wrestling / Columns

Jive Soul Bro: Put Slick in the WWE Hall of Fame

March 28, 2015 | Posted by Dino Zee
Slick WWE

For quite a while now, I’ve taken charge and led a (supremely lazy) campaign for Slick to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This “campaign,” of course, has simply been either slapping a picture of Slick up in the column, or the video for “Jive Soul Bro,” and simply saying “Put Slick in the Hall of Fame!!” Because WWE reads me, and takes cues from me, right? Totally. Either way, I decided that, since it’s WrestleMania weekend, and I’d normally write some sort of Things I Love About WrestleMania piece that pretty much everyone else is doing as well, that I’d instead try to plead my case for why I’d like to see Slick finally get inducted for the 2017 Hall of Fame.

Slick made his debut by buying out one half of the contracts for The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff from “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Immediately making a splash by landing the former tag team champions, Slick’s stable would in time grow to include wrestlers like The One Man Gang, “The Natural” Butch Reed, The Big Boss Man, The Bolsheviks, Power and Glory, “The Model” Rick Martel, and even The Warlord after the split of the Powers of Pain.

But right from the start, one could see that Slick was more than just a bit different from his contemporaries. He may not have carried the prestige of a Bobby Heenan or a Freddie Blassie, and he may not have had the notoriety of a Jimmy Hart, but he brought a whole new level of charisma to the table that hadn’t really been seen from a WWF manager at the time. Even as a chickenshit heel of a manager, he was still… for lack of a better term… so cool.

Sure, some of that coolness was derived from some of the worst stereotypes around. We’ll talk all day about how Junkyard Dog was offensive, or Kamala, or Saba Simba, but somehow, Slick seems to skate by on these charges. Each week, I post the video for Jive Soul Bro, and each week, I have to laugh a bit when I compare what was “okay” in the 1980s to what’s “okay” today. The full video has close-ups of Slick eating fried chicken, of walking around a ghetto, of dealing with “unsavory” street types. It’s all to pound home the idea that Slick is some kind of hustler from the streets, one who will say or do anything to come out ahead of the game.

Regardless of where it came from, the man himself – Mr. Kenneth Johnson – made it all work to perfection. His delivery in promos was perfect – sometimes motormouthed, sometimes high pitched, but always in a way to get you to continue to pay attention to what he was saying. If he was dealing with a wrestler, you were always wondering if he was being straight with them. He was a Three-Card Monte dealer moonlighting as a manager.

Slick was an easy go-to mouthpiece for guys who were talented, but not quite ready to be cutting promos on their own. He was the perfect B Level manager, always capable of fitting in with the A-Squad guys, but more than happy to get his charges over regardless.

Slick was also, on top of simply being some blessed with the ability to cut ridiculously entertaining promos, an incredible instigator. He was able to say and do things in such a manner that you literally could not wait to see him get his comeuppance. As a kid, I remember one of my favorite moments from WrestleMania III being the absolute beating that Tito Santana put on Slick at the conclusion of the Koko B. Ware vs. Butch Reed matchup.

See, after Koko had lost, he went after Reed, prompting Slick to attack Koko with his cane. In an instant, Tito appears, and jumps all over Slick, tearing his amazing gold-ish suit to shreds. Santana, as Gorilla Monsoon would note, was looking for payback after being attacked with that cane as well. Slick showed in this moment that no matter how cool he was supposed to be, he had absolutely no problem being the butt of the joke, as he was forced to run off in shame as Tito and Koko continued to attack Butch Reed.

When Big Bubba Rogers left the UWF and headed to the WWF, he was rechristened the Big Boss Man, and paired with Slick. And in an instant, Slick had his man. A big, powerful, agile wrestler who had the ability to cut a decent promo, and who could easily fit into the main event. He was no longer going to have to sit tight with his second stringers. To that end, Slick and The Big Boss Man put their sights on Hulk Hogan, viciously attacking him during an episode of The Brother Love Show.

Just like that, Slick was in the main event, watching as his charge would take on Hogan in a series of matches. The Hogan/Boss Man feud would eventually turn into a feud between The Mega Powers (Hogan and Randy Savage) against The Twin Towers (Boss Man and Akeem), and Slick would find himself smack dab in the middle of one of the most famous segments in WWF/E history when his charges took on Hogan and Savage in February of 1989 on The Main Event.

This would be the match that saw Savage tossed from the ring, where he would pancake Miss Elizabeth on the floor. With Liz down and out, Hogan would take it upon himself to take her backstage for medical attention, leaving Savage alone against the two behemoths. When Hogan finally returned, Savage slapped him in the face and ditched him, signaling the end of the Mega Powers. Hogan would still win the match (duh), but Slick and his charges had succeeded in destroying the most powerful unit the WWF had seen. Slick would lead The Twin Towers to victory at WrestleMania V over The Rockers, and would take The Boss Man back to feud with Hogan, culminating in a semi-classic steel cage match that Hogan also won.

As 1989 turned to 1990, Slick would begin to see his stock fall, as he lost the services of Boss Man after attempting to sell his services off to Ted DiBiase to get the Million Dollar Belt from Jake Roberts. Boss Man refused to accept the money, giving the belt back to Jake. This would lead to the break up of The Twin Towers, and at WrestleMania VI, UWF fiends got a nice tip of the cap as Boss Man and Akeem went at it. The match itself was very short as Boss Man would be jumped before the bell by Ted DiBiase, only to almost immediately mount a comeback on Akeem and blitz him for the win.

Slick would again find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, as Boss Man would grab him while he attempted to check on Akeem, and flatten him with a huge right hand. Like I said, Slick was never afraid to look a fool, even after spending all his time telling us how cool he was.

The end of the Boss Man and Akeem feud was basically it for Slick as a meaningful presence on WWF television, as he’d stop managing Power and Glory, and eventually would be attacked by the British Bulldog following a match against The Warlord. When Slick returned, he would be in his “Reverend Slick” persona, where he no longer espoused the many things he had before, and instead tried to get people to better themselves. This culminated in his 1993 mission to show the world that Kamala was a man. The less said of that, the better.

Slick has made very sporadic appearances since, including at WrestleMania 23 and at Raw 1000, which gives me hope that he’s not a bitter ex-performer who hates the business, or even has bad feelings towards WWE. He remains beloved, as his appearances get a good reaction, showing that the fans haven’t forgotten him, either.

Slick was a very important figure for WWF during one of their highest time periods. He managed absolute legends, and he did it with a style that was completely new and fresh. All this without even mentioning that Jive Soul Bro is, in my humble opinion, one of the top wrestling themes period. Remembering that it’s him performing the song makes it (and him) even better.

So, from where I sit, Slick deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t need to fall back on any lazy “Well, if ____ is in, then Slick should be, too.” That’s disrespectful to Slick, because he’s more than earned his spot.

His promos were memorable. The way he dressed was memorable. The way he danced was memorable. He was a different type of manager, one that was always looking to hustle for his charges, and even be willing to play nice with other managers as long as there was a benefit to be had. He could also take a beating if need be, and he usually added to any match he was involved with. With WWE really hitting home runs with its inductions the last couple years, I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that we’ll get The Doctor of Style in there some day.

But even if it’s never official, I’ll always consider the Slickster a Hall of Famer, anyways.


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article topics :

Slick, WWE Hall of Fame, Dino Zee