Presented by Sean Oliver and the Kayfabe Commentary Team
The Man: It’s unlikely that any wrestler who achieved the success and fame that Ed Leslie did has ever had to endure so many gimmick and name changes.
Leslie followed his friend Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) into the wrestling business in 1977. Leslie debuted in a tag match against Ox Baker. Hulk and Ed gained experience through a number of small southern promotions including Continental, Alabama and Memphis.
They were billed as brothers – first dubbed “Terry and Ed Boulder” – then Bollea got a new name as Terry “The Hulk” Hogan, so Leslie changed his name to “Dizzy” Ed Hogan. If anyone can explain the dizzy nickname, I’d love to know.
Terry’s roided out body, sheer mass, height and charisma earned him success early as Hogan saw himself getting NWA title matches with Harley Race, and by 1980 Hogan was chasing Bob Backlund for the WWF title. Leslie meanwhile toiled in Mid South Wrestling and Southeastern Wrestling, where Leslie won three tag title belts and feuded with the Original Midnight Express consisting of Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey. Leslie did get some WWF matches in the Summer of 1980, almost assuredly because of Hogan going to bat for him.
In 1981, Hogan started up in the AWA and became am instant star. Once again Leslie was brought in and allowed to work undercard matches as his best friend headlined. Leslie would end up wandering back to Continental and Portland in 1982. By 1983 Hogan had helped gain Leslie access to New Japan Pro Wrestling, while still popping up in the AWA as well:
Prior to joining Hogan in the WWF in mid-1984, Leslie continued to expand his international experience in Germany, facing former AWA World Champ Otto Wanz among others.
Ed Leslie’s first WWF gimmick was that he was a stripper – complete with slightly uncomfortable vignette of the newly dubbed “Brutus Beefcake” doing his routine. Beefcake’s first angle in the WWF was simply wandering down the aisle during other guys matches on TV. Eventually it was discovered Brutus wanted a manager and several stepped up to sign him. “Luscious” Johnny Valiant was the eventual winner of this competition. Probably fitting as Valiant had managed Hogan briefly in the AWA.
Beefcake went on a win streak over undercard talent like the aging Chief Jay Strongbow and Tony Garea, along with a litany of jobbers. He was protected well enough that prior to Wrestlemania 1, Beefcake was receiving WWF title matches:
Beefcake sporadically teamed with his manager Johnny V but also made a few tag efforts with Intercontinental champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in early 1985 that may have been a test run for what would come that spring. Johnny V and Beefcake ended up in a series of matches with the Sammartino family after the four men were involved in a schmozz at the first Wrestlemania.
Valentine and Brutus’ teaming became more and more frequent, even with Valentine holding a top singles belt and having a different manager than Beefcake. Valentine would eventually lose his title over Summer which allowed for Greg and Brutus to take their tag team focus to a new level and they started receiving shots at World Tag Champions Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda, the U.S. Express. By late August the Express would be stunned by the “Dream Team”, Windham would leave the WWF and Jimmy Hart would give up Valentine’s contract to Johnny V.
The U.S. Express was replaced by the high impact team of the British Bulldogs who doggedly chased The Dream Team around the country. This would culminate the following April with the Bulldogs conquering the champions at Wrestlemania 2.
The Dream Team would stay together for another year, but would never achieve championship status again. On TV prior to Wrestlemania 3 Adrian Adonis accidently cut some of Beefcake’s hair during a six man tag match. Around this same time, The Dream Team started to have a little dissention. This was compounded at Wrestlemania when Beefcake and Johnny V had a spat over Dino Bravo joining the team at ringside. Later in the evening Bravo interfered and helped the Dream Team beat the Rougeau Brothers, then left ringside with Johnny V and Valentine – abandoning Beefcake. Brutus would turn to the side of good only one match later when he entered the ring after Adrian Adonis had been beaten by Roddy Piper and shaved Adrian bald. This earned him his moniker as “The Barber”.
The feud between Adonis and Brutus never materialized as Adonis was fired quickly after – supposedly from failing a cocaine drug test, his weight and bucking the dress code. Brutus had to make due with beating Johnny Valiant around the country. Better days would be ahead though as Beefcake became a top contender for Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental belt and chase Honky for many months. They clashed at Survivor Series, Wrestlemania 4 and were scheduled for SummerSlam 88 until…
Ron Bass’ attack took Brutus out of his scheduled match and the Ultimate Warrior snagged the belt in Beefcake’s place. Beefcake and Bass would feud until January – when Beefcake beat Bass on Saturday Night’s Main Event and shaved him bald.
Beefcake floated around until Spring when he got involved with Randy Savage and his new manager who Brutus dubbed “Scary”, Sherri Martel. Savage was at war with Hulk Hogan and brought in the seven foot tall “Human Wrecking Machine” Zeus to aide him – leading to Beefcake and Hogan aligning to try and stop this fierce duo.
After vanquishing Savage and Zeus at Summerslam ’89, Beefcake wrestled “The Model” Rick Martel around the horn leading to them facing off at Survivor Series ’89. Brutus then got involved in a feud with Mr. Perfect and the “Genius” Lanny Poffo – a feud that went through the Royal Rumble ’90, Wrestlemania 6, and was to culminate at Summerslam ’90 with Mr. Perfect defending the Intercontinental title against The Barber. Fate had other plans.
In early July, Beefcake was helping a female friend set up to para-sail. Beefcake was 30 yards ahead of her and was to hold the boat back until the wind could swoop up the parasail and lift the woman up. Brutus was looking away from the woman, when he turned around to see progress, her knees were flying at his face. This resulted in a shattered jaw, nose and other facial bones and his palate also collapsed.
In order for him to survive, doctors would need to totally reconstruct his face. He spent eight and a half hours in surgery during which the surgeons cut Beefcake from ear to ear and peeled back his skin on his skull. His cranial bone was used to reconstruct the face by positioning all the other bones around the nose. By the end, the doctors had to insert eight steel plates, forty screws, and over one hundred staples. His career was put off until 1993. In the interim, Beefcake started to host “The Barber Shop” interview segment and had a brief gimmick as the masked “Run in Man” or “FurFace”. After attacking a few heels at random, the idea was dropped.
Beefcake announced his return for February on Raw, and Ted DiBiase was slated as his opponent. DiBiase and his Money Incorporated partner IRS would ultimately end the match by giving Beefcake a gang beat down, cracking him with a briefcase in his reconstructed face and leaving him bloody. A well done angle, considering his past injury. This was such a horrid act that Money Inc’s manager Jimmy Hart came to Beefcake’s aide. This all led to the return of Hulk Hogan who dubbed he and Beefcake “The Mega Maniacs” and challenging Money Inc to a tag match at Wrestlemania 9. As part of the match, Beefcake was allowed to wear a goofy looking “titanium” mask to protect his face. The Maniacs would be disqualified but had their revenge. Beefcake would leave the WWF soon after as Hogan lost political favor with Vince McMahon.
Brutus worked a few New Japan shows after leaving the WWF, but other than that he fell off the radar until Hogan entered WCW in the Summer of 1994. Beefcake lost his name to the WWF in a trade mark issue as thus Hogan dubbed him “Brother Bruti”. Brutus and Hogan celebrated together as Hogan beat Flair for the WCW title – but the rematch shown live at Clash of the Champions went tragically for Hogan as a masked man clipped Hogan’s knee with a pipe during an interview segment. Hogan would overcome the injury to retain the title that night, however the second PPV match between Flair and Hogan would end Beefcake’s and Hogan’s bromance:
Brutus turned on his longtime friend, renamed himself “The Butcher” and formed an alliance with Kevin Sullivan and Avalanche (Earthquake) to form the “Three Faces of Fear”. The 3 of them would wrestle in numerous combinations of tag and single matches over the next several months with Hulk Hogan and his buddies Dave Sullivan, Sting, Randy Savage and even Mr.T. Hogan and Beefcake would head line Starcade ’94 which saw Hogan viciously attack the Butcher’s repaired face to teach him a lesson. The Faces of Fear would break up early in 1995 and Butcher and Sullivan took to feuding – Sullivan would injure The Butcher leading to him getting amnesia and becoming known as “The Man with No Name”. Soon after losing to Sullivan on at Slamboree ’94, The Butcher would disappear until late Summer, returning to Sullivan’s side in the newly formed “Dungeon of Doom” as the Zodiac.
“YES! NO! YES! NO!”
Zodiac found little success, and early in 1995 it was revealed that Zodiac was a double agent for Hulk Hogan and had actually just been in the D.O.D. to help destroy it from within. Zodiac once again then became a tag partner for Hogan as “The Booty Man” – a gimmick rotating around the Booty Man’s love of shaking his butt and using the high knee (heinie).
Booty Man would join in the war against the D.O.D. and Four Horsemen and also involved in a feud with “Diamond” Dallas Page – even taking his valet Kimberly as his “Booty Babe”. Hogan disappeared in late Spring and that left Booty Man in limbo. When Hogan returned in July and joined the n.W.o., Booty Man attempted to join soon after – but was beat down instead.
Beefcake pretty much disappeared until the Summer of 1998 when once again he joined Hogan’s side as “The Disciple”. This role mainly consisted of looking tough and standing around during n.W.o. segments. The Disciple would be “kidnapped” by the Ultimate Warrior that Fall and would wind up in the “One Warrior Nation” that was warring with n.W.o. Hollywood. Early in ’99 Hogan and Disciple had a TV match against each other that Ric Flair ordered and that marked the end of Ed Leslie’s relevance on the national stage. He would be stuck on the WCW B and C shows after this, working under his real name and being openly mocked by the commentators who would talk about all his failed gimmicks.
After leaving WCW, Brutus took back his WWF name and started working the independent scene. He had one final name change as he wrestled on an indy PPV as “Brute Force” to avoid any legal issues with the WWE. Beefcake also appeared on “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling” and even got involved in a celebrity boxing show, which seems crazy considering the condition of his face. Even in his later 50’s Beefcake continues to wrestle as of this writing.
On a final personal point of interest, here’s a brief clip of Brutus and I meeting at a local show here in Green Bay.
We start talking about Brutus’ connection with Bret Michaels and how they shared near death experiences.
Beefcake says the wrestlers lived lives that rock stars would be jealous of.
They discuss the Ron Bass vs Beefcake feud and Brutus explains that Bass was one of the workers who helped teach Beefcake the ins and outs of the business many years earlier.
Brutus is clueless as to how Terry Taylor got stuck with the Red Rooster gimmick. He suggests Pat Patterson’s “sick” sense of humor is the cause.
Brutus says Pat Patterson’s boyfriend was a hairdresser and after the guy committed suicide, Pat made Beefcake the “Barber”.
Beefcake believes he was “red hot” prior to the “Barber” gimmick. (*Snicker*)
Brutus says he was an “old school heel” and had 2 great years working his way to top heel status, prior to the “Barber” almost derailing him. (Unexpected view there)
Beefcake says Pat Patterson was jealous of Hogan and took it out on Brutus.
Brutus says Hogan came up with the hair cutting after each match.
Steve Lombardi’s homosexual sex life is tip toed around.
Bushwacker Butch “had his feet removed and reattached” after his career due to ankle injuries from rugby. (*cough*)
The Rougeau Brothers are buried.
Beefcake says he was going to beat the Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental belt. Warrior was only given the belt after he threw a fit and the office had to keep making excuses for Beefcake not getting the belt from Hellwig. (*cough cough*)
Jobbers were paid more for losing their hair.
Randy Savage’s behavior with Elizabeth is gone over. Pretty much what you’ve heard elsewhere.
Beefcake replaces Hogan on some house shows and the fans loved it – most other subs would’ve caused fans to look for refunds.
Brutus talks about Savage’s reaction to a fan tossing an egg in Liz’s hair.
Jake Roberts’ snakes defecating in the shower and Andre’s fear of snakes is covered.
Andre worked stiff with Jake during their feud as a response to Roberts’ messing with him with Damien.
Tony Schiavone is buried.
Haku’s bar brawling stories are discussed, including the night he bit a man’s nose off and spit it in his face.
The NWA vs WWF TV and PPV wars are talked about.
Beefcake talks about how lucky he was to always be in a big match and not have to suffer the embarrassment of fans going for popcorn during his bouts.
DiBiase is put over for his technical skills and psychology. Bruti talks about Ted’s heat in the locker room from being given extra perks in order to live the gimmick.
Ed Leslie says “The Genius” was another Pat Patterson joke gimmick. Lanny Poffo wasn’t told Beefcake was going to cut his hair at WM 6 and it led to Beefcake having a tough time getting him back in the ring for the spot.
Savage was mad at The Booty Man for this and he and Savage had words in the locker room.
Dizzy Ed Boulder says Sherri Martel used to sleep around to get a break in the business, and he credits himself with putting her on the map in ’89 as “Scary Sherri”.
Beefcake puts over Bad News Brown as a badass judo fighter. He relates the story of Brown calling out Andre and the giant not wanting any piece of him.
Beefcake says when he and Hogan wrestled in Oakland in 1985, the Hell’s Angels surrounded the ring and were ready to pound Bruti down. Hogan beat him all the way to the locker room to save him.
Piper was a little crazy but Beefcake didn’t have to deal with him politically and they were party pals.
Danny Davis was pushed because of Pat Patterson. Beefer thinks he stunk as a ref and a wrestler.
Zeus was a great guy, great look, and he and Hogan bonded well during the movie and wrestling.
They rehearsed the Summerslam ‘89’s main event of Hogan/Brutus vs Savage/Zeus the night before in order to help get Zeus ready for prime time.
They goof up the timeline of when they filmed “No Holds Barred” as Beefcake says he subbed for Hogan vs Savage to cover for Hogan leaving, but the movie was taped the prior Spring/Summer when Hogan took a sabbatical in ’88.
Bruti covers the heat Dusty Rhodes got since the WWF locker room was full of ex-NWA guys who Rhodes used to boss around as NWA and Florida booker.
Kyle Wacholtz (Nailz) gets a tryout match, this is where Nailz claims he heard Vince McMahon tell Rick Rude to use steroids – which was used against Vince in his 1992 trial.
Beefcake says when he testified at the steroid trial, the defense just showed the court a diagram of Bruti’s metallic face that was rebuilt after the 1990 parasailing accident that left his face destroyed. The defense then read about the related memory loss from the traumatic injury and the prosecutor “walked out of court” on the spot.
Brutus puts over what a nice guy Fred “Tugboat” Ottman was and just how big he was.
Everybody loved Bobby Heenan.
Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson came in with attitudes and Arn and Brutus have heat since they were both lackey’s for Flair and Hogan respectively.
Bruti was unimpressed with the Four Horseman’s NWA run.
Beefcake talks about Gino Hernandez, Tully, Dibiase, and Buck Robley all being in Mid-South when Brutus was trying to get a break and they roughed him up in prelim matches.
Bruti puts over Ivan Koloff helping to teach him the way of the business.
Andre did 10 seconds jobs for Warrior because Warrior was too rough for the fragile Andre.
To calm Zeus down, Hogan and Bruti screamed “Free James Brown!” to make Zeus laugh and get him focused again.
Macho Man didn’t want to do the “King” gimmick.
Brutus was cut off from WWF royalties since 1995.
Koko B. Ware is fired after a WWF exec called him a racial slur and Koko brawled with him. Once the story became clear, Koko came back.
Brutus tells about the Rockers date rape drugging girls, having their way and dumping their nude bodies out in hotel hallways – usually with eyebrows shaved. Beefcake finds this all hilarious.
DDP ignored Beefcake’s request to not hit his head with a chair on Nitro and Brutus ended up spurting blood everywhere. Paul Orndorff held Bruti down when DDP came back with excuses in the locker room.
“The Model” Rick Martel was another Pat Patterson gimmick.
Sapphire was a fan off the street. Dusty didn’t travel with her.
Hogan got a 1.2 million dollar payoff for Wrestlemania 5.
The Disciple buries The Ultimate Warrior for all the usual things people bash him for.
The locker room lined up for any and all drugs the infamous Dr. Zahorian offered up. Brutus says Rick McGraw’s death was due to this open drug availability, but it’s on Rick for not watching his own intake.
WWF worked 6 shows in one day. Everybody did double shots that day.
We finish by talking in passing about JAKE “THE MILKMAN” MILLIGAN!!!!!!
Clocking in at over 2 hours, this was an entertaining interview. We had some obvious bunk mixed in with true introspective. I was a Beefcake mark as a kid, so watching his old matches and hearing his classic theme can cause great nostalgia to overcome me. Re-living his career through my research for his bio and his own spoken word brought back some good memories.
Photo credit to Imageevent.com