If I asked those of you around for the WWF scene in the 1980s what you remembered most about Iron Mike Sharpe, most of you would say one of two things:
- His loud yelling throughout the match
- His odd, leather forearm pad
Sharpe was an interesting character in that as a jobber, he was among the most memorable from the early ’80s, but as a true star, he just never made it. I remember when he first came into the WWF in early 1983 that Captain Lou Albano managed him, which in those days signaled that he would be challenging for both the WWF Heavyweight and Intercontinental Titles. And he did get those championship bouts — for example, losing to IC Champ Tito Santana in the old Boston Garden in March 1984 — but few of the fans took him seriously as a contender, and he was quickly demoted to the squash matches.
I found an interesting result involving Sharpe from Madison Square Garden in November 1983, at which Magnificent Muraco defeated Sharpe in an IC Title match and also — at the time — a rare heel vs. heel bout. Muraco just the month before had defeated Jimmy Snuka at MSG in the famous steel cage match before taking the Superfly leap from the top of the cage. The great History of the WWE website notes that Muraco “played the babyface during the bout.” I wonder if this was a test to see if Muraco had the fan support to become a good guy. It wasn’t that many years later when a repackaged Muraco was indeed a fan favorite as the original Rock.
Back to Sharpe: Amazingly, his debut at the old Philadelphia Spectrum saw him lose to WWF Champion Bob Backlund, which sounds nuts all these years later that Sharpe even could main event such a large arena.
Sharpe was the son of Mike Sharpe, a star in the 1950s who, along with brother Ben, were famous as the Sharpe Brothers in San Francisco and Japan.
When the younger Sharpe was in the WWF, a typical match involved him yelling loudly throughout the bout, particularly while selling for his opponent. His gimmick involved him allegedly sliding foreign objects under his leather forearm pad and walloping a foe in the head or back. He was a big, lumbering guy in the ring who wasn’t a great worker by modern standards (and even in 1984 you didn’t really want to see him wrestle, yet there he was just about every week on Prime Time Wrestling).
Despite his lack of wins, there’s no doubt he is among the most famous curtain jerkers in WWF history.