A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
Time and perception are funny things in professional wrestling. During his heyday, Hulk Hogan was vilified by hardcore fans. Though still recognized as not the best in ring worker, he is generally looked back on fondly (for his impact on the business – his personal life is another story). The same can be said for Gorilla Monsoon. He won multiple Worst Announcer awards during his WWF run. Today, people remember him with a smile. With time, ideas and opinions change often. In wrestling, it just seems much more volatile.
Bruiser Brody is a great example of changing opinions. Brody was loved by seemingly everyone in the 1980s. Casual fans, Apter mags, and writers like Dave Meltzer could not speak highly enough of him. The man was wildly popular in Texas, revered as a legend in Japan, and a special attraction that sold out venues wherever he went.
Brody was also loved behind the scenes by his fellow wrestlers. He was famous for standing up to promoters and getting the biggest pay off possible. All about the financial bottom line, Brody spent much of his time in Japan due to the payouts he was getting.
His peers respected him for making sure to get as much money as possible. In a sport where titles meant everything and petty incidents led to major real life heat, few have anything bad to say about Brody. He may have worked a little snug, but he also made sure his opponents were paid in full.
I was a huge Brody fan growing up. He was positioned as a close friend of the Von Erichs and had possibly the greatest wrestling name ever. He never sold or lost, so he always looked awesome to me. Everyone (especially Eddie Ellner) spoke highly of him in the Apter mags. When I started tape trading, most included matches with Brody and Stan Hansen. There was nobody like him.
So why do today’s fans seem to dislike him so much?
The legendary team with Hansen is part of the problem. “The Lariat” is a fantastic worker who could wrestle any type of match. The knock on Brody is he was little more than a brawler, and some will say he was not even good at that. Hansen is an instant comparison that is not favorable to Brody.
Few dispute that Brody had amazing charisma and could cut intense promos. Detractors point to Brody’s lack of in ring acumen. Aside from the famous NWA Title Match against Ric Flair, there are few standout Brody matches. Like I said above, are even fans who say Brody’s much-lauded brawling abilities are overrated. His most celebrated fights are against Abdullah the Butcher, and it’s not crazy to hear that without Abby there is no Brody.
Ultimately, the criticisms seem unfair. Discounting Brody’s ability because Hansen was as so great is shortsighted. There are few teams in which both partners are equal in every way. It can be argued that Marty Jannetty was the better Rocker. No one holds this against Shawn Michaels.
It is true that there is not much footage proving how great Brody was in the ring or as a brawler, but there is little video of anyone without a big WWF run and who wrestled the bulk of their career before 1984. There are glimpses though. Along with the St. Louis Flair match, there are the All Japan tag matches against the Funks. And the crazy brawls go well beyond Abdullah.
At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. The only thing that is indisputable is Bruiser Brody was a legend before 1988 made him an icon. Whether he is overrated or an all time great is up to each individual no matter how much the narrative has changed.
Next week: Just call it a sleeper hold.
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