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Bangers a smash
Eccentric, yes, but WWF tag team caught up in fun



Saturday, October 18, 1997

Ottawa Sun editor Rick Gibbons bangs heads with The Headbangers.
-- Derek Ruttan, Ottawa Sun
By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun
  The Headbangers just want to be themselves.

If wearing a little black shadow under their eyes, piercing rings through strategic points of their bodies and splashing tattoos in a non-conformist sort of way over as much bare skin as possible seems a little out of the ordinary, I'm certainly not about to argue.

After all, these Headbangers weigh some 250 lbs. each. Sitting across from me in my tiny cubicle of an office yesterday, they could have quickly flicked out my lights, erasing whatever brain cells are left.

The Headbangers can afford to be a little eccentric and obscene. They're stars of the World Wrestling Federation, a dynamic tag team with plenty of charisma and talent to go with it.

Equally comfortable as fan favorites or heels, they make no apologies for their behavior in and out of the ring, ready to storm into the Corel Centre for the Nov. 10 RAW is WAR show, an extravaganza that will be broadcast live throughout North America.

Meet Mosh and Thrasher -- New Jersey boys, employees of the WWF for nearly a year now, together as soul mates and tag team partners for 41/2 years.

"I don't really consider this a gimmick," Mosh said. "It's about individualism. What's wrong with wearing earrings, getting pierced and doing what we want to do?

"Why not listen to Marilyn Manson or White Zombie, or go into the mosh pit? Why, if you're not hurting anyone, is there anything wrong with that?"

While many pro wrestlers are thrown into a situation where they live out secret lives in the ring --veiled by a mask or behind plenty of face paint -- the Headbangers are different. They are what they are. Love 'em or leave 'em.

"We're just about having a good time," Thrasher said. "Everybody is so caught up in looking a certain way, they don't do certain things. That's not us. We're normal people. We just have weird jobs."

Both are still youngsters in the wrestling trade; Thrasher is 28 and Mosh is 26. Both believe they have plenty to offer, observing from ring technicians like Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart. They won the coveted tag-team championship, before dropping the belts to the Godwinns, who in turn lost the titles to the Legion of Doom.

"I've got a teaching degree, I've had real jobs," Mosh said. "But it's nothing like this."

"It's like going to a rock concert and hearing your favorite song," Thrasher added. "It's like that for us, performing in the ring and hearing the fans."

They began their partnership as the Spiders. After taking on the Headbangers moniker, they also did a short stint as the Sisters of Love, a controversial nun gimmick that was quickly deep-sixed.

The WWF is currently building on an American-Canadian feud, pitting world champion Bret Hart and his clan against the U.S. wrestlers.

In an ironic twist, the Headbangers don't dispute the truth to Hart's statements that the U.S. breeds violence and makes heroes out of bad characters.

"That's what pi--es the American people off. Everything Bret Hart says is true. He talks about violence and he talks about slavery," Thrasher said. "People don't want to admit it's the truth."

And while wrestling is without a doubt contrived to some point, it's now accepted for what it is -- sports entertainment. There's little doubting these guys are terrific athletes with incredible stamina. They're also supreme performers, delivering monologues that should warrant Emmy consideration.

"For anyone who thinks this is fake, I'd suggest they try it for a week," said Mosh, edging ever so close, ready to tear my arm out of its socket for even a slight hint of insubordination in my tone of voice. "They could see how it is ... see what it's like to jump off the top rope, 15 feet into the air. Imagine being in the ring, having your breath totally knocked out of you, with 10 minutes left in the match. You can't quit."

Thrasher has felt the pain, for real. Once in a match in Japan, teamed with Terry Funk, he dislocated both elbows. Then there's the dislocated collarbone, both sides. Mosh has broken an ankle and a finger and chipped his teeth.

Both admit they love the money a pro wrestling career can bring. They say they'll know when it's time to hang up the trunks, covered up by their mosh skirts.

"When we leave, we want people to say, `yeah, the Legion of Doom was great, but the Headbangers were a little better,' " said Thrasher.

They're already leaving their legacy, making their statement their own way. And if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.