Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Jenni Grattan
Iron Mike Sharpe
When I heard of the “jobbers” theme this month at
Kayfabe Memories, one name came to mind right away: Iron Mike Sharpe. Mike
Sharpe, along with other prominent jobbers such as Steve Lombardi, is one of
the most well-known and respected jobbers this business has ever seen. While
most fans may remember Iron Mike from his work in World Wrestling Federation,
any long-time Stampede Wrestling fans know that a large portion of Sharpe’s
career was spent in Stampede Wrestling, toiling away with the Hart Brothers,
Duke Myers, and Davey Boy Smith.
Mike Sharpe was born and raised in Northern California,
where his father and uncle, Mike & Ben Sharpe, were tag team wrestling
superstars. When Iron Mike got in to the wrestling business, he adopted Gene
Kiniski’s “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” gimmick, and even wore
Kiniski’s famous “Canada” jacket. Sharpe also wore a leather band on his
right arm, which he claimed was required in the healing of an injury. Similar
to “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Sharpe seemed to be a rather slow healer – the
band stayed for ten years. Sharpe was also well-known for his excellent
conditioning, stamina, and height – he stood 6’4”, but was still not as
tall as his 6’6” father.
Mike Sharpe has the dubious honor of possibly being the
most technically-sound jobber of all time. Sharpe’s trademark move was a
forearm smash, which he either used as a finisher in itself or to lead in to a
backbreaker submission hold. Sharpe had a wide array of wrestling moves and
holds, and could no doubt teach many current wrestlers a thing or two about
ring psychology, telling a story, and the overall technical side of wrestling.
Unlike most jobbers, Mike Sharpe was not a perpetual loser.
In fact, Iron Mike even won a few titles, which is much more than many other
jobbers are able to claim. While in Stampede Wresting, Mike Sharpe held only
one title, the Stampede International Tag Team Championship. In 1982, Iron
Mike teamed with Duke Myers to defeat Leo and Bobby Burke for the Stampede
Wrestling Tag Titles to claim his sixth of nine professional titles. Sharpe
was also given a push in World Wrestling Federation in the mid 1980s, but like
most jobbers, Sharpe was remembered by fans as a frequent jobber, and was
given little respect or fan support.
Throughout the years, Iron Mike Sharpe held titles in
territories such as Vancouver, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Memphis, and has
wrestled all over the world. In most territories, he came, entertained, and
has been forgotten, all in the same breath. In Stampede Wrestling, however,
Iron Mike Sharpe is still remembered as one of the greatest jobbers of
all-time, an extremely underrated competitor, who loved the business and loved
performing enough to be willing to lay down for the job night in and night
out, simply because that is what allowed him to do what he loved to do.
I was doing an interview with Barry Horowitz one day, an
incredible jobber in his own right, and I asked him what it felt like to have
always had to lay down for the big stars, not allowing him to become a star
himself. Horowitz told me, “The ‘big stars’ would not have become big
stars had it not been for people like us being willing to lay down for
them.” So next time you see stars such as Triple H, unwilling to job for
even the brightest prospect, remember people like Iron Mike Sharpe, who laid
down for a living so people like Triple H and The Rock could have the
opportunity to become professional wrestling icons. These jobbers, many of
whom have been wrestling for tens of years, will lay down for anyone, whether
it is a green rookie or a clumsy, unconditioned veteran. These jobbers, that
fans so uncaringly shout profanities and throw food at, take some of the worst
beating, deal with some of the most wretched and untalented wrestlers, and
deal with low payoffs and shabby treatment for the office, only to come back
day after day to do it all over again.
When you get right down to it, some of the littlest guys in this business have the biggest heart for it. Jobbers like Mike Sharpe and Steve Lombardi, who get nothing in return for their hard and humbling work. These jobbers don’t get the big paychecks, they don’t get flown first class, they don’t get the unparalleled fan support or media attention, they are lucky if they even see the light of a televised match. More...