Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Lost Legends

Brody vs. Gordy
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I must admit with all the buzz surrounding the WWE Money in the Bank match featuring CM Punk and John Cena, I lost site of just about everything else wrestling related.  I knew the anniversary of Bruiser Brody's death was nearing, and ended up missing it.  It was Sunday (July 17th).

Brody was one of the best big men in the business.  Another great one, Terry Gordy died July 16, 2001.  Both men captured my attention back in the 1980's and World Class Championship Wrestling.  You can see in the pic to the left, the two were extreme long before ECW came around.

Let's start with Bruiser Brody.  As a kid, I remember watching his wild antics on World Class Championship Wrestling.  He was tough as nails and kicked as every time he was in the ring.  Although he jumped back and forth from being babyface and heel, my best memories of him are when he was helping the Von Erichs battle the Freebirds.  Brody also waged war on Skandor Akbar and his Devastation Incorporated.  Gary Hart also had his men, including Abdullah the Butch battle Brody.  Those two took each other to the limits, carving up one another's foreheads with whatever weapons they could find.

I only got the chance to watch Brody live in action.  It was in 1985, and he was battling the NWA World champion Ric Flair.  They were the main event of an NWA house show in St. Louis.  Much to my disappointment Brody beat Flair, but only by disqualification, so the title didn't change hands.

I remember one of the wrestling magazines from my youth named Brody the best wrestler.  I think this was in 1986.  He scored just above Ric Flair for the top spot.  Brody was great.  He could brawl and go toe to toe with just about anyone.  In fact, he wrestled Andre the Giant to a double DQ at a house show in St. Louis in the early 80's.

Brody was a heel in his days in the AWA.  Gen. Adnan al Kaissie was his manager.  At that time he feuded with Greg and Verne Gagne and Crusher Blackwell.  It was a surprise to me that the big man never won the world title in either the NWA or AWA.  There were also rumors that Verne Gagne offered him a large sum of money to attack Mr. T on his way to the ring at the original Wrestlemania.  Can you imagine if that would have happened?  I often wonder what would have happened had Brody signed a contract and wrestled in the WWF.  Would he have been fed to Hulk Hogan like other big men of that day, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, and Nikolai Volkoff all come to mind.

Of course Brody was in a class all his own.  I would have loved to seen him come in and destroy Hulkamania.  I say that now, but as a kid I would have likely protested that idea.

On July 16, 1988 was stabbed in the locker room of an arena in Puerto Rico.  He died the next day. Wrestler Jose Gonzalez stood accused of the crime after other wrestlers saw him holding a knife after Brody went down.  But because no one would testify against him, and because Gonzelez claimed it was self defense, he was acquitted of any wrong doing.

I remember reading of Brody's death in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and later in an issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.  Back then there was no internet to alert fans of such tragic events.  Brody's life was taken way too soon.  And although he accomplished a lot during his career, I can't help but to think there was much more in store for this legendary big man.  I hope Vince McMahon one day inducts Brody into the WWE Hall of Fame.

The Fabulous Freebirds
The 10 year anniversary of Terry Gordy's death was over the weekend too.  Another great big man who I first saw wrestle on WCCW.  He was teaming up with Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts against the Von Erichs.  At first though, it seemed they were all friends.  Then Gordy slammed a steel cage door in Kerry Von Erich's face as Kerry was challenging Ric Flair for the NWA title.  This was Christmas 1983 and set up on of wrestling's greatest rivalries of all time.

Gordy played the brawn of the Freebirds while Hayes was the brains of the operation.  The trio ventured briefly to the WWF in the mid 80's before coming back home to WCCW.  They also wrestle in Bill Watts' UWF where Gordy was the company's champion.  He feuded with the likes of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and Steve Williams.

Williams and Gordy would eventually team up overseas to much success.  They also had a semi successful run together in WCW in the early 90's, having a classic feud with the Steiner Brothers.  After bouncing between the U.S. and Japan, Gordy signed with the WWF in the late 90's and played the Executioner.  He and Mankind were managed by Paul Bearer.  But Gordy's time in the company was brief.

In 2001, Gordy died of a heart attack, caused by a blood clot.  He was only 40 years old.  Gordy's son, Ray wrestled in the WWE as Jessie and than Slam Master J.  The company never acknowledge the legacy.  That's a real shame, because I think they could have played that up more.  Here's to hoping that Gordy and his Freebird brothers also find their way into the WWE Hall of Fame one day.

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1 comment:

  1. Brody is definitely underrated these days. I have many of the same memories from the 80s. And Gordy should be a no brainer when it comes to HOFers.