Movies / TV
Books / Comics
" The Gravel Pit "
Iron Sheik Shoot Interview
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Mar 15, 2004, 20:15
This is a repost of a column originally posted on August 12, 2002.
Man, what a difference a day makes... Eddy retains, Benoit wins, and I actually watch RAW again. It's going pretty damn good so far, as Benoit verbally made Triple H his bitch then punched him out. Let's hope this keeps on going.
Also, in an unrelated note, I've been getting a lot of hits lately on the 1994 Smokey Mountain Wrestling BBQ shoot with Jim Cornette. It's certainly one of my favorites and is timely since Cornette threatened to strangle Rob Feinstein in it. My question is... who's been linking it? *I* certainly didn't, but I'm appreciative of the traffic it's generated. If you know or if you're the one who did it, please drop me an e-mail because I'd like to see the site the link is posted on.
Also, as an added irony, today (March 15), is listed as The Iron Sheik's birthday. I didn't know that before I posted this but I wish him a happy birthday and hope he likes crap... because this shoot sure was. I had to make my own entertainment throughout it.
As always, you can feel free to Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or buy yourself stuff at Highspots.com.
Well, it's Monday night / Tuesday morning again... and the direction of the WWE is on my mind. As of this writing (right before RAW on Monday night), there are only three concrete matches for Summerslam; Rock vs. Brock, Angle vs. Rey, and HHH vs. HBK. The only one of those that looks to be good is Angle-Rey, and I think that won't be given the opportunity for greatness that it should have.
As for HHH-HBK... I don't want to get in a habit of using this column to preach the word of HHHating, but I think it definately deserves my attention this week.
This past week's HHH lovefest was sickening to watch, and the ratings have backed me up on that. Despite being built up for a week and all throughout this past RAW, and including sequences where HHH punked out the major players on RAW (Jericho, the Un-Americans, Big Slow, and Booker T, although Underseller was a notable omission), the "Who Kicked HBK's Ass" storyline drew one of the worst overrun ratings in RAW history.
That segment gained 0.03 rating points coming off the RVD-Jericho match. The average overrun is significantly higher than that, usually 0.2 or 0.3 points at a minimum. I believe that the match between The Rock and the RAW brand's scapegoat, Ric Flair, drew an overrun of somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 the week before.
If Vince McMahon used the same logic that got him to pull the plug on the RVD, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho pushes, then HHH would be jobbed out ASAP and have his TV time limited for a few months. Somehow, I doubt that will happen. I think what we'll see instead is HHH getting a lot more TV time until the overall ratings drop significantly, then he'll give another "pep talk" about why all the guys he embarassed last week on TV aren't in the main event of RAW.
This is a review of the Iron Sheik shoot interview, item #3996 at RF Video for anyone who shops there.
As a word of warning, Sheik is a HUGE mark for himself. It's almost as bad as listening to Dusty Rhodes or Abdullah The Butcher at times and, by the way, if anyone wants to see the WORST "shoot" tape in history, try finding a copy of the interview done with Abdullah at Abdullah's House of Ribs, his restaurant in Atlanta. It's SO bad that it's not even funny.
Now that I'm back to the Sheik, I will say that he's prone to ranting for 10 minutes at a time saying the same stuff he'd said at the beginning of the interview. It's something like this: "Tehran Iran, oldest country in the world, 15 years old, 155 pounds, Iranian High School Champion, Iranian Army Champion, go to '68 Olympics in Mexico City, AAU Champion, coach at University of Minnesota and '72 Olympics in Munich, all true wrestling fans know I let blond guitar player beat me because HE not AAU champion, etc. etc. etc."
It's almost like the Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker skit that Chris Farley used to do on Saturday Night Live where he'd say the phrase "Livin' in a VAN down by the RIVER" 50 times in 4 minutes. In fact, to preserve MY sanity, I'll just replace any reference to his amateur background and Iranian heritage with "Living in a VAN down by the RIVER" to simplify it.
Anyway, we start the interview with Iron Sheik (Kozrow Vasiri) holding his copy of the WWF title and talking about how he was "Living in a VAN down by the RIVER" until he was brought to the US in the 60's by wrestling coach Al Rice and settled in Minnesota. He trained AAU and college wrestlers such as Brad Rhengians, a later AWA star and trainer. He then stops to talk about how Bob Backlund was a great shooter, proven by his 6 year title reign in the WWF, thereby ignoring the fact that wrestling is a work.
After about 20 minutes of dancing around how he adapted from Greco Roman and Freestyle wrestling to the pro style, he eventually talks about how he drove the ring truck, set up the ring, was a referee, and did various other things for the AWA until he was properly trained as a wrestler. Among the other wrestlers that attended Verne's AWA camp alongside him were Jim Brunzell (most known for being a Killer Bee in the WWF), Ric Flair, and Greg Gagne.
He's then asked about Hulk Hogan and talks about "Living in a VAN down by the RIVER" before coming back to the subject and running down Hogan for his "Say your prayers and take your vitamins, and don't take drugs" comments while he was taking enough steroids to kill a blue whale. He also talks about how "real wrestling fans know that Iron Sheik never lose to Hollywood blonde jabroni unless he let him win.” Tell that to Verne Gagne, who was supposedly embarrassed by having to submit to Hogan after an argument. Gagne, an Olympic alternate in the 40's, was upset and asked if the front facelock Hogan used was the only move that he knew. Hogan's response was something like "It's the only hold I need to know to beat you"
He then talks about "Living in a VAN down by the RIVER" before covering most of the territories that he worked in before the (W)WWF. These include: Stampede, where he claims to have taught all of the Hart brothers and some of Stu's local workers. World Class, where he claims he taught all of the Von Erich brothers. And, finally, Mid Atlantic, where he won the tag titles with Blackjack Mulligan (father of Barry Windham).
He then talks about how Pro Wrestling is the toughest sport in the world and how he loved working in Japan. He says he worked on top with Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, and Rikidozan, but that last one is DEFINATELY bullshit because Rikidozan was murdered by the Yakuza in 1963 and Sheik didn't debut as a pro until the early 70's.
(On the other hand, if he was just talking about the history of Japanese wrestling as opposed to working for them, it was hard to tell due to his EXTREMELY thick accent)
He then goes back to talk about how he worked for 3 years as a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran. My bullshit-detector is reading off the chart on this one, as you'd think that Ayatollah Khomeini would have done something about people so closely associated with the hated Shah. He does come back to reality and addresses my point when he talks about an Iranian wrestling legend who "committed suicide" after the Shah fell, and talks about how far against the beliefs of Islam it is to do such a thing. He says that the Shah was both good and bad, and that the bad didn't really come until the uprisings started against him in the 70's.
He then moves on to his time in Mid-Atlantic, where he beat Ronnie Garvin for the TV title and Jim Brunzell for the Heavyweight Title. (BTW, this is NOT the same as the NWA World title, which at this point was practically the sole property of Mid-Atlantic owner Jim Crockett)
Next he then went to Mid-South, where he worked with Junkyard Dog and Paul Orndorff, among others. Around this time he starts talking about "Living in a VAN down by the RIVER" AGAIN before putting over Kurt Angle for being a true "shooter" and Olympic champion.
After stops in Georgia and the Middle East, he ended up in the (W)WWF under Vince McMahon Sr., where he spent about 10 years before encountering legal troubles. When prompted, he goes back to the early 70's and lists some other territories he's worked in including Central States, which was run by Harley Race and Bob Geigel, and Nick Gulas's promotion in Tennessee, although this may have been before the split between Gulas and his protégé, Jerry Jarrett.
Iron Sheik beat Bob Backlund with the Camel Clutch on December 26, 1983, the biggest day in his career. He said that Backlund knew he was losing the belt, but was too proud to submit. When he got Backlund in the hold, he told Backlund’s manager Arnold Skoalan that he had two choices: Throw in the towel for Backlund or watch him break Bob’s back. Soon after this, the Sheik started bitching about how he didn’t get a series of matches against Hogan once he lost the belt in early 1984. He also said that the attack on Backlund with the Persian clubs was the idea of his manager, Freddie Blassie.
He’s then asked about an infamous $100,000 offer made by Verne Gagne in 1984 to break Hogan’s leg in their title match. Sheik talks about how Hogan had jumped from the AWA and that he didn’t have any problems with breaking Hogan’s leg because he was “blonde guitar player”, but that he didn’t want to dishonor the memory of Vince McMahon Sr. by taking the belt with him. (And he WONDERS why he wasn’t given more matches against Hogan after this…) He also make some comments that imply that Backlund was asked to job the (W)WWF title to Hogan but refused.
From there, he moves on to Wrestlemania I. He and Nikolai Volkoff beat US Express, better known as Mike Rotundo (IRS, Michael Wallstreet) and Barry Windham, for the WWF Tag Titles. He put over both Windham and Rotundo because Windham is the son of Blackjack Mulligan and Rotundo was an accomplished amateur wrestler at Syracuse.
His next feud after that was against Sgt. Slaughter, who he put over as being a good wrestler and having great psychology. He says his favorite match in that series was the Boot Camp match.
At Wrestlemania 2, he was a part of the battle royal between wrestlers and football players. Sheik talks about how he manhandled both William “Refrigerator” Perry and Bill Frelich because football, while a tough sport, is very team-oriented and not good for individual efforts.
The next topic is the famous bust that derailed his career. In 1987, the Sheik was riding in a car with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan when they were pulled over because cops had seen Duggan drinking a beer while driving. The cops also found various drugs in the car, which lead to a nasty bit of PR for the WWF. Duggan got off lightly, but the Sheik was suspended from the WWF for two years and was sent to rehab by Vince McMahon Jr.
About the time that his suspension was lifted, he went to WCW and was used as a jobber for Sting to squash at Wrestlewar 89. He wasn’t happy to be jobbing, but that the money was right and sometimes you have to leave your pride at home. He talked about how Sting was a nice guy, but that he was another bodybuilder like Hogan.
The Ultimate Warrior is the next big subject, as the Sheik was one of his opponents at Summerslam 91, which was the night Warrior took off not to be seen again until the Hogan-Sid match at Wrestlemania 8. The Sheik thinks that Warrior may have been pissed about how his career was going, as Sid was being set up as Hogan’s next big challenger, but that the rumors floating around about Warrior’s old job as a male escort caused him to lose face and probably impacted his decision to leave. Warrior supposedly didn’t even stop to shower, as he threw his stuff back into his bag and disappeared from Madison Square Garden.
His work for the Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo Championshit Wrestling is then brought up, as he participated in the first ever Crackpipe on a Pole match to my knowledge, although I’ll refrain from making any Jake Roberts or Sunny jokes to the contrary. Sheik claims that the money was right to do the match and that a promotion that kind of low-class gimmick matches won’t last very long.
Just about the last thing of interest is the Sheik’s response to some allegations made by promoter Dennis Corraluzzo (who died this past year). Corraluzzo told some funny stories in his shoot about the Sheik accepting less money to work a show if he was given drugs. The Sheik starts going off on a LONG rant talking about what a piece of shit that Corraluzzo is for going behind his back to make these comments.
Matches- The matches on this tape are the Sheik-Backlund title match, the angle with the Persian clubs setting up the match, some post-match interviews, and the Hogan-Sheik match at Madison Square Garden the next month where Hogan won the belt. As historic as they are, they are unwatchable on this tape and weren't really good to begin with.
Comments- As you can see, this isn't a particularly good interview. The only nuggets of information here deal with Ulitmate Warrior's private life, which may or may not be covered in other shoot interviews, and Verne Gagne's attempts to bribe the Sheik into breaking Hogan's leg in their Madison Square Garden title match in January 1984, which is covered in Tony Atlas's shoot interview.
I used to recommend this one back when Sheik was one of the only WWF guys from the mid-80's who did one. However, now that shoot interviews with Ted Dibiase, Honkytonk Man, Tito Santana, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, and others have been released, I can safely say this one's not worth your time.
Strong recommendation to avoid.
Until next week, Tardy Turtle says:
"I just booked RAW!"
Comments or questions? Send them to me mail at [email protected]