Cpl. Dick Peter back with Mission 3 of the top secret super classified secret Operation known as “Gimmick Impossible”. After returning home from Africa last week where I studied the legendary Saba Simba, the Commander sent me to NASA for Astronaut training. I caught on so fast that I was shot into outer space, beyond our galaxy to a wonderful planet by the name of Eternia. It was there I found my next mission…
No, not that Battle Kat…
And you got me, I didn’t really travel into space and land on the cartoon planet of Eternia, because if I did I’d totally be making it with Teela right now. Instead, I took my first of what I’m sure will be MANY trips to a place called “PARTS UNKNOWN”.
Objective 1: Master of the (WWF) Universe
It’s not often that a new gimmick would make it’s debut on the syndicated “B” show Wrestling Challenge before appearing on WWF Superstars of Wrestling first, but the Kat man did just that. Battle Kat’s initial debut was advertised on the 9/29 episode of Superstars as scheduled for the 10/6 episode of the program. While the match (vs. Brian Costello) was taped, it didn’t make it to air. For those “lucky” enough to have the WWF Magazine which featured a profile on the Kat, you’ll see a picture of the Kat vs. Costello match. This was technically the debut of the Kat, though never made it to broadcast.
However, the following week on WWF Wrestling Challenge, which aired 10/14/90, we finally got our first glimpse of the Kat man as he took on the Cat Man… Confused… It’ll get more confusing. In his TV debut Battle Kat “danced” his way to the ring, showing off his nimble footwork. Wearing a black mask with purple ears, the Kat would have to hold his “fancy” cape around his neck because it didn’t even have a hook or a tie to hold it in place. That’s a great start, it might as well have been a tablecloth. With a PAW branded on his ass, Battle Kat did a back flip from the top rope into the ring for a spectacular entrance. Battle Kat’s opponent for his debut was one of WWF’s best talent enhancement workers Bob Bradley, who also happened to be known as “The Cat Man” in his earlier years.
In a world of Roosters, Snakes, Dragons, and Bulldogs, we were in need of a cat, or even better, a KAT. But it’s fair to say Battle Kat wasn’t very cat-like in his first appearance, so in his future outings the Kat would begin to inherit more cat-like mannerisms, constantly clawing at the air, and towards the cameras during the matches and after his wins.
While the Kat started out with a victory roll finisher in his debut, he would quickly change it up to an odd looking variation of the Thesz Press. But that wasn’t the only thing that changed over the course of one taping to the next…
Objective 2: Who was that Masked Cat..err Kat?
This is where things get tricky… Upon the Kat’s debut, he was portrayed by Dean Peters, better known in the squared circle as Brady Boone.
Boone was one of the many Minneapolis alumni from the early 1980’s to break into the sport. Brady’s biggest accomplishments came in the mid-80’s during his time in Don Owen’s “Pacific Championship Wrestling” based out of Oregon. Boone also had a cup of coffee in the WWF during 1987/1988 as the “cousin” of Billy Jack Haynes due to their similar appearance and build. While stout and in great shape, Brady Boone wasn’t exactly the biggest superstar to come down the pike, and because of that he had to rely on his gymnastics background and agility to wow the crowds. In fact, Rob Van Dam has went on record as naming Boone as one of his main inspirations for breaking into the business. In fact, it was Boone who got RVD’s foot in the door with All Japan Pro Wrestling. Now we go back to the two videos above. If you thought Battle Kat seemed very different from one match to the next… That’s because he was…
Objective 3: Hey, That’s Not Brady Boone!
That’s right, after only a few matches, Brady Boone was replaced in the Battle Kat character by the man he faced in his WWF debut, Bob Bradley. There’s no mistaking those handspring back flips that Bradley loved so dearly.
Bob fit the bill, he definitely had some form of agility, used some moves that resembled martial arts, and… he could back flip. While Bob wasn’t as nimble on the top rope (try and locate the Koko B/ Ware/Battle Kat vs. Orient Express match, to say Bradley looked uncomfortable on the top rope is an understatement), he still seamlessly replaced Boone in the costume, which now possessed PAWS glued to the bottom of the ring boots! Here’s a Bradley match vs. Boris Zhukov!
Debriefing Mission 3: Battle Kat
In thought, this character was meant to be a revival of the Tiger Mask/Black Tiger gimmicks made famous in Japan and used at times in the WWF during the early and mid 1980’s. It also marked one of the few attempts the WWF made in this era at pushing a Jr. Heavyweight wrestler. The Blue Blazer comes to mind, and they blew it with Owen during the 1980’s. Unfortunately, Battle Kat didn’t quite last as long as the Blue Blazer, or pretty much any other WWF character, to get over. From the time the Kat appeared on WWF TV in mid-October to his final TV appearance on Prime Time Wrestling in mid-December (losing a basic squash match to the Barbarian), the character totaled about 10 matches in his short WWF career, shockingly half of which made it to TV. And after 2 months of dazzling the WWF rings, the Battle Kat returned to the land of PARTS UNKNOWN with his tail tucked between his legs, and Bob Bradley was back in the ring doing jobs. The original Battle Kat (Brady Boone) would land on his feet, and keep the gimmick and continue to use it under the name “Fire Cat” for Herb Abram’s UWF, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and even a match against Steve Austin in WCW circa 1994. I guess you could call that the Prrrrrrr-fect What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?
It’s probably best this feline only had one life (or two?), before the WWF found itself in a lawsuit battle over the name. It’s just a shame we never got that HASBRO action figure!
As for Brady Boone, he would hang up the trunks and work as a full time referee for WCW until his untimely death at the age of 40 in 1998 via an automobile accident.