The Influence Of Professor Nero
Ryan Jalda, GrappleFanatics.net

Details
Name Professor Mycroft Nero
Real Name Michael Von Edberg
Height 5'11
Weight 237lbs
Birthday 3rd November 1950
Hometown Austria originally, now residing in Austin, Texas
Trademark Moves Running Knee Drop To Forehead
Major Titles -
Major Promotions SWF (1982-1986)

The Influence Of Professor Nero
In and around Texas, the name Professor Mycroft Nero is legendary. For almost two decades, spanning the 1970s and 1980s, "The Intelligent Monster" cut a path of sadistic destruction throughout that area, and was the most feared competitor around. Despite being less than six feet tall, and weighing beneath 220lbs for most of his career, Nero still managed to whip up a frenzy of bloodshed and chaos wherever he went, putting men twice his size to shame. In particular he was noted for using his ever-present cane as a weapon, taking any opportunity to choke, stab or strike an opponent with it. He was one of the first wrestlers who would occasionally take a disqualification on purpose just so he could use a weapon to inflict serious damage on an enemy. Even now, almost two decades after he retired, a lot of Texan fans use him as the measuring stick by which all modern days heels must compare.

What set The Professor apart from anyone else of that era was his ability to commit psychological warfare, his "evil genius with a warped mind" character being a good twenty years ahead of its time. No feud in the South evokes such strong nostalgia as the one Nero fought with Chief Two Eagles for three years between 1978 and 1981, and it was during this war that Nero displayed some of his most sadistic work. One famous episode still gets talked of today, and that is the time that Nero nearly caused a riot. The Professor had come to the ring wearing the Chief's ceremonial head-dress, and proceeded to mock the proud native american warrior, knowing that this was the ultimate sign of disrespect, and would make his opponent so angry he would do anything to get his hands on him. The strategy worked, as it soon brought out a furious Chief Two Eagles, only for it to be revealed that it was merely an ambush, as he was instantly jumped by two of the Professor's followers at that time, Warlords Pain and Agony. After beating him down, Nero dragged his fallen opponent to the announcer's table and used a piledriver to put him through it. In 1978 this was unheard of, and security had to escort Nero out of the building to prevent him from being killed by a crowd that was on the verge of a full blown riot.

While Nero was a legend in the South, he rarely travelled, and other than a four year run with the SWF (where he, more than anyone else, was severely held back by the promotion's cartoonish product and restrictions on bleeding) he didn't make much of an impact on the rest of the country. However, such was his impact on the Texas scene that even in 2006 you can still see the hallmarks of The Professor's work on some of today's stars.

Perhaps the most famous example of Nero's work influencing a modern wrestler is with SWF's Rich Money, a known fan of the old-school Texas scene. Professor Nero was almost never without back-up, often branding his followers his "disciples of evilness". The most famous of these were the Lords Of War, Agony and Pain, who first gained national fame for their role with Nero. Indeed, the face-paint that they wear today is the same design that The Professor himself made for them back in the late 70s. Similarly, Rich Money is rarely without interference-runners, his so-called "Insurance Policy"; over the past few years we've seen Money align himself with men like Remo, Angry Gilmore and - most tellingly of all - the Lords Of War themselves. These alliances have often been crucial in Money's path to the top of the promotion.

In New York City Wrestling, Grandmaster Phunk is another who clearly takes some inspiration from Professor Nero. One of Nero's classic ploys was to drop to ringside before the bell was rung, and throw a chair into the ring. As the referee turned his back to pick it up, Nero would grab his distracted opponent's feet and trip them, then yank them to the outside where he could ram them into the guard rail without risking a disqualification. This sneaky tactic has been adopted by Phunk, who has even updated it slightly; instead of merely pulling the opponent out, he climbs up onto the apron and uses a second chair to hit his opponent with, safe in the knowledge that the referee will not see it.

Over in Total Championship Wrestling we have what many would call the closest modern day equivelant to Nero, in the form of hardcore brawler Madman Boone. Where The Professor would use his wooden cane to great effect, Boone is rarely without his singapore cane, and has little inhibitions when it comes to using it. Madman is also known to use several of Professor Nero's signature moves, most notably ripping off his wrist tape and using it to cover his opponent's mouth, hindering his breathing. That sort of innovative and sadistic use of everyday items to inflict pain is something that Nero was famed for.

Professor Mycroft Nero was a true innovator, someone who was undoubtedly so far ahead of his time that he could quite easily have jumped straight out of 1978 and felt quite at home in the wrestling world of 2006. His career-defining feud with Chief Two Eagles will never be forgotten in Texas, and while he was never a great wrestler, some of his trademark moves and mannerisms still survive today, kept alive by wrestlers who debuted long after he had retired. Perhaps most importantly of all, he was a pioneer in that his character was a complex multi-layered one, one that set the stage for the revolution of the 1980's. While he may not have had the impact on the business that men like Sam Strong and Rip Chord have had, it's safe to say that Professor Mycroft Nero deserves the status of Legend.