MATCH 14: “GIANT HIP” SUMO v. “THE PLANE” TATTOO
Despite what you may have heard, when viewed as a whole, pro-wrestling can really be considered quite the progressive profession. Promoters appear to have no problem letting their employees self-identify as a member of any race, creed, species or class they might choose. The wrestling world doesn’t care if you’re a Puerto Rican who claims to be a ninja from Japan, it doesn’t even care if you’re a giant white lummox who puts on a dashiki and suddenly decides he’s from Africa!
TONIGHT, we celebrate that diversity, as a Samoan Sumo takes on an “Indian” madman from Michigan!
Sumo is Rikishi, which is appropriate, because “rikishi” is the Japanese term for a sumo wrestler. Instantly identifiable by his bleached blonde hair and be-thonged backside, Rikishi was a crowd favorite during the WWF’s Attidude Era, wowing audiences with his unique brand of ass-based offense. Sorry – where are my manners? Hip-based. His offense was hip-based. Just take a look at his “Corner Hip Drop” in action.
Could you imagine having all that hip dropped on your chest? Clearly the nickname “Giant Hip” is well-deserved. Rikishi also earned quite a bit of fame rubbing his hip in his opponents’ faces:
Despite employing an ostensibly Japanese gimmick, Rikishi is actually a Samoan-American from San Francisco. Indeed, it wasn’t too long after his “debut” that the WWF dropped any pretense of him being from Japan at all, as he quickly teamed up with two white rappers and formed the tag team we all lovingly remember as Too Cool.
That isn’t all that strange for a wrestler… until you consider the fact that just a year prior, he was wrestling as “The Sultan,” an ostensibly Iranian wrestler managed by the Iron Sheik.
And a year prior to that, he was wrestling as… well, himself: a Samoan dude from San Francisco.
… and a year before that, he was wrestling as a head-shrinking savage.
So yeah, he’s had a bit of an identity crisis; but that doesn’t mean we love him any less. We at Subspace Briefcase accept you for who you are, you big Japanese-Iranian-Samoan lug.
So Rikishi and his big hips were not particularly BIG IN JAPAN. Will his otherwise sterling reputation be enough to carry him to a victory over…
Much like the infamous Sabu, Tattoo is “famous for reckless and daring moves.” One of this Philadelphian’s favorite wrestlers of all time, the always entertaining Sabu is notorious for being a danger to himself and others. Tatoo even uses a “moonsault press” for his finishing maneuver, which sure sounds like it could double for Sabu’s triple jump moonsault:
Tattoo is a dead ringer for Sabu, the tights, the beard, the tape… But why “Tattoo?” Well, Ta-too does sound kind of like “Sah-Bu…” but why is his nickname “The Plane?”
Well I got two words for ya’: Hervé Villechaize.
Whoa, wait, where are you going? Just hear me out! For those in need of a Hervéducation, Villechaize was a French-born actor of Filipino decent. Born with proportionate dwarfism, Villechaize achieved a great deal of fame portraying undersized sidekicks of crazy rich dudes. Fans of the James Bond films will no doubt recognize him as the actor who portrayed Scaramanga’s henchman, Nick Nack, in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Using the Bond franchise as a launching pad, Villechaize became a star of both the big and small screens. He even recorded a single or two:
Villechaize achieved his greatest fame as a regular on the television series Fantasy Island from 1978-1984, where he helped make all our dreams come true in the role of – wait for it – TATTOO, the sidekick of Ricardo Montalban’s Mr. Roarke.
If you watch the above video for all of 20 seconds, you’ll here Villechaize utter Tattoo’s signature line:
“THE PLANE! THE PLANE!”
BOOM. That was me dropping the mic.
…..yeah, probably. Particularly considering the fact that one of Sabu’s signature moves was commonly referred to as “Air Sabu:”
ANYWAY, if you’re reading this, you probably have a good idea who Sabu is, but if you don’t, it will suffice to say that he’s one of the greatest hardcore wrestlers of all time.
Like Rikishi, Sabu has eschewed his inherited ethnicity. Born in Long Island and reared in Michigan, Sabu (real name: Terry Brunk) frequently portrayed himself as a nonverbal maniac from Bombay. It runs in the family, I guess: Sabu’s uncle is Ed Farhat, the Original Sheik, a wrestler from Lansing, Michigan who claimed to be from the “Syrian Dessert.” As Sabu’s career went on, he repatriated, claiming to be from “Bombay, Michigan,” a town that does not exist. We at Subspace Briefcase respect that choice, and you should too. Or Sabu will kill you.
So, anyway, was Sabu BIG IN JAPAN? Yes. Sabu had some of his most violent and dangerous matches in Japan. Here he is in FMW taking on Tarzan Goto in a barbed wire match back in 1993 (be forewarned, this is gnarly, and damn near unwatchable):
If you’re interested, YouTube user PFLaw317 has prepared an excellent compilation of some of Sabu’s early matches in Japan:
So yes, Sabu was BIG IN JAPAN. But does that mean that Tattoo will be able to overcome the fact that Sumo is BIG IN THE HIPS? We’ll just have to see…
Sumo takes it at 9:33 with a hip drop. What else can I say, but…