Earlier this week, WWE Hall of Famer, The Iron Sheik (real name Hossein Khosrow Vaziri), passed away. His family made the announcement on his social media account. He was 81 years old. or me personally, it felt like losing a family member.
As I wrote on my Instagram, I am a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Iran and what was then Russia (my mom is from Kiev) – seeing the tag team of the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff was the first time I saw what marketing folks now refer to as “representation” on television. There weren’t many other Iranians on TV and certainly none that team with a Russian person.
Even though they were heels, my family would cheer them as if they were the home team and we would all laugh at the singing of the Russian National Anthem and the Iron Sheik’s line of “Russia number 1, Iran number 1. America chhhaaatpooo.” One day, way past his prime, Sheiky baby was doing a signing at a local street fair in my neighborhood. My dad rushed home to tell me that the Sheik was in our neighborhood! My dad and Sheik spoke some Farsi to each other and then we took the picture above. I got to meet Sheiky baby many years later and it was such a wild trip. But I’m so glad they existed because they helped me feel a bit seen as a kid.
Many years later, the Sheik had a viral resurrgence online saying outlandish things in shoot interviews, and all of the sudden, he's getting booked on big time talk shows like the Howard Stern Show. I was even able to get a few minutes with the Sheik to roast some rock stars:
I hope Sheiky baby is at peace, wherever he may be.
A lot of wrestlers posted tributes to the Sheik. Here are some standouts:
Hulk Hogan wrote: "Today, we honor the legacy of a wrestling icon. Rest in peace, Iron Sheikh. 🙏🏼 The wrestling world has lost a true legend, and Sheikh's contributions to our industry will never be forgotten.I'll always cherish the battles we had in the ring. Our matches were intense, and our rivalry was legendary. We shared a bond that only fellow wrestlers can understand. Iron Sheikh's unique charisma, undeniable talent, and unforgettable personality made him an unforgettable figure in the hearts of wrestling fans worldwide. His legacy will continue to inspire generations of wrestlers to come. Rest in peace, Iron Sheikh. You will always be remembered as a true warrior of the ring."
"I love you, Sheik. I love you forever," Sgt. Slaughter told TMZ Sports. "He just had so much love for wrestling, not only the amateur style that he learned, that was his survival in Iran. Whether people know this or not, he loved you, he loved his fans. He just loved to perform and he loved children, he loved young children. But once he went through that locker room toward the ring, he was all business, he was The Iron Sheik. As I was, and as most are but he was exceptionally that way because he just loved the business that he was in."
Triple H wrote "The legend. An all-time great performer and WWE Hall of Famer who brought his character to life and transcended our business. My condolences to The Iron Sheik’s family, friends and fans."
Mick Foley wrote: "The wrestling world lost a true legend today, with the passing of Khosrow Vaziri, better known to fans across the globe as The Iron Sheik. Although I never got to know The Sheik well, I was fortunate to have been on hand for two of his most iconic matches - his WWE title victory over Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden on December 26, 1983 and his “Boot Camp Match” with Sgt Slaughter at MSG in August, 1984. I also had the honor of wrestling the iron sheik for the first and only time – on a tour of Dominica in 1987. Khosrow Vaziri was truly one of a kind. I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all those who loved him."
Ric Flair wrote "My Dear Friend Khosrow Vaziri!!! We Started Wrestling Together In 1972. Seems Like So Long Ago! We Crossed Paths So Many Times Over The Years & You Were Always So Entertaining. The Greatest Line You Ever Said To Me In 1972: “If I Had Your Hair, I Would Be With Elizabeth Taylor!” Rest In Peace My Friend. Be As Entertaining To God As You Were To All Of Us! 🙏🏻"
Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, posted a very touching tribute saying "
“We lost a pro wrestling legend today, The Iron Sheik, and I just want to say, well, a few things. Most importantly, I want to send my love and my support, my strength, my light, my mana, and my condolences to The Iron Sheik’s family, who I consider ohana. They are family of ours too as well. As I think a few of you may know, I grew up calling The Iron Sheik ‘Uncle Sheiky.’ And when my dad and The Iron Sheik used to wrestle together not only in the WWE, but also before that, when we were living in the Carolinas in North Carolina, and my dad and Uncle Sheiky were wrestling together there for the National Wrestling Alliance, the NWA, Uncle Sheiky would come over to the house, and his wife would babysit me. And I was about eight years old at that time, and I was a pain in the ass even then. So God bless that woman, his wife, Caryl, thank you, Caryl, for putting up with all my s*** as a kid. I hope you guys are staying strong, and again, I’m so sorry to hear the news. I will say this, as someone who has professional wrestling in his blood, had it not been for the world of professional wrestling, I would not have the life that I have today because it was everything. And my grandfather was in pro wrestling, my dad, my cousins, my grandmother, everybody, you name it. So, as a man who loves professional wrestling, I want to take a moment to acknowledge The Iron Sheik and all of his accomplishments."
Sheik is survived by his wife of 46 years, Caryl Vaziri, three children—Marissa, Tanya, and Nikki—son-in-law Eddie, and five grandchildren and two nephews, all mentioned in the tribute on Twitter.
New Squared Circle Pit with Great Ultimate Warrior Stories
Sumerian Records Art Director Daniel McBride is Rob Pasbani's guest on Squared Circle Pit this week. He talks about growing up a wrestling fan in New Mexico, how he got into it, how it inspired him, his heavy metal journey and we spend a lot of time talking about the Ultimate Warrior. McBride worked with Warrior when Warrior made an appearance on a Winds of Plague track and shares the story of meeting his idol in person. Daniel talks about attending Smackdowns live, graphic design and more fun topics.
WHAT’S ON TV THIS WEEKEND?
WWE Smackdown on Friday at 8pm has this lineup:
- Jey Uso makes his choice
- Men’s Money in the Bank qualifying match: Santos Escobar vs. Mustafa Ali
- Men’s Money in the Bank qualifying match: Butch vs. Baron Corbin
- Women’s Money in the Bank qualifying match: Bayley vs. Michin
- Women’s Money in the Bank qualifying match: IYO SKY vs. Shotzi
- Women's Championship presentation with Asuka
Impact will host Against All Odds on Impact Plus, Fite TV and Impact’s Youtube:
- Impact World Champion Steve Maclin defends against Alex Shelley
- 8-4-1 match for Impact World title shot: Nick Aldis, Bully Ray, Jonathan Gresham, Heath, Moose, “Speedball” Mike Bailey, Rich Swann, and PCO
- X-Division Champion Trey Miguel defends against Chris Sabin
- Dog collar match: Masha Slamovich vs. Killer Kelly
- Impact Tag Team Champions Chris Bey & Ace Austin defend against The Good Hands (John Skyler & Jason Hotch)
- Deonna Purrazzo & Trinity vs. Gisele Shaw & Savannah Evans
- Eddie Edwards vs. Frankie Kazarian
- Digital Media Champion Joe Hendry defends against Dirty Dango
- Ohio Street Fight: oVe (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist & Madman Fulton) vs. The Design (Deaner, Kon & Angels)
AEW Rampage is tonight at 10pm on TNT:
- Lucha Brothers & Bandido vs. Ethan Page, Lee Moriarty & Big Bill
- Powerhouse Hobbs in action
- The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn vs. Spanish Announce Project (Serpentico, Luther & Angelico)
- Britt Baker vs. Skye Blue vs. Mercedes Martinez vs. Nyla Rose in a four-way no. 1 contender's match for an AEW Women's title shot
More Wrestling News
The main event of the first episode of AEW Collision on TNT next Saturday, June 17th has been announced. It will be CM Punk teaming with FTR to take on the team of Jay White, Juice Robinson, and Samoa Joe.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting the planned Summerslam match between Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes has a rumored stipulation of a bull rope match.
Fightful reported on a rumor that CM Punk vs. Kenta is being talked about for Forbidden Door. Kenta responded to the rumors, perhaps facitiously, saying "Oh hell no, Tell Tony Khan, GIVE ME THE BAG."
Deadline Hollywood reports that Young Rock on NBC has been canceled. NBC did the show no favors last season by pitting it head-to-head with Smackdown.
The former Billie Kay, Jessica McKay, announced she is pregnant.
AEW's Santana posted a teaser about his pending return to AEW, using the hashtag #TheRICANstruction. It's notable that Ortiz is not featured in the videos. The two were rumored to have a falling out last year.