Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wrestlers of Yore: Koko B. Ware


It’s a rare feat to be the most famous of your entire species. For example, who is the world's most famous human? Britney Spears? David Hasselhoff? And who's the world's most famous dog? Lassie? Air Bud? Does Garfield qualify as the most famous cat, or Lemmiwinks as the most famous gerbil? Yet, one thing is undisputed: Frankie is, was, and will always will be, the world's most famous bird.

Frankie was the pet macaw (parrot) of wrestler Koko B. Ware, and the duo convinced more people to dance "The Bird" than Morris Day and Jamaal Anderson combined. Ware, born James Ware, had enjoyed moderate success in Southeastern wrestling territories during the 1980’s, but was in need of a real crowd-pleaser when he was signed by the WWF in 1986. But more importantly, the WWF needed a wrestler who would resonate with a four-year-old GHABB,Y when he watched Superstars of Wrestling on Saturday mornings after cartoons were done.


Enter "The Birdman." The WWF in the 1980s was very much directed at the 12-and-under demographic, so Ware was outfitted with colorful tights, wild sunglasses, a headband and the aforementioned Frankie, who would sit on a perch while Koko wrestled. As a kid, it was humanly impossible not to love Koko B. Ware. First of all, parrots were like the third-best animal ever when I was a kid, behind only dinosaurs and flying lemurs. Secondly, growing up in the whitest suburb ever and not really ever met any black people before, seeing one with a constant smile and brightly colored tights made me at ease with our melanin-rich brethren. Finally, Koko sang the song “Pile Driver,” which was easily my favorite song at the time not written by Raffi or Huey Lewis:



I, of course got older and would eventually gravitate towards the Ultimate Warriors and Ric Flairs of the wrestling world, but I always held a special place in my heart for the Birdman, whose wrestling record never quite matched his entrances. Koko would serve as “enhancement talent” (i.e. guy that got his ass kicked often) to a full generation of wrestlers, including losing to Butch Reed in front of 93,000 people at Wrestlemania 3, getting squished by Yokozuna in the first ever Monday Night Raw match, and taking the first ever Tombstone Piledriver from the Undertaker. Which I’m sure Koko referred to as a “Piiiile-Driiiiiver!.”

Koko’s career had a very short resurgence in the mid-1990s, where he teamed with up-and-coming wrestler Owen Hart to form the checkered tag team “High Energy.” Their gimmick was that they had, um, uh, lots of, uh, energy. And a bird. And the most ridiculous outfits ever:


Owen of course would see his career rise and fall 70 feet, while Koko faded quietly to a life of independent wrestling bookings and appearances in "Beyond the Mat." But he always had Frankie, who would light up whatever high school gym or VFW hall Ware was wrestling in. That was until one fateful Sunday in 2001. Ware and his family went to church, and therefore weren't home in time to stop the fire that engulfed their home. Sadly, Frankie did not survive the blaze.

Today, September 11th, should be a day of remembrance for us all, as a tragic event happened on this very day. And while 3,000 lives were lost on horiffic morning, I should note that none of them were most famous single animal of their species. Today, instead, I choose to remember another life lost in a tragic 2001 fire: Frankie. Goodnight, sweet prince. May all of the world’s birds shed a tear this day.

7 comments:

A Pimp Named DaveR said...

Oh come on.

The most famous bird ever is named Big. The most famous REAL bird ever is probably Fred, Baretta's pet cockatoo on (natch) "Baretta". Fred did the Tonight Show. Can't say I saw Frankie on there. Can't say I've ever heard of Frankie before this post, actually... and I watched wrestling in the '80s, too.

In summary, SHENANIGANS.

GHABB,Y~! said...

Whatever GRAMPS. Sorry that the rest of us were born at least four years after Baretta went off the air.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

The most famous bird ever is clearly the starling.

Pepster said...

"Owen of course would see his career rise and fall 70 feet". That is soooo wrong. And priceless!!!

Don't diss Morris Day and the Time. They are phenomenal. Saw them in concert in May.

Basketbawful said...

I know whenever I fall in love, I press the lucky lady's head between my thighs and then drive her directly into the ground. Yes, indeed, lover truly is like a piledriver...

Hazel Maes Landing Strip said...

Somewhere up in heaven the tag team of Owen Hart and Koko B Ware just won the Interdeity Tag Team Championship for the 5th time.

God will give him the respect McMahon never did.

Anonymous said...

hey hazel, Koko B Ware isnt dead yet, only his bird is...