Finally, Jake “The Snake” and George “The Animal,” side by side. Ditto Haystacks Calhoun and Hillbilly Jim; Chainsaw Charlie and Hacksaw Jim Duggan; Iceman King Parsons and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This, the latest viral print from the guys at Pop Chart Lab—billed as a “titanic taxonomy” of wrestler names—organizes more than 380 monikers according to semantic similarities. And just like the real-life, fake world that is pro wrestling, the crazier the better.
Patrick Mulligan and Ben Gibson, the two guys who form the creative heart of Pop Chart, have set up five sort of uber-categories under which nearly all wrestling monikers fall: Animals (i.e., The Junkyard Dog), Place of Origin (Akeem “The African Dream”), Professions (The Undertaker), Inanimate Objects (The Rock), and the largest group, Physical or Metaphysical Attributes (Gorgeous George, Sting). You get the idea. It’s most similar in form and content to the duo’s “Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names,” which organizes rapper’s monikers along similar principles.
So why wrestling? “It’s in the sweet spot of things that we love and things that have a lot of extant data,” says Mulligan, who with Gibson, is slowly colonizing the cultural detritus of the Internet. Since launching Pop Chart Lab last year, they’ve classified pop haircuts, provided a periodic table of heavy metal, and detailed the very many varieties of beer.
The “titanic taxonomy” is not comprehensive, however: Mulligan said they had trouble with contemporary wrestlers who’ve begun using real-sounding names. Instead, it’s more of a nostalgic trip through the prime of pumped-up pro wrestling–RIP Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage, Killer Kowalski, Bam Bam Bigelow, and so many others–that was even weirder than you remember.