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Celebrating the labourers of pro wrestling
By BLAINE VAN DER GRIEND - SLAM! Wrestling


Call T.L. Hopper for your plumbing needs.

It's Labour Day, the one day of the year that celebrates people who work. And that may be of double importance for that list of professional wrestlers who seemed to be working through side jobs, while entertaining fans worldwide.

These include garbage men, police officers, teachers, doctors, and more. But perhaps the best example of the working class common man is "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

It's no secret that Rhodes grew up as the son of a plumber in Austin, Texas. In fact, that cat's been out of its bag for about 40 years now. Rhodes was the original people's champion, because he represented everyone who worked for a living, which included just about everybody who bought a ticket to hear him speak and watch him wrestle. He always spoke highly of the plumbing business, because it's what his father did and he was always proud that his father worked hard to put food on the table. And Rhodes seems to have had the same impact on his own sons, who have followed in his footsteps.

Speaking of plumbers, though, I'm sure that the WWE has T.L. Hopper's number on their speed dial, for emergency situations. Those mid '90s were certainly fun times weren't they?


When jail guards and Mounties collide, anything goes. Sun file photo
Hopper's number may be important enough to gain a spot on the speed dial, but not important enough to be included as an emergency number. That top spot is definitely reserved for 9-1-1; no, it's not Paul Heyman's henchman. Whenever someone needed to serve some hard time, the late Big Bossman was always just three digits away. In fact, he eventually got promoted to Mr. McMahon's head of security. Of course, if those pesky jailbirds got really out of hand, they might have had to answer to the business end of The Mountie's cattle prod. Surely, Jacques Rougeau Jr. always had the support of his fellow RCMP officers, even if there was a lawsuit that prevented him from portraying the character in Canada.

Before anyone lands themselves in the slammer, they should probably take a closer look at their bills and make sure that everything's paid, before Irwin R. Schyster (Mike Rotunda) of the Internal Revenue Service comes knocking at their door in the middle of the night. And if you're really unlucky, you might have some of your worldly possessions hauled away by the WWE's Repo Man, Barry Darsow.


Need a cleaning? asks Yankem.
There are some people on the current WWE roster that may not look fondly at their previous professions. Before Kane was setting the world on fire, he was drilling holes in unfortunate individuals' mouths as Jerry Lawler's dentist, Isaac Yankem. And I think it's safe to say that William Regal found nothing regal about being a real man's man. Not that there's anything wrong with either the construction business or the field of dentistry, but for these two, it was not their cup of tea.

All superstars past and present would always love to teach an opponent a wrestling lesson. But perhaps this kind of thing is best reserved for the educators of the business; and there have been quite a few. Shane Douglas experimented as a Dean of Students, before ever becoming the Franchise. Of course it's hard to call him a teacher, when none of his students were really willing to listen; except for maybe George Steele. Actually it seems like educator gimmicks have never really left wrestling. Before Douglas even became a student himself, the business was taught all of life's lessons by The Professor Roy Shire. And even now, we still have Matt Striker or Michelle McCool to educate us.

Perhaps it was the farmers of the business that planted the seeds for all these gimmicks. In the early days, there was Farmer Burns, and any number of Farmer Bills, Franks and more. The folks from the backwoods held a certain appeal, from L'il Abner to Haystack Calhoun, to Hillbilly Jim, who actually made overalls seem cool. But of course, it's almost as if all these farmers may have been connected in one way or another. Hillbilly frequently teamed with Uncle Elmer in the early to mid '80s. And then he managed a new team of pig farmers, Henry and Phineas Godwin, who later introduced their uncle Cletus to the mix; just ask T.L. Hopper for his number.

A lot of those farmers looked like they hadn't made too many trips to the barbershop. I suppose this is where Brutus Beefcake would offer his services.

Did Thurman "Sparky" Plugg refer to the hair plugs?

It could not be more evident by Hardcore Holly's name that this is a man who certainly lives life on the edge. And if you don't believe it, challenge him to a drag race, or at least his alterego Thurman "Sparky" Plugg.

Drag racing is certainly a highly dangerous activity, where you're basically taking your life into your own hands. And hopefully your body doesn't end up in The Undertaker's hands.

Well hopefully all fans of professional wrestling will look forward to going to work tomorrow. Just remember, there is no garbage collection today, so don't expect Duke "The Dumpster" Droese to be stopping by.

Blaine van der Griend hopes everyone has an enjoyable Labour Day!