As anybody who's over 21 but less than like 29 can tell you, there is a fine line between being fat and being ripped. I myself had my own bout with the fat/ripped conundrum two years ago, when I began my weight training at Crunch Gym. An Indian friend of mine, indisputably ripped, put me on a low cardio, high rep program that I took very seriously. I was doing about five minutes of cardio per session, and about 35 minutes of weight training plus like ten minutes of the ab machine that's supposed to work the "side abs", which frankly I don't even think exist. At the end of my sessions, for which I never stretched before or after, I confused actual damage to my body for "healthy tearing down of my muscles, which will soon rebuild bigger slash stronger," and began "rewarding" myself with 20-24oz peanut butter and banana recovery shakes. To these shakes, which I'm guessing were already in the 1000-1500 Calorie range, I added two extra shots of whey protein, largely because I could. Since I'm being completely upfront about my workout plan, I should also add that the blender container Crunch used to process drink ingredients was closer to 28oz in size--so it wasn't unusual for the cafe woman to let me sip up an additional 4-6oz of recovery shake before she put the legit 20-24 ounces into the plastic cup, the contents of which leaked from the top as soon as the straw was inserted, as it was filled to the absolute very top. I stayed on this program for about a month, and I saw results rather quickly. A friend of a girlfriend at the time noted, positively, that I was jacked. My chest filled out my expensive printed t-shirts, and in general I felt more "solid" in the "I have put on fifteen pounds of muscle in one month" sense of the word. Anyway long story short: I had gained fifteen pounds of pure fat in about a month. Somehow everybody thought it was muscle? I myself was confused, until I realized that the reason I was running out of breath when climbing stairs was not because my leg muscles were fatigued, but rather because I had put on fifteen pounds of pure fat and had put a hold on all cardiovascular exercises. Like I say, fine line.

Fat wrestlers--by which I mean performers whose shtick, more/less, had at least some connection to the fact that they were obese--were anomalous among the WWF athletes circa late 80s early 90s, but something of a haunt, if not an unusually dominating presence, considering their small number. A certain roundness of stomach is usually what separates a Fat Wrestler from a wrestler who is fat, is my sense of it. Earthquake, who got his start as a 460lb prop that Dino Bravo lifted on his back via push-ups, was a Fat Wrester; Bam Bam Bigelow was a unpredictable not-exactly-muscular wrestler who happened to be fat; Yokozuna, the sumo who was an amazing heel throughout the 90s, turning anyone who defeated him into a de facto face, was a Fat Wrestler; Big Boss Man, who was a cop and likely thought Munchkins were for queers, was a WWF superstar who just happened to have some size to him. Tugboat/Typhoon, a member of the Natural Disasters alongside Earthquake, was a Fat Wrestler; Kamala, Papa Shango, Haku, and countless others were merely not cut in the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart/Ultimate Warrior/steroids-and-sixpacks style. Andre the Giant posed an interesting crisis for the fat-averse WWF storyliners, as his weight (540lb) was outdone only by his height (7'4"). Vader was as big as Earthquake, weight-wise, yet somehow the way his stomach fell in that red onesie, I just think he was able to hide the pounds a little better, and so I feel obliged to chalk up another point in the happened-to-be-fat category.

On and on and on. All of these men were, in a rather oblique way, nevertheless in good physical shape. They could perform, and they knew how to redistribute their weight such that it wasn't that big a deal for somebody like Hogan or Stone Cold or whoever to pick them up and slam them. Frankly I don't now how these Fat Wrestlers do it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't impressed.

But what's confusing me, in a huge way, is what I see to be like this counterintuitive Round Stomach Bias at work in the casting process. Shouldn't fat people whose body types fit the local mall Santa Claus mold get the face here? Look at John Trenta, aka Earthquake, in his pre-Earthquake appearance:

Earthquake is a very gentle-seeming man. He has kind eyes, and at least initially, seems capable of (if not actually at home in) a down-at-the-farm demeanor. Pleasantly plump, they call it; the man likes his steak but I doubt he could take a knife to a cow's neck. Mean Gene and Warrior, two vets when it comes to "more than meets the eye," really have no reason to suspect that this is the man who will one day give the following interview, aka "Earthquake pretends he's Marvel Comics' Juggernaut with the added twist that either Earthquake or Juggernaut (in character) has to take a shit, which is why Earthquake/Juggernaut keeps shifting his weight so rapidly":

These days of course, you'll rarely see a WWE wrestler whose athleticism/performance abilities are hidden behind layers and layers of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue. Fat Wrestler was shorthand for heel in a way that the storyliners, probably with good reasons, have forgotten or retired--but the Heelness of Fat Wrestlers played out so much in their physicality, in their actual movements, in the David and Goliath-ness of the setups, that to be honest I actually miss the Fat Wrestler = Heel shorthand. Physical strength does not always have a one-to-one relationship with the number of muscles on your neck!

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