Wildmen of Wrestling | 12 Outrageous Heels Who Pioneered Hardcore

Herein we feature some of the wildest, most outrageous heels the sport of professional wrestling has ever seen. These were the pioneers of the "hardcore" style we began to regularly see in the early to mid-’90s in promotions like FMW and ECW.

Without further ado and in no particular order…

1. Ed Farhat, “The Sheik”

Just about everywhere The Sheik went in the ‘50s and ‘60s, he was a top draw. With a maniacal gaze and face drenched in blood, his almost mythical covers on the wrestling magazines of the ‘70s are still controversial today. According to Bill Apter, Stanley Weston, former publisher and owner of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and many other magazines of the time, with a straight face proclaimed, “There are two things that sell on the cover: broads and blood."

Ed Farhat, The Original Sheik.
Ed Farhat, The Original Sheik. [Photo courtesy of The Sheik Ed Farhat Facebook page]
The Sheik was "hardcore" before the term was "a thing" in wrestling. While this list of twelve wrestlers are not necessarily in order of wildness or greatness because this is not an opinion piece, at least permit us to place The Sheik as the undisputed hardcore pioneer and champion of violence.

 

His wild-eyed antics, his trusty No. 2 pencil he used to mercilessly jab his opponent’s foreheads, and the gift of being able to get the crowd in a frenzy had no peers.

Everyone wanted to see The Sheik beaten or at least beat up as he went up against the likes of Bobo Brazil, Antonino Rocca, Freddie Blassie, and Buddy Rogers, to name a few he faced during his almost 50-year career. Sadism, violence, and the threat of maybe even unleashing a fireball from his fingertips sold-out arenas nationwide. He never talked directly to the people and so maintained his mysterious aura. In different instances, he had managers like Eddie “The Brain” Creatchman and Abdullah Farouk (who later became The Grand Wizard in the WWWF) that served as effective mouthpieces and furhter inciting the crowd even more.

Working in Toronto under promoter Frank Tunney from 1964-77, he had a 127 match unbeaten streak, regularly drawing bi-weekly crowds of 10,000 people. The mighty Andre The Giant is the one who finally smothered the impressive streak and only because The Shiek was disqualified.

Even during the ‘90s, when The Sheik was in his sixties, he could generate major white-hot radiating heat like nobody else. Dave Burzynski AKA “Supermouth” Dave Drason, his manager at the time, explains his experience with the dreaded Sheik in the highly recommended book, The Heels by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson. "I was always scared to death because of the heat the guy could generate. I never knew what was going to happen to me. Going to the arena was fine, but the walk back to the dressing room was the scariest moment I’ve ever had in the business… It was justified because of the times we got attacked."

He was the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Most Hated of 1972. From 1964-1980, he owned and operated the famed Detroit promotion called Big Time Wrestling. Cobo Arena became a fabled venue that witnessed much of his carnage. He faced Bruno Sammartino 3 times in Madison Square Garden. He was a 12-time NWA U.S. champion (Detroit). His legacy continued after his retirement by training Rob Van Dam and his nephew Sabu, both of which went on to have very successful careers in ECW and beyond. The Shiek’s place in hardcore history is secure. Let us continue moving forward.

2. Mad Dog Vachon

"He was a horrible worker, and you never knew what the hell he was going to do, but he drew money because of the intensity of who he was. His interviews were so dominant because he believed that he was the toughest son of a bitch that walked. And he may have been!" – Bill Watts

Mad Dog Vachon
Mad Dog Vachon [Photo courtesy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated]
Mad Dog Vachon had a growling, snarling voice unlike anyone in the business. He demanded your attention and was rarely ignored. Vachon grew up in a family of thirteen kids in Ville-Émard, a working-class section of Montreal, Quebec, and learned to be tough right away. He dropped out of school at age thirteen, and as a youngster, when he could afford it, he, along with his brothers enjoyed the wrestling matches held at the Montreal Forum. He then broke into wrestling in the early ‘50s but as a handsome youngster, not the unsightly Mad Dog.

 

"When I started wrestling professionally, I have to admit I was a good-looking young man, had a lot of hair and beautiful teeth. But it didn’t take me long to realize that good guys finish last."

Outside the ring, stories of "Mad Dog" getting into bar fights are common, as told by his contemporary Dutch Savage. "You’d have to hit him with a hammer or shoot him, or he’d kill you."

Killer Kowalski has a colorful bar story too. "Someone gave him a little flak, and he beat the shit out of the guy. Took a jar, or something like that, and hit the guy over the head with it."

Mad Dog’s brother Paul adds, "The guy would rather fight than eat."

He was hated in the ring but once retired, he became a folk hero in his native Quebec, where he had a farewell tour and became a spokesperson for different products. Love him or hate him, Mad Dog Vachon was unique.

Mad Dog Vachon Shoot Fight Stories – An Animal in and Out of the Ring!

3. Bulldog Brower

Wrestling manager James Mitchell once recalled, "Bulldog Brower was one of the great old-time heels that made me want to get into the wrestling business. He remembers an angle for the IWA in the Carolinas where Brower attacked Mighty Igor on his birthday, smashing Igor into the birthday cake and strangling the puppy dog he’d received as a present. It’s a shame they don’t make them like that anymore. ‘Brower Power’ indeed!"

Bulldog Brower (left) with a foreign object vs The Mighty Igor
Bulldog Brower (left) with a foreign object vs. The Mighty Igor [Photo courtesy of @OldWrestlingPic on Twitter]
Brower didn’t start as a heel, but it fit him a little too perfectly when he turned.

 

In London, Ontario, in 1961, a cameraman filming in studio for CEPL-TV laughed so hard at Brower’s manic behavior that the Bulldog punched him and tore up the studio. The station went off the air for thirty minutes, and that was the end of the interview.

His eyes would bulge out when he choking his opponents, and some say this gave him the visage of a bulldog. Famous for fighting spectators and swinging shovels, he even pulled a pistol on fans to protect Blackjack Mulligan, who had already been stabbed after fans were upset he had defeated Pedro Morales.

The "One Man Riot Squad" was indeed a handful! Brower had shades of Dick The Bruiser in his body type and his constant advancing offensive brawling style was very entertaining to watch. He seemed to fear no one. Opponents always had to be aware of that cocked right hand that seemed to land square on their jaw every time. When it did land, it was the beginning of the end!

The outrageous Bulldog Brower was a truely memorable heel who reveled in his role as a bad guy, and is a worthy addition to this list.

WATCH: Bulldog Brower has no mercy on a young Sika Anoia!

4. Pampero Firpo

One of the most unforgettable characters in all of wrestling, Pampero Firpo trained by Rudy Dusek, debuted in 1953 and enjoyed a 30-year career in 21 foreign countries on 5 continents. He and his caveman look, loud gravelly animalistic voice, and the shrunken head named Chimu was a major draw throughout his career wherever he went. His unpredictable and unorthodox brawling style made him a must-see attraction. His feud with The Sheik in the Detroit territory kept the fans on the edge of their seats. In an enjoyable conversation in 2012 with Bill Apter via Skype, Firpo said that Antonino Rocca was his hero when he started, and he enjoyed working with Angelo Savoldi. In 1972 he wrestled Pedro Morales in the WWWF in a losing effort.

"The Wild Bull of the Pampas" is not liking the line of questioning by George Napolitano!

He was a true wildman in the ring but also a wildman behind the wheel, according to Dory Funk Jr.! Dory once said, "I made the most harrowing trip from the HIC Arena in Hawaii after wrestling there to the airport with Pampero Firpo driving. I feared for my life. Man, the way he drove, I could not believe it!"

Whether working heel or face, he was a gifted performer in the 8,882 matches that he had. His most famous run as a face was against the hated Shiek after being fireballed by him in the face. He captured the U.S. Title from him in 1976 as well as many other NWA titles. His signature move was a crushing bearhug or his infamous claw hold (el garfio), which went over a hapless opponent’s face and forced him to submit, but not before writhing in anguish!

Larry "The Axe" Hennig once mentioned, "Pampero Firpo had a look about him that was believable."

He was truly a terror in the ring but a dedicated family man outside. A side of Pampero the fans rarely saw.

Fun fact: Firpo’s iconic “OOOOH YEAAAAAHHH!!!!” was the inspiration behind Macho Man Randy Savage’s iconic catchphrase

When Pampero Firpo retired from wrestling, he for many years worked for the post office in the San José, California area. He soon cut his bedraggled hair and transformed into an unrecognizable clean-shaven, and soft-spoken gentleman in the workforce. For years, we were unsure he had an indoor voice! He fortunately obtained a pension, something his storied wrestling career never allowed him. Relaxing and spending time with his family and grandchildren became his favorite pastimes. Wrestling is still desperately looking for another Pampero Firpo, but there can be only one.

He is a Cauliflower Alley Club Honoree from 2001 and is in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame class of 2018. His lovely daughter Mary Fries runs a Twitter account dedicated to her father’s wrestling career and legacy, where you can follow here: @PFirpo1.

Watch Pampero Firpo deliver a fantastic promo:

5. Tiger Jeet Singh

"Tiger" Jeet Singh might be the greatest heel that you may not be too familiar with. After watching wrestling on television, he emigrated to Canada, convinced that he could wrestle too. Once trained by Australian wrestler Fred Atkins, he debuted in 1965. He competed in the U.S. all over the different territories against the likes of Sweet Daddy Siki, André The Giant, and Whipper Billy Watson. Soon afterward, he was convinced wrestling was for him after earning $6,000 for a single match when previously he was used to only getting $100 a month in a normal job.

Tiger Jeet Singh, victorious but battered. You should see the other guy!
Tiger Jeet Singh, victorious but battered. You should see the other guy! [Photo courtesy of Tempel 3000 on Pinterest]
But in "The Land of the Rising Sun," he became well-known and wreaked havoc for 22 years. It all started in 1972 after he got into a brawl with Antonio Inoki in a shopping center that sparked a media frenzy. The bitter feud was set, and Inoki took revenge and "broke" Singh’s arm in a ‘74 NJPW match, but Singh came back in ‘75 to win the NWF belt (brought over from the U.S. after defeating Johnny Powers) from Inoki in a match that drew 60,000 spectators.

 

At his peak in Japan, Singh was a heel fans loved to hate. “Mesmerized” is one word you could use to describe the people’s reaction, and “afraid” would be another. They wanted to take pictures with the unmangeable heel, but they also feared Tiger might hit them with either the sword or stick he carried around when out in public. He’d often strike people indiscriminately, so crowds that converged out of curiosity quickly scattered and fleed when Singh threatened violence. They almost seemed to enjoy it! Making his entrance to the ring, he opened a path for himself much the same way. He became a person who simply could not walk outside his hotel room without being mobbed by curious onlookers.

In Japan, just like with Inoki, many fans wanted him to slap them in the face. To them, it was an honor. And yet in Canada, where he first arrived from Punjab, India, Singh is just another normal person that goes mostly unperceived. In the late ‘70s, he teamed with Abdullah the Butcher frequently, and in the early years of FMW (Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling), he even had a gory feud with the controversial owner and founder of the promotion, Atsushi Onita. In 2004 he had memorable matches against Naya Ogawa of The Hustle faction in Japan, where he said to the press, "I want to satisfy myself, I am thirsty for Ogawa’s blood. This will be the first time in his life where he feels real pain."

The documentary entitled Tiger! chronicles his fascinating life story from his life in India to his work as a wrestler.

6. King Curtis Iaukea

King Curtis Iaukea. You may not always remember how to pronounce his last name, but after you’ve seen his forehead for the first time, you’ll certainly tell people afterward what you saw!

A young not so scarred King Curtis Iaukea.
A young not so scarred King Curtis Iaukea. [Photo courtesy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated]
Trained by Lord James Blears and Joe Blanchard, the bloodthirsty heel from Hawaii was part of Australia’s incredible wrestling boom during the mid-‘60s under influential promoter Jim Barnett. King Curtis joined the "People’s Army" along with Mark Lewin and Spiros Arion. Rumor has it that this concept influenced Kevin Sullivan’s "Army of Darkness" in the ‘80s, where he became "Chairman of The Board" along with a motley crew of slimy miscreants. This faction raised red flags in family households tuning into Championship Wrestling From Florida (CWF) and other territories. “Satanic Panic” was making headlines and the evil Army of Darkness loved it. King Curtis later reappeared with Sullivan’s other bizarre faction called "The Dungeon of Doom" in ‘95 for WCW as the enigmatic "Master." Their one and only goal was to end Hulkamania forever.

Famous for being a bleeder, a madman inside the ring, and a gift for storytelling when handed a mic, he was well-liked by his contemporaries. His last great run was against famed babyface Dusty Rhodes in ‘76, where they had several brutal battles where "The Dream" and "Da Bull" may or may not have carved their initials in each other’s foreheads during them!

Unfortunately, in ‘79, his in-ring career came to a screeching halt when he contracted a virus through his cuts from the ring mats. Rumors of Kevin Sullivan and others doing lines of cocaine on his forehead are unconfirmed but always mentioned!

Gary Smith says, "There was no one like Curtis. He was more than a main event wrestler. He was an attraction similar to Mad Dog Vachon, George ‘The Animal’ Steele, or even Andre The Giant."

Dusty Rhodes once said, "He had a magnetism about him. You always hear the word charismatic. He was infectious, his laugh. I loved being around him as much or more than probably anybody in our industry for years. He loved his pot, and that’s what it was all about!"

7. Wild Bull Curry

Whether working as a heel or a face, Wild Bull Curry always stole the show and always gave you something to talk about!

Wild Bull Curry being restrained as people look on.
Wild Bull Curry being restrained as people look on. [Photo courtesy of Davey Walker on Pinterest]
"What he had going for him was his million-dollar face- he looked like the devil himself," said Emile Duprée, who battled Curry in the Canadian Maritimes. "He had eyebrows right across that were almost two inches thick. He had that tough-looking body." Wild Bull Curry was no stranger to altercations on the street or confrontations with the authorities. From a Lebanese descent, he looked like a hairy criminal straight out of a Dick Tracy comic strip. With a blood-strewn visage, he fearlessly defied his tormentors at the matches. This became quite the routine for Wild Bull who knew well many people sported knives, clubs and other dangerous effects.

Detroit veteran Jim Lancaster adds, "He was the first guy who scared me. The way he came to the ring- he would just hit guys in the head and make them bleed. That’s all he did. He never had a finish. He’d just pull out some brass knuckles, knock them out and cover them."

In 1940, the beloved ex-champion boxer Jack Dempsey made a brief comeback from retirement and faced several wrestlers. One of these was the unorthodox Wild Bull Curry who fought dirty the whole bout and was knocked out in the second round. The cautious police later escorted a kicking and protesting Wild Bull who refuted his defeat at the hands of “The Manassa Mauler.”

In the ‘50s, he became popular in Texas for his fierce brawls against Danny McShain, Duke Keomuka, and Pepper Gomez. He was as unpredictable as they came. Once, while Curry was running up and down and slamming against the ropes, Dallas TV announcer Bill Mercer who was at the edge of the ring all the sudden looked up and then after Curry looked down on him, Mercer got kicked with a boot to the face courtesy of Wild Bull Curry.

In another instance, while working with Dick Brown, Curry noticed a beer vendor selling to customers in the front row, not paying attention to the match. He asked Brown to launch him towards the vendor, and Curry landed on the guy’s back, causing beer bottles to fly everywhere. He quickly obtained the nickname of “Apeman Curry” because of his wild mischief in and out of the squared circle.

One of Curry’s trademarks was that wherever you hit him, he’d clutch his right ear. You could kick him in the leg, he’d grab his ear. Stomp his foot, he’d grab his ear. Opponents had to be careful with a famous left hook he’d catch you in the gut with, where he’d do a side step and then hit you with a sweeping open hand. The slap to his opponent’s gut made the crowd pop.

Even when Curry was approaching seventy, Bobby Fulton of The Fantastics said Curry was still magic as the grandfather of hardcore. Jim Lancaster, a 20-year veteran of the ring, says that Curry believed that nobody was hotter than him and later admitted to him that he was disappointed he never got a run with The Sheik’s U.S. title in Detroit. Bill Apter remembers Curry throwing ashtrays at him while backstage!

His son “Flying” Fred Curry became a wrestler as well but adapted a style much different than his unruly father’s.

WATCH: More outlandish pictures of Wild Bull Curry

8. Killer Kowalski

Certain unintentional but fortunate events cemented Killer Kowalski’s image as a "Killer." In 1952 a couple of years after his debut, Killer Kowalski ripped a part off Yukon Eric’s already cauliflowered ear after performing a brusque knee drop. When he visited Eric in the hospital, who Kowalski said resembled Humpty Dumpty with bandages around his head, the two began laughing because the incident had been an accident. But the press picked it up and wrote that Kowalski was there nefariously laughing at his opponent’s misfortune!

Killer Kowalski with the Americas Wrestling Championship title. This was NWA Los Angeles.
Killer Kowalski with the Americas Wrestling Championship title. This was NWA Los Angeles.

In 1958 wrestling against Pat O’Connor, guest referee, and  ex-champion pugilist Jack Demsey got kicked hard in the diaphragm by him and was later hospitalized. The press also twisted the facts and helped further solidify Kowalski as a ruthless heel.

Kowalski had a unique physique for the time, at 6’6" and 280 lbs. Early in his career, he was handsome to many women, and this was where men started to hate him even before he became "Killer." His height, trademark claw hold, and unceasing in-ring style where he rarely gave his opponents a breather is what many people remember him by.

"I had tremendous imagination,” Kowalski once explained, "I was like a magician when I walked to that ring. I performed things people had never seen before."

He helped put a young André The Giant over when the two faced off. Even though André lost, he looked good in the process because the more established veteran Kowalski looked short in stature beside André.

Jacques Rougeau Sr. believes Kowalski was successful because he had a vicious way of wrestling, and people thought he was a maniac. But he was always a hard worker in the ring and felt that Kowalski never had a bad match. "He was the nicest guy in the world, but in the ring, he looked like a real killer."

Once retired, Kowalski continued training many wrestlers and never stopped giving back to the sport he loved. His pupils are a who’s who in the wrestling business and will always be indebted to the “Killer.”

Further reading: Killer Kowalski – A Tribute to My Friend

9. George “The Animal” Steele

Known to many as “The Animal,” George Steele first went into wrestling to supplement his income as a school teacher and coach. To hide his identity, he used a mask and named himself "The Student." Bruno Sammartino liked what he saw and brought him into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1967 for the WWWF.

Captain Lou Albano trying to control the uncontrollable George
Captain Lou Albano trying to control the uncontrollable George "The Animal" Steele. [Photo courtesy of horrornewsnetwork.net]
A trademark hold that he retained throughout his career was a Flying Hammerlock, where he’d lift a very unlucky opponent by the arm while holding it in a hammerlock position and letting them drop while not letting go. “That became what I think the most convincing vicious hold in the history in wrestling,” says Steele, who throughout his career, was known as an unpredictable brawler. “I’m not talking taking bumps like a Moonsault off the top rope; I’m talking wrestling hold.”

 

While in Pittsburgh, he also began tearing up turnbuckles with his teeth, which many colleagues say were razor-sharp, and using green Clorets to color his tongue to match the color of his alma mater Michigan State. He worked against Bruno Sammartino, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Pedro Morales, drawing large crowds. Unlike most wrestlers of the time, Steele usually didn’t travel to different territories. He remained in the northeast and was brought in on special occasions to keep his character fresh when he wasn’t teaching.

Before the WWF decided to soften Steele’s image in the mid-‘80s and turn him into almost a cartoon character by giving him a “Mine” doll, Steele was a menacing heel that people genuinely feared. Veteran journeyman “Irish” Dave O’Hannon who had known him for years, recalls, "There were heels that fans would go to and get close to. On the other hand, George had the fans really wary of him because he was that scary a heel.

O’Hannon continues, "People didn’t want to approach him because they didn’t know what they were going to get. They weren’t positive about him; he had a look like a Hannibal Lecter kind of personality."

Former referee Dick Woehrle remembers a match he was presiding over when George Steele started throwing turnbuckle stuffing on top of the head athletic commissioner wearing his expensive suit while at ringside. The commissioner asked the referee to stop the match, and Woehrle took the opportunity to tell Steele that the commish didn’t like him doing that. "The Animal" didn’t care and ripped open another turnbuckle and threw a handful of stuffing on top of The Commissioner once again. That’s when the referee was left with no choice but to disqualify him. Steele went ahead and punched the ref with his daughter and friends in attendance. If only all of us could solve our problems just like that, huh?

Further reading: George Steele on Becoming The Animal and His ‘Fetish’ for Turnbuckles

10. Jos LeDuc

With piercing wild-looking eyes, fearsome-looking Jos LeDuc, nicknamed "The Canadian Freight Train," was a powerhouse and all business in the ring. He will always be remembered for mutilating his bare arm with an ax on live television, where he was supposedly taking a blood oat (oath) promising to dispose of Jerry Lawler forever. He had first tried doing this in a taped interview and was thankfully impeded by Memphis co-promoter Jerry Jarrett. He objected to what Leduc was doing and told him the station would not air it anyway. Nonetheless, the persistent LeDuc tried it again and to the sheer horror of long-time announcer Lance Russell and everyone else watching in the studio and at home, LeDuc was caught on live television.

The fearsome and intimidating Jos LeDuc.
The fearsome and intimidating Jos LeDuc. [Photo courtesy of @M_NightRiderFan on Twitter]
In Memphis, Jimmy Hart tried to position LeDuc as a lumberjack strongman and pulled stunts like Leduc pulling a car around the Mid-South Coliseum with manager Jimmy Hart on the hood. He also braced himself against a wall and stopped a car from going forward just with his legs. His greatest success came in the southern territories under the Fullers in the Gulf Coast and the intense wars he had with Jerry Lawler in Tennessee. In one incident, he launched Lawler over the top rope onto the announcer’s table nine feet away wherein "The King" legitimately injured his leg and was out several weeks.

 

Dusty Rhodes said in his autobiography "Reflections of Wrestling’s American Dream," "Leduc drew so much fucking money in the south and in Florida, it is unbelievable."

“Man, oh man, the guy loses touch with reality, that’s all there is to it!” – Announcer Lance Russell after witnessing LeDuc’s famous blood oath.

Watch Jos Leduc Deliver His Legendary Blood Oath Promo:

Further reading: Who Is Wrestling’s Greatest Monster Heel of All Time?

11. Killer Tim Brooks

Killer Tim Brooks, with his leather jacket, rugged looks, long beard, and disheveled hair on a balding head, looked more like a barroom brawler than a wrestler. "I was not a technician; I was a fighter. I think what people liked about me when they knew I was going to have a match, it was going to be a fight. It was going to be chaos. It was going to be wild. It wasn’t going to be your average wrestling match. Also, I think they knew I was going to take it to that babyface’s ass!"

"Killer" Time Brooks had very few limits inside or outside of the ring. [Photo courtesy of Wrestling Magazine Cover Museum Facebook page]
Tim Brooks is Dick Murdoch’s cousin, but unlike Murdoch, who started refereeing at age fourteen and started wrestling soon afterward, Tim began after a three-year stint in the army from ‘63-’66. He was a military police member and recounts, "We went into a lot of bars, and whorehouses, and such, and broke up fights. I don’t know if it prepared me for wrestling, but it got me being active in a rough kind of way. The real craziness came in wrestling, not in the army."

Brooks was considered one of The Sheik’s better tag partners and had memorable feuds with Shawn Michaels’ future mentor José Lothario and also Tex McKenzie.

Bruiser Brody was his biggest friend in wrestling, but Roddy was a real good friend, he says. Unfortunately, the outlaw, partying lifestyle and drugs caught up to him. He began having problems with promoters like Dutch Savage. "They (Brooks and Piper) did a lot of toot together. Their temperament changed when high. It’s like a dynamite keg all the time. You had to walk around them with kid’s gloves."

In 2014 he was still involved in wrestling, this time as a promoter and instructor. Sadly, Tim Brooks died on June 30, 2020, at the age of 72, following a battle with cancer. He will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of hardcore wrestling and will be missed.

"It’s in your blood. It’s called the wrestling disease. There is life after wrestling. It’s not the same, but there’s life." – Killer Tim Brooks

Watch Bill Apter speak with Killer Tim Brooks in 2016:

12. Abdullah The Butcher

“I really believe Abdullah The Butcher was the best heel for his time. He took The Sheik’s gimmick and took it to the next stage. If you are asking about villains, I think Butcher is number one,” once said friend and rival Johnny Powers.

Abdullah The Butcher, one of the most feared and most controversial figures in all of pro wrestling.
Abdullah The Butcher, one of the most feared and most controversial figures in all of pro wrestling.

Abdullah, with a forehead that rivals the late King Curtis Iaukea, bit, gouged, and bled his way into being considered one of the wildest, craziest, most violent wrestlers (performers?) ever to step into the squared circle. Yes, The Sheik will always have his place, but Abdullah’s antics always come up when hardcore wrestling is mentioned.

With Abdullah, you never had a wrestling match. You had punches, karate thrusts, kicks, choking, biting, and buckets of blood guaranteed. Abby always had a weapon hidden like a fork or a pencil somewhere on his body, probably in one of his folds or in his ample Taekwondo pants. Razors taped on his fingertips was nothing surprising and often found themselves inhumanely slicing a forsaken opponent’s forehead. He frequented Puerto Rico and his innumerable face-offs with Carlos Colon helped nickname the territory, “The Blood Circuit.”

Veteran announcer Jack Reynolds remembers on a tour of India in ‘95, where he was taking care of Abdullah. In the hotel lobby, 2-300 people were waiting to maybe catch a glimpse of the scheduled wrestlers. When he arrived with Abby and saw The Butcher, all the people in the lobby cleared out!

To the dismay of referee Tommy Young who thought most of Abby’s matches were a nightmare, the deranged psycho heel often wouldn’t work with the ref and didn’t even try to hide his gimmick (weapon). Young once said, "It was miserable because he’d come into the ring, with a gimmick the size of a yardstick, and you couldn’t miss it if you tried, and he’d just do stuff right in front of me, and make me look like an idiot."

Jacques Rougeau Sr. who estimates that he fought (not wrestled) Abdullah around 50 times, remembers that. "You’d just touch him, and he’d cut open right away. He’d ask you to do it. He’d ask you to give him a good punch, and he’d start bleeding and go like a wildman.”

He has traveled the world and faced countless opponents and what he left in his wake is not pretty. Outrageous? Yes. Controversial? You bet. Sick? YOU ask him. Abby was and always will be a hardcore pioneer.

Note: Abdullah The Butcher (Larry Sheve) has come into legal disputed over the last couple of years with accusations of Devon "Hannibal" Nicholson claiming he contracted Hepatitis C from Abby during a match between the two in 2007. Courts in the U.S. and Canada have awarded in favor of Nicholson, but as of February 2019, he has yet been able to collect. If you want to learn more about the latest on this situation, please go here.

Special mentions

Bruiser Brody

What would this list be like without Bruiser Brody on it?

Bruiser Brody still held in high regard by the fans and missed greatly.
Bruiser Brody still held in high regard by the fans and missed greatly.

His career got cut short due to what most believe was a murder in Puerto Rico in July ‘88. The ultimate antihero, he was a legend in his own time. A gamechanger still talked about and revered to this day. Several stories of the wildman Brody are available for your enjoyment on our site here. His deep love for his family is a concept that belied the crazy, remorseless brute most remember him by.

BRUISER BRODY: A Detailed Look at his Murder and Influence on Professional Wrestling

John Tolos

In the words of Dave Meltzer, “John Tolos played the role of an arrogant, good-looking, well-conditioned guy. He talked big. He inflamed the crowd so much; he came off as a real superstar in L.A."

Despite his normal appearance, John Tolos (right) was as dangerous as they came. Here pictured with Gene LeBell in Los Angeles, CA. © Photographer: Theo Ehret
Despite his normal appearance, John Tolos (right) was as dangerous as they came. Here, pictured with Gene LeBell in Los Angeles, CA. © Photographer: Theo Ehret

Many remember him for his intense rivalry with Fred Blassie in Los Angeles. The early ‘70s were his peak years in the sport, a notorious heel most of his career; a whole generation recalls the atrocities committed against other wrestlers and fans alike. No list of hardcore heels is complete without the vile Tolos.

Mongolian Stomper

Mongolian Stomper enraged fans night after night in Stampede Wrestling and later territories across the U.S. and Canada.

Mongolian Stomper
Mongolian Stomper [Photo courtesy of WrestleZone]
Highly regarded by fellow Canadian Bret Hart, Stomper was most successful in Southeastern Championship Wrestling based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. To Jerry Lawler, he was one of his all-time greatest opponents. Stomper wrestled seven world champions during his career. While not always a heel, he’s a very noteworthy addition to the annals of hardcore pro wrestling baddies.

Kamala

Kamala, a savage headhunter from Uganda, was a sight to behold.

Kamala
Kamala [Photo courtesy of stillrealtous.com]
The African savage came into the ring with a huge African mask, war paint on his face, and a spear in hand, ready to skewer and maybe even devour his opponent! He made a huge splash in southern territories like Continental, Mid-South and later WCCW before going to bigger promotions like WWE. Feuds with Jerry Lawler sold-out venues and brawling outside of the ring with everything used as a weapon, but the kitchen sink was the norm. Kamala was a terror everywhere he worked, but a genuinely nice guy outside of the ring who many say was underpaid and underappreciated.

Kamala: Disgustingly Low Pay-Offs and Poor Treatment by WWE Agents

Lonnie “Moondog” Mayne

Lonnie Mayne, the glass eating, raw meat chewing original Moondog!

Lonnie Mayne wastes no time in giving Don Muracco a knuckle sandwich during a 1978 match in northern California.
Lonnie Mayne wastes no time giving Don Muracco a knuckle sandwich during a 1978 match in northern California. [Photo courtesy of Harry Barnhizer]
One of the most charismatic and craziest performers wrestling has had. Very popular in the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He had stints in Madison Square Garden as the unhinged heel “Moondog” Mayne where magazines demanded he be banned from the sport. He unsuccessfully challenged for Pedro Morales’ WWWF title and also faced the likes of Bruno Sammartino and other top babyfaces while in the northeast. Just like Jos LeDuc, he wants you to know he isn’t crazy! He gave his all to entertain his fans he loved enormously. Unique in wrestling’s sea of recycled gimmicks. His career was cut way too short. You can read all about his memorable but rather short career here.

Lonnie Mayne – The Glass Eating, Raw Meat Chewing Original Moondog!

"Apache" Bull Ramos

Frequent opponent Dutch Savage once said, "Apache" Bull Ramos was the best he ever saw. “Ramos had this thing about him. It was like all you had to do was show up, and he’d get the heat for you. It was such a refreshing thing in the ring where you didn’t have to do anything; he did it for you. It was just instantaneous; he had that charisma.”

"Apache" Bull Ramos (left) and Dutch Savage in Portland, Oregon. [Photo courtesy of Classic Pro Wrestling Gallery Facebook page]
We hope you enjoyed this list! While the twelve wrestlers we feature and the “Special Mentions” are not meant to represent the only wildmen or the wildest men in wrestling, we believe this to be quite the formidable lineup! We tried to mix it up by combining obvious and maybe some lesser obvious choices for your enjoyment. If you didn’t see your favorite wrestling wildman in this article, let your voice be heard on our Facebook page or our Twitter! We welcome the feedback.

 

Many quotes from this article are selected from the highly recommended book The Heels by Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson unless otherwise noted.

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us continue to bring you quality content!


Want More? Choose another story!

Follow us:  Twitter / Facebook / Instagram
About Our Site / Meet Our Writers / Write For Us
Javier Ojst is an old-school wrestling enthusiast currently residing in El Salvador. He's been a frequent guest on several podcasts, has a few bylines on TheLogBook.com where he shares stories of pop culture and retro-related awesomeness, and his work has also appeared in G-Fan magazine. He can be contacted by e-mail at jojst1@gmail.com.