Bam Bam Bigelow has long been seen as one of the most versatile big men in professional wrestling history. It’s not often that a competitor weighing close to 400 pounds did cartwheels and moonsaults and headbutts off the top rope but he was that guy.
Over the course of two decades in WWE, WCW, ECW, and New Japan, Bam Bam Bigelow headlined shows all over the world, including WrestleMania 11 in a highly publicized main event against NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
While he found certain success in the ring, Bigelow struggled with addiction issues outside the ropes and passed away at the young age of 45.
Here’s a look back at the life, career, and tragic death of Bam Bam Bigelow.
Bam Bam Bigelow signed with WWE in just his second year as a professional wrestler and later headlined WrestleMania
Born in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, in 1961, Bam Bam Bigelow (real name Scott Bigelow) was an amateur wrestler in high school and made his pro wrestling debut in 1986 for Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis. He quickly won the Southern Wrestling Championship, defeating Jerry “The King” Lawler, and was seen as one of pro wrestling’s hottest young stars.
After performing well in New Japan, Vince McMahon quickly signed Bam Bam Bigelow, who made his WWE television debut in August 1987 and was a member of Hulk Hogan’s Survivor Series team that November, which was a huge honor for such an inexperienced wrestler. He lasted longer than Hogan did in the match but was eventually eliminated by Andre the Giant. His push, however, was not received well by many of the veterans and Bigelow left WWE the following year. He returned to Japan and also spent time in WCW before returning to the company in October 1992.
Bigelow wrestled Bret “The Hitman” Hart on numerous occasions for the WWE Championship but was always unsuccessful. In fact, Bam Bam Bigelow never won a single championship in WWE but did get the chance to be in the main event of WrestleMania 11 in a novelty match with NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. The match was much better than it was expected to be as Bigelow made LT look fantastic throughout and took the loss.
Bam Bam Bigelow made his final WWE appearance in 1995, doing the honors for Goldust at Survivor Series.
He won titles in WCW and ECW
Upon leaving WWE, Bam Bam Bigelow worked the independent circuit for a short time and then joined ECW in early 1996, where he found great success, winning both the World Television Championship and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, the biggest title win of his career. He left the company in 1998 to rejoin WCW.
Upon his arrival in WCW, Bigelow worked a very high-profile feud with Goldberg before heading to the midcard, where he spent the vast majority of his time. He worked the hardcore division for a short time and later won the tag titles on two occasions. When WCW was purchased by WWE in 2001, Bam Bam Bigelow chose not to take a buyout and returned to the indies when it finally did expire in 2002. Two years later, he was out of the business for good as his body just couldn’t take the pain any longer.
Bam Bam Bigelow passed away at the age of 45
As a result of his high-flying style, Bam Bam Bigelow obviously suffered a number of injuries throughout his career. He had chronic back issues but also suffered from heart problems and diabetes. Bigelow said that he’d been addicted to Oxycontin for the majority of his career.
Following a motorcycle accident in 2005, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Bigelow was broke, having lost everything following a divorce, and was living on Social Security disability. He was behind in child support, hadn’t even seen his children in over a year, and simply hated being Bam Bam Bigelow. He only wanted to be his normal self, which was why he often covered his tattooed head with a hat so he wouldn’t be recognized in public anymore.
On the morning of January 19, 2007, Bam Bam Bigelow was found dead in his Florida home by his girlfriend, the result of a mixture of drugs found in his system during the autopsy, including toxic levels of cocaine. He was just 45 years old.
Fans have been calling for Bam Bam Bigelow to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for years but that honor has yet to be bestowed upon him.