Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in WWE
Currently Known For:
1984 - 1999
April 21, 1957
Many professional wrestlers that come up together know that there’s a possibility that one could become a massive superstar while the other doesn’t achieve the same level of fame. Ed Leslie would have to deal with this reality as he started out with Terry Bollea. The two formed a tag team, and duo was known as Ed and Terry Boulder. Many believed that they were brothers in real life, and Bollea decided to change his name…to Hulk Hogan.
Leslie had wrestled with multiple territories during the late 1970s and early 1980s, including a couple of small stints with the WWF. In 1984, the company was willing to bring him in full-time, giving him the name Brutus Beefcake that he would retain for many years. At first, Brutus Beefcake was male stripper gimmick and he was reunited with Hogan, except this time as opponents.
Since he had shown success as a tag team partner before, Beefcake was placed with Greg Valentine, and the duo was known as The Dream Team. “It was a great time,” Beefcake said. “We were on top of the world. We were a tag team that was selling out 25,000 seat arenas all over the world.” They would end up winning the Tag Team Championship for several months, but once they dropped the belts, their popularity started to wane. With that, the team was broken up and Beefcake was back to being on his own, trying to make it to the same level as his former tag partner from the early days.
Beefcake had become a babyface (good guy) at this point, and helped Roddy Piper defeat Adonis. Beefcake was the one that shaved his head as a result of the match, and he was given the name Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. The 1980s and 1990s saw a lot of “everyman” gimmicks, but not many thought that they’d see a barber as an intimidating wrestling gimmick.
Even though he was given a bit of a silly gimmick to work with, Beefcake would make the most of it. His charisma was able to make him popular, and he was involved in storylines with the likes of The Honky Tonk Man and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He also defeated Mr. Perfect, which was a rare occurrence for anyone to do, and Beefcake was one of the top performers of the era.
There had been big plans to keep Beefcake on the main stage, but 1990 would see him suffer a tragic injury. While he was out parasailing, an accident happened that broke Beefcake’s facial bones, and he had to have more than 100 metal plates inserted. “Imagine walking down the street, and getting hit in the face by a 2×4 sticking out of a truck’s window that’s going 35 miles per hour,” he said. “My face was crushed, and it nearly took my head off.” The severe injury would cause him to miss two years of wrestling, even though he came back in 1991 as a masked character, but wasn’t allowed to wrestle.
“I wasn’t supposed to live, it shouldn’t have ended my life,” he said. “A team of doctors performed an operation that had never been done before on a living person, much less one that would later get up and walk away. I had gone blind because of the damage to my optic nerve, and it took them seven hours to restore my eyesight alone.”
Beefcake finally made his return in 1993, and he had his final WWF match on television at WrestleMania IX. Like many did in the 1990s, Beefcake made the jump to WCW where he spent several years. During this time, he had many different gimmicks that included Brother Bruti, The Butcher, The Man With No Mane, The Zodiac and even…The Booty Man. His final gimmick was that of The Disciple, a bodyguard for his old pal Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
Beefcake’s final appearance came in 1999, and the new millennium saw him retire from full-time wrestling. He would join World Impact Wrestling, a Christian-based promotion while also starting his own wrestling academy. In addition, Beefcake became a general manager at a Planet Fitness location. He admitted that it “At first it was difficult (to leave wrestling) because I was on the road for 30 years. But, at the same time, it was an easy adjustment for me. I’ve been in the gym my whole life. It’s like a second home to me, and I really enjoy it.”
Beefcake knows that his gimmick probably wouldn’t get over today. “It was a time that will never come again,” he said of the change in the wrestling scene. “Nobody had ever done something like cutting people’s hair in the ring before…Trying to have to incorporate this into a nightly thing and on every television show or taping that I worked meant I had to go out there and wear different outfits and cut someone’s hair and come up with something new and constantly change it to keep exciting the people.”
Many former wrestlers would make occasional appearances on WWE television after leaving, but that hasn’t really been the case for Beefcake. It took 23 years away from the business before he came back to appear on a show with former wrestlers Edge and Christian, but it wasn’t in front of a live audience. He did say, though, that “You definitely haven’t seen the end of me there (at the WWE).” He added that “There are not too many of us left and that is the one big problem, there are so few guys and real main eventers that even have anything to do with the business or are still involved.”
He would find himself in the news once again in 2017 after Ric Flair said in his book that “Brutus Beefcake is a loser and would have no career if Hulk Hogan didn’t shove him down people’s throats.” Beefcake had been hearing criticism like that during his entire career, and he couldn’t care less. He’s grateful for the time that he had in professional wrestling, and is trying to make the most of his life now at 60 years old, making the occasional appearance in the ring and meeting his fans.