Remembering Bam Bam Bigelow 3 years on
Written by Goldenboy79 for OWW Genesis
All wrestling deaths are tragic… Yet few are as sorrowful as the untimely exit of Scott ‘Bam Bam’ Bigelow. A physical wreck, a broken family, and heavily in debt….. not even his friends in wrestling knew his whereabouts as he avoided a fleet of creditors prior to his death.
Born into the world on September 1st 1961, Scott Bigelow embarked on a brief career as a bounty hunter before pushing for a career in pro wrestling. Bigelow enrolled in Larry Sharpes gym, New Jersey for his training, eventually taking the plunge professionally in October 1985.
Bigelow could move for a big man…. and is still renowned today for being one of the best ever big man workers….. dropkicks, cartwheels, diving headbutts from the top rope… he could execute moves few other monsters dared to attempt.
It didn’t take long for Bam Bam to earn rave reviews on the Indie circuit…. He was soon snapped up by the Memphis territory, clashing with the likes of Jerry Lawler and Tommy Rich, and in search of larger payoffs, relocated to World Class Texas, where he was saddled with a Russian monster gimmick, Crusher Yurkov (which he loathed). Fortunately New Japan came calling, and in a country where in ring ability is appreciated more than most, the young behemoth received a decent push, even scoring pinfalls over former UWF topliner Akira Maeda whose aversion to jobbing was legendary.
Then came the Big break he was waiting for…. In summer 1987 Bigelow inked a contract with the WWE, still only 26, big things were expected for him. It was with the Stamford promotion where he donned his trademark flamed ring outfit, and a huge push seemed to be on the cards when all the top heel managers, Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Me Fuji and Jonny Valiant all enthusiastically vied for his services.
Strangely it was Oliver Humperdink who secured the tutelage of the young star, who was introduced as a babyface. Nevertheless Bam Bam was soon rubbing shoulders with the Federations elite, part of the Hulksters team at the first ever Survivor Series PPV, he pinned two of the promotions top heels in King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang. The future looked bright for young Bigelow… yet just as quickly his star faded…….
Said Bigelow on his fall from grace, ‘Vince has his certain favourites who get everything, and certain boys that can work get nothing’. Tired of the punishing WWE road schedule and displeased at his limited prospects, Bam Bam quit the promotion shortly after his Wrestlemania 4 loss to One Man Gang in the opening round of the vacant title tournament.
Bigelow juggled stints with WCW (where he worked a Starcade match with Barry Windham), PWF, UWF and TWA over the next four years, yet it was his return to Japan where he became a star again. By this point, he wasn’t the only Super Heavyweight American in the company….. Leon ‘Vader’ White had arrived, and it was a natural for the two to lock horns, wrestling many times between 1989-92, also forming a regular tag team. Away from the ring the two were not friends. Some say that Bam Bam resented the fact that Vader eclipsed him to become the bigger (and higher paid) star, and Bigelow would claim that he carried their matches (Vader was still relatively green at this point).
To his credit Bigelow earned a reputation as someone who would selflessly do the job, often dragging inexperienced jobbers and non-workers to watchable matches. In New Japan he lost to Russian amateur wrestler Salman Hashimikov (with no pro experience) and cheerfully lost to ex Sumo Champ Koji Kitao (in his pro wrestling debut). Later on his career, Bam Bam would put over another non-worker in his most famous match at Wrestlemania 11……
Bigelow resurfaced in the WWE in early 1993, this time as a solid midcard heel…. Being pushed immediately with a pinfall over the departing Big Boss Man at the annual Royal Rumble card. There was a fantastic losing effort to Bret Hart in the final of the ’93 King of the Ring final, which again solidified his status as one of the hardest working big men in the business …. but just like before, his career nosedived after a promising start. A fued with Native American Tatanka, and onscreen relationship with Luna Vachon did nothing for him…. Then came a humiliating spat with the ridiculous Doink the Clown over 1993-94, including an unfunny comedy match at Survivor Series ’93 where all four ‘Doinks’ jumped on Bam Bam to cover him for the pin.
It seemed odd that without a believable push, Bigelow was booked in the main event of Wrestlemania 11 on April 2nd 1995, yet that’s exactly what happened when he wrestled American Football legend Lawrence Taylor.
The build up to this one off gimmick match started with a killer angle at the previous PPV card, Royal Rumble, where Taylor smirked at Bigelows (yet another) humiliating loss to jobber boys 123Kid & Bob ‘Spark Plug’ Holly. Bam Bam shoved Taylor about 5 rows backwards in a believable worked segment.
Bigelows lack of name power at the top of the card undoubtedly played a part in the disappointing PPV gross for the show, though he worked hard to carry Taylor (the non-worker) to a passable match, however a clean pinfall loss to the former NFL star did nothing to enhance his reputation in wrestling circles. Bigelow was reportedly promised a face turn and a push in return for jobbing to Taylor, which lasted all of one card. Bammer teamed with WWF champ Diesel in an atrocious King of the Ring victory over Sid and Tatanka. Bigelow was moved back down the card immediately.
Bam Bam has blamed the all powerful Clique (Michaels, Nash and friends) for sabotaging his WWE career and holding him back…. And whilst its plausible to suggest they did…. Its also plausible to say that Bammer lacked the charisma, verbal skills and crowd appeal to make it to the very top in the WWE. As Michaels moved up the card in late 1995, Bigelow slid down, frequently losing to Davey Boy Smith and Goldust.
After leaving the WWE again, Bigelows tough guy aura was destroyed for good when he accepted a shoot fight against Kimo on a U-Japan show in November 1996. Proving size meant nothing, Kimo pounded Bammers face and finished him off with a choke at just 2:15. Still at least Bigelow was paid well ($85000) for his one off ass-whupping.
The Big Man enjoyed a decent run with ECW from 1997-98, during which he was pushed as a genuine top liner at last, capturing the ECW World Title from Shane Douglas, and the TV Championship in a memorable fued with Taz, the Triple Threat stable he formed with Douglas and Chris Candido also provided him with happier career moments.
The ‘Beast’ even enjoyed a few more bright moments in his 1998-2001 WCW stint, as the company was imploding around him. There was his rip roaring brawls with Goldberg, chaotic hardcore scraps with Hardcore Hak and Raven, and 2 tag title runs as part of the ‘Jersey Triad’ with DDP and Kanyon.
Bigelow even contributed to the last ever Nitro show on March 26th 2001, which he unfortunately lost in 2 minutes to the nondescript jabroni Shaun Stasiak….. though at the end, Bigelow looked like man going through the motions whose enthusiasm for the business had clearly deserted him.
Maybe it was this disillusionment with wrestling that retired him in 2002, or maybe he was physically incapable after undergoing back surgery that same year. Either way Bigelow did not accept wrestling bookings to help pay off the mounting debts he acrewed in his later years. The former star who once earned a comfortable 6 figure salary was now penniless…. Spending what he had in the good times.
In addition to owing thousands in unpaid child support, he accumulated numerous other bills and fines which he couldn’t pay, lost money in poor investments (such as a doomed restaurant opening) and was involved in a high speed motorcycle accident whilst intoxicated.
As well as spiralling out of control financially, Bigelow was also falling apart physically…. Drugs, alcohol, diabetes, infections….. it all came to an end on January 19th 2007. That morning he was found dead by his girlfriend at her Florida home. He was 45.
Bigelow, (like many of his peers from the 80s & 90s)took strong narcotic pain medication to get him through his matches and to sleep at night…. Multiple drugs were found in his system at autopsy, as well as a serious cardiovascular disease.
For all Bam Bams foolhardy decisions, political blunders and bad comedy bouts, he will be remembered as one of the hardest working big guys from the 1980s and 1990s. A selfless team player, he was capable of putting on exciting matches in a 17 year pro career.
Sadly he will also be remembered as being another addition to wrestlings ‘They Died Too Young List’.
RIP Scott Bigelow 1961-2007.
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