Tag Archives: Scott Voss

MMA: Wrestling’s Distant Cousin 4

by Daniel Johnson

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Kimo Leopoldo vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

Countless professional wrestlers put their lives on the line every single night to show just how much athleticism the predetermined art of professional wrestling is capable  of displaying. In addition to this some wrestlers have gone outside of wrestling just to really highlight what they are athletically capable of. Wrestlers like Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley made marquee names for themselves as professional wrestlers only to then also compete in the dangerous world of MMA and establish winning records of 5-3 and 8-2, respectively. Heck, even Dave Batista beat up that fat guy to earn a winning record of 1-0.

However, while there are guys like Lesnar, Lashley and even Batista elevating the athletic image of what it takes to be a professional wrestler, there are also guys who quite frankly flopped in the MMA world. Case in point: Bam Bam Bigelow.

Bigelow to an extent is a polarizing figure. While many sing his praises, he also has his detractors none of which are worse than Lanny Poffo. Check out this clip from Kayfabe Commentaries where Poffo downplays Bigelow’s accomplishments by saying, “Bam Bam was special because he was chosen. Macho Man was chosen because he was special.” That doesn’t seem that bad right? Well, it isn’t and thus is a crappy illustration of my point. Unfortunately, the folks at Kayfabe Commentaries didn’t include the bit in the trailer where Lanny reminisces about the time  he told Bam Bam he should have gotten receipt from a prostitute for a hummer because “you’re a very ugly man.” That is how vicious some of Bam Bam’s critics are!

Anyway, no matter what his detractors may say it is tough to deny his athleticism. From hitting Bam Bamsaults, to annihilating huge guys with the Greetings from Asbury Park to launching Spike Dudley clear into the third row, Bigelow was an anomaly. He may not have looked like the strongest or most agile guy, but he had physical talents tough to match.

Then why moments before competing for U-Japan in his MMA debut did Bam Bam have the following expression on his face?

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Let’s look at the facts surrounding the fight a little more closely. The date is November 17, 1996. UFC has not blown up yet and MMA is still largely considered an underground and dangerous sport. Well, at least part of that is still true, but back in 1996 MMA was an unknown underground and dangerous sport. On the surface Kimo Leopoldo didn’t look that intimidating. He had a winning record, but it was a measly 4-2. Actually, scratch that. Leopoldo’s record was 4-2, but his only losses were at UFC 3 and UFC 8, respectively. Despite not enjoying anywhere near the popularity it has today UFC was still the pinnacle of MMA excellence in the 1990s. Add to that the fact that in 1996 Leopoldo looked like he was chiseled out of granite and Bam Bam deserves props just for not messing himself when “O Fortuna” hits and Leopoldo comes out.

Seeing a guy as dominant as Bigelow be this uneasy throughout the pre-match introductions is kind of uncomfortable. When Bam Bam (or as he is referred to in this match by his birth name, Scott Bigelow) is  introduced there is no posing or shouts to the crowd. He just tries to loosen up a little. Poor Bam Bam. He could have loosened up all day and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Leopoldo dives right for Bam Bam’s knees and immediately mounts him. Leopoldo uses his cage grabbing skills to completely cut off Bam Bam’s mobility. Leopoldo soon starts in with some strikes to Bam Bam’s head. Is Bam Bam bleeding? Is this an MMA fight? Then that means it’s hard way! Bigelow makes some attempt to get up, but Leopoldo swings his weight around to Bam Bam’s back and wins with a rear naked choke in 2:15.

To add insult to injury after the match there is some footage of Bam Bam walking around and getting checked out by a doctor as he says, “Yeah, I’m okay” and “Can we do this without the cameras, please?”

This raises two questions. First: Why did Bam Bam fail so spectacularly? As previously mentioned little was known about MMA by the general public and one has to assume by his showing this would include Bam Bam. Also, as previously mentioned just look at his opponent! On top of those two points it is worth pointing out that while athletically gifted, Bam Bam’s skills just didn’t translate to MMA. After all if you ever try to hit a rolling moonsault in a real fight you kind of deserve to lose that fight.

The second question then has to be why did Bam Bam compete in this fight at all? To some extent he had to have known that he was going to look less like Scott Bigelow in an octagon and more like Scott Voss in the first fight from Here Comes the Boom, right? The answer is simple: money. According to the ever reliable Wikipedia  Bam Bam claimed to make $100,000 from this one fight. Once again he has his doubters and detractors, but even they believe he made at least $75,000 from this one ass whooping.

In summary while some wrestlers have gone outside of their art to showcase their athleticism even the athletically gifted can end up embarrassing themselves. However, a payday is a payday.

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

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MMA: Wrestling’s Distant Cousin

As much as I would have enjoyed tearing apart Kevin James’ latest feature film I just can’t do it. While the movie didn’t have any belly laugh moments it does offer some chuckles and director Frank Coraci does a good job of keeping the story on track and nearly believable.

James plays Scott Voss, a 42-year-old uninspired and out of shape biology teacher with an amateur wrestling background. Voss becomes motivated when he learns that the nicest guy in the world, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) is going to get fired from his position as the school’s music teacher after he just found out that his wife is pregnant.

Voss goes unrealistically out of his way to make enough money to pay for the school’s music program. First he tries working a second job by teaching a citizenship class, but makes barely any money doing this. Yet, during this time he meets Niko (real life former UFC Heavyweight Championship holder Bas Rutten), an immigrant, who used to be an MMA fighter. Voss discovers Niko’s past prior to a tutoring session and he learns that he can make big money doing MMA, even if he loses.

What prevents this movie from being totally cringe worthy is how delicate the fight scenes are handled. To give full disclosure I’m by no means the world’s biggest MMA fan. Heck, for years I’d throw out some variation of the line, “watching one guy sit on another guy’s face for five minutes isn’t my idea of a good fight.” Still, even I was worried that watching Kevin James, a man who clearly resembles Mr. Potato Head fight inside an octagon could only be ridiculously bad. Well, unless it was played way over the top, which it wasn’t. The storytellers behind this film must have recognized this fear too. The first time James is in the ring he gets sent to the hospital after a kick to the head from another out of shape guy with a Dusty Rhodes-esque splotch on his chest. So it’s not like Voss is kicking ass from the start.

During his early venture into the sport, the cliché love story between school nurse Bella Flores (Salma Hayek) and Voss begins to develop. This is the same hunk of fat love story that just about any guy would like trimmed from many, many action/sports movies, but nonetheless has to be put up with. At least James and Hayek have some chemistry, which makes it a little less painful. There is also another cliché subplot of a promising student (Filipina pop star Charice) wasting her potential until the teacher helps her overcome her problem with a controlling father. Again, unnecessary to the main story, but one that any audience member would expect to be there.

Voss keeps training with Niko and wins his first fight after which he immediately vomits on his opponent. Well, this movie needed some gross out comedy, didn’t it? Voss’ determination finally gets him to the point where he can just about save The Fonz’s job when tragedy strikes and all the money that he had been building up is lost. Luckily, by this point Joe Rogan has already made his cameo and offered the protagonist a fight in the UFC. If Voss wins he will earn $50,000, which is more than enough to keep that troubled high school music program going.

This last fight is when the movie comes apart somewhat. Having Voss gain momentum in the world of underground MMA in the course of the film’s loose timeline is one thing, but having him challenge a top competitor at the sport’s highest level is another. They make Voss’ opponent Ken Dietrich (played by Krzysztof Soszynski, another real life fighter) look like a complete beast that anyone who resembled James would have no shot against. Still, Voss manages to go toe-to-toe with him. Oh well, I guess it would be anticlimactic if Voss got his arms torn out of their sockets in the first round.

Overall, while Here Comes the Boom is a by no means a classic on par with Rocky or The Wrestler it manages to avoid the trend of being just another awful Kevin James movie. It is worth a look, preferably through a Redbox rental because repeat viewings may not do it any favors.

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

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