Wrestler of the Day – January 10: Buff Bagwell

We’re looking at someone often remembered but not particularly successful as a singles guy: Buff Bagwell.

Bagwell debuted in 1991 and was named Rookie of the Year, a title which he seemed to hold for several years running. We’ll start at the end of that year with a match from Starrcade 1991. This was a show of “random” tag team matches and Bagwell was in the opening contest.

Michael Hayes/Tracy Smothers vs. Jimmy Garvin/Marcus Bagwell


Smothers was part of a tag team called the Young Pistols (current US Tag Champions) and Bagwell was a rookie at this point. Hayes and Garvin are regular tag partners in the Freebirds. Bagwell and Smothers start things out by shoving each other a few times until Bagwell runs him over with a shoulder block. Hayes starts the Atlanta Braves chop (a baseball crowd deal) for no apparent reason. A quick rollup gets two for Marcus and Tracy is complaining about having his trunks pulled.


Tracy comes back with a shoulder of his own, only to be taken down by a shoulder block and a dropkick from Bagwell. Now Tracy says he wants Garvin and things speed up a bit, leading to Smothers being hiptossed and dropkicked to the floor. I’m pretty sure Smothers is the only bad guy in this entire match so the fans are all over him. Back in and an atomic drop sends Smothers out to the floor again.


Bagwell comes in again for a top rope ax handle to Smothers’ arm but Tracy goes to the eyes to take him down. Now it’s off to Hayes for a back elbow to the face and it’s time to dance. They trade armbars with Hayes taking control before it’s back to Smothers. Bagwell takes over on Tracy’s arm as this just isn’t a good night for Smothers so far. Another armdrag puts Tracy down again and he’s getting very frustrated. Back to Garvin but Tracy tags in Hayes to give us a battle of the Freebirds.


They shake hands and don’t seem too hesitant to go after each other here. Granted not a lot happens for the first few moments of them being in there against each other as both guys have to strut a bit first. A rollup gets two for Hayes as this isn’t the most serious brawl ever. Both guys strut over to their corners and tag out while fixing their hair. Well that was worthless.


Back to Smothers vs. Bagwell with Tracy missing an elbow and it’s back to Garvin again. A forearm puts Tracy down and it’s back to Marcus a cross body for two. Everything breaks down and Hayes accidentally hits Garvin, allowing Bagwell to hit a fisherman’s suplex on Tracy for the pin to advance to Battlebowl.


Rating: D+. This started somewhat promising and then fell completely apart. The stuff with the Freebirds fighting was a waste of time and Smothers’ overblown selling of everything didn’t help much either. They were telling a story in this match but it wasn’t the most interesting in the world. That’s going to be a common theme tonight: there’s no reason for these specific people to be fighting, so the grades rest entirely on the in ring action for the most part.

Bagwell would be a staple of tag team wrestling over the coming years. He would win two tag titles with 2 Cold Scorpio and The Patriot, though neither reign would last even a month. The Patriot and Bagwell would trade the tag titles with Pretty Wonderful throughout 1994. Here’s their final tag title change from Clash of the Champions 29.

Tag Titles: Stars N Stripes vs. Pretty Wonderful

Stars N Stripes are Bagwell and the Patriot, Pretty Wonderful are Paul Roma and Paul Orndorff (holy Yoda line Batman and holy combination of two awesome geek series) and this is mask (Patriot’s) vs. title (Pretty Wonderful’s). The camera is a bit low so you can’t see over all of the fans. These teams traded the titles over the last two months or so. After a lot of stalling it’s Bagwell vs. Orndorff to start.

Roma comes in quickly and ever the genius, wrestles like a face. By that I mean he’s climbing the ropes and flipping off of them, jumping over Bagwell, using cross bodies and dropkicks. How many heels do you know that wrestle like that regularly? Anyway the challengers clear the ring quickly. Heenan thinks Patriot is Al Gore.

Paul vs. Patriot at the moment. Blast it this is one of those teams that I have to specify with. Orndorff vs. Patriot at the moment. How in the world was Roma a Horseman but not Orndorff? Patriot takes him down with an armbar and Orndorff isn’t sure what to do. Off to Roma who shows off again with three backbreakers without putting Patriot down. Thesz Press gets two for the masked dude.

The champions try a double hot shot but the cameraman falls over so we don’t see what happens. I know it’s just an accident but when do you ever see that? Orndorff drops an elbow on Bagwell as they’re legal at the moment. The fans chant USA for four American wrestlers. Off to Roma who has a REALLY high dropkick. Powerslam gets two. Sunset flip by Bagwell gets two on Orndorff.

Roma and Patriot hit the floor as this match is needing to end rather soon. Thankfully it does but even a simple pin doesn’t go right for them. Orndorff suplexes Bagwell and lays there with him, but doesn’t let him go. Roma goes up for a splash off the top ala the Powerplex but Patriot makes the save. Orndorff just stayed in the position and gets pinned, but Tony screws up the count, making it seem like the titles change on a two count and generally confusing the TV audience. Either way, new champions.

Rating: D+. Orndorff got a push at this point for some reason which I’m SURE wasn’t because he was one of Hogan’s buddies but whatever. The tag title situation never really was interesting at all at this point but they were trying….I think. Harlem Heat would rise up soon to half save the division but they tried at least.

His next partner would be Scotty Riggs in the American Males, who would win another tag title for nine days in 1995. After a year of jobbing with Riggs, Bagwell would join the NWO in November of 1996, setting up a feud with Riggs which was blown off at Souled Out 1997.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scott Riggs

Bagwell had very recently turned black and white so this is the blowoff I guess. I don’t know about you but I was begging for that American Males showdown. Bischoff talks about how Bagwell has the IT factor and is going to be a movie star according to Hogan. That’s rich. Buff channels his inner Hogan and poses so Riggs jumps him to start us off. And now we stall.

The constant camera cuts are reaching TNA levels here. They’re doing a weird handheld look here and it’s really not working at all. Apparently Buff has a new move for us tonight. He slaps Riggs and it’s on. Buff is sent to the floor which isn’t a DQ here for no apparent reason. I hate that rule but love how they constantly change it.

Eric: “Everybody has to go somewhere. Horses have glue factories and people here have Connecticut.” And then there’s Orlando I guess. Amazingly enough, this is a fairly boring match. Bagwell leads the fans in a Bagwell Sucks chant for some reason. He gets a powerbomb for two. This match is just rather boring. We get a shot of Buff’s tights down off a sunset flip attempt.

And now let’s look at the biker chicks again. Sure why not. Bischoff points out that the fans are restless and I’m rather surprised. This match would be perfect for me to get some rest to. It’s putting me to sleep. Riggs reverses a slam into a small package for a long two. The crooked referee schtick is getting very old.

Tornado DDT puts Buff down and Riggs of course doesn’t cover. Eric picks New England for the Super Bowl which was the wrong selection of course. After some more camera cuts and more slow counting, the fans are miserable. Patrick is tired here and I can’t really blame him for that. They go to the corner and Buff debuts the Blockbuster to end this. Yes, this got 14 minutes.

Rating: F+. And that’s just because I love the Blockbuster. This was incredibly boring and not even a fast paced match. At the end of the day, this was Marcus Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs for almost 15 minutes on PPV. There is no way that works no matter what you say and the match was what you would have expected.

Bagwell formed another weak tag team with Scott Norton called Vicious and Delicious who worked a lot in Japan where Norton is a much bigger star. A feud with Lex Luger never went anywhere as Bagwell’s career began to stall. In April of 1998, Bagwell suffered a very serious neck injury in a match against Rick Steiner. He would come back later in the year and join the NWO again as WCW wasted a chance for a huge face push. This led to Bagwell’s newest tag team with Scott Steiner. That only lasted until Uncensored 1999 when Bagwell cost Scott the TV Title. Steiner would win the US Title soon thereafter and Bagwell had a shot at Slamboree 1999.

US Title: Buff Bagwell vs. Scott Steiner

Since Bagwell never won a singles title, I think you know who is champion coming in. Buff jumps him before the bell and Steiner still has the belt on. Swinging neckbreaker gets two. Scott hits him low and there’s the Push-Up elbow. Buff gets thrown to the floor and Steiner yells at some fans. Things slow WAY down with Steiner on offense. It was a running theme with the Steiners at this point.

Scott chokes away and yells at another fan. Much like in the Rick match, you may be noticing a pattern emerging here. They go to the mat and Steiner elbows him a lot. He runs to the floor and brings in a chair. If that shot had hit Steiner would have been facing 10-15 years. Bagwell fights back but there goes the referee. Buff gets the chair and here’s Rick to turn heel on Buff and whack him with the chair. The Recliner keeps the title on Scott.

Rating: D-. I can’t take many more of these bad matches. I mean the people in them are just SO lazy with them laying around and doing nothing of note. Scott and Rick are back together as the Steiners and both have singles titles. You know, because that’s what the people wanted to see and would light the world on fire. Benoit and Jericho and Malenko? Who are they?

For once, Bagwell was given a long singles push as both a face and a heel. He lasted in this role for the better part of a year and had some very good success though didn’t win any titles. Since the results weren’t there, it’s back to the tag teams, this time with Shane Douglas. At Spring Stampede 2000 they faced Ric Flair and Lex Luger in a tournament final for the vacant tag titles.

Tag Titles: Team Package vs. Buff Bagwell/Shane Douglas

Russo comes out with the New Blood and sits in on commentary. Luger vs. Bagwell gets us going. Russo is guaranteeing victory. Buff rakes the eyes to stop the offense and it’s off to Shane. Luger casually gorilla presses him and Flair gets in a right hand and they go to the floor. Tony shouts BS about something as the New Blood beats on Flair. How a guy that was world champion seven years ago can be considered New Blood is beyond me but it’s WCW so who cares.

Bagwell beats down Flair and Tony wants more choking and violence. That would be cool if we hadn’t seen it in every single match so far tonight. Flair gets a chop and they hit the ropes, bumping heads to put both guys down. Luger FINALLY does something to break up the beating on Flair. There’s the hot tag to Luger who cleans house for a bit and there’s the Figure Four on Shane. Russo gets up with the bat as the Blockbuster hits Shane by mistake. Russo pulls the referee out as Kronik debuts and hits the double chokeslam on Luger to give the New Blood the titles with Russo counting the pin.

Rating: D+. Just another match here and Kronik added nothing for the most part. The New Blood win the first tournament and I’m sure that’s all they’ll win right, because it’s not like they’re going to put all the titles on the heel faction like the NWO because that would just be stupid when they had done that a few years ago right?

That was pretty much if for Buff in WCW as he would have random feuds and matches until the company went under about a year later. Bagwell would be brought into the WWF, receiving one match for the WCW Title on an episode of Raw.


WCW World Title: Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell


Hudson screws up AGAIN, saying Booker is the current TV Champion rather than the US Champion along with world champion. You can actually see the people walking out. The fans IMMEDIATELY start changing BS and the upper level is blacked out so we can’t see them leaving. Buff takes over and does his strut as EVEN MORE people leave.


Buff hooks a chinlock and the remaining people boo. Now they chant THIS MATCH SUCKS. Buff starts glaring at the crowd, basically turning heel mid match. Booker comes back with a side kick and forearm that misses but gets two anyway. Axe kick, Spinarooni, Austin and Angle FINALLY come in for the DQ.


Rating: F. I’m going to go into a much longer explanation of why this was an abomination later, but for now we’ll go with this: if the company has to black out the upper deck because your match made that many fans leave, your match is a failure. Again, we’ll get back to this later.


That was it for Buff in the WWF as the match was so poorly received that he was fired. Bagwell would hit the indy circuit after that, joining up with the World Wrestling All-Stars organization. He would appear on their first Pay Per View called The Inception in a match that, I kid you not, was called Tits, Whips and Buff.


Seven Deadly Sins Tournament Semi-Finals: Jeff Jarrett vs. Buff Bagwell

This is a, and I quote, Tits Whips and Buff match, which means the Starretts as lumberjacks holding whips. Buff’s graphic says Road Dogg but to be fair it’s their first show. Apparently Buff got to pick the stipulations. Ok then. Basic stuff to start and Jeff has to avoid a whipping. A clothesline puts Jeff on the floor and the girls chase him around some more. Buff gets sent to the floor and the girls help him up and rub his shoulders.

Jeff gets one of the whips and beats on Buff a bit and it’s off to a token reverse chinlock. Buff escapes with an electric chair and hammers away before sending Jeff to the floor for a whipping. Buff whips him a bit too and the referee says that’s not allowed so the referee takes a few shots too. In the ring the Blockbuster hits but there’s no referee. One of the girls counts and Buff (who wasn’t looking) celebrates, allowing Jeff to hit the Stroke to advance to the finals.

Rating: D-. Another comedy match here and it’s starting to wear thin. These matches aren’t funny and at about four minutes long, they aren’t coming off as important or anything like that. These are supposed to world title tournament matches but there’s almost no wrestling involved at all. That gets old in a hurry.


Overall, Bagwell is a guy who was always around in WCW but never did anything of note as a singles guy. He had a ton of potential with a great look and some above average skills, but the solution was always put him in a tag team and give him a meaningless tag title that never elevated him at all. His finisher, the Buff Blockbuster (flipping middle rope neckbreaker) was awesome and he could go in the ring, but as usual, WCW screwed it up.

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