Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boo: The Beast from the East

Bam Bam Bigelow
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Bam Bam Bigelow's WWF debut in 1987 was one of my favorites growing up.  Billed as the Beast from the East, Bam Bam weighed in at nearly 400 pounds.  His black tights were covered in bright orange and red flames.  His bald head was tattooed flames as well.  Bigelow's look was unique to say the least.

I had heard of Bigelow and seen him wrestle prior to his debut in the WWF in World Class Championship Wrestling.  In those days, he was known as Crusher Yurkov, a big, Russian monster.  He didn't stick around long in WCCW and made a big splash on the WWF, but this time as a baby face.

I loved Bam Bam.  I was in high school when he came to New York as all the heel managers scouted this intimidating monster.  Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and Slick among others promised Bigelow the moon and beyond if he'd sign on with them.  In a somewhat surprising move, Bigelow chose the equally oddly dressed Oliver Humperdink as his manager.

Bam Bam in the Survivor Series main event
Courtesy: WWE
Bigelow seemingly rose the ranks of the company pretty quickly.  I had high hopes for him, as the man to end the long running streak of the Honky Tonk Man.  Then, I banked on him to win the WWF title in the Wrestlemania IV tournament.  When he was eliminated in the first round, I was crushed.  So, remaining optimistic, I hoped he and Hulk Hogan would team up and beat Demolition for the tag team titles.  But alas, it never happened.

Bam Bam left the company and headed to WCW, where continued to work as a face (I think he did) and I thought he'd beat Barry Windham for the U.S. title, but that didn't happen.  I think at some point, they turned him, but he eventually left there too and bounced around some lesser known companies and did a stint overseas too.

The Doink feud
Courtesy: WWE
In 1993, Bigelow returned to the WWF as the monster heel he probably should have always been.  He and Luna Vachon joined forces in one of wrestling's oddest (yet most destined to be together) duos.  After feuds with Tatanka and Doink the Clown, Bam Bam ended up in a huge match against Lawrence  Taylor at Wrestlemania XI.  He lost, but ended up turning face and feuding with his ex manager Ted DiBiase and his Million Dollar Corporation.

Soon he was on the downward slide and left again.  Eventually he signed on with ECW and won several titles there.  His brutal image helped he reign supreme in the land of hardcore wrestling.  Bigelow went back to WCW too and stuck around until the company was bought by Vince McMahon in 2001.  I had hoped he'd get another shot at glory with the WWE, but it never came to be.

Bigelow retired a short time later and sadly died in 2007.  He was 45 years old.

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