The 10 manliest moments in wrestling history
January 2, 2014
Men. They’re all made up of the same basic parts — 206 bones, 32 teeth, 10 fingers, 10 toes — yet they are not all made the same. How else can you explain Mark Henry’s ability to lift the 172-pound Thomas Inch dumbbell above his head with one hand? Or Antonio Cesaro’s talent for yoking 400-pounders and then spinning in a circle like Superman readying to whip a bad guy out of Earth’s orbit?
Superstars like Henry and Cesaro aren’t just men, they’re manly men and their displays of Jurassic strength and swaggering machismo have inspired this list. These are the moments in sports-entertainment history that have taken the tenets of masculinity — guts, strength, resolve — and amped them up to levels of absurdity, presented by Old Spice. Smellcome to manhood.
Ken Patera holds a minivan back with his legs
Most people would be terrified if Mr. McMahon was driving a minivan straight at them. Not Ken Patera.
On a 1985 edition of Tuesday Night Titans, the Olympic powerlifter put the WWE Chairman behind the wheel of a van and then put his sneakers against the front fender and his back agains the studio’s brick wall. At Patera’s signal, Mr. McMahon floored the vehicle, sending smoke everywhere as Patera kept the van from moving with his powerful legs. Exhaust filled the air as the Olympian stunned the WWE Universe with his display of pure power and fearlessness.
Don Muraco wins a match while eating a sandwich
Most ordinary men spend their lives avoiding confrontation. Don Muraco was the type of guy who welcomed a fight — and found the time to eat lunch while he did it. Polishing off some yahoo on All-Star Wrestling back on Oct. 15, 1983, “The Magnificent One” — with a helping hand from manager Capt. Lou Albano — also polished off a meatball hero and a can of cola. Was Muraco feeling peckish or simply looking to humiliate his no name challenger? Probably both, which marked a new high (or was it low?) for in-ring alpha male boasting.
Lex Luger slams Yokozuna to defend America's honor
Just when it looked like no American man would be able to bodyslam 600-pound WWE Champion Yokozuna aboard the USS Intrepid on Independence Day 1993 — and everyone from Crush to Bill Frallic of the Detroit Lions had tried — a true patriot arrived. Literally descending from the heavens by way of helicopter, Lex Luger stepped into the ring in skintight stonewashed jeans, a red, white and blue shirt and cowboy boots and hoisted the Japanese Superstar into the air. By the time Yokozuna’s back hit the mat, the once-loathed Luger had been reborn as John Wayne in spandex and America had found its next great hero.
Mr. McMahon tears both quads, continues barking orders
WWE’s head honcho is so filled with masculinity that the simple act of sharing an elevator with the man makes you feel like you’re ready to take on the world. So no one should have been surprised when Mr. McMahon continued on a tirade at the conclusion of the 2005 Royal Rumble Match after simultaneously blowing out both of his quads.
Confusion over whether or not Batista or John Cena had won the bout brought out the steamed CEO, who severely hurt himself in a freak accident while diving into the ring, but refused to acknowledge the pain and continued yelling. Clearly, it’ll take much more than two simultaneous leg injuries to stop The Chairman.
Big Show flips a jeep
Sensationalism is expected out of Big Show, so The World’s Largest Athlete sometimes has to accomplish things that are particularly grandiose in order to inspire awe. March 24, 2005, was one of those nights as Big Show — then heading into a traditional sumo match against the mighty champion known as Akebono — sought to prove his power by overturning a jeep. Watching Big Show flip a vehicle with his bare hands was so reminiscent of the T-Rex destroying a truck in “Jurassic Park” that you half expected Jeff Goldblum to run out and distract the giant with a road flare. Lucky for Goldblum, he didn't.
Brock Lesnar manhandles Mark Henry
Brock Lesnar’s rural upbringing on a South Dakota farm set him on the path to be a man’s man from a young age. Baling hay and hauling tree trunks will do that to you. Old timers will say that kind of hard work builds character. They weren’t expecting Brock Lesnar to turn into The Beast Incarnate.
Lesnar’s freakish strength was on display when he returned on the final Raw of 2013. When Mark Henry dared to step up to him, Lesnar floored The World’s Strongest Man. When Henry fought back, The Beast viciously tackled him through a ringside barricade, and then muscled him up for a thunderous F-5. Turns out Lesnar may be more monster than man.
Antonio Cesaro Neutralizes The Great Khali
Antonio Cesaro may not have the muscle mass of WWE strongmen like Ryback or Mark Henry, but he’s every bit as powerful as his bigger colleagues. The WWE Universe first got a taste of Cesaro’s true strength in January 2013.
Many had written Cesaro off before he took on The Great Khali on WWE Main Event. The Swiss Superman used his speed to stay one step ahead of the giant, eventually toppling him. When Cesaro went to muscle the giant up for his trademark Neutralizer, everyone from Michael Cole to fans in the cheap seats were in shock as he succeeded and defeated The Punjabi Nightmare.
Mark Henry pulls two tractor-trailers
It’s unfortunate how familiarity breeds complacency. The fact that we’ve been watching Mark Henry for more than 15 years sometimes allows us to forget the fact that we’re living in the presence of, as Ron Simmons once put it, a modern-day Samson. Still, The World’s Strongest Man always finds a way to remind us he’s just that. To wit, the night he strapped two tractor-trailers — weighing more than 100,000 pounds — to his back and forged ahead with the determination of Moses in the desert. The man did something most small trucks can’t do. Think of that next time your Prius gets stuck in the mud.
Shane McMahon jumps off the Backlash set
Although he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, there was no lack of courage in Shane McMahon. The Boy Wonder had no qualms about standing toe-to-toe with WWE’s biggest and meanest Superstars.
Shane found himself across the ring from Big Show at Backlash 2001. In a grueling Last Man Standing match, McMahon did everything he could to defeat the giant, even getting a helping hand from Test. But Shane had to literally climb to new heights to win, scaling the towering entrance set. Taking a daring leap of faith got Shane the victory and the respect of the WWE Universe.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin finishes a match with a broken neck
No one would dare describe “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as anything other than manly. Not after the mudhole stomping career he’s had. The moment that cemented The Texas Rattlesnake as, perhaps, the manliest Superstar came towards the start of his ascension to greatness.
After suffering a vicious piledriver in a match against Owen Hart, Austin realized his neck was broken. That would be enough to stop most men. However, Austin ignored the immense pain and not only kept on fighting, but won the match to capture his first Intercontinental Title. Now that’s manly.