He is without question the most insane, volatile athlete in professional wrestling today. He has put his opponents and himself through tables because it thrills him. He has fought in barbed wire, and dominated. He is one of the greatest hardcore wrestlers of all time. He is a masochist... he is a lunatic... he is Sabu.
Sabu is one of the few second generation wrestlers to have competed in ECW. His uncle, the original Sheik, is one of the originators of the hardcore style of wrestling. He is the man who was once called "The Man with a Flame Thrower in his Hand," and he is Sabu's trainer. The Sheik trained Sabu in basic wrestling, shaping him to be a great mat wrestler. Sabu, now possessing the
basics of wrestling, went on to develop his incredible aerial maneuvers on his own. The stage was set for a future legend to make his debut.
Sabu burst onto the scene in 1990. He began fighting in independent federations around the country, with the likes of Chris Candido, Chris Benoit, Al Snow and the Tasmaniac. Sabu was widely acclaimed for being one the craziest man in the sport, and few people would challenge him to that right. He didn't invent the moonsault, but he certainly innovated it. Nowadays you see almost everyone use this move, but back at the beginning of the decade, it was a sight to behold. He also invented another trend: putting people through tables, a practice he still continues today. And, he had a post-match ceremony. Whether he won or lost, he would drag a table into the ring and moonsault it until it broke. Sometimes it broke on the first try. Sometimes it would take two or three tries. Sometimes he would have to assault it as much as seven times before it smashed. But it didn't matter to him.
Sabu continued to bounce around on the independent circuit, as well as getting some time in Japan, where he participated in brutal barbed wire matches, a special match which, at that time, was unheard of in the States. The pain he felt from the barbed wire remains embedded on his chest today. These scars stand for bravery, for courage, and for insanity. The pain only brought him pleasure, enforcing his masochistic tendencies. Many a times he returned to the wire, tearing, wrenching like a caged animal, but coming out victorious on many occasions.
In 1993, Sabu joined a small organization running out of Philadelphia called Eastern Championship Wrestling. ECW was, at the time, owned by the National Wrestling Alliance. The promotion made a say for the "hardcore" style of wrestling, so naturally, Sabu fitted in nicely. By this time, Sabu already had won a few titles in the NWA, and had several rivals who were participating in ECW. The fans welcomed him with open arms, and his wild style soon caught on. Many wrestlers starting using his maneuvers, putting people through tables, pushing themselves to the limit just to destroy their opponents. But Sabu always showed them that the Arabian Machine of Destruction is often imitated, never duplicated. Sabu was always ready for action, but he was so intense and vicious, he had to be restrained. He was wheeled in on a hand truck in chains and a muzzle, not unlike the character from "Silence of the Lambs," Hannibal Lecter. During his tenure there, he won the ECW World and TV titles. Ironically enough, his first ECW victory was against a man who would have a huge impact on him in the future: the Tasmaniac.
Sabu continued wrestling in independents, Japan, and ECW for the remainder of the year. In 1994, he, Shane Douglas and Terry Funk fought in a now legendary three-way dance. By the end of the night, Shane Douglas won the ECW World title. Several months later, he won the NWA title tournament, but threw down the belt, declaring the ECW title to be a world heavyweight title. The NWA commission let it be known that ECW could not recognize any other titles. Eastern Championship Wrestling soon closed down, only to reform under the new name of Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW was now ready to take it all the way to the extreme, and Sabu was more than willing to
head the hardcore wave of the future.
By now, Sabu was a mainstay in ECW, fighting matches regularly against 2 Cold Scorpio and Shane Douglas, never letting up. By this time, he had obtained the services of Paul E. Dangerously as a manager, and the giant 911 as an enforcer/bodyguard. But in 1994, tragedy struck. Sabu went into match against longtime rival, Chris Benoit. Benoit laid Sabu's knee across his, perhaps looking to go for a knee breaker, but instead he hoisted Sabu over his head. Sabu crashed down on the mat... head first. His neck was broken. His future was in question. His determination was unparalleled. By this time, Sabu had become accustomed to wrestling with injuries, whether it be a bruised arm or a broken neck, it didn't matter. This man once broke his knuckles and crazy glued them back together. So, maintaining his dedicated work ethic, Sabu continued to wrestle after the injury with a neck brace. His feud with Benoit intensified to new levels. To this day, these men still hate each other.
In 1995, he initiated a feud with the ECW Tag Team champions, the Public Enemy. Paul E. claimed that Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge stole the concept of putting people through tables from Sabu. Paul E. teamed Sabu up with his formal rival, the Tasmaniac to even the odds. This feud culminated into one of the oddest stipulated matches in ECW. A Double Tables match. The rules were simple: Both members of a team must be put through tables in order to achieve victory. Tasmaniac was put through a table, as was Johnny Grunge. The Tasmaniac managed to distract the referee while Rocco Rock hit Sabu with a senton through a table, but since the ref didn't see it, the match continued. Sabu and Tasmaniac laid out Rock on a table, and Sabu hit him with a somersault plancha, giving them the win and the ECW Tag Team titles. With Sabu, the addition of the Tasmaniac, and the looming presence of 911, Paul E.'s Dangerous Alliance looked to be better than ever.
However, all was not as rosy as it seemed. Dissension was imminent within the Alliance. Finally, in 1995, it all ended. The Tasmaniac and Sabu lost the belts to Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. The Tasmaniac, infuriated, threatened to leave unless Paul E. fired Sabu. On the night that Sabu and Tasmaniac were scheduled to fight in a three way dance against Benoit and Malenko and the Public Enemy, Sabu never showed up. Paul E., with 911 and the Tasmaniac along side him, publicly fired Sabu. Sabu was no longer in ECW. Later that night, Rick Steiner replaced Sabu in the three way dance, only to lose to the Public Enemy. Paul E. continued to manage 911, but Tasmaniac went his own way. He changed his appearance and style, laying the Tasmaniac to rest. It was time for Taz to shine.
During his time off from ECW, Sabu competed in Japan. During one show, a promoter from Atlanta named Eric Bischoff was in attendance and was impressed with this young man's ability and potential. He signed him to WCW. Sabu appeared on the first Monday Nitro ever. The fans of WCW welcomed him with open arms, but after the match was over, Bischoff and the other execs were quite displeased. Sabu had put Alex Wright through a table after the match, and this greatly angered the execs. They told Sabu "no more tables." Sabu obliged... for a little while. He fought two more matches against Mr. JL (Jerry Lynn), one of which at Halloween Havoc. Sabu's last match was against the Disco Inferno. Sabu was victorious as he had been with his previous matches, and again, he attempted to put his opponent through a table. Sabu launched himself through the table, staggered to his feet, and walked back to the locker room and out of WCW. Sabu was soon released from his WCW contract.
Fast forward to November 1995. Much has changed in ECW.
Underdog Mikey Whipwreck had defeated the Sandman for the World
Heavyweight title, Steve Austin was making headlines around the organization, Tommy Dreamer was still feuding with the Raven, and Paul E. was about to set Philly on it's ears. At November to Remember 1995, Paul E. dimmed the lights, and Sabu came out to the ring. The fans went crazy, chanting "Welcome back! Welcome back!" Sabu went on to defeat "The Shaw" Hack Meyers later that night, using the Atomic Arabian Facebuster for the first time in ECW history.
In the same night, Sabu's former partner, Taz, took a turn for the worse. During a special match between ECW commissioner Tod Gordon and referee Bill Alfonso, Taz acted as special guest referee, and attacked Gordon, aligning himself with Fonzie. It seems a little more than a coincidence that in the same night Sabu returned, Taz turned on ECW. What ensued for over a year thereafter was a game of cat and mouse between Sabu and Taz.
As 1996 began, Sabu continued his winning ways in ECW. But early on, he had trouble. In one of the most memorable matches of 1996, Sabu took on newcomer Rob Van Dam, formerly known as Robbie in WCW, and Rob Zakowski in independent federations. The match was fast and furious, both men took to the ropes and impressed the fans. Finally Sabu came out on top. When he offered Van Dam a handshake, he was rejected. This began a long feud that would stem into a partnership that has become the greatest alliance in ECW today. Van Dam and Sabu fought in a respect match in which the loser had to admit he respected the victor. Van Dam beat Sabu with a top rope fisherman's buster, but when Sabu offered his hand, Van Dam again shunned him and insulted him. Van Dam left the ring to meet up with Taz and Bill Alfonso, while Sabu collapsed in the ring. Taz revealed the true severity of Sabu's neck injury to Van Dam. What followed was a string of memorable matches, including Hardcore Heaven 1996 in which, despite the top rope breaking, both men took to the air with considerable ease. Then a stretcher match. Then... a partnership. Van Dam signed a dream partner match against Doug Furnas. Furnas chose long time tag team partner Dan Kroffat. Van Dam chose Sabu. The two actually worked well as a team, and formed a sold partnership.
At the November to Remember 1996, it all came to a head. During a three way dance for the tag team titles, Taz interfered, slapping the Tazmission on Rob Van Dam, leaving Sabu clear for Total Elimination. Later on in the night, Taz choked out Tod Gordon and ECW head Paul E. Then the lights went out, and when they come back on, Sabu is in the ring. There was a tense moment between the two. They charged, the lights went out, and then they were gone.
As the weeks went by, the situation just grew more volatile. Finally the match was signed. On April 13, 1997, Sabu and Taz met for the first time in ECW at the first ever ECW pay per view, Barely Legal.
Sabu, of course, took to the air. Taz, likewise, stayed focused on the mat. Finally, Taz came out on top, but by the skin of his teeth. After the match, Taz proclaimed his respect for Sabu, there was a handshake, an embrace, and a sneak attack by Rob Van Dam. Van Dam convinced Sabu to see things his way, and both joined Bill Alfonso, who had abandoned Taz.
Despite loss at Barely Legal, Sabu managed to overcome adversity. He defeated Taz at Wrestlepalooza, something no one had been able to do for over a year. He then aligned himself with Jerry Lawler and Rob Van Dam in an anti-ECW campaign. But these were small compared to what was to come. Shortly before Hardcore Heaven 1997, Sabu took on Terry Funk in, what has become the most extreme match up in ECW history: Sabu's first American barbed wire match. Sabu took everything Funk had, including being crotched on the wire, having his face ran through it, being whipped with it, and receiving a gash so deep in his left bicep, doctors said they could see the muscle.
Sabu persevered, though, attacking Funk with wire cutters, wrapping him up in barbed wire, and, finally, wrapping barbed wire around his own frame and hitting Funk with a Barbed Wire Arabian Facebuster through a table. The two men crawled back into the ring, entangled in the wire. Sabu managed to get Funk's shoulders on the mat, and he was crowned ECW World Heavyweight champion.
After the match, ECW Damage Control was rushed into the ring to cut the two men free of the barbed wire. When they told Sabu they were going to take him to the hospital, he replied, "No, just get me out of this and I'll be fine...I'll be fine."
Sabu's glory, however, was short-lived. At Hardcore Heaven 1997, Sabu, Terry Funk and Shane Douglas got it on again, in a match that paid tribute to the night Douglas won the original ECW World title, now known as "The Night the Line was Crossed." Sabu was eliminated early on, due to interference from the Sandman. The two then became embroiled in a bitter feud that saw Sabu rip a page out of his uncle's book by throwing fire at the Sandman. The stage was now set for an incredible feud of hardcore warriors.
Sabu went on to defeat the Sandman in a Tables and Ladders match at November to Remember 1997 with an Arabian Facebuster with a ladder. Sandman attained a measure of revenge at House Party 98 in a Stairway to Hell Match (several lengths of barbed wire were hung from the ceiling, and a ladder was in the ring to either be used as a weapon, or a means to get the wire). Sabu shot back though, pinning the Sandman in a Dueling Canes match at Living Dangerously.
At the ECW's 5th pay-per-view, Wrestlepalooza '98, Sabu was scheduled to have a TV Title Match against Bam Bam Bigelow. But before the pay-per-view Sabu's tag team partner, Rob Van Dam, got a shot at Bam Bam Bigelow's TV Title. Rob Van Dam was supposed to "wear down" Bam Bam Bigelow for Sabu. But with help from Sabu, Rob Van Dam got the win over Bam Bam Bigelow and won the ECW TV Title. Paul Heyman than turn the TV Title Match at Wrestlepalooza '98 into, Sabu versus Rob Van Dam. The only thing that would keep Sabu and Rob Van Dam together as a tag team was manager Bill Alfonso. At Wrestlepalooza '98, the two tag team partners fought to a grueling 30-minute time-limit draw. Rob Van Dam went on to retain the TV Title.
Sabu teamed up with Chris Candido to take on Rob Van Dam and Lance Storm in a tag-team match at Matter of Respect '98. Towards the end of the match Sabu and Rob Van Dam began to work together and began to beat on the ECW Tag-Team Champions. Sabu and Rob Van Dam than raised the ECW TV Title up together and this let everybody know that Team Alfonso lives!
Sabu and Rob Van Dam challenged Chris Candido and Lance Storm to a Tag-Team Title Match at one of the next ECW Arena shows. At the end, Sabu and Rob Van Dam planted Candido and Storm through a table with a Double Flying LegDrop! Sabu covered Candido and got the win. Sabu and Rob Van Dam won the ECW Tag-Team titles (Sabu's second ECW Tag Title reign).
At ECW's 6th pay-per-view, HeatWave '98, Sabu and Rob Van Dam went defended their Tag Titles against Japanese superstars, Hayabusa and Hakushi. As expected, it was a fast paced entertaining high flying match up. Sabu and Rob Van Dam drove Hayabusa and Hakushi through a table with a Double Flying LegDrop and got the win. Sabu and Rob Van Dam successfully defended their titles.
Victory is his destiny. Violence is his legacy. This man IS the extreme. He has proved it time and time again. He knows no fear. He enjoys pain. He will not stop until he has won. He is a homicidal, suicidal, genocidal human machine of destruction. Whether it be barbed wire, tables, ladders, chairs, or flames, he will fight through it to gain victory. Sabu is more than an athlete... he is a phenomenon.