Raymond Washington Traylor, Jr better known to me and you as the Big Boss Man, has lead a storied wrestling career.
His career began in 1986 in the famous Jim Crockett promotion, and after initially starting his career as nothing more than a jobber, it would be a fellow Hall of Fame alumni Dusty Rhodes who saw potential in the young big man, pairing him up with Jim Cornette as his silent bodyguard. Along side The Midnight Express he was thrust into a feud with the James Brothers (Dusty & Magnum TA in masks) for a headline 12-week feud.
He would move on from Crockett to work for the Universal Wrestling Federation, and though it was only a one-year run in the company he did manage to win their World title from future team-mate One Man Gang.
In June 1998 he would take the first real step in his Hall of Fame career by joining the World Wrestling Federation as Big Boss Man, a former prison guard-turned wrestler. He came into the company as a heel managed by much-underrated manager Slick. His first feud of note was in a main-event role alongside Akeem in the Twin Towers, taking on The Mega Powers. The Towers played a major role in, what was at the time, the company’s biggest-ever storyline; when Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage collided at Wrestlemania V: The Mega Powers Explode.
On the very same card, Boss Man and Akeem defeated the young pairing of The Rockers before heading into a summer-long feud with fellow behemoths Demolition. During this time, he also forayed into the singles picture, challenging Hogan for the WWF title. Although ultimately unsuccessful in his quest to capture the championship, maybe the highlight of the feud came on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event when, during a steel cage match with The Hulkster, he took a suplex from the top of the cage, an incredible bump for the time period.
Turning babyface in early 1990, he defeated former team-mate Akeem in a less than 2 mins at Wrestlemania VI, then later put aside differences with Hogan and stood in his corner when the Immortal One took on Earthquake at Summerslam. The two joined forces at Survivor Series with Jim Duggan and Tugboat to best the team of Earthquake, Haku, Dino Bravo and The Barbarian in a 10-minute match.
In early 1991, Boss Man began feuding with Bobby Heenan and his Family, after Heenan continually insulted Boss Man’s mother. He won a series of matches against Heenan Family members, including The Barbarian at the Royal Rumble and Mr. Perfect via disqualification at WrestleMania VII in a match for Perfect’s Intercontinental Championship, which also featured the return of Andre the Giant. At the 1991 edition of SummerSlam, Boss Man famously defeated The Mountie in a Jailhouse Match, a match in which the loser had to spend a night in jail.
1992 saw the introduction of Nailz, with the story being that the former convict came to the company looking for revenge, claiming that he had been mistreated by the Boss Man during his time as a guard at the shared prison. Following numerous beatings with his own nightstick – resulting in some time off to sell his injuries – Boss Man returned in the later half of 1992 and the feud would come to an end at Survivor Series, with then two clashing in a Nightstick on a Pole match that saw Boss Man come out as the victor.
He wrestled his final match for the WWF at the Royal Rumble in 1993, losing a singles match to Bam Bam Bigelow.
He would spend a brief period of time in All Japan, before returning to the States to wrestle for WCW. He made his debut as The Boss, which was soon changed to the Guardian Angel after legal complaints from WWF, who felt that ‘The Boss’ was too similar to his WWF character. After starting his run in the company as a babyface, he switched to the more natural heel role,wrestling under the ring name Big Bubba Rogers.
His remaining 3 years in WCW consisted of constantly switching gimmicks and factions, from The Dungeon of Doom to the nWo, to forming an alliance with the Steiner Brothers, before sitting out the remainder of his contract.
His surprising return to WWF would go onto be the most successful run of his career, being brought back into the company as Vince McMahon’s personal bodyguard. Finding himself at the top of the card, he would feud with all the top stars, from Stone Cold Steve Austin to D-Generation X. He is one of the Undertaker’s many WrestleMania victims, losing in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XV. He would also go on to capture the Hardcore Title a total of four times.
It was during this time in the WWF’s Hardcore division that would lead to the infamous feud with Al Snow, circling on Snow’s pet dog Pepper. Following a series of brutal hardcore matches between the two, Boss Man kidnapped Pepper and apparently fed the little dog to Snow. It was one of the Attitude Era’s oddest angles, and would lead to one of the Era’s most infamous matches.
In all honesty, the concept of the Kennel from Hell the idea was solid. In reality, the execution was a damp squib. The match consisted of a steel cage surrounding the ring, with the Hell in a Cell structure around that. In between the cell and the cage were ‘vicious’ attack dogs.
Still with me so far?
The way to win the match was to escape from the cage and the cell, while avoiding the ‘attack dogs’, though unfortunately the dogs proved to be anything but vicious and dangerous; they instead looked scared by the noise and and summed up the whole match, and the opinions of all those that witnessed it, with the ‘presents’ they left on the floor outside the ring. For those interested, Snow won the match and retained the Hardcore championship.
Somehow, Boss Man would move on from that to a headline feud with then-WWF champion Big Show, revolving around comments made about Big Show’s father, who had passed away in the storyline. During the rivalry, Boss Man showed up at the funeral for Big Show’s father’s, made some disrespectful remarks and then chained the casket to the back of his car and drove off. The Big Show attempted to save the coffin by jumping on it and riding it for a few yards before losing his grip and tumbling off. The feud also included a segment in which Boss Man invaded the home of Big Show’s mother and forced her, on camera, to admit her son was a bastard.
For those who did witness this part of the ‘celebrated’ Attitude Era, I swear these are things that happened. Incidentally, Show won the match this feud was building up to.
In mid-March he would team up with protege Bull Buchanan, defeating the pairing of D’Lo Brown and fellow WWE Hall of Fame entrant The Godfather. The following month they would take on and defeat the APA at Backlash, though the pairing with Bull wouldn’t last much longer and the team would split in June. Following an injury suffered in January 2001, Boss Man found himself on the shelf until the summer, and when he returned he struggled to keep his previous spot and would mainly wrestle on shows like Jakked and Heat. His final match in the company would be a loss to Tommy Dreamer in 2002, before being released the following year.
Sadly he would then pass away only 3 years later at the tragically young age of 41, with a heart attack being the cause of death.
Big Boss Man was renowned for his incredible agility, especially for someone of his size. He became one of the biggest names in the 1990’s, and then defied all odds and became a big player in the Attitude Era.
And on April 2 2016, in a move seen as long overdue by fans worldwide, he takes his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.