Lawrence Shreve, best known as WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher, turns 77 years old on January 11th. In celebration of this momentous event, I thought we would take a look at seven fun things from the career of the only Canadian to ever be billed as the Madman from the Sudan.
1. Hall Of Fame Soundtrack
I’ve written about Abdullah turning Sam Houston inside out and fighting Manny Fernandez for a hat in a stadium filled with bees, but one of the best things about Abdullah the Butcher is his amazing taste in entrance music.
I think everyone who knows me knows that The Midnight Express theme is going to play at my funeral, but Abdullah coming out to the rocking opening track of my favorite Pink Floyd album ever is a pretty solid 1a as far as entrance music goes.
Someday I hope to witness my dream scenario of having a wrestler come to the ring with “Echoes” as their entrance music and taking the entire 23:36 before they step on the apron. There is something beyond hilarious to me about WWE needing to take two commercial breaks just to get a guy into a four-minute squash against Bo Dallas. I hope it’s Bobby Roode.
Fun Side Note: If you start “Echoes” and the “Jupiter and Beyond” section of 2001: A Space Odyssey, they sync up exactly. Unlike other Pink Floyd movie myths, this one actually fits — to the second — and is supremely unsettling.
Kubrick is quoted as saying Pink Floyd would be the only band that he would ever have score one of his films. The movie came out in 1968. The album came out in 1971. Just sayin’.
2. He’s Not *That* Big
No, seriously. That’s him fighting Andre The Giant and being dwarfed, just like everyone else. I mean, he’s “bigger” than I am, but Kuroi Jyujyutsushi* up there is the same height as I am, which is six feet zero inches tall.
That’s Abdullah in a match against a 48-years-young Giant Baba in front of an absolutely bonkers Puerto Rico crowd. I can’t tell if the crowd or the Butcher is doing a better job of selling Baba’s Charmin-soft, Andy Trask-style shy Thai fighter baby kicks.
The Butcher lets Baba chop the foreign object out of his grip and then gets some color on his way down to the floor. The addition of the armed military guards around the ring really gives the whole thing a wonderful, low-rent ’70s version of Bloodsport feel. I want MPs around the ring at every Raw from this moment forward. It’ll look great contrasted with everyone sitting on their hands during the third Jason Jordan segment of the first hour. We’ll even bring in the basketball hoops from this video so Roman Reigns can do lazy entitled smirking layups to himself during the tag match.
*Fun Side Note: “Kuroi Jyujyutsushi” is Abdullah’s nickname in Japan. It means “Black Shaman,” so that’s 3-for-3 on awesome names for Abdullah there. Damien Sandow is still looking for his first, and I like Damien Sandow.
3. He’s Not Afraid Of The Past And/Or Quality Control
If you watched that clip from Puerto Rico and said, “Man, the only way that could have been better is if Baba was three years older.” well, brother, do I have good news for you.
The match above is such the complete opposite of Cheap Trick’s Live From Budokan that Rick Nielsen could show up with a six-necked guitar and still have to show his ID. I have to give credit where credit is due, though, because this crowd is just as hot for these two as they were in Puerto Rico, and that is a 51-year-old scarecrow taking an elbow drop from a 360-pound dude.
I will say that I fully enjoyed all the young boys dressed like Wimbledon ball boys for the post-match heat. I really wish WWE Shop would take a page from WWE Network and start offering some of this throwback fashion to go with the throwback footage. I would get this outfit and Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ 1981 Mid-Atlantic cowboy hat with real Furby band/blue velour tracksuit top combo on Day One.
Fun Side Note: I defy you to watch that match and tell me what offense Baba hit that made Abdullah go “Welp, time to blade! The fans won’t buy it without color!” I’ve watched it a half-dozen times and all I see is no blood, followed by a rip in space and time and then all blood. It’s like the wrestling match version of “reel missing” from Planet Terror.
4. Dude Does Not Age
This match is from nearly a decade and a half after that Baba match, and standing next to Dusty and Terry Funk, Abdullah looks like Benjamin Button. Keep in mind that none of these guys have a lack of scar tissue on their foreheads, but Abdullah is the only one who can keep poker chips in his blade wounds.
Are we sure he is 77? Is The Butcher some sort of Bizzaro Lestat just hopping from federation to federation, taking paydays to add to his priceless art collection? I mean, I guess that it helps that Abdullah has always moved at a glacial pace, but Dream and Funk start the match taking down the Titanic. It also helps that this is a Dusty Rhodes match that features a screwy finish, so maybe this is from 1983 and we’re all just slowly losing our eyesight. (I have to get fitted for glasses this year. Sigh.)
Fun Side Note: I miss Dusty Rhodes every single day and him not being around to see what NXT has become and what NXT graduates are doing on the main roster breaks my heart. He had so much more to give. Just imagine what Dusty could do in a Broken Universe? Look at this absolute gem of a “dark hallway promo.”
5. You Do Not Want To Piss This Man Off
My man Abby was not only feared because of the pain he could dish out and could take, but also because he wasn’t afraid to go out there and tear down the house if he felt like you short-changed him.
You can watch the match in question on the WWE Network, or you can click on that Manny Fernandez link all the way at the top if you ever wanted to watch a match inside Niagara Falls, but my favorite part of this interview is Manny Fernandez laughing about the suplex spot that Abdullah called himself to send everyone home early from the Omni. You can go online and find a dozen videos of people slamming Andre before Hogan did it, but I’m actually racking my brain trying to think if I had ever seen anyone take Sudanese Show up and over.
Fun Side Note: I could listen to Manny Fernandez read the phone book but the visual image of him trying to calm down Abdullah enough that he could pay attention in the ring and then laugh about getting the fork stuck in his chin is just straight up gold.
6. Honestly Though, Is Abdullah Immortal?
This is Abdullah having a match in 1973 that looks no demonstrably different than the match from 2003. That’s forty years of a dude jabbing metal into his face and shrugging it off. That’s Logan type shit. That’s Highlander lore. Can Bob Costas and Abdullah only have a conversation if they’re on holy ground?
Fun Side Note: I don’t tell anyone when my birthday is, because I don’t like celebrating it for multiple reasons. It appears that this match took place on my birthday and this is a great test to see if any of my friends who try to figure out the date every year even read these articles. This is a nice Easter egg for a column, yeah?
7. C’mon Baby, I Know You’re Here For The Gore
Finally, a mini-celebration of what Abdullah was most known for: blood, and lots of it. This last section isn’t for the squeamish, obviously. The above video was posted on January 14th, 2016. Let that sink in for a second.
Fun Side Note: Check out this bonus video from 1990 with Zeus, of all people. Apparently this feud with a fictional character from film was so hot it started on the floor and with fan-thrown garbage. Who woulda thunk it?
And the entire film Hoero Tekken aka Roaring Fire, Abdullah from the Clan McCloud co-stars in with Hiroyuki Sanada, because why the hell not?
Or Butcher and Kamala Vs. Stan Hansen and Giant Baba in 1995, because, Jesus Christ on a cracker, these two can’t lace them up without wanting a piece of each other.
Happy Birthday, Abdullah The Butcher. Here’s to another 77 years, you everlasting deathless legend, you. Please don’t stab me with cutlery.