Finding Love in Unusual Places: Wrestling’s Fascination With Big Sexy Men
A common thread between some of pro-wrestling’s greatest characters is the ability to change over time, with performers taking their personas in completely new and surprising directions to freshen up their act. Today, I want to look at one dynamic in particular; proper big bastards becoming absolute studs. There are several instances of huge monsters transitioning into sexual beasts, some more unsettling than others and to varying levels of success. Before we get started, I do want to point out it is purely coincidental that I thought of this whilst in the bath.
To start us off, let’s look at one of the most well known of these cases; ‘Sexual Chocolate’, Mark Henry. In terms of the transition that was made here, Mark had belonged to the Nation of Domination faction, a group inspired by the radical political groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. Henry was recruited into the group following Farooq, the Nation’s leader, announcing he was going to make a new incarnation of the stable, with it being ‘Bigger, Badder, Better and Blacker’. The group would eventually run its course disbanding in 1998, and coming out of this time, marching under a banner of black supremacy and cultural pride, he starts to call himself ‘Sexual Chocolate’. This new Mark Henry came walking down to the ring with some jazzy baby-making music, with a titantron video consisting mostly of clips of him rubbing himself, sometimes staring directly into the camera whilst doing so.
Overall, Mark was equal parts sexy and romantic, falling madly in love with a few times in this period. He looks like a big cuddly bear who would read me a bedtime story if I asked nicely. Despite Mark going on to become one of the most dominant and feared champions during his later ‘Hall of Pain’ run in the later 2000s, this period of his career is treasured by many fans, with Mark even reprising this role on throwback RAWs with a big ol’ grin on his face.
To contrast this, our next example is a bit of a departure in a number of ways to Mark, it’s the ‘World’s Largest Love Machine’, Viscera. Before his time as a sexual character, Viscera was a part of The Undertaker’s uber-emo cult, The Ministry of Darkness, where he was their enforcer. With explicit Satanic themes, coupled with the sacrifices and dark rituals involving drinking the Undertaker’s blood, this background sets up an even more stark transition than that of Henry’s. Moreover, Viscera left the company in 2000, then returning in 2004 with his more erogenous persona, meaning that somewhere in this time this devil-worshipping giant must have undergone some sort of sexual awakening which I have no desire to ever imagine, making all this feel even weirder.
Big Vis’ character is much more sexual than Mark’s, swapping out his black leather to wrestle in a set of silk pyjamas like only a lover would. Coinciding with this, Viscera’s theme is like something straight out of a porno, featuring his core-chilling voice asking, ‘Hey baby, you ready for Viscera?’ which I never want to hear in my life again. Then, to really hammer the point home that this guy definitely fucks, his entrance video includes a clip of him pulling a big fat wad of condoms out of his chest pocket.
Though he is tagged as a love machine, he doesn’t seem to please many women. He was paired with Trish Stratus upon his return, who he later splashed with his 400+lb frame because she was upset that he lost to Kane - the worst part being that this turned him face. Following that, he began a pursuit of ring announcer Lilian Garcia for weeks, eventually culminating with Garcia proposing, only for Viscera to choose The Godfather’s 'hoes' instead. Further down the line, he would try to reconcile with Lilian, but after she just wanted to be friends he gave her a Samoan slam and turned heel, so I guess all the abuse came full circle with that.
While Mark had a sense of adorability to him, Viscera maintained his monstrous appearance, being one scary motherfucker. Plus, he kept the name ‘Viscera’, the term for bloody, gorey carnage - not remotely sexy at all. But, possibly the most terrifying part of his character is what he’d do to his opponents:
Moving swiftly and gladly on, we come to something more recent and a case not as overt; Braun Strowman. I admit, this is more an additional layer to an established character rather than a complete tonal shift, but as with sexuality itself it’s not always a defining trait.
We saw a brief flicker of Braun’s sex appeal with one of the many local competitors who Strowman is attributed with their murder, with Johnny Knockout admitting his love for ‘big sweaty men’, but it’s had more of a focus as of late. The Mixed Match Challenge began just a short while ago, with superstars from RAW and SmackDown! LIVE being paired up in mixed gender teams, with a ‘Big Cook, Little Cook’ duo of Braun and Alexa Bliss coming from it.
The interactions between these two have been laden with sexual tension, but instead of going the route of Henry and Viscera and having Braun as a randy, cum-fuelled behemoth, he plays it much more reserved, with a borderline anxious approach to the connection between the two of them. For me, it’s a much more human and relatable portrayal, making Strowman even more lovable, and makes this storyline all the more intriguing.
It’s such a departure for Braun, an element completely new to his character, creating a more compelling watch. This is a man we’re used to flipping over trucks and ambulances, tearing down the arena and destroying the biggest and baddest the WWE has to offer, yet here he is utterly dazzled by Alexa. It’s like watching King Kong or The Shape of Water, discovering the soft spot within this titan and seeing it develop. As of writing, this story hasn’t been wrapped up yet, with this becoming a deeper story than some of the WrestleMania builds we’ve had the past few years. I don’t know where it’s going to end up, but whatever the case, I’m rooting for my boy Braun.
This is just a taste of all the big sexy men out there in the world of pro wrestling, with plenty more sure to come in the future. We’ve seen them be handled in bizarre and truly terrifying ways in the past, and seen how this trope is adapting to modern climates. From the devious to the romantic, I like to think there’s a big sweaty man for all of us out there.