MMA: Wrestling’s Distant Cousin 4

by Daniel Johnson


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?


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.

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Categories: Smooth Runs

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  1. Site News 7/1/13 | The Johnson Transcript

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