I think it’s safe to say that Daniel Bryan may have the greatest beard in pro wrestling history.
I don’t write such things lightly. Many heels have been made or broken based on their facial hair. Nothing quite says “bad guy” like stubble on your face.
But there’s difference between growing a well-trimmed beard just to be a cool heel and an out-of-control monstrosity coming off your chin. Bryan looks like a wildman with his Garibaldi-style beard, and his promos seem a little off kilter – dare I say, a little more dangerous – with that beard backing up his words.
- Bruiser Brody – This guy was the prototype of an out-of-control brawler with a crazy-ass beard and hair. Check out this interview with Brody from the AWA in the mid-1980s (Brody was called King Kong Brody here after losing the Bruiser name to Dick the Bruiser in a match). During this promo, I honestly have a hard time paying attention to anything but Brody’s hair and beard.
- Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart – Neidhart was perhaps the best at taking his long, stiff goatee and turning it into a gimmick. Anyone who saw the Hart Foundation compete in the WWF remembers Neidhart’s promos in which he would stroke his beard and cackle.
- Yukon Lumberjacks – As the WWWF Tag Team Champions in 1978, Pierre and Eric has some mean-looking beards. Pierre sported a goatee without a mustache, while Eric had a much wilder “man from the deep woods” beard. My earliest memory of wrestling, even before I was a fan, was seeing some babyfaces rescue a pair of jobbers from a beating by the Lumberjacks. Eric was better known as Scott “Hog” Irwin, who teamed with his brother Wild Bill Irwin. Scott Irwin died young of brain cancer.
- Boris Zhukov – Sure, just about every supposed Russian or Soviet wrestler had to grown the prerequisite beard, from Ivan Koloff onward. But Zhukov’s dark beard and mustache in contrast to his bald head was something special that just screamed “foreign menace” at you.
- Necro Butcher – Why should someone who abuses his body to the extent that Necro Butcher does bother with shaving, right? Seriously, you just know looking at this guy’s beard that he is a lunatic.
- Delirious – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a masked man wear a beard like Delirious does (and he has face paint over his eyes, too). That pointy beard definitely adds to the out-of sorts character he portrays.
- The Berzerker – A clear take-off of Brody’s look and demeanor, John Nord took things in a zany direction with his Berserker character in the WWF in the early 1990s. For example, he came to the ring with a horned Viking helmet and a battle sword. His finishing move consisted of lifting an opponent up as if he was going to give him a back suplex, but he would instead toss his foe over the top rope for a countout victory. He would then yell “Huss! Huss!” while spit flew onto his sizable beard.
Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog, the Boston Garden Balcony.