Defending: Barry Horowitz

Horowitz I have to admit, this is an idea that was brought to me by my friend Hugh Gibson, I originally intended to just touch on the subject, but it’s grown into something much deeper. There was a time in wrestling where we had enhancement workers galore, people who were basically hired for one purpose and one purpose only, to put over others. The original plan for The Ringmaster was actually to fill this role, somewhat interesting to think of where wrestling would be if Steve Austin hadn’t been saved from this role. In the land of the Superstars, these men were considered the designated losers, the unheralded talents who were actually pretty good workers who were just missing that one intangible. We’ve seen people take this role head on many times over the years, in recent times people will remember Sho Funaki serving this purpose for a while. Some people would like to look at these people as forgettable, insignificant role players in a world where only being the brightest star matters. In this field of mediocrity, one man stands above all others, potentially the greatest jobber of all time, Barry Horowitz.

While certain younger workers won’t know the name, or the work this man put in, he was always there to take a beating whenever someone needed to be put over in the business. Horowitz was the consummate heel worker used to put over babyface workers on their way into and up through the company, even wearing a vest with his handprint on it, specifically created for the purpose of literally patting himself on the back. Horowitz was the man with The Streak before anyone ever thought of Goldberg, and before Undertaker’s record at WrestleMania held that title. There was no better man for the job, pun fully intended, than Horowitz and if you watched Superstars, hell any show produced by WWF at that time, then you were damn near bound to see Horowitz in the ring. Few men have what it takes to be a constant loser but still make a big enough impression to be burned into the consciousness of fans who are old enough to remember them, Horowitz was one of these guys. Barry did such a good job that he actually got a storyline written for him that actually put him over for a little while.

After serving as an enhancement worker for damn near a decade, having been off WWF television for a while with a neck injury, Barry Horowitz finally got his first push as a member of the WWF roster. I still remember watching his match with Chris Candido, in his Bodydonna Skip role, and seeing Horowitz get the victory, it was an amazing moment. It was hard to contain the laughter, but also the jubilation at the sight of this guy who never, and I mean NEVER, wins a match finally pulling one out of his ass, it was a great moment to be a wrestling fan. Watching this episode of The Action Zone, yes a horrible WWF show title, and hearing those unmistakable tones of Jim Ross belting out “HOROWITZ WINS!!! HOROWITZ WINS!!” it just felt like a major moment in wrestling history had just unfolded before our eyes. While this push never resulted in any championship runs, it didn’t immediately die out either, leading to Horowitz getting entrance music. It was weird, but remarkably refreshing for a kid to be able to see this man who had no business winning matches finally getting a chance, it actually had that “never give up, you can do anything” feel to the character after starting to win matches.

One thing I always enjoyed about certain enhancement workers was the fact that sometimes they would be great workers, just lacking in personality, gimmick, or the ability to speak to a crowd. While nobody would mistake any of these guys for main event worker, while this may be the case it doesn’t mean that, the guys can’t work with the best in the business. Barry Horowitz was actually trained by a man named Boris Malenko; yes THAT Malenko, the father of Dean Malenko. Needless to say, he could actually go, he just didn’t seem to have that “IT” factor to make him a top-level star. When you look back, this was a man who was able to make it almost 15 years in WWF while never really making it beyond curtain jerker status, which alone should speak to how well Barry Horowitz could work. For those who are too young to remember the man, just think of Santino Marella, another great example of a guy who can work but is destined to spend his career never breaking into the main event. The only real difference between Marella and Horowitz is that Santino has actually held titles, having been thrust upon the scene as the Intercontinental Champion during his career, which takes him out of contention to be called the “best enhancement worker” to ever set foot in the ring.

There have been many people who have worked in the business, and some of them shine so bright that they’ll never be forgotten. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Edge, and so many other workers are forever etched into the minds of the masses because they were the absolute pinnacle of the wrestling industry at one point in their careers. It’s quite a feat for a guy to be able to pop into my mind, especially for a match on an anything but memorable show, just as quickly as any of these other legendary workers. Barry Horowitz was something special, while being nothing more than “that guy” who was brought in to put over the up and coming babyface workers. You can say what you want, but guys like Horowitz seem to come along once in a lifetime, it would be great if we actually got someone to fill this role again one of these days. I know the man never held a title, hell it took him almost ten years just to win a match, but I can honestly say that I would not be against a Hall of Fame induction for Barry Horowitz. There are times when we get hung up on title wins, how many matches a person won, so on and so forth, but at the end of the day a wrestler’s worth is measured in how memorable they are once the lights have faded. To that end, Horowitz is easily in contention and deserves a nod, maybe it won’t be this year or next year, but some day Barry Horowitz should get his due and finally be included in the Hall. Hell, if Koko B. Ware can make it, why not the Jewish Dream?

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  • Mark

    How about Iron Mike Sharpe?

    • Chris

      Sharpe eventually landed the robber role, but he actually climbed to main event status early on, facing Bob Backlund for the title. Horowitz, if I remember correctly, only had 10 wins or something around that during his WWF career. He’s an example of “it’s not the time you’re given, but what you make of that time,” on the positive side.

  • jean

    I feel strangely compelled to go onto utube and watch some Barry Horowitz jobber matches right now :)

  • J Sal

    I’ve got 2 words for you…….Brooklyn……Brawler