Sunday, July 29, 2018, was a shitty day to be a wrestling fan. For a lot of reasons. Most of us woke to the news we lost WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff, legit badass Brickhouse Brown, and the former Grandmaster Sexay and son of WWE HOFer & Announcer Jerry “The King” Lawler, Brian Christopher. In addition to styles & eras, the three deaths ran the gamut as well from natural causes to cancer to, in Christopher’s case, suicide in a jail cell.
While I know Brown by name & rep, I’ve not seen a ton of his work, but I don’t think I ever heard a bad thing about him. And Volkoff was as much a part of my childhood as Santa Claus. He & the Iron Sheik (who wrote some incredibly-touching tweets about his former tag-team partner) were two of the best heels in the history of professional wrestling. He had the best gimmick of the 80s because no matter how goofy it sounded, when he was in the ring singing the Russian Anthem, you were PISSED.
Christopher is a different deal. A WWF Attitude mainstay with Scotty 2 Hotty as Grandmaster Sexay forming the team Too Cool. It was kinda goofy, a shot at the club kids and whatnot, but he was a strong in-ring performer. Oddly, the angle got even better with the addition of Rikishi. Not gonna lie; I would give a little pop watching RAW at home when they finished a match with their dance. Christopher was also given a solid push for the new WWF Cruiserweight Division (or whatever they called it), losing in 1997 to Taka in the Cruiserweight tournament finals. I literally just watched that match last week on WWE Network & found it hysterical watching JR bust Lawler’s chops about “your boy.”
I had read he had been arrested for DUI July 7 & didn’t think anything about it. I figured he posted bail & went home. So reading the drama from Sunday was gut-wrenching. I don’t care if you didn’t like Lawler as a wrestler or don’t like him as an announcer, I can’t imagine getting that phone call. I pray nightly to a God I’m not sure I believe in anymore that I don’t get that call.
Now, I say all this as a fan. Period. I’ve worked in media my entire life but I haven’t covered wrestling on anything even resembling a regular basis. I worked as a producer for a sports-talk radio station in St. Louis and as such, pre-interviewed some wrestlers coming on our shows (as a newspaper reporter, I also did a story on Christian during his TNA run in 2006 when they did a PPV in St. Louis. He & Christy Hemme were incredibly nice). One of those wrestlers I talked to was Jerry Lawler. He was promoting RAW coming to St. Louis & our host loves sports history, so the Lawler vs. Kaufman story was told to much hilarity. My brief conversation with Lawler was pleasant. He asked if I was a fan & I said yes & he said “Good, I won’t have to dumb this down for you!”
That was a single phone call. The guy could be the biggest dickhead in the world & I wouldn’t know it. Now, apparently, Sabu had some pretty memorable run-ins with young Lawler back in their USWA days. It doesn’t take much research to find that BC struggled with relationships with colleagues at times. But that’s Sabu. No one else is going to disrespect a dead wrestler like that, right?
Sabu’s rants were, for whatever reason, kept pretty low key. There wasn’t a lot being said about it. When New Jack jumped online, that shit changed with a quickness. Whereas Sabu was making hit & run comments & responding to individual fans re: BC, New Jack just flat out said what he was thinking, no ambiguity at all.
Their reasoning is this: Sabu didn’t like how BC treated him in the old days. New Jack said BC was an unrepentant racist. On any given day, these two saying these things wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Saying them the day BC was found hanging from a jail cell…just a touch different.
Also, using New Jack’s racism rant, another Twitter follower posited the question: Why is Hogan getting a pass for definitively saying incredibly racist shit while New Jack is getting heat for pointing out that both BC and The King have said/done racist things? The obvious answer is, well, one of them is dead & can’t defend themselves.
Here’s the bigger theme behind this whole story, though: Why the fuck are we shocked that Sabu & New Jack, two of the most legit extreme athletes in the history of pro wrestling, said shocking things online? This pair, more than probably anyone, took ECW to the extreme more times than fucking ANYone (Google “Mass Transit ECW”…I’ll wait). They were held up as wrestlers who were hardcore, both in & out of the ring, in both word & deed.
Let me say I absolutely don’t agree with what they said. At all. It’s incredibly disrespectful, regardless of your personal issues with them. But here’s the problem, kids. Sometimes, when “extreme” people do “extreme” things, we don’t always agree with them because we don’t have a real gist of what REAL extreme really is. When you idolize someone for being hardcore, and then bail on them when they actually do something hardcore kinda makes you a hypocrite. Or fucking stupid.
When it comes to your heroes, be careful what you ask for. Sometimes, you get it.