Blazing into the ring for our next collision is Bam Bam Bigelow. By all accounts a nice, fun guy, but at six-feet-five and almost four hundred pounds, he isn’t one you’d wish to test.
The Bam Bam experience was one quite different to that of any other big man. Many wrestlers of his build are in fact little more than lumbering giants, wading around the ring choking and slamming and really being dependent on the opposition to carry the big moments. Bigelow, however, was extremely impressive in that he had that familiar ample frame but possessed the talent and agility to keep up with the quickest of his colleagues. He would roll and cartwheel around the ring just to rub it in to the slowpokes. It was something to see, adding a great deal of unpredictability to his matches, and really sold him as a major player. Indeed when he arrived in the WWF in 1987, he was propelled to the heights of Hulk Hogan, the very epitome of ‘major player’, teaming with him against André and various others.
Then, of course, there’s that whole look – moreover, those fascinating tattoos on his arms, and, yes, covering most of his head. Hmm! Well, it worked for him; certainly it made Bam Bam instantly recognisable, and if the funky attire weren’t flamey enough, well, now you’ve got some extra. It was curious how it really worked to sell him as fun-crazy when he was a good guy, and terrifying-crazy as a bad guy, really feeding into his natural presence and charisma.
He is probably better remembered as terrifying-crazy in terms of his WWF tenure; a return in 1992 as a villain saw him put on some great matches with the likes of Bret Hart, further testament to his versatility, and engaging in a highly-entertaining ‘relationship’ with the equally crazy Luna Vachon. However, it’s perhaps telling of his sore luck that his most famous turn is his WrestleMania XI headline bout against Lawrence Taylor. A footballer. A footballer who beat Bigelow. Hard though it must have been, Bam Bam put on a great show and seemed at home at the top of the bill. He would leave the WWF soon after, feeling that he wasn’t being used effectively and issues with troublesome cliques backstage were hindering his career.
His diverse skills meant that he was able to adapt to the rapidly changing face of wrestling as the nineties rolled on; a move to ECW saw Bam Bam bring out his rougher side, engaging in the most hardcore competition – the ‘in’ thing at the time – and going on to be Heavyweight Champion. He would later have a run in WCW and was still under contract when WWF bought the company out, though he didn’t return.
Bam Bam was still making sporadic appearances in independent promotions when died in 2007, aged only forty-five. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a ‘big man’ as entertaining as he. He took that concept and spun it on his head. A performer so wholly distinctive, juggling grace and grit with such brilliance, shouldn’t be easily forgotten!