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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Body Shop (Jesse "The Body" Ventura)
November 2, 2006 by Derek Kered


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Who was that powerfully-built balding man in the pink feather boa, and sunglasses so outrageous they'd make Elton John raise an eyebrow"

What's the name of that Vietnam veteran who would go on to roles in major Hollywood action movies, and eventually become the Governor of Minnesota"

That would be Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

I remember Governor Ventura best as color commentator to Vince McMahon, Jr., Gorilla Monsoon, and Jack Reynolds - and especially as the host of the Piper's Pit replacement, "The Body Shop".

Just like the "Pit", "The Body Shop" was a place where babyfaces would be insulted and intimidate (or be intimidated by) the host, and where fellow heels would enjoy, and often return, Ventura's praises. This repetitive, but enjoyable formula was presented under the guise of a three minute long interview show which was aired between matches on WWF programs, shot on a set consisting of a workout bench and a couple barbells.

Just as 'bad' a guy as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jesse wasn't quite so hyperactive as the ranting "Scotsman" (who the hell WAS"). His attitude was, fittingly, more that of an arrogant powerlifter who just happened to like being extremely flamboyantly-attired (Jesse's former tag-team partner, Adrian Adonis, eventually morphed into "Adorable" Adrian, in pink trunks and with a flower in his mouth, but "The Body" always maintained his "tough guy" image).

While the comparatively-small Piper had the "Cowboy" Bob Orton (whom he called "Ace") as acting bodyguard during "Piper's Pit" tapings, Ventura usually needed only his overbearing personality and deep, growling voice to keep his fan favorite guests at bay. Andre the Giant however, was a notable exception. Jesse always backed up a step when the enormous French legend leaned in towards him. On one episode, "The Body" stormed off the set when Andre snatched away Jesse's feather boa and began waving it around at him.

"The Body" was never easy on guests he didn't like. Tito (or "Chico", as Jesse called him) Santana was taunted endlessly about losing the Intercontinental Title to Ventura's pal Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo were always bluntly told their Tag-team belts would soon be taken from them, and Hillbilly Jim and family was treated as if they smelled like overflowing outhouses: "When's the last time you dudes took a bath...""

Just as Piper was - seemingly a thousand times - mocked by his babyface guests for "wearing a skirt", Jesse had to repeatedly hear some version of:

"If you were as good in the ring as you are on that mic, you'd be World Champion."

Unless of course it was a friend he were interviewing...

Whether it was "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart introducing "Terrible" Terry Funk to the WWF audience, or "Classy" Freddie Blassie parading Nicolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik out onto the set for the umpteenth time, Jesse Ventura promoted them as if they were peerless ring warriors.

There was one heel in particular who peaked Jesse's enthusiasm: "The Macho Man" Randy Savage. Shortly after Randy signed with the WWF, "The Body" even suggested that the two of them form a tag-team and share Savage's manager, Elizabeth (share her as a manager, I mean).

Since I consider him and Ventura the two greatest color commentators of all time, I always appreciated it when Bobby "The Brain" Heenan would appear on "The Body Shop" with one or more of the wrestlers he managed. The two larger-than-life loud mouths would generally spend the entire segment boosting each other's egos, while at the same time trash-talking various babyfaces. Meanwhile, Big John Studd and/or King Kong Bundy and/or Paul Orndorff would stand there quietly, trying not to look irritated.

There have been a few more attempts at capturing the undeniable charm of "Piper's Pit" after "The Body Shop" was discontinued (Brutus Beefcake's "Barber Shop" comes, uninvited, to mind), but in my opinion, no one came anywhere near as close as did Jesse Ventura. They shouldn't worry too much about it, though. As "The Body" himself was fond of saying, "Jealousy doesn't get you anywhere!"

By Derek Kered


Tony Francioni wrote:
This is a great article on how wrestling shows should be done. Every wrestling show needs a Body shop/Piper's Pit. I would also consider the Brother Love Show as one of the great wrestling side shows as well. Fans loved to hate his irritating voice and hypocritical attitude. Brother Love always knew how to push the buttons of the fans.

I think the WWE should give Ric Flair a shot at one of these style shows. He has the cocky and arrogant personality to pull it off.
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