Appearing in "The Thing Vs. Gator!"
- U.C.W.F. (Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation)
- Vince McKay (Wrestling Wrap-Up TV show host)
- Fantastic Four (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "The Thing Vs. Gator!"
Following his win against the Caveman, the Thing appears on Vince McKay's sports commentary show to discuss his career with the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation as well as his past with the Fantastic Four. When mention of the Fantastic Four is made, the Thing skirts the question and turns the discussion back to wrestling. When the Thing makes claim that he is the greatest wrestler of all time he earns the ire of Gavin "Gator" Grant who has been watching the interview on television. After nineteen years as a wrestling champ, Grant believes that the UCWF and the Thing have no claim to usurp the titles he fought for. When the call in portion of the show opens up the lines, Gator calls in to give McKay a piece of his mind, and Vince intentional antagonizes Gavin, calling him crazy. When Ben tells Vince to lay off of Grant, McKay explains that Gator Grant is a cracked up has-been who was forced to retire after sustaining too many blows to the head and how another shot to the head could prove fatal. This infuriates Grant so badly he destroys his phone and smashes his television. Looking at one of his old championship photos, Grant vows that he will show everyone that he is the one true champion.
The next morning the Thing is training with Vance, who is practicing controlling his telekinetic powers by holding the punching bag still. When Vance tells Ben he has to try better to get the bag to move, the Thing lets in that he was actually holding back all day. To demonstrate this he punches the bag as hard as he can, knocking it off it's chain and bursting it open in the process. Suddenly they are alerted to a crashing noise coming from Ed Garner's office and decide to go and check it out. Inside, Gator Grant is demanding that Garner allow him to join up with the UCWF. When Ed refuses to do so due to Grant's medication condition, the former champion continues wrecking the office until the Thing interrupts his rampage. Ben realizes that he cannot harm Grant because he is a normal guy, so Vance uses his powers to whisk the disgruntled man out into the street. Out there, Gator Grant vows to make the Thing pay for humiliating him like this.
Later that night, Gator Grant has traveled to the swamps of New Orleans where he seeks out the home of Jamala the witch woman. He demands that she use her mastery of voodoo to grant him the power he needs to compete in the UCWF. When Jamala warns that her magic is also a curse, Grant refuses to care about the potential risk. Complying with Gator's demands, she mixes a potion which shows the image of Gator fighting the very animal he named himself after, telling him the image therein shows his future destiny. Scooping up some of the liquid from the cauldron in a mug, Jamala is caught by surprise when Grant snatches it out of her hand and begins drinking deeply.
Two days later when the UCWF holds a match in New Orleans, the Thing prepares for the match by getting a massage from Vance. Vance gets Ben to open up and talk about how he managed to find Sharon Ventura only for her to exit his life as quickly as she entered it and how he can only focus on that instead of the evening's match. Soon he the Thing finds himself in a tag-team match with Dynamite Dunphy against the Jersey Devil and the Blacksmith. While the Devil pounds into Dunphy, the Thing manages to tag him out. But when the Thing enters the ring he is suddenly called out by Gator Grant who has come to crash the fight. Much to everyone's surprise, Grant has turned into a human/alligator hybrid. Gator then crashes the ring and sends the Thing sprawling with a single blow. Not liking how Grant is interfering with their match, the other wrestlers pile onto him, but as Gator's humanity slowly slips away his strength increases and he is able to fight off his multiple attackers.
The Thing tries to get the others away from the fight, and take on Grant one-on-one, but the deranged former champ's strength has grown even stronger and he manages to land a blow that sends Ben flying out of the ring and out into the streets. Becoming more and more reptilian with each passing moment, Gator Grant rushes out to finish his opponent off. However once Grant makes it outside, he transforms completely into an alligator. The Thing then manages to easily subdue him, then stuffing Gator into the side car of his motorcycle, Ben drives him to a local zoo. While Ben returns to the ring where he is still hailed as champion, Gator Grant has met his own fate: stuck in the alligator exhibit.
The guy's name is Gator! And he'll do anything to get into the wrestling ring with the Thing — anything!
- At this point in time, Ben was recently involved in the Secret Wars in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1-12. After which he decided to stay on Battleworld because he believed that that planet allowed him to change back and forth between his human and Thing form. He was there from Thing #11-22 when he sacrificed his ability to return to human form to stop Grimm the Sorcerer. In Fantastic Four #277 and Thing #23 Ben learned that not only that his teammate Johnny Storm is now dating a woman who everyone thinks is Alicia Masters, but also that Reed Richards knew that Ben could change back and forth any time he wanted for some time prior to the Secret Wars. Some additional facts:
- Johnny isn't really dating Alicia Masters, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358 she is really Lyja, a Skrull spy who took Alicia's place circa Fantastic Four #265.
- Reed was aware that Ben could change back and forth at will in Fantastic Four #245. Although Ben thinks he's lost his humanity for good following the events of Thing #22, this is also proven as false as seen the next time Ben is restored to human form in Fantastic Four #326.
- The Thing mentions he has been "bumming around" lately, he is referring to when he was travelling the country between Thing #24-28 until he finally settled in Vegas to fight in the UCWF.
- Vince McKay says that they are living in the 1980s. However this should be considered a topical reference relative to the era of publication per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Ben talks about finding Sharon Ventura only to let her get away. He is referring to Thing #27 when he joined the Thunderiders to be with her only to learn that he was actually replacing her spot on the team.
- Although seemingly left in the zoo in New Orleans, Gator Grant is later restored to human form (all be it briefly) in Marvel Super-Heroes Vol 2 #7.
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