King Kong Bundy, best known for his role as a bald-headed monster in the 1980s professional wrestling scene, had an entirely different persona offscreen. Those who knew him personally were surprised to discover that he was quite the opposite of the intimidating character he played on television. Discover what made King Kong Bundy so unique and beloved by those who knew him!
The Sizeable Legacy of King Kong Bundy
Trained by Larry Sharpe, King Kong Bundy broke into the wrestling scene in 1981 under the name "Chris Canyon."
He was given the moniker "Big Daddy Bundy" a year later while wrestling for Fritz Von Erich’s World Class in Texas. His name was a combination of Shirley Crabtree’s “Big Daddy” moniker and the surname of the psychopathic serial killer Ted Bundy.
While with World Class, he wore blue jeans, a rope belt, and sported brown hair. This was a look quite foreign to how fans of the WWF would know him for having just a few years later.
Legendary manager, the late-great “Playboy” Gary Hart, would pair up with Bundy, dropping the “Big Daddy” in his name, introducing him to fans as King Kong Bundy, wearing a black singlet for the first time to signify his dramatic change.
He lost his hair during a notable feud with the Von Erich family, which added to his signature look. Bundy would eventually retire Fritz in his retirement match in 1982.
Before moving on to the World Wrestling Federation in early 1985, Bundy competed in various territories such as the AWA, NWA, and Mid-South.
During his time in Mid-South, Bundy adopted the “five count” gimmick for pinfalls, where he would dominate his opponent in squash matches and demand that the referee count to five instead of the usual three.
King Kong Bundy in the WWF
Bundy officially debuted in the WWF as a heel on March 16th, 1985’s airing of WWF Championship Wrestling, where he would defeat Mario Mancini.
First managed by Jimmy Hart, he was immediately pushed as a dominating monster delivering one-sided victories in all his early matches.
Bundy also would reprise his gimmick of demanding a five-count from the referee while pinning an opponent to show how badly he had beaten his star-crossed opponent.
King Kong Bundy would soon later join The Heenan Family under the tutelage of Bobby Heenan, where he began a substantial feud with Andre the Giant, which lasted a few months.
Always an imposing presence in the ring, he eventually moved up the chain by targetting the then-WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan. This provided a huge push for Bundy, which thrust him into the main event of WrestleMania 2 in a steel cage match that he would eventually lose.
After his loss to Hogan, King Kong Bundy would go on to form a tag team with Big John Studd and feud with The Machines, Bill Eadie, and Blackjack Mulligan. Bundy and Studd would also receive a shot at the WWF Tag Team Championships against The British Bulldogs but would be unsuccessful in their attempts for tag team gold.
With Studd leaving the WWF soon after, Bundy went back to wrestling as a singles competitor.
At WrestleMania 3, Bundy was involved in a mixed six-man tag team match, teaming up with midget wrestlers Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook against Hillbilly Jim, the Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver.
Bundy would be pestered throughout the match by Little Beaver and eventually snapped on the little guy by body slamming him and delivering a big elbow, causing his team to be disqualified from the match and his team to turn on him.
The Death of Little Beaver Laid Heavy on Bundy’s Conscience for Years
When Little Beaver died in December 1995, King Kong Bundy was worried that he was partly to blame for his death due to how rough he was with him in the ring at WrestleMania 3. This laid heavy on Bundy’s conscience for years.
The actual cause of Little Beaver’s death was from the effects of emphysema.
King Kong Bundy would meet Hogan again in November 1987 on Saturday Night’s Main Event. He would defeat Hogan via count-out but would later lose to Hogan in the following episode of SNME.
After a series of matches, Bundy was removed from WWF television though he continued to wrestle house shows in early 1988, often losing to Bam Bam Bigelow. He would eventually leave the company later that year.
Bundy would go into semi-retirement from 1988-1994, wrestling only a handful of matches during this time but would return to the WWF in the fall of 1994 as a member of Ted DiBiase’s stable, The Million Dollar Corporation.
His first pay-per-view back with the company was at 1994’s Survivor Series where he and Bam Bam Bigelow were the sole survivors in a match against Lex Luger’s “Guts and Glory” team.
Bundy was billed as a favorite to win the 1995 Royal Rumble though he only lasted a few minutes before being eliminated by fellow big man Mabel.
Bundy would return to WrestleMania at WrestleMania XI in a losing affair to The Undertaker. Following his loss to the Dead Man, Bundy was pushed down the card before being released in October 1995.
King Kong Bundy would wrestle for several independent promotions in the United States from 1995 until his final match against “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan at the Legends of Wrestling Show in Somerset, Kentucky, in 2007.
Did you know? The creators of Married… with Children named the lead characters in the show “Bundy” as an homage to King Kong Bundy.
Outside of wrestling, King Kong Bundy had an acting career. In 1987, he played Uncle Irwin, Peggy Bundy’s brother, in two guest spots on Married… with Children. The creators had actually named the lead characters in the show “Bundy” as an homage to him.
Other acting credits include appearing in 1988’s Richard Pryor film Moving as the character Gorgo, and an appearance as himself in Weird Science in 1996. He even dabbled with a bit of stand-up comedy from time to time.
In later years, King Kong Bundy could be seen at autograph signing events. The latest he was set to appear at was to be April 2019’s WrestleCon event. His final tweet, sent only hours before his death promoted this event.
The Tragic Death of King Kong Bundy
On March 4th, 2019, it was sadly announced that King Kong Bundy had died at 63 of complications from diabetes.
In a Facebook post by his friend David Herro, he wrote, “Today we lost a Legend and a man I consider family. Rest in Peace, Chris. We love you. Thank you for believing in me.”
Bundy played a bald-headed monster on screen but had quite the opposite persona off-camera. He was known to have a great sense of humor and enjoyed laughing with the guys in the back.
Here is a heartfelt story shared by Bret Hart in his recommended book, Hitman: My Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, which shows a lighter side of the big man.
“During the fall of 1985, Jim and I often rode with Chris Pallies, otherwise known as King Kong Bundy, a bald, six-foot-four, 450-pound monster of a wrestler who was built like an egg on two sturdy legs. Julie and I even nicknamed Dallas Little Bundy because he was husky and still didn’t have a single hair on his head.
“Bundy wasn’t your typical fat guy. Nothing jiggled when he stomped around. He had a sharp wit, was never short of a putdown or a comeback, and often broke me up laughing when he jokingly made fun of . . . well, everybody.
“Every few weeks, I somehow managed to get Bundy, and Big Jim [Neirdhart] worked up enough to have sumo fights in the dressing room.
“In Phoenix one night, Jim was just out of the shower and made the mistake of taking Bundy on when he was barefoot, sopping wet and bare. Bundy had just worked and charged Jim, slamming his back flat against the wall!
“Jim was flabbergasted, and Bundy rubbed it in for the rest of the night . . . the week . . . the year. . . The memory of a stripped Jim in this struggle is still instantly amusing to me.
“I was constantly pressing both of them for a rematch, but Bundy was immune to my prodding.
“Like a proud elephant that would never again let a measly rhino push him around, Bundy would laugh and say, ‘Let me tell you, little man, that dumb Neidhart doesn’t stand a chance!’
“I got a kick out of how he always referred to both me and Jim as little man.
“On November 26, I was riding with Bundy in Jacksonville, Florida, and he eased the car to the side of the road because the space shuttle was about to take off. We got out and leaned on the hood of the rental car.
“Low and behold, a bright flashing light rocketed through the sky, and we watched it until it disappeared. Most wrestlers forget there’s a real world out there, and it was really cool that Bundy found this way to remind me.”
The loss of King Kong Bundy is a devastating blow to the wrestling community, and he will be deeply missed. He was an iconic figure in the ring and a beloved friend and mentor to many. His presence was larger than life, and his impact on the industry cannot be overstated.
We here at Pro Wrestling Stories offer our condolences to the Pallies family.
These stories may also interest you:
- King Kong Bundy and Larry Sharpe – The Lost Tapes
- Bobby Heenan – Behind The Brain of Wrestling’s Finest
- 10 Wrestlers You May Not Know Appeared in ECW
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