Media and the Mat: Mortal Kombat, WCW Blood Runs Cold, and Glacier

For better or worse, video games tend to find their way into other media.

Most often, games are made into live action adaptations (Street Fighter The Movie – 1994, we miss you Raul Julia!), cartoons, anime, comics, as well as manga. But perhaps the strangest of wonders is when a video game penetrates into the soap opera, kayfabe world of professional wrestling. Such is the case with WCW wrestler Glacier. But I’m getting ahead of myself—a bit of exposition is in order.

Pro Wrestling, or ‘Sports Entertainment’ if you will, goes back to the days of black & white television, and before. It is a performance that often imitates life, and various popular things within it. With the 90s being a treasure trove of booming fads, scandalous happenings in the tabloids (including the White House), and transgressive franchises, professional wrestling had fertile ground to cultivate new gimmicks. The Mortal Kombat video game franchise was just such ground.

The ‘Blood Runs Cold’ promotional teasers and vignettes began showing during WCW’s TV shows in early 1996. While the arrival of Glacier wouldn’t happen until September, the start of the Attitude Era in the WWF (now the WWE) was still quite a way off. Thus, the “Monday Night Wars” were still being won by WCW, and they wanted to capitalize off a hot new franchise that already had an established game series, and successful live action film.

If you hadn’t guessed, the Glacier gimmick was inspired by Sub Zero. He didn’t have ice powers to freeze people, but he finished his opponents off with the Cryonic Kick!

Hyped, if not for a little too long, Glacier’s debut is stated to have fallen flat on arrival in spite of a $500K entrance with ‘snowflakes’, and lasers. His mask and armor ensemble over his blue and white wrestling tights cost upwards of 30K alone. His entrance ended in the middle of the ring with a martial arts form, or kata. Mowing down competition at first, his entrance was often longer than his matches, until his foes (mortal foes, on might say) in Mortis and Wrath were added into the mix to give the Blood Runs Cold angle the necessary momentum to sustain interest.

Overwhelmed by his new opposition, Glacier was joined be Ernest “The Cat” Miller, who was an impressive ally in the martial arts. The angle saw some decent traction for a time with back and forth wins between the babyfaces (good guys, Glacier and Miller) and the heels (bad guys, Mortis and Wrath), but The Clique, and The NWO took over most of the WCW storylines during the advanced stages of The Monday Night Wars, as WCW Nitro and Monday Night Raw went head-to-head for all the chips.

Blood Runs Cold sadly fell by the wayside, and its cast of characters spun off into different gimmicks.

Looking back on my adolescence, I didn’t have much contact with Mortal Kombat, Sub Zero, or even Glacier on television at the time. My introduction to Ray Lloyd (Glacier) was his video game avatar in WCW Vs. NWO World Tour (1997), and WCW/nWO Revenge (1998) for the N64, where, I became a fan of his because he was one of me favorite characters to play.

In a sense, the games did Glacier more justice than the TBS programming ever did. The games themselves are classics and still played today, which means the memory of Glacier, Wrath, and Mortis (Miller didn’t make the cut, sadly) still live on and Blood Runs Cold isn’t forgotten.

Was it the best gimmick? No. But 90s kids like me ate it up, and I still think Glacier is cool! No pun intended! That was the point though. Eric Bischoff, who was running the WCW ship during that turbulent time period, stated that he wanted Glacier to be a video game character brought to life. He succeeded, but may not have realized that Glacier brought life to the video games in which he was featured; an ouroboros of sorts where a gaming-inspired gimmick then went back to games.

Glacier’s legacy in the WCW may not be as illustrious as Ric Flair’s, Lex Luger’s, or The Hulkster’s, but it is cemented in the imagination of youngsters like me back in that decade. Childhood memories, especially fond ones, don’t go away. Glacier is indelibly etched alongside Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero in the annals of icy illustriousness.

Ray Lloyd is legend.

Thanks for reading!

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One comment

  • Glacier is one of those acts that truly fell in between too eras. If he comes around in 1986, there’s no Mortal Kombat craze and he’s just another karate based gimmick that’s going nowhere and nowhere fast. In 1996, he showed up smack-dab in the middle of an angle entirely based upon realism (the NWO) and so he’s just unfortunately too fake in a world where we’re faking to be real. You could always argue that a better talent makes it work no matter what, and Kanyon surviving his run at Mortis seems to suggest that Ray’s upside was always limit, but I think there’s an argument to be mad Glacier’s a victim of circumstance.

    Like

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