SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Bruiser Brody remembered
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death on July 16th, 1988 in the locker room of
Juan Lobriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. A bastion of work ethic and
ring work his entire career, he was taken from this world long before his
time was up. Sadly, eleven years later, it appears to me that nobody remembers or even cares.
The wrestling world's negligence in not formally remembering Brody is
nothing short of criminal. One need only to look around and realize that
the legacy of Bruiser Brody lives on today in the form of hardcore
wrestling being promoted by the WWF, WCW and ECW. All the "junkyard
matches", WWF hardcore titles and ECW death matches that litter today's
wrestling world are pale imitations of the carnage, violence and havoc that
Bruiser Brody wreaked over his career.
Mick Foley, today's undisputed king of hardcore, studied video tapes of
Brody's matches while training to be a pro wrestler, wanting to pattern
himself after him. Perhaps there is no greater evidence of Brody's lasting
influence than Mankind.
For over 15 years, Brody wrestled around the world, making a stop in
virtually every territory and promotion. He regularly toured such exotic
countries as New Zealand, Austria, Thailand and Australia and became a
household name in Puerto Rico and Japan where he was the top foreign
wrestler in the country.
Brody was a brawler that managed to bring mayhem, chaos and bedlam with him
wherever he traveled. Playing the role of a madman, Brody was one of the
top draws in the world and carved out a name for himself by carving out
holes in the foreheads of such opponents like Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk,
Harley Race, Carlos Colon and Abdullah the Butcher. While fans will
remember the Ric Flair - Ricky Steamboat feud for its drama, the Rey Misterio Jr. - Psicosis
series for its daredevil spots and the Eddie Guerrero - Dean Malenko matches for its
scientific wizardry, Brody's matches with Colon and Abdullah will forever
be remembered as the greatest brawls and bloodbaths in the history of the
Bruiser Brody was a legend both in and out of the ring. In the seedy world
of pro wrestling where promoters rule and make wrestlers tow the line,
Brody was an outlaw. He was a true free agent, wrestling where and when he
wanted, refusing to sign any long-term contract with any promoter. Brody
liked to move around and didn't want to be tied down. He was in control of
his wrestling career and didn't owe anything to any promoter, a fact that
made him very difficult to work with.
Brody was notorious for ignoring instructions from bookers and often
refused to put wrestlers over when asked. Over a six-year period, he did
not do one single clean-pin job. Coming out to the ring wildly swinging a
metal chain with Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" blasting over the p.a.
system, Brody parted a walkway through the sea of ringside fans with his
blood curdling shouts. He posed a security risk to fans, fellow wrestlers
and promoters wherever he appeared.
And yet, he bounced around North America, from territory to territory as a
hired gun. Promoters would bring Brody into their territory whenever
attendance was down to help pop a huge gate. Whenever they did, Brody was
sure to sell the building out. And like he had done so many times before,
he was out the door on his way to the next territory. He was a true
Brody was in such big demand in Japan that he became the object of a
bidding war between New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1985. He
quickly walked out on All Japan and came to an agreement with New Japan
promoter Antonio Inoki that would see him earn in excess of $14,000 a week
guaranteed, at the time the most lucrative deal in wrestling. Such was the
power and influence he wielded in the sport.
Bruiser Brody died at 42 years old. On a hot, steamy night in Puerto Rico, Brody and Jose Gonzalez - the booker of the World Wrestling Council promotion - had gotten into an argument backstage at a house show. Brody died with a hunting knife plunged into his abdomen and lungs.
While a doctor scrambled to work on Brody, it took approximately 40 minutes to get him loaded into an ambulance. The damage was so severe that the surgeons at the hospital had to operate twice. It was to no avail. Brody died on the operating table, having bled to death.
At a trial held months later, Gonzalez was charged in connection with Brody's death. Gonzalez pleaded self-defense and was acquitted of the charges and is still wrestling in WWC to this day.
Bruiser Brody was the archetypal big man in wrestling. He used his size
and gimmick to get over with the audience. He was a wrestling machine,
trekking half-way around the globe, leaving a trail of broken bones and
bloodied bodies behind him.
His was a legend that will never be forgotten by hardcore fans. As
wrestling exploded in the 80s into the realm of sports entertainment, Brody
remained a pro wrestler, an athlete and a competitor. In the current
landscape of pro wrestling, with its glut of monthly cookie-cutter
pay-per-views, Monday night ratings war and where style takes precedent
over substance, Brody would be out of place.
Is it any wonder the wrestling world chose to forget instead of remember?