Would Hulk Hogan have been Hulk Hogan if he fought only small time wrestlers? Doubt it. The ultimate hero can’t become the best by beating no names. He has to beat the best. But how about climbing the ladder to become the best? That road is littered with all kinds of questionable wrestlers willing to lose to anybody that has a theme song. They are the jobbers, the small time guys, the wrestlers whose purpose is to create the star, not to become the star. Here are five small timers from WWF’s heyday of the 1980s.
1) Iron Mike Sharpe. Remember him? Sure you do…if you are over 35 years old and were obsessed with the WWF. He was perhaps the ‘toughest’ of all the WWF small time guys. What made him just a slight step above others? It was his attitude. He was believable. In a parallel universe he beat Bob Backlund and had a long tenure as Heavyweight Champion.
2) Barry O. That ‘O’ is short for Orton, as in Cowboy Bob and Randy. How is it that his kin were/are some of the biggest names ever but he was cast into oncoming wave after wave of mediocrity? The universe is a fickle mistress. Sometime you are the boot and sometimes you are what the boot steps in. Barry O was the boot-scraper.
3) Steve Lombardi. Later known as the Brooklyn Brawler, Lombardi was as much a staple of Saturday morning viewing as The Smurfs. His Brooklyn Brawler character was one that should have gotten a bigger push in the 90s since that era, much different from the 1980s, was one where he could have thrived and drew a huge following.
4) Barry Horowitz. You may not remember the name but you most certainly remember the thing that Barry Horowitz was most famous for – patting himself on the back. Who could forget the image of him constantly, throughout the matches, literally patting himself on the back. It was genius. I honestly cannot remember his face but I remember that patting more than I remember some more famous wrestlers’ finishing moves. Long live the back patter!
5) Jose Luis Rivera. Here is another one of those small time wrestlers who is more memorable for one little idiosyncrasy than for his actual wrestling. The thing I most remember about him is how the WWF ring announcers would say his name. Call me crazy but hearing “Jose…Luis…Rivera!!!” has just stuck in my head over the past quarter century. I longed for the day when I could hear Howard Finkel proclaim, “The winner…and new WWF World Heavyweight Champion – Jose! Luis! Riveraaaaaaaa!” I’m sure Jose longed for the same.