Review: Bruiser Brody – Wrestling’s Last Rebel

Brody’s wild life and sudden death is covered by the men who lived it beside him and those who saw his final hours on earth

Presented by Highspots

Gerald Brisco, Bill Apter, Bob Armstrong, Kevin Sullivan, Jim Ross, Dave Meltzer, Abby the Butcher, Jimmy Hart, JJ Dillon, Hugh Morris, Stan Hansen, and others all get soundbites putting over Brody’s skills, drawing power, look and other attributes.

Barbara Goodish reads a voiceover speaking of Frank Goodish, the loving husband and father.

Stan Hansen was alerted by Terry Gordy over the phone that Brody had been killed. Dory Funk Jr. alerted Meltzer. Meltzer altered Larry Matysik.

Dutch Mantel called Barbara Goodish and told her there had been an “accident”….

Brody grew up in Pennsylvania. His father was a coal miner until he wanted to get away from that life and moved his family to Detroit.

While excelling at football in high school, Brody earned several scholarship offers. Eventually he went to West Texas University after getting in trouble at his first school in Ohio.

Terry Funk and Jim Ross give us a brief history of how West Texas spawned a number of wrestling stars. The college kids would go to Amarillo wrestling for some cheap entertainment, and many caught the bug.

Stan Hansen and others talk about Brody pulling out a tree on someone’s property. That led to him being kicked out of school.

Brody ended up being a laborer and sports writer to earn some money before heading to the Washington Redskins for a NFL tryout. Brody admitted he was “hard to coach” and things didn’t work out.

Ivan Putski met Brody at the gym and he got Brody into weightlifting and eventually the wrestling business in San Antonio. It did not take long for promoter Joe Blanchard and Brody to have a falling out, so Brody went to work for Fritz Von Erich.

Stan Hansen and Brody knew each other in college, and now both were working for the Dallas wrestling office.

With a history of behavior problems, Brody made it a point to behave during his early days in Texas wrestling.

Hansen and Brody ended up being put on a team together for Grizzly Smith in Louisiana. Bill Watts took over the territory and split the team up. They were not pleased.

Florida came next, and that was where Frank “the Hammer” Goodish won the Southern title from noted shooter Billy Robinson.

Bruno Sammartino was told about this young monster in Florida, and he went to Vince McMahon Sr to pitch having Goodish come in for a run on top.

Vince Sr. did not like the name “Goodish” because it had the word “good” in it. He gave him the Irish themed name “Brody” instead.

Hansen had just finished a run with Bruno when Brody came in the area. Superstar Billy Graham, Ivan Koloff and other legends had also recently finished feuds with Bruno, so the pressure was on for this young unknown big man to draw with Sammartino.

While on a tour of Australia, Brody met Barbara at a hotel bar where she worked. Brody convinced the other wrestlers to leave so he could have one on one time with Barbara. They hit it off and at the end of his tour Brody offered to pay Barbara’s way to America to be with him. They ended up getting married in Las Vegas soon after. Then Brody was off to Japan to wrestle. Barbara stayed with Brody’s parents in California.

Fritz Von Erich groomed Brody, and ended up being the guy who helped get him booked in Japan for the first time.

Meltzer remembers how strong the Giant Baba booked Brody from the very first time he toured there.

Jimmy Snuka and Brody were paired in Japan as one of the top teams. Stan Hansen ended up jumping from New Japan by surprise and he helped Snuka and Brody beat the Funks to win the annual “World League” tournament. This led to Hansen and Brody being aligned once more.

Hansen and Brody had a larger than life monster aura, as they roared to the ring with chains and bullropes swinging in the air. They then mauled everyone. Their opponents had to really fight back if they wanted to avoid being beaten up.

Dory Funk Jr. puts over how stiff Hansen’s lariat was, along with some of Brody’s power moves.

Ricky Steamboat relates how he and Jay Youngblood had planned on working fast to wear Hansen and Brody out. It didn’t work as the big men could keep up with their much smaller opponents.

Barbara speaks on how Brody would watch his tapes back to perfect his matches.

The Japanese media always saw Brody reading, so he was dubbed “The intelligent monster.”

The money in Japan was so good that Brody picked his own spots to work in America. This allowed him to be a hardliner on payoffs and to refuse to do jobs.

If a promoter screwed over Brody, he made them pay. Slick, Kevin Sullivan and others speak on how the promoters made millions and gave the wrestlers pennies.

Manny Fernandez tells of how Brody kicked in the bathroom stall to attack Central States promoter Bob Geigel.

After having an issue with Joe Blanchard, Brody went out to face Gino Hernandez and had as boring of a match as possible to try and hurt San Antonio’s business.

On night in St. Louis, he refused to shake Pat O’Connor hand in telling him “I don’t like your kind.”

He worked a series of matches in the WWA against promoter Dick the Bruiser over the rights to the name “Bruiser”. Brody had a financial dispute with the Bruiser and Sam Muchnick got involved as they were suppose to work against each other in St. Louis. Dick was called and asked to pay him what he owed to prevent a fight in the locker room. Brody got his money.

Brody and Mark Lewin tried to kill San Antonio for “Texas All-Star Wrestling”. They intentionally sat in long rest holds for an extremely long time, then ended up eventually just walking out of the ring. Booker Buck Robley, Brody and Lewin all ended up in World Class shortly thereafter, which lead to speculation that Fritz Von Erich had orchestrated the whole thing to kill his competition.

Lex Luger talks about his first ever steel cage match. It was against Brody. Luger was asked to lose by the Florida office, but he had already signed with JCP and thus refused to do the job. Hiro Matsuda told Brody to teach Luger a lesson. Brody started to no-sell everything Lex tried. Luger asked the ref Bill Alphonso what to do and they worked out a spot where Luger would shove Alphonso to earn a DQ. Luger was freaked out and leapt over the cage to escape. Luger claims he and Brody made nice in the locker room, but several wrestlers are shown who say Luger ran to the back and right to his car.

Bobby Heenan complains about Brody screwing up promotions because the undercard guys needed the money the area was drawing. They all couldn’t go to some new part of the country to feed their families.
Gary Hart says Brody was a man’s man and he would only mess with people who screwed him or the other wrestlers over.

Brody’s son Jeff was born in 1980. Sam Muchnick sent him to his wife’s side and did not worry about Brody’s role in the show that night. Barbara talks about how Brody had a crazy travel schedule but was obsessively devoted to his family when he was able to be home.

Frank Goodish was a much different person when he shut “Bruiser Brody” off.

Buying food on the road was too costly for Brody, so he’d bring cans of beans, tuna and fruit  with him to save cash.

David Von Erich died while on tour with Brody in Japan. David had recently had his 3-month old baby die, which helped lead to his divorce. Brody found a pile of pills by Von Erich’s side. No one knew if David had overdosed on purpose or if it had been an accident due to taking too many for pain. Brody flushed the pills to prevent a scandal.

As the territories started to die off, Brody became an important wrestler as few other guys were available who could pop a house for the smaller groups that rose up around the states. Dick Murdoch and Abby the Butcher were among the few other free agents who could be counted on to draw a crowd.

Abdullah the Butcher, Brody and Hansen were the three biggest stars in Japan until 1985 when the Road Warriors came into Japan. They were given a huge amount of cash by Baba, and Brody balked when Baba didn’t give him a raise in response. Brody jumped to New Japan for $14,000 a week.

Antonio Inoki wanted to beat Brody, but Brody refused. Inoki wanted to win the first fight because he didn’t trust Brody to give him his win back. They argued over finishes as neither would agree to lose. This led to Brody quitting. Brody was blackballed by Baba , so he had to wait many months to be brought back into the fold.

Brody was already in his 40’s by this point, and he knew Baba would expect him to do a big job to one of All-Japan’s stars. This came to pass when Jumbo Tsuruta was put over him via pinfall.

Stan Hansen and Brody were scheduled to start a feud in Japan, but Brody died before it could happen.

While exiled from Japan, Brody started to work for Carlos Colon’s WWC.

The WWC was drawing very well, with monsters feuding with Carlos Colon.

Barbara was pregnant again in 1988, but suffered a miscarriage. This forced her to stay home instead of taking the trip to Puerto Rico with Brody that July. He would never return home.

Dutch Mantel and Brody were sitting at the hotel in Puerto Rico together. Jose Gonzales was Brody’s ride during this tour and was coming to pick them up. The ride never came, so they took a different route.

Gonzales and Carlos Colon were talking when Mantel and Brody got to the arena. Mantel got an ominous feeling he couldn’t shake, so he took a little walk towards the ringside entryway to get some air.

Gonzales left the dressing room when Brody walked in. A few minutes later Jose came back in and asked Brody to come talk to him in the shower.

Tony Atlas was sitting four feet from the shower. When they walked in, Jose immediately stabbed Brody in the gut. The screams alerted Atlas and he jumped towards the shower door. He saw Gonzales’ hand swing into Brody’s gut a second time. Carlos Colon jumped in front of Atlas and cut him off. Colon then ran into the shower and shoved Gonzales up against the wall. It was then that Atlas saw he had a knife and realized that Brody was actually being stabbed, not punched as he first assumed.

Brody was hunched over. Atlas dragged him from the shower. His intestines squished against Atlas’ arm. Atlas screamed “I’m going to break his fucking neck!” and charged into the shower. Carlos cut him off and told him “It’s over – go help your friend!” So Atlas went back to Brody’s side.

Dutch returned in the middle of the commotion. WWC co-owner Victor Quinones was screaming at Gonzales in the shower. Colon tried to come by Brody and Atlas told him he was going to knock Colon out if he took another step. Brody told him to let Colon come over. Brody asked Colon to take care of his family if he did not make it.

Buddy Landell was in the opposite locker room (for the heels.) It took them almost 30 minutes to hear about what was happening. First they were told Brody fell and hurt his head while fighting. A little while later the story was that a fan had run in and stabbed him. Bobby Jaggers came out of the locker room and saw Dutch across the stadium signaling something to him but he couldn’t make it out.

Abdullah the Butcher was in the heel locker room as well. He figured that the WWC was running some sort of angle to “injure” Brody.

No ambulance was called. Finally they got somebody on the radio and requested an ambulance come to the arena. It was 45 minutes before the help arrived. An old man and a woman were the paramedics, They could not pick up Brody. They asked for help and the whole locker room, except for Atlas, backed away. Atlas was a beast of a man, so he picked up the stretcher and Brody up into his arms. Brody said “Don’t drop me, brother” Atlas replied “I curl more than you weigh” and Brody laughed a little.

The EMTs asked if anyone wanted to go with to the hospital – again only Atlas volunteered.

As Brody was still laying on the cement bleeding out, Jose Gonzalez came back into the locker room, circled around Brody, grabbed his car keys and left the building. After Brody was hauled away, Gonzalez returned to the arena and went back to doing his office duties as if nothing had happened.

At the hospital, no one was tending to Brody. After 15 minutes, Atlas finally grabbed a doctor and carried him to Brody. The doc asked Brody to move his hands away from his wounds. When Brody did so, a massive pool of blood could be seen everywhere. Atlas started to choke up at the sight. Atlas then went to take off Brody’s shoes. When they came off, his feet were blue and Atlas started to cry.

A little while into the surgery, a doctor came out and told Atlas that they had sewed one of Brody’s intestines shut and he was now stable. So Atlas went back to the arena. He was appalled to hear and see his coworkers laughing and joking around, with Brody’s blood still freshing staining the locker room floor.

Jose Gonzalez, Carlos Colon and a policeman were laughing in one corner. The officer came over to Atlas and asked Tony if he saw what the fan looked like who stabbed Brody. Atlas pointed at Jose and said “He did it!” Jose got up and left the room.

A woman called Barbara and alerted her that Brody had been in an accident. She thought it was a prank. At 5 a.m. she called Brody’s hotel room. Dutch Mantel got the call and told her to get to Puerto Rico.

Dutch then went to the hotel clerk and had her call the hospital. That was how Mantel learned Brody died.

Abby the Butcher called a meeting of the wrestlers and everyone but Atlas said they did not see the actual attack. Sika joined Atlas at the police station for his own protection. One there, Atlas signed a statement about what he saw.

Barbara and Jeff made it to Puerto Rico. She ran into Abdullah at the airport and he told her about Brody’s death. Abby quickly scurried off to make his flight as he did not want to be in Puerto Rico anymore.

The doctor spoke to Barbara and expressed his sorrow over how Brody died on the operating table.

Others told Barbara that Gonzales would never face justice, so she should keep her hopes low.

Ultimately, Jose was acquitted due to it being ruled “self defense.” The jury only deliberated for 30-40 minutes.

The prosecutors never brought in Atlas or anyone else who was in the locker room to testify on Brody’s behalf. The subpoenas either never came or came after the trial. Even Barbara was not told about when or where the trial would be held.

Dutch thinks Brody’s wild gimmick worked against him, as the jury figured this monster probably attacked their hero Gonzales.

The Americans largely stopped coming to Puerto Rico, and the business slowed down.

Barbara admits Brody was planning on going to the WWF to work Hulk Hogan and make some big money before retiring.

Jimmy Hart says Hogan talked about possibly working with Brody several times while they were hanging out in the 80’s.

Jerry Brisco wonders if Hogan would have really been willing to work with Brody, given Brody’s habit of refusing to job.

Brody wanted to open a camp for underprivileged kids, become a member in the D.A.R.E. program, and open up a sports agency business after his career wound down.

Final thoughts: A very well put together documentary overall. Having his wife doing the narration was a great touch. Atlas’ discussion of the murder was absolutely chilling.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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