Badseed's Bottomline #408:
Remembering Bam Bam Bigelow
Hey yo! Last week, having already written my column, I never thought I would have to write about another death in wrestling, but now, the second member of the Triple Threat has died.
First, I had to write about the tragic death of Chris Candido. The entire story around his death was just depressing. You grow up watching wrestlers and believing them to be invincible and then they die so young and it makes you wonder a lot about the sport you are covering.
I wrote a long time ago that I had only felt bad about Owen Hart when he died, because he was never involved in drugs and had perished because of a freak accident, but then, the death of Eddie Guerrero opened my eyes a lot, as to why wrestlers take drugs.
Whether it was steroids or painkillers, a lot of wrestlers almost feel forced to take these drugs in order to perform better and recover from injuries quicker. Promoters will find someone to take their spot and the livelihood these wrestlers will be jeopardized. In some cases, this sport is all they know. They can’t risk losing their moment in the sun and will do anything they can to hold on to it.
Now, in the case of Bam Bam Bigelow, I am not making assumptions, although there were some cases when I went to shows for Frank Goodman’s USA Pro Wrestling that Bam Bam Bigelow did not appear to be as healthy as he should. I heard he was addicted to OxyContin, but I do not, at the time of this writing, know his cause of death. I do know that Bigelow will be missed.
When I was younger, the debut of Bam Bam Bigelow was a big deal in the WWF. I read about him in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and I felt in the know when he came to the WWF and everyone was fighting over him. They did the same angle with Randy Savage and look where he ended up, so I had high hopes for Bigelow, but in a strange twist of events, he hired Oliver Humperdink as his manager. Paul Orndorff would join him and I gave it a try, believing it was possible that they were trying to turn Humperdink into the next Capt. Lou Albano. It never worked, but Bigelow really shined and was featured in the first ever Survivor Series main event with Hulk Hogan.
I remember that match well, because Hogan was eliminated early and Bigelow was the final participant for the face team, beating One Man Gang and King Kong Bundy before eventually losing out to Andre the Giant. Bigelow was made to look like a big time star and no one had ever seen anyone like him before. For his size, Bigelow could move. He did cartwheels, hit drop kicks and who could forget the moonsault off the top ropes.
But Bigelow never got his chance to shine in the WWF and so he moved on to WCW. In a move that made wrestling seem real to an impressionable kid like myself, he entered WCW with Humperdink as his manager and feuded with Barry Windham for the U.S. title. Bigelow never won the title and it seemed like the man with the flame tattoos on his head would never be taken seriously enough to be given a title.
Bigelow was taken seriously in Japan and found a great partner in Big Van Vader. I have seen incredible matches from a shoot video I had borrowed featuring Bigelow. What a team!!
But in the mainstream wrestling fan’s mind, you are only as good as you are in the U.S. and Bigelow returned to the WWF with Luna Vachon as his manager. He called her his little tick, which was laughable, since the WWF was sadly trying to come up with a way of calling her Luna-tic. Weird.
Bigelow never found himself until he ended up on Ted Dibiase’s Corporation where a high profile feud with Lawrence Taylor resulted in a main event slot at Wrestlemania. It was probably one of the only non-title matches to ever close out such a big show and was a very risky move by the WWF. But it worked. Bigelow got more attention than most wrestlers could ever receive and although he lost the match, wrestling insiders know just how good he was for making Taylor appear to be a legitimate foe.
Bigelow turned face and started teaming with Diesel, but any chance to gain a true fan base ended for unknown reasons. Bigelow never won a title in the WWF and would soon find a home in ECW.
ECW knew how to treat Bigelow. He was a monster and there was no denying how much of a force he was. Fans loved him even when he was a heel and tossing Spike Dudley into the crowd, which led to the unscripted body surfing moment that will be forever etched in every ECW fan’s mind made Bigelow an attraction that deserved more than just tiny pushes.
An angle involving Rick Rude resulted in Bigelow turning face and beating his Triple Threat partner, Shane Douglas, to win the ECW World Title. Finally, Bigelow was a world champion and although he would lose the title back to Douglas and rejoin his former partner, the Asbury Park native was finally getting the attention he deserved.
In a match with Tazz, the two wrestlers fell through the ring in the holy shit moment of the century that prompted the WWF to do the same thing and eventually have the ring collapse in a match between Brock Lesnar and the Big Show. Bigelow and Tazz started the trend and made it work. The two wrestled intense matches and Bigelow would win the ECW TV title, a belt he held for some time, until losing it to RVD.
Money talks and who can blame Bigelow for going to WCW for what he hoped would be a high profile feud with Goldberg. Unfortunately, nothing ever really came from that, but Bigelow would finally go somewhere in the big two, teaming with DDP and Chris Kanyon as the Jersey Triad and winning the world tag-team titles. The formidable trio made for an interesting group that was eventually broken up for unknown reasons.
Bigelow sort of floated about and actually re-teamed with Shane Douglas and Chris Candido in one match. Rumors of a Triple Threat reunification in WCW never happened after Candido and Sunny were released from the company. Bigelow would stay on and actually turn face, beating Shawn Stasiak on the final Monday Nitro telecast in a gimmick match involving tattoos.
Sadly, that was Bigelow’s last match in a major company. The star would show up in USA Pro Wrestling and win the company’s belt several times, eventually reforming the Triple Threat in a memorable show slowly leading up to Bigelow’s retirement.
So many memories from a one of a kind star. They didn’t make them like Bigelow and you have to wonder how he would have fared in today’s WWE with the untalented likes of Umaga and Khali given too much of a spotlight that they don’t deserve.
Bigelow, like King Kong Bundy, paved the way for bigger men and his legacy will never be forgotten. We’ll miss you.
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