This daredevil was born Terry Michael Brunk on December 12, 1964. He received his in-ring training from the original Sheik, the late Ed Farhat and started wrestling for Farhat’s promotion Big Time Wrestling back in 1985.
Often billed as being from Saudi Arabia, this Staten Island, New York native travelled throughout Hawaii, Canada, Michigan and Southern United States for various independent promotions during the early years.
He eventually made his way to Japan’s Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) which laid the origins of his future hardcore risk-taking style. Such matches included barbed wire and “Ring of Fire” matches where the ropes were doused in kerosene and set alight during the bout.
In 1993, he debuted in Extreme Championship Wrestling as Sabu, an uncontrollable maniac wearing a Hannibal Lecter type of face restraint, led to the ring tied to a gurney. As a completely mute character, Sabu would have to use his body to promote himself which he did, often breaking tables himself if he was unable to do so against an opponent.
In his early days in ECW he would feud with hardcore legend Terry Funk and was able to capture the ECW World Heavyweight Championship and Television Championship from the Funker. He would later team with Taz (then known as the Tazmanic) and capture the ECW Tag Team titles as well.
Sabu would be fired from ECW by owner Paul Heyman (Paul E. Dangerously) due to his no-showing at a Pay-Per-View event to accept an offer to appear in New Japan Pro Wrestling instead.
In 1995, Sabu would crop in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) but largely competed in the cruiserweight division, defeating the likes of Disc Inferno and Alex Wright.
Seeing a lack of push in WCW, Sabu returned to ECW as he was always a big draw that Heyman couldn’t refuse. Here, Sabu teamed with Rod Destiny to capture the ECW Tag Team titles twice and also engaged in a long built-up feud against former ally Taz. When Sabu would initially not respond to Taz’s catcalls and challenges, la lengthy and intensely physical feud erupted, including Taz’s loss of manager Bill Alfonso.
He made history against Terry Funk in a “No-Rope Barbed-Wire” match which is exactly the way it sounds: the ring ropes were replaced by barbed wire, leaving the combatants bruised, battered and bloody. During the bout, Sabu did his trademark “Air Sabu” launch which caused him to get tangled in the barbed so bad he and Funk both had to be cut free.
After a racking up a laundry list of serious injuries including a neck injury that nearly ended his career, Sabu was released from ECW in 2000 allegedly over a refusal to job to luchadore Super Crazy.
Sabu made his way to Juggalo Championship Wrtesling (JCW) and won a battle royal to crown the JCW Heavyweight Champion, but lost the belt the next day to Vampiro.
After his short stint in JCW, Sabu next moved to World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) for the next 2 years making stops in Scotland and New Zealand competing with former WWE Superstars Perry Saturn and Shane Douglas.
In 2002, he jumped ship to Total Nonstop Action (TNA) to give the hardcore division a push. He was the target of Raven (Scott Levy) whom Sabu initially refused to face as he had promised his uncle (Farhat) that he would never fight against him. The oath didn’t last after Sabu attacked Raven for disrespecting his uncle. When the two faced off, Sabu would suffer a loss to Raven as well as a serious back injury in the process.
He was then off for 10 months recuperating from an infection which left him hospitalized. After his recovery, he would face Funk and Douglas in a three-way replication of the No-Ropes Barbed Wire brawl he and Funk had had earlier on in ECW to a victory.
Sabu would then team with old rival Raven to face Jeff Jarrett and Rhyno. TNA mainstay Abyss would interfere in the match, igniting a feud between Sabu and Abyss.
Sabu would have a lengthy feud against Rhyno and Abyss, mostly to losses for Sabu. Sabu would eventually defeat Abyss in a Barbed Wire Massacre bout which had a delayed showing on TNA programming owing to its gruesome nature.
After a loss against Samoa Joe for the TNA X Division Championship, Sabu was released from his TNA contract.
In 2006, he signed a contract with the WWE and challenged the champion Rey Mysterio Jr. to a match which ended in a no contest as both men were so battered they were deemed unable to continue after crashing through a table.
Sabu then challenged popular face John Cena for the WWE Championship after an attack on Cena, putting him through the announcer’s table. Cena would go on to defeat Sabu in an “Extreme Lumberjack Match” at the “Vengeance” Pay-Per-View event.
Things would take a detour for Sabu when he and fellow ECW cohort Rob Van Dam were arrested for having drug paraphernalia and Vicodin tablets on their person to a 10-day suspended jail sentence and a fine.
On his return, Sabu was given a rare opportunity to speak on the microphone to promote a feud between he and the Big Show over Show’s ECW heavyweight Championship. He would first have to face Rob van Dam in a ladder match to determine the number one contender against Show which Sabu won, but eventually lost to the giant when the title was on the line.
The Human Highlight Reel would be eliminated by the Big Show at the Survivor Series and was eliminated by Kane in the 2007 Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event.
He would then join a faction called the “ECW Originals” consisting also of The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Van Dam who would do battle against the “New Breed” consisting of Matt Striker, Elijah Burke (D’Angelo Dinero), Marcus Cor Von (Monty Brown) and Kevin Thorn. The Breed would lose to the Originals at WrestleMania XXIII, with Sabu being released from his WWE contract shortly thereafter.
Form 2007 – 2010, Sabu re-appeared on the independent circuit and competed across the globe in Mexico, the Carolinas, Germany and the United Kingdom.
During this period, he also returned to his old stomping grounds of JCW, engaging in feuds with old mainstays Rhyno and Raven as well as facing former WWE talent Rob Conway and Colt Cabana.
In 2010, he retuned to TNA once again, to face old rival/friend Van Dam in a “Hardcore Rules” match in which Van Dam would prevail.
Sabu would be teamed up with old ECW wrestlers in a faction called Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0) to do battle with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s faction “Fortune” which included A.J. Styles, Kazarian and Robert Roode.
From 2012 to present, Sabu appears on the independent scene and has never stopped travelling, having appeared in areas as diverse as Holland, Eastern Canada and the United States.
This hardcore legend has put his body on the line for the sport and has sustained countless serious injuries in dedication to the fans. Whenever Sabu would appear in the squared circle, the fans knew they were in for an exciting, fast paced and often brutal match. While not exactly a mainstream WWE Superstar, Sabu certainly has made wrestling history and laid the foundation for Table, Ladders and Chairs matches beloved by fans today.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.