Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Trip to Abdullah's "House"...

Wrestling.  I knew that it would creep into this blog sooner or later.  Of course, it's been in the banner since day one.  I always thought that this would be a good place for wrestling tales that just didn't fit in with wrestling memorabilia (my other blog), since people are always asking that those stories be told.

The first "Josh Culture" wrestling tale takes us back to the summer of 2011.  My friend Brian and I were headed to (Badstreet) Atlanta, GA for the NWA Legends Fanfest.  Always looking for unique places to chow down, a certain fabled establishment found its place onto our itinerary early on: Abdullah the Butcher's House of Ribs & Chinese Food. For those of you wondering what an "Abdullah the Butcher" is, I'll provide a brief synopsis.  Abdullah is a notorious wrestling heel ("bad guy"), who, for over fifty years now, has terrorized wrestling fans around the world with his girth, scars, and trademark fork.

Despite the entertaining (and legendary) wrestling persona, the man behind the character has become notorious for being rather shady and difficult to work with.  My first experience with The Butcher was around six years earlier at a local wrestling show.  While Abdullah may have had one of his last good brawling "matches" (blood, weapons, and even an in-ring elbow drop) at that particular show, many fans were less than satisfied with the aging star's attitude toward fans and his annoying, portly "handler" who took the money and dished out nothing more than southern-fried lip.

By 2011 I'd had several experiences with Abdullah, mostly good, so I was ready to taste his cuisine. Brian and I arrived to the Peach State early, so we killed a few hours before having lunch at the famed establishment. As the name suggests, Abdullah's serves both barbecue and Chinese food.  Despite being a fervent lover of the latter, I rarely order Chinese food outside of my own local favorite haunt, so I opted for barbecue.  My container included ribs, chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread.  A good, no-nonsense, soul food meal.

The building itself was older and filled with autographed wrestling photos, clippings, and other memorabilia.  Abdullah himself was not there at the time, which was no big deal considering that we had met him several times previously. Despite the establishment supposedly being in a "bad part of town," we decided to try and return for dinner one night over the weekend.

Showing his difficulty and defiance, Abdullah showed up in the lobby of the Fanfest host hotel selling autographs and photos.  The legend likely would've been an invited part of the event had he not upset the promoters with his actions at Fanfest several years earlier.  Though I did not see it with my own eyes, reports say that Terry Funk himself had to escort The Butcher off of the premises.

We did end up making time to return to the restaurant that Saturday night, and this time Abdullah was playing host to fellow legend Ivan Koloff.  Although we sat and ate our meals without bothering anyone, the aforementioned portly and annoying handler kept letting us know that Abdullah would "take care" of us when he was finished with Ivan.  Used to being treated as a guest in restaurants, I figured that a photo wouldn't be out of the question.  I have a photo with The Butcher "forking" me, but one with the owner inside his restaurant might have been fun.

But not "make Abdullah extra money" fun.

When it came time for Abdullah to "take care of us," it became fast apparent that the care would cost. When I simply said that I had no cash and turned to walk away, the annoying and portly handler cheerily yelled out that they accepted credit cards.  After it sunk into the obese brawler's scarred head that he would be getting zero additional dollars from us, we were dismissed with a "Good evening, gentlemen."  I have no problem paying for an autograph or photo at a convention.  They aren't doing those shows out of the goodness of their heart.  But at your restaurant that I've just patronized twice?  Please.

Larry Shreeve, the individual who portrays Abdullah, will die a bitter, penny-pinching man.  But just like actors or musicians who hold different views and beliefs than I do, I can appreciate the body of work just the same.  Abdullah the Butcher?  Amusing and terrifying to no end in over fifty years of wrestling.  Larry Shreeve?  Delusional lump of suet.

I've heard stories since of Abdullah happily posing for free photos in his restaurant since, but it doesn't bother me.  I just think back to a few years before the restaurant incident, and a little girl, roughly seven years old. Abdullah was sitting at his gimmick (photo/merchandise) table at a wrestling show where each legend was supposed to give one autograph for free.  Fearlessly, she took her poster up to Abdullah who refused to sign it unless she gave him five dollars.  In one twist of her tiny frame, she angrily whisked the poster away...sending Abdullah's sale items crashing to the floor.

I guess ol' Abby finally met his match.

1 comment:

  1. I've met Abby once. It was at Legendsmania in 2010 in Atlanta. He wasn't announced but again showed up on his own and set everything up at his gimmick table. I was excited to meet him. I spent $20 on 2 signed photos. My little boy, now 5, was 6 months old at the time. Abby looked down at him in his stroller and gave him a signed fork. For me it was a great experience, however I have heard all the negative stories.