Remembering The Original Sheik

By Paul Stratoti , Contributing Writer


 

On June 9, 1924, Mr. Farhat was born in Lansing, Michigan. For allowing me unimpeded access to ringside and back stage areas in the 1970s I’d like to offer this article as a tribute to our fallen originator of Hardcore wrestling.


 

We’ll begin with a look at the results of his mainly Cleveland, Ohio matches.

On January 1, 1970 at Cleveland Arena the Sheik def Lord Athol Layton by disqualification in this classic National Wrestling Federation Main Event.

January 8, 1971 at Cleveland Arena – NWF – the Sheik vs Lord Layton* went to a DOUBLE COUNT OUT

January 15, 1070 at Cleveland Arena – NWF – the Sheik def Lord Layton by Count Out

January 29, 1970 @ Cleveland Arena – NWF – The Sheik vs Fred Curry – DRAW

* – The Sheik (a rival Promoter who also fed wrestlers to NWF through his NWA World Wide Sports promotion out of Detroit (Cobo Arena) and Layton would go on and continue to tour their grudge and produce main event matches for some time to come within the ‘ Big Time Wrestling “ circuit. In addition, they worked together producing “ Big Time Wrestling ” television tapings, the Sheik as promoter and top heel wrestler, and Layton as a top babyface and co-commentator with ring announcer Bob Finnigan. One hour programming of “Big Time Wrestling” was cabled Saturday nights at 6:00 pm on Cleveland channel 61; just one hour after NWF’s channel 43 “Championship Wrestling with Johnny Powers” local programming for Cleveland Arena, St. Joseph High School and Akron Amory events.

On February 5, 1971 the Sheik fell ill so that night he had Hartford Love substitute for him in his rematch but Fred Curry beat him.

February 12, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – NWF – CHAIN MATCH: Mighty Igor def the Sheik

February 19, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – The Sheik def Mighty Igor

March 12, 1970 at Cleveland Arena Haystacks Calhoun defeated the Sheik by DQ

March 19, 1970 at Cleveland Arena The Sheik defeated Haystacks Calhoun

April 16, 1970 at Cleveland Arena Johnny Powers def the Sheik by DQ

On April 23, 1970 at Cleveland Arena Johnny Powers vs the Sheik – Double Count Out! – Earlier that night, our CAC brother JJ Dillon, then a green Jim Morrison got defeated by 621 lb Haystacks Calhoun (I’ll bet with a Big Splash finish! I don’t know as I hadn’t started to attend Cleveland Arena matches for another 9 month)

May 4, 1970 at Kent State University: National Guard fires on student protesters!

May 7, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – CAGE MATCH: The Sheik defeated Johnny Powers!

May 14, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – the Sheik def Bulldog Brower by DQ when Chief White Owl ran in and interfered

May 21, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena -NWF The Sheik vs Chief White Owl – D DQ

June 4, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena the Sheik def Bobo Brazil by DQ

July 2, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – Texas Death Match: The Sheik def Bobo Brazil

July 16, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena Bulldog Brower & the Sheik vs Bobo Brazil & Mighty Igor – Double DQ

July 30, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – Cage Match: Bobo Brazil & Fred Curry def the Sheik & Bulldog Brower

August 13, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena Arkansas Death Match: The Sheik defeats Haystacks Calhoun

September 24, 1970 at Cleveland Arena – The Sheik def Johnny Powers by Count Out

October 1, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – The Sheik def Mighty Igor

October 8, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – The Sheik def the Mighty Igor

October 29, 1970 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena Cage Match: The Sheik defeats Bulldog Brower

September 23, 1971 at Cleveland Arena the Sheik def Bobo Brazil by DQ

March 17, 1972 at Cleveland Arena – Johnny Powers vs the Sheik – NO CONTEST

March 23, 1972 at Cleveland Arena – NWF – Johnny Powers def the Sheik by DQ

November 2, 1972 at Cleveland Arena – Stretcher Death Match: The Sheik def Tony Marino

January 27, 1973 @ Cleveland Arena – NWA/NWF – Special Referee Joe Louise: Bobo Brazil vs the Sheik – Double DQ

February 22, 1973 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena Bobo Brazil defeated the Sheik – DQ

March 29, 1973 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena the Sheik & Pampero Firpo defeated Johnny Powers & Bobo Brazil

August 16, 1973 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – The Sheik defeated Mighty Igor

September 8, 1973 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – The Sheik defeated Bearcat Wright by DQ

October 6, 1973 Cleveland Ohio Cleveland Arena – Bobo Brazil & Bearcat Wright defeated the Sheik & Killer Brooks by DQ

 

December 13, 1973 at Cleveland Arena NWF – – In a fan poll Ernie Ladd was voted Wrestler of the Year for 1973.

s1Later, the Sheik and Pampero Firpo wrestled Ernie Ladd and Johnny Powers. During the match the Sheik took out a pair of brass knuckles and decked Ernie with it sending him reeling to the arena floor unconscious. During this time the Super Canadian Sensation Powers was being worked over by Firpo and Sheik while Eddie Crechman kept interfering and interrupting the referee’s attention. Eventually Powers went to tag Ladd several times over several minutes but to no avail. Eventually, Ladd regained consciousness and staggered back to the ring apron. Once Powers saw him he began chastising him for not being in his corner as a ‘Wrestler of the Year’ is supposed to be for the tag and eventually pulled the Big Cat’ into the ring and exploded with an array of punches in the face, kicking and elbow smashing him in the head thus sending him reeling to the turnbuckle. Then, just as swiftly as he turned heel did he dart out of the ring and head for the dressing-room as the jeering fans, the Sheik and Firpo watched in awe.

A few moments later the Sheik punched Ladd once again. Seeing this Firpo confronted the Sheik for a minute then turned to help out the fallen Ladd. Once Firpo got back to his feet he attacked the Sheik and worked him over until the Wildman from Syria could take no more and bolted himself back to the dressing-room. The fans rose to their feet and gave Firpo a standing ovation. While Ladd rose to his feet and stood in bewilderment at what was happening.

 

December 15, 1973 at 2:30 pm on WAKR-TV 23: Big Time Wrestling from Cobo Hall – This was the Sheik’s plugging of his NWA promotion for the fans who attended Akron Armory and Canton Civic Center (formally the Canton Memorial Auditorium) matches. – Cowboy Frankie Lane & Pampero Firpo def Tex McKenzie & Bearcat Wright – The Sheik def Chief Jay Strongbow

 

June 6, 1974 @ Cleveland Arena – NWF – Final Arena Card! Ernie Ladd vs the Sheik – Double DQ

 

November 25, 1974 at Richfield Coliseum – Dick the Bruiser vs the Sheik – Double Count Out

 

November 28, 1974 at Cincinnati Gardens – NWA – Bobo Brazil defeats the Sheik by disqualification!

 

December 15, 1974 Akron Ohio Akron Armory NWA – Pampero Firpo defeats the Sheik by DQ!

 

December 30, 1974 Cleveland Ohio Masonic Auditorium -NWA – The Sheik & Abdullah the Butcher defeated Johnny Powers & Ernie Ladd by DQ

 

January 25, 1975 at Detroit, Michigan Cobo Arena – NWA – Special Referee Lord Layton: Andre the Giant & Tex McKenzie defeated the Sheik & Abdullah the Butcher by DQ

 

July 25, 1975 at Canton, Ohio Stark County Fairgrounds – NWA – Andre the Giant vs the Sheik – Double Count Out

 

August 15, 1975 at Stark County Fairgrounds NWA – Special Referee Pampero Firpo: Bobo Brazil defeated the Sheik by Count Out

 

September 26, 1975 Canton Ohio Civic Center NWA – The Sheik defeats the Stomper by count out

 

September 27, 1975 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – Mark Lewin defeated the Sheik for the NWA United States Championship in 63 seconds!

 

October 2, 1975 Olmstead Falls, Ohio Olmstead Falls High School – The Sheik defeated Lou Klein

 

October 11, 1975 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – The Sheik defeated Mark Lewin by DQ

 

November 8, 1975 Akron, Ohio Armory NWA – Mark Lewin defeated the Sheik by DQ

 

s2November 21, 1975 at Canton Civic Center – NWA – The Sheik defeated Pampero Firpo by count out

 

January 10, 1976 Canton, Ohio Civic Center NWA – Mark Lewin defeats the Sheik by DQ

 

February 13, 1976 Canton, Ohio Civic Center – NWA – The Sheik defeated Mark Lewin!

 

June 5, 1976 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – NWA Indian Death Match: Sheik defeated Chief Jay Strongbow!

 

June 25, 1976 Budokan, Japan at the Allen Theater in Cleveland Ohio – The Sheik (w Dr. Jerry Graham) vs Pampero Firpo – No Decision – Sheik threw fire in ref’s face!

 

August 13, 1976 Canton, Ohio Civic Center NWA – The Sheik def Hank James when Don Kent interfered!

 

October 22, 1976 Canton, Ohio Civic Center – NWA – The Sheik def Hank James by count out

 

October 23, 1976 Akron Armory – The Sheik defeated Dominic DeNucci when Don Kent interfered

 

April 16, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena -NWA – Dusty Rhodes defeated the Sheik by disqualification!

August 20, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena NWA – Dory Funk Jr. defeated the Sheik by DQ when Abdullah the Butcher interfered!

 

September 17, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – NWA – Texas Tornado Taped Fist Match: Abdullah the Butcher & the Sheik defeated the Funk Bros.

 

October 15, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – NWA – Abdullah the Butcher defeated the Sheik by DQ

 

October 30, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – Abdullah the Butcher & Moose Cholak defeated the Sheik & Bulldog Don Kent when Captain Ed George (aka the Sheik’s son) interfered!

 

December 18, 1977 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena NWA – The Sheik defeats Chief Peter Maivia by count out

 

January 7, 1978 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena – NWA – The Sheik defeats Ox Baker

 

March 6, 1978 Toledo Ohio Toledo Sports Arena – Bobo Brazil & Luis Martinez defeated the Sheik & Don Kent by DQ

 

April 8, 1978 Akron Ohio Akron Armory – NWA – Bulldog Brower vs the Sheik – Double DQ

 

March 29, 1979 at CSU Woodling Gym – indie – The Sheik vs Flying Fred Curry

 

April 5, 1984 Macedonia Ohio Nordonia High School – indie – US Title: Luis Martinez def The Sheik (w mgr. Ali Bey the Bug) by DQ

 

March 4, 1988 Cleveland Ohio St. Stephen’s School – GLWA – U.S. Title Texas Death Match: The Sheik defeatsedHoward Steele

 

May 13, 1988 Warren Ohio Packard Music Hall – indie – The Sheik defeated “Exotic” Adrian Street

NOTE: The original Sheik (Edward Farhat Sr. – successful NWA “Big Time Wrestling” Promoter and superstar heel wrestler) and the Iron Sheik (Kosrow Vasiri – former WWE Heavyweight champion) were in the same event center on this night.

 

Also, the Sheik used to have his real-life wife Joyce escort him to the ring as his valet early in his career. His opponent for the night Adrian used to have his wife escort him to the ring as his valet during his matches. They were married at a previous Cauliflower Alley Club reunion.

 

July 31, 1988 Detroit Michigan Cobo Arena NWA – Cage Match: The Sheik & Dusty Rhodes defeated Kevin Sullivan & Dick Murdoch

 

July 4, 1991 Garfield Hts. Ohio Garfield Park – GLWA – Texas Death Match: The Sheik defeats Psycho Mike

During a 1970something Cleveland Arena card I was nervous as I had an Instamatic camera with me during the following short interview that I conducted with his then manager Eddie Creatchman at the Cleveland Arena knowing all too well that the Sheik rarely granted interviews. Even Creachman himself insisted that the Sheik never agreed to backstage photo shoots and if one were to take place then it was generally known that the photographer would pay a stiff price. The Sheik, obviously monitoring the interview, took a table and started to do calisthenic type exercises on it making a lot of noise.


 

Having had the Sheik spit at me during a previous Cleveland Arena card, my adrenaline was running high and I was a bit unprepared for the Sheik’s overseeing of my short interview. As I proceeded, Creachman answered my few questions in full heel fashion:

Strat: It seems as though Bobo Brazil is not quite finished with the Sheik as he wants his US title back.

EC: “We don’t care about Bobo Brazil. If he ever comes back against the Sheik then he’ll never come back anymore. This you can be sure! ”

Strat: So why doesn’t the Sheik like to wrestle in front of the TV cameras anymore?

EC: “Look, as long as we got the money for our pocket this is what counts the most and we don’t care what the fans are going to think about!”

Strat: You still didn’t answer my question.

 

EC: “The Sheik doesn’t like to wrestle in front of any TVs or shmevies because he is a good looking and a handsome man and he doesn’t want anybody to look at his face. OK!?”

Strat: Would you like to comment on the Sheik’s use of his infamous fire?

EC: “Would I like to vhat? I don’t understand your English!”

Strat: Would you like to comment on the Sheik using fire to win his matches?

EC: “The Sheik uses anything he wants to use and when he uses fire there is a big fire and everything burns!”

Strat: Do you have anything to say to those fans who do admire the Sheik?

EC: “Well, they are great connoisseurs and they know a great wrestler when they see one.”

Strat: Is there anything else that you would like to say before we conclude this interview?

EC: “We are going to make a clean up of the United States and then we are going to go and take a nice trip!”


Then, there was the riot that ensued at the Cleveland Arena following one of the Sheik’s matches against Ernie Ladd. I actually followed the Sheik as he ran to the dressing room door and the look on his face was one of concern for his safety. This riot actually was featured in a London Publishing Company magazine as well as the front page of the Sports section of either the Cleveland Press or Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Then on November 25, 1975 while I was standing in the corridor way of the Richfield Coliseum where the wrestlers had to pass to go to and from the ring, the Sheik, dressed in a 3 piece suit walked past me and stopped about 10 feet away where Dick the Bruiser was standing. After glancing at me, the Sheik proceeded to speak with Bruiser, something I felt was out of place as I wasn’t supposed to see that.

At Willard High School in the spring of 1987 the Sheik chased me away from the ringside area momentarily just before he defended his US championship belt against Luis Martinez. In the end the Sheik threw fire into Luis’ eyes as the “Mexican Fireball” was jumping on him from the top turnbuckle. As you can see, that chasing incident didn’t faze me as I took the following shot.

 

sss

Photo of me and Sabu taken by Wayne Palmer

Another top memory here was Raven’s insistence on a 2004 TNA Wrestling pay per view that “The Sheik is dead!” Sabu’s subsequent distractions by Raven and the Sheik being hung in effigy by Raven.

 

As for the TNA Wrestling archives, Why shouldn’t Sabu have kicked Abyss down just before driving him into the ringside table?! You mess with family, there’s no holds barred! And as rookie TNA fans found out, you mess with the Sheik or his family, disqualifications don’t count and not even Allah seems to have what it takes to control destiny!

 

Even after Abyss put the wildman from Bombay into his Torture Rack, Sabu had what it took to break it! Then swiftly and with uncanny ease, slammed a chair into Abyss’ head 3 times, twisting the chair into a heap of deadly metal. Abyss counters with a chair shot, but Sabu brought down Abyss, then went with a chair to the 2nd rope and then came crashing down on the Monster with such force that it caused him to cringe in pain. Sabu covered for the pin but Abyss broke after 2. Abyss managed to put the Torture Rack on Sabu a second time and followed up with a Shock Treatment move, then to go for the cover. Sabu lifted out, connected Abyss’ head with a fist. Abyss went for the chain, later to Sabu grab it, wrap it around Abyss’ legs and causing the Monster to fall down hard to the mat. Focused, Sabu wrapped the chain around his right fist and violently nailed Abyss’ forehead. Quickly, Sabu springboard moonsaulted off an unfolded chair into Abyss. Just as quickly, Abyss was able to grab the chair and throw it at Sabu causing him to fall out of the ring. Abyss went after him on the floor, soon throwing him over the security rail and following him. They seemed to battle all over the Asylum for a few minutes, more trademark of the late Sheik’s Modus Operandi. Soon, Sabu grabbed a table, ran u to the bleachers, then jumped onto Abyss who was lying his head on a table, which broke upon impact. Sabu got another table, once again set up Abyss, and ran back up to the balcony. The lights then went out.

A minute later, the lights went back on, Raven now hung by a noose being pulled by Raven. Shortly, Raven kicked Sabu, forcing him down into the table. Before Sabu could remove the noose, Raven came down hard on him breaking the table into many pieces. Raven then pushed Abyss onto Sabu forcing the pin.

Raven next stood over both of them in typical Raven stance, arms outstretched. He smiled, went back to the dressing room while the camera focused on Sabu’s roadmapped forehead as the camera broke away.

Later, Raven, who originally trained to wrestle under the Sheik’s tutelage, had this to say for TNA:

“I suppose Sabu has ben racking his feeble brain trying to imagine when and where I would show up next. But praying…for divine intervention, that I retired, been in a car wreck or something equally debilitating; but where I’ve been, what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within. And what lies within Sabu is 24 carat, non-negotiable, irrefutable cowardice!

“I remember his uncle Sheik asking me, no, pleading with me – Why would Allah treat him so cruelly to give him such a sniffling, crying, whining, crybaby of a nephew when he could have had a deity like myself? My only consolation is that the Sheik is no longer alive to bear witness to this tragedy. Ultimately, however Sabu, you’re just a bit player in my adventures; a walk on role!

“Friday, Sabu, fight or flight! Fight or flight! Fight or flight!! Welcome to the Terrordome! Quote the Raven, nevermore!”

Finally, Sheik Abdul Hassan threw fire into the eyes of his opponent during a CAPW TV taping match the night of the Sheik’s one year anniversary of passing was a true tribute to the hardcore legend. (NOTE: That time it worked, but as shown at the bottom of this page he once failed to throw fire despite a couple attempts to do so.)

 


Other comments from wrestling fans of the Sheik:

Gypsy Joe during CAPW’s New Year’s Revolution 2006:

Gypsy Joe in CAPW:

“Yes, I remember working for the Sheik and he still owes me money!”

Larry Lexington: “My favorite Sheik memory was when he wrestled Haystacks Calhoun at Cleveland Arena. His manager Abdullah Farouk hit Haystacks over the head with a heavy ringside chair in the corner. Calhoun fell backwards onto the Sheik who couldn’t get up. The Sheik was trying to wiggle out from underneath, but the ref counted to 3. It was pretty funny, but being a Sheik fan I was upset that he lost.”

Psycho Pat: “I think that the Sheik and Pampero Firpo were the best tag team of the early to mid 70s. Their styles were complimentary and they made a big impact on the fans. Even today, nobody can compare.”

CAPW’s Sheik Abdul Hassan:

“Every time I get into the ring I try to wrestle like the Sheik did. He is my idol and when I apply the Camel Clutch I try to hurt my opponents just as the Sheik did to so many wrestlers”

 

Then of course, J Rocc threw fire at the Lakewood Phantasy Theater for Firestorm Pro Wrestling about 9 years ago as shown here in this Pro Wrestling Illustrated photo:

s6


Article and photos by Paul Stratoti with the exception of the posed shot taken with the Sheik’s Body Press magazine photographer and final manager Dave Drason Burzynski by CAC member Brad John McFarlin.

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