostly dead, it was at the suggestion of Diamond Dallas Page that he gave Cookie Monster a call.
“I’m tired of people saying that wrestlers like Cookie Monster are over the hill,” Bischoff said during a 1996 Prodigy chat. “By the way, WCW will always beat WWF in the ratings war, and there’s no way I’m ever going to work for Vince McMahon. EVER!!! BANK ON IT!!!”
Cookie quickly was thrust into a program with Rick Martel, and was even teased as a member of The Four Horsemen before that storyline was stopped dead in its tracks. Then, one fateful night on a taping of Nitro, Bischoff decided to hotshot the one great angle he had left: turning the Monster into a monster heel.
1997: Cookie Monster joins the nWo -- for life.
Of course, no WCW wrestler’s career would be complete without having a stable of their own. Cookie “got the band back together” and formed the Sesame Street World Order (or if you prefer, SSWO).
1997: An evil crew, brought to you by the number two.
Unfortunately, Cookie got into numerous backstage arguments with his old nemesis Hogan. This resulted in Cookie getting his WCW release mere hours before he was to face U.S. Champion Sting in the co-main event of Hallowe’en Havoc.
“Vince McMahon always said that WCW wouldn’t know what to do with a Cookie Monster,” Cookie said in his biography. “He right. Um num num!”
Chapter Seven: Back to New York
“Quite frankly, we were searching for someone at the time who could rebel against authority, quite frankly,” said Vince McMahon in -- oh, I don’t know, let’s just say, in an e-mail message to me recently. “Cookie was the perfect combination of size, strength, experience and charisma. That good enough for me!”
1998: Cookie shows Vince what he thinks of him during a special edition of Raw is War.
Cookie, by now a grizzled veteran, helped usher in the WWF’s new “Attitude” era by representing blue-collar fans, and blue fans in general, in the battle against authority figures. Then, without warning, his wave of popularity was yanked out from under him because of a drastic character change.
Cookie Monster was transformed into the rapping monster C-Doggy Dogg and filmed vignettes where he vowed to breakdance his way to victory in the WWF.
“Fucking Russo,” Cookie said during his shoot video. “How long has breakdancing been dead for? Stupid idea. Um num num.”
The C-Dog gimmick was eventually ditched, but by that point, the damage had already been done. He had gone, as so often happens in this cruel business, from cookie eater to curtain jerker.
Instead of languishing in the prelims on Sunday Night Heat, Cookie accepted a sweet offer from Bischoff, thus becoming the only wrestler ever to appear on the USA Network, TNT and PBS in the same week.
“The impact of Cookie appearing on three shows can’t be overstated,” said Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. “In our next issue, we’ll get into the lessons Vince McMahon learned from this, and why its ramifications are still relevant today. We’ll also look at Cookie’s life and times. We’ll also look at how Bret didn’t screw Bret, Cookie screwed Bret. We’ll also…”
After that, he was never used again by WCW, but continued to collect a fat paycheck from the company sitting at home.
“Who laughing now, Bischoff? Ahahahahahaha!” Cookie said in a 2001 interview with Wrestleline.com, shortly after the WWF purchased WCW. “Me want cookies!”
Unfortunately, he was not one of the original 20 WCW workers picked up by Vince McMahon (although The Count managed to get a developmental deal at that time; go figure). When the InVasion angle came around, Cookie was the one critic who told everyone the storyline wasn’t being booked properly.
Cookie Monster never returned to the limelight.
…OR DID HE????
Chapter Eight: What’s Next?
As reported in this very column last week, Total Nonstop Action wrestling signed Cookie to a lucrative contract.
2004: Well, you already saw this picture last week…
However, that deal reportedly fell through less than 24 hours later, because Cookie was convinced that the presence of Randy Savage was making for an unsafe work environment. He quit on the spot, costing TNA more than $4 million (or, roughly the same amount that 9,000 of their weekly PPV’s would have taken in.)
Can Cookie go back to WWE? Never say never in this business, but no, he never will. He could still make a decent buck on the indy scene, but chances are pretty good that instead, he’ll return to his first love:
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.
I’ll be back next week with something decidedly-less non-Cookie-related. Remember, if you heard it here first, it’s… Inside The Ropes.
How could you leave out that special period between his getting screwed in WCW and his showing up in the WWF where he revolutionized wrestling by introducing the Blue Cookie World Order in ECW? Those legendary nights when the ECW crowd would chant "Snuffalufugus Is Dead, Snuffalufugus Is Dead" will always be significant in wrestling lore.
Money is no replacement for the love of a good woman. Real estate, especially in the current marketplace, is another story.
Much like the rumored 2 Ultimate Warriors. After reading this very in depth biography with photos I'm more convinced then ever there were 2 Cookie Monsters, you can just tell it's two different guys.
smark/net attack wienerville advisory holds at ORANGE alert - High (JBL is STILL WWE champion and now smarks arch enemy HHH is the World Champion. Major red threat, but the undercard seems okay. The alert holds... for now)- 9/19
RAW, SmackDown! and Clearasil present WWE Judgment Day 18.5.3 Charlotte Coliseum Charlotte, NC 1... John Cena Rhyno Chuck Palumbo vs. Spanky Johnny Stamboli Chris Benoit Palumbo (3'57" Kiss of Death [Veg-o-matic])...