Bam Bam Bigelow: 1961-2007
January 19, 2007
I was shocked to read of the death of Bam Bam Bigelow. It’s getting to the point where I shouldn’t be shocked when I hear about another death in the wrestling industry but when it’s someone you knew and truly liked it hits you a little bit harder.
I first met Bam Bam in 1996 when we both worked for Tenryu’s WAR promotion in Japan. We were the only foreigners working for WAR at that time and we did likely 6- 10 tours together. Since we were the only foreigners on the tours we got to know each other pretty well and spent a lot of time together. Oddly enough I wasn’t a big fan of Bammer’s work before I met him. I had seen his work in WWF when I was a fan but for some reason (maybe me being a dumb smark at the time) didn’t care much for it. That opinion changed quickly in Japan. Bam Bam was amazing in Japan. He commanded a match and controlled a crowd like no one I had ever seen to that point in my career. He was a true powerhouse presence that controlled and dictated everything in a match. He was great to watch and fun to be around.
I remember one night in Tokyo when Tenryu, Bam Bam, and I went out to dinner. It was one of the very few nights in my career that I drank, because I didn’t want to offend Tenryu by turning down his hospitality. The three of us ate Korean Bar B Q (my favourite meal in Japan) and drank beer all night. I hated Japanese beer but thankfully have a fairly high tolerance for alcohol for a non-drinker. The night ended up taking a drastic turn for the worse for me though when Tenryu asked me to try, something I couldn’t pronounce then and don’t remember now, that Bam Bam later explained to me was raw eel guts. This had to have been the slimiest most disgusting things I have ever tasted, and if that wasn’t bad enough inside of a minute of eating the stuff my head was spinning and I felt sick to my stomach and was drunk out of my tree.
Bam Bam never had any of the stuff and I swear it was a rib he and Tenryu worked up at my expense. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves at my expense as I fought to stay upright and focused the rest of the night. Bammer had to walk me back to my hotel room and ribbed me about that night for days afterwards. Bam Bam and I never had the chance to work together in Japan, which was a real shame. I was a Jr. heavy weight at the time so the opportunity never came up. Bam Bam pitched the idea of us working as a tag Team against Tenryu and Ultimo Dragon but I worked as a baby face in Japan so it never came to be.
I did end up working with Bam Bam but not till a couple years later when we worked together in ECW. My first real angle in ECW was as the Triple Threat prospect, which was an angle involving Bam Bam Bigelow. Our first physical interaction was the night I split his head wide-open with a chair shot. This was a while after my infamous Barely Legal weak-assed chair shots on RVD, and Bam Bam made a point of telling me before he went out to really bring the chair shot. Chris Candito and I were to jump him from behind and I was to nail him in the back with the chair, so that we could beat him down until Rick Rude could make the save.
I was all fired up going through the curtain, and wanted to make this look good so the segment would make an impact. Bam Bam was counting on me to bring the chair and doing an angle with him and Rude was a pretty big deal. When Chris and I changed through the curtain Bammer was right there in front of us and I brought the chair with all I was worth. The problem was, I wasn’t very experienced at chair shots and I swung more over handed than side armed at his back and ended up catching Bam Bam in the back of the skull with the lip of the steal seat back. It split about a 3-inch gash in the back of his head. If you can find a copy of the tape look for the sudden change of expression on my face. I go from looking like an angry vicious man trying to kill someone to an “Oh Crap, I hope Bammer doesn’t kill me” look, in no time flat.
Bam Bam thankfully was a pro through and through and was not hot at me in the least. I met him at the curtain when he came through and apologized likely a dozen times, and he just shrugged it off, saying he was the one that told me to bring it. His only concern was that I caught him high enough in the head and he was afraid the scar would mess up his tattoos. The follow up to the attack was a run in segment where he was to beat the hell out of me and I was fully expecting a few receipts and was waiting for him to lay it in, but again Bammer was a pro and barely toughed me. Bam Bam was one of the safest guys you could ever be in the ring with.
We only had the occasion to wrestle each other in a single match on two occasions, and neither of those matches were particularly good, or at least as good as they should have been. The first match was in Buffalo, NY and to this day is one of the only matches of my career where I had a brain freeze and completely forgot spots. I was so mad at myself because I wanted to have such a great match with Bam Bam. Bammer thankfully that night was completely on, and covered and carried me the whole way and I doubt many people noticed my blunders.
Our second match was the complete opposite. Bam Bam was dealing with some personal marital problems and told me ahead of time that his head wasn’t in the game. Thankfully I was on that night and was more than happy to return the favour and mentally carried him through the match. I can only imagine how good of a match we could have had if we both would have been on one of those nights.
Bam Bam was one of the most professional guys that I ever worked with. He had legit Superstar status and used it to get others over instead of using it as a power tool to get what he wanted. He gave credibility to ECW and helped the company and so many of us get over. He put so many guys on the map, with great matches and important wins. He started the Spike Dudley “Giant Killer” gimmick by putting him over clean at the Arena. He cemented both Taz and RVD as top level performs with great feuds and clean wins. Everyone who was in ECW or a fan of it (the Original ECW) owes a debt of gratitude to Bam Bam Bigelow for helping make it and us what we were.
I am proud to have called Bam Bam my friend, and feel privileged to have known and worked with him. The World is a lesser place today for his absence, and I hope everyone will remember him as fondly as I do. The Beast from the East was one of the best Big Men this business has ever seen and should be remembered as such. I hope WWE honors his memory with a well deserve Hall of Fame induction this year.
You will be missed my friend,