Mark Takada looks at The Sheik

I saw the website poll Friday and when I checked Mick Foley was one vote ahead of the noble, exalted Sheik for craziest wrestler ever. All I can say is there must be a lot of voters that never saw the Sheik.

He had a whole bunch of mannerisms that convinced me he was nuts. My favourite was when he would point to the rafters as if he saw something like a bird or a bat and then would duck as if it was dive bombing him. Everything about him was pretty convincing.

It's been pointed out that most people love the wrestling they grew up with and I think there are Foley voters that never saw Sheik. Also, everyone's ability to perceive changes and I saw Sheik when I was young and Foley when I was older and more skeptical. With Foley I knew he was a decent guy playing a nut while with Sheik I thought he was a nut.

I didn't see him much but Curtis Iaukea was pretty good at portraying a nut. In his interviews in Toronto he would bring out a ballpeen hammer and act like he'd use it. Back then in wrestling if you used a hammer the guy would likely end up close to dead, not like today where HHH uses a sledgehammer and guys are recovered by the next show.

I know there are limits on the number of candidates but Crazy Luke Graham had a pretty good crazy act too. One of my favourite things in wrestling was when the crowd would shout Crazy Luke or Beach Bum at Don Muraco and the guy would get so distracted they couldn't wrestle and put both hands over their ears and yell at the crowd to stop. Of course either they or their manager would always tell the crowd in their promos they weren't crazy or a beach bum and not to yell it.

It's a great heat gimmick but a little unrealistic, like it takes a lot of concentration to eye gouge, kick and punch. When modern heel acts try to get heat with a phrase they don't want to hear it never catches on. Most of the nominees are from an older era when wrestling had more characters and fewer bland "corporate" type wrestlers.

Guaranteed 20 years from now no one will remember the Miz and even Orton probably will be remembered as pretty bland overall. Wrestling could use some real characters.

Wrestling is now such a low priority in my life I am weeks behind in reading the Observer. I just read today about the 30th anniversary of the death of Ernie Roth. He was an excellent heat magnet in Toronto as Abdullah Farouk.

I loved the way he spat out his words with disgust and disdain. He was 100 times better than Eddie Creatchman. Creatchman would jump up and down acting like an impotent frustrated goof having a tantrum, he was hard to take seriously. Farouk was good at threatening and his smug expression with his arms crossed was great.

He was also a sharp dressed man, you had to love the pants and the outfits as the Grand Wizard. 

I grew up with the Tunney promotion in Toronto and followed closely from about 1969-81, so I saw the Sheik era, the AWA, Crockett and WWF affiliation.

During the Sheik era Toronto was an NWA city and very rarely would the champion come in. They almost never faced the Sheik and often faced someone that wasn't even in the territory. Do you know why that was done?

There was a title change and neither Race or Funk had been in much. It doesn't seem like a good way to build the box office?

DM:  They'd rarely face The Sheik, although Sheik got a few title shots, because Sheik had an unbeaten streak gimmick and Sam Muchnick, when he booked the NWA champion, while he could lose via DQ or draw (and the idea of Sheik going 60 minutes is not a pretty thought), Muchnick always wanted the champion to go over at the end to protect the belt.  Toronto was the No. 2 market in North America behind New York during The Sheik's era, but they didn't use the champion that much because Sheik as booker wanted himself as the main event act.  Not sure the politics in Toronto getting the Terry Funk vs. Race title change instead of a city where both men worked regularly.

Who is the strongest of these Hall of Fame candidates?


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