Big Men: Fighting Spirit reprint
October 1, 2008
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in July, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
I’m going to put Big Men on the Storm Front this month, and take a look at the great, not so great, and just plain HUGE big men, I’ve worked with during my career. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the all time great big men of this industry as well as the displeasure of working with some of the worst and stiffest. On the whole I never cared much for working with really big men in the ring. When you are in their with guys twice your size you are usually very limited in what you can do and more often than not stuck being the guy who takes all of the bumps.
The biggest Big Man I’ve ever been in the ring with is of course the aptly named, Big Show. Show tipped the scales between 485 and 500 pounds when I worked with him. I was between 220 and 225 pound at that time, which makes Show the only guy I’ve ever worked with that was more than double my own body weight. In addition to the near 280-pound weight advantage Big Show was also a good foot taller than me, which made working with him very difficult, and to be honest I never enjoyed it. It wasn’t that he wasn’t or rather isn’t a good worker, it’s just that when working around such a ridiculous size difference it’s almost impossible to do anything.
Show always worked hard when we worked together and was willing to do pretty much anything but in order to protect his character and size, he had to be really careful with what he sold. Because of this I would have to do twice to three times as much as normal just to maintain any offense, and I would have to bump and sell two or three times as much as I did for others also. None of this was Big Shows fault (actually it was, if he wasn’t so damn big things would have been easier) but when working with a guy this size you are always left working twice as hard for half the results, which is why I never really enjoyed working with him.
This isn’t to say I don’t have fond memories of working with The Big Show. I recall a great mixed tag match we had on RAW when he was partnered with Molly Holly, and I was tagging with Ivory. The match itself wasn’t spectacular but the finish was awesome, and made possible because of Show’s unparalleled size. At the finish Big Show squished me dead in the corner and slammed me to the mat. He then tagged in Molly, and stood in the corner as tall as could be. At the time Molly’s finisher was the Molly-Go-Round, which was basically a front flip west coast pop type move from the top rope. Instead of doing it off the top rope Molly climbed up onto Big Shows shoulders and hit me with the move from higher than she had ever done it. From Show’s shoulders she was easily twice as high as she would have been from the top rope and I have to give her a ton of credit for being willing to hit the move from that high up. Molly hit the move perfectly and despite it being her moment, there is no way we could have done it if not for Big Show’s tremendous height.
The worst Big Man I ever worked with was a guy by the name of Koji Kitao, who I worked with a ton when I worked for WAR in Japan. Kitao a 6’ 7” and approximately 375 pound former Sumo wrestler, was without a doubt the stiffest and most difficult guy I’d ever worked with. While 6’ 7” and 375 lbs is nowhere near as big as The Big Show, being a former Yokozuna in Sumo and considered a monster by Japanese standards he was far less willing to sell. Kitao had that “strong style” attitude and always seemed to be trying to protect his tough guy image. In addition to Sumo, Kitao also did karate or kickboxing and would literally kick the hell out of everyone he worked with.
When I first started working with Kitao I was classed as a Junior Heavyweight, which made things even worse. Every kick Kitao hit me with shook my body to the core. You would feel matches with him for days and I always dreaded stepping in the ring with the guy. A lot of the problem was that he was still new to pro wrestling and didn’t understand that I could make him look better if we worked together. Most of our matches were tags and 6 man matches but we did have one single match against each other. Thankfully our single contest was late in my run with WAR and Kitao had started realizing that if we worked together I could make him look better than if he just kicked the crap out of me. Kitao was going over clean in the match and I had been elevated to Heavyweight by this time so Kitao was willing to work with me a little, and even took a bump for me, perhaps the only one he ever did.
The best Big Man I ever worked with was the late Bam Bam Bigelow. I worked with Bam Bam in both Japan and ECW. Bam Bam was the only big man I ever worked with that was a great ring general. Bam Bam ruled the ring when he was in it and set an amazing tone and tempo. Bammer had the ability to bump and make little men look good while still preserving his size and image, so he didn’t just rely on you to bump and get him over. I think what made working with Bam Bam so much more enjoyable than other big men, was his tremendous athletic ability. Despite being 6’ 5” and just shy of 400-pounds Bammer cold move like a man ½ his size, which gave you so many more options in a match. He didn’t have to rely solely on his size to stand out so he could give you a bit more physically than others did, which made for a much more exciting match.
In addition to being a great worker Bam Bam was a great guy, and to this day I still miss him. I was on tour in Japan with Bammer when my first child was born and I remember the great time we had in Tokyo when he took me out to celebrate my becoming a dad. I also remember the time I screwed up and busted open the back of his head with a misdirected chair shot in the ECW arena. Most guys would likely want to kill a guy for splitting open the back of his head, but Bammer was more worried about the potential scar messing up his skull tattoo. We even had a follow up segment where Bam Bam could have receipted me and gotten me back for the bad chair shot, but he didn’t. Bam Bam Bigelow wasn’t just a great big man; he was plain and simply a great man.