In 1989, Lister became part of a WWE package deal that included Hulk Hogan's film No Holds Barred and a feud with The Hulkster. In the film, Lister's Zeus was the evil villain opposite Hogan's heroic Rip Thomas. The film will never be mistaken for a classic but has since become a B-movie classic among wrestling fans.
Zeus eventually made his way to WWE television for a feud with Hogan. It was a controversial move given the fact that Zeus had no prior pro wrestling background and hadn't paid traditional dues in the pro wrestling business. Zeus was thrust into a main event feud with Hogan that other career pro wrestlers would have died for. However, he had the look and his performance in No Holds Barred proved that he had the potential to be a credible and lucrative monster heel in between the WWE ropes. However, Zeus was too limited in the ring to pull off a one on one pay-per-view main event match with Hogan. Zeus was going to need a partner who could carry the wrestling load if the feud was going to work. Macho Man Randy Savage made perfect sense as Zeus' partner.
To complete the No Hold Barred feud puzzle, Hogan was going to need a partner to battle Zeus and Savage. Hogan's real life friend, Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake was given the coveted spot on team Hogan. The two teams were then signed to lock horns in the main event of SummerSlam 1989.
The SummerSlam match was no technical masterpiece but told a good story and set up a rematch between the two teams. Zeus was made to look strong despite taking the pin to lose the match. Hogan was only able to score the win after hitting Zeus with Sensational Sherrie's loaded purse. Zeus would be made to look strong again at Survivor Series 1989. He joined The Million Dollar Team along with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Powers of Pain to battle The Hulkamaniacs team of Hogan, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, and Demolition. Zeus was eliminated in the match by disqualification and after dominating Hogan. This set up a SummerSlam 1989 rematch at a WWE pay-per-view called No Holds Barred: The Match/The Movie. The match was contested inside a steel cage and the team of Hogan & Beefcake prevailed again. Zeus soon disappeared from WWE.
Zeus would only make a handful more of appearances in the world of pro wrestling. He traveled to Puerto Rico in the summer of 1990 to wrestle Abdullah the Butcher for the World Wrestling Council. He would resurface in 1996 in WCW under a new alias. Known as Ze Gangsta, he was briefly a part of a group called The Alliance to End Hulkamania.
This concludes today's wrestling history lesson focusing on The Human Wrecking Machine Zeus. Today's lesson should make us a consider the following questions:
Do actors have a place in pro wrestling? Is "paying dues" an outdated concept in modern pro wrestling? Is there a fine line between selling a spectacle versus selling a quality pro wrestling match involving trained professionals? Was Zeus a compelling character despite not having ability in the ring? Should it matter that Zeus had little wrestling ability as long as he helped the bottom line-ratings and ticket sales? Class dismissed...