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The Epitaph
by Marcus Madison on 2001-08-12

This weeks edition of the The Epitaph is a look at how large athletes who have made an long lasting effect in the world of pro wrestling. This edition is also dedicated to my fellow columnists Drq Shadow and TD this is my tribute to you, guys. This retrospective look at the legion of the large will give fans an opportunity to see how the larger athlete has evolved over time. Professional wrestling has marveled at the talent and appeal of the big man. They combine size, weight and sky scrapper like height.

My Initial Recollection...

I have followed wrestling since the days of the early eighties and two names initially come to mind. Big John Stud and Andre the Giant. These two men competed in a long standing feud that saw both of them fight over, oddly enough hair, and money. Allow me to elaborate the money was part of a challenge that Stud had lured several wrestlers to take part in. The "$10,000 dollar challenge" I believe it was called. The challenge was to have anyone who could body slam Stud would receive this money. Stud, who stood over 6"8 inches tall and weighted in excess of 350 lbs it was no easy task for anyone to do. That is anyone except for "the 8th wonder of the world" Andre the Giant. Andre, still to this day may arguably be the most recognized big athlete in wrestling stood 7"5 inches tall and weighted well over 500 lbs was definitely up to the task.

Before I began to follow the feud Andre, wore the ever popular "afro like" due of the 70's. This was when the feud appeared to have first begun. Stud along with his manager Bobby "the brain" Heenan took part in the infamous "hair-cutting" of Andre. I think it made him actually look better than before. This bitter and angry giant was bent on revenge but what would he do?? This incident I believe began the feud between the two.

Allow us to skip ahead a few years to the first Wrestle Mania. The "challenge" to slam Stud seemed to have added a little something to the feud between the two. Andre, previous to this match had slammed Stud several time before only to have Heenan leave with the gym bag full of money before Andre could actually get a hold of it. So this match at Wrestle Mania would be different you see. This would be Andre's time to collect on his debts, take home the prize and put both Heenan and Stud in their places. After the contest needless to say, Andre was not only victorious but shared the fruits of his labor with the crowd in attendance by tossing the money he won out in the crowd.

This feud allowed fans to see how these two incredibly large men could both captivate a crowd and compete all at once. Andre and Big John were men without gimmicks they simply had what it takes to be big and scary.

FIVE COUNT...

The next athlete to make such a profound impact on the sport next to Andre and Big John had to be King Kong Bundy. This man who still competes today, used his entire frame to defeat many of his opposition. His signature move of both the "Avalanche" and the big splash finished off many a man. The special part about KKB was he always demanded that the referee would have to count to five before the match was to end. It was different and no one since has attempted to make themselves intimidating on a regular basis as him. He was most recognized for his feud with Hulk Hogan. The cage match of Wrestle Mania IV, when Hogan had to compete with "broken ribs" made for great entertainment at the time. King Kong Bundy, a member of the Legion of the Large.

The Mid Eighties...

This was a time when a new group of wrestlers would be seen and heard as those before them. These men added the ever popular gimmick I believe to make themselves more appealing to the fans. One Man Gang/Akeem, Earthquake, Tugboat/Typhoon, Big Boss Man these for men made the second tier of the Legion of the large squad. From the group of them I believed one was ahead of the group.

Readers that are familiar with man may laugh and even scoff but I believe that Tugboat/Typhoon was the dark horse of the group. His agility was tremendous especially during his time and with the other men that were competing at the time. If anyone can recall the height at which he was able to splash his opponents it was un-matched. If anything held him back it was the goofy gimmicks he was stuck with.

Before the end of the decade...

As the eighties drew to a close the size of the large athlete made little difference, I believe on wrestling as a whole. Wrestling in general was losing it's appeal and neither weight, height or strength could change that. I enjoyed watching Andre compete in the main event however, I did not like to see him reduced to a coward when Jake Roberts brought out Damien. He was the "Giant", and to see this was an insult to everything Andre had worked so hard to accomplish.

Next week we will examine part two in our look at the legion of the large....the nineties was a decade where Yokozuna, "Big Sexy", Paul Wight, Kane, and the Undertaker.

Marcus Madison...Can you read through the madness?

You can check out Marcus Madison weekly on Joltin' Joe's Wrestling Line at (416) 350-3000 ext. 2049. Long distance charges may apply.


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