Jim Ross weighs in on Yokozuna and sports-entertainment's big men

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March 28, 2012

Andre the Giant is one of WWE's best big men.

What really defines the term “super heavyweight?”

I’ve always been under the mindset that a super heavyweight had to weigh in excess of 300 pounds. As athletes have evolved over the years, perhaps that weight should be moved up considering that I never thought of  300-pounders like Brock Lesnar and Batista as super heavyweights for some reason.

Andre the Giant was obviously a super heavyweight and likely the best known big man of all time, but Andre, although he wrestled hundreds of bouts, was more of an attraction inasmuch as he never was overexposed on any individual TV broadcast or to any specific grouping of fans. Andre was truly an “attraction” much like the other individuals of significant size that I’ve seen or read about in my career. (WATCH)

WWE Hall of Famer and former NWA World Champion Harley Race was once the handler/driver for 700-plus pound Happy Humphrey in the ’50s.

Six-hundred pound Bill “Haystacks” Calhoun was another attraction who performed in every major arena in the world while wearing massive, cutoff bib overalls and coming to the ring barefooted with a horseshoe attached to a chain around his neck. Ironically, many of “Stacks” adversaries would oftentimes use the chain and the horseshoe to their advantage against the man who was billed as 601 pounds from Morgan’s Corner, Arkansas.

I refereed several tag bouts involving the “World’s Biggest Twins” — the 600-plus pound brothers Billy and Benny McGuire. They, like all attractions, would tour and stay in one area for a short time, essentially long enough for the fans in a city to see them once a year.  

So the super heavyweights were essentially “attractions” — massive wrestlers who had a limited albeit unique skill sets and who were best marketed if they were not overexposed.

Yokozuna was obviously a super heavyweight, but the former WWE Champion was a “regular” and not an attraction that became a focal point of WWE in the early to mid ’90s. (WATCH)

The enormous Samoan, whose size would eventually become his enemy, was an extraordinary athlete for a man of any size much less the astonishing weight that he grew to over the years.

For my money, Yokozuna was the greatest super heavyweights of his era and arguably of all time. To carry the mantle of WWE Champion is a massive responsibility and Yoko did it miraculously considering his size that became more of an issue as every year passed.

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