TIMELINE: THE HISTORY OF WWE - 1989 AS TOLD BY BRUTUS BEEFCAKE
I have a “stack” of KC videos to watch, if calling my complimentary ones on the World Wrestling Network can be called a stack. Of the choices, I opted against Vince Russo (obviously), skipped Guest Booker: Ron Fuller talking about the NWO with Shawn Michaels, and hesitated on another Sean Waltman (Breaking Kayfabe).
Since watching Greatest “Botched” seemed a bit déjà vu, I opted for Timeline, WWE, 1989, as told by Brutus Beefcake. I figured it would be interesting, informative and a character study of one of Hogan’s bestest buddies. Then again, I figured it would be highly entertaining, full of tall tales and likely the basis of a drinking game, if the viewer were so inclined.
I’m not so inclined, by the way.
Ed Leslie is known by many names, including Brutus Beefcake, the Barber, Brother Brute- eye, the Bootie Man, Ed Boulder, Hogan’s best friend, the Hammer’s tag team partner, and probably more from a variety of stints in the regional systems prior to his more famous run in the circus era WWWF.
Well, probably a lot of stints if we hold him to his initial references of breaking in during the early 1970’s.
This is the first of a slew of Hoganesque historical references. But in fairness, it was Ed Leslie who had that parasailing accident. As he explains, he has certifiable memory loss, brain damage and this may just be effects of that horrific crash. Between the comments from Sean Oliver at the closing (“and you said you wouldn’t remember the 1990’s) and the story about the Steroids trial and Leslie’s being positioned to back up Hogan’s testimony but having the lead prosecutor walk out of the meeting after the doctor’s description of his injury, there is credence to his many descriptions of “I don’t know”.
Then again, there is that lifelong friendship with Hulk Hogan and an uncanny ability to go stream-of-conscious.
The best example is in that opening few minutes, where Emcee Emeritus Oliver references a Poison song, to which Leslie asks the singers name, after which he says he knew him well, then deflects Oliver’s retort that he didn’t remember his name.
Leslie segues neatly into a comment that all rockers wanted to be like him.
Bringing it all back to him.
Which, of course, is the point.
The other point of the Video (On Demand and DVD options, running two hours and ten minutes or so) being to bolster the legacy of the “Immortal One” (wow, I had to add that “t” three times… the keyboard was stuck or something) and also try to avoid throwing mud at Vince.
The third point, from my viewing, was to build up Pat Patterson as the guy responsible for every bad idea, crazy character and finish of the era. This apparently started in the mid-1970’s.
Again, we should probably cut Brutus some slack.
Dates aren’t always the easiest thing to remember, that’s for sure.
What’s weird is that “The Barber” remembers names (“you may remember”….) like Rick McGraw, Gino Hernandez, the crew from Louisiana, guys from Oregon, and faces and places. But he never seems to remember the 1989 names or how they got there or what the stories are: Sapphire, Dusty, Bushwhackers, Red Rooster… For someone so tight with Hogan, it’s like he didn’t know what was going on around him.
But he does give opinions, funny recollections and an overview of the year, making it one more interesting chapter in an ongoing project of documenting the history of the industry, through the big names of their eras.
In that regard, Brutus Beefcake is a solid choice.
He was at the top of the card at the time. He did interact with big names. He was in the mix. He was hanging and banging with Hogan during the time when torches were getting passed (and not exactly passed) and that movie ”No Holds Barred” was being made.
His stories about being promised the Intercontinental Title early in the year and the WWF Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam! Certainly cement that reality.
There are some concerns, complaints and corrections to make, but then again, watching and learning about the character, how Beefcake presents himself and interpreting it all into the history and the era is part of the charm of this series.
In that regard, despite the flaws, It was an interesting watch.
At times funny and inadvertently so (isn’t that a Hogan staple as well?), and at other times maddeningly inconsistent, one thing I’ll point out is that Ed Leslie doesn’t pull punches. His ongoing finger-pointing at Pat Patterson, his disdain for the Rougeaus, his uncensored opinion of The Ultimate Warrior and his matter-of-fact questioning of certain moves surrounding his once ‘brother’ tag team partner (no, not Greg Valentine) are all of note.
(As an aside, one can challenge the talents of Raymond and Jacques, but one cannot say that the only promotion they worked for was their family’s. Once Beefcake became a Hogan buddy, was there any promotion he worked that Hogan wasn’t involved with? Which does make me wonder about why he’s not an integral part of TNA.)
I have to say I did guffaw at Leslie’s drawn-out pronunciation of psychology.
Well, not just the way he said it.
But Ed Leslie did work the regions and did pay his dues and did have a few toes in the pre-modern era. Even if I wonder about his talk of scripts and working with Tiny “Zeus” Lister and attributing a lot of creative power to Patterson (finishes? Crazy characters? Yeah, sure. Brooklyn Brawler and other references, yeah, sure. Patterson ordering Hogan to superplex Bossman off the cage? Really?)
According to Ed, he came up with the Sherri Martel Moniker, he was put over Bruno Sammartino (in 1989? as if ever?) and the WWF was drawing 20,000 fans regularly with its A team, 10-15,000 with the B team and a solid 5000 or so with the C team.
But then there are the insights that are meaningful. While we don’t get the bag of names, the bag of paraphernalia or the other gimmicks, we get a few road stories, some talk about Zaharian (including the infamous memo) and a very succinct talk about telling a story in the ring… because Leslie and Terry taught Tiny about wrestling a day before that big tag team match.
There’s also a classic story about Diamond Dallas Page and another reference to the titanium plates in his head (Did that really happen to Hogan, too?)
As far as becoming the Barber, we get a mishmash of the background, from Patterson’s input to Hogan’s input (apparently he’s the source of Brutus cutting his opponent’s hair, every match, every time). We also get insight into how the jobbers who got their hair cut could make a living off of that loss.
There are other things… but nothing in particular … if I can quote Morrissey.
In some ways, this is far more about the Ed Leslie influenced by Terry Bollea persona than the inner workings of the backstage of the WWF after the pinnacle of Hulk Hogan’s first era. But as for WWE 1989, this is two hours in a growing line of historical references of an industry that must be examined by the names and faces and memories that were involved.
Even if some of them are, shall we say, a bit questionable.