The ring's forgotten big men
October 2, 2013
The annals of sports-entertainment are lined with memories of iconic titans like Andre the Giant, Big John Studd and Big Show. However, there are plenty of other giants who have stepped over the ropes to ply their craft.
Though names like Hail and Roadblock may not be as hallowed as their more successful counterparts, these colossuses are certainly worthy of recognition. Stand in awe of these forgotten giants of the squared circle, presented by Pacific Rim, available on DVD now!
Many big men take their names from mythological creatures, towering structures or vehicles of destruction. One giant, however, took his from an unlikely source: those wooden sawhorses police put up to close off traffic.
The 6-foot-10, 400-pounder known as Roadblock burst on the scene in WCW in 1996. With ring gear decorated to make him look like a freshly-paved road and a street barrier slung over his massive shoulders, Roadblock certainly had an imposing look.
Unfortunately, WCW’s top stars weren’t too intimidated by the big man. Lex Luger ignored the “Road Closed” signs and muscled the human barrier up for the Torture Rack. The giant one-upped The Total Package a few weeks later, dropkicking the monster over the top rope and through a ringside table before chokeslamming him with ease. It turns out that Roadblock could have used some backup from The State Patrol.
"Crusher" Jerry Blackwell
At 5-foot-9, Jerry Blackwell wasn’t the tallest man in wrestling by any stretch of the imagination. However, at 470 pounds, there was little doubt as to why they called him “The Mountain from Stone Mountain.”
Blackwell was a mainstay of the AWA promotion, battling with foes like The Crusher, Verne Gagne and even Hulk Hogan. The competitor terrified audiences and grapplers alike with feats designed to show how dangerous he was. He splashed through wooden planks and drove spikes through boards with his thick forehead, making it clear that there wasn’t much that affected him.
“The Mountain from Stone Mountain” was a perennial contender to the AWA Championship. Though he never captured it, he did win the promotion’s tag team titles with Ken Patera.
From the Scottish Highlands to the rings of WCW, Loch Ness made a big impression when he debuted in 1996. Tipping the scales at a reported 679 pounds, the monster was part of Kevin Sullivan’s collection of oddities, The Dungeon of Doom.
Snarling at his foes with teeth that would make a dentist cringe, Loch Ness was truly a terrifying prospect for most average-sized wrestlers. He was the definition of an immovable object. Ness barely budged when opponents struck him, with foes bouncing off him like flies.
Loch Ness stormed into WCW by demolishing Jim Duggan and a squad of WCW’s lower-card goons, but was hell-bent on squashing Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, his eagerness to bring down Hulkamania irked fellow Dungeon of Doomer The Giant, who defeated Loch Ness and sent him packing from WCW.
Few Superstars had as frightening a background as Nathan Jones. The massive Australian spent a decade in prison, with nothing but free time and free weights. By the time he was set free from Boggo Road, he was a 6-foot-10, 300-pound colossus.
Naturally, the aggressive Jones sought to let out his rage in WWE rings. “The Colossus of Boggo Road” debuted in spring 2003 and quickly caught the eye of The Undertaker. The Deadman took Jones under his wing, showing him the ropes in several live training sessions on SmackDown.
Soon, though, Jones’ rage was too much for Undertaker to control. Jones joined up with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, doing The Anomaly’s bidding before leaving WWE at the end of 2003.
Raven was great at finding oddballs for his Flock, and no addition was more impactful than Reese. The seven-footer had been competing in WCW for several years under the name Big Ron Studd, an homage to his trainer, WWE Hall of Famer Big John Studd, but he failed to make an impression.
The big man soon fell under Raven’s spell and joined his gang of misfits. Dumping his tights for jorts and flannel, the rechristened Reese was the intimidating muscle that the outcasts needed to get noticed in WCW.
Reese didn’t fare so well on his own, but when his fellow Flock members needed a hand, he was more than capable of helping them pick up a win. For a faction that thrived on anarchy like The Flock, solidarity worked surprisingly well.
The last thing you’d think of getting when you called 911 is a chokeslam. But that’s exactly what ECW wrestlers got when the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder hit the ring. With a mullet, mustache and leather vest combo that made him look equal parts biker and pro wrestler, 911 was an instant fan favorite with the hardcore faithful.
The bruiser served as Paul Heyman’s personal security way before Ryback, but no one was safe when 911 was in the building. Any poor schlub in the ring when Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” hit the arena speakers was sure to be on the receiving end of a vicious chokeslam or two … or five, depending on how unruly the crowd was.
Though he was never a champion, 911 receives praise from Heyman to this day as one of the most important stars of ECW’s early days.
Hillbilly Jim had a seemingly never-ending family who all loved getting into a good tussle every now and then. But the WWE Universe never expected anyone like Uncle Elmer to show up.
A mountain of a man himself, Jim was dwarfed by his towering uncle. Standing 6-foot-10 and tipping the scales at 430 pounds, Elmer loved to square dance with his family as much as he loved squashing his foes in the ring.
Uncle Elmer’s family grew to include the WWE Universe, too. The jolly giant invited WWE fans to be a part of his wedding to the lovely Joyce, which took place on Saturday Night’s Main Event in October 1985.
The Colossal Kongs
These masked monsters didn’t particularly care for the rules of the ring. Brought into WCW by Harley Race in 1993, King Kong and Awesome Kong were primitive competitors billed at a total combined weight of 1,001 pounds.
The Colossal Kongs demolished anyone that WCW officials put in their path from the second they arrived on the scene. The titanic pair didn’t even bother taking their furry jackets off as they crushed the competition.
King Kong and Awesome Kong looked to be on the fast track to the WCW Tag Team Championships, until they ran into WCW’s top two stars — Sting and Ric Flair. The Stinger and The Nature Boy shockingly defeated the half-ton heavies in under three minutes.
There are many questions that the closing of WCW left unanswered. One thing we want to know is this: What would have become of Hail? At 6-foot-9 and 350 pounds of solid muscle, this titan discovered by Jimmy Hart should have been a sure thing in the squared circle.
Debuting on WCW Saturday Night in 2000, Hail tossed around his smaller foes like they were toys. Demolishing his opponents in mere minutes, he finished them off with a devastating jumping piledriver called Hail’s Bells. With his opponents often leaving the arena on stretchers, Hail looked to be a future champion.
But as 2000 rolled on, the uncertainty of WCW’s continued existence led to many talented grapplers falling under the radar. WCW Saturday Night was cancelled by the summer, leaving the promotion’s young wrestlers — and Hail — without a place to ply their craft.
Way before hip-hop was flooding MTV’s airwaves with overweight emcees, WCW brought in its own supersized rhymer. “The Rapmaster” PN News burst onto the scene in 1991. The 403-pounder boogied to the ring and dropped a dope verse on the crowd before the opening bell, punctuated with his trademark line, “Yo baby, yo baby, yo!”
WCW’s fans loved the rhyming big man like The Fat Boys loved a $3.99 all-you-can-eat buffet. News dominated his opposition with a flow that looked like it would fit just as well in the studio as it did in the ring. His finishing maneuver, a top-rope splash called The Broken Record, even had its own music.
Whether he was rapping in the ring or in commercials for WCW’s pay-per-views, News remained a fan favorite for his fresh rhymes and powerful presence in the squared circle.