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Sabu: A Legacy of Violence

Sabu has retired. The Suicidal, Homicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying Maniac has decided – by all accounts – to call it a day. Talking to WSI -Wrestling Shoot Interviews – Sabu said;

I’m not doing real good. I hurt my back about a year ago and it’s still been hurting. I wrestled a couple of weeks ago but I shouldn’t have. I’ve only wrestled like twice in the last year. I only went to the gym a couple of times the last year ’cause I hurt my back. I’m probably not gonna wrestle no more.”

As a fan of the more extreme forms of wrestling, this saddens me, but also comes as no great surprise. After all, you cannot leave a legacy of violence behind you in the way Sabu did and not suffer the consequences and believe me when I say, Sabu left behind a beautiful legacy of violence.

Born Terry Michael Brunk on Dec. 12th, 1964, the man who would become Sabu was trained in the grappling arts by his uncle, the legendary hardcore icon, The Shiek. Yet, if truth be told, it seemed as if his mentor had different plans for the young man as he was trained in a much more technical style of wrestling. Sabu made his debut in his uncle’s promotion – Big Time Wrestling – and there was barely a fork or barbed wire bat in sight. This would all change, however, when in 1991 he joined FMW (Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling)

For those of you that don’t know, FMW was formed by Atsushi Onita in 1989, and it’s was bat-s*it insane. For example, Onita has the honor of being the man who came up with the idea of the Exploding Barbed Wire Match and performed in it along with Tarzan Goto because – as I may have pointed out – he was bat-s*it insane. This set the standard of what you could expect from FMW and the 27-year-old Sabu embraced its lunacy during his four-year tenure.

This was where he cut his teeth in the barbed wire ring and where a Fire Deathmatch got so out of control – because fire – that it nearly killed everyone involved. Honestly, if you think you know hardcore and you’ve never watched FMW, then get you to YouTube, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

During this time he also worked for a little company known as ECW and it is his work here that a vast majority of fans know him from. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, as within the ECW Temple Sabu put on some of the greatest matches of his career. His feud with Taz is still one of my favorite of all time, just because it was so damn obvious the two didn’t get along, and even though they worked safe – well, as safe as you could for Paul Heyman’s bunch of personal lunatics – there were more stiff chops than your local meat markets out of date window display.

Sabu and ECW will always be synonymous with each other. In fact, I can still remember the first-ever time I saw Sabu in action, against RVD in the legendary Stretcher Match via a taped copy of a copy of a copy from a friend and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. These two men left everything out there to entertain us and how in the blue hell was this madman, Leg-Dropping Van Dam’s head through steel chairs and getting folded in half through tables. It was an almost religious experience and I’ve been a Sabu disciple ever since.

After ECW finally closed its doors, Sabu would carry on working the Independent’s as well as doing a couple of stints in Impact, but it seems that time waits for no man, no matter how much of a Suicidal, Homicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying Maniac they might be. So we find ourselves here, saying goodbye to one of the greatest Hardcore Wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots.

Sabu may have had a short run in WWE and one pointless stint in WCW  but that doesn’t matter. A legend isn’t measured by where he’s been, but by what he’s done. Sabu has seen the globe and spilled blood by the bucket load. He’s both entertained and shocked in equal measure. He’s had jaws on the floor in both amazement and shock in equal measures. He’s influenced thousands of wrestlers to try Deathmatch wrestling and brought joy to the army of fans – myself included -who worship these people for what they do.

Sabu has left behind him a legacy of violence that will never be matched, and for that I thank him. Enjoy your retirement, my friend, you’ve earned it.

Written by Neil Gray

The Grandmaster of Asian Cinema.

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