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Wrestling / George Wagner

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"Get your filthy hands off me!"
Gorgeous George

The Fountain of Expies in Professional Wrestling.

George Raymond Wagner (March 24, 1915 – December 26, 1963) was an American Professional Wrestler under the name Gorgeous George. Trained by Farmer Burns, he started his career in 1932 on the carnivals circuit under his own name. He was inspired to develop a flamboyant image by reading an article in Vanity Magazine about the wrestler Lord Patrick Lansdowne who would come to the ring wearing a velvet robe accompanied by two valets. He started dressing like that and heard some women in the crowd call him "gorgeous." He took it and ran with it, creating the first truly great gimmick in pro wrestling, one of the the first gimmicks that wasn't a generic "athlete," a farmer or a Foreign Wrestling Heel. He helped sell a lot of televisions in that industry's early years. As for his in-ring achievements, he was a 1x AWA (Boston) World Heavyweight Champion, a multiple-time Pacific Coast (Portland) Light Heavyweight Champion, a 1x Gulf Coast (Alabama) Heavyweight Champion and a 1x NWA Southern (Georgia) Heavyweight Champion. He was inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

George Wagner is the Trope Namer for:

"Read my tropes, you peasants!":

  • Agent Peacock: He may have spent a lot of time brushing himself, even in the ring, wore feathers and other gaudy outfits while calling himself "gorgeous" but he was still seen as a legit competitor once the bell rang.
  • Alliterative Name: Gorgeous George
  • Ambiguously Gay: Well to have the trope take his name, he had to be. He was not the first ambiguously gay professional wrestler in the country, citing Lord Patrick Lansdowne with his two valets and velvet robes before him. George set out to be less on the ambiguity and more on the gay though, only taking one valet, a male valet in Jeffries, and acting much more effeminately.
  • As Himself: In 1949's Alias The Champ.
  • Biography: 2008's Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad Boy Wrestler who Created American Pop Culture by John Capouya.
  • Camp Straight: The Gorgeous aspect of his gimmick was just that, a gimmick. In real life, he was completely straight, as far as anyone knows.
  • Cheap Heat: Unusual example, as he would toss bobby pins to the fans, which normally would be strictly baby face cheap pop behavior.
  • Delinquents: He was one as a child, though this lead him to professional wrestling as they would stage matches in the YMCA, so it was not all bad. Yes, his career was initially sold as a feel good story.
  • Dirty Coward/Combat Pragmatist: George was once the model good sport, though looking at his more well known matches it is hard to imagine. Safe to say his mysterious sexuality was not the only reason he was a heel.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: How many people do you think could get away with that finishing move today, especially without a Name of Power?
  • Face–Heel Turn: He started out as a good, clean wrestler but his wife told him he would not make any money that way. So he turned on his heels so hard he became the architect of two different heel archetypes.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Is responsible for several of these, who (somehow) missed the ambiguously gay aspects of his gimmick or did not want to incorporate them into theirs.
  • Finishing Move: Hiptoss
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Retired in 1962 after being diagnosed with a serious liver condition.
  • Gimmick Matches: He had a match against the Masked Marvel that was held at the Seattle Aquatheater, where the ring was surrounded by water.
  • I Work Alone: He was in several tag matches over his career, but he wasn't very successful in them and so stuck to going single...if you ignore Jeffries.
  • Large Ham: He could easily make himself heard without a microphone and was well known for his exaggerated visual messages.
  • Legacy Character: As mentioned below under Wrestling Family, his son and his great-nephew would take up his mantle in their careers. Lanny Poffo was also slated to have a run in WCW with the Gorgeous George name and character, but it never happened because... well, because WCW, so the name was instead used by Randy Savage's then-girlfriend Stephanie Bellars.
  • Prejudiced For Pecs: His success in professional wrestling was the biggest argument against this trope during his time period besides maybe El Santo and definitely among promoters in the United States. Only 5'9 and 215 lbs and not even freakishly athletic. Didn't matter, because despite his apparent sissy persona, he was tough and could wrestle very well. So his lack of physical intimidation ended up helping him after his heel turn.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Beyond calling himself gorgeous, he also frequently wore pink bathrobes, dresses, gowns and other "girly" outfits. He also had a purple spotlight. Despite this, he was a lot less of a gimmick wrestler than many of his later imitators.
  • Red Baron: "The Human Orchid," "The Toast of the Coast," "The Sensation of the Nation"
  • Start My Own: He had a turkey ranch in Beaumont, CA and had a cocktail lounge in Van Nuys named "Gorgeous George's Ringside Restaurant."
  • Traumatic Haircut: He lost a hair versus mask match to Destroyer, and had to endure the shaving of his "precious" locks. He lost another hair match to Billy Watson.
  • Trope Maker: He basically invented the idea of professional wrestling as a grandiose spectacle rather than just a sport, and was arguably the first true Heel. If not the actual Trope Maker (although it'd be hard to find an earlier example), then he was undoubtedly at least the Trope Codifier.
  • Wrestling Family: His adopted son Gorgeous George Jr. and his great-nephew Rob Kellum, who wrestled in Memphis as Gorgeous George III, in WCW as the Maestro and in various independents as the Stro.
  • Wrestling Psychology: He was not the largest or even the most gifted athlete of his day but he was known for convincingly selling and had a freestyle background, so he knew what a real wrestling match should look like if it was called for.

Alternative Title(s): Gorgeous George