The Pandemic's Sheikest Look
In early '74, Memphis promoter Jerry Jarrett began building up his local star Jerry Lawler, who had gone from drawing good money as part of a heel team with Jim White to being a phenomenal main-event money player by the time he was 25. To get the kid over, Jarrett called some of the biggest names in wrestling to face off against the rising star. Enter the original Sheik, a rather ordinary-looking man named Ed Farhat off-camera, who transformed into“the most feared wrestler on earth” as soon as he got anywhere near an arena or TV studio.
When Lawler and Sheik joked around backstage prior to their first bout together, the young King thought, "This guy likes me. Maybe he'll put me over clean." Then Sheik asked, "Who's this kid I'm wrestling tonight?" Lawler sheepishly replied, "That would be me. Sir." The Sheik just shook his head. Lawler told me later, "I guess he thought I was a guy who set up the ring or something." The two stars did have a good bout—by Sheik's standards—and most important, liked Lawler so much by the end of the evening, he taught the young man one of his closely guarded trade secrets: the art of throwing fire, which became a staple of Lawler's repertoire for decades. In a sense, Sheik literally helped set the Memphis territory on fire.
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