Icons of Wrestling #44 – The Disciple

Jamie Lithgow

Height: 6’4″
Weight: 272 lb
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Glory Days: 1998-1999
Fun Fact: Despite dressing like a biker and his WCW bio stating that he likes to ride Harleys, The Disciple never once rode or was even seen near a bike on WCW TV, not even at the Road Wild pay per view.


Amazingly, The Disciple is the first of Ed Leslie’s near two dozen gimmicks to make it into the Icons of Wrestling hall of shame.

The Disciple; Olympic ‘standing there’ champion

Named for his real and kayfabe devotion to Hulk Hogan, The Disciple entered the WCW universe on February 23 1998. In a sign of things to come, his debut on Nitro saw him do very little other than stand in the corner while surrounded by other members of the New World Order. On this occasion one could argue that The Disciple was over because fans were actually interested in him. Last time Ed Leslie was spotted on WCW television he was using The Bootyman gimmick. Now, some 18 months later, Leslie was sporting new gear, a full beard and looking pretty ripped compared to last time fans had seen him. Thus, the crowd were interested in the mysterious stranger because they hadn’t quite figured out that it was Brutus Beefcake… yet. The penny had dropped by the following week though, and in case anybody was in any doubt, Roddy Piper outed him as Beefcake/Bootyman/Zodiac etc. a few weeks later.

As for The Disciple’s role, well he was Hollywood Hogan’s disciple of course. He was Hogan’s loyal servant, or useless bodyguard if you like. He would accompany Hogan (who was usually already accompanied by Eric Bischoff) to the ring for promos and matches. He would very rarely say anything and would occasionally get involved in NWO beatdowns. Basically, think of The Disciple as set dressing for a Hollywood Hogan segment.

There’s something wrong with this pony…

For his first few months The Disciple had a pretty sweet gig in WCW. He only actually wrestled a couple of times, he never said anything yet was usually involved in multiple segments on Nitro, often including the main event. However, that run came to an end in late September when he was kidnapped by (don’t call him Ultimate) Warrior. You see, Warrior was in WCW feuding with Hollywood Hogan because reasons and to show that he could get to Hogan, Warrior turned his closest ally against him. We were led to believe that Warrior had brainwashed The Disciple to make him join his wildly unpopular One Warrior Nation, which is NWO backwards for those that haven’t picked up on this ingeniuos play on words. The only other member would be Hollywood’s nephew Horace Hogan, so you have an idea of the calibre of performers in this short-lived group/angle/whatever it was. Anyway, for a couple of weeks The Disciple was literally used as a prop by both Warrior and Hogan as they played tug o’ war with him. He was also afforded a singles matches on Nitro in this period, during which he (tried to) wrestle in the style of Warrior i.e. badly after shaking the ropes. We also heard more than a couple of words from The Disciple for the first time when he stated that he would no longer carry Hogan’s bags and that he was his own man. It was this promo that lured Hogan backstage to the infamously crap segment which saw Hollywood being freaked out by Warrior’s reflection. As an aside, if The Disciple turned on his leader surely that makes him Judas? There’s a missed opportunity for Ed, and probably a bullet dodged for us wrestling fans.

The lesser-spotted 1999 version of The Disciple

Having turned on Hogan and, I guess, turned babyface in the process, The Disciple seemed to disappear despite actually increasing his workload. From hardly wrestling at all, he started making appearances on WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide tapings. Sadly (for him), The Disciple’s days on Nitro were over. Also, his last pay per view appearance was to help make up the numbers in the World War 3 battle royal in November.

Believe it or not, despite almost completely falling off the radar in late 98, our man stuck around for almost another year wrestling at the aforementioned Worldwide and Saturday Night tapings while occasionally appearing on WCW’s b-show, Thunder. His only notable involvement in any kind of angle during this time came in April 99. Referred to as ‘Ed’, The Disciple was offered a contract extension for double his original money by WCW President (and WCW Champion) Ric Flair on the April 1st episode of Thunder. There was a catch though, he had to defeat a now babyface Hulk Hogan. He did not, despite Flair trying to help him. According to this angle, The Disciple was within the last 30 days of his contract and we can only assume that because he lost the match against Hogan he did not have his contract renewed. Well despite this, somehow he managed to stick around until October at which point Ed ‘The Disciple/Brutus Beefcake/Zodiac/Bootyman/Butcher’ Leslie said goodbye to wrestling full-time for a big time promotion and entered semi-retirement.

This edition of Icons of Wrestling was brought to you by Jobber Clobber

Jobber Clobber is Jamie’s screen printing start-up. He specialises in geeky wrestling related t-shirts so if you enjoy Icons of Wrestling you’ll love Jobber Clobber. You can find him on eBay, Etsy, Instagram and Facebook. Don’t be shy, give it a’like’ and help to spread the word.

All previous ‘Icons of Wrestling’ can be read here.

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