Bruce Prichard Recalls WWF Wrestler Setting The Gorilla Position On Fire

Harry Del Rios may not be a household name in professional wrestling, but he did appear briefly for companies like WWF and TNA Wrestling at the peak of his career. Fans may remember him better as the "Spellbinder" or "Phantasio" character – a wrestling "magician" who wore a black and white mime mask when he entered the arena, only to reveal similar face paint when he took the mask off. Del Rios only made one televised appearance when he was working with WWF – a match against Tony DeVito on the July 16, 1995 episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge. But why was a star with a fun, promising gimmick sacked so quickly? As Bruce Prichard revealed on his latest "Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard" podcast, issues arose when one of Phantasio's magic tricks brought chaos backstage.

"This dumb s— is sitting there, getting ready to go out and all this stuff, and all of a sudden, he's got a little container about, you know, the size of a Visine bottle, maybe a little bit bigger. He drops it, and next thing I know, now, I'm backed up, and I'm surrounded by pipe and drapes all around me, and then there are the curtains they go out of. Well, I'm on fire! The gorilla position is on fire! And Kevin Dunn is screaming, 'Send him!' And I go, 'We're on fire!' He goes, 'Send him!' I was like, 'God d—-, Gorilla's on fire; get me a fire extinguisher now!'"

Phantasio's Future

Prichard notes during the podcast that Phantasio's intention was to use liquid fire he had brought along for an awe-inspiring illusion during his WWF television debut. "He had some kind of liquid fire that I guess magicians use or whatever. I guess he was going to have some fire or something, didn't tell anybody, so we didn't have it approved by a fire marshal. He's in a small, enclosed area, surrounded by flammable drapes, and he fumble-f—, drops the s—, and the drapes are going up in fire."

Understandably, Prichard and other WWF employees were frazzled with how something so dangerous happened during what was supposed to be a standard television taping. "I was livid. Beyond livid," Prichard adds. Phantasio was directed to wrestle his match and was booked to win while staff put the fire out and dealt with the aftermath. As soon as he reached the backstage area, Prichard met Phantasio with a barrage of words, and the magical persona didn't appear on WWF television ever again. "That was his best trick – to disappear," Prichard finished savagely.

Phantasio would wrestle once more for WWF, in a loss against Aldo Montoya in a March 1997 dark match. He periodically showed up on the independent scene in the years that followed, with his last recorded match being in Rahway, New Jersey, in 2012; former indie promotion, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, held the event where Phantasio was victorious against fellow former WWE persona: Simon Dean.