The 8-Ball 01.12.13: Top 8 Pro Wrestling Mustaches
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 8-Ball. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am in my third week of pulling double duty here on 411, writing this column as I always do in addition to filling in on Mathew Sforcina at Ask 411 Wrestling.
Unfortunately, I was also sick this past weekend, and having two columns a week to write when you’re laid up with the cold from hell is not an exciting prospect. That means this week’s 8-Ball is a bit lighter in content than usual, but hopefully I’ve managed to select entertaining enough subject matter that it won’t be a huge issue.
Here’s to being back at full speed next week!
Mustaches have gotten a lot of talk in professional wrestling lately, in large part thanks to one Mr. Cody Rhodes. While laid up with an injury, the son of the American Dream decided that he was going to pass the time by growing some facial hair. Upon Cody’s return, his ‘stache has become one of the most popular members of the WWE roster, getting big chants wherever it goes. In fact, the mustache would be one of my favorites to win the Royal Rumble if I could figure out how it would eliminate Cody while managing to stay in the match.
Yet, as popular as Cody’s mustache may be at this minute, there is part of me that can’t help but think that I’ve seen this done and done better by other wrestlers in the past. In fact, I’m virtually certain of it. That’s why, this week, I’ve decided to pay homage to grappling’s greatest push brooms, counting down the top eight mustaches in professional wrestling history.
The man behind Paul Bearer and Percy Pringle gets my vote for having the most versatile mustache in the wrestling business. When I first saw him as Percy Pringle III, he was a smarmy little rich kid heel manager, with bleached blond hair and an unnaturally golden ‘stache as well. The mustache was so small and stringy at the time that it made him look like an even bigger sleazebag than he would’ve otherwise, especially since you knew he took the time to dye it away from its natural color. Then, Pringle went to the WWF and became Paul Bearer, where the mustache was dyed again, this time jet black. It took on a whole new purpose at that point, as it really added to the macabre appearance of the rotund manager. Kudos to Paul/Percy for having a mustache for all seasons.
Very few men out there are able to make mustaches look legitimately sexy. (Yeah, I’m comfortable enough in my heterosexuality to tackle this topic.) A lot of the time, mustaches just look like a wooly worm crawled onto a guy’s face and died, but, under the right circumstances, they actually play into making a man appear more handsome than he would be otherwise. Perhaps the perfect example of this is Rick Rude. We did briefly see Rick Rude clean shaven during his career (Remember when he was in two places at the same time?), and it just seemed so . . . wrong. Without the thick, bushy porno ‘stache that he was sporting when most of us first saw him, the Ravishing one fell from godlike status and became just another dude in too-tight airbrushed lycra pants.
The Iron Sheik has lost a lot of things over the last several decades. He’s lost his once strong physique, he’s lost his athletic prowess, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s lost his ever-loving mind and, alongside of it, the vast majority of his dignity. However, the one thing that he hasn’t lost is his almost perfect cartoon-villain-esque mustache, wide in the center and narrowing to razor-sharp points at the end. As we watch Sheikie get older and older, it’s almost as though his mustache is immortal, a perpetual reminder to us that we are looking at a man who was once great and once held actual wrestling championships instead of carting around cheap replicas that a fanboy wouldn’t be caught dead with.
Most of you right now are probably thinking, “Who the hell is Farmer Burns?” My smartass answer is that, “The guy in the picture up there is Farmer Burns.” My real answer is that Farmer Burns is one of the most respected and feared professional wrestlers of his heyday, a shooter who wrestled throughout the late 1890s and tied many an opponent in knots. Perhaps more importantly, though, he became the mentor to Frank A. Gotch, who would go on to become one of the most popular American wrestlers in history, an early icon in a sport that a lot of people today think didn’t even exist until the 1980s. However, more important than all of that for the purposes of this column is that Farmer Burns had some wicked awesome facial hair, the sort that you wouldn’t expect to see men sporting until several decades later.
Dirty Dutch had a lot of different facial hair looks throughout his career. He had sideburns, he had goatees, and he had full beards . . . but the reason that he is on this list is on the look that you see pictured above. Yes, there’s a small beard there, but the real draw is the giant, double forked mustache that looks like it could be used as a spear if you backed Dutch into the corner. It was a completely unique mustache at the time in wrestling and, unfortunately, this facial hair was most often used by Dutch in the years that he wasn’t doing anything particularly important, like being part of “The Desperados” and hunting for Stan Hansen or managing JBL and the Harris Twins under the name Uncle Zebekiah.
Growing a mustache in such a way that it connects with your sideburns is sometimes referred to as the “friendly mutton chops.” I find this name somewhat ironic, because I’ve always thought that being able to grow your sideburns into your mustache was the sign of a true badass. Why did I think that? Probably because the first person that I ever saw doing it was Harley Race, and Harley Race always struck me as the kind of guy who would kill you and everybody you ever cared about with his bare hands if you dinged his Town Car with a shopping cart. Hell, the guy can barely move and is confined to a Rascal scooter, but he still decided he was going to get into a fist fight with the 400 pound Vader at a fan fest last year. My point is that Harley Race is a tough old SOB, and this facial hair made him look like even more of a killer. Yes, I know HHH did it as well, but nobody pulled it off like Race did.
I put him at number two for reasons that we’ll get to in a moment, but I have to say that, in terms of pure looks, I have to say that Ox Baker has my favorite facial hair on this list. Yes, it looks somewhat like the Dutch Mantel mustache that we profiled a couple of entries back, but Ox took the same concept and made it in to something even more evil, even more maniacal looking. With the way it was positioned and the way it billowed, Baker’s gargantuan mustache almost made it look like he was a dragon, breathing clouds of ash and smoke en route to punching your heart through your body. The great thing is that I’ve seen some recent pictures of Ox and, at age 78, he’s still wearing that thing proudly, and it may even look more intimidating with a couple of gray highlights running right down the middle.
Yes, it’s the Hulkster. I mentioned earlier that my personal favorite on the list is Ox Baker’s mustache, but I still have to put Hogan at number one because, regardless of my own tastes, this is the most iconic mustache in all of professional wrestling history. It is the centerpiece of virtually any artistic depiction of Hulk Hogan, be it serious, caricature, or even photographic. When Hogan needed a logo for his own VH1 reality series, it was the mustache that was called upon, going right next to the title of Hogan Knows Best. Hulk Hogan’s mustache might not necessarily be the most aesthetically pleasing, but, if you’re walking down the street and ask a random non-fan to name a pro wrestling mustache, they’ll almost certainly name Hulk Hogan’s blond inverted horseshoe.
That’s it for this week’s 8-Ball. If you can’t get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.