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Mark Henry showcases his destructive side by launching Randy Orton through a plexiglass pod inside the Elimination Chamber.02/13/2018 - 11:15
The 30 best big men in wrestling history
The bigger they are, the harder they hit. At least that's true of the 30 men on this list. From towering giants to earthshaking behemoths, these Superstars possessed the type of uncommon size and superhuman strength only seen in comic books.
What makes a giant? For the purpose of this list, we looked at Superstars who broke either of these two thresholds — they had to stand 6-foot-8 and above or bust scales at more than 315 pounds. Many of them did both. All of them are destroyers.
Hailing from the wilds of Africa, the bizarre Superstar known as Kamala used his 375-pound bulk and unorthodox offense to intimidate opponents in both WWE and WCW. Always barefoot with war paint all over his body, The Ugandan Giant competed in many twisted bouts, including a Steel Cage Match against Andre the Giant and a Coffin Match with Undertaker during his lengthy career. Kamala's most memorable moment, however, occurred outside the ring when he ate a live chicken on WWE's Tuesday Night Titans. No wonder challengers were afraid to step in the ring with him.
A household name at the peak of his popularity, Haystacks Calhoun's uncommon girth made him a major box-office attraction throughout the 1950s and ’60s. Born in Morgan’s Corner, Ark., in 1934, the 600-pounder stayed true to his farm boy roots during his career, sporting a white T-shirt and blue overalls in battles against rivals like Mr. Fuji and the 800-pound Happy Humphrey. This unique look made the behemoth a sensation in many different promotions, but his biggest success in WWE came in 1973 when he captured the World Tag Team Championships with Tony Garea, making him the heaviest man to ever hold that title.
Big Daddy V
He went by many different names in WWE, but whether this 1995 King of the Ring winner obliterated opponents as Mabel, Viscera or Big Daddy V, one label always applied — giant. With a smash mouth offensive style that was so vicious it could be hard to watch — his spinning heel kick looked like it could destroy most compact cars — this 500-pounder was so intense between the ropes that he once shattered The Undertaker’s face.
Don Leo Jonathan
A second-generation performer, Don Leo Jonathan was one of the most feared big men from his era. From the 1950’s throughout the ’70s, the Hurricane, Utah, native became a box-office attraction across the globe. Weighing as much as 340 pounds during his career, The Mormon Giant’s adaptability allowed him to wrestle a scientific match or brawl with the best of them depending on the situation. More times than not, Jonathan’s Spinning Full Nelson would spell defeat for his opponents. The 6-foot-6 competitor had great rivalries against the likes of Andre the Giant, Killer Kowalski, and Gene Kiniski, and had WWE Championship Matches against Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales.
"Crusher" Jerry Blackwell
At 5-foot-9 and a rotund 474 pounds, Jerry Blackwell didn’t look like one of the most agile big men of his era. But “Crusher” could deliver a standing dropkick like nobody’s business, and if an opponent was nailed by his big splash, they felt it for days! Blackwell’s unique style gained him initial notoriety in WWE in the mid-70s where he gave WWE Champion Bob Backlund a run for his money in a series of matches. But the man from Stone Mountain, Ga., truly established himself as a major player in the AWA during the ’80s when he emerged as a fan favorite in a major rivalry with Bruiser Brody.
Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley’s ring style was reminiscent of Bam Bam Bigelow. Aside from one being covered in tie-dye and the other in flames, their size, strength, aggression and agility were scarily similar. At a snack shy of four bills, Bubba dropkicked, launched flying shoulder blocks and even top rope splashes that served doubly duty as colonics. As one of the six men that created the TLC Match, he was as comfortable creating offense with tables and ladders as he was with his fists and feet. However, Bubba's favorite maneuver was 3D, the Dudley Death Drop. The big man sadistically splattered anyone that his half-brother D-Von hoisted into the air en route to becoming the most decorated tag team wrestler in history.
One Man Gang
The name says it all. A near 500-pound hard hitter from the mean streets of Chicago, One Man Gang was an army unto himself. Standing at 6-foot-9 with his hair shaved into a wild Mohawk, Gang's appearance was intimidating enough, but it was his 747 Splash that opponents truly feared. From his days as the top dog in the bad dude-heavy Universal Wrestling Federation to his time in WWE under the tutelage of Slick, the powerhouse left behind a long line of victims. Gang shocked the WWE Universe in 1988 when he underwent a personality crisis and became Akeem, but the giant's considerable size helped him remain a constant threat.
The great colossus of Tokyo, Shohei “Giant” Baba loomed over Japanese wrestling as both its largest ring presence and the chief magnate behind the almighty All Japan Pro Wrestling from the early 1970s until his death in 1999. A student of Japanese wrestling god Rikidozan, Baba’s 6-foot-10 height was especially uncommon for an Asian competitor and aided greatly in his emergence as the “Giant of the Orient.” As he aged, Baba’s thin arms and bony chest often belied his considerable presence, but all it took was a big overhead chop from the mighty icon to remind foes of his holy power.
Abdullah the Butcher
Volatile and sadistic, with wild, darting eyes to match, Abdullah the Butcher was the stuff of nightmares. Unlike other superheavyweights, the near 400-pound Madman from Sudan didn’t rely solely on his massive frame to damage opponents, instead preferring to incorporate a wide assortment of weaponry — none of which he wielded more reliably than his trusted fork.
You didn’t even have to watch The Butcher in action to get chills. A simple glance at his heavily scarred forehead — which looked like somebody had stretched skin across deep, ridge-cut potato chips — told you all you needed to know about the international terror, whose decades-long Hall of Fame career brought him seemingly everywhere but WWE. Whether he was dropping elbows or carving up scalps, Abdullah was a unique barbarian, whose sheer immensity and girth always felt like a secondary threat, taking a backseat to his uncontainable brand of mayhem.
King Kong Bundy
King Kong Bundy liked making statements. That's why the 445-pound man mountain demanded that the official count to five after Bundy had flattened an opponent with his devastating Avalanche splash. Often referred to as a "walking condominium" by Gorilla Monsoon, the Atlantic City, N.J., native made history when he pinned S.D. Jones at the inaugural WrestleMania in nine seconds. The following year, Bundy experienced yet another milestone in his career when he battled WWE Champion Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 2 in a Steel Cage Match. Bundy never captured the title, but his size and aggression made him a serious danger in the ring.
Big John Studd
A basketball star in his youth, Big John Studd entered professional wrestling under the tutelage of fellow giant Killer Kowalski in the mid-70s. A legitimate 7-foot-1, Studd had the mass of an NFL linebacker with hands like baked hams. This size would help the Los Angeles native in his many battles against Andre the Giant throughout the mid-80s. The crowning moment of Studd's career, however, came in 1989 when he won the second-ever Royal Rumble Match. This huge win was one of the many reasons the enormous grappler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Dubbed "The Samoan Bulldozer," this relentless, tattooed titan debuted in WWE in 2006, utterly flattening his opponents as he set his sights on top Superstars such as John Cena and Triple H. Armed with his sadistic Samoan Spike and surprising agility given his 340-pound frame, this former Intercontinental Champion is remembered as one of the most dangerous Superstars in WWE history.
At 6-foot-9 and 309 pounds, Sid's size was imposing enough, but it was his certifiably insane behavior that made him one of the most feared Superstars of the ’90s. A major force in both WWE and WCW, Sid controlled the ring with a mixture of unbridled intensity and high impact power maneuvers, including his destructive powerbomb. The madman used this backbreaking arsenal to defeat the likes of Bret "Hit Man" Hart and Shawn Michaels on his way to picking up two WWE Championships in the mid-90s. He experienced similar championship success in WCW when he returned there at the dawn of the millennium.
The 400-plus pound Samoan emerged in WWE as one-half of The Headshrinkers, but it wasn't until he joined forces with Too Cool in 1999 that this bleached blond behemoth endeared himself to WWE fans with his funky dance moves and fun-loving attitude. Rikishi's success extended beyond the dance floor, though, as he captured the World Tag Team Championships, Intercontinental Championship and WWE Tag Team Championships. Still, he is perhaps best known for using his dimpled posterior to humiliate opponents with his signature Stink Face maneuver.
Entering WWE in 1994 as Shawn Michaels' massive bodyguard, Diesel's full-throttle ascent to the main event was fueled by his thirst for championship gold. In the 1994 Royal Rumble Match, Diesel eliminated seven opponents in just 18 minutes. Later that year, Big Daddy Cool captured the Intercontinental Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championships with his partner, HBK. But it was Diesel's WWE Title victory over Bob Backlund that would stand as his most monumental victory as he beat the WWE Hall of Famer in 8 seconds flat with a Jackknife Powerbomb.
Considered by many to be the most dangerous and unpredictable brawler of his era, Bruiser Brody battled his way across the globe throughout the 1970s and early ’80s, leaving behind a path of destruction that few Superstars have equaled. Revered in Japan for his wild matches against the likes of Abdullah the Butcher and Terry Funk, Brody is best remembered by WWE fans for his gory battles with legendary WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino, which cemented his reputation as a serious tough guy who was willing to do anything to win. This mix of size and ring smarts earned the big man the moniker of the "Intelligent Monster."
Starting off as a successful sumo wrestler, the enormous Earthquake built his reputation as a destructive force in Japan before making his way to WWE in 1989. Weighing almost 500 pounds, Earthquake literally shook the ring when he stomped on the mat. His Earthquake Splash was even more destructive, squashing everything from Hulk Hogan's ribcage to Jake Roberts' python, Damien. Quake's size doubled in the ’90s when he formed The Natural Disasters with Typhoon, capturing the World Tag Team Championships and flattening countless competitors.
Big Boss Man
While the 330-pound Big Boss Man had the immense size of an offensive lineman, he moved with the speed of a running back, which made him incredibly dangerous. The imposing corrections officer from Cobb County, Ga., had no problems heaving his opponents around the ring like an unruly inmate. The poor saps that fell to Boss Man got the full prison treatment, too, getting cuffed to the ring ropes and introduced to the business end of a nightstick. Miranda rights didn’t exist in Big Boss Man’s world. Let’s face it, who was going to ask this monster to call their attorney?
A member of the 1966 New York Jets, Bob Windham began training for a professional wrestling career at the urging of teammate and mat legend Wahoo McDaniel. It was a natural fit for the 6-foot-7, 340-pound former U.S. Marine who was rivaled only by Andre the Giant in terms of size and power during his prime years in the mid-70s. A no nonsense competitor, the gruff Texan finished off foe after foe with his signature Iron Claw. In 1975, Mulligan formed The Blackjacks alongside Blackjack Lanza and manager Capt. Lou Albano and went on to win the World Tag Team Championships under manager Capt. Lou Albano. In addition, Mulligan enjoyed great success in territories like Florida, Mid-Atlantic, World Class and the AWA.
Some WWE fans were critical of the fact that it took Mark Henry 15 years to embrace his status as the squared circle’s most intimidating figure. Truth is they should be thankful. Had the powerhouse from Silsbee, Texas, spent the last decade behaving the way he did in fall 2011 then WWE history would look a lot different. Imagine rings destroyed. Legends hobbled. The Streak? A few digits less impressive.
So be grateful that Henry chose 2011 to construct what he called his “Hall of Pain” out of the broken bones of fallen opponents like Kane, Big Show and Randy Orton. Had nagging injuries not slowed him, Henry may have depleted an entire roster. Even fans in the front row seemed uneasy in the looming presence of the former Olympic power lifter. As for those broadcasters who bandied around the word “monster” in regards to Mark Henry? They missed the point. Monsters are fiction. It is men that are real. And Henry was the meanest man of all.
Best remembered by a generation of WWE fans as the beloved voice of WWE in the 1980s, Gorilla Monsoon first rose to fame as a ferocious villain who terrorized rings in the 1960s and ’70s. A standout amateur wrestler, the 401-pound Monsoon used a mix of experienced grappling and serious power to smash the likes of Bruno Sammartino and "Superstar" Billy Graham during his decades in WWE. Gorilla even got into a scuffle with boxing legend Muhammad Ali during a match in Philadelphia and quickly disposed of The Greatest with his famous Airplane Spin.
Dubbed “The Bad Man from Borger, Texas,” Stan Hansen was the walking, talking, tobacco-chewing epitome of a no-nonsense cowboy. Though far from Herculean in appearance — The Last Outlaw’s belly unabashedly spilled over his simple black trunks — the 320-pound Hansen was a blustery force inside the ring.
His bullwhip-cracking entrance was terrifying enough; never mind Hansen’s trademark Lariat clothesline, which was thrown with bullet velocity and, as Hansen got on in years, often half blindly.
In 1976, he broke the neck of WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino, and in 1990, he knocked Vader’s eye out of its socket. A bounty-hunting mercenary at various points in his career, Hansen wreaked havoc around the world for nearly 30 years before hanging up the bullwhip in 2000.
"Big Cat" Ernie Ladd
Before becoming one of the most revered Superstars of his era, "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd was a gridiron great, playing with teams like the San Diego Chargers and the Houston Oilers during the 1960s. In the early ’70s, Big Cat shifted his focus to the ring where his 6-foot-9, 300-plus pound bulk intimidated opponents and his trademark taped thumb put them down for the count. Dominating and charismatic, the WWE Hall of Famer was a major star who stomped through legends like Abdullah the Butcher and Ox Baker with an enviable cool. It doesn't get any tougher than that.
Consider this — at 589 pounds, Yokozuna weighed literally twice as much as the massive Batista. This earthshaking mass served the dominant sumo wrestler very well during his time with WWE as the giant stomped his way past WWE Hall of Famers like Bret "Hit Man" Hart and Hulk Hogan on his way to two WWE Championships. Managed by Mr. Fuji for the majority of his career, Yokozuna was deceptively mobile for a man of his size. And his Banzai Splash, in which he plunged from the second rope onto the chest of his prone opponent, always guaranteed victory.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Often touted by Bret "Hit Man" Hart as the most talented big man in wrestling history, Bam Bam Bigelow was one of the rare behemoths who could literally throw his weight around. Unbelievably agile for a near 400-pounder, The Beast from the East used his massive body to achieve success in WWE, WCW and other promotions across the globe. The tattooed New Jersey native once disposed of King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang in the same match and battled in the main event of WrestleMania XI, but his biggest victory came in ECW when he won the renegade promotion's championship.
The shout of "It's Vader time!" announced the arrival of the most ferocious big man of the 1990s. Known as "The Mastodon" for good reason, Vader captured three World Heavyweight Championships during his time in WCW thanks to his thick muscles and aggressive style and came close to winning the WWE Championship on multiple occasions. A player with the Los Angeles Rams before entering sports-entertainment, Vader rushed his opponents like a defensive end, smashing everyone from Ric Flair to Cactus Jack with callous disregard.
Kane would’ve made this list even if he remained the mute horror movie villain he was back in 1997 when he tore the door off the Hell in a Cell and attacked his brother, The Undertaker. But over the past 17 years (!), The Devil’s Favorite Demon has evolved in the most fascinating ways, morphing from charred monster to sympathetic hero, from hook wielding goon to a walking advertisement for the benefits of group therapy. That he continues to catch us off guard to this day is astounding. Whoever thought they’d live to see Kane wrestle in dress slacks? It’s a testament not only to his longevity, but to his place as the most adaptable big man that ever was.
Let's get one thing straight about Big Show — The World's Largest Athlete isn't just a clever nickname. It's a fact. Standing at a towering 7-foot tall and weighing more than 400 pounds, the titan is one of the most imposing men to ever enter a wrestling ring and, perhaps, the most athletically gifted Superstar to ever be called a giant. Dominant from the very beginning, Show won the WCW Championship in his very first match in 1995. He would continue to collect titles, becoming the only man to win the ECW, WWE and WCW Championships during an epic run that is still going strong.
Andre the Giant
A key figure in the storied history of sports-entertainment, Andre the Giant rose from humble beginnings in Grenoble, France, to become one of the most recognizable men in the world. His stats are gospel amongst longtime wrestling fans — 7-foot-4, 520 pounds. His unquenchable thirst has become the stuff of internet legend — cases and cases of red wine, 120 beers in one sitting. Rumors aside, what remains true is that Andre is a legitimate folk hero and a WWE Hall of Famer thanks to his marquee matches with Hulk Hogan, Big John Studd and countless other ring titans.
Perhaps the single most destructive force in WWE history, The Undertaker possesses the size to intimidate and the in-ring ability to back it up. Not only can The Demon from Death Valley beat opponents with power, but he knows submission maneuvers (Hell's Gate), top rope attacks (Old School) and has been called the best pure striker in WWE. The majority of the giants on this list have fallen to The Deadman at one time or another. The ones who didn't are lucky they never had to step in the ring with him. And his WrestleMania Streak stands as the most impressive record in all of sports-entertainment. That's why the former WWE Champion is the greatest big man of all time.