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Wednesday, March 07, 2007
  Every Week A New One: More Wrestler Deaths


UPDATE: Forgot to mention this in the main post, but Mike Awesome also died about three weeks ago. He was found hanging in the office of the real estate agency he worked for down in Florida. I don't know if they've conclusively announced anything, but obviously everybody is assuming a suicide. He was 43 with a wife and two young daughters. Fucking depressing as hell.

Bam Bam Bigelow died a few weeks ago. I think I was in training at work, which prevented me from posting about it here. He was one of my absolute favorites when I was a kid, both because he was the rare big man who could wrestle a fast-paced, exciting match, and also because he was pretty obviously a legitimate bad-ass who could easily beat the shit out of anybody who crossed him. He never really got his due, as big pushes in both the NWA and WWF fizzled out throughout the '80's and '90's. He did become a headliner in ECW in the late '90's, and at an ECW event at the Cobb County Civic Center in '98 I was fortunate enough to see an amazing match between Bam Bam and Rob Van Dam. From there he segued into WCW, having a brief feud with a post-fingerpoke Goldberg and then forming the Jersey Triad with DDP and Kanyon. I think he was hurt or let go sometime during WCW's final year, and I never saw him again. Bam Bam made some headlines a few years ago after rescuing some kids from a burning building in Florida. In the end, though, he died the way too many wrestlers of his generation have, of a drug-induced heart attack. He wasn't even fifty yet.

I bring this up because yesterday another WWF wrestler from the late '80's passed away. Allen Coage, aka Bad News Allen, but known as Bad News Brown in the WWF, died of a heart attack yesterday morning. At least he was 63, which gives him a good fifteen years or so on most of the recent high-profile wrestler deaths. He was a huge heel up in Canada, in the Hart family's Stampede promotion, and eventually got imported into the WWF. Although his WWF run was relatively brief, it was highly memorable. He was a straight-up legit bad ass in a time of incessant cartoonishness; he had the anti-gimmick of just being a tough black dude in plain black trunks who'd completely kick your ass. Stone Cold basically lifted Allen's schtick a decade later, but switched the "bad mofo from Harlem" aspect with his own natural redneck persona. Brown might be best-known for his feud with Jake "the Snake" Roberts, which led to a pretty weird "snake vs. cage full of sewer rats" match at a Summer Slam or Royal Rumble, or something. My best memory of him comes from the opening battle royal at WrestleMania IV, though, when he and a pre-face-turn, Hart Foundation-era Bret Hart teamed up to eliminate everybody else. At the end, they raised each others hands in victory; Bad News then quickly hit Hart with the ghetto blaster (Figher Hayabusa's back-brain kick, also a standing enzuigiri) and tossed him over the ropes to win the trophy. At a time when the heel-face dynamic was still completely black-and-white, and heels mostly got along with each other simply because they were all bad guys, Bad News Brown was unusual in that he disliked absolutely everybody, and was thus disliked in return. Anyway, like I said, he was 63, which is a relatively decent length of time, and hopefully his end came more naturally than usual for a retired wrestler.
 

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