The strange but true story of Gillberg and the wrestling turtles
WWE.com staffers were shell-shocked a few weeks back when a photo editor, looking for images of Sheamus in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” stumbled upon some very strange photos of what appeared to be two grown men in turtle costumes, competing inside a WWE ring in the early ’90s. Digging a little deeper, we discovered that one of the reptiles was none other than former WWE Light Heavyweight Champion Duane “Gillberg” Gill.
Astounded by this chain of events, WWE.com gave Gillberg a call to get the full scoop and bring The Battling Turtles out of the shadows.
DUANE GILL: So you found the “Ninja Turtle” deals, huh? [laughs]
WWE.COM: We did. What the heck was going on there?
GILL: I used to do anything I could to wrestle. I mean anything. I didn't care. I had the outfits made, because I was trying to find different ways to work more. [Barry Hardy and I competed as] The Executioners, and we also did Barry Hardy & Dwayne Gill, so we could work a whole bunch. Then I said, "Let's both get these outfits made and maybe we'll get a job like that.”
WWE.COM: Did you use the costumes as soon as they were made?
GILL: We [took] them up [to] three TV [tapings], but we never did anything with them. Finally, I put it on, came out and started dancing in the locker room — spinning around on the turtle shell and everything like that. When I stopped, I looked up and Vince [McMahon] is standing there. He asked, "Who the hell is in this thing?" I took the mask off and he goes, "I should have known." He then said, "You got another one?" I said, "Oh, yes sir!" and he goes, "Put them on. [In] 10 minutes, you're wrestling."
WWE.COM: What did you guys call yourselves when you were introduced? Did you have fleshed out personas?
GILL: We didn't really say. The Battling Turtles is all we did. Even though we looked exactly like the Ninja Turtles, we knew we couldn't call ourselves that.
WWE.COM: Any highlights from the match itself? What was your offense like?
GILL: We had moves and everything. The finishing move was called Shell Shock, where I did a flip and landed on the shell on top of him. If you saw the match, Barry got slammed and he's lying in the ring kicking his feet and his hands like he can't get up because he's on his shell. The guy's yelling at the crowd and I ran in and rolled him back over.
WWE.COM: So you would say it went well?
GILL: Oh yeah! The match went great! Vince was laughing his a** off. Everybody was like, "Oh my God, that's killer, man. That's awesome!" I honestly thought they were going to give us a job, but we never heard [back], so we figured copyright wiped it out.
WWE.COM: It was just that one match then?
GILL: Yeah, that was it, one match.
WWE.COM: How was it wrestling in the suits?
GILL: Hot! Oh my God, after you wrestled one match inside them, you had to wash them. We were soaked!
WWE.COM: Did you ever get any further use out of the suits?
GILL: Yeah, I won many Halloween costume contests with those things!