Unquestionably, The Death-Defying Maniac
May 29, 2006 by Robert Rippeth
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I was raised, like most West Virginian country boys on CCR, fishing trips, and pro-wrestling. Perhaps I had a little more of a push than most, when taking in consideration the fact that my late father's first paying job was setting up rings for the likes of the NWA. and Georgia Championship Wrestling. It was instilled in me from a very young age. I understood "kayfabe" but, more importantly, I was a fan of the sport. The raw intensity, the gruelling endurance of pain, the willingness to put ones body on the line to entertain always compelled me. I grew up in the era of Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Sting, etc. Though entertained and impressed, I found myself more and more consumed with a growing boredom. The same gimmicks, same matches; monotony kills. That is until a fateful day in 1996. Still reeling from the Iron Man match at Wrestlemania XII, my wrestling obsession was at its peak. I was flipping through some channels on my cousin's satellite and caught a glimpse of a familiar face. A man I had seen a few times in my PWIs and various other wrestling publications. Nephew to the Hardcore legend the Sheik, he was Sabu. The match between Sabu and Rob Van Dam (from Hardcore Heaven 96') opened me up to the world of ECW.
Since the demise of ECW, I have followed wrestling irregularly at the most. But my favorite wrestler ever has been etched in my memory to this very day. Sure as a 13 year-old kid, I was praising the most suicidal, homicidal, genocidal athlete in sports history, but only lately have I really taken in how much of that title Terry Brunk epitomizes.
This is my first article for OWW, and I have chosen this topic for the sheer fact that I am not sure the general wrestling consensus truly grasps what this man has put on the line for the industry.
I suppose it's fitting to first mention the most suicidal (though mostly involuntary) event of Sabu's career: November to Remember 1994. A botched flapjack (back-body drop") from Chris Benoit sent Sabu crashing to his head, breaking his neck. That is extreme.
Although the incident that donned Benoit "The Crippler" is extremely hard to watch (especially in slow motion), one of the most gruelling injuries I have ever witnessed occurred at ECW House Party 1998 during the Stairway to Hell Match, against the Sandman. Sabu had sat up the chair and bounced off the alternate ropes, only to springboard off the top rope and land jaw first on the railing. The sound of bone hitting steel was similar to a semi-silenced gun being shot in the crowded arena. Bill Alfonso rushed to check Sabu and just as the camera zoomed in he opened his mouth allowing a steady flow of blood to rush out. Sabu continued the match with his jaw taped shut. That is extreme.
There is no way one could do this article without mentioning the famed Barbed Wire match with hardcore heavy Terry Funk. This match was extreme for many, many reasons. Look at the finale for Christ's sake, Sabu wraps himself in barbed wire and jumps on Terry Funk lying on a table outside the ring. They had to be cut apart! But in my opinion the most extreme moment of this match-up came about midway through the bout. Funk was dazed in the corner and Sabu set up a chair and attempted the "Air Sabu." Funk moved, and Sabu landed in the barb-laden corner. His bicep caught on the wire and ripped. 100 stitches later and he was fine. That is extreme.
He has accumulated a plethora of scars over the span of his 21 year career. He almost seems to wear his chest of scars as medals of Honor, wrestling Purple Hearts if you will. Losing teeth in his tag match with Van Dam against The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, back injury at the Ballpark Brawl 2004, even landing skull first on a chair he sat up at One Night Stand 2005, Sabu has pretty much seen and overcome it all. After coming down with a virus, we almost lost the Arabian machine of destruction in late 2004. Against all odds, he returned. And now with the looming return of ECW, we can only imagine what Sabu will do for the business this time around.
I don't doubt for a second that in the very near future, when hardcore legend's names are mentioned, Sabu will rank among the top. This man's sacrifice for the entertainment of the spectators is, in my opinion, unmatched. He loves the sport. We love him. Thank you Sabu, you are Extreme.
by Robert Rippeth ..
This is an EXCELLENT article on Sabu!!! I must point out, that MANY people know Sabu as doing just hight spots, but he CAN wrestle. The greatest example would be the 3 way dance wtih Terry Funk & Shane Douglas. He performed actuall wrestling moves, but I don't see anybody pointing that out. Excellent job!!! 8-)
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