You wouldn’t be faulted for forgetting that today is the 30-year anniversary of the Toxic Turtles, a very (and we mean very) short-lived Tag Team in the WWE. 30 years ago it was still the WWF, and on a taped episode of Wrestling Challenge, the Toxic Turtles would make their one and only appearance in WWE against Tommy Stevenson and Ron Preston. As you can see in the clip below (via Squared Circle on Reddit), the Toxic Turtles looked just like Raphael and Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it’s hilarious to think that this actually happened in a WWE ring, but it absolutely did, and they even won! You can find the video below.
It wasn’t just the costumes that echoed Turtles though, as they even mimicked things like being knocked on their shells and not being able to get up. They also had a finisher that was fittingly named Shell Shock, though unfortunately, this particular match was the only one where they got to use it.
It was later revealed that the people in the suits were Duane ‘Gillberg’ Gill and Barry Hardy, who would also appear in other guises like The Executioners. In an interview with WWE, Gill revealed what led to the match and how they actually got on TV, and it was a fluke sighting by Vince McMahon backstage.
“I used to do anything I could to wrestle. I mean anything. I didn’t care. I had the outfits made, because I was trying to find different ways to work more. [Barry Hardy and I competed as] The Executioners, and we also did Barry Hardy & Dwayne Gill, so we could work a whole bunch. Then I said, Let’s both get these outfits made and maybe we’ll get a job like that,” Gill said.
“We [took] them up [to] three TV [tapings], but we never did anything with them. Finally, I put it on, came out and started dancing in the locker room – spinning around on the turtle shell and everything like that,” Gill said. “When I stopped, I looked up and Vince [McMahon] is standing there. He asked, “Who the hell is in this thing?” I took the mask off and he goes, “I should have known.” He then said, “You got another one?” I said, “Oh, yes sir!” and he goes, “Put them on. [In] 10 minutes, you’re wrestling.”
Gill said they didn’t have a name other than The Battling Turtles, and he remembers some of the things they did in the match. “We had moves and everything. The finishing move was called Shell Shock, where I did a flip and landed on the shell on top of him. If you saw the match, Barry got slammed and he’s lying in the ring kicking his feet and his hands like he can’t get up because he’s on his shell. The guy’s yelling at the crowd and I ran in and rolled him back over,” Gill said.
Gill said McMahon was laughing the whole time, but thinks a return was axed due to copyright. “Oh yeah! The match went great! Vince was laughing his a** off. Everybody was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s killer, man. That’s awesome!’ I honestly thought they were going to give us a job, but we never heard [back], so we figured copyright wiped it out,” Gill said.
There you have it, and happy 30th anniversary to the Toxic Turtles!
What did you think of the match and of the Toxic Turtles? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things wrestling (and TMNT) with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!