Unlike some of the other people I have covered so far, the consensus opinion on The Big Boss Man is that he will make the list for the Greatest 100 Wrestlers in WWE. Opinions seem to vary though on what is to be his spot. Opinions range between he should be in the top 50 to Boss Man belongs on the back end of the list. What I hope to do with this article is to provide a wide ranged and unbiased view of the Big Boss Man’s WWE career. Using the NJPW rating system, taking all of the highs and lows into account, I would like to provide you with the most complete look at The Big Boss Man that I possibly can. Hopefully, by the end of this we will have a clear view of where is The Boss Man’s place in WWE history.
Time is on The Big Boss Man’s side. His initial run in the company was from ’88 to ’93. His second run during the Attitude Era was from ’98 to ’02. All in total, Big Boss Man work with the company for 9 years. A good portion of that time was spent working in the upper mid-card or the main event. During his initial heel run, he works often in the main event against Hulk Hogan. Their feud lasts for the better part of a year. The feud even bleed into The Big Boss Man’s team with Akeem. I covered some of the Twin Towers in the One Man Gang/Akeem article. In short, they played a big role in the explosion of the Mega Powers. With his team of Twin Towers, he worked a pretty big feud with Demolition throughout ’89 for the WWE World Tag Team Championships. TV built up The Twin Towers with squash matches. At the house shows, they would put over Demolition in almost every city. Boss Man turns face and he still is working with some top talent, for the most part. The Rick Rude feud was cut short due to Rude leaving the company. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any matches between the two which made tape in WWE, although they did work two house shows. Still, he did get to work with Ted Dibiase, Mr. Perfect, and Earthquake. Big Boss Man had memorable feuds with The Mountie and Nailz. When Boss Man returns during the Attitude Era, he gets paired up against some of the top talent such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and The Rock. As a member of The Corporation, he is put in a pretty good position on the card from ’98 into ’99, although his role in the company was different this time around,. Gone was the law man from Cobb County. Boss Man was now a hired goon for The Corporation. His most well remember feuds during this run are with Al Snow and The Big Show, both are well documented for their more ridiculous moments. I will get more in depth as we go along but the important point here is that longevity is a category that The Big Boss Man should rate highly in for most people.
One thing I find remarkable about The Big Boss Man’s first run with the company is that he got over as a face and a heel. Turns don’t always work out for some talent but it did for The Boss Man. Fans quickly accepted him as a face when he turned in 1990. Boss Man’s ability to work with guys of varying sizes, styles, and ability levels also made him a valuable asset to the company in both era which he work. Nailz was a limited worker and probably got a better pay out than he deserved, but I feel like The Big Boss Man got the most out of Nailz that anyone could expect. You can find decent matches against smaller performers, such as the WrestleMania 5 match against The Rockers. But he can also have decent matches with fellow big men, which is something a lot of big men struggle with. Hulk Hogan was probably Boss Man’s best opponent and they were roughly the same size. Another factor in determining his flexibility which should be considered is how he returned in the Attitude Era as a different character. Few guys worked in both the Hulkamania Era and the Attitude Era, much less got over in both. Boss Man was definitely more over during his first run but he did well for himself in his second run. The differences in the Boss Man’s appearance and work really are a microcosm for the differences between the two era. Classic Big Boss Man had a bright, colorful outfit. His character was all about being the law, order, and justice in the Federation. Attitude Era Boss Man wore all black tactical gear. His character, such as it was, played the role of corporate muscle for the McMahon family, then transitioned into a ripe bastard that seriously crossed the line in how he would torment babyfaces. In terms of who he could work with, his role in the company, and the variations in his character, I am not such you will find someone as flexible as The Big Boss Man among the list of nominees.
Intangibles are always difficult to measure. What I can say about The Big Boss Man is that he is a character that almost immediately had credibility with the audience. Teaming him with Slick early on was a wise move. The heat that Slick already had as an established character gave Boss Man the cache to move into a feud with Hogan in his first year. He had time to grow into his character. If left to his own devices early on, who knows where the character would have gone. Boss Man also had an unique look, of course in terms of size but also as someone who just looked mean. This served him well as a face and a heel. This guy looked like a crooked, Southern cop and it sold his heel character. As a face, little about the character changed but audiences accepted it. He didn’t assault jobbers after the match anymore but fans remembered he was capable of doing that and wanted to see him handcuff the heels. People wanted him to dish out law and order to the heels who had it coming. The Mountie feud is a prime example. Seeing The Mountie get taken to jail was an enjoyable moment and it was a natural conclusion for the story line. Upon his return in the Attitude Era, he was a veteran presence which still had some name value to long time fans. I love The Boss Man as much as anyone else but his role in The Corporation could have been filled by just about anyone. I don’t feel like his return ever delivered on the promise of the precise. Sure, he got to work with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and The Undertaker. But this was the Attitude Era. None of his matches with those guys rose to the level of his work with Hulk Hogan. The matches with Austin and The Rock were often short and focused more on angles than putting forth the best possible match. As was the fashion in the Attitude Era. Big Boss Man did find a niche for himself in the Hardcore and Tag division during this run. Another thing he brought to the table was his work with younger guys on C-Shows later into his run. It doesn’t do much for the viewer to see Big Boss Man vs Michael Shane but the company probably found this fairly valuable. You had a respected veteran that younger guys would be excited to work with, who has enough in the tank to test their skill, and has a reputation for being a safe worker.
Jump Up Factor
Big Boss Man had a number of classic moments and matches in his two tenures with WWE. It doesn’t get much bigger working against Hulk Hogan. There are a lot of matches which made tape and you can see how good the chemistry was between in two. My personal favorite Boss Man vs Hogan match would be a Steel Cage Match at Madison Square Garden that was exceptional. This took place only a couple weeks before WrestleMania 5. You would think they might try to take it easy days before WrestleMania but it is some of the hardest work I had seen from either Hogan or Boss Man. I really want you to watch the match so I won’t spoil too much of it other than to say it was refreshing to see a match that didn’t end with a Hulk Up Comeback. The next night they have another Steel Cage Match at Boston Garden. This is more in line with guys protecting themselves before a big show. It is quite good but not nearly as good as the MSG match.
Mr. Perfect is another great opponent for The Boss Man. The WrestleMania 7 match between the two felt like the best moment to put the Intercontinental Championship on The Big Boss Man but that’s not what happened. The Saturday Night’s Main Event match from 10/30/90 was also quite good. Following Rick Rude’s departure from the Federation, the issues involving their feud were shifted to Mr. Perfect. In all reality, the feud had more to do with Bobby Heenan than it did Rude or Perfect. There is a Big Boss Man vs Bobby Heenan match that has made tape. I will include to for those of you wanting to make a case for Bobby Heenan. Personally, I enjoyed The Boss Man and Mr. Perfect team in 2002. They didn’t make much of an impact but they worked well together. I feel like the company could have gone further with this team if they had felt so inspired. They get a title match against the Hardy Boy’s, which was shorter than I would have liked but I feel like the pieces were there to show that a better match between the teams was possible if they had a series against each other.
During his second run, Big Boss Man’s biggest feuds were with Big Show and Al Snow. I covered his work with Al Snow in the article I had written on Snow. All that I can reemphasize is that the matches at Fully Loaded ’99 and Summer Slam ’99 are far superior to the Kennel from Hell match, which casts a dark cloud over that entire feud. Boss Man vs Big Show is a feud that had memorable moments if nothing else. After his stint as the silent muscle for The Corporation, a run that had more prestige but didn’t offer much opportunity to insert a lot of character, Boss Man transitioned into a sadistic bastard in the Hardcore Division. To that end, Boss Man messed with Big Show’s head by convincing Show that his dad (not Andre) had died. Then Big Show’s kayfabe dad actually died, which provoked an insincere sympathy card from The Boss Man. Not content to have merely mocked Big Show, Boss Man shows up at the funeral, in the Blue’s Mobile from The Blue’s Brothers no less. Boss Man attacks Big Show, hooks the casket to the Blue’s Mobile and drives away, while Big Show clutches the casket, getting dragged along for the ride. In the middle of all this mess, Big Show somehow wins the WWE Championship. Boss Man, smelling an opportunity to become champion, breaks into Big Show’s family home and get Show’s mother to admit that the man who did was not Big Show’s real father. As I write out the plot details of this feud, one would believe that this was one of the most horrifying feuds in company history. In all actual reality, it was some of the best comedy WWE has ever produced. Examining the actions of Boss Man at this period of time, this should have been a next level heel. I can’t think of anyone in company history that acted so evil. I think the reason this version of the character fell short is because of how much fun Boss Man is having with the role. He just loves being a wicked SOB. This came across in his performance but may have also made segments hilarious which should have been horrific.
The bulk of his best moments and best worked matches will be found during his first run. I wouldn’t say the second run was a failure so much as the entire focus of the company was different. Among the best moments would be The Twin Towers and the role they played in The Mega Powers exploding which lead to the Hulk Hogan vs Randy Savage match at WrestleMania 5. Speaking of WrestleMania 5, the best match The Twin Towers had was against The Rockers at that show. Both of these I covered in the article on One Man Gang/Akeem. The Big Boss Man’s face turn was well received. This lead to a break up of The Twin Towers, however the turn had nothing to do with Akeem. Boss Man was charged with retrieving stolen property for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. Jake “The Snake” Roberts had taken the Million Dollar Belt and was keeping it in his snake bag with Damien, his snake. So Dibiase does the most logical thing possible, he calls the police. The police in this case is in the form of The Big Boss Man. Boss Man handcuff Jake and retrieves the bag with the belt in it. Dibiase mentions something to Slick about a payoff and Boss Man gets upset. Boss Man has no problem beating a jobber with a night stick but he doesn’t take a bribe. Boss Man returns the bag, belt, and snake to Jake and the crowd goes while. With these things being taped, it is hard to tell how genuine the reaction in the arena was for this face turn. I can say that the reaction in my neighborhood was over the top. Everyone was so excited that The Big Boss Man was finally a good guy. Boss Man went on to feud with Dibiase for the better part of the summer. I have found two matches. One at MSG and one which I already include for a Colosseum Home Video tape. They are similar match and both not too bad.
When The Mountie came into WWE, a feud with The Big Boss Man seemed like a natural fit. It took a while for them to get to it but the feud ended up being one of the more memorable moments of Summer Slam ’91. I think this feud is an example of how that which is derisively called Cartoon Wrestling can work. You have two law enforcement officers. One is the American good guy who represents law, order, and justice in the Federation. The other is a Canadian bad guy who has been using an electric cattle prod against his opponents. Also Mountie is affiliated with that little runt, Jimmy Hart. Bad guy zaps the good guy while handcuffing him to the ropes. The natural conclusion is a match in which the loser spends a night in jail, all to prove who is the superior form of law enforcement. After a decent match, the bad guy is sent to jail. We are rewarded with a series of skits showing the bad guy finally getting what is coming to him. Everything about the match and the feud is so colorful and over the top. Jacques Rogueau has made in on my list of guys to watch in the future. Between his performance in the match, which was good, and the post match character work, I couldn’t help but laugh and really get into what was happening with this angle. Why I like this in the context of Cartoon Wrestling is in what other situation would you see a heel go to jail for losing a match and it would be so enjoyable? Let’s say Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton had a Jail House Match. Would segments of Bray Wyatt getting hauled off to jail be this enjoyable? Guys were getting arrested all the time in the Attitude Era but was it ever this entertaining? I think if you watch the match and the aftermath, you just can’t help but enjoy it.
There is so much good Big Boss Man work out there, figuring out what not to include has been challenging. I have touched on some of the highlights and I encourage you to go digging a bit deeper. I do have to include, in the interest of fairness, some of the low points that may drag down his candidacy. The biggest disappointing match he had was at WrestleMania 15 against The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. The match is directionless. The crowd is dead of everything including the disgusting post match hanging of The Boss Man. I had never seen these two guys put on such a low energy performance. The reputation of Hell in a Cell demanded better than this. Compare this to the infamous Kennel from Hell match against Al Snow. Boss Man and Snow are trying to get the crowds attention and their plunderfest was about average for Hardcore matches at the time. In this, the crowd wasn’t into what was happening because Boss Man and Undertaker weren’t giving them anything to get behind. Part of the problem may be that the crowd had no one to get behind in this match. Considering the angle going into WrestleMania 15, it wasn’t about The Big Boss Man specifically. The angle involved The Ministry vs The Corporation. If you watch how the angle built, The Ministry were billed as the heels. Yet, The Corporation was playing the heel role in everything not Ministry related. The Ministry did some terrible things in lead up to this, so fans weren’t inclined to cheer The Undertaker. Even the hanging of the Boss Man didn’t get cheers from the crowd that may have been predisposed to cheering for Undertaker no matter what. But fans weren’t going to side with The McMahon’s either. Boss Man was just a cog in a larger machine for The Corporation. Perhaps if Shane McMahon had faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania 15, the crowd would have been into the match.
One more disappointment I must add is the blow off for The Big Boss Man vs Big Show feud. The match at Armageddon ’99 was such an anticlimax considering where they went with the angle leading up to it. The match was below average and fairly short. The only thing they did special for the match was Albert getting Chokeslamed through a table. That spot was just about the only thing to get a response from the crowd. After putting Boss Man away in a roughly 6 minute match, JR says “Big Show’s not getting paid by the hour.” Thanks, JR. I have already documented the months long feud between Show and Boss Man. Was a match that could have been on Raw really the best way to blow off this feud? This would be Boss Man’s last chance at the WWE Championship, couldn’t they have played up how he is a veteran and what an opportunity this was for The Big Boss Man after all these years? No. Boss Man didn’t seem particularly interested in the Championship. Show and Boss Man had some decent Hardcore matches. Why not make this a Hardcore match? On a show that was mostly uninteresting, there is so much they could have done to make the WWE Championship match exciting. I guess that wasn’t what they were going for.
Promo and Character Work
The Big Boss Man always had his character work down. In the previous video I posted, they do a recap of The Big Boss Man vs Big Show feud. You see Boss Man at his best. This was some great character work. He was such a heartless man and he did his part to sell that. I recapped The Big Boss Man vs Al Snow feud in the article I wrote about Snow. This version of The Boss Man largely faded away after these feuds in favor of a team with Albert and Bull Buchanan. I wonder how much further they could have gone with him as this character. Big Boss Man would hang around from 2000 to 2002, missing out on the InVasion due to injury. These last years, he wasn’t given a lot of opportunity to inject character into the act. These two feuds in ’99 were probably the height of Boss Man’s Attitude Era run in terms of character and promos.
Most people remember The Big Boss Man as the former corrections officer from Cobb County, Georgia, back in the 80’s and early 90’s. He was reflective of what they were looking for in a character at that time. Loud, colorful, and full of energy. He really could get you into whatever match would be coming to the house shows. He worked his occupation into his promos, which always worked really well for him. This style of thirty to sixty second promos in which a guy gets over his character and his up coming match is something they don’t do now days but I feel like it works in certain situations. Boss Man was as good as anyone at that kind of promo. I have listed some for you to view and they can get a bit repetitive. I find them quite entertaining in their simplicity. I will be giving The Big Boss Man high marks for character work even though there isn’t a lot of say. He looked the part, he acted the part, and he made you believe that he was The Big Boss Man, in a suspension of disbelief sort of way. This is harder to pull off than some may think. I feel the way the audience reacted to Big Boss Man and some of his sillier feuds reinforces the point. Compare this to someone like Tony Anthony, whom I never bought as a plumber and had no desire to see a wrestling plumber. I wanted him to be The Dirty White Boy, sleazy dude. So many of the Cartoon Wrestling characters failed because the guy playing the role couldn’t get the audience to play along with him. Boss Man managed to do that.
In terms of big men from either era he worked, I think Boss Man has to be near the top of any list. Losing weight along with his face turn helped his work greatly. When The Big Boss Man first entered WWE and into his tag team with Akeem, he can mostly be praised for how well he bumped for a guy his size and how aggressive his big man offense was. When he turned face and shed some of the weight he was carrying, Boss Man became very nibble and quick on his feet. He could keep up with anyone in the company after he slimmed down. Also, I haven’t heard any stories of Boss Man stiffing guys or injuring them although is offense looked pretty tight. His Spinebuster and Boss Man Slam always came down with great impact. Even as a Hardcore contender, he could land some stiff looking shots with the plunder but I haven’t heard that Boss Man seriously hurt anyone. Boss Man had an unique punch which is unmistakable. It is one of his trademarks. I always liked how he threw punches although they were so different from anyone else. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he could have a great match with anyone. I do feel like he was versatile enough that the potential to have a good match was always there.
Before this article, I am sure that many already had Big Boss Man on their list. My conclusion upon watching many hours of Big Boss Man promos and matches is that he should rank somewhere in the 60’s for most people. I have tried to defend the Attitude Era body of work. He was given a role in the company and he played it well, all things considered. However, The Big Boss Man’s return to the company should have been a bigger deal. He was a big star from the previous era and the expectations were high. I do believe he found his niche within the company but when looking at the overall resume, it doesn’t help elevate him above a certain point. Still, I think if you go out there browsing matches beyond what I have posted, you will see that he has some very watchable matches against various opponents on c-shows. For my part, Boss Man rates well in each category, thus should rank well in the list of Greatest WWE Wrestlers of All-Time.
— Michael DeDamos