So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘The Iron Sheik’

The Sheik

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

As you may know, I don’t watch or understand any wrestling from the past two to three decades, but I retain a fascination and nostalgia from the stuff I did watch in the ’80s. One of the iconic villains of that era was The Iron Sheik, a cartoonish embodiment (along with his fur-hat-wearing Soviet tag team partner Nikolai Volkoff) of America’s most absurd fears of scary foreigners. Looking back it seems like a put-on, a parody, an Andy Kaufman style evisceration of the stereotypes you’d have to be a dummy to believe in, the communists and Middle Easterners who come in and tell us we are weak Americans and then demand that we be respectful as they (gasp) make us sit through their national anthems. And then are outraged when we boo.

It was also a time when some people, due to economic anxiety or whatever, didn’t understand that these were fictional characters. Many Americans presumably believed that the Iron Sheik was real, that this Persian man was behaving this way not because he was an entertainer, but because those guys really hate America, you know? And  in the copious vintage footage included in this very enjoyable 2014 documentary by director Igal Hecht we see the red-faced fury of some of these fans. In interviews we hear about the danger of the Sheik’s “heat” from the crowd, people showing up with guns and shit. Every great heel tells a story like this (the wrestling villain’s humblebrag), but I bet the Middle Eastern angle means he had to be even more careful than Roddy Piper did. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Southern Discomfort

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Nope, this is not a sequel or rebuttal to Walter Hill’s SOUTHERN COMFORT, and it’s not a withering expose of labor unrest at the Southern Comfort liqueur factory. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is an hour long documentary about a night of indie wrestling in Alabama made in 2000 by Fred Olen Ray, a director I thought only did no-budget movies with babes and dinosaurs and shit like that. Although much more upbeat than THE WRESTLER or the Jake “The Snake” Roberts portion of BEYOND THE MAT this is that same world, the bonebreaking for small crowds and small pay in high school gyms.

The Iron Sheik is the superstar of the bunch, doing a good job of not seeming depressed that he went from 19,000 fans at Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden to 400 at the Saks High gymnasium. But the stars are all wrestlers I never heard of before who as far as I can tell have mostly never achieved much more fame than this and in their interviews never imply that they want to. They’re happy working regular small town jobs and then on the weekends putting on a mask and throwing people around. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.