One of the most fun memories I have of being a pro wrestling fan were the jobbers. I spent many Saturdays watching WWE (WWF) stars squash preliminary wrestlers in one-sided affairs. Today I pay tribute to these unsung warriors and look back at the most memorable WWF jobbers of the 80s.
Please don’t misunderstand this blog. I am not here to make fun of these lovable losers. I am here to pay tribute and honor the brave who stood up to Big John Studd in the face of a bear hug, were clawed to unconsciousness by Blackjack Mulligan, and were showered by the spit of Captain Lou Albano. Yes, pro wrestling would not be the same for an hour every Saturday if not for these forgotten warriors.
Frankie Williams – I am sorry but to me, Frankie Williams was the most memorable of all the enhancement talent that I watched on Saturday mornings. Of course Williams shoots right to the top of the list based on his legendary appearance on Roddy Piper‘s Piper’s Pit. Other than winning a few matches on local independent shows, Williams was a chronic loser. Frank from Columbus Ohio, today I salute you!
S.D. Jones – Who doesn’t remember S.D. shooting off his air gun during ring introductions? S.D. was one of the few jobbers who got the chance to muster offense into his matches. The fans would get real excited when S.D. would get his heat by shaking his head and fists, yet the outcome was always the same. S.D. would randomly be rewarded for his strong showings by being paired with a main-event WWF wrestler in tag team matches. Heck, even Andre the Giant tagged with S.D. once. Unfortunately the match ended with Andre getting his hair cut and that was the end of the great S.D. and Andre pairing. We miss you S.D. whether you hailed from Antigua in the West Indies or Philadelphia.
Barry Horowitz – Barry came into the WWF towards the end of the 1980s. Horowitz was never able to repeat the success he had in the territories in the WWF. Horowitz is probably more known as the jobber that actually won a match against Chris Candido in 1995. Yet in the 80s, all Barry did was look up at the lights.
Tony Garea – Tony was like the Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz of the old WWF. Tony was a successful tag team champion on multiple occasions, yet one day went from champion to jobber. Like Chuck and Tito, the new influx of WWF wrestlers was just too much for old Tony to handle. Like S.D., Tony would get a win every once in awhile, specifically on house shows. Tony was a master of the sunset flip, surprising many fellow enhancement talents with the crafty move for a three count. I met Tony once and he was a bit of jerk, but in the interest of objectivity the jobber from Aukland, New Zealand lands on the list.
Johnny Rodz – Johnny was a memorable heel during the early half of the 1980s on WWF television. Johnny wrestled everyone on television from Peter Maivia to Hulk Hogan, and even wrestled Bob Backlund in Madison Square Garden. Johnny rarely won, but generally held his own thanks to questionable tactics like raking the eyes or pulling the hair. Ironically Johnny went on to train a lot of successful pro wrestlers years later.
Barry O – Barry O, the uncle of Randy Orton and brother of Cowboy Bob was a regular fixture of WWF television with his long glitter cape and long locks of blonde hair. Barry came into the WWF with a small push but was quickly relegated to jobber status. Barry would gain fame later as a whistle blower (no pun intended) during the WWF ring boy scandal. Barry’s biggest in-ring WWF moment would probably be as the final opponent of Jesse “The Body” Ventura in M.S.G.
Rudy Diamond – I’ll never forget the morning Rudy Diamond squared off with WWF intercontinental champion the Magnificent Muraco on Saturday morning television. Muraco’s “feisty” manager Captain Lou Albano spent the entire match yelling about Rudy’s feet. “He’s got white feet,” Albano yelled for five minutes as if it was some kind of conspiracy that this African American youngster had “white feet.” I’ll never forget that match and for those memories, I honor Rudy Diamond.
Iron Mike Sharpe – Inexplicably Iron Mike Sharpe went from challenging Bob Backlund for the WWF championship at the Spectrum to opening match jobber in about a month. Sharpe remained a jobber for the rest of his tenure with the WWF. However, it was Sharpe’s strong showing early on that allowed him to make his enhancement matches competitive. Oh yeah, the loaded arm pad didn’t help either. Who can forget Sharpe howling “No, no, no” as his opponent put the squeeze on the big Canadian? I can’t and if you watched Saturday morning WWF wrestling you probably can’t either.
Salvatore Bellomo – Like many of our jobbers, Bellomo came into the WWF with a nice sized push. Bellomo got some early wins at the house shows, including beating former WWWF champion Superstar Billy Graham by count out at the Philadelphia Spectrum (my first live pro wrestling show). Yet big Sal with his trademark mule kick became a consistent jobber on WWF television losing to the likes of Mr. Fuju, Killer Khan, and Tiger Chung Lee. It got so bad for Bellomo that he was even pinned clean by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in New York. Big Sal would eventually find later success in ECW, but in the WWF he was the guy who brought Roddy Piper his pizza.
Curt Hennig – Yes the former WWE Hall of Fame wrestler wasn’t always so perfect in the squared circle. From 1982-84, Hennig worked as an opening match wrestler and went toe to toe with the WWF’s nastiest villains. Hennig received a moderate push as a tag team partner to fellow jobber Eddie Gilbert, but the two didn’t do anything significant. Even back then the most casual observer could see greatness in this young second generation star. As a kid, I always loved watching Curt wrestle on Saturday mornings. Hennig always got in a signature drop kick and had great babyface fire in his comebacks. To me, whether he went on to greatness or not he was one of the best and most memorable WWF jobbers of the 1980s.
Jose Luis Rivera – If I was doing the top 11, he’d be there. I don’t know what it was about Jose, but I always liked watching him work opening matches at the Spectrum. He had a lot of talent, yet the WWF rarely gave him a chance to show it on television.
Terry Gibbs – He wasn’t flashy but he was certainly memorable. Like Johnny Rodz and Iron Mike, Gibbs was another guy with territorial success that never had a chance to repeat it in the WWF.
Butcher Paul Vachon – He had a personality, a look, and stood out from the rest of the typical enhancement talent. The Butcher is probably most memorable for the chaos that ensued at his wedding on Tuesday Night Titans.
Moondog Spot – One of the few jobbers who had an actual gimmick during that time period. Like Tony Garea, a former WWF tag team champion demoted to jobber status. Spot was also an opening round victim to the Junkyard Dog on the first ever WWF pay per view, The Wrestling Classic.
Swede Hansen – Big Swede like a lot of the above named jobbers had some success in the WWF and then was demoted to enhancement status for reasons unknown. Even then, Swede was always competitive in his matches and would squeeze out a win from time to time. Swede is an answer to the WWF trivia question, “Who was Bob Backlund wrestling when Superstar Graham smashed up the WWWF title?” Ironically even while a preliminary wrestler, Swede would get spots as a special guest referee from time to time due to his size. I always liked the big guy.
Brooklyn Brawler – If I was doing the 1990s, he’d be right at the top. Steve Lombardi didn’t morph into the Brawler until 1989 which takes him out of the top ten.
Tiger Chung Lee – From headliner in New Japan Pro Wrestling to opening match jobber in the WWF. Lee had a brief push in a tag team with Mr. Fuji, but even those two wound up becoming a weekly stepping stone to bigger stars. Tiger was a man ahead of his time with his Singapore cane, yet was never smart enough to use it like the Sandman. It went all downhill after he couldn’t break the bricks.