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The Iron Sheik

WWE Legends
by yo go re

It's not many wrestlers who manage to be as attention-grabbing decades after their prime as they were when they were working.

Iron Sheik will always be remembered for ending Bob Backlund's nearly 6-year run as WWF Champion in December 1983 amid controversy. The reviled Iranian had injured Backlund during a televised endurance challenge using the Sheik's famed Persian clubs, and would take advantage just days later during a title match at Madison Square Garden. The Sheik trapped Backlund in his vaunted signature move, the Camel Clutch. Backlund, incapacitated and unable to escape the hold, refused to submit. The champion's manager, WWE Hall of Famer Arnold Skaaland, feared Backlund would suffer permanent injury and threw in the towel, which forever etched the Iron Sheik's name in history.

Did it? I never heard a word of that story before. If anything the Iron Sheik will always be a trivia footnote as the guy Hulk Hogan won the title from, be vaguely remembered for being half of the "evil foreigner" tagteam with Nikolai Volkoff or fueding with Sgt. Slaughter, and is today actually best known for being a crazy-awesome old man who will say anything about anybody.

Hossein Khosrow Vaziri was an amatuer wrestler and even tried out for the Olympics for his native Iran. As a pro he began as a face (good guy), but a promoter suggested he try his luck as a heel, so he grew a curly-tipped mustache, shaved his head and dubbed himself "The Great Hossein Arab." We don't know who sculpted this figure, but the likeness is exemplary!

In addition to the dead-on facial sculpt, the torso chosen is appropriate for Sheiky Baby. The guy is incredibly strong - he has a workout routine with "Persian Clubs" that has made him a legend in strongman circles - but he had a classic-style build, where he didn't have to worry about a looking like an anatomy model. So the figure doesn't duplicate his real-life paunch, but it does look stouter than many of the other figures.

Rather than typical wrestling gear, the Iron Sheik is wearing baggy pants and boots with a curled toe. The paint apps are crazy detailed: he has paisley patterns on the waist and thighs, and "IRAN" in big block letters down the outsides; his boots are two-tone red and green, and the attention to detail is so great that the laces and tongues are even different colors on each boot (right boot has a red tongue and red laces, left boot has green tongue and black laces); the boots also have camel and sword patterns painted on them. The paint isn't perfect - clearly someone was handling this guy before the paint had dried, judging by the fingerprints on his right leg - but overall this is a good presentation. It's not as bad as Sinestro's god-awful mess of a symbol. At a glance, it can look like just another piece of the pattern on the fabric.

The Iron Sheik's accessories are part of his ring-entrance gear: a black softgoods robe with gold trim, and a red kaffiyeh with a golden ekal. The robe is thin enough to look good on the figure, and the kaffiyeh is molded pvc so it can wrinkle and hang appropriately. He also has a black display stand with the WWE "attitude" logo (which doesn't make any sense, since he's a classic superstar) and a cardboard nametag to go on the front. Kind of lame.

We nearly forgot to mention the articulation! The Iron Sheik moves like the rest of Mattel's WWE Legends figures: very well. Seriously, if all you ever buy from Mattel are their DC figures, you'll be amazed that these are so good. He has joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists and hands, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, boots and ankles, which is enough to do the Persian Club exercise we showed you before - or, more importantly, to put other figures in the dreaded Camel Clutch!

Really, the only thing this figure is missing is the ability to spew profanity and threats of violence and rape. But that wasn't part of his character when he was wrestling, and this figure isn't meant to be latter-day, radio-guest Sheik. Do you have the respect? Buy this figure or he break your back!

-- 02/15/12

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