The Iron Sheik Roast Recap You Didn’t Know You Wanted
Few hobbies or interests bring as much interrogating as professional wrestling.
“It’s fake,” say the naysayers. Well, yes, the results are predetermined, but aren’t most of the movies and television shows you watch fictional?
“The acting is awful.” Sometimes, but it can’t be much worse than some of what you watch as a “guilty pleasure.”
“You still watch wrestling? I used to watch that when I was a kid.” I bet you did, but WWE’s Monday Night Raw drew in nearly 4 million U.S. viewers last week, not counting the millions who watch in over 100 other countries, and has been on virtually every Monday since January 1993. Or the 700,000+ monthly U.S.-based subscribers to the WWE Network. Or the millions of weekly viewers of other wrestling-related programs like TNA’s Impact Wrestling and E’s Total Divas.
What many also fail to consider is that professional wrestling was around prior to 1900 — of course, pre-dating jazz, television, and many other things we celebrate in ‘Murica — and that the fact that its results are predetermined didn’t become widely-known until a few decades ago.
When wrestling hit one of its peaks in popularity in the 1980s, Hulk Hogan crossed over to the masses beyond just wrestling fans. But in order for Hulkamania to begin running wild, Hogan had to defeat one man for the WWF championship: The Iron Sheik. Which happened in January 1984 at Madison Square Garden.
While the Iron Sheik — aka Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri from Iran — is no longer an active wrestler, he is as famous and culturally-relevant now in 2014 as ever. His Twitter feed — which created a recurring segment on Comedy Central’s @ Midnight called “Real Or Jabroni” — has well over 400,000 followers. The Sheik is one of the few guests that can go on both “The Howard Stern Show” and “Opie & Jimmy” (“Opie & Anthony” plenty of times prior to that). Jay-Z is a fan. Judd Apatow once engaged in a brief Twitter war with him. And sure, the Sheik pops up every now and then for a cameo on WWE programming.
The latest in a recurring series of live events highlighting the genius of The Iron Sheik, Carolines On Broadway hosted “Roast Rumble: The Ultimate Insult Fest” last Thursday night. Yes, a roast.
Among the highlights (both intentional and unintentional):
- ECW hero New Jack telling the six participating comedians — Jesse Joyce (writer for various numerous Comedy Central programs), Tyler Morrison (nicknamed “The Dennis Miller of Dark Comedy”), Andrew Goldstein (producer for VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live”), Kurt Metzger (writer for “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Chappelle’s Show), Mike Vecchione (semi-finalist on “Last Comic Standing”) and Tony Hinchcliffe (host of the “Kill Tony” podcast) — that he Googled them and all he found were recipes and directions. New Jack also chided said comedians for writing jokes.
- WWE “legend” Virgil being so incensed by comic Kurt Metzger’s assertions that Virgil was desperate for money and gave him a chop on the chest. On a side note, Virgil left the stage mid-show to sell merchandise.
- The Iron Sheik picking up a microphone at random times to tell failing comics to go eff themselves, but also wishing Joan Rivers well in heaven at one point.
- ECW and WWE notable The Blue Meanie sincerely thanking the Sheik for creating the wrestling business as we know it via his feud with Hogan.
- Andrew Goldstein, joking that he and the evening’s host, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, had attended four Wrestlemanias, three more than any of the wrestlers on-stage — untrue, but a great one-liner.
- Nikolai Volkoff, the Sheik’s long-time tag team, simply being there onstage, Member’s Only-style jacket and all.
Prior to the roast, a trailer for The Sheik, a fan-funded documentary about the legend coming soon to iTunes and other Video On Demand outlets, played. Among the notables appearing in the film are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Seth Green, Ron Jeremy, Mick Foley, and Jim Ross.