In Bam Bam Bigelow’s quest for both a family and fame in his life, one would act as an angel on his shoulder, while the other became the devil. This week’s Dark Side of the Ring explores the adventures in and out of the ring of Bam Bam Bigelow.
Dana Breckenridge, Bigelow’s ex-wife at the time of his death, starts off by putting his priorities into perspective, recalling that he was more excited about being a dad than he was when he landed the main event at WrestleMania XI. The arrival of his daughter Ricci, after having two sons Shane and Scott, seemed to give Bigelow everything he wanted, but the demands of a life in pro wrestling are high, as Ricci remembers seeing as a toddler.
She remembers the last time she saw her father was on a car ride where she knew something was wrong, as Bigelow’s head was bobbing while he drove. After they stopped at a diner, Ricci saw Bigelow being led away by police in handcuffs as Dana came to pick her up and tell her she wouldn’t see her father for a while – not knowing that it was going to be the very last time.
Diamond Dallas Page chimes in with memories of meeting Bigelow while DDP was running a club in Jersey, and he hit if off with the 17-year-old rising football and amateur wrestling star. Scott addresses some of the legendary aspects of his father’s past, suggesting, though, that he doesn’t know much about the time Bigelow spent as a bounty hunter, followed by an audio clip of Bigelow casually explaining how he answered an ad for bounty hunter that led to him taking a job to bring back a kidnapped girl taken to Mexico.
From there, Shane explains how his dad, busting through the prison walls, ended up with a job for a Mexican judge as a bodyguard. First DDP, then Shane Douglas, admit that one has to take Bigelow’s stories with a grain of salt, though they’d hear so many people talking about them that Bam Bam became legendary before he became famous as a wrestler.
His journey to wrestling started at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory where he trained for a year, but Breckenridge reminds us immediately that wrestling would be Bigelow’s double-edged sword: it gave him life, but ended up taking it too. Bigelow’s quick rise to the WWF is great to watch for his friends and family, with Breckenridge acknowledging that a lot of the established ring veterans didn’t like Bigelow’s quick rise to main event status, with another audio clip of Bam Bam describing a specific match where Andre the Giant worked him really hard to make sure he paid some dues.
After that, Bigelow is gone from the WWF and working in Japan before coming back to the WWF for another run in 1992, leading to the match with Lawrence Taylor at WrestleMania. Bigelow’s body starts wearing down early, leading to the standard usage among wrestlers of pain killers — with Breckenridge convinced that Bigelow had become addicted to OxyContin by the time he had finished his first prescription.
Bigelow leaves the WWF in 1995 for ECW, where Taz speaks to their feud, which gives him goosebumps to talk about still. He knew Bam Bam was hurting physically, and Breckenridge takes Bigelow’s doctors to task as they would continually write prescriptions in exchange for autographs or tickets. It was around this time that Ricci was born, and Dana recalls promises being made by Bam Bam to clean up, but life on the road only made it harder for Bigelow to keep those promises.
Facing an ultimatum by Dana to clean up or leave, Bigelow didn’t see that he had a problem and moved to Florida after he and Dana divorced. When he died at the age of 45 of an accidental overdose in January of 2007, it left his friends and family reeling, all wishing to remember the best parts of their time with him, and not the addiction that sabotaged the things that Bigelow most cared for.
- Apr. 11, 2017: ‘Pretty Boy’ Larry Sharpe excelled at training — and storytelling
- Jan. 1, 2007: The up and down life of Bam Bam Bigelow
- Mar. 12, 1999: Goldberg and Bigelow brawl at video shoot
- Slam Wrestling’s Dark Side of the Ring story and review archive