Thursday, June 22, 2023

Intelligent American Know Iran Numbah Wun!

No matter who we’re mourning in pro wrestling, it’s almost always a true character. But what a character The Iron Sheik was! He took what could have been a one-dimensional foreign heel and made it into one of the most memorable characters of his era. He also found a way, for better or for worse, to reinvent himself decades later. It certainly kept him in the spotlight, so for him it was certainly for the better.

Before his passing this month, The Iron Sheik had been rather stagnant as far as appearances for several years. His handlers took to Twitter for him and there was the very occasional signing appearance, but it wasn’t what it once was. You had the feeling that “Sheiky Baby” was winding down. Even still, with all that he admittedly put his body through both in and out of the ring he lived what could be called a truly long life. As we all know, most of his contemporaries didn’t make it close to 81 years of age.

The Iron Sheik was also one of the ones with the dual talents, especially earlier in his career. All that zaniness in front of the microphone could easily be backed up in the ring. I still remember  a late-bloomer fan telling me that he’d often dismissed Sheiky as simply a crazy ‘80s character. When the fan actually paid attention to Sheik’s matches he realized the talent that the man had. He was well-schooled and could obviously take care of himself. This is obvious if he was going to break Hulk Hogan’s leg for “Mistah Verna Ganya.”

Admittedly, I was not a huge fan of the “crazy” Iron Sheik revival of the last few decades. Don’t get me wrong, it worked. It got him mainstream attention that he hadn’t had since the Rock n’ Wrestling era. And I thought that his WWE Hall of Fame speech was hilarious. I just think that it was over done and at times went too far. Also, I don’t care what any one or any show tells you, he could and would turn it on and off at the drop of a hat. Once in a hotel lobby around fifteen years ago he came limping in, guns blazin’, in full Sheiky mode. In fact, this would have been the night before the attached photo. The hotel happened to be hosting a large wedding that night which was starting to break up. An elderly woman from the wedding recognized him and he immediately curbed “Sheiky” and became a perfect gentleman.

As far as iconic memorabilia, is there any more recognizable LJN figure than Sheik? Every kid seemed to have him. He still seems to show up in every resale shop and probably a lot of flea markets and garage sales, too. When the boys in those early LJN series tell me about the astronomical checks that they received from those figures I always believe them. They were omnipresent in ‘80s kids toy boxes.

Mr. Khosrow Vaziri has left the building. He has filled his duties in life. Somehow, I don’t think that we’ll ever stop hearing his voice…


The Iron Sheik


No comments: