Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #46 – Bam Bam Bigelow

It’s become more than a cliché in wrestling that if a super heavyweight can so much as leave his feet for more than a second, the announcers will rail about how “he can really move for a big man.” Sometimes it’s earned, but more often than not the hype just amounts to Big Daddy V dropping an elbow. However, when it came to Bam Bam Bigelow, the “Beast from the East” more than lived up to the hype.


BigelowReal NameScott Bigelow
AliasesBruce Bigelow; Crusher Yurkof; The Beast from the East
HometownAsbury Park, New Jersey
DebutedAugust 23, 1985
Titles HeldAWA Southern Heavyweight; ECW World Heavyweight; ECW World Television; NWA Northeast Heavyweight; IWGP Tag Team (with Big Van Vader); USA Heavyweight; UXW Pro Heavyweight; WCW Hardcore; WCW World Tag Team (2x – with Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon); WCCW Television; WAR World Six-Man Tag Team (with Hiromichi Fuyuki and Youji Anjoh)
Other AccomplishmentsRanked #68 of the 500 Best Singles Wrestlers of the PWI Years by Pro Wrestling Illustrated; Ranked #36 of the 100 Best Tag Teams of the PWI Years by Pro Wrestling Illustrated (with Big Van Vader); Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter 1986 Rookie of the Year award

It’s become more than a cliché in wrestling that if a super heavyweight can so much as leave his feet for more than a second, the announcers will rail about how “he can really move for a big man.” Sometimes it’s earned, but more often than not the hype just amounts to Big Daddy V dropping an elbow. However, when it came to Bam Bam Bigelow, the “Beast from the East” more than lived up to the hype.

In his heyday, Andre the Giant could throw a mean dropkick, but when he entered the wrestling business in the late 80’s, Bam Bam Bigelow redefined what it meant to be an agile big man. At well over 300 pounds, Bigelow had the athleticism to bust out moonsaults and cartwheels while keeping pace with the likes of Bret Hart and other world class technicians over the course of his career.

With his physical tools and a unique look capped off by his signature tattoo-covered bald head, many feel Bammer never went as far as he should have, but over the course of a distinguished 20 year career, Bigelow earned a place as of the top one hundred wrestlers of the modern era more than once.

Scott Bigelow trained to be a wrestler under veteran Larry Sharpe in his native New Jersey and spent less than two years on the U.S. independent circuit and in Japan before debuting on the huge national stage of the World Wrestling Federation in 1987 as Bam Bam Bigelow. Vince McMahon and the WWF had enough confidence in the relative rookie that they built to his first television appearance with weeks of vignettes that saw every heel manager in the fed claiming to have signed Bigelow. When BBB did make the scene, it was as a babyface under the guidance of Oliver Humperdink. In his first pay-per-view appearance at the 1987 Survivor Series, Bigelow outlasted every member of his team, including captain and World champion Hulk Hogan, before being eliminated by Andre.

Bigelow burned out the year in mid-card feuds with the likes of Nikolai Volkoff, but injured his knee in early 1988 just as he was beginning to build a fan following. He worked through his injury in a loss to One Man Gang in the first round of a tournament for the vacant World championship at Wrestlemania IV.

For whatever reason, following Wrestlemania IV, Bam Bam Bigelow disappeared from the WWF. Too much pressure from being pushed too hard too fast for an inexperienced grappler? An ill-timed early injury? Though the world may never know why Bigelow left, many wrote him off as being unable to handle the big time less than a few years into his professional career. After making only a handful of appearances in the National Wrestling Alliance, challenging for Barry Windham’s U.S. title, Bigelow scurried back to Japan, seeming destined to become one for the “Could Have Been” file as far as North American wrestling.

Over the next three years, as part of Antonio Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling, Bigelow improved his in-ring skills, toughened his mental attitude and formed a dominant tag team with Big Van Vader. After Vader left Japan to dominate World Championship Wrestling in 1992, Bigelow followed his lead, returning to the WWF near the end of the year.

While Bam Bam’s return to the WWF may not have been as heralded as his initial foray into the federation five years prior, the slower burn seemed to work for the big man, as he quickly found a comfortable niche as an upper mid-card heel. After defeating the Big Boss Man at the 1993 Royal Rumble, Bigelow became a frequent house show foil for World champion Bret Hart, who would later cite the “Beast” as one of his all-time favorite opponents. The two would meet on pay-per-view in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament in June, and while Bigelow lost, it cemented him as a legitimate star and skilled worker.

In the summer of 1993, Bigelow picked up veteran women’s wrestler Luna Vachon as his valet and “main squeeze.” While the duo found themselves embroiled in a comedy feud with Doink the Clown and his midget sidekick Dink for the rest of the year and well into 1994 culminating at Wrestlemania X—where Bigelow and Vachon won a mixed tag match—they proved entertaining when given an opportunity for more microphone time, allowing Bam Bam to demonstrate talent beyond the ring.

After a series of matches with Tatanka in early 1994, Bigelow dropped Luna and joined Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation stable. While he wasn’t receiving many opportunities at either the World or Intercontinental titles, Bam Bam had demonstrated that his rookie burnout was a fluke and became one of Vince McMahon’s most reliable talents, able to consistently deliver good matches and make his opponents look good in the process. While he may not have been the star of the show, Bigelow was one of the key role players during a rebuilding period for the WWF.

1995 proved to be the most important year of Bam Bam Bigelow’s career, providing him with a wealth of exposure, though arguably at the expense of some of his credibility as a legitimate competitor. Following a loss in a tag match at the Royal Rumble, Bigelow endured taunting from football legend and ringside bystander Lawrence Taylor. When LT got in Bam Bam’s face, the embarrassed brawler shoved back, igniting a feud that would culminate at Wrestlemania XI and bringing the WWF mainstream publicity and notoriety it had lost in the years leading up. With Bigelow leading the gridiron great through the paces, the two put on arguably the best wrestling match involving a non-wrestler ever, and in the end, Bam Bam went down to a Taylor flying shoulder.

While the Wrestlemania match with Taylor had raised Bigelow’s profile in the eyes of casual fans, the more hardcore WWF fan base had trouble seeing the “Beast” as a legitimate threat to the likes of Hart and new World champion Diesel when he couldn’t even beat a football player. Bigelow was turfed from the Million Dollar Corporation and experienced a mild push as a babyface, but despite growing fan support, a combination of backstage politics and McMahon running out of idea for him led Bam Bam to depart the WWF a second time in late 1995.

Over the next two years, Bigelow went into something of a semi-retirement, surfacing occasionally in the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling to feud with the likes of Taz and Terry Gordy, while also embarking on an unsuccessful shoot fighting venture in Japan.

Bam Bam began working with ECW on a more regular basis in mid-1997, joining Shane Douglas and Chris Candido in the heel Triple Threat stable. In the fall, Bigelow turned on Douglas and defeated him for the ECW World title, the most significant singles championship he had ever held. While Bigelow would lose the belt back to Douglas in a brutal encounter the next month at the November to Remember pay-per-view, his reign made it clear that he was considered a main event competitor in ECW, a promotion considered on the cutting edge in North America.

ECW treated Bigelow as a respected and formidable veteran who posed a danger to every wrestler in the promotion, rehabilitating much of the damage the loss to Lawrence Taylor had done to his career. In 1998, Bam Bam rejoined the Triple Threat and renewed his old feud with Taz, defeating him for the ECW Television title in match that saw both men crash through the ring. Soon after, Bigelow would lose the belt to Rob Van Dam, helping to establish RVD’s star, and then put Taz over in a series of vicious brawls over the summer, cementing his burgeoning legend as well.

Having helped establish ECW and its key players, Bigelow departed the promotion at the end of 1998, heading to WCW where he would ride out his career. After an initial push into a feud with the red hot Goldberg, the “Beast from the East” settled into the mid-card, where he would win the WCW World Tag Team and Hardcore titles on multiple occasions, forming alliances with Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon while feuding with the likes of Brian Knobbs, Mike Awesome and more.

Bigelow rode out 2000 and 2001 as more of a special attraction than a key player for WCW, appearing occasionally because he could still pop the crowd, but never again having a true meaningful role in the promotion. In the final days of WCW prior to its sale to Vince McMahon in 2001, Bigelow had one final feud with Shawn Stasiak and then faded once more into semi-retirement rather than negotiate an unlikely WWF return.

After a few years of occasional returns on the independent circuit, Bigelow quietly retired in 2006. Sadly, he would pass away a year later from a drug overdose at the too-young age of 45.

While he may never have been able to remain at a sustained main event level in the WWF or WCW in his prime, Bam Bam Bigelow remains an important contributor to professional wrestling, be it through his redefinition of the agile super heavyweight, his high profile match with Lawrence Taylor, his key roles in rebuilding the WWF in the mid-90’s and building ECW in the late-90’s, or all of the above.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.