Why did Waylon Mercy Fail as a Character?

Sep 20, 2019 - by James Walsh

On the latest Something to Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard recalled the Waylon Mercy gimmick that Dan Spivey worked under. Waylon Mercy is one of the great influential gimmicks of the forgotten mid-1990s, and featured Spivey playing a role directly inspired by Max Cady in Cape Fear. Spivey’s physical condition wasn’t good at the time and that made the gimmick flounder, but elements of it have carried through to other wrestlers over the years, most recently Bray Wyatt.

Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:

On the Waylon Mercy gimmick and where it could have gone: “Oh my god. If you’d have been able to take Dan Spivey ten years earlier, I think it would have been — take this same character and move it to 1985, he’d be working with Hogan, multiple times on top. And that would have been one of those characters that would be forever ingrained in everyone’s memory. Because by this point, Danny was just so beat up that a lot of that gimmick was to disguise [the fact that] the athleticism wasn’t there anymore. His knees and back were just shot, and he was in a lot of pain. So the promos, it was all heavily character-driven. And a lot of that s**t came out of Spivey’s head. So I mean, he really embraced the character and timing on it, again, ten years earlier? We’d be talking about all those Hogan/Waylon Mercy matches.”

On how the gimmick was pitched to Spivey and received: “It was received by him great! And I think a lot of it came from his head. A lot of it was Dan’s whole gimmick and selling Vince on it. And Vince — more than anything, the promos made that character. Like Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Jake didn’t have to yell at you, Jake brought it down so you would have to listen to [him] … and he would pause, and you would wait for that next word to come out. The same thing with Waylon Mercy is, Waylon brought it down so you would lean in to listen to him. And he was creepy, so you kind of turned away, but you couldn’t take your eyes off him at the same time. And it was, you forgot about the work and you just though, ‘Wow, this guy’s a big son of a bitch, he’s devastating.’ And unfortunately sometimes you had to get to a point like this where he had to wrestle a guy in Savio [Vega] … and Dan embraced that gimmick. Dan just loved the gimmick, and when you watch it, I think it comes through. Dan Spivey became Waylon Mercy.”

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