Sabu (wrestler)

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Sabu in 2017
Birth nameTerrance Michael Brunk
Born (1964-12-12) December 12, 1964 (age 59)
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Hitomi Brunk
(m. 1997)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Sabu
Sabu the Elephant Boy
Terry S.R.
Terry Snuka
Terry Brunk
The Great Sabu
Billed height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Billed weight235 lb (107 kg)[1]
Billed fromSaudi Arabia
Mumbai, India
"Bombay, Michigan"[1]
Trained byThe Sheik
RetiredNovember 5, 2021[2]

Terrance Michael "Terry" Brunk (born December 12, 1964) is a retired American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Sabu. He is known for his trademark style of hardcore wrestling, which he pioneered in his time with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) from 1995 to 2000.[3] He is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion having held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once.

Under the tutelage of his uncle Ed "The Sheik" Farhat, Brunk began his career wrestling in the North American independent scene in 1985 under the name of Sabu, before traveling to Japan, competing in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) and New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), winning several championships, including the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He returned to the United States in 1995, briefly working for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), before beginning his most well-known stint in ECW, where he quickly became a fixture of the promotion. During his time in ECW, he became a two-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time ECW World Television Champion. He would have both a feud and an alliance with The Tazmaniac, defeated him for the ECW FTW Championship and winning the ECW World Tag Team Championship with him. In 1997, Sabu began a tag team with Rob Van Dam, winning the ECW Tag Team Championship twice.

After leaving ECW, Sabu wrestled in several national promotions, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 2000. In 2006, he was hired by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as part of their new third brand, a rebooted version of ECW. Sabu would wrestle for WWE until he was fired in 2007. He also became a regular wrestler in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling since the creation of the promotion in 2002.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1985–1991)[edit]

Brunk was trained by his uncle, Ed "The Sheik" Farhat,[4] and was initially trained to be a technical wrestler. He began his wrestling career in 1985 in Farhat's promotion, Big Time Wrestling, and was billed as being from Saudi Arabia under the ring names "Sabu the Elephant Boy" (use of "The Elephant Boy" was later dropped) and "Terry S.R." (the "S.R." standing for "Sheik's Revenge"). During the 1980s, Brunk wrestled for various independent promotions in Memphis, Michigan, Ohio, Canada, and Hawaii. He was rarely billed under his real name, in order to avoid confusion with the similarly named Terry Funk, but has wrestled under his real name in Hawaii.[citation needed]

United States Wrestling Association (1991)[edit]

In 1991, Sabu made a few appearances for United States Wrestling Association as Samu. He feuded with Jeff Jarrett and Robert Fuller.[5]

World Wrestling Federation (1993)[edit]

Sabu made three appearances for the World Wrestling Federation. He defeated Scott Taylor in a dark match before Monday Night Raw on October 18, 1993. He lost to Owen Hart the next night for a dark match at a Wrestling Challenge taping and on the October 20 defeated Scott Taylor again in a dark match at a WWF Superstars of Wrestling taping.[6]

Frontier Martial–Arts Wrestling (1991–1994)[edit]

In 1991, Sabu made his first tour of Japan with Frontier Martial–Arts Wrestling (FMW). While wrestling for FMW, Sabu received many of the scars on his arms and torso for which he became famous. Brunk cleared rumors that the scars were self-induced in a shoot interview with RF Video, confirming that they were a result of numerous hardcore matches he was involved in, including participating in over two dozen no-rope barbed wire death matches. In May 1992, Sabu teamed with his uncle, the Sheik, in a "Ring of Fire Deathmatch" against Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto. The match was set in a ring where the ropes were replaced with barbed wire with sheets soaked in gas wrapped around it. As the match started, the ring crew lit the sheets on fire using torches. They were in the ring for about a minute before all men got out of the ring due to the intense heat. The match ended with no winner. Sabu said in an interview that the ring burned for 19 hours.[citation needed]

Sabu often competed in Japanese hardcore matches, where he teamed with The Sheik, Tiger Jeet Singh and Horace Boulder. Sabu feuded with the likes of Tarzan Goto and Atsushi Onita in FMW. His final match in FMW was a loss to the debuting Hayabusa at the 1994 Summer Spectacular.[citation needed]

Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling[edit]

Double champion (1993–1994)[edit]

Sabu debuted in Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) in October 1993 as a villain at NWA Bloodfest by defeating The Tazmaniac. One of the most notable aspects of Sabu's early career was his refusal to speak,[4] a gimmick that he inherited from The Sheik (who never spoke English in public to protect kayfabe). In his early career, Sabu was billed as being from Saudi Arabia, or Bombay, India (in real life he is a second generation Lebanese American from a suburb of Detroit). In ECW, however, he was clearly heard speaking in the ring on several occasions and it was fairly common knowledge that Brunk was an American citizen from birth. This led to a joke at kayfabe's expense when Sabu began to be billed as hailing from "Bombay, Michigan".[citation needed]

Brunk revealed in a shoot promo and in the documentary film Forever Hardcore that in fact it was not Paul Heyman that brought him into ECW but that he was at the right place at the right time. He was referred by a friend to Tod Gordon. According to the storyline, Sabu, who at that time often arrived to the ring by his handler 911, was an uncontrollable madman strapped to a gurney and with a Hannibal Lecter-style face mask while trying to break free (he claimed to hate this part of his gimmick as he was normally tired before he started his match). Sabu could only be released from his bonds to wrestle his matches. Sabu also quickly became synonymous with table-breaking at this time; if a table was not broken during the match, Sabu would break a table with his own body after the bell had sounded, sometimes leading to 911 having to restrain Sabu during backstage interviews if a table was present.[citation needed]

Sabu would quickly rise to main event status upon his debut. In his second match with the promotion, he defeated Shane Douglas for the ECW Heavyweight Championship. Sabu made his first successful title defense against Tazmaniac, which aired on the November 30 episode of Hardcore TV. Sabu then headlined the inaugural November to Remember event on November 13 by teaming with Road Warrior Hawk in a title versus title dream partner tag team match against Terry Funk and King Kong Bundy, with Sabu's ECW Heavyweight Championship and Funk's ECW Television Championship on the line. Sabu pinned Funk to win the Television Championship after Bundy turned on Funk. As a result, Sabu became a double champion. The rivalry between Sabu and Funk intensified as Sabu lost the Heavyweight Championship to Funk at Holiday Hell.[citation needed]

Sabu received a rematch for the Heavyweight Championship against Funk in a Three Way Dance at The Night the Line Was Crossed on February 5, 1994, also involving Shane Douglas. The match ended in a sixty-minute time limit draw, which meant that Funk retained the title. Sabu would then continue to retain the Television Championship against the likes of Pat Tanaka and Mike Awesome, before losing the title to The Tazmaniac, which aired on the March 15 episode of Hardcore TV. After the title loss, Sabu continued his feud with Funk, defeating him on the April 19 episode of Hardcore TV. At When Worlds Collide, Sabu teamed with Bobby Eaton to defeat Funk and Arn Anderson to conclude the rivalry.[citation needed]

Teaming with The Tazmaniac (1994–1995)[edit]

At Heat Wave, Sabu turned into a fan favorite by forming a tag team with The Tazmaniac to defeat The Pitbulls. Later that night, Sabu challenged Shane Douglas for the Heavyweight Championship, but failed to win after losing by count-out. Sabu and Tazmaniac would begin feuding with The Triple Threat (Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko), which led to Sabu facing Benoit in the main event of November to Remember, headlining ECW's premier event for the second consecutive year. The match prematurely ended when Benoit gave Sabu a back body drop and, expecting his opponent to land face-first, Sabu rotated himself in mid-air to attempt to land on his back. This injured Sabu's spinal cord resulting in nerve damage. However, Sabu returned to action two weeks later, and continued to wrestle Triple Threat in various matches, which saw Sabu and Tazmaniac defeat Dean and Joe Malenko on the November 22 episode of Hardcore TV.[citation needed]

In 1995, Sabu and Tazmaniac began feuding with The Public Enemy over the ECW World Tag Team Championship, failing to win the titles on the January 3 and January 31 episodes of Hardcore TV. Sabu and Tazmaniac finally defeated Public Enemy in a double tables match at the Double Tables to win the World Tag Team Championship on February 4. However, Sabu and Tazmaniac lost the titles to Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko, just three weeks later at Return of the Funker. Sabu would soon wrestle his last match of his first tenure in ECW on the March 28 episode of Hardcore TV by defeating Mikey Whipwreck.[citation needed]

The following month in April, after being scheduled to compete in the main event of Three Way Dance for the World Tag Team Championship, Sabu no–showed the event to accept a booking in Japan for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), which led Paul Heyman to publicly and legitimately fire Sabu at the event.[7][8] Sabu stated in the Forever Hardcore documentary that he by then had a career wrestling in Japan and now only wrestled once every so often for ECW; thus, he chose Japan over ECW.[citation needed]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1995)[edit]

Sabu wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling throughout 1995, making a total of 64 appearances. He made his debut on January 4 in the Tokyo Dome, teaming with Masahiro Chono to defeat Junji Hirata and Tatsumi Fujinami. Sabu and Chono teamed together on several more occasions to face Heisei Ishingun.[citation needed]

On May 3, 1995, Sabu defeated Koji Kanemoto at Wrestling Dontaku in the Fukuoka Dome to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Kanemoto on June 14 in Tokyo's Nippon Budokan in a bout where Kanemoto's UWA World Welterweight Championship was also on the line. He went on to face Gran Hamada in a series of matches, culminating in Sabu defeating Gran Hamada to win the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship on November 23, 1995, in the Todoroki Arena in Kawasaki. He held the championship for just over a week, losing to El Samurai on December 1, 1995, in Niigata City.[citation needed]

Sabu made his final appearance with NJPW on December 11, 1995, in Osaka, teaming with Hiro Saito to defeat Dean Malenko and Wild Pegasus.[citation needed]

World Championship Wrestling (1995)[edit]

Sabu made his WCW debut on the September 11, 1995, episode of WCW Monday Nitro[9] against Alex Wright. Sabu won the match, but the decision was reversed when, after the match, he put Wright through a table. Sabu continued to wrestle some of the cruiserweights in WCW in the early days of the division, including a match against Mr. J.L. at Halloween Havoc. Sabu came out victorious against Mr. J.L. and following the match Sabu's uncle Sheik shot J.L. in the face with his trademark fireball. His last match in WCW was against Disco Inferno, which Sabu won.[citation needed]

Big Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling (1996-1997)[edit]

Sabu returned to Japan to work for Big Japan Pro Wrestling in March 1996. He had an 18-match winning streak first defeating Jason Knight on March 13 to June 4 losing to Kazuo Sakurada's Kendo Nagasaki.[10]

He made his debut for All Japan Pro Wrestling in November 1996 teaming with Gary Albright.[11] In 1997, he teamed with Rob Van Dam.

Return to ECW[edit]

Various feuds (1995–1997)[edit]

Sabu at an ECW event in 1998

Sabu returned to ECW at November to Remember,[12] defeating Hack Meyers in his first match in the promotion in eight months. He would embark on a winning streak against the likes of Cactus Jack at Holiday Hell, Stevie Richards at House Party, and Mr. Hughes at Big Apple Blizzard Blast. This led to Sabu challenging 2 Cold Scorpio for the World Television Championship. Sabu received various title shots against Scorpio at CyberSlam, Just Another Night, and Big Ass Extreme Bash, but the matches ended in twenty-minute time limit draws.[citation needed]

He eventually engaged in matches and a lengthy feud with Rob Van Dam after defeating him in a no time limit match at Hostile City Showdown. However, RVD insulted Sabu by refusing to shake hands with him after the match. As a result, a respect match took place between the two at A Matter of Respect. Sabu lost the match and was thus forced to shake hands with RVD, but RVD refused by saying "not only do I not respect you, you're a piece of shit". The rivalry between Sabu and RVD continued as Sabu defeated the latter in a standard match at Hardcore Heaven, a stretcher match at The Doctor Is In, and a grudge match at Unlucky Lottery, after which Sabu finally earned RVD's respect. RVD was about to shake Sabu's hand but The Can-Am Express attacked the two, leading to RVD and Sabu facing Can-Am Express at When Worlds Collide, a match which ended in a thirty-minute time limit draw. However, RVD and Sabu defeated Can-Am Express in a rematch at High Incident.[citation needed]

Sabu and RVD subsequently began teaming with each other and ended their rivalry. They began pursuing the World Tag Team Championship, facing The Eliminators in a #1 contender's match at November to Remember. The match ended in a time limit draw and both teams faced the reigning champions The Gangstas in an immediate three-way elimination match, which Gangstas won. RVD and Sabu continued to feud with Eliminators over the titles in 1997 after the latter team won the tag team titles. They failed to win the titles from Eliminators in a standard tag team match at Crossing the Line Again and a Tables and Ladders match at CyberSlam. In the meantime, Sabu's former tag team partner Tazmaniac (who had shortened his name to "Taz") began to publicly challenge Sabu at every given opportunity, but got no response. After a year of call-outs and insults from Taz, Paul Heyman revealed that he had asked Sabu, as a friend, to ignore Taz's challenge. This standoff culminated in a grudge match at ECW's first pay-per-view, Barely Legal, which Taz won.[1] Following the match, Taz's manager Bill Alfonso turned on him and sided with Sabu and RVD. This resulted in a double turn as Taz became a fan favorite while Sabu turned heel. Sabu and Taz continued to feud on and off for the remainder of Taz's ECW career. Sabu would continue his rivalry with Taz by defeating him in a rematch at Wrestlepalooza.[citation needed]

Shortly after, Sabu competed in a no-Rope barbed wire match against Terry Funk for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship at Born to be Wired, a match which was promoted as being "too extreme even for ECW".[13] In one of the most memorable moments in ECW history, Sabu attempted the "Air Sabu" corner splash on Funk, Terry moved and Sabu ended up colliding violently into the wire which tore open his biceps.[1] He then asked his manager Bill Alfonso for some tape and after Alfonso went to get some Sabu began to tape the approximately 10 inch gash up.[1] Funk has stated that, to this day, he has never seen anything like what Sabu did that night. The match ended with both men so badly tangled up together in the barbed wire that it took several ring technicians armed with wire cutters to free them from the predicament (on the DVD Bloodsport – ECW's Most Violent Matches released by World Wrestling Entertainment, Paul Heyman said that the match was "so gruesome, I never ever dared to schedule another one like it", and that they never had another Barbed-Wire match in ECW because "no one could top that one – and in good conscience, I never wanted anyone to try"). Sabu went on to win the match, winning the title for a second time. However, just eight days later, Sabu lost the title to Shane Douglas in a three-way elimination match, also involving Funk at Hardcore Heaven. Sabu received a rematch against Douglas for the title at The Homecoming, but lost.[citation needed]

Teaming with Rob Van Dam (1997–2000)[edit]

Sabu delivering the Arabian Skullcrusher to Rhyno

In the mid-1997, Sabu was included in the WWF invasion angle, in which ECW wrestlers invaded WWF's Monday Night Raw program and held ECW-style matches and angles on the show. One memorable moment occurred at this show when Sabu appeared during a match and prepared for an aerial move off the "R" in the "RAW" lettered entryway onto Team Taz members, but accidentally fell off the "R". This was not planned which led to Sabu landing on top of Team Taz members and becoming an inside joke between him and Taz backstage. This was incorporated in ECW, as Sabu, RVD and Alfonso began promoting the virtues of the WWF product over ECW's. Sabu and RVD feuded with ECW loyalists Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman during this period, and were joined by Jerry Lawler from WWF.[citation needed]

RVD and Sabu defeated Dreamer and Sandman in the first major meeting of the two teams at Orgy of Violence. After that, RVD and Sabu teamed with Lawler to take on the team of Dreamer, Sandman and Rick Rude in a steel cage match at Heat Wave. However, Rude turned on his teammates by attacking them and the match ended in a no contest. As a result, Sabu engaged in a lengthy feud with Sandman, resulting in a series of matches, as Sabu defeated him in a Tables and Ladders match at November to Remember, lost to him in a Stairway to Hell match at the 1998 House Party, and defeated him again in a Dueling Canes match at Living Dangerously to conclude the rivalry. Shortly after the event, RVD and Sabu turned into fan favorites. At Wrestlepalooza, Sabu challenged RVD to a match for the World Television Championship, which ended in a thirty-minute time limit draw.[citation needed]

On the July 1 episode of Hardcore TV, Sabu and RVD defeated Chris Candido and Lance Storm to win the World Tag Team Championship, beginning Sabu's second individual reign with the title. Sabu and RVD held the title for nearly four months, retaining the titles against various ECW teams such as Hardcore Chair Swingin' Freaks (Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney), Full Blooded Italians, and The Dudley Boyz throughout the summer of 1998. They also defeated the Japanese team of Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki at Heat Wave. RVD and Sabu finally lost the titles to Dudley Boyz on the October 28 episode of Hardcore TV. Around the same time, RVD and Sabu joined forces with former rival Taz to feud with The Triple Threat and formed a short-lived alliance to counter the faction called New Triple Threat. The rivalry culminated in a six-man tag team match in the main event of November to Remember, in which New Triple Threat defeated Triple Threat.[citation needed]

At the ECW/FMW Supershow II in Japan, RVD and Sabu defeated Dudley Boyz to win their second World Tag Team Championship as a team, while it was Sabu's third individual title reign. On the December 23 episode of Hardcore TV, Sabu defeated Taz and Justin Credible in a three-way elimination match to win the FTW Heavyweight Championship after Taz put Sabu on top of him. As a result, Sabu began feuding with Taz in early 1999, stemming from a broken jaw and a broken neck that Brunk suffered during a match against Taz in December 1998. The injury occurred when Brunk took a Taz-Plex through a table and landed incorrectly. Sabu avenged that by interfering in Taz's match against Shane Douglas for the World Heavyweight Championship at Guilty as Charged, attacked both men and left. After that, RVD and Sabu retained the World Tag Team Championship against Hardcore Chair Swingin' Freaks at House Party. Sabu's rivalry with Taz led to the two competing in a falls count anywhere title unification match for Sabu's FTW Championship and Taz's ECW World Heavyweight Championship at Living Dangerously event. Taz won the match to unify both titles. Sabu would begin wearing a neck brace and take some time off, resulting in his partner RVD defending the World Tag Team Championship against D-Von Dudley in a singles match on the April 23 episode of Hardcore TV, which Dudley won. As a result, Dudley Boyz won the titles.[citation needed]

In the summer of 1999, Sabu began a feud with Justin Credible, wrestling him in numerous matches at live events for various months. The rivalry led to a match between the two at Anarchy Rulz in September, which Credible won. Sabu would then challenge his tag team partner Rob Van Dam for the World Television Championship on the November 19 episode of Hardcore TV and the November 26 episode of ECW on TNN, but failed to win the title both times. After defeating Chris Candido at November to Remember, Sabu continued his rivalry with RVD as he pursued the World Television Championship, unsuccessfully challenging RVD for the World Television Championship at Guilty as Charged on January 9, 2000. This would be Sabu's final pay-per-view appearance in ECW. On the January 30 episode of Hardcore TV, Sabu wrestled his last televised match in ECW, in which he defeated C.W. Anderson. Sabu's last match in ECW took place on February 26, in which he defeated Scott D'Amore. After that, Sabu left ECW.[citation needed]

Independent circuit (2000-2002)[edit]

After leaving ECW, Sabu went to compete in the independent circuit. He worked for promotions such as Xtreme Pro Wrestling, IWA Mid-South, Stampede Wrestling, Border City Wrestling, and others. On April 29, 2000, he won a tournament for the vacated XPW World Heavyweight Championship defeating John Kronus in the first round, Damien Steele in the second and The Messiah in the finals.[14] He was the only champion to defend the title outside of the States. He would hold the title for a year until it was taken away in May 2001 by Josh Lazie when Sabu was not present for an event.[15] He would return to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2000 as a singles competitor. In 2001, he competed against Abdullah the Butcher and Giant Kimala.[citation needed]

On July 8, 2001, he defeated Angel at ECW Reunion Show in Buffalo, New York. In 2002, he worked for Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling. He won the 3PW World Heavyweight Championship defeating Gary Wolfe on October 19. He would drop the title to Wolfe on December 28.[16]

Return to Frontier Martial–Arts Wrestling (1997-2002)[edit]

Sabu returned to Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling on December 22, 1997, when he defeated ECW rival The Sandman at Super Extreme Wrestling War 1997 at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. Then on December 13, 1998, he and Rob Van Dam defeated the Dudley Boyz to retain the ECW World Tag Team Titles at ECW/FMW Supershow. He would team up with Super Leather in a few tag team matches during 1999.[citation needed]

On February 3, 2002, Sabu defeated former ECW wrestlers The Sandman and Vic Grimes in a three-way dance. The next day was his last match with FMW was when he teamed with Tetsuhiro Kuroda and lost to The Sandman and Kodo Fuyuki for the vacated WEW Tag Team titles. This would be the promotion last event as it went bankrupt on the 15th.[17]

World Wrestling All-Stars (2002, 2003)[edit]

Sabu competed for the World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) in a number of events during 2002 and 2003. This included four appearances on PPV and a number of memorable matches. His first appearance was at Revolution PPV in Las Vegas in February 2002. He faced Devon Storm in a hardcore match. He was defeated in this match after his manager Bill Alfonso accidentally hit him with a chair after Storm moved out the way. After the match Sabu and Storm continued to fight onto the ring entrance way. Sabu placed Storm on a table and leaped from the entrance way through Storm and the table. This feud continued on the next PPV, the Eruption, in Australia in April. Sabu fought Storm in a steel cage match. The action spilled out of the ring and the cage with Sabu gaining the victory after leaping from the top of the cage through Storm, who was placed on top of two tables on top of each other.[citation needed]

Next up Sabu took part in WWA European tour of November–December 2002. This included the Retribution PPV in Glasgow, which was broadcast two months later in February 2003. On this tour and PPV he fought former fellow ECW stars Perry Saturn and Simon Diamond in a three-way hardcore match. Sabu took the victory in each of these matches, usually gaining the pinfall over Diamond after Saturn left the match to defend his companion. His final appearance for the WWA came in their last PPV, The Reckoning, in New Zealand. During this tour he first fought Shane Douglas but due to injury he did not face him at the PPV. Instead, Douglas came to the ring and eventually allowed Joe E Legend to face Sabu instead. Sabu won this match, his second and last WWA match ever. When the All World Wrestling League began in April 2003 (a spin-off of Big Time Wrestling), which was run by Eddie & Tom Farhat, Sabu joined them for a while, before he left for another territory.[citation needed]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2002–2006)[edit]

Early appearances and injury (2002–2004)[edit]

Sabu debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) on July 17, 2002, defeating Jerry "Malice" Tuite in a ladder match. The next week he faced Ken Shamrock in a ladder match which was declared a No Contest when Malice interfered.[citation needed]

In 2004, Sabu teamed with Raven to defeat Raven's former "Gathering" protégés, CM Punk and Julio Dinero. In March, he began feuding with Monty Brown and Abyss, who outnumbered him on several occasions after Raven failed to "watch his back". Eventually Raven challenged Sabu to an empty arena match to be held on June 9, but Sabu refused to wrestle him, claiming that he had promised his uncle, Ed "The Sheik" Farhat, that he would never fight Raven. Raven then waged a campaign against Sabu, disrespecting the memory of his uncle and assaulting Sabu's friend Sonjay Dutt, until Sabu finally broke and attacked him on July 23. Raven defeated Sabu on August 4, and a scheduled return match on August 18 was canceled after Sabu legitimately suffered a serious back injury.[citation needed]

While injured, Brunk contracted a virus and was hospitalized, sidelining him for ten months. On December 12, a benefit show, A Night of Appreciation for Sabu, was held by the AWWL to raise funds for him. The show was considered a success, raising enough money for Brunk to cover the costs of his medical care and he was able to make a full recovery. In his first match back from the injury in the AWWL/BTW, he defeated N8 Mattson. Sabu then appeared at Hardcore Homecoming, where he defeated Terry Funk and Shane Douglas in a three-way no-ropes barbed wire match, and at ECW One Night Stand two days later, where he defeated Rhyno.[citation needed]

Recovery and departure (2005–2006)[edit]

Sabu returned to TNA on July 29, 2005. At Sacrifice Sabu teamed with his old enemy, and then NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Raven to face Jeff Jarrett and Rhino. Rhino and Jarrett won the match after Rhino gored Raven through a table and pinned him. The match saw Abyss interfering and attacking Sabu, starting a feud between the two of them. They went on to have a match at Unbreakable in September which Abyss won after performing his Black Hole Slam finisher on to a pile of tacks in the ring. Sabu once again found himself squaring off against Rhino and Abyss, as well as Jeff Hardy, during Bound for Glory in the Monster's Ball 2 match. Rhino won the match. On the same night, Sabu competed in a ten-man Gauntlet Match to decide a number one contender, which he also lost, once again to Rhino.[citation needed]

Sabu continued his feud with Abyss, once again losing to him at Genesis after taking a Black Hole Slam onto a barbed wire steel chair. They met up again, in the promotion's first ever Barbed Wire Massacre at Turning Point. Sabu finally beat Abyss, but following the match was not seen on TNA television for several months. He made his return at Lockdown on April 23, 2006, in a match against Samoa Joe for Joe's TNA X Division Championship, despite Sabu having a broken forearm, a match he lost. Sabu was released soon afterwards from TNA.[citation needed]

World Wrestling Entertainment (2006–2007)[edit]

Sabu in the ring at a WWE house show in 2006

Shortly after his TNA release, on April 24, 2006, Sabu's official website reported that he had signed a one-year contract with World Wrestling Entertainment. At the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view, Sabu faced Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Championship. At the end of the match, Mysterio found himself standing on a ringside table with Sabu flying at him. Sabu caught the champ in a front facelock and nailed him with a DDT which caused both men to crash through the table. At this point, the WWE medical staff rushed to the injured men and declared neither man could continue and ordered the match stopped, resulting in a No Contest in which Mysterio kept his title.[citation needed]

On the June 13 premiere of ECW on Sci Fi, Sabu won a 10-man Extreme Battle Royal with the stipulation that the winner face John Cena at Vengeance. Sabu further fueled the feud during the next week's Raw, when he interfered in a Cena match and performed a Triple Jump Leg Drop on him, diving onto Cena and putting him through the announcers' table. Cena defeated Sabu in their "Extreme Lumberjack match" at Vengeance. On July 2, Sabu, traveling with fellow ECW wrestler Rob Van Dam, was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, and nine Vicodin tablets following a traffic stop in Hanging Rock, Ohio following a house show in Huntington, West Virginia.[18] Brunk was fined $1,000 based on the guidelines of WWE's Wellness Policy.[19] He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was dropped. He was given a suspended sentence of 10 days in jail and a $500 fine.[20] Meanwhile, he defeated Stevie Richards in an Extreme Rules match at Saturday Night's Main Event XXXIII.

Sabu wrestling C. W. Anderson at the ECW Arena in June 2006

Towards the end of July, Sabu began to talk on camera for himself – instead of using a go between – and demanded a shot at Big Show's ECW World Championship which Paul Heyman refused to grant him in order to "protect" his champion. Instead, he forced him into a match against the returning Kurt Angle to determine a number one contender. When that match was interrupted by the returning Rob Van Dam another match was signed, Angle versus Van Dam versus Sabu, for the number one contendership (Angle then became too injured to compete and was pulled from the match). Sabu beat Rob Van Dam in their ladder match to win a shot at Big Show at SummerSlam, a match which he ended up losing.[21]

At Survivor Series, Sabu teamed up with John Cena, Bobby Lashley, Rob Van Dam and Kane to face the team of Big Show, Test, Montel Vontavious Porter, Finlay and Umaga. Sabu eliminated Test following a Tornado DDT, but he was later eliminated by Big Show via pinfall after receiving a chokeslam. In the end, Team Cena gained victory. At December to Dismember, Sabu was originally set to appear in the main event, an Extreme Elimination Chamber match for the ECW World Championship against Big Show, Test, Rob Van Dam, CM Punk and Bobby Lashley, but was "taken out" and replaced by Hardcore Holly. The following episode on ECW, CM Punk and Rob Van Dam got on the mic before their match with Test and Hardcore Holly and dedicated the match to Sabu. When Punk and Van Dam won the match, Paul Heyman and his security team came out and had beaten down on the two. Sabu later made his return with a heavily wrapped arm to make the save. Sabu made his Royal Rumble match debut in the 2007 Royal Rumble on January 28, where he was eliminated by Kane after receiving a chokeslam over the top rope and through a table.[22]

Sabu joined the ECW Originals along with Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. The ECW Originals began a feud with the New Breed (Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Marcus Cor Von and Matt Striker). The two teams faced off in a match at WrestleMania 23 in which the ECW Originals won.[23] On the April 3 edition of ECW, the ECW Originals faced the New Breed again in a rematch, which the New Breed won after Burke performed the Elijah Express on Sabu through a table.[24]

Sabu's final WWE match was on the May 1 episode of ECW, where he competed in a fatal four-way match against Dreamer, Van Dam and Sandman to determine the number one contender for the ECW World Championship, which Van Dam won.[25] On May 16, 2007, Sabu was released from his WWE contract.[26]

Independent circuit (2007–2010)[edit]

Sabu performing his signature taunt in 2009
Sabu in 2008

On July 13, 2007, it was announced that Sabu would be working in Mexico's AAA promotion in Mexico for their Triplemanía XV event. Sabu came out during the main event and put La Parka through a table, joining forces with the heels X-Pack, Ron "The Truth" Killings, and Konnan. Since then, he has made appearances on their major televised programs on Galavision as a minor part of Konnan's heel stable, La Legión Extranjera.[27]

Sabu has been noted as a member of the Australasian Wrestling Federation roster, where he has so far wrestled three matches during the Wrestlefest 2007 Tour in October 2007. Sabu Defeated Il Cognito at Fairy Meadow, New South Wales on October 5, Steve Ravenous at Cardiff, New South Wales on the October 6 and finally wrestling then for the AWF Australasian Championship against Greg "TNT" Bownds to a no contest due to interference from The Platinum Players at Blacktown, New South Wales on the October 7.[citation needed]

On February 8, 2008, Sabu debuted as "The Crazed Kamikaze" for a brief period in CWA Pro Wrestling in Columbia, South Carolina before going back to his Sabu ring name. Teaming with then-CWA Heavyweight Champion Timber, Sabu won the match for his team after he dove off the staging area onto his opponent Phil Shatter, putting him through a table. On May 10, he was scheduled to face the new CWA Heavyweight Champion Raven in Fayetteville, North Carolina but Sabu did not show up due to injuries.[citation needed]

In November 2009, Sabu completed a tour of the United Kingdom representing the AWWL/BTW. On November 29, 2009, Sabu faced RVD for his AWR heavyweight championship belt in an Extreme Rules match in Oberhausen, Germany.[citation needed]

On October 30, 2010, Sabu defeated Damián 666 to win Xtreme Latin American Wrestling's International Championship.[28]

Juggalo Championship Wrestling (2007–2011)[edit]

In 2007, Sabu teamed with Insane Clown Posse to defeat Trent Acid and the Young Alter Boys at Juggalo Championship Wrestling's Bloodymania.[29] During the second season of the company's internet wrestling show SlamTV!, Raven was involved in a feud with JCW Heavyweight Champion Corporal Robinson.[30] In the third episode, Sabu appeared from out of the crowd and saved Robinson from an attack by Raven and his lackey Sexy Slim Goody.[31] Raven and Goody teamed up against Robinson and Sabu in the following episode, but Raven fled from the match.[32] At Bloodymania III, Sabu defeated Raven in a Raven's Rules match.[33] He returned as a full-time member of the roster at Oddball Wrestling 2010, where he defeated Officer Colt Cabana in an "I Quit" match.[34] Following two victories, Sabu teamed with The Weedman to defeat Bull Pain and Isabella Smothers at Hardcore Hell.[35][36][37] After the match, per narrative thread, he aligned himself with villainous manager Charlie Brown.[37] Sabu defeated heroic face 2 Tuff Tony at the next event, and continued to attack him after the match ended.[38] He and Tony wrestled again at Up in Smoke in a match where Rob Conway was hired by Brown to attack Tony.[39] After Rhino scared off Sabu and Conway, a tag team match was scheduled between the two and Rhino and Tony at St. Andrew's Brawl.[39]

Return to TNA (2010)[edit]

On August 2, 2010, it was confirmed that Sabu would be taking part in TNA's ECW reunion show against TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam in the main event Hardcore Justice on August 8.[40] At the event, he was defeated by former tag team partner and rival Rob Van Dam in a Hardcore Rules match.[41] On the following edition of Impact!, the ECW alumni, known collectively as Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0), were assaulted by A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan of Ric Flair's Fourtune stable, who thought they didn't deserve to be in TNA.[42][43] The following week, TNA president Dixie Carter gave each member of EV 2.0 TNA contracts in order for them to settle their score with Fourtune.[44] At No Surrender, Sabu unsuccessfully challenged Douglas Williams for the TNA X Division Championship.[45] At Bound for Glory, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Rhino and Stevie Richards defeated Fortune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match.[46] On the October 21 edition of Impact!, Sabu and Rob Van Dam were defeated in a tag team match by James Storm and Robert Roode, after Sabu accidentally hit his own partner with a chair. After the match, Van Dam and Sabu began shoving each other, before being broken up by the rest of EV 2.0.[47] At Turning Point, EV 2.0 faced Fortune in a ten-man tag team match, where each member of EV 2.0 put their TNA careers on the line. A.J. Styles won the match for his team by pinning Sabu, who as a result was fired from TNA.[48] It had been reported earlier that Brunk's release from TNA was legitimate.[49]

Independent circuit (2012–2021)[edit]

Sabu performing his Arabian Facebuster on Michael Elgin

On January 14, 2012, Sabu returned to the former ECW Arena, when he defeated Justin Credible at an Evolve event in the venue's final professional wrestling event.[50] In 2013, Sabu completed a UK tour, wrestling for a number of the UK's top promotions. Sabu entered the Extreme Rising World Championship tournament but was eliminated in the first round by Devon Storm.[51]

On March 30, 2013, Sabu made his Newfoundland wrestling debut when he wrestled in the Newfoundland and Labrador based company's CEW "King Of The Rock" tournament. This was a two-show event which saw Sabu defeat multiple CEW mainstays such as CEW headliners Psycho Mitch and Krys Krysmon. Sabu ultimately lost the tournament after a brutal match with Scott Gotch in which Sabu lost intentionally at the request of CEW owner Dennis Guthrie. As a reward, CEW owner enshrined Sabu as the new CEW Newfoundland Heritage Champion. He defended his title in a Fatal Four-Way elimination match on April 1, 2013, for CEW in St. Lawrence, NL against Justin Lock, Tony King and Brandon Flip. In Scotland, Sabu challenged Jack Jester for the ICW Heavyweight Championship but was defeated.[52] Sabu returned to ICW in 2015 to continue his feud with Jester and challenge the ICW World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway[53] but was again defeated.[54]

Sabu has also worked for Pro Wrestling Holland, where he has held the PWH Championship.[55] On October 18, 2014, at Insurrection, Sabu defeated Balls Mahoney to win the WWL Extreme Championship. He lost the title against Monster Pain. He has also wrestled for the Big Time Wrestling independent circuit.[citation needed]

On November 15, 2014, Melissa Coates began accompanying Sabu to the ring as the "Super Genie". Their partnership continued until her death on June 23, 2021.[56]

On June 5, 2015, Sabu lost a match to his long-time partner Rob Van Dam in Scranton, Pennsylvania. At the end of the match, after pinning Sabu, RVD helped him up off the mat and both raised hands together.[57]

On August 17, 2018, Sabu lost to Nick Gage at a GCW event.[58]

Second return to Impact Wrestling (2019)[edit]

On February 8, 2019, it was revealed that Sabu would return to TNA, now named Impact Wrestling at their following pay-per-view, United We Stand. At the event on April 4, 2019, Sabu teamed with Rob Van Dam to face Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr. and Fénix).[59] Sabu wrestled some of the following television tapings, but disappeared after a while. In September it was reported that Impact was going to bring him back for more dates in the future.[60] Just days later, Sabu wrestled Rohit Raju at the Impact television tapings in Las Vegas, in a match that went to a double countout.[61] At Bound for Glory, Sabu competed in the Call Your Shot Gauntlet match which was won by Eddie Edwards.[citation needed]

Retirement (2021)[edit]

On November 5, 2021, Sabu officially announced his retirement from professional wrestling.[62]

All Elite Wrestling (2023)[edit]

On May 24, 2023, Sabu made his debut for All Elite Wrestling on Dynamite[63] when it was revealed that he would come out of retirement for a one-off in the corner of Adam Cole along with Roderick Strong during his unsanctioned match with Chris Jericho at the Double or Nothing pay-per-view.[citation needed]

Other media[edit]

He appeared in the video game ECW Hardcore Revolution, Legends of Wrestling, Legends of Wrestling II, Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home, Showdown: Legends of Wrestling, and WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008.[64] Sabu's likeness also appears, albeit unofficially, in several games within the Fire Pro Wrestling franchise including Fire Pro Wrestling, Fire Pro Wrestling 2, and Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.[citation needed]

On September 8, 2016, Brunk guest starred on an episode of the Viceland television program, Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch 'Ancient Aliens': Alien Devastation with his former tag team partner, Rob Van Dam and then manager The Super Genie.[65]

Personal life[edit]

Brunk's father is Irish and German, and his mother is Lebanese.[citation needed] Brunk was married to a Japanese woman, Hitomi, on June 22, 1997, in Michigan, and had a separate Japanese ceremony on December 12, 1998, in Tokyo while in Japan for the ECW/FMW Supershow.[66] In Forever Hardcore, Brunk reveals he took his name "Sabu" from Indian-American actor Sabu, of whom his uncle Ed Farhat was a fan.[citation needed]

In July 2016, Brunk was named part of a class action lawsuit filed against WWE which alleged that wrestlers incurred "long term neurological injuries" and that the company "routinely failed to care" for them and "fraudulently misrepresented and concealed" the nature and extent of those injuries. The suit was litigated by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against WWE.[67] The lawsuit was dismissed by US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant in September 2018.[68]

In the mid 2010s, Sabu began dating Melissa Coates, who also began working as his wrestling valet.[69] Coates died in her sleep from COVID-19 complications on June 23, 2021, aged 52.[70][71]

Professional wrestling style and persona[edit]

Sabu performing the Arabian Clutch on Dru Onyx

Sabu is nicknamed "The Suicidal, Homicidal, Genocidal, Death–Defying Maniac" due to his mixed style of high-flying and hardcore wrestling.[1] Some of his moves includes using a steel chair, like the Air Sabu (a heel kick to a cornered opponent, with the assistance of a steel chair), the Arabian Facebuster (Jumping, diving or a somersault leg drop, driving a steel chair into the face of the opponent) or the Arabian Skullcrusher (jumping, diving or a somersault leg drop, driving a steel chair into the back of the opponent's head, usually through a table). Being trained by his uncle, The Original Sheik, he also uses his Arabian Clutch (a Camel clutch) as a move. His character has rarely spoken, however while working for WWE he had to do the most talking he ever did.[72]

Sabu has been credited as a revolutionary due to his work in ECW.[73][74]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Sabu's Hardcore Hall of Fame banner in the former ECW Arena.


  1. ^ Sabu's first reign occurred while the promotion was an NWA affiliate named Eastern Championship Wrestling, and was prior to the promotion becoming Extreme Championship Wrestling and the title being declared a world title by ECW. Sabu held the title again after these events.
  2. ^ Title was not officially sanctioned by ECW.


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External links[edit]