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Where Are They Now? Barry Horowitz
For Barry Horowitz, being a WWE Superstar during the '80s and '90s was a dream come true. But he's not the type of person who likes to pat himself on the back about his accomplishments -- at least not until the '90s.
Horowitz started wrestling early on, training with the legendary "Professor" Boris Malenko in Florida before he began working with Vince McMahon, Sr. in 1981. At 21 years old, Horowitz was prepared for the rigors of the ring; a testament Horowitz claims is a reflection of Malenko's tutelage.
"I credit my training as the best from both ends," he said. "Both the people who trained me and the training itself primed me for being in the ring at a high level."
That preparation would be needed when Horowitz returned to WWE in the late ‘80s, with wrestling taking a new direction.
"It was a whole different ball game," Horowitz said of his return to the ring -- a return that was short-lived after he injured his neck in action. But Horowitz recalls that even the injury to his neck didn't hamper him when he looked to get in the ring again.
"Believe it or not, the injury, other than the time away from the ring, was not that big a problem," he explained. "I kept training while I was out. I actually did too much training. When I got cleared, I went in this ring in Kentucky with Tracy Smothers and we wrestled non-stop for a half hour and I didn't even think about the neck. It was like the expression, ‘When you fall off a bike, you get back on.' And that was it -- I was ready to come back."
As ready as he was to return in 1992, nothing could have prepared Horowitz for the heights he was going to climb when he reemerged in WWE. After having spent much of his career as what Horowitz referred to as an "enhancer," his time to shine was his for the taking -- and he was given the chance to show what he had to the WWE Universe.
"I always knew I was capable. A ‘jobber', if you want to use that word, is a guy who is only in it for a buck, he goes to the gym every now and then, doesn't have the ring gear, doesn't know the business that well. You just get your butt pounded on TV and that's it -- but that wasn't me. I knew this business, I knew what my position was -- and I went out there and gave all I had, and to see it pay-off was incredible."
Horowitz's first opportunity to prove himself was alongside an old friend, Shawn Michaels. While many of our fans may remember the classic Survivor Series Match between the Harts and HBK's Knights, few may know that Horowitz was one of the men alongside Michaels for this historic encounter.
"I was flattered to be picked. Holy Cow! I was just ecstatic," said Horowitz. "But that night I got a semi-concussion too. Bret Hart kicked me out of the ring, and it caught me just the right place, I guess."
After Survivor Series and a short recovery from the concussion, Horowitz began his rise up the ranks of WWE, shooting straight to the top in 1995. In one of the most memorable moments in WWE history, Horowitz defeated Bodydonna Skip with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross shouting, "Horowitz wins" into his headset. The newfound success was something the humble Horowitz remembers like it was yesterday.
"I was getting paid to live my dream. So, when they turned to me and said, you're gonna do something, I said, ‘All this hard work is gonna pay off.' I still agree with that too -- that hard work pays off."
That determination and dedication afforded Horowitz the opportunity to step into the ring with Skip many times during 1995 -- as well as one of his favorite moments in WWE -- matches with Owen Hart.
"I have a lot of favorite matches," Horowitz insisted, "but my favorites would be with Owen Hart and Skip. We were on the same wave length -- no egos -- classic technical wresting and showmanship at the same time, without being boring and keeping the people interested. Both Owen and Skip were the ultimate professionals."
Also during his successful ascension, Horowitz etched himself into WWE history when he began his patented pat on the back. For Barry, having his self-appreciating gesture remembered by our fans is an accomplishment unto itself. "I feel flattered," he said, "well-achieved in an industry that can be very fickle. I had said as a kid growing up and watching wrestling that I wanted to one day be remembered -- and I am."
After spending some time in WCW, Horowitz moved on to the independent circuit, before semi-retiring from wrestling to spend time with his family and concentrate on his sports nutrition business -- Vitamin Discount Center -- something he says is exactly what he needed.
"My life is my family. I have a wonderful wife, a great 14-year-old son Joshua who is starting amateur wrestling. My spare time is being a homebody, spending time with my family and going to the gym." Time with his family isn't all that Horowitz does though, as he continues to appear on the independent circuit and at autograph signings around the country.
As for today's WWE, Horowitz still enjoys watching the Superstars craft their skills, and he reminisces each time he sees his old friend, Shawn Michaels, in the ring.
"I remember the first time I wrestled Shawn Michaels in Memphis. It was a tag match, and Shawn and I just clicked as competitors." Horowitz added, "Anytime I was in the ring with Shawn, we were on the mat wrestling -- definitely my style of guy to wrestle. But I wasn't limited to my style in the ring -- and anyone who has set foot in the ring knows that if you can adapt to any style, you are that much better a worker -- and Shawn has always understood that, which is why he has been successful for so long."
Barry Horowitz's career isn't a typical one by any standards. From obscurity to the greatness he achieved, and through injuries and other obstacles, Horowitz has always remained a class act and a professional by every standard of the word. From dreaming as a child of wrestling greatness to living it, Horowitz showed the entire WWE Universe that dreams do come true.
And for Barry Horowitz, a Superstar career like his deserves a pat on the back.