Sports can be baffling from time to time. You see these sure fire/can’t miss types that you’re certain will achieve greatness, and yet for one reason or another it never comes to forwishen. Ryan Leaf was one of these guys, maybe the biggest bust in the history of the NFL. Some guys don’t bust, they just don’t get to the level we thought. Thinking of guys like Eric Lindros, Patrick Ewing, and OF COURSE King Kong Bundy.
Bundy was “the next big thing” in the WWE in the mid 1980’s. He had the looks, the obesity, and the generic black tights to shoot right to the top in short order. However he did not get off to such a smooth start and that seems to happen a lot with such gifted athletes when they have so much talent. It took a blockbuster trade (yes this actually happened) from Jimmy Hart in exchange for Adrian Adonis and the Missing Link.
It is possible that Hart’s managerial techniques could have been part of the problem for Bundy initially. The megaphone that Hart used to communicate to his wrestlers may have in fact hindered Bundy’s ability to hear, or perhaps was more of a distraction than the advantage it was meant to be.
But they didn’t call Bobby Heenan “the brain” for nothing…they called him that because he self glossed himself that. But this trade was one of the better ones in WWE history (it may have been the only one for all I know, I don’t ever remember a trade being done). Bundy really took off after this, going all the way to a title match with champion Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 2.
Bundy had a huge advantage in the match, as Hogan came into the fight with badly injured ribs (they had to be, they had tape around them). But KKB failed to take advantage of Hogan’s injury, and lost the match. In fairness to Bundy, a cage match couldn’t have been helpful. The object is to get out of the cage and Bundy’s poor 40 time of 41 seconds was evidence that he may not have the speed needed to escape. But make no mistake about it; this was a choke job of epic proportions.
It was the closet Bundy ever came to winning the title. He left the WWE in 1988. HOWEVER, he made a dramatic return in late 1994! This time should have been different. He was much wiser, much more focus, still fat as hell.
But as what happens with so many richly gifted athletes, he eventually became over confident. KKB started doing something that was unheard of in the business and could in no way help his pursuit of a title. He began asking referees for a 5 count.
Career suicide! Sure, it looked real bad ass and was fine to do against guys like the Brooklyn Brawler and Chyna. But what about when he got to the big matches?! It is so very difficult to keep a man’s shoulders pinned to the mat for a 3 count (as evidence by how many counts only get to 2….all but 1 per match in fact), let alone 5!
To the shock of nobody, once KKB started asking for a 5 count, his career once again stalled. Bundy would lose to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 11, a match that could have got him back in line for a title shot, but it wasn’t meant to be.
It really is sad to see such huge talents never achieve their expected level of greatness. The big difference here might be that while Lindros had his injuries and Ewing had Michael Jordan in his way, Bundy really doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself. Sure for a while he had Hogan in his way, but in his 2nd stint he should have achieved that greatness. But his ego got in the way and the 5 count was more important than the gold.
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