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Gorilla Monsoon

WWE Elite Collection
by yo go re

"Name two things you wouldn't want to run into in the jungle."

Will you stop! Whether in the ring or behind the broadcast booth with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, the legacy of Gorilla Monsoon is truly gigantic.

Originally wrestling as "Gino Marella," an Italian American babyface (good guy), the soon-to-be-Gorilla realized the bad guys got more attention and therefore more money. So he grew a neckbeard, claimed to be a wild man from Manchuria who wrestled bears and drank people's blood, and started squashing any opponents he was put up against. Eventually he began feuding with Bruno Sammartino, the WWWF's top star, but in time he got so popular he became a babyface himself. While he was active, he boxed a young Andre the Giant, helped sell rising heel Hulk Hogan, and even laid out Muhammad Ali. And yet to most people, he's known for sitting behind a table and talking.

This figure is nominally part of WWE Elite Collection Series 72, but it's a Walmart exclusive, so don't expect to see it shown on the back of the packaging. This is Mattel's first go at the Gorilla, and the likeness is good. He's got a big grin, though his diastema could stand to be sculpted a bit more clearly. He's squinting pretty hard, which would be accurate to real life - those tinted glasses he wore weren't just for show.

Right out of the box, Gorilla is wearing a typical classic outfit: a maroon jacket with black lapels, and a white shirt with a black bowtie. The body is perhaps a bit thin - he was between 300 and 400 pounds, with a frame this toy doesn't come close to capturing. He's built a lot like Mean Gene Okerlund, just with longer legs so he's not as short. Sat behind an in-scale announce table, this slimming down might not be noticeable, but on his own, it's fairly blatant. At least he doesn't look bad.

Like Mean Gene, Monsoon has the ability to change his clothes. If you pop the arms out and slide the jacket up over his head, you can replace them with black versions, making him look like he's dressed in a tuxedo, as he would be when he was announcing at a Pay-Per-View. The tux jacket fits a lot more snugly than the maroon one does, a little hard to get on or off. Why's that? Because it's smaller - in fact, it's the same mold used for Okerlund's two jackets, while the purple one is new. On the plus side, that means you could lend Gorilla Gene's red jacket, since that's another color he often wore on the broadcasts.

Gorilla's accessories include the aforementioned glasses (which really shouldn't be black, just tinted), a microphone, and since he's not saddled with part of a build-a-diorama set, your choice of hands: a pair for gripping, a pair for pointing, and a pair that's open flat. They swap in and out a the wrists easily. Wonder if it'd be possible to give the pointing hands to Heenan? When this figure was announced, it was also going to come with an announcer's headset, but that didn't make the final cut. Being an Elite figure means he's got enough articulation to relive his active days, if you so choose.

We'd have been happier with a Bobby Heenan/Gorilla Monsoon two-pack (possibly with The Brain in something more normal than a white and gold tuxedo), to get these vitriolic best buds in one go (rather than having to buy a Target four-pack and then a Walmart exclusive four years later), but the important thing is there's now a Gorilla in our midst.

-- 02/19/20

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