Bam Bam Bigelow: Secret Life of a WWE Legend

From surviving an attack by a fugitive in Mexico City, rescuing children from a bushfire near his home, and unforgettable moments in the ring, journey through the remarkable legacy and secret life of the WWE legend with the flaming head tattoo: Bam Bam Bigelow!

From surviving an attack by a fugitive in Mexico City, rescuing children from a bushfire near his home, and unforgettable moments in the ring, journey through the remarkable legacy and secret life of the WWE legend with the flaming head tattoo: Bam Bam Bigelow!
Bam Bam Bigelow over the years. Photo Credit: WWE.

Scott Bam Bam Bigelow’s Secret Journey in Wrestling and Life

Young heavyweight Scott Bigelow (AKA Bam Bam Bigelow) after a Neptune High School wrestling victory.
Young heavyweight Scott Bigelow (AKA Bam Bam Bigelow) after a Neptune High School wrestling win. Photo Credit: Neptune High School.

Scott Bigelow was born September 1st, 1961, in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

During his time at Neptune High School in Neptune Township, New Jersey, he excelled in athletics. He received varsity letters in football and wrestling and placed third in the New Jersey State Wrestling Tournament during his sophomore year. However, he had to miss his senior season due to a cyst in his lower back.

A Knack For Arm Wrestling

Scott Bigelow (AKA Bam Bam Bigelow) is seen practicing with fellow New Jersey arm wrestler Samson Margolis in August 1980.
Scott Bigelow (AKA Bam Bam Bigelow) is seen practicing with fellow New Jersey arm wrestler Samson Margolis in August 1980. Photo Credit: The Armwrestling Archives.

In his late teens, Scott Bigelow dabbled in competitive arm wrestling for a few months in 1980.

He had a talent for it, and within two months, he placed second to Cleve Dean at the World Professional Wristwrestling Association (WPWA) World Championships held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bigelow: The Bounty Hunter

Bam Bam Bigelow poses in the Monster Factory, where he trained.
Bam Bam Bigelow poses in the Monster Factory, where he trained. Photo Credit: Monster Factory.

After dropping out of high school, Bam Bam Bigelow held several jobs, including working as a bodyguard, bouncer, and bounty hunter.

While working as a bounty hunter in Mexico, he was shot in the back by a fugitive and spent six months in prison in Mexico City.

Following his release from prison, Bigelow decided to pursue professional wrestling as a career, reasoning: “there wasn’t much else I was qualified for!

Story of Bam Bam Bigelow’s First Wrestling Match

Bam Bam Bigelow’s first live match, at 12-year old Chris Candido’s show at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Bam Bam Bigelow’s first live match, at 12-year-old Chris Candido’s show at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Johnny Candido.

In May 1985, he started training at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory wrestling school in Clementon, New Jersey. Sharpe considered him one of his prized students.

At 6’4″, 390 pounds, and sporting a flaming tattoo covering his entire shaved head, Bigelow immediately displayed an uncanny amount of agility for a man with his physique, routinely doing flips and cartwheels.

During a 2015 interview with Pro Wrestling Stories, Johnny Candido, brother of the late Chris Candido, recounted a memory of Bam Bam Bigelow’s first wrestling match.

“Balls [Mahoney] and my brother were twelve or thirteen years old when they used to get the ring from Monster Factory and put on shows in Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Bam Bam Bigelow used to wrestle on them.

“Axl Rotten used to come down and wrestle on them, too,” Johnny continued, “and they would go to the beach in their gimmicks, you know? Like with their masks on and their face painted. They would get everyone to come up from the beach to watch the wrestling show bringing their beach chairs.”

Bam Bam’s Charity Work Early in His Career

Another great photo of Bam Bam Bigelow from his first live performance at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Another great photo of Bam Bam Bigelow from his first live performance at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Johnny Candido.

Johnny Candido shared further stories about how Bam Bam Bigelow and other wrestlers would help pool together money before the matches for charity.

“[Before the matches], the wrestlers would pass around a hat and say, ‘Donate money to Multiple Sclerosis’ or whatever cause they were donating money to. Being able to do this was a pretty big deal for them.

“They used to have many people over at the park watching them wrestle.

“They did shows like this many times for the next few summers. Being able to do this was a pretty big deal for them.”

Time in the Territories

Bam Bam Bigelow as Crusher Yurkov, hitting his version of the "Nuclear Splash" in 1986.
Bam Bam Bigelow as Crusher Yurkov, hitting his version of the “Nuclear Splash” in 1986. Photo Credit: WWE.

Bam Bam Bigelow ventured to Memphis with the sinister Larry Sharpe before eventually embracing the rulebook and teaming with the promotion’s biggest hero, Jerry King Lawler.

Later, Bigelow made a quick stop in Texas while working a Russian gimmick under the name Crusher Yurkov.

Bigelow won the WCWA Television Championship during his run and was voted “Rookie of the Year” for 1986 by readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

First WWF Stint and Departure

From 1987 to 1988, Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow worked as a tag team.
From 1987 to 1988, Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow worked as a tag team. Photo Credit: WWE.

Bam Bigelow was initially signed by the then WWF in 1987 and was accompanied by longtime Florida manager Sir Oliver Humperdink.

Although he was a fan favorite and even teamed up with Hulk Hogan that year, his tenure did not turn out as fans had hoped, and he left the company within a year despite receiving a significant push.

His departure from the then-WWF in 1988 was primarily due to a knee injury. The severity of the injury and the time required for recovery have been given as the reasons behind his initial departure from the company.

Global Success and WrestleMania XI

Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI.
Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI. Photo Credit: WWE.

Bam Bigelow went on to work the NWA’s Crockett Promotions in Japan in the early ’90s, where he became a memorable presence in the ring with fans overseas. When he returned to the WWF in 1992, he was initially paired with Luna Vachon and feuded with Doink the Clown and The Million Dollar Corporation.

His biggest moment in the World Wrestling Federation came at WrestleMania XI when he had a chance to face former New York Giant Lawrence Taylor. Taylor would defeat Bigelow in a high-profile bout.

With NFL All-Pros at ringside for the gala event, the match gained mainstream attention and made the unique-looking Bigelow a household name at the time.

ECW Glory and The Triple Threat

An intense staredown between ECW World Heavyweight Champion Bam Bam Bigelow and ECW World Television Champion Taz back in 1997.
An intense staredown between ECW World Heavyweight Champion Bam Bam Bigelow and ECW World Television Champion Taz back in 1997. Photo Credit: WWE.

As he continued to become a huge star in Japan (often teaming with fellow gaijin legend Vader), Bam Bam Bigelow carved out a whole new era of his career in ECW during his time there in the late ’90s.

In Extreme Championship Wrestling, Bigelow was a member of the elite faction, The Triple Threat, and would eventually go on to capture the ECW World Heavyweight and Television titles.

His battle with Taz at Living Dangerously 1998 became a favorite among fans. In the middle of the action, the two smashed through the ring canvas to the floor.

In later years, this iconic moment would not only be replicated in other “hardcore style” matches but also became one of the first wrestling clips to be widely shared on YouTube.

Work in WCW

Bam Bam Bigelow and Goldberg face off prior to their WCW World Heavyweight Championship match at WCW SuperBrawl IX.
Bam Bam Bigelow and Goldberg face off prior to their WCW World Heavyweight Championship match at WCW SuperBrawl IX. Photo Credit: WWE.

After stints in WCW from 1988–1989 and again in 1990, Bam Bam Bigelow returned to the company in late 1998 after leaving ECW, apparently due to experiencing bounced checks. Immediately, he was put into a program with WCW World Champion Goldberg.

After his unsuccessful challenge for the world title, he became part of the Jersey Triad with Kanyon and Diamond Dallas Page. The trio would win the WCW World Tag Team Championships twice and defended them using the ‘Freebird rules.’


Did you know? “The Freebird Rule” is a concept in professional wrestling where a group of three or more wrestlers form a stable and share the responsibility of holding and defending a tag team championship. In other words, any two stable members can defend and potentially lose the championship, even if they were not the ones who originally won the title. All members of the stable are usually recognized as champions.


Bigelow bounced around the company’s hardcore division until WCW was bought out by the WWF in 2001.

He would continue appearing after his Time Warner contract finally expired in 2002 but never re-emerged in WWE.

Lights, Camera, Action: Bam Bam Bigelow’s Acting Career

Bam Bam Bigelow played the role of an intimidating biker in the 1995 film Major Payne alongside Damon Wayans.
Bam Bam Bigelow played the role of an intimidating biker in the 1995 film Major Payne alongside Damon Wayans. Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

In addition to his towering presence in wrestling, Bam Bam Bigelow left a mark with several acting roles to his name.

Among his film credits, Bigelow notably portrayed an intimidating biker in the comedy “Major Payne” (1995), a construction boss in “Joe’s Apartment” (1996), and a SWAT Team member in the action film “Icebreaker” (2000).

In the wrestling-themed comedy Ready to Rumble (2000), Bigelow played himself, which showcased his larger-than-life persona on the silver screen.

Saving Children’s Lives from a House Fire

Bam Bam Bigelow on his motorcycle near his home New Jersey home.
Bam Bam Bigelow on his motorcycle near his home New Jersey home. Photo Credit: WWE.

“It was the best move I ever made,” Bam Bam Bigelow once said when reflecting on the time he put his life at risk to rescue three children from a brush fire near his home in Wayside, New Jersey.

On July 4th, 2000, while under contract with WCW, Bigelow suffered burns over 40 percent of his body when a brush fire broke after an accident took place during a barbeque near his home. Bigelow was trying to help several children get away from the flames when he suffered second-degree burns on his arms, legs, and most of the left side of his body.

Here is what happened, in Bigelow’s own words, from a 2007 interview with Electric City:

"I was coming home about 3:30 a.m., and I was turning onto my block when I realized there was a fire. I heard kids crying, and I went through the door. The whole upstairs was on fire. I had to run through a wall in the house.

"I ran through a built wall — two-by-fours and everything — so I could get to the back way to get up the stairs. I landed right in a ball of fire. It was the best move I made.

"When I finally made it upstairs, I grabbed the three kids and came back through the same fire, and now I was on fire. By the time I came down, the front stairs were down, so we would have died if we went that way.

"The mom had been out drinking and left the kids alone. She was a single mother. The kids were five, eight, and nine. They started a fire somehow. I did what anybody would have tried to do. I burned 40 percent of my body with second-degree burns and spent almost two months in the hospital."

The burns he lived with for the rest of his life weren’t his ultimate concern. His act cost him a few months of in-ring action, but he knew it was far more important when lives were at stake. This wrestling hero prevented parents from losing their most prized possession, their children.

He would make a full recovery.

Legacy and Cause of Death

Bam Bam Bigelow passed away on January 19th, 2007.
Bam Bam Bigelow passed away on January 19th, 2007. Photo Credit: WWE.

In a sad moment that left a lasting mark on pro wrestling history, Bam Bam Bigelow passed away on January 19th, 2007, at his residence in Hudson, Florida. The father of three was 45 years old.

His cause of death was ruled an accident by the Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner and caused by complications due to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. An autopsy revealed that he had high levels of cocaine and anti-anxiety medication in his system, which may have contributed to his condition.

From surviving harrowing incidents to achieving global success in professional wrestling, we remember him not only for his incredible athleticism and larger-than-life persona but also for his courage, resilience, and the impact he left behind.

Rest in peace, Bam Bam Bigelow; your flame will continue to burn bright.

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.