Wrestling With Chutzpah: The Top 8 Jews In Professional Wrestling
It's Hanukkah, or so I'm told by my Jewish friends. I haven't seen anything on TV about it, until last week when CM Punk wore a Colt Cabana shirt, which was a helpful reminder.
So I thought it would be fun to go through and showcase the prominent Jewish athletes and professionals in Sports Entertainment.
Some are still working in the business, others have retired.
Ranking them only by importance to the business and what they accomplished while working in the ring. It isn't a list of who was the most Jewish. That'd be an awkward list, I mean how would I be able to gauge that? And if I did, I think Barry Horowitz would be at the top of the list.
Below are just some of the wrestlers and talents that couldn't quite crack the top 8.
When Barry went from jobber to superstar all I could recall was that his trunks had a Star of David on them. He was a moderate wrestler, nothing to special about him, but his enthusiasm exuded and was very contagious.
May not be a legend but he certainly was a joy to watch, especially when his entrance music was a rock version of the Jewish folk song "Have Nagila."
Raven (Real Name: Scott Anthony Levy)
My first memory of Raven was his Johnny Polo tenure in the early 90's in the WWF. He was the manager for the Quebecers and also introduced the world to Adam Bomb. But we can't blame him for that.
He has certainly done a great deal for the sport since then, being a major player in ECW in a feud with Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, to starting Raven's flock and becoming US champion. He went on to WWF shortly after and reinvigorated the hardcore scene.
He has been currently working the indy scene and TNA. Raven is also the first professional wrestler to hold championships in each of the modern major American promotions. (WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA).
Brian Pillman - The Loose Cannon
Brian Pillman has an NFL background before stepping foot into a ring, he had a great tag team with future hall of famer, Steve Austin. He would gain a lot of attention due to his great agility and in ring ability.
After an injury from a car accident in 1996 his talents were limited in the ring, but he still provided great promos during his tenure in WWF until his untimely death.
Diamond Dallas Page
"Self High Five" are the three words that started Page Joseph Falkenberg Jr. or known as Diamond Dallas Page's entrance music.
His first time on on wrestling television, DDP drove Rhythm and Blues to the ring at Wrestlemania VI in his pink Cadillac.
He would later go to be a manager in WCW for a number of months before finally getting in the ring. He would form a faction, The Diamond Mine, which included other people on this list (Kevin Nash and Raven for a short time), before finally breaking out on his own in 1994 as a singles competitor.
During the nWo heyday, DDP was the only major wrestler never to join up with them and stayed away until the end of WCW.
After WWE bought WCW, DDP started a dismal feud with the Undertaker that is better left unmentioned.
He ended up winning the European title and the WWF Tag titles with Kanyon.
He is currently retired from wrestling but stars in small-budget films and is a motivational speaker.
Kevin Scott Nash has had a fruitful, controversial, and most of all successful career as a professional wrestler. He has been around for years, from his early days in WCW to getting his big break as HBK's bodyguard.
After the eventual break up he jumped straight to the main event scene and won the WWE championship. He held the title through 1995, one of the WWF's worst years. Now it isn't entirely his fault, he didn't exactly have the best heels to go against him, like King Mabel, seriously?
After leaving WWF and going to WCW, Kevin Nash was a part of the biggest angle in the '90s, aligning with his friend Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan forming the nWo. He maintained his stature in WCW until it eventually was bought out by Vince McMahon.
He later reformed the nWo in WWE, but not to the same level of success, and he developed a reputation of being injury prone. He has a moderately successful career in WWE later feuding with Triple H and Jericho.
He then went to TNA and formed the Main Event Mafia with other superstars from WWE and WCW. He may have retired, but we will never know...
No I am not joking, Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman, loved wrestling. He always dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler and through his notoriety from his television and comedy career he was able to make his dream come true.
He started wrestling local women in the area and would soundly beat them every night. He would dub himself the "Inter Gender Champion." Eventually his 'despicable' ways would catch up with him and he would start a feud with local hero and future Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler.
His feud with Lawler would get mainstream attention and publicity on the sport he loved. News outlets around the nation would cover this story. When Kaufman was injured during an altercation with Jerry, they played up the injuries to make it seem worse than it was.
Having fans all over by into the feud thinking it was real. It hit its apex when Kaufman, in a neck brace, and Lawler appeared on David Letterman. The angle was a work but when Lawler hit Kaufman people were stunned and brought a whole new dynamic to the feud.
The feud ended but Kaufman's legacy lives on as a man who loved the business and wanted to perform in front of thousands of people. It is reported that Kaufman never cashed any of the checks from the promoters during his wrestling career. He just did it for the love of the sport.
Glenn Jacobs in one of the most successful big men in the business. Commonly known as Kane to millions of fans across the globe, Kane is one of the most agile and technically sound wrestlers in the ring today.
He often goes to the top rope to perform maneuvers while other men with his size would never dare climb the turnbuckle. I mean, look what happened to Sid Vicious.
He started in the WWE as Isaac Yankem DDS, and when that didn't work out, he showed up as fake Diesel. Another gimmick that didn't work. But when the Undertaker needed a brother, and Mr. Jacobs fit the mold perfectly.
Kane has been incredibly successful and he has won a number of titles in the process, including hardcore, tag and Intercontinental championships. Kane is currently at the peak of his career holding the World title for the Smackdown brand.
Kane is without question a future WWE Hall of Famer.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Randall Mario Poffo is one of the greats in professional wrestling. He is a multiple time world champion for both WCW and WWE. He is a former King of the Ring winner. His career is legendary and he has in inspired some of the best wrestlers working today.
He brought a level of credibility to the Intercontinental title that wasn't there before, and he wrestled in one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches ever, with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3. He had so much clout that he managed to bring his brother into the WWF as 'The Genius."
He was also the face and voice for Slim Jim for most of my childhood. I'll never forget that, and I'll also never forget that Slim Jim never made the same snapping noise it made for Savage. Still a lil' bitter about that.
He left the WWF in 1994 to join Hogan in WCW and was the victim of the infamous leg drop at Bash at the Bash that caused Hogan to turn on his fans and form the nWo.
He ended up putting out a rap album in 2003 called "BE A MAN" and it happens to be of one of the funniest and worst rap albums you'll ever hear.
Dean Malenko's birth name is Dean Simon, and he is a third-generation wrestler.
He traveled the world showcasing his talent. He is one of the most technically gifted wrestlers to ever step inside the squared circle and surrounded himself with the best in the business at the time.
He went from Japan, Mexico, to ECW, then was swooped up by WCW and helped the mid-card outshine the main eventers in every town every night. A
fter he and his friends, Benoit, Saturn, Guerrero, were held down consistently they asked for and received their release from the company and finally going to the WWE.
He had classic matches with Eddie Guerrero in ECW, had more classics with Ultimo Dragon and Chris Jericho in WCW, and had a couple classic matches for his short tenure as an active wrestler in WWE.
Dean Malenko is close to what a perfect mat technician should be and what other performers need to aspire to in order to achieve greatness. He may never of won the world title in either of the big two, but he is more respected than most of the former world champions who can't hold a candle to his abilities.
He is currently a WWE Road Agent and has been with the company since being released from WCW.
He recently suffered a mild heart attack, but has gone back to work with WWE.
William Scott Goldberg. Or commonly referred to as Bill Goldberg. Or just... GOLDBERG.
He was a monster born in WCW. The only home-grown talent that reached main event level during the Monday Night Wars. Goldberg was a beast. Not the best wrestler nor someone who loved the sport as much as others.
But he was immensely popular and fans loved him. He wasn't my favorite wrestler, nor the best. He was pretty bad on the mic and he injured Bret Hart to the point of retirement.
But he was immensely popular and WCW fans and other professional wrestling fans ate him up. I wouldn't call him an Austin rip off, they're characters are completely different. They're just two bald white dudes and that's where the major comparisons end.
Paul Heyman started his career working for PWI magazine and later becoming a manager on the indy and eventually moving to WCW where he managed such future legends like The Undertaker as Mean Mark Callous and Steve Austin.
Then in 1993 Heyman joined Eastern Championship Wrestling later changing it to Extreme Championship wrestling and completely changing the landscape of professional wrestling in the mid to late 90's.
He created and nurtured future stars for the big two including Jericho, Benoit, Malenko, and Guerrero. But most notably giving Steve Austin air time after he was fired from WCW, in turn that promo is a classic now.
But with Heyman and his ECW he devoted a huge cult following, the fans and wrestlers loved ECW and would not settle for anything less from the other two. Heyman may of been a mastermind as a booker and storyteller, but he did not have the skills to turn it into a successful business and it eventually went out of business in 2001.
He then went to WWE and became a broadcaster with Jim Ross and eventually the during the Invasion angle, he joined forces with Shane and Stephanie McMahon to form his ECW faction.
After that disaster of a storyline ended, Heyman returned to manage and help elevate newcomer Brock Lesnar. Heyman provided a mouthpiece that was valuable for the monster.
After his storyline with Brock ended, Paul ended up becoming the general manager for Smackdown and also head booker, establishing the Smackdown Six as future stars.
After a number of years, Vince McMahon saw the public clamoring for ECW again, so Heyman was put in charge to run an ECW One Night Stand PPV. It was a successful and the next year they repeated it with RVD vs John Cena for the WWE Championship.
The crowd in the ballroom was almost violently against Cena and for RVD. Eventually with McMahon's intervention ECW returned and died a horrible death. Almost as if they should of left well enough alone.
Paul has retired from the business for now. He has his HEYMAN HUSTLE but does not work for TNA or WWE at this time.