Ted Arcidi: I remember you, albeit dimly. Big brawny mid-carder. One of the few Wrestling Superstars action figures I didn’t have. “Mr. 705 bench press” (and a legitimate lift at that, Dino Bravo). You wrestled entire matches that consisted of nothing more than bear hugs and tests of strength. Putting aside the completely untalented Jeep Swenson, you represented the apotheosis of the immobile, bodybuilder-style wrestler that “Superstar” Billy Graham and “Polish Power” Ivan Putski brought into vogue.
Vince McMahon’s initial vision for his father’s federation still fascinates me. Back before he ripped off Paul Heyman’s idea of making all of his wrestlers wear jorts and wallet chains, Vince desired mass and lots of it–both on himself (look at how he filled out those tight-fitting suits he wore!) and on everyone who worked for him. Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera, nearing the end of the road in the late-1980s WWF, recalls in an especially revealing “shoot” interview how Vince approached him, squeezed his thigh, and told him he’d gotten a little soft while he was in prison. It was at this point that Patera–who along with Tony Atlas, “Big” John Studd, “Hercules” Hernandez, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Billy Jack Haynes, the Ultimate Warrior, Don “the Rock” Muraco, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and “Hulk” Hogan formed the heart of Vince’s beefcake brigade–decided to hang it up.
Arcidi’s WWF career ended with even less ceremony. In the overcrowded field of behemoths adverted to above, Arcidi was the odd man out. He was too short (Vince was always wary of putting the title strap on someone under 6′, which worked against men like Orndorff and Arcidi), not to mention a bad wrestler even by the lackluster standards of the WWF product in those days. After leaving the WWF, he briefly held the Texas Heavyweight Title in Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling federation (by then rebranded the “World Class Wrestling Association” in one final, pathetic effort to save that doomed promotion). I’ve never seen any WCCW/WCWA programming from that era–I don’t think many people have–but I imagine the shows must have been akin to those sad AWA studio matches that aired on ESPN near the end of that outfit’s run. From there, he appeared on a few TV shows, operated a gym, and somehow managed to avoid the heart failure/drug overdose finishing move that put so many of his contemporaries down for the long 3-count. Good for him.
A final word about Arcidi: In his prime, he may have been one of the few humans whose body measurements would qualify him for the label of “bull” as described in this survey. I bring this up because so many of the Arcidi videos that are archived on YouTube appear to have been uploaded for reasons other than admiring his grappling expertise. In the captions accompanying these videos, Arcidi is frequently referred to as a “musclebear,” which isn’t correct. “Big” John Studd and arm wrestling champion-turn-wrestler Scott Norton were “musclebears,” but Arcidi was most assuredly a “bull.” I’m not casting any aspersions on Arcidi’s sexual preference–I couldn’t care less how this formal dental student “swings”–but I do believe that these videos need to be relabeled, for reasons of accuracy, reliability, &c. It’d also be interesting to run the entire WWE midcard-and-above roster from 1984-1989 through this survey, to see exactly where everyone would fit. I’d hazard a guess that the lineup was pretty musclebear-heavy.
Note: The word “musclebear” appears in bold throughout this short essay for various reasons, most notably that of SEO. According to Google AdWords, it’s a somewhat popular search with little competition.