We Need to Talk About Perry Saturn
Note from John Canton: William Math is the final new writer that we hired in the TJR Writer Search within the last week. Here is the column that gained him a spot on this site. Enjoy!
There is a lot of wrestling written about on the ol' interwebs these days. Type 'wrestling blog' into google and you'll get a whole heap of sites, dramatically varying in quality, dissecting every aspect of pro graps from television to individual matches to future booking and everything in between.
A lot of these sites, the overwhelming majority, focus on the happenings or desired happenings of World Wrestling Entertainment. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of these will look at the top of the card, be it your generic main event chaps such as John Cena and Randy Orton or the darlings of us keyboard warriors, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Skinner. Heck, some might even venture to look at the goings on with regards to upper mid card guys, your Wade Barretts, Antonio Cesaros and Mizs.
Today however, I don't want to talk about the upsides of any of these guys. I don't even want to talk about the upside of anybody still contracted to WWE. Even more, I don't want to talk about anyone was the darling of an era, a major player from the past or a major player of the future. No, I want to talk about the only man who was forced to wrestle in a dress and actually seemed even more legitimate and tough in the process.
I want to talk about Perry Saturn.
Lifelong wrestling fans of my age will remember Perry Saturn. They may not remember him with the greatest clarity, but they will certainly remember something from his career. They may remember the aforementioned dress incident, they might remember him alongside Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit as The Radicalz, they might remember him as the leader of the mutiny against Raven's Flock. They might even remember Moppy, but nobody truly wants to.
Perry Saturn is one of those guys who served a purpose for us during the Monday Night Wars, but never dominated anything and never really threatened to either. It may come as a surprise then, that I believe Perry Saturn was the most underrated wrestler of the Monday Night Wars Era. Scratch that, I believe that Perry Saturn was the most underrated wrestler of the last 20 years, in a dress or not.
First of all, who was Perry Saturn? Other than the most underrated wrestler of the Attitude Era of course. He trained at the famed Killer Kowalski school of wrestling, other alumni of which include Kazarian, Damien Sandow and yes, Triple H. He would go on to form a hugely dominant tag team in ECW with his partner Kronus, called The Eliminators. Supposedly the original name was 'The Harvesters of Sorrow', Saturn being the Roman God of Harvest and all. The space/mythology geeks amongst you will also know that Kronus, or Cronus to be exact, is the Greek equivalent of Saturn. Clever.
The Eliminators were a major staple of the ECW tag scene, playing the part of say the Hart Foundation or Harlem Heat, a credible team who can stay around the titles and get other teams over in the process, without losing the aforementioned credibility. Saturn would then move onto WCW where he would feature in one of their few bright storyline moments as a member of Raven's Flock.
I absolutely LOVED this stable. Loved it. I thought itchy Kidman was awesome, and I even loved Sickboy. The idea of a group of total outcasts centred around the most infamous brainwasher in wrestling was just too good. Saturn played the role of the enforcer in the group, eventually standing up to Raven and succeeding in freeing the rest of the group. It's a testament to both the writing and Saturn himself that he was the only member of the group that anyone ever thought could stand up to Raven. This was followed by a feud with Chris Jericho which led to a match where the loser had to wear a dress for 90 days, and of course Saturn lost and proceeded to totally own the male in a dress gimmick. Much like WCW, Saturn pottered around aimlessly after this, eventually leaving in 2000.
People remember The Radicalz for being the beginning of the WWE careers of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. People often forget the other two members of the group, which is particularly galling for myself as they were the guy who I think is the most underrated wrestler of the last 20 years, and the final member was my all time favourite wrestler (Dean Malenko). The Radicalz could have amounted to something a lot more as a stable, being closer to what everyone always wants The Four Horseman to be than any other four man group in memory, but instead fizzled out for a multitude of reasons, one of which could be their position as 'WCW' guys. Or maybe I'm speculating.
As a singles competitor, Saturn would go on to win the European Championship, as well as being a two time Hardcore Champion, which isn't such a great feat when you realise that his total number of days as champion was zero and one of The Godfather's Hos was also a champion. It doesn't get any better for Perry Saturn in the WWE however, as he is best known for two things. One of these is legitimately kicking the crap out of a jobber called Mike Bell, and the other is Moppy. Moppy was, yes, a mop, that Saturn fell in love with. This all happened whilst he was in an on-screen relationship with Terri Runnels, and is thought to be as direct consequence of the Mike Bell incident. On screen, he had suffered head trauma in a match against the APA and went completely mental. His WWE career was done, and after stopping an attempted rape and getting shot in the heck, Saturn disappeared of the face of the earth for about 5 years, before resurfacing after winning a battle against drug addiction and homelessness. Damn.
What was so great about a guy best remembered for being besotted with a mop? Well, I can't think of any wrestler of the past 20 years, not off the top of my head at least, who looked as legitimately tough as Perry Saturn. He certainly wasn't the only bald guy with tattoos, but there was a certain unhinged glare in his face that would make you think wisely against disagreeing with him in the alleyway out back. Pro wrestling is so interesting in this line, as there is such a disparity in the aesthetics of the guys involved. Some guys look like they should be nowhere near a fight, guys like The Miz, Garrett Bischoff and early ECW Tommy Dreamer.
Perry Saturn looked like he had just had a triple threat against mental illness and horrible memories and somehow managed to come out on top. He had the look of a man who would fight you, and win. Not only this, but after losing the aforementioned match to Jericho resulting in him wearing a dress for 90 days, he did the impossible and looked even tougher. That's right, Saturn wrestled in a dress for 90 days and looked even more intimidating in a legitimate way than he already did. He did it to such a convincing degree that he could probably have taken it as a long term gimmick and gotten away with it. Saturn could probably walk through central Mogadishu in a dress and have absolutely no problems. Take that Big Vito. His bald head, tattoos and crazy eyes are not unique in wrestling, but show me someone who did it as convincingly as Perry Saturn, and I'll show you a liar.
He was also almost the perfect size for a professional wrestling workhorse. Not too big, not too small, just right. He could go in there against guys like Billy Kidman and look imposing against them without dwarfing them, without it becoming a generic little versus large story. At the same time, he could go up against guys like The Giant (The Big Show) and not look dwarfed himself, not have to resort to just hit and run type tactics. He was a size bigger than your Eddie Guerreros and Chris Jerichos, and certainly in my mind he was the smallest size of your stereotypical Vince McMahon size guy. He was the prototypical hoss workhorse.
One of, if not the best aspects of Perry Saturn, Professional Wrestler, was his move set and general in ring ability. This man was an absolute ring general, with an offensive artillery that was more varied and believable than most. His unique positioning in the size vacuum between big guy and little guy translated into his ring work beautifully. The man threw suplexes like they were going out of fashion, with seemingly no limit on the variation, be it Exploder, Saito, Northern Lights, whatever. He could produce a barrage of kicks that were ahead of his time. He had simply the prettiest top rope elbow drop I have ever seen, and this is from a guy who adored Randy Savage as a child. And yes, I used 'prettiest' and 'Perry Saturn' in the same context. He used a Death Valley Driver that was sort of an anti-Attitude Adjustment, in that it looked absolutely vicious.
To top all of this off, the guy had the one thing that most genuine wrestling fans will adore, which is a convincing finishing submission maneuver. The Rings of Saturn (clever) was an armbar type submission, not too dissimilar to the Regal Stretch. To accentuate this, the guy had really tight limb work throughout his bouts, an absolutely essential part of in ring quality. Simply put, Perry Saturn had some of the most unique, varied and visually painful offence of his time. Its important to remember as well that he had his most exposure in the late 90s, when the top guys in the industry had little variation in their offence. In many ways, his in ring style reminds me a lot of Kurt Angle, only before Kurt Angle was around. The more I think about it, the more this comparison is apt. Perry Saturn was the prototype Kurt Angle, with regards to his in ring qualities.
The main criticism that would be leveled at Perry Saturn, and a criticism I myself have often put against the chap, is in the personality department. When I think back to those days, I can only imagine one in ring facial expression that he pulled, one of diligence, getting on with his job, no drama. In fact, I don't really remember much personality from Perry Saturn whatsoever. But then I go back and watch, and boy was I wrong. This guy was saddled with a gimmick where he fell in love with a mop, A MOP, and he managed to get it over.
As much as I don't want to remember it, Moppy was over. His often beautiful exclamation of 'you're welcome' in the middle of nowhere was also a mark of genius, showcasing an ability to do comedic wrestling that no one had previously thought possible in the stoic Saturn.
He didn't have the in ring facial expressions of a Kurt Angle or a Dean Ambrose, but then who does? No professional wrestler in history fits all definitions and is perfect for everyone. Daniel Bryan isn't big enough for some. Steve Austin was a little one dimensional at times.
Saturn didn't have the in ring facial expressions, but boy did he have everything else. He looked legitimate, he was the perfect size, he had solid comedic chops and the guy could go in the ring in a varied and exciting way. One of my favourite in ring Saturn moments came Eddie Guerrero at Halloween Havoc 1999, where he straight out boss hoss dead-lifted Guerrero from a seated position into a slam, followed quickly and seamlessly by a quebrada. Yes, a hoss dead-lift slam into an SPRINGBOARD FREAKIN' MOONSAULT.
Perry Saturn was the closest thing I have ever seen to my perfect professional wrestler, and I can't understand why everyone else didn't agree.
Starting next week, William Math's columns will regularly appear on TJRWrestling.com on Saturdays. If you have any thoughts, comment on the column below.