PONTIAC, MI—Manzilla, the American Wrestling Federation villain reviled for inflicting countless blindside folding-chair blows and barbed-wire-bat bludgeonings upon helpless opponents, rocked the world of sports entertainment Monday by converting to the forces of good.
Witnessed by a sellout Pontiac Silverdome crowd, Manzilla's change of heart occurred almost 10 minutes into a tag-team match that paired him with Fatback against AWF pretty boy Trent Vanity and the mysterious Quasar. After Fatback knocked Quasar out of the ring, Manzilla tagged in and promptly spread a box of carpet tacks across the mat. He then grabbed Vanity and restrained him with a powerful sleeper hold.
But instead of throwing Vanity onto the dangerous tacks, Manzilla stunned the capacity crowd by falling silent, losing himself in deep thought. After nearly two full minutes of reflection, Manzilla released Vanity. The self-described Man-Monster From Beyond then picked up announcer Golden Throat's heavy chair and smashed it into Fatback's shoulder blades, sending him sprawling across the canvas and handing the match to Vanity and Quasar.
In a ringside interview after the match, Manzilla informed the world that his actions were the result of a profound personal epiphany.
"You listen to me now, people," said the 6' 7", 320-pound two-time AWF champion, speaking directly into a nearby camera. "I want to say something to all my former partners in the Coalition Of Wrong, to all my former tag-team partners, from the War Pigs to the Stink Squad, and to my now-ex-girlfriend Lustula. I have seen the light. I will no longer be a bad example to children everywhere. I thought you were my friends, but I was wrong. You thought you could control me, but you were wrong. And at Battle Among The Cattle, next month in the Calgary Saddledome, you'll all see just how wrong."
Manzilla was then joined by Trent Vanity, who thanked and congratulated him on his conversion amid a mixed chorus of cheers and boos from the 79,000 in attendance.
Reaction among Manzilla's colleagues has been mixed.
"I, for one, welcome him out of the darkness and into the ranks of the good guys," said the Shriekin' Deacon, long regarded as the AWF's moral and spiritual leader. "Being abandoned on the steps of the San Diego Zoo's reptile house could not have been an easy beginning for young Manzilla. But he has overcome that, and now he sees the light."
"No way will I ever trust that guy," said Quasar, the self-anointed five-time Mr. Alternate Universe. "I don't care if he did save my bacon from the War Pigs: A zebra doesn't change its stripes that quick—let alone a skunk. If he truly has changed, so be it. But be warned, Manzilla: Quasar's Virtuous Vision is upon you. If this is treachery, not just me, but my mate Bicepta and partner Vic Viking will be there."
Manzilla, sequestered in an unknown location since renouncing his evil ways, said he has adopted a new name that is better suited to his new disposition.
"The man you knew as Manzilla will use that name no more," wrote Manzilla in a letter read aloud by Golden Throat. "To all my former enemies—Big Chief Beef, Barry Hatchett, Half-Ton, Diamond Ralph, and Santa's Biggest Helper—my wrath has abated. From now on, I shall be known as Gorgeousaur, and my stunning good looks shall reflect my newfound inner peace."
The letter also made an impassioned plea for the hand of Princess Miss Lovelady, the AWF's most untouchable beauty. Lovelady declined comment on the matter.
AWF insiders said it's too early to know if Manzilla's spiritual reawakening is to be believed.
"If it's for real, it is the greatest turnaround in wrestling history," said longtime wrestling insider Clean Steve Borglund. "But it's hard to believe that this man is capable of good. The wrestler who single-handedly destroyed the career of Million-Dollar Bill? The fork-tongued heel who has come perilously close to race-baiting the Chocolate Tornado? The only man dastardly enough to team up with Bad Smells Smith? Something tells me we don't have the whole story here. I suppose we'll have to wait until [pay-per-view event] Halloween Havoc III to find out."