The United States in the early 1980s was a wet fever dream of money, drugs and good, old-fashioned American sunny optimism. Reagan was in office. We had beat the Russians in hockey at the Olympics. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial had made it home.
Steve Keirn and Stan Lane were hip to the zeitgeist in America, and proceeded to invent and popularize the now standard-issue gimmick of “Fun-Loving Pretty Boys” in the form of The Fabulous Ones. The gimmick went on to be utilized by such legendary wrestling talent as The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, The Rockers (with some dude named Shawn Michaels), The Fantastics, The Dynamic Dudes, and The Thrillseekers.
In the 1980s, WWE had “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling,” but the territories had The Fabulous Ones.
I mean, just look at the perfect early-1980s world-class filmmaking right there. Shot by Jim Cornette in Jerry Jarrett’s house, this clearly MTV-inspired music video to announce The Fabulous Ones’ arrival in the Continental Wrestling Territory and get them over with the crowd was one of the first of its kind. Here at With Spandex, we’re constantly giving love to WWE’s post-production crew (and deservedly so), but you have to remember that in 1982 video had just very recently killed the radio star, and videos like this were brand new to wrestling television.
A few highlights for me:
- Jim Cornette is obviously a huge Luchino Visconti fan, because this thing has more zoom shots than all of Death In Venice. More shots of wrestlers holding wine glasses and being very still, please.
- The part at the end where they are clearly in the same room but changing into their gear at different times features some jump-cut editing genius that would make Godard weep.
- It’s ironic that Nightchurch’s Daniel L. Emmons is a great photographer, a funny comedian and a dead ringer for Sweet Stan Lane. It’s like this video became sentient and moved to Los Angeles.
First honorable mention goes to the special window this little time capsule affords us by giving us an unfiltered look into what a nouveau-riche wrestling promoter’s interior design choices were in the 1980s. Johnny Depp’s house in Blow was less ostentatious, and he played a drug kingpin.
Second honorable mention goes to the synchronized dance at the end that looks like two male strippers tried to record a ZZ Top parody birthday greeting and ended up looking like the dudes from “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”
The boys were given an immediate push by Jarrett, who even solicited the blessing of “Fabulous” Jackie Fargo himself for an extra rub.
Here’s another classic Fabulous Ones vignette but featuring their signature entrance music, Billy Squier’s “Everybody Wants You” — because in the 1980s you could just tape a song off the radio onto a boombox for your entrance music, and Jim Johnston was a 22-year-old youth not yet crushing wrestler entrance themes on the reg.
More highlights from me:
- Zooms! Zooms! Zooms! Did Corny shoot this bad boy as well?
- I love how the opening of this video manages to simultaneously combine the music videos for Peter Gabriel’s “Shock The Monkey,” Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra,” and the episode of The Simpsons where they go to Japan and watch the show that gives everyone seizures.
- I will never, ever NOT be a mark for synchronized pointing. EVER.
Honorable mention goes to the moment above, where it appears that Steve and Stan have captured a bird in their grasp, but didn’t plan any farther than that. I’ve looked at this screen grab for four minutes straight. Please comment below and tell me what you think they possibly could have thought they were doing here.
Here’s one where they took a second shot at that ZZ Top parody greeting card video and went straight for the jugular by straight-up using “Sharp Dressed Man” as their entrance theme.
- The title of that YouTube link is “The Most Fabulous Music Video Of All-Time!” I cannot disagree.
- I’ve spent two hours now watching Steve and Stan with their shirts off, but somehow the jarring imagery of them appearing and disappearing in their underwear and unbuttoned dress shirts in Jerry Jarrett’s bathroom is extremely unsettling.
- “What if we got the ZZ Top car but *before* the paint job? Like, just a flat primer paint job we shoot under the dimmest street lights in the continental United States?”
- Stan Lane teleporting into the bedroom to point at his top hat on a courtesy dressing screen like the most handsome segment of Brian Stack’s “Frankenstein Wastes A Minute of Our Time” that NBC ever aired on television.
- Forward thinking early adopter of energy conservation Steve Keirn making a point to stop and turn off the bedroom light in his mansion before leaving for a sophisticated night of revelry with his boon companion.
- The incredibly rare and elusive “Nine Synchronized Finger Points In A Row” followed by the “Double Dissolve.” The Fabulous Ones disappeared in rural areas more times than f’ing Bigfoot.
- They reappear almost immediately, but sans finery, and dressed like either the sacrificial lambs in The Bunkhouse Stampede … or literally every football player I grew up with in High Point, NC.
- The flawless logic and physics behind our heroines dismissing The Fabulous Ones when they are in blue jeans and shirtless, but immediately regaining interest in Steve and Stan now that they have re-donned tuxedos inside of a stretch limousine with tinted windows. I swear to god this is like watching a sexy version of the Zapruder film.
- The girls not recognizing our blue-jean-clad heroes once more, and this turning into the old SNL Hanks and Lovitz bit about the two jerks who can’t get a date. But with more zooms.
- When The Fabulous Ones simultaneously rise through the sunroof of the limousine as it creeps away from the camera for the dramatic finish, I for some reason thought of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and then watched this video while it played. I highly recommend you do NOT do that under any circumstances.
Just in case you fell for the gimmick and thought they were just another pretty face, The Fabulous ones could go, man. Here they are main eventing against The Road Warriors for the AWA Tag Team Championships.
If you thought I included this particular link because The Road Warriors use Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” as their theme song, a shirtless Baron Von Raschke in suspenders and bow tie with a referee that looked like a swole Terry Jacks, you would be correct on all counts, brother. You had to be super over to be able to withstand the brightness of the sun which shone on Animal and Hawk at all times.
Also, The Road Warriors weren’t the greatest workers (when they bothered to sell in the first place), and whomever feuded with them always had to be legit workrate champions. I also included this link because the rumor was the Warriors were meant to drop the belt to Team Fabulous Claw, but went into business for themselves and changed Verne Gagne’s finish.
Here’s one last Fabulous Ones vignette for no other reasons than a Lance Russell cameo, random skeet shooting, egregious use of extreme close-up lip licking and a version of “Life at the Outpost” that sounds like Trey Parker wrote a song for The Fabulous Ones: Chippendale Nights.
If you thought this was easy, just look at The Thrillseekers attempt at this type of vignette. This is also filmed by Jim Cornette proving once again that captured lightning never strikes twice in the same bottle. I want Lance Storm and Henry Rollins to have a staring contest and wait for the sun to burn out. At the very least, give me a WWE Studios sequel of He Never Died with the Ideal Canadian reprising Old Man Rollins’ original role. I mean, they shoot all of this stuff in Vancouver anyway, eh?
My favorite part is where Lance Storm and Chris Jericho have some serious reservations about this yokel helicopter pilot who looks like a Smoky Mountain McKenzie brother. Moonshine is a Strange Brew after all.
So raise a glass of Martini and Rossi Asti Spumanti and toast The Fabulous Ones for nailing the gimmick that has continued to give so much to us wrestling fans, even now in the 21st Century.
I wonder whatever happened to that Shawn Michaels guy.