Among wrestlers, Bam Bam Bigelow was one of the longest-lived (professionally speaking) of the bunch, with a career that spanned two decades from the 1980′s through to the start of the 21st century. Known for his distinctive flame tattoo that famously adorned his otherwise largely bald dome, Bigelow worked in several major league wrestling federations, including but not limited to the World Wrestling Federation, the (original era) Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion, and World Championship Wrestling. Holding multiple championships in both ECW and WCW promotions, his grand total of titles eventually ran to 13. In addition to these legendary achievements, he also held the ECW World Heavyweight Champion on one occasion, and the WCW World Tag Team Championship on several others. Although he never retained any such titles in the WWF, he managed to headline several pay per views for the organization including, on one occasion, WrestleMania XI
Bigelow reached what many knowledgeable wrestling fans consider to have been the crowning glory of his career in May 1997, when he signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). His debut involved a particularly well written and notorious storyline in which the various “heel” managers were portrayed as competing amongst themselves to obtain Bigelow’s services. The dispute was labeled by the wrestling press as the “Battle for Bam Bam”. However, in a completely unforeseen plot twist which continues to shock and divide fans’ opinion to this very day, Bigelow opted to become a “babyface”, repudiating the appeals of all the heel managers and signing defiantly with Oliver Humperdinck.
Patient WWF afficionados were subsequently entertained by Bam Bam Bigelow’s unique style, not the least part of which was his remarkable agility for a man his size (6 ft, 3 in, weighing in at nearly 400 lbs). Bigelow’s initial encounters in his newfound guise as WWF contender included bouts with Nikolai Volkoff, as well as appearances as part of Hulk Hogan’s assembled team at the first Survivor Series, in which Bigelow managed to survive even longer than Hogan (who himself was currently reigning as the biggest draw in the wrestling industry). Bigelow finished the match by being eliminated by eventual champion Andre the Giant, after himself putting paid to the efforts of both King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang. He then went on to wrestle in the WWF for some time further before leaving due to the pressing need for surgery on a badly injured knee (although, despite having sustained the injury some considerable time previously, Bigelow continued to appear in more than a few high profile matches).
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Some years later, after having staged multiple comebacks, several of which were followed by a round of well-publicized retirements, Bigelow was found dead by his longtime partner Janis Remiesiewicz. Subsequent autopsy reports proved that Bigelow’s death was due to multiple illicit substances, including cocaine as well as anti-anxiety medication. Sources also linked the death to a heart problem, possibly arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. He was survived by several children and an ex-wife, who had previously sued for nonsupport.