My Stupid Little King Kong Bundy Story

BundyLife as an independent professional wrestler is certainly never dull. You get to travel great distances for an ever-changing amount of pay, wear flashy costumes, and rub elbows with people you were terrified of as a child.

Like the 6’4”, 458-pound giant known as King Kong Bundy.

Before my wrestling career, I knew him as the monster that chewed on Hulk Hogan’s head inside of a steel cage at Wrestlemania II and the sadistic sicko who body-slammed the diminutive (4’4”) Little Beaver at Wrestlemania III. But, after a while on the indy scene, I knew him as one of a collection of formerly big-league guys having fun and making a few bucks while trying to take as few bumps (or falls) as possible.

If you attended any northeastern indy show in the late ‘90s, you probably saw a wide variety of notables from the ’80s Rock and Wrestling era such as Bundy, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, or Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka plying their trade.

Bundy and I were never particularly close, we exchanged handshakes and pleasantries. If he was telling a story or offering up a piece of advice, I was sure to listen. And when I heard of his passing a few days ago, there was one moment in particular that stood out and made me smile.

My friend Rich Criado (AKA “The Perfect Creation”) and I had started working at a new promotion. To be honest, I don’t remember which one, but I guarantee it had at least six Ws in its acronym. They were going to bring us in as “The Frat Brats,” a group of college punks whose trust-fund lifestyle would easily raise the ire of the fans in attendance.

For whatever reason, we weren’t going to debut that particular persona just yet, and they asked us to work in our usual gimmicks and put over (make look good) their new monster heel (villain) “Lazarus.” He was a tall, lanky guy who seemed to be doing somewhat of a faux Undertaker gimmick.

The promoter was very serious about how the handicap (one man against two) squash match (no offense from one side) should go. He wanted Lazarus to batter us quickly, and then defeat us with his finisher, the heart punch. For those of you unfamiliar with that maneuver, it’s a simple strike to the chest that supposedly stops the opponent’s heart long enough to pin them.

It was very important to the promoter that once we had been assaulted with the dreaded heart punch, that we act like we were dead. No flopping around and selling (feigning injury), we were both dead.

Bundy thought this was beyond stupid and wasn’t afraid to say so. But, seeing as this was our first night with the new promoter, if he wanted dead, he was going to get dead.

We were then told that his Morticia Addams-esque manager, The Black Widow, would place a black rose on each of our chests and then one by one we would be stretchered out and brought to the backstage area.

When it was time for our match, I bounded to the ring in my ‘90s babyface (good guy) style, smiling and high fiving all of the kids in attendance. It wasn’t until I heard that we were being announced as “The Fraternity Brats” that I realized that I might’ve been setting the wrong mood.

So, despite the fact that my spandex and electric tape look didn’t quite scream “Fraternity Bro,” I quickly toned down the fun, carefree aura I had been trying to create.

Rich and I stood in the ring as Lazarus and the Black Widow made their slooooow entrance. Then it went as planned. We were beat up, we each received the dreaded heart punch, and then our shoulders were pressed to the mat for a three count.

I made sure not to move a muscle as the Black Widow placed the rose on my chest. I was lifeless as they loaded me onto the gurney. I waited patiently for them to roll me into the dressing room so I could hop off and they could take the gurney back to get Rich.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the mortuary…the gurney was so big and the dressing room was so full that the door couldn’t be shut. So, I was still in full view of the audience.

And here’s the funny thing about wrestling. A common misconception is that the fans don’t know that it’s an act. That isn’t true. It hasn’t been true since the ‘80s. Everybody knows what’s up.

But the difference between wrestling and theater is; when Romeo is lying there dead at the end of “Romeo and Juliet” (Spoiler Alert!) the people in attendance tend not to yell, “Get up! We know you’re faking!”

So there I am, dead on a gurney, an entire audience of people yelling at me, as the “medical staff” frantically tried to maneuver the gurney into the locker room.

I kept the act up, lying prone, thinking of poor Rich lying in the ring waiting for the gurney to return for him, when I felt a sprinkle of liquid splash across my face.

“Oh good,” I thought. “Mystery liquid…at a professional wrestling show.”

Through squinted eyes, I was relieved to get an idea of what exactly was going on. It was King Kong Bundy, all 6’4”, 458 pounds of him, easily the widest human being to ever live, standing over me with a bottle of water, trying to revive me.

“Kid!” he yelled. “Oh my, God! Gordon, are you alright?! Someone help this poor kid!”

For years in the theater, I have prided myself on never breaking character to laugh, but I came very close on that gurney.

As the “medical staff” was finally able to make enough room to close the door, the last thing the fans heard was the giant bellowing, “He was so young! So young!”

Once the doors were closed, we laughed and I gave him grief for trying to get me to break. But, I didn’t push too hard, because if he’d do such horrible things to Little Beaver, there’s no telling what he’d do to me.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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