Some wrestlers will always need a gimmick. The Rock can get by as an exaggerated version of himself - he's got personality. Mick Foley has used gimmicks, but he's popular because of Mick, not Mankind or Dude Love. But think about Al Snow, for instance: if that guy didn't have Head, where would he be? He's a great fighter, but never got over with the crowds until he got an angle. One guy who made it through his entire career without any gimmick other than himself was the Beast from the East, Bam Bam Bigelow.
Pro wrestling isn't a career that pulls in a lot of short guys, but even among those behemoths, Bam Bam Bigelow was a "big" wrestler. He stood 6'3" and weighed 360 lbs., so he was always one of the bulky fighters - never one of the completely ripped, muscular steroid freaks. But his size belied the fact that he was incredibly fast. He was probably the most agile big guy to ever wrestle, even edging out sometime-partner Big Van Vader. At his prime, the guy could bench press 600 lbs. and run the 100-yard dash in 11 seconds. This is hardly one of the man-mountains you see lumbering around the ring; he could outpace his opponents just as easily as he could out-punch them.
Jakks only has a limited number of bodies they use for their wrestling figures, but they definitely picked the right one for Bam Bam. Yes, he's got a keg instead of a six-pack, but this is still obviously not a guy you'd want to get in a brawl with.
The face is where they really differentiate their figures, and this is a very good, though not great, likeness. His cheeks are a bit fatter than they were in his prime, and his beard is pretty full, here - it was more stubble than beard back then, but Jakks always has trouble with that. However, they got a lot right, too. The look on his face is great, and even the wrinkles on the back of his head are in place. His mouth is open slightly, revealing a missing tooth - Andre the Giant knocked it out when he stepped on Bigelow's head in a match at Madison Square Garden.
Articulation is standard for the WWE figures: ankles, knees, hips, waist, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. The neck is a balljoint, but his head is so big and his neck so thick that the paint can get scratched. His shoulders are a unique design, more like Black Widow's hips than actual balljoints - they're tapered and organic, rather than spherical. It really helps him look right. Oddly, both of Bam Bam's hands are sculpted to be open: most wrestling figures have at least one fist. Is he getting into a slap fight?
The paint is where this figure really nails the likeness. Bigelow wore one style of costume for the majority of his career, so if came out wrong, it'd be easy to spot.
It's a black body with red and yellow flames running vertically on the legs and chest, providing a really sharp contrast. It's not 100% accurate, though, because his back is solid black - the real suit had flames back there, as well. Why did they skip on the back-burners? Maybe because so much of the paint budget was going to Bigelow's famous tattoos. He's got an eagle and a panther on his right arm, a gryphon and a sun on his left and that huge, complex flame pattern on his big bald head. That one's a bit too symmetrical and should come back over his ears a bit more, but overall his ink has been presented well.
Beginning with Classic Superstars Series 9, all the figures will come with a reproduction WrestleMania ticket. BBB gets, of all things, the original WrestleMania, which was way before his time. Bam Bam's biggest WrestleMania role was when he headlined WM XI facing off against former NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor. If anyone's thinking about passing this ticket off as real sports memorabilia, forget it - it's been redesigned with the WWE logo instead of the WWF. Collect all 22 commemorative tickets and you can send away for a free figure featuring a never-before-released version of a Classic Superstar.
Any high-flying wrestler takes a lot of damage to the body over the years, and big guys feel it even faster. Considering how willing he was to launch himself off the turnbuckles, it's surprising that Bigelow's held up as well as he has. He's had a lot of surgeries, but he's not one of those ex-wrestlers who chomps down pills to get through the day. In 2000, he rescued several children from a burning house, suffering second-degree burns over 40% of his body, but maintained that he just did what anybody would have done. Now he's helping the fledgling American Combat Wrestling promotion grow, trying to make sure the young guys just getting into pro wrestling have an easier time of it than he did. Bam Bam Bigelow is a great guy, a great wrestler and a great, recognizable choice for Classic Superstars.
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