This article comes to us from one of our favourite Usual Suspects: Jimmy Scoops.
“Woochu buy me a hahm-boorger?”
These were not the words I ever expected to come out of the mouth of The Iron Sheik.
As I sat in a folding chair after getting my picture taken with the professional wrestling legend in a high school gymnasium recently, I more expected The Iron Sheik to boast voraciously about being the man who ended Bob Backlund’s nearly six-year reign as WWF Champion. Or I thought he might fish for a quick compliment. Or, just maybe, I’d be lucky enough that he’d call me an anti-gay slur while threatening to make me “humble” by anally raping me, as he’s done countless times on YouTube in rants against, among others, Hulk Hogan.
But I never expected The Iron Sheik to hit me up for a sandwich.
The Sheik was making an appearance for National Championship Wrestling, a small indy which is anything but “national” and runs out of my hometown of York, Pa. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen many, many quality workers wrestle in NCW over the years, but no one is going to confuse it for Paul Heyman’s ECW anytime soon.
Anyway, for weeks prior to the show, my friend Mike and I talked about the many great things we could do to antagonize the notoriously nutty Iron Sheik. We could go out and get Hulk Hogan T-shirts to wear to the show. We could tell him that we saw the Ultimate Warrior perform the greatest version of the Camel Clutch we ever witnessed. We could question him regarding the YouTube video in which “Killer Bee” Brian Blair claims Iron Sheik “molested” a “little kid” (though to be fair, Blair immediately backpedals on this claim in the interview).
But after I paid my $20 to sit in a chair and be photographed with my own cell phone camera in the middle of two of old-school wrestling’s most notorious baddies, The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, all of those thoughts disappeared from my head. I’m not proud to admit it, but even at 66 years old, and even though I had just watched him amble into that little high school gymnasium with the assistance of a cane, I was afraid of The Iron Sheik.
Volkoff? He seemed like a nice old man. He reminded me of a guy you’d sit next to at a VFW hall and trade dirty jokes with between sips of cheap beer. But The Sheik? You could see the insanity in his eyes. You could tell that in his mind, he was still that hulking, athletic mass of muscle, able to beat the ever-loving shit out of any man who dares cross him.
Sure, he smiled broadly and no longer wore the uniform of an anti-American, Ayatollah-worshipping Iranian. “I luff USA,” he told the crowd of hundreds who had gathered in southern York County. This was further advertised by The Sheik’s American flag bandana which, if his YouTube clips from the past few years are any indication, he wears often.
But he is still a scary man. Just before I sat to get my picture taken, The Sheik signed the T-shirt of a kid who looked to be about 15 years old. As the kid started to walk away, The Sheik got angry and yelled, “Hey, he need to pay me!” After the manager stopped the kid, The Sheik agreed that if the kid bought him a burger, he wouldn’t have to pay him for the autograph.
And then it was my turn to get my picture taken. As I sat in the chair, I got called a “jabroni” by Mr. Volkoff, who I swear said “jabroni” as if it was a term of endearment, and The Sheik demanded that I hold his replica WWE World Championship Belt over my shoulder. Why he bought that model belt, I have no idea, as I’m pretty sure it doesn’t resemble any of the belts he wore during his career. Maybe it was a present from Vince after getting elected into the WWE Hall of Fame? So we took a great picture, the three of us, whom I fantasized would be called “The New Axis of Evil.” Perhaps my character could be James W. Sanders, an evil American imperialist neocon?
This fantasy didn’t last long, for then it happened. I got hit up by the Iron Sheik to buy him a burger. “How much food does this guy need?” I thought to myself (I didn’t mention that he was already eating a burger before I approached his merch table for the photo, before he had demanded another burger from the pencil-necked adolescent). “When the fuck did The Iron Sheik turn into ‘Wimpy’ from Popeye?” I asked myself.
But, I rationalized, if I were at a bar, I would definitely buy The Iron Sheik a beer. So why not buy him a burger? “Because he just charged you $10 to sit next to him for a photo!” I can hear my dad saying to me. But whatever; I buckled. I bought The Iron Sheik a hamburger.
When I returned to my seat to show my friend Mike the awesome photo I had just paid to have taken, I flat out told him a boldfaced lie, which yes, I still regret. I told my friend that I got a discount on the photo for buying The Sheik the burger. Why did I lie to my friend? I guess I was embarrassed about being intimidated by a 66-year-old man who walks with a cane. Or maybe I just didn’t want to admit, even to my fellow wrestling fan friend, that I felt enough reverence toward that crazy old bastard to buy him a burger on top of the money I just gave him for the picture.
But what makes me feel even stranger is the fact that though I’ve previously met sports legends such as Mario Andretti, Joe Montana, and Hulk Hogan, I was still kind of shaking when I returned to my seat after looking into the eyes of the infamous, the insane, The Iron Sheik.