Taylor gets another sack: Wrestling's Bam Bam Bigelow

April 03, 1995|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The old "Monday Night Football" theme rTC song pulsated throughout the Hartford Civic Center as members of Lawrence Taylor's All-Pro team made their way to the ring for Taylor's professional wrestling debut at WrestleMania XI last night.

Ken Norton Jr. and Rickey Jackson of the San Francisco 49ers, Steve McMichael and Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers, Chris Spielman of the Detroit Lions and Carl Banks of the Cleveland Browns were in Taylor's corner to ensure that his opponent -- 360-pound Bam Bam Bigelow -- would not get any outside assistance in the match.

Standing behind Bigelow were the members of The Million-Dollar Corporation, a quartet of wrestlers consisting of a supposedly greedy native American, a "Russian" who apparently hasn't heard about the end of the Cold War, a man with a Mohawk known as "The Ultimate Fighting Machine" and a crooked Internal Revenue Service agent.

Welcome to the World Wrestling Federation, LT.

Taylor's WWF debut was a successful one, as he pinned the 360-pound Bigelow, known as "The Beast from the East," in approximately 12 minutes before a sellout crowd of over 16,000 and an international pay-per-view audience.

No one will confuse Taylor with a ring technician, but he did not look like a novice. His clotheslines -- which would be illegal in the NFL -- forearm smashes and suplexes looked as authentic as those of most of the veteran wrestlers on the show.

The bout ended when Taylor, a 10-time All-Pro linebacker in 13 seasons with the New York Giants, hit Bigelow with a cross-body block off the second rope to set up the pin.

After that move, the Beast from the East -- complete with tattoos on his bald head -- looked more like Joe Theismann on a Monday night after colliding with Taylor.

Taylor, wearing Spandex shorts and a white T-shirt with the letters LT on the front and No. 56 on the back, absorbed a barrage of head butts, kicks and punches, as well as Bigelow's signature move -- a backward flip off the top rope onto Taylor's supine body.

Taylor was asked in the post-match news conference whether the match was fake.

"I put everything I had -- I pulled no punches," said Taylor, 36, who retired from football in January 1994. "At that moment, when I looked up and I saw him coming down on me, that looked real. It knocked the breath out of me a little."

WWF chief executive officer Vince McMahon confirmed that Taylor would earn a guaranteed $1 million for the match against a percentage of the pay-per-view buys.

The match was billed as "The First Time. The Last Time. The Only Time," but Taylor did not discount the possibility of wrestling again.

"I won't do it again any time soon, but my father always told me there's a price on everything," Taylor said.

Perhaps coincidentally, "everybody has a price" is the credo of The Million Dollar Team.

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