With less than a week until the induction ceremony this Saturday (April 6) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the announcement from WWE and Sports Illustrated that Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake will join the class closes the book on an interesting class of honorees.
Beefcake, who’s real name is Ed Leslie, wasn’t a heavily decorated wrestler during his WWE or WCW runs, but he was a staple of big programs from the early days of WrestleMania. He and Greg Valentine lost the tag titles (the only belt The Barber held in the then-WWF) at WrestleMania II, feuded with fellow 2019 inductee The Honky Tonk Man in a long Intercontinental championship rivalry which built to Jimmy Hart getting a haircut at WrestleMania IV, and became the first man to pin Mr. Perfect on PPV at WrestleMania VI.
After two years off when a parasailing accident fractured his skull and required over 100 plates for facial reconstruction, Beefcake returned to again work for Vince McMahon. Highlights of that 90s stint included hosting the famous segment which featured the famous “Barbershop Window” break-up of The Rockers, and a feud with Ted DiBiase’s Money Inc.
When he jumped to WCW in 1994, Beefcake was a frequent foil of his friend since childhood, Hulk Hogan, win stories which included switching up his gimmick to The Butcher and joining Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom. His time on television ended in the Attitude Era while protecting Hollywood Hogan as The Disciple.
Now 61 years old, Leslie still does appearances and has wrestled on the indies as recently as 2016. He told SI:
“This is the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of work. I’m grateful to the WWE, and I cannot wait for the tremendous honor. I’m filled with amazing joy and happiness to have touched so many lives. My 41 years in the ring were an honor and a privilege, and I’m so happy to be joining the WWE Hall of Fame.”
After some controversy about the length of past ceremonies, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how this year’s version of the Hall of Fame show will look. No inductors for the class have been revealed yet, but if those remain a component of the event, Hogan could be a candidate to introduce Leslie. The friends were estranged for a time, but are said to have reconciled in the past couple years, and it’s been reported the Hulkster will be representing WWE in the New York/New Jersey area this week.
Regardless, congratulations to Beefcake. He joins HTM, D-Generation X, Harlem Heat, The Hart Foundation, Torrie Wilson and Warrior Award winner Sue Aitchison in the 2019 class.