Squared Circle Pit

Squared Circle Pit

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sheik & Destroy

Pro wrestling's had many Middle Eastern heels starting with the fireball throwin' Original Sheik outta Detroit. The Original Sheik (Ed Farat) has a really great theme song in the video game, Showdown: Legends of Wrestling. The song does a great job mixing Middle Eastern music, surf and punk riffs. This sure ain't some "I'm a real American" bullshit.  

Then there was The Iron Sheik (Hossein Khosrow Vaziri) - who in this late 70's AWA promo is being billed from Beirut  Lebanon. (Also, Mean Gene with more hair!). The location of Beirut is used for multiple reasons:  this is 1977, the Iranian hostage crisis hadn't yet occurred, thus Iran wasn't on the minds of the American public. However, Lebanon was in the middle of a massive civil war involving multiple factions including the PLO.   Additionally, the Lebanese based and Iran based Hezbollah were also part of the war and terror tactics. Still, pro wrestling has to simplify things - therefore the Iron Sheik is a tough, very, very bad guy from a bad place that hates America. And after all, this the squared circle not the New York Times. On a similar tip, I wonder who came up with the locations for Soviet heels during the cold war. Russians were always from Moscow but never Leningrad or Vladivostok (even if they were really from Minnesota).

Iron Sheik, like the entire 1980's & mid 90's roster of WWF had previously wrestled in different territories. Prior to coming over to WWF, 'ol Sheiky Baby grappled in  Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and Georgia to name but a few territories on his lengthy resume. 

More recently WWE has Muhammad Hassan who's taken the role of "Arab-American as heel". Also, in the nearest promotion to me , Big Time Wrestling has former WWE wrestler & Middle Eastern bad guy, Sean Davari. Hassan's gimmick comes off very authentic and ideally, could and should be turned into a face gimmick instead of the old "American hating, curly boot sporting Middle Easterner". (OK, maybe don't get rid of the curly boots as they're always cool). Whereas other ethnicites who had long been bad guys -  Japanese and Russians have been able to work as as fan favorites the same doesn't hold true for grapplers of Middle Eastern background . Maybe promoters aren't ready to take that step (even in 2012?!) and show such complexities. So often even the unreal world of pro wrestling symbolically overlaps with real world geopolitics. But at the same time we can't expect promoters to shift from Soviet bad guys to say "a mad Finnish environmentalist". Oh wait.. they DID THAT? Da.   

Anyway, I originally posted this on a failed attempt at trying to do a blog on politics and history called Chain Breaker. I figured I couldn't manage three different blogs much less continually do one on history and politics. However, I did just discover this odd angle from late 80's AWA that did the uh, "usually unusual" of having an Iranian and Iraqi team up during of the Iran-Iraq war. Yet this historically was somewhat on record as the Super Clash III card they're promoting here was in December of 1988 four months after the Iran-Iraq war. Though, in pro wrestling terms - 2 Middle Eastern baddies = great challenge against Sgt. Slaughter = more money. 

Below is the link to my piece on Sheik Adnan al-Kaissie and his strange but true connection to Saddam Hussein. 

This connection is real and oddly ironic as he was the manager during Sgt. Slaughter's heel run as an Iraqi sympathizer during the build up to the first Gulf War in the Summer of 1990 through the Summer of 1991. I don't have the space to get into Slaughter's run as a heel but I can tell you because of this gimmick getting so much heat - he & WWF headquarters received death threats. The Wrestle Zone forum has further discussion. 

 Left to right: Sgt. Slaughter, Sadaam (or Sadaam Double II?) and Gen. Adnan. 

And now I just discovered is that the Iranian & Iraqi Sheiks alliance was formed once again in November 1991 WWF after Sgt. Slaughter broke with their alliance. The Sheiks presented a more militant (quite literally) image with the Iron Sheik sporting the Iraqi-Arabic name of Col. Mustafa and al-Kaissie taking the name Gen. Adnan and both men dressed in Iraqi general's gear 'ala Saddam Hussein.

And...finally this is one of the very few times that the "Mad Man from the Sudan" - Abdullah the Butcher appeared in the AWA. Sheik Adnan al-Kaissie even makes a reference to then-Sudanese leader Gaafar Nimeiry. Ah, the things I've learned from wrestling! Sure, it's likely that Nimeiry wasn't was actually would've been familiar with. Still, even watching old promos I still like to suspend disbelief and believe that Abdullah isn't actually from Montreal and owns a BBQ joint in Atlanta

"Money talks and jealously walks."  - SA a-K

1) I'm using "Middle Eastern" more often than Arab since Iranians are not Arabs and their main language is Farsi not Arabic. 
2)I'm spelling his name Sheik Adnan al-Kaissie as the "al" is the definite article and of refers to a place or origin. Don't ask for my expertise though, read this

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bruiser Brody - The Man, The Legend, The Music

Bloody but unbowed Brody

Brody dropkicks Giant Baba into next week

I was recently inspired by The Old School Wrestling Podcast's excellent Bruiser Brody vs. Lex Luger episode. Now I gotta lot to say about Bruiser Brody/sometimes known as King Kong Brody...

I first knew of Brody from the Apter mags. These images showed his giant stature, mountain man locks and beard made me think: "this guy looks dangerous!" For at least a year I read of his exploits in really brutal matches from Texas to Puerto Rico to Japan. Though he was known as a brawler - he was also known to put on 45 min matches with Ric Flair. I recently discovered this MSG match against a young face named Kevin Sullivan (!) in the WWWF. Lest I forget he was then managed by The Grand Wizard. What kinda crazy world is this?!?  As one of the comments on this vid said "Bruiser Brody and Kevin Sullivan - there's two names I'd never thought I'd hear Vince McMahon ever say".

Finally I got to see Brody on TV around 1986 when both Gordon Solie's "This Week In Pro Wrestling" show aired. Solie's show was like reading Maximum Rock N' Roll's scene reports of bands I had never heard of or knew of but didn't know what they sounded like. Through Solie's show I saw a LOT of grapplers from the territories we couldn't get on cable - i.e. - Memphis, Calgary (Stampede) and Japan.

I caught more of Brody when ESPN started airing World Class Championship Wrestling in the summer of '86. I was taking summer school classes that ended at noon - just in time enough to get home at 1pm to have lunch and catch on what was up with the Von Erichs and see who was gonna show up in the territory next. Brody had some great matches here as well. One match I didn't get to see but I saw pictures of  was a knock-out bloody barb-wire bout with Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy of the Freebirds. I had the picture on my wall next to my "Dr. Death" Steve Williams photo (circa: '87 for that 'un when he won the UWF Heavyweight belt) and pics of The Scorpions and Iron Maiden.

A short-haired, 70's Brody going for the WWWF belt vs. champ Bruno Sammartino

 Sabu knows it's Bruiser Brody time

Brody had some great matches that I did get to see on ESPN with Killer Tim Brooks and Abdullah The Butcher. There was something larger than life hearing him bark: "HUSS! HUSS! HUSS!" while marching around like a mad barbarian in his fuzzy boots. These boots were sorta like a caveman version of leg warmers - but nevermind this is old school wrestling! Like Ric Flair (who granted I didn't like much at the time since I was more of a mark for Dusty Rhodes), Brody traveled all over working for nearly every promoter in the business. Brody was also known for being fair and ideally wanted to have the wrestlers earn more money instead of the promoters taking took much. I believe this struggle is pointed out in the biography of Brody. Additionally, Brody would show up in the AWA where he was billed as "King Kong Brody" to avoid confusion with Dick The Bruiser he was in the AWA mostly around 1984 but I did manage to see him teaming with the John "Nord the Barbiarian" Nord and his great viking gimmick. The pair took on Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Greg Gagne. The match had interesting implications since Snuka was Brody's one time tag partner in the All-Japan territory.

                                   Brody vs. Gordy barbwire brutality: May 4. 1986 Texas Stadium

Sadly, Brody was killed in July 1988 in Puerto Rico in the locker room after a match. This event was not, I repeat NOT a work. Brody was stabbed by a fellow wrestler Jose Gonzales aka: Invader #1. Many of the details can be found in Tony Atlas' account and this great write up on Brody's career & including his legendary matches with Abdullah the Butcher via Deadspin's Masked Man.

Brody's hardcore reputation in the ring and the respect he earned outside the squared circle inspired a few songs in the heavy metal & punk scenes.

Naturally, I'll start with my all-time favorites - the kings of the Heavy Metal-Pro Wrestlin' connection - Nasty Savage and their song "Powerslam":

The lyrics mention a variety of elements from the squared circle (in between those massive Ben Meyer/David Austin riffs):

"Ring the bell/born with a bent for brutality/Prince of Darkness says/'pleasure is pain'!" 

and later on they huss out these lines:

"Hit with a chair/As it opens up your forehead
Raging barks of Bruiser Brody/In cold blood/
he was taken away/The invader - must pay!"

Brody's life and tragic death insipred this great tune by Kansas destructo-punks, Cocknoose called "Invader #1 Must Die". (Also covered by their fellow members of the Confederacy of Scum, AntiSeen and Rancid Vat). 

The last line in this Cocknoose tune makes me wonder if it also inspired the explosive hardcore punks from Ohio named Brody's Milita who often use his visage on their t-shirts and records - like one that Sabu is wearing near in the 4th pic of this post.

Rancid Vat/AntiSeen - split 7" (1996, Ruff-Nite Records)

Brody visits Creepslyvania from the Brody's Militia/Ghoul split 7" 
(Rescued from Life Records, 2008)

The previous ref'd Texas outlaws of rock n' roll - Rancid Vat also did an additional tribute with their own penned tune, "The Ballad of Bruiser Brody."

Even more proof of the great punk n' wrestling connection with some great pics of Brody & his equally dangerous tag partner, Stan "The Lariat"Hansen here.

Finally, what's Ukrainian for "Invader #1 must pay!??"


Friday, June 29, 2012

Do they wear the same size genes (or separated at birth)?

Rock N' Roll Buck Zumhoff 
Rudolf Schenker of the Scorps

Tom "Pig Champion" Robert of Poison Idea (on guitar)

and (early, pre-mohawked) One Man Gang

Pig C., R.I.P. 

and "The Stone Mountain from Stone Mountain, Georgia", Jerry Blackwell

Pig Champion rides again!

and Giant Hackstacks uh, sits again

Jerry A. gets 'em up for the suplex! 

While the (Original) Sheik's throwing fire

to match the infernal breath of Poison Idea's Jerry A

Jerry gets (as they say in the biz) some good color

and Dusty and Flair - open up & bleed

Hell, nearly all of Poison Idea could've been wrestlers with the svelte
Myrtle Tickner being the sly and devious manager.

The Fabulous Freebirds

and Deicide 

Antiseen - current heavyweight champs of rock and wrestlin'!

And (see above for the Freebirds) 
(*Lance Russell voice*) "aaaaaayyyyyyyyynd..."

The Midnight Rider + 

The Masked Superstar  x


Antiseen's Jeff Clayton doing his ode to...

The Madman from the Sudan!

Buckhouse Buck 

and Paul McCartney (who's barely rockin' but play along...)

80's Teenage Comedy Ham N' Egger, Michael Zorek
(see the big feller in front) 

and "Magnificent" Don Muraco - who's CERTAINLY no ham n' egger. 

Muraco: The American Hardcore Years - screaming at more than just a wall

The Grand Wizard of Wrestling

and the Cosmic Commander of Wrestling 
(Rancid Vat, Cosmic Commander's Intergalactic Rockestra)

The Barbarian 

The Barbarian in the Powers of Pain (alongside The Warlord & Mr. Fuji). 

and (Black Metal power lifters) Blasphemy 

The Undertaker and Kane

Usurper (Chicago) 

Chavo & Hector Guerrero had the bullets before...

the bestial in-vay-sioonnnn auf Germany's Destruction

The Army of Darkness' Purple Haze (aka: "Maniac" Mark Lewin) x

Hornswoggle - minus beard

 + late 90s NWO/WCW-era Sting

= Ozzy and his "ghoul-friend" 

Claw throwin' Dark Funeral 

and the claw applying Great Kabuki

I gotta go to the Barathrum
While not an exact match, the blonde jobber in front reminds me of...

"Flying"Brian Pillman