WCW's failed KISS-themed wrestlers were more expensive than you think

It was 1999, and World Championship Wrestling was in a bad way. After a real Cinderella success story during the mid-'90s, the home of pro wrestling's New World Order was floundering, giving up ground to the WWE née F, and within spitting distance of selling its properties outright. The reasons for the organization's eventual downfall are legion, but Bleacher Report points out that most of the WCW's failings largely came down to two big problems: they spent too much on talent, and their product was stale. World Championship Wrestling needed to drop costs and do something fresh.

But first, old habits dying hard and all, they were going to spend a near-sacrilegious amount of money on 25-year-old glam rock played by 50 -year-old men. Yes, in an oft-forgotten moment in wrestling history, the WCW asked "what are kids going crazy for these days?" and landed on "a guy dressed as Gene Simmons entering the ring to the sounds of Gene Simmons."

Big genes to fill

On August 23rd, 1999, WCW came out swinging with their new star player: The Demon. Portrayed by Brian Adams — the wrestler, not the "Summer of '69" guy — he was adorned in Gene Simmons' iconic monochromatic face paint and a spiky flame-covered cape. He emerged from a crimson iron maiden, surrounded by the members of KISS belting "God of Thunder" and the requisite pyrotechnics. It's just a shame that nobody was watching – WWE reports that it was "one of the lowest rated segments in the history of Nitro."

The eventual plan, per Ultimate Classic Rock, was to introduce wrestlers based on all four of the KISS-classic personas, with the Starchild, the Spaceman, and the Rum-Tum-Tugger all on the fast track for wrestling stardom. Unfortunately, the idea was scrapped after the Demon failed to capture any attention, and the organization was out a cool $500,000 on KISS's debut performance alone. The Demon persona was handed down to less-established wrestler Dale Torborg before being swept under the rug a few years later.