If I were to ask you your favorite chain-swinging wrestler of the 1980s, you may say Bruiser Brody. If I ask you for your second, it would be Nikita Koloff. Then Junkyard Dog – basically a lot of wrestlers carried chains back then, it was a chain reaction. Anyway, the point is eventually, you get to Hercules. Never a top guy or worker, Hercules was a thoroughly decent athlete and had a good spot most notably in the WWF, where he was a stepping stone to put over the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, The Ultimate Warrior, The Canadian Earthquake (as he was then), Ted DiBiase, and other top stars. A dominant mid-card heel, it really should have stayed that way when he returned to WCW in 1992.
(Technically, this is not a return. Hercules was however part of Jim Crockett Promotions, later rechristened as WCW.)
Hercules Hernandez’s initial run in Jim Crockett started back in 1983. Hercules teamed with Jody Hamilton, The Masked Assassin, performing as Assassin #2. The duo was booked strongly, even participating and winning the first-ever match on PPV (well, closed-circuit broadcast), opening Starrcade 1983.
In early 1984, The Assassins with manager Paul Jones attacked and shaved the beard off “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, starting the long-running Valiant/Jones feud. At Boogie Jam 1984 in March, Valiant beat Masked Assassin #2 and unmasked him to reveal Hercules Hernandez. Hercules was not long for the company afterward; he jumped to Mid-South.
After years of service for the WWF, during which time he was in The Heenan Family and Power & Glory whilst remaining a challenger for the world title. In 1992, after largely falling off the card when not jobbing, Hercules left after – annoyed by his unsavory win/loss sheet – no-sold the finisher of upcoming Sid Justice. Losing in 25 seconds after a powerbomb, Herc got straight up and walked away.
Hercules Hernandez returned to WCW just two months after departing the WWF in 1992. He was even paired with the legendary Harley Race. “The Greatest Wrestler On God’s Green Earth” had managed stars like Lex Luger and Vader to world title gold in WCW. Hercules however, well…
Just like his previous run, in spite of his popularity, WCW concealed Hernandez’s face in a mask. He had become Super Invader.
Interestingly, he was billed from Bangkok, Thailand but had the ‘Rising Sun’ flag on his mask. Two things here: a) that is the wrong flag, and b) the Imperial Japanese flag was abandoned post-World War II, just the four and a half decades prior.
The outfit itself was ridiculous besides the stupid flag. The mask looked very tight, with no eyeholes but you could slightly see a face underneath – yes, it really was that tight. It looked like he had thrown some red tights over his face to commit a terribly thought-out robbery. He looked like a counterfeit Deathstroke or an uninspired Scooby-Doo villain.
Thai-me In WCW
In his first PPV match, the Thai martial artist defeated ex-Patriots member Todd Champion at WrestleWar 1992; the match was pretty terrible. The former Hercules Hernandez also defeated Marcus Alexander Bagwell in a dark match at The Great American Bash.
During the WCW Great American Bash tour, Invader unsuccessfully challenged for Sting’s World Heavyweight title three times.
The biggest match of this run was at Clash Of The Champions XX, in a match he looked more than out of place in. Thailand’s own teamed with the star-studded alliance of Vader, Rick Rude, and Jake Roberts against Sting, Nikita Koloff, and The Steiner Brothers.
Invader was the first out of the match. He did not score an elimination before being quickly outed by Sting.
A Scorpion Deathlock submission would not protect the character. A roll-up would have been more protective to Super Invader. DQs and count-outs were common in the match later on and some on the face team had to get some momentum. Naturally, Sting pinned him with a jumping one-handed bulldog – a move he never been anyone with! His team did win, so he has that, at least.
Although challenging both Ron Simmons and Ricky Steamboat in house show world title matches, he most often ended matches looking at the lights. By the end of the year, he was chalking up losses to Van Hammer, for an illustration of how far he had slipped down the card.
Hercules had come and gone within the year, leaving before 1992 was out.
Hercules briefly joined New Japan Pro Wrestling, which I only mention because he was part of a team with Scott Norton called The Jurassic Powers, which is undoubtedly a kick-ass name. They also won the IWGP belts, one of few belts Hernandez won throughout the entirety of his in-ring career.
Hercules In WCW, What A Dud
Super Invader was not exactly one of WCW’s better ideas. The Bill Watts era was filled with terrible ideas from Jake Roberts’ contract saga to the removal of outside matting to the rapid dissolution of The Dangerous Alliance, so Super Invader seems tame in comparison.
WCW clearly failed to capitalize on the fame and abilities of Hercules Hernandez. The Super Invader character was a disposable gimmick giftable to any Tom, Dick, or Harry whilst Hercules could easily have been a solid mid-top worker in the promotion, a role he played well in the WWF. Feuds with Vader, Sting, or Nikita Koloff could have been large money-makers yet he was miscast into an eye-rolling oriental gimmick under a mask – a not uncommon gimmick in this era.
Sharing a scene with faces he was not on the same planet as, Invader looked so out of place, lost in WCW. Also, what is a “Super Invader”? It is almost as if everything in WCW is not totally, 100% logical, and thought-out(!).
He may have been Hercules but not even he could not pass the labor of carrying this gimmick to success!
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