But Bam Bam Bigelow was one of the few wrestlers I ever marked out for, and all because of one drunken couple.
For those not familiar with wrestling terminology, a "mark" is one who believes wholly in the 'sport' of professional wrestling; one who takes in the whole spectacle hook, line and sinker, and who doesn't believe (or doesn't care -- or want -- to believe) that the outcomes are pre-determined and storylines plotted out months in advance. In other words, a sucker.
And to "mark out" is, well, to behave like a mark. To throw yourself headlong into the match and support your favorite as if you are the one whose cheers and screams really matter. I haven't followed professional wrestling for a long time now; the WWF of the 1980s was camp, fun kid's stuff and accordingly, as a kid I ate it right up, but nowadays I see this "soap opera for men" and its overblown innuendo and every type of stereotype-bashing and I realize who they're playing to now, and it's not me.
But good old fashioned pro wrestling, with Mean Gene Oakerlund, Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Bret "Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, "The Birdman" Koko B. Ware, Mr. Perfect, Leapin' Lanny Poffo (Randy Savage's brother who would later become "The Genius"), and good old Barry Horowitz, the professional self-backpatting jobber who could always be counted on to throw a match to help bring a new name up... those were the guys my brothers and I grew up on.
This, then, brings us to Bam Bam Bigelow and the Great Mark-Out. It must have been I think the fall of 1993; it was my little brother's birthday and I'd given him floor seats to the WWF show when it came to our neck of the woods. We went along with my other little brother. I honestly can't remember any of the matches on the card except for a particularly tiresome Doink the Clown match with midget Doinks coming out from under the ring -- I always hated Doink's angle -- and Bam Bam's, because that's when this couple next to us got real excited. They must've saved up for months to make it to this match (I know I did, and I was a broke college student) and it became readily clear they'd only come to see Bam Bam do his thing.
The woman had crammed herself into a pair of fancy goin-out spandex pants and a halter top which had been stretched to the point of obscenity. She smelled like she'd been dipped in booze, I mean literally picked up with a giant pair of tweezers and dropped in a giant vat of Jack Daniels in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Her companion was this tall skinny drink of water with an Adam's apple three times the size of his throat and a pencil thin mustache he must've been working on for months now. The woman first endeared herself to us when she loudly proclaimed early on "I smell PATCHOULI around here! D'you know the ONLY PEOPLE who wear PATCHOULI are? They're the ones SMOKE THE WEED!!" Sure, perhaps she was right, but "I smell patchouli around here!" became a long-lasting catch-phrase between me and my brothers, ranking right up there with "Hey guess what? They have comigs, and cheetahs run fast." (Don't ask.)
The skinny guy didn't say much until Bam Bam Bigelow came out. Bam Bam was a real heel at the time; he'd probably just done something nasty to a fan favorite on a recent TV broadcast and was getting a lot of heat (fan attention) for it. His entrance was heralded with a lot of booing and object-throwing whatnot; his no-name jobber opponent was already in the ring, just counting the seconds until he could fall for a 3-count. As soon as the tall guy saw the bald, tattooed head approaching ringside, he just exploded in a mark-out the likes of which I'd never seen before and probably won't see again. He shot up like a rocket and started punching the air with a gangly fist, knocking his black mesh cap off in the process. Then he started hollerin like you wouldn't believe. It was religious, if your religion involves cussin like a sumbitch.
"YEAH, BAM BAM!! BAM BAM!! MOTHERFUCKIN BAM BAM!! KICK HIS ASS, BAM BAM! KICK HIS FUCKIN ASS!!"
The lady started providing similar encouragement to Bam Bam, who of course didn't need any of it but received it anyway. It was at this point my brothers and I looked at each other and shrugged. What else could we do? We joined in as well.
"YEAH! KICK HIS FUCKIN ASS, BAM BAM! DO IT, BAM BAM! YEAAAAH! INTO THE FUCKIN TURBUCKLE, BAM BAM!! THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT! FUCK YEAH! KICK THE CRAP OUT OF HIM, BAM BAM! OH, WHAT'D HE DO? DON'T TAKE THAT SHIT FROM HIM, BAM BAM! YOU GOT HIM NOW, BAM BAM! AHAHAHAHAHA! FUCKIN TAKE THAT! ONE! TWO! THREE! YEAAAAAAAAH! YOU'RE THE MAN, BAM BAM BIGELOW, YOU'RE THE FUCKIN MAN!"
We let ourselves get caught up in the fan emotion and gleefully helped this crazy couple cheer on their favorite. We probably were the only five people in the place who, right then and there, actually cared for the big, mean, evil guy who was going to win anyway. But as far as we were concerned, this was the best thing we'd ever done at a match since we'd run to ringside in the late 80s and rubbed the Bushwhackers' sweaty Aussie heads for good luck.
Rest well, Bam Bam Bigelow. I'm gonna miss that guy. One of God's own prototypes.