By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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When Terry Funk debuted in the WWF in 1985 he came with more than his traditional cowboy hat. The tough Texan toted a branding iron to the ring, along with his manager Jimmy Hart. The end of the iron had two crosses, representing Funk's residence of the Double Cross Ranch.
My memories of the branding iron include Funk using it to mark his opponents after a match. This paved the way for Jake "The Snake" Roberts to allow Damien to slither over opponents, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to cut the hair of his fallen foes and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase to stuff cash into the mouths of his Million Dollar Dream victims.
|Funk leaves his mark|
Even big names were branded by Funk. One night WWF Champion Hulk Hogan got the treatment. This lead to a feud between the two. Funk had also been battling the ever popular Junkyard Dog and once Dory Funk, Jr. was brought in, the brothers battled JYD and Hogan several times. The two teams clashed in the main event of a house show I attended in 1986 in St. Louis.
|Funk brands Hogan|
Sometimes the tables were turned and the good guy would use the branding iron. JYD lost to Funk on Saturday Night's Main Event. But when Funk tried branding the Dog, JYD fought back and knocked the former NWA Champion out of the ring. During a tug-of-war with the Mouth of the South as the rope, the mouthy manager lost his pants. Hart squirmed feverishly as his butt got branded and the crowd cheered with delight. JYD getting pinned moments earlier no longer mattered.
|Jimmy Hart gets branded|
Obviously, the branding iron wasn't hot, but it did leave a mark. The same can be said about my LJN action figures. I learned quickly that pressing Funk's iron onto an ink pad leaves a lasting impression. More than 30 years later, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff is still a marked man.
|Look closely there's blue ink on Orndorff's pecs|
The branding iron is missing though
Eventually, Funk's iron did get fired up in "extreme" situations in other companies. And who can forget when he traded in the iron for a chainsaw in the late 90s?
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