Abdullah the Butcher

Abdullah the Butcher

Lawrence Robert “Larry” Shreve[1] (born January 11, 1941[1]) best known as Abdullah the Butcher, and also at times The Madman from the Sudan, is a semi-retired Canadian professional wrestler known as one of the most brutal or “hardcore” professional wrestlers of all-time.

The scars on his forehead are the result of frequent blading. According to Mick Foley, Shreve used to put gambling chips into the deep divots in his head to entertain (or scare) people at casinos.

An amateur martial artist, Shreve also has knowledge of judo and karate, often including this knowledge in his professional wrestling matches. This knowledge was mainly displayed by him using judo style throws, and karate chops.

1 Career
2 Legacy
3 In wrestling
4 Championships and accomplishments
5 In popular culture
6 References
7 External links


Shreve grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada as part of a family of ten people in a deeply impoverished household.[2] He learned karate and judo as a youth and, teaching fellow children in the backyard, claims to have eventually earned the title of seventh-degree grandmaster.[2]

Standing 6 feet tall and weighing a robust 360 pounds, Shreve caught the attention of Montreal promoter Jack Britton,[2] and he soon made his professional wrestling debut at age 17 in 1958. He initially competed in numerous independent territories north of the border under such various monikers as Pussycat Pickens, Kuroi Jujutsushi (The Black Wizard) and Zelis Amara. However, he ultimately created his gimmick of an evil Arabian sadist; and in a match against Gino Brito[2] (Jack Britton’s real-life son), Abdullah the Butcher first distinguished himself as one of the world’s most feared rule breakers when he broke a chair over Brito’s head and then beat him senseless with the leg.

Such acts of violence were only the beginning for the terrifying Abdullah the Butcher, whose menacing figure, excessive violence, and complete disregard for the safety of himself or his opponents quickly established his reputation for ruthless brutality. Abdullah’s matches almost always turned into bloodbaths, and he was infamous for stabbing his opponent’s wounds with his trademark fork (or any other foreign weapon that he could get his hands on). In addition to his hardcore style, Abdullah the Butcher was revolutionary[citation needed] with his habit of never staying in any one territory for too long, to avoid wearing out the novelty, and maintaining the notoriety, of his character. Constantly roaming from region to region, Abdullah propagated his reputation as the most violent wrestler in the world.[citation needed] Consequently, he was often brought into a territory as a hired gun to destroy a popular fan favorite, and his appearances usually sparked local interest.

Since his gimmick required that he speak no English (though it was in actuality his native tongue), he possessed a number of managers over the course of his long career, including Gary Hart, Paul Jones, Eddie Creatchman, Black Baron, The Grand Wizard, J.J. Dillon, Damien Kane, Larry Sharpe, Oliver Humperdink, Buddy Colt, George Cannon, Bearcat Wright, Big Bad John, Gentleman Jim Holiday, and Rock Hunter, who were all portrayed as “handlers” commissioned to control the Sudanese madman, while also doing most of the talking in promos and interviews. He has, however, spoken for himself in promos while in Japan.

As a result of his frequent traveling, Abdullah the Butcher usually served as more of a special attraction than as a consistent championship contender. Accordingly, Abdullah never did win a World Heavyweight Championship, though he would capture a myriad of regional titles during his career. He won his first major championship on October 23, 1967 when he teamed with Dr. Jerry Graham to defeat John & Carlos Tolos for the NWA Canadian Tag Team Titles in Vancouver. A few years later, he ventured to the Montreal region, where he had three reigns as the IWA International Heavyweight Champion between 1969 and 1972, feuding against Ivan Koloff and Johnny Rougeau. He later served as one of the premier rule breakers in Calgary’s Stampede territory, capturing the NWA Canadian Championship, as well as having six North American Heavyweight Title reigns during the early 1970s. On June 24, 1972, he defeated Ernie Ladd in Akron, Ohio to capture his first of two NWF World Heavyweight Titles. During the mid-1970s, he frequently performed in Detroit, Michigan’s Big-Time Wrestling territory, where he engaged in a classic rivalry against local legend, The Sheik. He teamed with “Killer” Tim Brooks to win the region’s version of the NWA World Tag Team Titles before defeating Bobo Brazil on February 8, 1975 for the NWA United States Championship.

In addition to his successes in North America, Abdullah the Butcher also became a true international superstar by performing in the Far East, Europe, the Caribbean, Australia, and Africa. On March 12, 1974, he traveled all the way to New Zealand, where he captured the prestigious British Empire Commonwealth Title by defeating the nation’s legendary champion John DaSilva. Abdullah also established himself as one of the premier attractions in Japan, where he competed as part of the round-robin tournament that ultimately crowned Giant Baba as All-Japan’s inaugural PWF Heavyweight Champion in February 1973. On October 18, 1978, Abdullah won that same PWF belt when he defeated European former AWA champion Billy Robinson; and then on October 13, 1980, he also beat Jumbo Tsuruta to capture the NWA United National Heavyweight Title. His feud with Terry Funk is still considered one of the hottest feuds in Japan, and Funk claims to have had one of his top three all-time greatest matches with Abdullah the Butcher.

He arrived in World Class Championship Wrestling in 1986, where he defeated The Great Kabuki for the Texas Brass Knuckles Title and waged war against the equally wild Bruiser Brody. However, perhaps Abby’s most memorable encounters[citation needed] occurred in Puerto Rico, where he was declared the very first WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion in July 1982 following three reigns as the Puerto Rican champion between 1978 and 1981. His violent battles against Carlos Colón and Hercules Ayala are legendary;[citation needed] and he long after remained one of the area’s top attractions, more recently defeating Carly Colón for his fifth Universal Title on January 3, 2004.

He was introduced in World Championship Wrestling in a giant, gift-wrapped box.[3] This giant box was to be Sting’s birthday gift from Cactus Jack.[3] Sting unwrapped his gift and Abdullah attacked him, leading to both Abdullah and Cactus feuding with Sting after the incident. The feud culminated in a “Chamber of Horrors” match at Halloween Havoc 1991, in which Cactus accidentally electrocuted Abdullah in an electric chair, leading to a brief feud between the former allies.

In 1993, Abdullah arrived in ECW, where he participated in a storyline with Kevin Sullivan, Terry Funk and Stan Hansen, and wrestled at Ultra Clash and Bloodfest.

In late 2002, Abdullah made a one-night appearance in Ring of Honor as Homicide’s partner, facing the Carnage Crew in a bloody Bunkhouse Brawl at ROH’s Night of the Butcher.

In 2007, the WWE and Jakks Pacific released an Abdullah the Butcher “WWE Classic Superstars” figure complete with the famous blade marks on top of his head. A DVD was also released named The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Wrestling which included a bloody cage match between Abdullah and his famous rival Bruiser Brody.

The 2007, WWC’s anniversary show was dedicated to Abdullah the Butcher’s legacy and contributions to WWC. On December 13, 2008, Shreve wrestled against Balls Mahoney in Bayamon Puerto Rico during the annual event WWC Lockout.

Abdullah says “I will be active throughout my life in Japan.” During July 2009, he wrestled in Dragon Gate and Hustle. He also wrestled at the New Japan Pro Wrestling supershow Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2010, as well as wrestling for Japanese independent promotion Osaka Pro Wrestling.

His entrance music in Japan is Pink Floyd’s instrumental track “One of These Days” from their 1971 album Meddle.
Butcher at WrestleMania XXVII, as a Hall of Famer

In 2009, Abdullah made an appearance at the Decatur Book Festival, facing off against author Michael Muhammad Knight, marking the first pro wrestling match ever held at a book festival. Abdullah pummeled Knight with chairs, forks, and a water cooler, not even stepping into the ring. Knight was taken from the festival in an ambulance and received 46 stitches. It was Right After Wrestling in March 2011, hosted by Arda Ocal and Jimmy Korderas, that Abdullah admitted his favorite wrestler to face was actually Lou Thesz.[4]

On April 2, 2011, Abdullah the Butcher was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in Atlanta. Subsequent to Abdullah’s induction, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham requested his name to be removed from the Hall, saying “It is a shameless organization to induct a bloodthirsty animal such as Abdullah the Butcher into their worthless and embarrassing Hall of Fame and I want the name of Superstar Billy Graham to be no part of it.” [5] (Graham’s outrage was due to the longstanding accusations that Abdullah was infecting wrestlers with hepatitis C through sharing a blade and/or cutting wrestlers without their knowledge.)[6] Abdullah responded, mentioning his previous friendship with Graham and questioning his outburst.[6] Also in 2011, Abdullah returned to Georgia Championship Wrestling as a mentor and advisor to a local wrestler known as The Congo Warrior.

In early 2012, Abdullah the Butcher appeared on Wrestling Marks of Excellence radio show and said that he had given away his Hall of Fame ring to his brother, saying that he had been in the business and drew people from all over the world and should have been inducted decades ago.[7]

On January 2, 2012, Abdullah hinted that he would be retiring soon.[8]

In addition to his hardcore style, his dietary habits have also become infamous in the wrestling world.[citation needed] He has been shown to eat announcers’ ties, whole raw fish, he once even appeared to bite the head off a live chicken before a shocked crowd.[citation needed] Abdullah’s appearances on the NWA’s Georgia Championship Wrestling television broadcasts frequently highlighted his gustatory mayhem. While on camera he was shown eating reams of paper, cardboard boxes, the announcer’s script, and even half of Gordon Solie’s microphone.[citation needed] Prior to a match with local favorite Bob Armstrong he ate an entire live toad in front of Armstrong and his son as an act of intimidation.[citation needed] His unpredictable, ultra-violent style served as inspiration for other wrestlers, including “Maniac” Mark Lewin, Kevin Sullivan, Cactus Jack, Kamala, and Sabu, among others; and he still continues to compete on the independent circuit in a career that has now spanned five decades.

Abdullah has worked in nearly every major wrestling promotion in the world, with the exception of TNA

Outside of wrestling, Shreve owns two restaurants (one in southwest Atlanta, the other in Japan) called “Abdullah the Butcher’s House of Ribs and Chinese Food.” Reviews of the Atlanta restaurant have been mixed, with most diners preferring the ribs.[9][10] Shreve is often on hand to meet fans and sign autographs. Shreve and his restaurant make a cameo appearance in the music video for the song “Damn!” by Atlanta recording artists Youngbloodz. Shreve’s restaurant was also referenced in the 2006 Film “ATL” during a scene where the character Ant (played by Evan Ross) and two friends argue over a local barbecue.

WWE had been promoting Abdullah the Butcher more than ever since his Hall of Fame induction. He now has a profile and videos on their website and he is also featured on their “Best Steel Cage Matches” DVD.
In wrestling

Finishing moves
Bottom rope splash
Jumping headbutt
The Freight Train / The Butcher’s Axe / “Sudanese Meat Cleaver” (Australia) (Running pointed elbow drop to the throat)[1]

Signature moves
Diving double foot stomp
Throat thrust[1]

Entrance themes
“One of These Days” by Pink Floyd (Japan)


Paul Jones
Gary Hart[11]
Oliver Humperdink[12][13]
Buddy Colt
James J. Dillon
Jimmy Hart
Paul E. Dangerously
Paul Ellering
Skandor Akbar
Harley Race and The Sheik
Adnan El Kassey
Gentleman Jim Holiday
Hugo Savinovich
The Grand Wizard
Eddie Creatchman
Chicky Starr
Rico Suave
Rip Rogers
Tully Blanchard
Mike Rotunda
The Cuban Assassin
Frenchy Martin
Damien Kane
James Mitchell
Sir Dudley Clemens
“Honest” John Cheatum
Rock Hunter
The Great Mephisto
Jason Dark Cash Descôteaux

Championships and accomplishments

All Japan Pro Wrestling

NWA International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ray Candy[14]
NWA United National Championship (1 time)[15]
PWF United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[16]
PWF World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[17]
Champion Carnival (1976, 1979)[18][19]
January 4th Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal Winner (2008)[20]

Big Japan Pro Wrestling

BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[21]

Central States Wrestling

NWA Central States Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Roger Kirby

Georgia Championship Wrestling

NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[22]
NWA Georgia Television Championship (1 time)[23]

International Wrestling Association

IWA International Heavyweight Championship (3 times)

Lutte Internationale (Montreal)

Canadian International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[24]

Midwest Wrestling Federation

MWWF Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[25]

NWA All-Star Wrestling

NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) (2 times) – with Dr. Jerry Graham (1) and Armand Hussein (1)[26]
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) (1 time) – with Dr. Jerry Graham[27]

NWA Detroit

NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Detroit version) (1 time)
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Detroit version) (1 time) – with Killer Tim Brooks

NWA New Zealand

NWA New Zealand British Commonwealth Championship (1 time)

NWA Southwest

NWA Texas Hardcore Championship (1 time)[28]

National Wrestling Federation

NWF Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[29]
NWF International Championship (1 time)

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

PWI ranked him # 35 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the “PWI Years” in 1991[30]

Stampede Wrestling

NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship (Calgary version) (1 time)[31]
Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (6 times)[32]

Tokyo Pro Wrestling

TPW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Benkei

Tokyo Sports Grand Prix

Best Bout Award (1979) with Tiger Jeet Singh vs. Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba on August 26
Popularity Prize (1978, 1980)

World Class Wrestling Association

WCWA Brass Knuckles Championship (1 time)

World Wrestling Council

WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[33]
WWC Hardcore Championship (1 time)
WWC North American Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[34]
WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[35]
WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[36]
WWC World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[36]

Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards

Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)[37]

World Wrestling Entertainment
WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2011)

In popular culture

He is a superstar in Japan, where he appeared in some TV commercials.
Suntory/Daikin Industries/Denon/Sapporo Ichiban
He starred with Hiroyuki Sanada in the kung fu action film Roaring Fire.
Frequently, characters in Japanese anime or manga will be designed to resemble him, often with his signature scars. Examples include “Abdullah” from Kinnikuman, “Abdullah the criminal” from One Piece, “Machoke” from Pokemon and Mr. Heart from Fist of the North Star.
The character of Butcher in Tiger Mask 2 is inspired by him.
He also appeared in the Acclaim video game Legends of Wrestling II and its sequel Showdown: Legends of Wrestling as well as Spike’s King of Colosseum.
He appears in the 1997 Nintendo 64 game WCW vs. nWo: World Tour, renamed as Saladin.
The character and final boss, Grand Kong, from the Genesis game Wrestle War, is based on him.


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