The Original Dream Team

The first time I heard the term "Dream Team" referenced it had nothing to do with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson going for Olympic Gold.

1992-dream-team-shirt

It was back in November, 1986. I'd just gone to the best birthday party ever. Sure there was the cake, presents and whatnot, but what set this party apart wasn't the activities, it was the goodie bags. Not only was there an Archie comic in there, but there was a pack of wrestling cards -- 1985 O-Pee-Chee WWF Pro Wrestling Stars 2. I was probably one of 14 kids in the world disappointed about getting a Hulk Hogan card (his "hulking up" routine was sooo fake).

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By the time I got home five minutes later the taste of the gum from the pack was already gone and I was squinting in the fall darkness to read the backs of the cards. The focus of the series was on Wrestlemania II: Hogan vs. Bundy in a steel cage, William "Refrigerator" Perry in a Battle Royal, George "The Animal" Steele looking for love with the beautiful Miss. Elizabeth. These matches all figured prominently in the O-Pee-Chee set as did one other.

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By the time I was opening the packs, it had been more than a year since Wrestlemania II. At the time wrestling for me was all about the British Bulldogs so those were the cards I was looking for. In this set their opponents were listed as the Dream Team: Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. The Bulldogs won the belts from the two at the second Wrestlemania and within a year or so the Dream Team had gone their separate ways. Yet they lived on for me with the fuzzy pictures and text on the backs of these cards.

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Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake would soon be one of my favourite wrestlers. He cut people's hair for real. Sure, most of the time it was a little snip, snip here and there but occasionally Lord Alfred Hayes would give his weekly news-style update on how The Barber hog wild on someone like "Outlaw" Ron Bass and shaved their heads. Now that was cool.

Brutus Beefcake wrestling repertoire doesn't stand out to me. I remember his anti-climactic finisher, the sleeper hold, and that's about it. But he was charismatic, carried hedge clippers and had a small resemblance to Murdoch from The A-Team. That was enough to make a fan out of that same kid who was once disgusted with him because he fought against the British Bulldogs.

Outside of the tag team belts Beefcake won as a member of the Dream Team, he never tasted any other WWF gold. However his friendship with Hulk Hogan landed him in a prominent role with the company in 1989. Beefcake and Hogan had an ongoing program with Randy Savage and Zeus, the bad guy in Hogan's feature film No Holds Barred.

Beefcake soon disappeared but not because he'd left the company. A parasailing accident almost cost Beefcake his life so he took some time off to recover. Upon his return Beefcake teamed with Hogan again at Wrestlemania IX to wrestle against "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase and IRS.

While with the WWF Beefcake was also frequently on the sidelines of other feuds as host of the post-Piper's Pit talk show segment The Barbershop. In the days before Monday Night Raw, wrestling broadcasts usually featured only one or two segments that offered any drama: the main event and the talk segment, which was normally a spot to launch a storyline or take an existing feud to the next level. Perhaps the most prominent of the Barbershop segments came when Shawn Michaels tossed his then tag-team partner Marty Jannety through a window, thus launching Michaels' run as one of the company's top singles champions.

Beefcake would cling on to his wrestling career joining Hogan in WCW to join the NWO where he hid behind a beard and sunglasses to be the Disciple. The only notable point of this phase in his career is that nothing notable came of it.

Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake recently reappeared but not in a wrestling ring. He's a part of the Donruss Americana II set where he's got an autograph and a costume card, not to mention the many other levels of parallels.

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The first time I saw the card I was a little shocked. Gone is the look of a wrestler whose first WWF gimmick was one of being a former stripper. Now, well, let's just say that time has caught up with him. The once beaming smile has been replaced by one that almost looks hollow. Judging by the garb that he's wearing and the fact that he's signed up for a this set shows that he's trying to hold onto a piece of the past, the glory days of sleeper holds, main events and garden shears.

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