Friday, May 9, 2014

Underrated Wrestlers: Ray Traylor

I started a post on underrated tag teams based on something I read about Doom.  Teams like Doom and the Faces of Fear are near the top of my list of really good tag teams that have kind of been forgotten about over the years.  While watching Starrcade '93 the other day on WWE Network I got to see "Ravishing" Rick Rude defend his WCW International Title against The Boss.  It got me to thinking about how much I always enjoyed Ray Traylor in his various incarnations.

He was solid as a fiery, tough guy face.  His best role was of course as a brutal heel.  My first exposure to him was as bodyguard Big Bubba Rogers.  He had a great look and a menacing presence.  That menacing presence was kicked up a notch or 10 when he arrived in WWE as Big Boss Man.  That whole gimmick of handcuffing folks and working them over with a nightstick was enough to make a big time impression on 10 year old FreebirdSTF.  Beyond that he moved really well for a guy that was something like 6' 6" and north of 300 pounds.  His face turn was fun because he doesn't like seeing a big ticked off Southern boy?

Things got a little sideways for Ray when he landed in WCW minus the Big Boss Man look.  Guardian Angel was responsible for some quality unintentional comedy such as, "That ref's not even supposed to be in the riiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg" and the goofy "three strikes" deal he did.  I had honestly forgotten that he became "The Boss" at some point after the Guardian Angel fizzled, but like I said the fire he showed as a face worked for me at Starrcade '93.  Actually, upon looking it up I completely forgot that he initially showed up as The Boss before WWE shut that down and caused the change to Guardian Angel.  It's funny how we can get these timelines and whatnot mixed up over the years.  Anyhow, the point stands that he was a solid, tough guy face with a bit of goofy charisma that worked to some degree.  Was he top of the card material?  Maybe not, be he definitely served a purpose.

Traylor became Big Bubba Rogers again and joined the Dungeon of Doom.  Then he attempted to join the nWo which got overturned by JJ Dillon in an angle that made little sense to me.  He was also one of the first nWo members that was picked off by Sting IIRC.  An angle that I really enjoyed though was his alliance with the Steiner Brothers and Ted Dibiase against the nWo.  Despite his history of mostly being a heel I felt like the fans really got into him and that unit and it was cool to see a stable of sorts stand up to the nWo.  After his release from WCW I honestly didn't really expect to see much more of Ray Traylor, but it turns out even better things were ahead for him.

Honestly when he showed up in WWE I thought he would solely be a bodyguard type and that his primary job would be to hand out a few beatings, take a few beatings, stand around, and look like a tough guy.  He ended up getting far more involved than that.  As part of Vince's Corporation he won tag gold with Ken Shamrock for example.  His best two moments were still ahead of him though.

Two famous (infamous?) angles make me look back on Big Boss Man fondly and has caused Norko and I to refer to him as "the most evil wrestler of all time." One was his hilarious feud with Big Show.  The highlights there being "You hear that Big Show? You're a big nasty bastard and your momma says so!" and then the Bluesmobile dragging his father's coffin off while Big Show jumped on it and rode around the cemetery.  It was equal parts evil and hilarious and goofy, but I really got a kick out if it.  To a lesser extent him feeding Al Snow his chihuahua Pepper was over-the-top entertainment as well.  

The point of all this is that Ray Traylor hung around for a long while and kind of did a little bit of everything.  Whether he was WWE Hardcore Champion, a tag team specialist, a face, a heel, or the most evil man in wrestling history he was always entertaining and amusing to me at least.  Sadly, Ray was another in the long list of gentlemen who left us far too young.  He passed away after his release from WWE in 2004 at the age of 41 years old.

I almost forgot to mention that I actually own a WWE Big Boss Man shirt.  It's from his Attitude Era run there and his a picture of him on the front with Corporate Security on the back.  I got it bundled with a Big Boss Man figure on ebay.  It's one of the most random t-shirts I own, but I like dusting it off for WWE events occasionally in honor and memory of the man from Cobb County, Georgia.  May he rest in peace.