The day of the week known as Thursday has worn many hats from major party night in college to last real day of the work week in the real world and “TBT” or “Throwback Thursday” in the social media world. Each Thursday for this column, however, shall henceforth be known as Time Machine Thursday, or TMT for short, and will bring you one of professional wrestling’s awesomely forgotten or infamously awful wrestlers or gimmicks which were ahead of their time.
LOS ANGELES, September 25, 2014 — Waylon Mercy, whose real name is Dan Spivey, arrived in the WWF at the tail end of his wrestling career. The 6’7” 310 pound former “Skyscraper” was set to be wrestling’s version of the 1991 movie Cape Fear’s Max Cady. In the Cape Fear remake, Robert De Niro depicted a recently released convict who is obsessed with revenge on the lawyer who sent him to prison. Like Cady, Mercy wore long jet black hair, had a penchant for Hawaiian shirts, and sported several strange tattoos, including a dagger on his forehead.
Waylon Mercy was introduced through a series of vignettes in which he was speaking in a calm yet sinister manner. “Lives are gonna be in Waylon Mercy’s hands. You know what I mean?” That menacing statement was spoken in 1995 by Waylon Mercy. As he spoke, you got the impression that he was the wrestler who was “Most Likely to Smile and Laugh While Stabbing You to Death.”
Check out Waylon’s introductory vignette. In an era of wrestlers screaming at the top of their lungs during promos, his delivery was deliberate and very sinister. Waylon Mercy was someone who should be taken very seriously. He was not your typical wrestling bad guy in the 90s. According to Waylon, all he wants to be is peaceful when he arrives in the WWF.
Waylon Mercy was a silky smooth, silver tongued Southern gentleman. He would shake hands with fans on his way to the ring, with his opponent, and even the referee before his matches would start. All he wanted was peace, right? Once the bell rang, Mercy immediately transformed into a crazed lunatic, complete with the craziest killer eyes ever. He pounced on his opponents as if he were in a prison riot with a sharpened toothbrush. When Mercy was done choking the ever loving life out of his opponent with his finisher, the sleeper hold, he would quickly snap back into his mild mannered pre-match emotional state.
Here is Waylon destroying a young Jeff Hardy.
This unique high concept gimmick was light years ahead of its time. It could be argued that Waylon Mercy was actually two entirely different characters wrapped into one scary package. Mercy stands out as an anomaly in an era where cartoony gimmicks for wrestlers were the norm. The WWF had a garbage man and a clown masquerading as wrestlers.
How did a wrestling serial killer slip through the cracks? Now you are talking! This gimmick was almost too sophisticated for the pre-Internet wrestling fans. Though, near the end of Waylon’s match against the aforementioned Doink the Clown, the fans began to chant “Kill the Clown!” Either those fans understood the plight of Waylon Mercy, or they simply just hated Doink.
Waylon Mercy was the case of “too early, too soon.” It certainly did not help that when Spivey transformed into Waylon Mercy, he was 42 years old and had accumulated a career’s worth of injuries. For with Waylon Mercy, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. In his only year in the WWF, Mercy quickly moved up the rankings and months later was pitted against top fan favorites, such as Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Razor Ramon, and even then WWF Champion, Diesel.
His WWF career ended after five months due to the accumulation of injuries over the years. Fans of the short lived gimmick will always remember Waylon Mercy for being ahead of his time, and always openly wondered if the gimmick would ever return to professional wrestling.
Then, in 2012, mysterious vignettes started appearing on WWE television. Fans were shown a glimpse of a tattooed bearded man with a Southern twang to his voice pontificating on men’s souls being poisoned.
The speaker was Bray Wyatt and he had the charisma of a cult leader. Older fans who remembered Waylon Mercy immediately drew comparisons to both characters and thought Wyatt was Mercy Version 2.0. Bray Wyatt also had a penchant for Hawaiian shirts and speaking in riddles about cleansing the WWE of its sins. Finally, almost after 20 years since Waylon Mercy disappeared, Bray Wyatt and his Family debuted in the WWE.
Bray Wyatt was not only walking the similar path of Waylon Mercy, but he and his followers were blazing their own path of destruction against the top WWE Superstars. While it would be poetic justice to tie the Waylon Mercy name into Bray Wyatt’s mysterious past, it is not necessary for Bray Wyatt to succeed. Wyatt has proven that he and his Family stand alone and is a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.0