Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Bam Bam Bigelow Shoot Interview

Presented by Nick Knowledge and “The Wrestling Universe Shoot Series”

The Man: Scott “Bam Bam” Bigelow was born September 1st, 1961. After a very successful high school wrestling career, Scott became a bounty hunter for several years. At age 25 Bigelow found a new calling as a professional wrestler.

After being trained in Larry Sharpe’s “Monster Factory”, Bigelow headed to Memphis wrestling and made a huge impact.  According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Bigelow got himself over to the point that his heat with the Memphis faithful resided well into the early 90’s where Bigelow would be able to draw better than other WWF wrestlers who were coming in for a quick shot.

Only months after his debut Bigelow was already on Vince McMahon’s radar, and Bam Bam received at least 2 tryout matches in the spring of 1986.  Bigelow wouldn’t be signed quite yet but he was obviously on Vince’s short list of future wrestlers to bring in.  Bam Bam continued to learn his craft in World Class Championship Wrestling, where he was portrayed as a communist sympathizer named Crusher Yurkoff.

This was a short run and by early 1987 Bam Bam was working in New Japan Pro Wrestling and in March, Bigelow made another run through Memphis before getting the call to start in the WWF shortly after Wrestlemania 3.  Bam Bam was pushed from day one as the WWF ran an angle that all the WWF managers wanted to sign him – and just like when Randy Savage was introduced via this angle, Bigelow picked a surprise:

Bigelow’s flashy offense (for a big man), head tattoos and intense promos helped him rise up the cards quickly and by fall Bam Bam was headlining in the WWF, teaming with Hulk Hogan and beating many of the Heenan Family members in single matches at house shows:

Knee injuries slowed Bigelow in the spring and he and the WWF started to butt heads over his working through the pain.  Couple this with the heat Bam Bam was receiving in the WWF locker room for being a green guy with a monster push and ultimately the company and Bammer parted ways in the summer.  After his knees recovered, Bigelow split his time between New Japan Pro Wrestling and WCW.  WCW wanted to push Bam Bam hard and placed him in a U.S. title match with Barry Windham at Starcade 88 but Bigelow refused to commit to an exclusive contract because he was making big money working on top in Japan.  This quick stint in WCW, which followed his sudden WWF departure, led to Bigelow being given a reputation as a vagabond and many wondered if he’d ever achieve the success in America that was expected of him or if he’d be yet another bust.

Bigelow spent most of the next 3 years in New Japan – often teaming with Big Van Vader.  The monstrous pair would ultimately become IWGP tag champs.  By late 1993 NJPW and Bigelow parted ways and Bam Bam ended up returning to the WWF.  After crushing the Big Bossman at the Royal Rumble 93, Bigelow wound up getting some title matches against Bret Hart at house shows but was left off Wrestlemania 9 when time constraints removed his scheduled match with Kamala. Bam Bam wound up in a feud with the undefeated Tatanka and come that fall Bigelow started a seemingly never ending feud with Doink the Clown that had many observers question if Bam Bam would ever have credibility again.

Ted Dibiase picked Bigelow to be part of his Million Dollar Corporation faction soon after Wrestlemania 10 and Bammer largely floated around the mid-card until the following year’s Royal Rumble when Bam Bam lost a tag team encounter and was heckled by former NFL star Lawrence Taylor:

This led to the biggest push of Bigelow’s career as he was given wide spread media coverage for the shoving incident.  Bam Bam took full advantage of the moment and carried L.T. to a fine match in the headline spot at Wrestlemania 11.  The loss embarrassed the Million Dollar Corporation and following a loss on Monday Night Raw to World Champ Diesel, Bigelow and Dibiase had a falling out and Bigelow would join forces with Diesel to battle the Million Dollar Man’s minions.  After a few short months however, Bigelow’s push disappeared and he was stuck losing to upcoming heels like The British Bulldog and Goldust.  He would leave the WWF before year’s end.

This left Bigelow floating around again, making some appearances in ECW and even working a MMA show, fighting Kimo in a bout that may or may not have been fixed.  Bigelow says it was fake – others say that is Bigelow covering for a bad performance:

In 1997 Bam Bam Bigelow took up a renewed interest in wrestling as he joined ECW full time and ended up in a feud with Taz as well as being part of the top heel faction of the time (The Triple Threat, alongside Shane Douglas and Chris Candido).  He and the Triple Threat would eventually split and feud.  Bigelow would end his run by putting over rising star Rob Van Dam and then headed to back WCW in fall of 1998.

Bigelow exploded on the WCW scene and was heading toward a showdown with unstoppable force and World Champion Bill Goldberg.  WCW botched the opportunity though as Goldberg lost the belt to Kevin Nash via Scott Hall’s interference, and that forced Bigelow to the back burner for Goldberg’s attention.   Bigelow would end up a major part of the hardcore division in WCW for several months but ultimately his final moment of glory would come with the formation of the New Jersey Triad.  Bam Bam teamed with Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon to capture the World tag titles and feud with upper card talent over the belts.  The ever rotating door of bookers in WCW struck again though as the Triad was split and Bigelow remained largely aimless in his final year in WCW – stuck in forgettable feuds with Mike Awesome and Shawn Stasiak.

Bam Bam’s life took a turn for the worse after WCW closed down.  In 2005 he was charged with being a deadbeat dad. Soon after that he was arrested for reckless driving with a child in his car. He and his girlfriend would be involved in a Harley crash that nearly killed her. He would open a restaurant that would ultimately fail.  Finally on January 19 of 2007, Bigelow died of a drug overdose containing several drugs including a large amount of cocaine.

The Shoot:  Bigelow became a bounty hunter after seeing an ad in the newspaper.

Scott ended up in a Mexican jail after a bounty hunting trip went sour.

Bigelow wasn’t a fan of pro wrestling growing up as he was a high school All-American wrestler and thought the pro game was “fake garbage”.

Bigelow and his trainer Larry Sharpe ended up in court after Larry had Bigelow sign a contract for Sharpe to get 10% of Bigelow’s earnings – which Bigelow reneged upon when Sharpe took a booking fee for Bigelow to go to Japan and still wanted Bigelow’s money on top of the fee itself.

Bigelow said he debuted at Studio 54 with Paul Heyman, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair.  (Sounds like B.S.)  Anybody know what he is talking about?

Bigelow beat 5 men in his first match. (Results?  Anybody?)

Bigelow came into Memphis first and got a big push.

Jerry Jarrett low balled Bigelow as much as possible but Bigelow talks highly of him.

Bigelow found being a heel difficult because he had impressive big man offense and ended up getting pops.  Bigelow preferred being a dick heel though.

Lawler is put over hard.  Bill Dundee is buried as a “jerk”. Austin Idol taught Bigelow a bunch.

Idol and Joe Leduc helped Bigelow develop his promos.

Bigelow says he got a spread in Sports Illustrated – then Fritz Von Erich signed him and made him a communist and changed his name in spite of his new found notoriety.

Article featuring Bigelow can be found here:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1065223/index.htm

Kevin Von Erich was “brain dead” but Kerry was cool to him.

Bigelow mocks Fritz for trying to get himself over even when retired.

Steve Simpson and Bigelow did “60 min broadways” a lot in WCCW.  (Doubtful)

Bruiser Brody is put over as an in ring talent, but Bigelow says he was a terrible booker.

Bigelow says Tony Atlas was a fantastic guy but dumb as a brick.

Bam Bam praises the money that Japan was offering in the 80’s.

Scott says MSG was the best arena to work in, but the Tokyo Dome with 70,000 fans was a close second.

We hear some Japanese plumbing horror stories.

Vader was a hard to work with, and whined about perks others got.  Bigelow says they were a great team because they hated each other.

Bigelow thinks Hansen knocked Vader’s eye out to try and calm down his stiff working.

Bam Bam says the WWF schedule was brutal and Vince refused to give him time off when Bigelow hurt both knees and ended up in surgery.

Scott caught heat at first in the WWF as guys like King Kong Bundy and Harley Race had to put him over and some felt Bigelow hadn’t paid his dues.

Bigelow gives his take on his big Survivor Series ’87 push.

Bam Bam says he was in line for the WWF title but his knee surgery ruined that plan.

Scott worked for New Japan and All Japan simultaneously and made bucket loads of cash.

We hear of Masa Saito knocking out Vader mid match.

Bigelow next toured Mexico – which he hated on many levels.

Ole Anderson offered Bigelow a key spot in WCW in 1990 but Bam Bam wanted to keep his Japan dates and declined.

Bigelow says Heyman paid him well for ECW and he never had the payoff issues so many others had.

Scott gives Barry Windham a lot of love and says their Starrcade 88 was one of Bigelow’s best matches.

Bam Bam talks about Herb Abrams dying with 2 prostitutes, piles of cocaine and covered in Vaseline. (Several others have corroborated this story, believe it or not.)

Bigelow goes over Japanese wrestling politics.

Bam Bam had to help groom Scott Norton, Vader, and Tony Halme for New Japan.

Scott is brought back to the WWF and teaches Tatanka how to work.

Bigelow tells some wacky Luna Vachon stories including nudity and torturing Dink the Clown.

Bam Bam talks about how he and IRS were supposed to win the tag belts but the Kliq wound up with them instead.

Chris Candido and Shane Douglas’ issues with the Kliq are discussed.  Chris was very distraught over Sunny and Shawn running around.

Bigelow loved the Doink series oddly enough; he says they had a lot of fun with their goofy matches.

Men on a Mission tried to cry racism when they came into the WWF.  Owen Hart and the Bulldog ribbed them all the time.

Jim Ross was ribbed terribly when he first jumped to WWF. Bigelow says he was driven to quit.

L.T. was playing golf with Lex Luger and that led to Bigelow and L.T.’s match and angle. L.T. skipped a bunch of training sessions in the lead up.

Steve Keirn made an unusual puppet, with a startling resemblance to another worker’s gimmick.

Bigelow talks about much of the Japanese roster from Tenryu’s promotion.

Bam Bam covers how much fun his matches with Spike Dudley were.

Scott puts over Chris Beniot’s work rate and how he overcame the Hart Dungeon and New Japan Dojo.

Bigelow was the second choice for the Kimo “shoot” fight, Terry Gordy refused to do it and Bam Bam took home $100,000.

Bam Bam was saddened by the “Battle of the Bam Bam’s” match because Gordy was so far out of it that the match suffered.

Bigelow feels that Heyman left money on the table with the Triple Threat faction in ECW.

Taz was selfish in Bam Bam’s opinion and was unwilling to put guys over.

The reason they had the ring smash in the Taz/Bigelow match was to avoid showing Taz losing.

Bigelow taught RVD how to work and slow down during his matches.

Bam Bam jumped to WCW for 450 grand a year.  In ECW he made 2000 a week.

Bigelow speculates that J.J. Dillon was sent by Vince to help collapse WCW.

Scott thinks WCW blew it with him and Goldberg’s angle and that Nash winning the belt killed what could’ve been a headlining feud in the early months of 99.

After endless hardcore matches, Bigelow went to Kevin Sullivan and asked for a new gig as his body was being wrecked.

Bam Bam liked his New Jersey Triad angle and felt WCW killed it off too soon.

Bigelow severely overvalues the Triad’s overness as he feels Hogan felt threatened by the Triad’s heat and had them disbanded.

 Scott buries Vince Russo’s booking and personality. Bigelow says Russo was the worst booker possible for WCW.  Sullivan was the best of what they used – but Bam Bam feels Jimmy Hart would have been the perfect booker for them.

Bigelow was under WCW contract for several years after WCW folded, so he refused Japan offers while sitting home collecting 450K a year.

At the time of the interview, Bigelow had dropped 80 lbs and was getting ready for one last run. (Early 2002)

Final Thoughts:  This shoot ran almost 3 hours and despite being conducted by a no name company it was a fine watch.  Bigelow is super open about everything and had a very good memory.  Other than a few moments of speaking baloney, I felt he was offering up the most truthful version of events possible.  Recommended to any Bam Bam fans easily.

Photo courtesy Sosúa Online

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

3 Comments

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  1. I’ve heard about Paul Heyman working for Studio 54 in its dying days in the mid ’80s.

    Ah…Mr. Google is our friend.

    Here’s an excerpt from the WWE book about ECW a few years back…

    “…(Heyman) created an event called the Wrestling Press International Man of the Year. Running about five magazines at the same time, Heyman made a deal with Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA that if they could deliver Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Magnum TA to Studio 54 for the ceremony, he guaranteed he would get coverage in USA Today in addition to the wrestling magazines he was running. So on Friday night, August 23, 1985, the marriage of Studio 54 and pro wrestling, with Paul Heyman presiding, took place. They had Ric Flair get the WPI Man of the Year Award and actually set up a ring in the nightclub for a match featuring a newcomer named Bam Bam Bigelow. It made a number of papers and Heyman got the promotional itch.”

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