Barry Darsow was a man of many faces during his pro wrestling career. He went by several monikers and portrayed various characters. But his most significant role in sports entertainment came as a member of Demolition, where he was known simply as Smash.
In a recent interview with James Romero for Wrestling Shoot Interviews, Darsow discussed leaving Jim Crockett Promotions to join WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation). While he said it was his dream to go to WWE, he enjoyed working for JCP until he was allegedly double-crossed on a payday.
“In my career, this was what everybody has taught me. That promoters are scum of the earth, they steal from you, they lie,” said Darsow, which is what he claims happened while working for promoter Jim Crockett.
In the mid-1980s, Darsow played Krusher Khruschev, a Russian sympathizer who aligned himself with former WWE Champion Ivan Koloff. Together, they were involved in a hot feud with one of JCP’s most popular tag teams, The Rock and Roll Express. One night, Darsow said that the booker, Dusty Rhodes, came to him and said that Darsow was out of the tag team angle. Instead, Darsow would wrestle Sam Houston as Nikita Koloff, a rising superstar within the Russian stable, would take his place with Ivan against the Rock and Rolls.
Darsow was upset but agreed to go along with it after he claimed that Rhodes said he would make the same money working with Houston as he would with the Express. Once he received his payoff a week later, which was considerably less than what his comrade Ivan had made, Darsow confronted Rhodes.
“I said, ‘Dusty, I was promised by you that I was going to make the same amount of money for sacrificing the match with the Rock and Roll Express to have the match with Sam Houston,’” said Darsow. “‘You promised me I was going to make the same amount of money. I got nothing compared to what Ivan, Nikita got.’ And he says, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about that. I don’t do the pay.’”
After Rhodes refused to get involved any further, Darsow next confronted his boss, Jim Crockett. After explaining to Crockett that Rhodes promised him that his pay would be the same despite working a match lower on the program, Crockett refused to budge, allegedly telling Darsow that he had nothing to do with what Dusty had offered.
After expressing a desire to rip his employer’s head off for playing games with him, a slightly more reasoned Darsow took a different approach with Crockett.
“I said, ‘I’m going to ask you one more time. Am I going to get the money or what? You’re not going to be a scum promoter like what I’ve always heard about.’”
Darsow said Crockett stood his ground, and at that moment, Darsow resigned, effective immediately.
After coming home, Darsow told his wife that he had quit his job. His next goal was to pick up some wrestling gigs in Japan while finding a job near where they lived. But after speaking with Ricky Steamboat and referee Earl Hebner, whose twin brother Dave was working as a ref in WWE, Darsow received a call from then-company owner Vince McMahon.
Around that time, Demolition had already made its debut, with Bill Eadie performing as Ax while Randy Colley portrayed Smash. Previously, Colley had performed in WWE as Moondog Rex, a fact WWE fans quickly picked up on. After crowds continually hounded the former Moondog, McMahon knew he needed to make a switch. And so he recast Darsow for the part.
Unlike Colley, fans didn’t recognize Darsow as the former Krusher Khruschev, which Darsow credits to the divide between WWE audiences and enthusiasts of JCP and the National Wrestling Alliance.
“I think what it was, it was so divided, the NWA and the WWF, you were either a fan of the NWA or a fan of the WWF, and I think that’s what it was,” said Darsow.
Sporting face paint and wearing a sadistic and masochistic ensemble, Ax and Smash ruled WWE for the next three years. They defeated nearly every top team WWE had at the time and won the tag team titles three times. Their first reign was the longest ever, a record that stood for nearly 30 years until the New Day broke that mark in 2015.
Unfortunately, things changed for Demolition after Ax suffered a medical incident in 1990. Concerned, McMahon immediately brought in the upstart Bryan Adams to portray Darsow’s new partner. Known as Crush, Adams became the third member of the group along with Darsow and Eadie, who returned later that summer. But after Eadie left WWE in November of that year, the team of Darsow and Adams disbanded shortly after.
Following the team’s break up, Darsow would get repackaged as the Repo Man, a devious heel persona who took pleasure in reclaiming possessions such as cars from individuals who were behind on or incapable of making their payments. As the Repo Man, Darsow’s most prized trophy was claiming the hat of “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
“Nobody was supposed to touch his hat,” Darsow said. “So that’s why the first thing I went after was his hat. He was chasing me and he was pissed.”
Currently, Darsow’s conversation with Wrestling Shoot Interviews is available only in clips, which can be found directly on its YouTube page. There, Darsow provides more insight into the making of Demolition, including their iconic entrance theme. Darsow also does a round of name association, he explains why he left WWE in 1993, and how he was asked to be the original Doink the Clown.