So, turns out Braun Strowman is actually pretty awesome. Despite beginning his main roster career with all the potential of a wet tissue, the Monster Among Men has blossomed into one of the top stars on Monday Night Raw, having recently crushed Roman Reigns in the main event of Payback 2017 and, if the rumours are true, setting in motion a WWE Universal Championship match with Brock Lesnar at some point in the future. Not too bad for someone who wears trousers that make him look like he’s peed himself. In an age where the smaller, more athletic wrestler is usually preferred by the fans, it’s quite refreshing in a way to see the WWE fans cheer for a giant.
This, then, is the perfect time to reflect on those other big men the fans adored, as well as the giants who were less “fee-fi-fo-fum” and more “fee-fi-oh-Jesus-not-this-guy-again”. Just to be clear, some of the men on the “failures” side of this list did have some success with championships or prestigious matches, but, overall, they can hardly be considered legendary. Opinions ahead, so be warned. So, without further ado, let’s climb the beanstalk of wrestling together and talk about eight big men who were great and seven who were giant failures.
16 DOMINATED: Big Show
WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL... sorry, I just really like that intro.
The Big Show gets a lot of criticism, but let’s face it; the guy is a legend. Signing with WCW in 1995, Paul Wight performed as The Giant, gaining some main event experience as a member of The Dungeon of Doom. This allowed him to feud with the great Hulk Hogan and even win the WCW Championship in his very first match for the company, although this reign was later vacated due to some complications involving a Yeti. (Mid-'90s WCW; it was a weird place.) Wight would later sign with the WWE, becoming one of the first notable WCW names to jump ship to WWE during the Monday Night Wars. Since then, Show has won the WWE, World Heavyweight, United States, Intercontinental, World Tag Team, WWE Tag Team, Hardcore and ECW Championships, as well as the 2015 Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal and he main-evented WrestleMania in 2000. Still wanna say he isn’t a success?
Show’s size, which has been billed anywhere from around 390-500 pounds in his time with WWE, has often been the cause of much of the criticism levelled at Show over the years. Whilst he’s not always been in the best shape, Show has put on some impressive matches for a man his size and to have a career spanning over two decades is nothing short of incredible for a man of Show’s stature and physical condition. He may not be the most exciting performer or anyone’s favourite, but for what he's accomplished in his time and for the impressive length of his career, Show deserves your respect. Okay, maybe respect isn’t the best word; he did once get towed away on the back of a coffin by The Big Boss Man.
15 FAILURE: Giant Silva
Hands up who forgot The Oddities were ever a thing.
The Oddities was an eclectic group of wrestlers, active in the WWE between 1998 and 1999. The group gained notoriety mainly due to the involvement of musicians (if you can call them that), Insane Clown Posse, who were official members of the group and performed their entrance music. Over time, the stable included many different names, including Golga (who had previously performed in the WWE as Earthquake), Luna Vachon and even Sable, but the group was notable for its inclusion of two big men: the 6’ 10” French-Canadian monster Kurrgan, and the Brazilian behemoth Giant Silva, who stood at a staggering 7’ 2”. I thought I was tall and that dude is a foot taller than me. He could probably kill me and not even realise.
That being said, Silva was a bit too useless to kill anybody; he was big, but, as with most super-tall wrestlers, he was too slow and cumbersome to mount any effective offence and often just looked a bit silly in the ring. The Oddities as a whole were never going to set the world on fire, but Silva stood out the most, probably because of his immense height. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter agreed, awarding Silva the “Worst Gimmick” award in 1998 as a part of The Oddities. Silva would be released from WWE in February 1999, just over a year after he signed, but would have some success outside of the company, including in the world of MMA. This guy once fought Akebono, the dude who sumo-wrestled Big Show at WrestleMania 21. I haven’t seen this fight, but I cannot see it being good.
13 DOMINATED: Ernie Ladd
One for the old school fans, here.
Before Roman Reigns was “The Big Dog,” Ernie Ladd was “The Big Cat.” A multi-sport athlete, Ladd first found fame as a football player in the American Football League (AFL), becoming one of the largest men to ever play the sport professionally, standing at a whopping 6’ 9” and weighing 315 pounds. Or, as Vince McMahon would put it, “average build”. Ladd helped the San Diego Chargers to the AFL Championship in 1963, before turning his attention to wrestling in 1969, signing with the WWE in the '70s and feuding with the likes of Andre The Giant and even Bruno Sammartino, as well as challenging men like Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship. Yes, young fans, the crazy old man who managed Darren Young last year used to be WWE Champion. Just accept it, okay?
Ladd was an excellent heel, using his height and size to overpower most of his smaller opponents and cut a menacing figure in the ring. Back in the days of the truly heroic babyface, having a hero conquer the seemingly-unmovable Ladd did wonders for their careers, and Ladd did an excellent job in putting over up-and-coming talent and establish stars alike. He also popularised the strategy of taking a count-out loss when it looked like a match wasn’t going his way, which, depending on your taste, is either a good thing or the worst thing to happen to wrestling ever. A 1995 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Ladd is a legend of the wrestling business and definitely one of the best big guys to ever enter a WWE ring. Just bring up the fact that he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame first; you know how WWE gets with that sort of thing.
12 FAILURE: Tyson Tomko
I didn’t want to put this guy on the list, I really didn’t.
Tyson Tomko’s Wikipedia page bills him at 6’ 6” and 296 pounds, so he’s hardly the biggest man on this list, but, in his time with WWE, he was always pushed for his size. Debuting as “The Problem Solver” for Christian and Trish Stratus in their feud with Chris Jericho, Tomko played the typical enforcer role, standing at ringside for most of Christian’s matches and interfering when necessary. He was eventually allowed to run as a solo act, going on a winning streak before being defeated by John Cena twice in a row (story of most wrestlers' lives). Things began to appear bleak for Tomko when he was pushed into a tag team with one Gene Snitsky, the WWE’s equivalent of a horse’s head in the bed, and he left the company in 2008, apparently on good terms, which is nice. If someone made me spend time with Snitsky, I’d hate them forever.
The reason I’m so hesitant to put Tomko on this list is because of his successes outside of WWE. He worked for such promotions as New Japan Pro Wrestling and TNA, holding both the IWGP Tag Team and TNA World Tag Team Championships at the same time, a very rare feat. Sadly, most people don’t know about these accomplishments, so Tomko remains a name lost to history and just another example of a big dude who started out well, but was ultimately pushed aside by management. However, Tomko definitely had one of the coolest jobs before becoming a wrestler; he once served as a bodyguard for the rap-rock group, Limp Bizkit. Cue jokes about Limp Bizkit not being worth protecting.
11 DOMINATED: Bam Bam Bigelow
I don’t even wanna think about how much that tattoo hurt.
“The Beast From The East”, Bam Bam Bigelow, made his name in the late-'80s/early-'90s as a big man who defied all expectations. Weighing in at almost 400 pounds, Bigelow was amazingly agile, often pulling out top rope headbutts, somersault sentons and an impressive moonsault, all whilst displaying an impressive variety of power moves too. His distinctive ring attire and hallmark head tattoo made him stand out too and he was involved in a number of high-profile storylines, including one with retired football player Lawrence Taylor, that saw the two main event WrestleMania XI. Hey, I said “high-profile”, not “good”.
Bigelow’s decade-plus career saw him perform for the WWE, WCW and ECW, as well as numerous other promotions. In ECW, he was a member of the popular Triple Threat faction, alongside Chris Candido and Shane Douglas, and even won the ECW title from Douglas at a live event in 1997. This monster of a man is one of wrestling’s most recognizable figures and is a firm favourite amongst wrestling fans old and new. His mind-bending agility and speed, combined with his raw power made him a truly stand-out performer during his time and he more than deserves to be considered one of the best big men of all time. Even if he did wear a shirt that looked like he was going to a disco for eight-year-olds
10 FAILURE: Viscera
I feel for this guy, I really do.
There can be no denying that Nelson Frazier worked his rather-large ass off during his long and varied career with the WWE. He began his career with the company in 1993 as Mabel and, during this run, he won the World Tag Team Championships with Mo and the King of the Ring crown in 1995, setting up one of the worst SummerSlam main events of all time against Diesel for the WWE Championship. Not a great start. He performed next as Viscera, a member of the Ministry of Darkness, and then later as Big Daddy V, the, and I quote, “World’s Largest Love Machine”. Ever heard the phrase “quality over quantity”? Well, apparently, Nelson Frazier hadn’t.
Despite all his gimmicks and his hard work, nothing ever really seemed to click for Frazier. His 450+-pound frame was impressive, but for all the wrong reasons, and the dude could barely move in the ring, let alone put on a decent match and this only got worse over time. He played some good characters, but couldn’t convert this into any decent feuds or storylines, which is a real shame, because it’s clear he was an extremely dedicated performer and the fact that WWE barely mentioned his passing in 2014 only makes his story even sadder. It’s a shame, but the facts don’t lie; Frazier was just a bad wrestler. Sorry, Creatures of the Night.
9 DOMINATED: Vader
IT’S TIME! IT’S... time to talk about Leon White.
Leon White made his name in New Japan Pro Wrestling, becoming the first ever non-Japanese man to ever hold the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He then returned to the U.S., winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship three times and the 1993 Wrestler of the Year award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Then came his time in WWE. Oh dear. For whatever reason, WWE never got behind Vader in the same way as other companies and he never won a single championship in his time with WWE. He did main event SummerSlam 1996 with Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship, but that’s not really much to shout about.
Despite this, Vader still deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Like Bam Bam Bigelow, Vader was known for his inhuman mix of agility, size and power. Billed at 6’ 5” and 450 pounds, Vader would routinely perform diving manoeuvres and moonsaults to a shocked crowd. He may not have the championships of other great performers, but Vader is still an iconic performer who should absolutely be in the WWE Hall of Fame and most definitely deserves a place on this list. Even if he did assault Gorilla Monsoon; almost crossed the line there, Vader. I love Gorilla.
8 FAILURE: Bam Neely
If you don’t remember who this person is, don’t worry. You are not alone.
Fans of wrestling during 2007-2009 might remember a stable known as La Familia. Headed up by Edge and Vickie Guerrero, the stable went through numerous different members, all with links to the two leaders. Vickie’s in-law, Chavo Guerrero was a member, as was the tag team of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, who acted as Edge’s henchmen. Yes, you heard that right, Curt Hawkins used to have direction. So, Edge, Vickie, Chavo, Zack and Curt all had some successes outside of this group, but what about the final member of the group; the muscle of the team, Bam Neely. Well, he, umm, well, ummm, ooh, there was that one time he... wait, no, that was someone else. I’ve got literally nothing.
Neely’s 6’ 7” frame and 295 pounds were not enough to secure him any memorable moments during his WWE run (which, by the way, only lasted between 2008 and 2009). Sure, he was part of a main event stable and rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names on SmackDown at the time, but this accounted for nothing when his own career was brought into question. I bet 90% of wrestling fans have totally forgotten about him and there’s a good reason for that. Not a bad wrestler by any stretch, Neely was just never anything special and his time on the main roster was not put to good use. Also, I never understand why multi-time world champions need bodyguards. This guy was guarding Edge, the same dude who put Mick Foley though a flaming table. It’s quite clear that he did not need any help looking after himself.
7 DOMINATED: Kevin Nash (NOT Diesel)
Yeah, that’s right, the parentheses were left in on purpose.
The near-seven foot, 311-pound Kevin Nash has had one hell of wrestling life. Beginning as Diesel in the WWE in 1993 and won the WWE Championship the very next year. In his time at the top, Nash represented the company during one of its worst periods ever and much of the blame for this has been placed on Big Daddy Cool’s poor title reign. When he eventually lost the title to Bret Hart in 1996, many fans saw it as a blessing, but it would probably be Nash who would benefit the most from this, as he would soon leave the WWE to join WCW. No, that isn’t actually a bad thing, because it was here that Nash would change the very fabric of wrestling history.
Along with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan, Nash formed the original New World Order, a revolutionary wrestling stable that changed the way in which wrestling was seen and helped kickstart WCW’s rise to the top of the Monday Night Wars. If it hadn’t been for Nash (who went by his real name during his WCW run), there might have been no Attitude Era in the WWE, as the intense competition between the two companies forced Vince McMahon to adopt an edgier, more young adult-orientated product. He may not have been the best in the ring and his time as Diesel might have been a stain on the WWE, but there’s no denying Kevin Nash is part of wrestling legend and should be respected for everything he’s given to the business. Even if he ruined Goldberg’s streak. And ruined the Summer of Punk. And booked WCW into the ground. I’m kinda regretting my choice now...
6 FAILURE: King Kong Bundy
He looks like a big thumb. That’s all.
King Kong Bundy had one of the most rollercoaster years in wrestling history. In 1986, he was main-eventing WrestleMania II, battling Hulk Hogan in the first ever WWE Championship match in WrestleMania history in front of thousands of people and millions watching across the world. One year later at WrestleMania III, he was battling Hillbilly Jim and some midgets in a six-man tag. What? How does that even happen? Well, essentially it happened because WWE realised Bundy wasn’t the main event giant they needed. Why the midgets were needed, I’ll never know.
Bundy might have cut an imposing shape at 458 pounds and 6’ 4” (which isn’t that much taller than me and I weight about a tenth of Bundy's), but he lacked anything to set him apart from the many other big men that populated WWE at the time. He was, and I hate to say this, nothing special and lacked anything that could really get fans interested in him, either as a face or a heel. He may hold a special place in WWE history, but there’s a reason he’s not famous for anything else. Also, “The Walking Condominium”? That is not a nickname that gets over. Yes, I know my boy, Gorilla Monsoon came up with it, but shush.
5 DOMINATED: Andre The Giant
Now, here’s someone who stood out.
I’m not entirely sure why Andre The Giant stood out so much. Yes, he was actually a piece of the Earth come to life – his Wikipedia page puts him at a billed height of 7’ 4” and weight of 520lbs – but everyone was pretty big back then, so what makes Andre special? Well, to quote Andre’s native French, it was a little bit of Je ne sais quoi.
There was just something about Andre; whether it was the fact that he was one of wrestling’s first true attractions with fans coming from miles to see him, his zany personality, the mad stories of his rampant alcoholism or his seemingly gentle nature despite his freakish size. Whatever it was, I love Andre, despite the fact that he’d been dead for four years by the time I was born. His mad facial expressions, the way he could switch effortlessly from loveable face to evil heel, the way he acted as the perfect foil to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, it all just makes me so happy and that’s what wrestling should be all about; great characters making you care about them. Andre was a snapshot of a type of wrestling that has, sadly, been lost and will never return and, for that, we do have a lot to thank him for. Also, The Princess Bride. Need I say more?
4 FAILURE: The Great Khali
There was nothing great about this guy.
Jinder Mahal might be on a bit of tear recently (depending on when you read this), but he was by no means the first wrestler with Indian roots to get a main event push in the WWE. The actually Indian, 7’ 1”, 347-pound Great Khali debuted in the WWE in 2006 and went on a rampage, destroy wrestlers left right and centre, including a clean victory over The Undertaker. The Undertaker! You couldn’t buy those in 2006. Khali’s time in WWE included a World Heavyweight Championship victory and a reign of 61 days, all of which were bad. You see, Khali might have looked the part, but he just didn’t stack up when it came to... well, anything else, really.
To say Khali had a run with the WWE would be unfair, because I don’t think the dude ever ran in his life. He plodded around the ring like he couldn’t bend his knees and delivered sloppy moves in every single one of his matches, no exception. Yet, somehow, Khali was pushed to the moon in WWE, challenging for numerous world titles, including once at SummerSlam and in several matches with John Cena. Khali never achieved much beyond his one world title run, but the fact he was allowed anywhere near that title in the first place baffles me. Let’s just hope Jinder Mahal can restore some pride for India. Well, Indian heritage. Dude was born in Calgary, guys.
3 DOMINATED: Kane
Sorry, that should write “Knox County Mayoral Hopeful, Kane.”
Glenn Jacobs is one of those performers that you don’t get very often. In his time in the American Wrestling Association, Smokey Mountain Wrestling and even his early WWE run, he was given some of the worst gimmicks imaginable; he was Doomsday, a sort of mythical being, Isaac Yankem, D.D.S, an evil dentist, he was The Christmas Creature, clue’s in the name, and let’s not forgot – Fake Diesel. You know you’re in trouble when you’re hired to play somebody else’s gimmick. But that’s the thing; Jacobs wasn’t in trouble, because he stuck with it until the gimmick of a lifetime came around, and that gimmick was The Devil’s Favourite Mayoral Candidate, Kane.
Debuting as The Undertaker’s demonic half-brother in 1997, Jacobs has remained as that character for nigh-on twenty years, constantly evolving and changing the gimmick, for better or worse, but always with the utmost dedication and professionalism. An extremely agile and powerful man for his billed height of 7 feet (though this is highly dubious) and his 323-pound frame, Kane put on some amazing matches with the likes of Taker, Triple H, Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and many, many others and he’s racked up a grand total of 23 championships in his WWE career, one of the highest numbers of anyone in the company’s history. A true legend both onscreen and behind the scenes, Kane is well-deserving of an eventually Hall of Fame induction and will go down as many WWE fans favourite monsters. Let’s just hope the Knox County mayor’s office is fire-proof.
2 FAILURE: Giant Gonzalez
Oh, Jesus, that body suit.
Jorge Gonzalez began his professional sports career in basketball, being one of the first Argentinian players ever to be drafted to a professional team in the NBA, after he was drafted to the Atlanta Hawks in 1988. Sadly, the physical requirements of NBA basketball proved too much for Gonzalez and his career was cut short. So, a man who wasn’t physically fit enough for basketball thought, “I know what’s the next logical career move for me; professional wrestling!”. And the worst part is, WCW (and Atlanta Hawks) owner Ted Turner, and later on WWE, agreed with him! Insanity.
At 7’ 7” and a billed 8 feet tall, Giant Gonzalez is the tallest man to ever wrestle for the WWE, but this did not translate into any form of wrestling ability. In fact, it meant quite the opposite. Gonzalez debuted in the 1993 Royal Rumble match, eliminating The Undertaker to set up their match at WrestleMania IX. WrestleMania IX, hmm, now there’s a reason I remember that show, now, what wa- oh, Jesus, that body suit! Gonzalez battled Taker in one of the worst matches in Mania history, staggering around the ring like an oak tree come to life. The “giant vs. giant” dynamic most definitely didn’t work and, to top everything off, Gonzalez ended the match when he knocked The Undertaker out with chloroform, giving The Deadman a win via DQ. And this was part of The Streak! To think that Gonzalez was considered as a potential opponent for Hulk Hogan’s WWE Championship makes me physically unwell, so there is no doubt in my mind that Giant Gonzalez is one of the worst wrestlers of all time, let alone big men. Jeez, I got nasty there. Maybe I should talk about my all-time favourite wrestler to cheer myself up.
1 DOMINATED: The Undertaker
Ah, that’s better.
What is there to say about The Undertaker that hasn’t already been said? He walked into WWE in 1990 with gimmick that should have flopped immediately and walked out over 26 years later as one of the greatest performers the business has ever seen. Never swayed by any of WWE’s competition, The Undertaker remained a constant presence on our screens during the Monday Night Wars and helped the WWE overcome their enemies and become the greatest wrestling promotion in the world today. He’s put on amazing matches over three different decades with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, The Shield, Edge, Batista and literally dozens of others, all the while staying true to kayfabe, never breaking character and taking every precaution to keep the illusion of his Deadman persona alive, which is beautifully ironic when you think about it.
The Undertaker is always considered such a great overall wrestler, that it’s kinda weird to think of him as a “big man”, but the fact of the matter is this – Taker is massive. The first words ever spoken about him were “Holy Cow! Look at the size of those ham hocks!”, after all. Coming in at 6’ 10” and weighing in 309 pounds, Taker dwarfed most of his competition, which really helped him pull off the menacing gimmick that made him a household name. Like his half-brother, Taker was hugely agile, performing multiple top rope moves, quick transitions and even suicide dives well into his forties. A true legend of the business, The Undertaker is my favourite wrestler of all time and I think he always will be. Such dedication, such devotion, such professionalism and such talent comes along but once in a lifetime and I am so glad that I got to witness just a small sample of Mark Calaway’s work before he rode off into the sunset. Careers end, but Dead Men never die and The Undertaker’s legacy will never, ever Rest In Peace. That’s a guarantee.