This specimen of strength and power — Tom Magee — was expected to achieve greatness in 1980’s pro wrestling, but some say his lack of wrestling ability prevented his success (although I disagree with that assessment.)
I believe there must be more to the story of Magee’s failure — he wasn’t truly terrible in the ring. He was a natural athlete so he had to be trainable, and just look at that physique — DAMN. A body like that is proof of dedication and discipline, a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. That is not the body of a clumsy failure.
So why did Magee fail to launch? You can’t argue that he lacked proper training. None other than the great Stu Hart, who taught some of the most skilled and exciting ring stars of all time, taught Magee to wrestle.
Magee wrestled before the WWF steroid scandal hit, before the Wellness Policy was in place, so his career probably wasn’t short-circuited due to usage of performance enhancing drugs (which were legal at the time). Magee had some trouble getting a Work Visa in the United States, but many other Canadian athletes have gotten over that hurdle.
Some rumors have floated around that the really attractive wrestlers were required to please the promoters after-hours, to show off their talents, so to speak, in the hotel room as well as in the ring. Maybe Magee refused to participate and was therefore shunned from the American wrestling scene. I have no evidence of this, but it seems plausible.In the end, I believe what really harmed Magee the most, what held him out of the Main Event, was that he was deemed “too feminine” — not manly or brutish enough like a Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior.
The (male) fans preferred to cheer for a ruff, tuff SOB, not a beautiful, potentially arousing, graceful, long-haired muscle stud.
The above article from the Wrestling Observer newsletter implies that Magee both looked and acted too feminine to be the heroic Super-Star champion: “Where he differed from other strongmen types is he wasn’t nearly as heavy, and had a small waist…” “He also came off as almost effeminate in the ring...”
Comparing the appearance of Tom Magee to other muscle men like Hulk Hogan reminds me of an article comparing the Ken Doll to a GI Joe Action Figure: “The Ken doll was a male doll for female children… GI Joe was created with wider shoulders and a broader chest than Mattel’s Ken doll, his face was given a more chiseled appearance, and he bore a scar on one cheek…” Recall that boys were permitted to play with GI Joe, who was deemed masculine enough, while the Ken doll was shunned for his femininity.
Tom Magee is the Ken Doll of pro wrestling. In 1986, (male) wrestling fans were prepared to accept and worship a muscle-man so long as he was hyper-masculine and brutish like Hulk Hogan. This enabled the excited male fans to deny any sexual attraction to the star (to their friends and family and to themselves.) When questioned about why he likes to watch other men rolling around in their underwear in the ring, it is easier for the wrestling fan to affirm his hetero-sexuality by describing a love for violence and fighting. If the wrestlers that he tunes in to watch are too pretty and graceful (like Magee), the viewer could be outed as a closet homo-sexual, a pro wrestling jerk-off.
Perhaps the problem wasn’t that Tom Magee was too effeminate himself, but that he was too attractive — he inspired homo-erotic thoughts and feelings in the minds of the (male) viewers that they couldn’t explain away. Male viewers defined him as “effeminate” because they didn’t have any other word to describe a person whom they find attractive.
Therefore, the men in the audience felt the need to boo and shout insults at our narrow-waisted, dough-eyed pretty-boy with his ass-hugging briefs and long-flowing curls, to affirm to themselves and their friends that they are not gay themselves. They had to prove that, in fact, they hated gays: Hey Johnny — Did ya see me just spit on that fairy who is prancing around in his red panties?!
Hearing the boos and negative reaction of the men in the crowd, the visceral distaste that men feel toward any spectacular male who threatens their sexual comfort zone, the wrestling promoters had no choice but to quickly bury Tom Magee, to consider him a failed experiment, to ship him off to Japan so at least our young American boys wouldn’t think gay thoughts upon seeing such an attractive young athlete. Somehow, Pat Patterson and Vince McMahon, in awe of that physique, forgot that a spectacular male who is TOO attractive can be emasculating to heterosexual men.
The reason many male pro wrestling fans are homo-phobic is precisely because the sport is so homo-erotic, and that makes them uncomfortable. To cheer for a mouth-watering hunk like Magee would be akin to wearing a sign that says: “Yes, I masturbate to pro wrestling. I get off on looking at other men’s bodies.”
For Tom Magee to succeed in pro wrestling, he should’ve eaten fatty fried food and carried more body mass. He should’ve lumbered around like a troll rather than flipping and floating like an angel. He should’ve covered his face in paint or grown a manly moustache, and worn thicker, more concealing trunks.
In short, Magee should’ve looked and behaved more like a Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior so the male fans could cheer for him without fear, regret, or self-doubt about their sexual orientation.
We may never know the truth behind why Magee’s career didn’t get the expected Push he so deserved. It certainly wasn’t due to his body being out of shape or small, and I don’t believe it was due to a lack of talent on Magee’s part either. I believe he was just too Pretty to Push.