In “real life”- as wrestling people are oft to say- the massive King Kong Bundy was an eclectic mix of highly intelligent, blunt, gruff, lovable, supportive, businesslike, and at times grumpy.
And he sure wasn’t scared to speak his mind.
“Ginzburg!” he’d bellow upon seeing me at a wrestling convention or indy show, instantly continuing some political debate we’d had online. You see, he’d “give me crap,” a sly grin etched on his face. For Bundy didn’t always agree with my liberal leanings. And in an odd way, it was empowering for me to stand my ground and debate somehow who on a whim could have crushed me like a bug.
While I’ll leave the career retrospectives to those who do them far better than I, I’d be remiss not to say that in those pre- “tweener” days Bundy was that perfect heel with that most perfect of monikers. If Spider-Man’s Kingpin had combined with serial killer Ted Bundy you’d have the sneering 458-pound King Kong Bundy in all his monstrous glory. Like James Bond needed Goldfinger, Dr. No, Scaramanga, and Blowfeld, the larger than life Hulk Hogan needed The Iron Sheik, Piper, Mr. Wonderful and Bundy as credible challengers. And he was, as proven by his Wrestlemania II main-event which was the perfect super hero vs. super villain Marvel Comics level match up. And when those boos cascaded down, King Kong Bundy proved to indeed be heel royalty.
When he passed yesterday, a few personal memories played through my head. On the East Coast indy scene where I’ve played a variety of roles over the years, one night I walked into a small locker room, glanced about, and saw something in the corner of my eye that reminded me of the horror film classic, The Blob. It was a whitish pale, massive substance that quivered every which way. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what it was. And when he suddenly turned around, it was none other than King Kong Bundy- in his birthday suit no less. An unforgettable image etched in my memory.
Another time as Associate Producer on The Wrestler, we were attending indy shows every weekend to research and bring authenticity to the film. With Darren Aronofsky and team in hand I was the middle man and asked a local promoter if we could have a pre-match face to face with Bundy. Although he appeared skeptical of us at first, he opened up and Darren “picked his brain.” What he learned in less than an hour about the business was the equivalent of a library’s worth of wrestling books. Bundy, along with the late Johnny Valiant, Nikolai Volkoff and other legends like Greg Valentine painted a picture of living an almost nomadic life on the road for us and are among the unsung heroes of The Wrestler.
King Kong Bundy is yet- and no shock here- another legend shamefully left out of the WWE Hall of Fame. He’s also like so many of our wrestling heroes, gone too soon. Luckily his career peaked at the ideal time during that mid-80’s boom, and his body of work will remain for fans to savor forever.
Evan Ginzburg was Associate Producer of the movie The Wrestler and #350Days starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is also the host of The Evan Ginzburg Show seen/heard on Village Connection Radiovision Sundays 11 AM ET at villageconnectionradio.com. Shoot him a tweet: @evan_ginzburg
Meet Evan Ginzburg with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Koko B. Ware at WrestleCon April 5th and 6th in NYC. Advance autograph/photo tickets available at rivalrychampionshipwrestling.com. Meet Evan Ginzburg with Greg Valentine at Mark Out At The Meadowlands convention April 7th.