There’s an old saying that if somebody has to tell you how tough they are, the probably ain’t that tough. So often in pro wrestling the fans are fed a line of crap about somebody being a real hard case. More often than not, it’s just a gimmick that doesn’t have a whole lot of substance behind it. Now don’t get on your high horse and start yelling that I’m saying that grapplers aren’t tough these days because I’m not. I am saying though, there was a time that wrestling was filled with rough necks, hooligans and bad-asses that would rearrange your face as quick as say hello. This month in The Line of Fire we’re going to take a look at a few characters who as JR would say are tough as old shoe leather.
Dick Afflis was one of the rougher characters to ever grace the squared circle. A football player for both the Purdue Boilermakers and Green Bay Packers, Afflis was notorious for his sometimes questionable tactics and his all the times questionable attitude for both his opponents and his own teammates. Back in the 50’s when he started wrestling, pro football players weren’t banned from participating in off season activities such as wrestling. Some became so good in the ring and realized they could make so much more money than in football, they decided to don the tights for good. Afflis didn’t make his name as plain old Dick Afflis though. He made his legend as the brawler Dick the Bruiser.
A mean streak a mile wide, an attitude like a cranky rattlesnake and one of the stronger men to set foot in the ring at the time, Bruiser was a GREAT heel. Believability is a main ingredient for a successful gimmick, and Bruiser had that in spades. That’s an aspect that’s lost by and large these days. Dick knew that he could whip any man that walked in the ring with him and that allowed him to create a gimmick in which he could create carnage and mayhem, take control of the audience and lead them where he wanted them to go. All with punches and the occasional rake to the eyes.
Next we take a look at the original beer drinking, hell-raising redneck, The Crusher. Reggie Lisowski was another wrestler from the ranks of football players that made the transition to professional wrestling. Barrel chested and ornery as an old goat, the Crusher began his career in the late 1940’s wrestling several nights a week in Chicago. Due to the low pay in wrestling at the time, Crusher worked many jobs during the day which built a physique that was feared by many and still considered impressive today.
Crusher may have been the first to bring beer to the ring with him, as during his ring entrance, many times he would carry a full keg on each shoulder. An over the top talker who chewed cigars and growled like something out of a nightmare, Crusher was able to capture the hearts and minds of fans throughout the midwest.
Probably his greatest fame came from tagging with his “cousin” Dick the Bruiser. An imposing team, the two were stiff workers who if they felt they didn’t sufficiently bloody their opponents during their match, they would proceed to beat on each other after the match was concluded.
Hope you enjoyed this quick look at two of the original bad asses in professional wrestling. Come back next month when we take a look at some of the greatest talkers in history. Until then, this is The Luce Cannon signing off!