The 8-Ball 01.25.13: Top 8 Trademark Weapons
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 8-Ball. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and we are back to the column after an unintentional one week hiatus.
On an unrelated noted, I have just wrapped up a five-week fill-in run on Ask 411 Wrestling, which I love writing but is a huge time suck. Thanks to Mat Sforcina for the opportunity to write that, and thanks to everybody who participated by commenting and sending in questions.
So, now that I am completely rededicated to the 8-Ball, let’s get to the action!
One day, somebody decided that professional wrestling holds weren’t enough to fill professional wrestling matches. Instead, they decided that we need more gimmicks. We don’t just need wristlocks, bumps, and dives off the top rope, they reasoned, we need FOREIGN OBJECTS~! (Or “international objects,” as they were called for a time in WCW when it was decided by Turner executives that the word “foreign” was not politically correct.)
Of course, there are plenty of generic weapons out there. Any hack can swing a chair or a baseball bat or put his opponent through a table. When a wrestler really wants to develop a unique style, though, he grabs some plundah (trademark Dusty Rhodes) that nobody else in the world is using and knocks his opponent upside the head with it.
That’s what we’re here to talk about today. We’re not counting down just any professional wrestling weapons. We’re counting down the top trademark weapons, those instruments of destruction that have become so closely associated with a professional wrestler that you have a hard time picturing one without the other.
I have to admit, there’s a little bit of personal bias here. As a result of a late night internet search for professional wrestling that took me to the dark corners of the world wide web when I was a teenager, perhaps the first hardcore competitor that I was really exposed to (unless you want to count Mick Foley’s U.S. stuff) was Mr. Pogo. Pogo, who was in every sleazy 1990s Japanese indy you could name, is a bit of a polarizing figure. Some people love him because he, at the time, was fairly unique. Other people hate him because, well, he never actually wrestled and instead just cut guys with a GODDAMN SICKLE, sometimes attached to a chain. It might not be for you. It might make you a little sick. However, you’ll never forget it once you see it.
No, I will never get sick of putting “Wimpbusters” into my columns.
One of my favorite heel tricks in history is Jerry Lawler pretending to use a weapon but not actually using a weapon at all. If you’ve seen some of the King’s old school Memphis matches in which he is a heel, he will employ some of his patented overdramatic body language to open up his wrestling trunks, reach deep down inside of them, and slooooooowly pull out a foreign object that he would hide in his fist and use to either stab his opponent or just strengthen his punch. However, the fans reacted exactly like Lawler had a pair of brass knux or some similar implement, because the King himself was so good in acting like there was something there and his opponent was typically very good at selling it. Pro wrestling is all about getting the greatest reaction out of the least physicality (well, unless you’re Mr. Pogo), and this is the perfect example.
Lex Luger gets a lot of crap on this website for a lot of different reasons, many of them deserved. There is one positive thing you can say about him, though: What’s more badass than a weapon that you’re ALWAYS carrying and that your opponent can do NOTHING to neutralize? That’s what Flexy Lexy had with his bionic forearm, a limb that was supposedly loaded with tons of titanium plates and screws after a motorcycle accident. Like the best wrestling angle, there was a kernel of truth to it, as Luger really did have an accident and really did have plates installed, though not in locations such that he could use them to knock anybody out. You couldn’t tell me that when I was kid, though, because I swore up and down that you could see the pins popping up just under Luger’s skin when the cameras went in tight on his arm. Kids are stupid, you see.
You know you’re the master of a certain aspect of wrestling when you rename it and the name sticks for years after you’re done. Such is the case with the Sandman and his Singapore Cane. Originally known as a kendo stick, the stick became a cane when the Sandman was wielding it in the 1990s in ECW, playing off a headline-grabbing incident in which an American teenager was subjected to corporal punishment overseas after engaging in some petty crime. Sandman gained extreme (pun intended) popularity with the gimmick, as he hauled it everywhere and it was involved in two huge angles for him, one where he brutalized Tommy Dreamer and one in which he was blinded. From there, the Sandman was never seen without the cane, and calling it a “kendo stick” just seemed weird.
How the promo above has not gone viral along with “It’s still real to me!” and “Your t-shirts are too tight too, Billy!” is beyond me. Somebody call Maffew and get this into a Botchamania.
Sorry for the tangent. I’m not here to talk about Abdullah the Butcher giving interviews. I’m here to talk about Abdullah the Butcher stabbing sorry SOB’s in the forehead with a common kitchen utensil. It’s not necessarily the flashiest weapon out there, but Abby managed to make it memorable by virtue of how long he used and how much he legitimately brutalized his poor opponents with the thing. Honestly, I’ve seen so many hideous forkings of young jobbers by Abdullah the Butcher that I’m very hesitant to eat it his Abdullah’s House of Ribs and Chinese Food restaurant. Why? I just don’t know where the cutlery has been . . . or whether it will give me hepatitis.
Some guys don’t have any luck whatsoever. If you want an example, look no further than Missouri’s own Bob Orton, Jr. Ace, as he was known to his friends, at one point suffered a severe arm injury during a match and was forced to wear a plaster cast. The Cowboy was a notoriously slow healer, meaning he unfortunately had to keep that thing on for quite a while. I am told that it was very itchy. Plus, no matter how nicely he asked in pre-match conferences, poor Bob’s opponents just wouldn’t stop targeting his arm, meaning that it was constantly injured and the cast needed to remain on longer. Granted, he might have occasionally used the arm cover to his advantage to pick up a victory here and there, but can you really blame him? He was at a severe disadvantage in wrestling matches due to the limits on his mobility caused by the cast, so he was only leveling the playing field.
A guy is scary when you know he’s going to be coming at you with a weapon. A guy is infinitely scarier when you know he’s going to be coming at you with TWO weapons. That’s one of the things that was intimidating about the original Sheik. During an average, run of the mill match, you could expect that he would repeatedly jab you in the face with a pencil while the referee’s back was turned. I’m not talking about a slim yellow #2, though. I’m talk about one of those big, thick carpenters’ pencils that may as well be a small tree branch. Plus, back in the Shiek’s day, pencils probably still had lead in them, so you also had a pretty high chance of getting blood poisoning while wrestling him. (That is assuming you didn’t already get it from Abdullah and his hep fork.) Oh, by the way, if you were somehow able to survive the pencil and get the upper hand on the Sheik, he’d just throw a goddamn fireball into your eyes. Not a man to mess with.
I’ve always loved the mist. There are three key reasons. The first is that, in storyline terms, we still, after over thirty years of Muta and other Japanese heels blowing it into people’s faces, have no clue where it is supposed to come from. There’s something about that “mystique” which makes the use of mist intriguing. The second is that, though you can see almost all of the weapons on this list coming, the mist is something that can truly come out of nowhere. Third, it is very versatile in that, as demonstrated in the video above, it can be used as either an offensive or a defensive maneuver, and it can hit from virtually any angle. You might not see a smashmouth impact with the mist and it might not result in anybody bleeding, but it looks cool and has been an integral part of Muta’s character and wrestling as a whole for literally decades. It more than deserves to top this list.
That’s it for this week’s 8-Ball. If you can’t get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.