Thursday, May 12, 2016

Heel Turn: Pez Whatley

@brothascomics is a huge fan of old school- 80's to early 2000's wrestling and all the contributors on this website are or were primarily NWA/WCW shippers.  A many of Saturday morning and early Saturday evenings were spent around the television watching World Wide Wrestling and the NWA TV show on Saturday night on TBS( unless the Braves game ran too long).

We all had our favorites.  As much crap as I am given for it, The Producer was a huge Rock and Roll Express Fan, Big Hutch loved the Four Horseman, and Brother Beavis was a huge Road Warriors fan. We watched the shows, argued about are favorite wrestlers, and quite often put each other in sleepers, figure fours, and dropped a many Bionic Elbow on one another.

We were often lucky enough to see wrestling live.  Sandman's big brother took us to Hara Arena and I saw my favorite wrestler at the time, Tommy Rich and Brother Beavis' dad drove us to Cincinnati twice to see NWA wrestling.  I even got dissed by the Rock and Roll Express( which led to my heel turn on them).

With all that being said, professional wrestling in the 80's was a wasteland for Black characters.  Pretty much all them were involved in some way, shape, or form of coonery.  It may be shucking and jiving, it may be dancing, it may be some sort of African boogie man... But for sure they all had a version of the headbutt as a finisher because I guess Black people's heads are harder than white folks.

One of those Black 80's wrestlers was Pistol Pez Whatley.  Now Pez was a mid-card demon.  He never won any titles in the NWA/WCW but he wasn't a jobber. He was a good worker, could sell like crazy, and was pretty good on the mic.  In the mid 80's, he was teamed up with "Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant to fight against heels Paul Jones and his Army.  Great mid-card feud that had been going on for years between Jimmy Valiant and Paul Jones' Army.  People loved Jimmy Valiant( not sure why!) He was way over on the mid card in 1985.

Of course rasslin being rasslin, when a feud looks to be stalling out with the fans, they will take a popular character and make them turn heel on a babyface.  Pez and Jimmy Valiant had been getting the best of Paul Jones' Army and the time for a heel turn had come and they chose Pez to turn on Boogie Woogie!  It leads to this awesome heel turn on World Wide Wrestling on a Saturday morning in 1985 and has been quoted by the members of Brothascomics for the past 30 years.

The "Best Black Athlete in the World" turns Pez on Valiant and the beat down and the hair cut would lead to a huge feud over the next few months- culminating of course in a hair vs hair match between the two former friends.

Pez's heel turn was not a surprise- neither was the racist tropes they gave Pez afterwards.  Pez goes to wearing a tuxedo( as if he was Paul Jones Butler), he vernacular dropped dramatically, and he was not above making coon faces with bug eyes from time to time. And to top it off, he goes from Pez to "Shaska" Whatley.  This is/was standard operating procedure for rasslin in the 80's and sadly these tropes are still popular in rasslin today.

Of course a heel turn needs to generate even more heat and to do so, they take the said heel and have him beat up a friend.  Pez's friend was a wrestler new to the territory named Nighthawk.  Big dude, former football player. Not a great wrestler, not a great grasp of the English language, but he looked the part.  His role was to help his friend out and try to bring him back to the good side.  According to Nighthawk, Pez had been down on his luck and possibly turned on his friends because he needed money. When he offers to help out, this happens.

It took many years for me to find this video on youtube!  This completed the Pez Whatley turn AND gave us the expression, "Well thank you brother" to use anytime we were about to sneak attack someone from behind.

After Pez and Paul Jones lose the hair vs hair match, Pez turn back to babyface and Manny Fernandez turns on Jimmy Valiant( man people hate Jimmy Valiant).  Pez gets regulated to jobber status and he bounces around NWA, Japan, and WWF for a few years before settling back in WCW to work at the Power Plant training new wrestlers.  He died of a heart attack in 2005 at the age of 54.

Pez was not my favorite wrestler- not even close. But for one magical heel turn, he gave me and my closest family and friends, two moments that have been etched in our minds and memories forever and for that we are eternally grateful.  RIP Shaska!

The Producer

1 comment:

  1. First off, respect for the article. But....this whole racist black trope stuff in pro wrestling kills me. Every race/culture was treated with over the top ridiculousness. It was not limited to only black wrestlers.