Though he tasted championship gold only once, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake played a role in seven of the first nine WrestleManias on his path to being a 2019 WWE Hall of Fame inductee this weekend.
The Barber, whose real name is Ed Leslie, became the last member of a class that includes one of his former rivals, The Honkey Tonk Man, as well as Degeneration X, Harlem Heat, The Hart Foundation, and Torrie Wilson.
“This is the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of work,” Leslie told Sports Illustrated writer Justin Barrasso, who first broke the news of his selection on April 1. “I’m grateful to the WWE, and I cannot wait for the tremendous honor.
“I always thought I’d be a baseball player. I used to watch wrestling at the armory in Tampa as a kid, and I always enjoyed it, but never in my wildest imagination did I think I could do it. As a kid, I idolized Pete Rose and Mickey Mantle, and I actually played ball with Wade Boggs. Now we’re all Hall of Famers.”
Beefcake wrestled in the WWF from 1984 to 1993, gaining his most fame after becoming The Barber in 1987. He became a champion with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in 1985 as the two formed “The Dream Team” and defeated then WWF Tag Team Champions The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Wyndham) at the Philadelphia Spectrum on August 24. Beefcake famously took The Dream Team manager “Luscious” Johnny Valiant’s lit cigar and rubbed it in Wyndham’s eye to secure the victory in the match. The Dream Team then defended the title for eight months before falling to The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) at WrestleMania 2 in Rosemont, Illinois.
Brutus Beefcake got his start in the WWF as a heel managed by Valiant in the latter part of 1984. He famously wore outlandish, neon outfits, bow ties and was introduced in a segment that portrayed him as a male stripper. He appeared in singles competition at the inaugural WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden, gaining a draw after a double-disqualification in his match with David Sammartino. In early 1985, Beefcake feuded briefly with WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, who sought revenge for his friend, Hillbilly Jim, who was injured at a show in San Diego by Beefcake and Valiant.
Beefcake finally turned face after The Dream Team broke up at WrestleMania III with his partner, The Hammer, turning on him and leaving the ring with Valiant and Dino Bravo. In the very next match on the card, Beefcake revived fan favorite “Rowdy” Roddy Piper after he was rendered unconscious by Adonis, leading to a Piper victory. Per match stipulations, Adonis had his head shaved. Beefcake performed the trim work and that’s when he became known as The Barber. Soon after, Beefcake began bringing his trademark gardening shears with the handles taped to resemble barber poles and started using the Sleeper Hold as his finisher.
Though his first feud as a face came against his former partner, Valentine, one of Beefcake’s most famous rivalries began soon after when he challenged one of the WWF’s top heels, fellow 2019 WWE Hall of Fame inductee The Honky Tonk Man, during his record-setting run as Intercontinental Champion. Beefcake vowed to put Honky to sleep and cut off his famous “duck-tail” haircut at the time but never made good on his promise because the dastardly Elvis impersonator frequently got himself disqualified to maintain “Champion’s Advantage” to retain the belt.
Another memorable feud for Beefcake involved a showdown with Randy “Macho Man” Savage. During the 1989 feud, Beefcake insulted Savage’s new manager, Sensational Sherri, calling her Scary Sherri. Savage flew into a rage, attacking Beefcake, who also was embarrassed with a haircut from Sensational Sherri. The storyline became a part of the movie No Holds Barred and grew to include Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan and Zeus. During his match against Savage, Beefcake was assaulted by Zeus. At SummerSlam, Hogan, and Beefcake with their manager, Miss Elizabeth teamed to defeat Savage and Zeus. The rivalry resumed when No Holds Barred was shown as part of a pay-per-view special called “No Holds Barred: The Movie”. Hogan and Beefcake defeated Savage and Zeus in a steel cage match that was taped two weeks prior to the airing of the film.
A fluke parasailing accident in 1990 put Beefcake out of action for nearly two years. Beefcake suffered a catastrophic injury to his facial skeleton, requiring more than 100 metal plates to repair the damage. He returned in the summer of 1992, hosting an interview segment titled “The Barber Shop.” It was on this segment that The Rockers famously split up when Shawn Michaels superkicked Marty Jannetty through a plate glass window. That began Michaels rise to stardom as a heel in singles action.
Beefcake made his final WWF appearance at WrestleMania IX, teaming up with Hogan against the Money Inc. team of “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster in 1993. Hogan and Beefcake, who wore a protective facial mask, wrestled under the name Mega-Maniacs and were disqualified against Money Inc.
Beefcake and Hogan continued their relationship in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from 1994-96 and 98-99. After attacking Hogan during his championship match with Ric Flair at Clash of Champions XXVIII, Beefcake took on a persona called The Butcher and joined the stable The Three Faces of Fear with Avalanche and Kevin Sullivan. This culminated in The Butcher losing a WCW Heavyweight Championship title match to Hogan at Starrcade in 1994. Beefcake’s last hurrah came as The Disciple, bodyguard to the heel nWo faction leader Hollywood Hogan from 98-99.
Though he doesn’t come with the championship pedigree as some of the other members of the WWE 2019 Hall of Fame Class, Beefcake played a major role as a supporting cast member to the huge fan favorites like Hogan, Savage, and others. Here’s a look at some of Beefcake’s best work:
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