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An Interview with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake

Conducted April 9, 2005.

How were you introduced to wrestling?

I grew up in Florida and watched wrestling in Florida. Hulk Hogan and I were neighbors, we lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school, played baseball. I used to watch his team when I was 9 years old. Became friends, started working out with him. He broke in the business in Florida through Hiro Matsuda. They didnít really give him much of a chance down there to work so he quit. He asked me if I wanted to go with him over to Cocoa Beach and open a gym and train for about a year and a half and get big, get in shape, and look for a try out though the Atlanta office. Bob Roop was somebody that he knew. So basically thatís what we did.

So you started off in Georgia Championship Wrestling?

No. We went and met with some of those guys and Bob Roop. And then what we actually did was we went to the Pensacola territory. Pensacola, Alabama, Georgia towns. The Fullers and the Welches. And started there, thatís where I had my first matches in the Pensacola territory. Hulk had already had matches in Florida. We wrestled as the Boulder Brothers Ė Terry & Eddie Boulder. From there we got booked by Jerry Jarrett in Memphis, TN. We wrestled there as the Boulder Brothers again for a while and then, that was like 76-77ish, and then from there Ė where did we go? We went back to Florida for a while and then ended up splitting up for a little while, I went to Louisiana then Hulk worked a little bit around the Atlanta territory and then went on to work in New York for Vince Sr. in early 78, I think.

What led to you coming into the WWF in 1984?

It was actually like late 83. I worked Portland, OR for a year. Charlotte, NC for about a year, on and off. I went back to Pensacola a couple times. Tag team champions down there. Had the belt for a while with Ken Lucas. I was between jobs or something, I had been in and out of the New York territory when Hulkster was there the first time so I had gotten to know all the boys up there. When Hulk first started in the territory up there he was working a program with John Studd. Studd was supposed to go overseas and wrestle on this big tournament in Austria, wrestle a guy by the name of Otto Wanz. So they needed somebody to take his place. So Hulkster said, ďHey why donít you call upÖĒ they called me Dizzy Ed Boulder, Dizzy Ed Hogan at that time. ďWhy donít you call up Dizzy. Heís not working right now and he can replace Studd and go over there.Ē So I did, I went over there and wrestled this guy, Otto Wanz. Had a hell of a match with him. The newspapers wrote it up as the best match theyíd ever seen the guy have. I was a young guy with no reputation or anything and did a hell of a job so they called back to New York and said what a great young kid I was and what a great job I did.

Vince brought me in and we sat down, cooked up the Brutus Beefcake name. And then I went to Florida with Hulk and saw this guy that made clothes for rock Ďní roll bands over the years. He was an innovator. And we cooked up the Brutus Beefcake snake skin spandex, bow tie, with rhinestones, all kinda crazy outfits and it took off. Nobody had ever done that kind of thing or worn those kind of outfits. So I was the first to bring the crazy clothes. Every time I went out to the ring I was in a different outfit. I never wore the same thing twice hardly ever.

What are your memories of being on the first WrestleMania card?

*laughs* I barely remember anything about it. I remember the match. It was pretty exciting at the time. Who did we have, Mr. T on it?

Yeah.

I became pretty good friends with Mr. T. We had some matches later, he refereed in Montreal when I wrestled Pat Patterson and cut his hair. Mr. T was the special referee. So I got to know Mr. T pretty good. It was a great time. Huge, huge crowd. Celebrities were starting to get involved in the wrestling business when they never really had ever before because Hulk had a really innovative thing going. He did that Rocky III film with Mr. T and Stallone and it really broke into the limelight. So it became cool to be around wrestlers. The next thing you know, the football players at WrestleMania II when we had the three shows in LA, Chicago, and New York. And the next one was Bob Uecker and Ö

Mary Hart?

Yeah.

In terms of the Dream Team, you started teaming up with Greg Valentine around the time of WrestleMania, with Johnny V as your manager. Was there anything you were able to learn from working with them?

I learned a lot from Greg. Greg was a second generation wrestler, a good hand, very experienced. Johnny V wasnít a hell of a lot. He was kind of a misfit, wasnít anything he could teach me as far as that goes. But I did learn a lot from Greg. He showed me around. I learned all the ins and outs of surviving on the road. Two completely different personalities but somehow we were able to work well together, complemented each otherís completely different styles and attitudes.

Many have said that the tag team division in the WWF during the mid to late 80s was one of the best of the modern era. You had the Hart Foundation, the Bulldogs, Demolition, etc. What are your memories of not only working with those guys but also being at the top of the ladder at that time?

Exactly. The talent that they had involved in tag team matches at that time was just unbelievable. Phenomenal. That was definitely the height of tag team wrestling. It never even approached anything anywhere of that caliber since. It was incredible. We wrestled those types of guys and it was a lot of fun. We had super talent and it was easy to have tremendous matches. I did a lot of matches on NBC for Saturday Nightís Main Event, pay-per-views, all doing tag matches. I enjoyed it, enjoyed it a lot.

Was there any hesitation on your part about turning into a babyface?

Well, yeah. Nobody had really let me in on it as far as what was going on. I was supposed to work a program with Adrian Adonis after WrestleMania III. And then Adrian quit, he didnít want to work with me, quit the territory. And it was a year later when he died in the car crash. I thought I was just getting over really strong as a heel, I had never made any plans to change into a babyface at that time. I was looking for a real good run as a heel and hadnít planned on changing anything.

Nobody consulted me. They threw me this white coat and scissors and said, ďOkay, now youíre the Barber.Ē This barber thing had never been done, never been tried before, and I had no idea where to go with it. Went home, regrouped in Florida, and the Hulkster said, ďYou know, hey, wait a minute. Letís turn this thing around. Maybe itís a rib on you, maybe itís not, but letís take advantage of it.Ē And we talked and came up with a strategy and things I would do, and I would spray-paint peopleís hair and then cut mohawks. It turned out to be even bigger than anybody had ever, ever imagined it could get. It went crazy, people went nuts. They knew when Brutus came out with the big shears that somebodyís hair was going to get cut. And they loved it to this day. I cut somebodyís hair last night in Middleborough, MA and they still love it. The kids still run up to ringside, ďCut my hair, Brutus, cut my hair!Ē They want to see the strut, they want to see the cut 20 years later.

Very cool. Thereís something Iíve always wondered about, personally. In 1988 you had the long running feud with the Honkytonk Man over the IC title and were supposed to get the last shot at the belt at Summer Slam. However, you were written out of the match about a month beforehand and the Ultimate Warrior ended up filling in for you and winning the belt instead. What exactly happened there?

I was supposed to get the title then. And back then, winning the IC belt was their way of grooming you for the world title. But Warrior said he was going to quit and he threw his hands up so they had to placate him, give him the belt, and make him happy. It still worked out fine, it didnít really hut me any. It would have been nice to get the IC belt but I made the best of it.

So even back then Warrior was politicking?

Absolutely.

I did not know that.

*laughs* Absolutely.

As a singles star, you had memorable matches with Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase, Rick Martel, etc. When you look back on your career, was there any one wrestler or one event that stands out in your mind as being far and above the rest?

I donít know, brother. Youíre talking about thousands of matches.

I know, I realize thatís a hard question to answer.

I had so many matches with Hogan, main events, sold out shows. Twenty-plus thousand people night after night after night. And worked with everybody else too Ė Dibiase, Martel, the top heels, when I was babyface. It was nothing but spectacular. It was the greatest time for the wrestling business in history. We had sold out shows every night. We had 2 or 3 towns running, A, B, and C towns, and all three were all sold out. They were doing phenomenal business and it will never ever happen like that again. Everybody was at the top of their game and people was just crazy for wrestling and it was a great time.

Following your parasailing accident in 1990, you returned to the WWF as the masked Mariner shortly before WrestleMania VII, doing run-ins and attacking various heels. The angle was quickly dropped but what were the plans had it continued?

There were no real plans, they were just testing to see what would happen. I was never supposed to wrestle again. At that point, they didnít really know what to do with me. They were a little afraid, I think. Itís just a shame that they didnít do a better job of working the whole gimmick and the accident. It was a legitimate accident. It didnít happen in the ring, okay, but here is one of your top superstars that has a possible life-ending accident and is fighting just for mere survival but then is making a comeback, the greatest comeback in probably freaking history, to make 100% recovery when every doctor and everybody in the world said I would be lucky to live. And they just treated it like it was nothing.

We did work some stuff with Hulk and I as the Mega Maniacs with Jimmy Hart and I wore the special effects mask. Guys in California made one while I was working on a film with Hulk to protect my face, supposedly, while it was still healing. We did some great things. We did WrestleMania at Caesarís Palace. And Hulk and I actually won the titles from Dibiase, and then they stripped us of the titles *laughs* and it was not long after that that we went to Europe and then finished up with the WWF.

Unquestionably, the most historic segment of the Barber Shop was the one in which Shawn Michaels threw Marty Jannetty through the plate glass window. What are your memories of that night and the preparation that went into it?

There was no writers, no scripts. Brutus Beefcake, I was a professional, good at what I did. They handed me the ball and I ran with it. We just did what we always did, the way I broke into the business, the way I learned. And we just went right off the cuff, right off the top of our heads. We knew what we were doing, we were pros, and we just went out there and did it. We didnít have anyone hand us a 10-page script to memorize. It was just Brutus Beefcake interacting with the rest of the guys and it was magic. You didnít have to plan this shit for weeks and months ahead of time, we just did went out there and did it. And it always worked, and thatís the amazing thing.

Tell me a little about the Valiant Brothers Reunion event that youíre going to be a part of on May 14th in Carteret, NJ.

Iím just excited to see some old friends and meet the fans, get out there and talk to the people, and see some my old friends that will come out of the woodwork from the old days. And it will be a nice little reunion.

Well I really appreciate your time and allowing me to conduct this interview. Thank you very much.

For more information about the Valiant Brothers Reunion event, visit: http://www.angelfire.com/wrestling3/reunion/

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