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Rob Ford, a Pro Wrestler In His Own Mind

Inebriated Rob Ford Video is Actually About Professional Wrestling

by Michael Romandel

Rob Ford has, in a way, become a kind of wrestling character.
Rob Ford has, in a way, become a kind of wrestling character.

Yesterday, on November 7, 2013 posted a video of Rob Ford talking about professional wrestling while appearing drunk or high on some substance. Ford stated later that he was "very, very inebriated at the time". The media seem to be having a field day with this footage, including commentators and callers on Newstalk 1010 seriously discussing whether or not he is actually uttering death threats in the video. However, its seems that all this commentary without the slightest understanding of what the video is about. To someone familiar with the genre of professional wrestling, the video is clearly about Rob Ford envisioning himself in a pro wrestling match against an unnamed opponent (Professional wrestling of course, being a fake performance art with amateur wrestling being a real Olympic sport). The news response to the video has also shown that the mainstream media in Toronto know absolutely nothing about professional wrestling despite often attempting to cover professional wrestling and Rob Ford. In a way, Rob Ford has become a kind of wrestling character at this point, as  shown by his arm wrestling match with Hulk Hogan earlier this year, where Hogan joked that he was going to beat Ford and take his job, as if the mayorship is a pro wrestling champion belt.

The video opens with “No holds barred” which is a sport metaphor often used for actual serious fighting, but in a pro wrestling context means that you are allowed to use chairs, you are allowed to go out of the ring for an unlimited amount of time and you aren’t confined to the normal “rules” of professional wrestling. He says : I need f--king 10 minutes to make sure he's dead. It'll be over in five minutes, brother...10 minutes.  This means he will need a full 15 minutes for the wrestling match which take different lengths depending on how dramatic they are.  Ford and shows a great deal of knowledge about professional wrestling by saying at the end of the video he will ‘I’ll call it’.  In wrestling to “call” the match, means he will be the one in charge of choreographing the match on the fly, whispering in the other guys ear while the wrestling is happening what the next move will be as the moves are decided live.  This is the kind of stuff only long-term wrestling fans who actually study professional wrestling ever figure out or understand. He also says “If I win, I will f-ing donate” which makes sense in the context of a match but not a real altercation, and “these kids are pros buddy”. The real reason the video is embarrassing is because it shows just how much of a huge wrestling nerd he is, as he seems to fantasize about having pro-wrestling matches while he is inebriated. He is also fantasizing wrestling moves during the video.

In any case, the new video of Rob Ford which has been interpreted as the mayor pretending to beat someone to death is basically him working out the details of some kind of fantasy professional wrestling match while ‘inebriated’, as he put it, and nothing more.  He is clearly not actually angry at anyone in any real sense, which is what many people seem to believe the video shows thus far.  This might be a failure to understand the culture of the inner suburbs of Toronto, where professional wrestling was big in the 1980s and 1990s, and where many men of a certain age would understand the new video to be about professional wrestling. 

Related to this new video in the Rob Ford scandal, The Iron Sheik, a professional wrestling legend from the 1980s, has challenged Rob Ford to an arm wrestling match.  Interestingly, the Iron Sheik knows crack cocaine addiction very well.  He struggled with this for many years and finally quit just a few years ago after an incident in Toronto in which he fell into a “drug and alcohol induced stupor” before a baseball card show he was supposed to appear at and suffered a minor heart attack. 

When Rob Ford won a staged arm wrestling match with Hulk Hogan last August, and The Iron Sheik was one of the first to comment on twitter afterward, criticizing Hogan for his loss.  It seems that Sheik wants to do what Hogan couldn’t do, and beat Ford at an arm wrestling match.  He also seems to be displeased with the Mayor, saying “the young people, the old people, they don’t respect him” in regard to Ford.  Sheik has come out in the past against Hogan for being hypocritical about drug use, especially in the 1980s when Hogan’s public persona was extremely clean and he was used by the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) to support just say no programs and campaigns.  Maybe he sees a similar problem with Ford.

Brutus “The Barber’ Beefcake, another former wrestling star, showed up at City Hall on Thursday. According to The Toronto Sun Brutus said “I just watched a video and (Ford) was completely out of his mind. He needs, help he needs an intervention…I am going to be his angel of mercy” before continuing in a more serious vein “I buried 25 of my best friends from drugs and alcohol and I’m trying to spread the word for people to get rid of that s---, get healthy, work out, get your mind and body together, and live a better life”.

We will have to wait and see where the professional wrestling side of this Ford scandal will go or whether anyone outside some men in bungalow basements and apartments in the inner suburbs will know it is even happening. Interestingly, in wrestling culture Toronto in particular is a city that has always been known to cheer for bad guys or ‘heels’ in wrestling at live events.  Rob Ford is definitely a kind of ‘heel’ in his persona as Mayor.  This may also explain some of his continued popularity in the inner suburbs with men of a certain age, as he really still connects with a certain group of largely working class men.


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