I assume that you are already following The Iron Sheik on Twitter, for the simple reason that I assume you are not Tito Santana. As a quick glance at Sheikie’s recent activity suggests, he and Santana are not friends. Then again, the Sheik’s claim that Santana has “the taco ass” may be kind of ironic. It’s hard to tell. The former Olympic wrestler, WWF heel and bodyguard for the Shah of Iran has presumably always separated his interior and public personae, since his public persona is completely absurd. When you think about The Iron Sheik, you have to do a lot of surmising and presuming. How else to explain six borderline-racist tweets in an hour attacking Santana for no discernible reason? And what beside pure, life-consuming dedication to art could explain tweets like this?
You would have to be dead inside not to appreciate that, and you would have to be an idiot to completely endorse it.
A jabroni (adj. jabroni) is something The Iron Sheik does not like. Like “grasshopper dick” and “raisin balls”—liberally applied to Hulk Hogan and other wrestlers past and present—”jabroni” seems to be an all-purpose epithet to describe qualities despicable yet lamentably common. The Iron Sheik sees jabroni everywhere. His solution to jabronis and jabroni behavior is generally to “fuck [it] in the ass, make [it] humble.” Occasionally he will do so “the old country way,” which I assume means while maintaining a pious if contradictory commitment to religious orthodoxy. Entities The Iron Sheik has threatened to humble in this fashion include Kobe Bryant, “the black girl Precious,” The Ultimate Warrior, several other pro wrestlers, various television programs and Congress. He likes Mary J Blige and encourages Kevin Durant to have sex with “the Tom Brady wife.” And that’s just in the last two days.
The sheer frequency of The Iron Sheik’s tweets offers the first suggestion that maybe Hossein Khosrow Vaziri is not personally writing all of them. They often coalesce around a theme and stay on it for half a dozen tweets in the space of an hour, as if someone were trying to hit a per-day quota. In the evenings, they tend to be about what is on television—another sure sign that we are reading the work of a freelancer. About once a day, the Sheik announces that he will now enjoy the cold beer. It is almost as if he were observing the completion of a day’s work.
Yet there is something bittersweet about The Iron Sheik’s Twitter feed that suggests it could only be written by the man himself. Here the ubiquity of jabronism takes on another, deeper meaning. In pro wrestling, a jabroni is a wrestler who loses in order to make other wrestlers look good. As the WWF’s synecdochic representative of Iran in the early 1980s—right about hostage-crisis time, mind you—The Iron Sheik had to play the jabroni a lot. Where faces like Roddy Piper and the infamously bad-at-wrestling Hulk Hogan have enjoyed retirement as minor pop culture icons, heels like the Sheik are beloved only by wrestling geeks. As Hulkamania swept the nation, The Iron Sheik—who was an assistant coach for the US Olympic team in 1972—got booed by freedom-/wrestling-loving fans in every midmarket town you can think of. His reward for playing the jabroni five nights a week is the occasional appearance on Opie & Anthony.
Imagine that you are an Iranian expatriate, former Olympian and AAU Greco-Roman champion at 183.5 pounds. As part of your contract with the world’s largest fake wrestling promotion, it is your job to pretend to get beaten by a man with no wrestling pedigree whatsoever, who is blond. That’s his thing. The chorus to his theme song is I am a real American, and all the fans love him slightly more than they love booing you. What’s the word for a man who would agree to such an arrangement—who would sell it, body and soul, night after night—in order to help the larger show? Oh yeah: humble.
The Iron Sheik made himself famous playing the heel, so it makes sense that he would keep it up in retirement. Even if he is not writing his own Twitter feed, the interns he hired to do so probably didn’t decide to make him a virulent sodomaniac without his approval. Sheikie knows what we want. The man who once guarded Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and is now a grandfather wants only to entertain us. Which is good, since he technically could probably fuck any of us in the ass.