Wednesday, 13 June 2018

POP! WWE - The Iron Sheik

Pro wrestling has always been known for its larger-than-life characters, but in the WWF’s golden era of the 80s and early 90s, they went REALLY big. Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior…and of course, the subject of today’s review, the Iron Sheik.  

Born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri (or حسین خسرو علی وزیری in his native Persian), the Iron Sheik was once a real Graeco-Roman wrestler, and former soldier in the Imperial Iranian Army, who moved to America and burst into the zany world of professional wrestling. Arriving in the then-WWF as the Iron Sheik, he’d grow to become one of the best-known heels in the history of wrestling.

Iron Sheik’s gimmick was questionable, even by the looser standards of the 1980s. Presented primarily as a sinister Middle Eastern heel to Hulk Hogan’s All-American babyface, he’d show up in the ring holding banners depicting the real-life monster Ayatollah Khomeini and denounce the American way of life. It was pretty edgy at the time and generated a lot of heat in the ring, but it seems pretty tasteless to modern eyes. Even more so when you look at the way aspects of the Cold War were played out in the region, all while this stuff was all airing…

There was plenty of drama in the ring, and it was far more extreme outside. Drug addiction consumed much of Vaziri’s life from the 1980s, and one of his daughters was murdered in 2003. In tandem with other events and injuries, his career and earning potential were derailed numerous times.

Still, he’s enjoyed something of a comeback in more recent years, establishing himself as something of a NSFW Twitter sensation. In character as his wrestling persona, the Iron Sheik shoots off all manner of profane insults at anyone and everyone, naturally reserving his worst bile for Hulk Hogan. Naturally enough, this means that he’s the ideal character to be rendered in the kid-friendly Funko POP style!

The POP looks fairly true to his peak attire; he’s wearing a white keffiyeh and a pair of paisley print trunks. His signature curled-toe wrestling boots have been sculpted, which is a great detail. All in all, pretty good attention to detail. There’s a Chase version which features a red keffiyeh, which is cool but non-essential.    

Now, Iron Sheik doesn’t seem to be flying off the shelves at the same speed as many of his WWE contemporaries. Granted, he doesn’t have the same profile among younger fans as someone like The Undertaker, but it does seem like a bit of a shame. Nonetheless, this does mean you should be able to pick him up for a reasonable price.  

Though there’s already been a “Hollywood” Hogan POP, there isn’t currently an era-accurate figure of the Hulkster to face off against the Iron Sheik. Given Hulk’s currently dubious status with the WWE, we’re unlikely to get one anytime soon. Of course, with the recently released Jake the Snake, you can re-enact one particular feud

Iron Sheik is an interesting piece of wrestling history, marking a bygone era of WWF/WWE. While plenty of wrestlers are still big personalities, the reduced emphasis on kayfabe and greater real-life awareness of scandals in the industry has drastically changed the way the industry works. For better and for worse, the squared circle is unlikely to have anyone like the Iron Sheik step inside ever again.  

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