Rick Martel was an established figure in the eighties, enjoying a mammoth reign as AWA World Champion, but I expect he is better known for his tenure in the WWF as The Model. I’d hope the reasons for this are becoming clear with my portrait. Unabashedly snobby, narcissistic and flamboyant, Martel’s new direction was not so much a breath of fresh air as a distinct whiff of Arrogance – that would be the brand of cologne he created, and brought to the ring in his oversized atomiser. He often played a blinder in the ring, thanks to spraying this deadly concoction in the opponent’s eyes.
Such underhand tactics were indeed the foundation for The Model’s biggest rivalry, with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Temporarily blinding Roberts with the stuff, the two met indirectly at a number of events before Martel was bested at 1991’s WrestleMania VII in a ‘blindfold match’, a concept inviting a match about as sensible and exciting as you’re imagining it to be.
Bar a mini rivalry – a rare villain-on-villain clash – with fellow narcissist Shawn Michaels which ended in a ‘no hitting in the face match’ at SummerSlam 1992, The Model’s next and last real feud was with Tatanka, against whom he fought for much of that year. The rivalry revolved around The Model stealing the Native American’s sacred feathers as he believed they’d make a fine addition to his wardrobe. Needless to say, the blow-off match had the feathers at stake, and The Model returned his stolen goods the hard way.
Though The Model was, astonishingly, kicking around until 1995, that was really it for him as far insofar as prominent storylines go; his few and far between appearances weren’t manufactured to mean much, and he slipped down the bill. This is a shame – though likely never to be a main event performer in the WWF, there were many junctures where it seemed he might go places and at least be given the Intercontinental belt at one point, but alas not. Perhaps the flamboyance of the character worked against him. He was a proven wrestler, though and, going by the enduring memories people have of The Model, solidified an entertaining character which still had mileage. I think he was underused, but then, so many of these men are. Still though, a great character, and great entertainment regardless of underwhelming storylines.
Though I feel as though I’m saying it every time, I am having fun with these guys, the last two in particular. The references for this weren’t fabulous, and I had to splice a few images together for the look I wanted. The result isn’t quite as polished as DiBiase, but I had such a good time with it that I’m not that bothered! I’m sure there are more to come.