In this latest series of posts, titled ‘Remember When?‘, we take a look at one off or fleeting moments in wrestling history. In this latest piece, we look back to early 1991 when a mysterious masked superstar, later revealed to be Ed ‘Brutus Beefcake’ Leslie made several appearances on WWF TV attacking heels.
In early 1991, in the aftermath of squash match wins for Earthquake, Dino Bravo and Rick Martel, all three superstars were attacked in the ring by a mysterious masked superstar. The superstar would throw several punches and fell his foe with a headbutt before rushing to the back as the commentators wondered what happened.
It was later revealed that it was Ed Leslie under the mask, better known to WWE fans as Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. Some months prior, just before SummerSlam 1990, Leslie was involved in a parasailing accident. He was helping his parasailing friend prepare for take-off when the driver of the boat mistook the cue as being ready for take-off and pulled the friend’s bare feet hard into Leslie’s face, crushing his facial skeleton. It would take some 100 metal plates to fix Leslie’s face and the injury would put his wrestling career on hold for several years.
With the character having no announced name and it taking several years for the reveal that the character was named ‘The Mariner’, it’s difficult to really know whether or not this was a missed opportunity or merely one that came too early during Leslie’s recovery.
However, it’s worth noting that the three men he attacked within the videos dotted throughout this article and with Earthquake only a matter months off a feud with Hulk Hogan, and the dominating, albeit fleeting appearances, that this could have gone on to be something pretty solid for Leslie.
Although I have seen reference to fact that, unsurprisingly, Leslie’s face was still pretty banged up and that the WWE were worried about rushing him back too quickly. However, the suggestion is that the plan was for The Mariner to feud with Earthquake in what would have been an upper-midcard feud.
It wasn’t to be, though. Leslie’s career took a two-year break thanks to that parasailing accident. He would return to WWF TV, hosting ‘The Barbershop’ – the talk show segment that famously was the place where The Rockers split up, with Marty Jannetty being tossed through the window by Shawn Michaels.
Fast forward a year or so, he would make a return to the ring and a beatdown at the hands of Money Inc (Million Dollar Man & I.R.S) would help turn their manager Jimmy Hart babyface and also facilitate the return of Hulk Hogan.
In the end, that babyface team would, unsuccessfully, challenge the tag champions for their gold at WrestleMania IX, a show best remembered for Hogan leaving with the WWF title. Although Leslie would continue to appear on the house show circuit, that WrestleMania match was his final ever televised match for the WWF.
In 1994, when Hogan joined World Championship Wrestling, so did Ed Leslie. Whilst Hogan would become WCW champion and a third of the hugely successful nWo brand, Leslie was saddled with horrible gimmick after horrible gimmick, failing to win any titles in his 3-years, over two stints, with the promotion and found himself largely wrestling in mid-card bouts.
After retiring, Beefcake would open a wrestling school and, more bizarrely, in 2013 tried to stage an intervention for then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The Globe and Mail quotes Beefcake as saying: “He (Ford) needs an intervention so I am going to be his angel of mercy,” and “Maybe if he gets his body right, he will be able to get his mind right.”
Back to The Mariner, ultimately, though, we will never know what the plans that time around were for Leslie. Still, it all explains, to a certain extent, who that mystery man was on WWF TV in early 1991. And we can all agree that on the face of it, The Mariner was a better gimmick than some of those he got in WCW…
You can read all previous ‘Remember When’ pieces here.