Wrestler of the Day – March 8: Bad News Brown

I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you today: the Wrestler of the Day is Bad News Brown.

Brown (Allen Coage) was very successful in judo before entering wrestling. I believe he’s still the only American heavyweight to medal in the event at the Olympics. He started professional wrestling in 1977 with a lot of his early work in Japan, including this match against Abdullah the Butcher. I’m not sure on the date but it’s likely the early 80s.

Bad News Allen vs. Abdullah the Butcher

Allen gets tired of standing around and goes right after Butcher who sends him outside. Bad News goes under the ring and finds an object to blast Butcher in the head. Back in and ring attendants sweep the streamers out as the match is going on. They slug it out as the bell rings so I’m thinking this is already a DQ. Not that it matters as Brown hits a clothesline and right hand before they headbutt each other a lot. They keep fighting and the sweeping continues until referees break it up. The fight, not the cleaning.

Here’s a rarity as we jump ahead to 1986 in Montreal.

Bad News Allen vs. Daniel Roy

Roy (pronounced Wa) is a jobber with a mullet. Allen is introduced as the Ultimate Warrior about two years before the more famous version would get that name. Bad News takes over with some hard shots to the back and a knee drop for no cover. A headbutt in the corner and an elbow to the head have Roy down again as we’re in full squash territory here. Allen drops a fist drop to the face and takes Roy’s head off with a clothesline. Roy is done and a delayed powerslam gets the pin for Allen. Total squash.

We’ll stay in Canada but go to the other side of the country for a match from Stampede Wrestling for the North American Heavyweight Title, the company’s top belt. I’m pretty sure Owen is defending but I’m not sure.

North American Heavyweight Title: Bad News Allen vs. Owen Hart

We’re joined about ten minutes in (a common practice for Stampede) with Owen hitting a flip splash for two and cranking on Allen’s neck. A legdrop gets two on Allen and Owen stomps away but gets caught in the ribs to knock him into the ribs. Hart gets two off an atomic drop and drops an elbow for the same. We hit a Boston crab on Allen as this has been one sided so far.

Allen powers out and hammers away but a single uppercut drops him for two. The announcer tells us that Owen was dominated the first few minutes of the match but has been in full control ever since. A tombstone plants Allen but he gets his knees up to block a top rope splash. Allen comes back with a slam but gets tossed off the top. Hart nips up but gets caught by a belly to belly suplex. The fans are entirely behind Owen here and he comes back with a spinning cross body off the top but Makhan Singh (a monster) comes in for the DQ.

Rating: C+. Nice match here with Owen’s high flying being complimented by some surprising power. Allen was on defense far more than I was expecting here and the inconclusive ending keeps the door open for a rematch before Owen goes after Singh, which would be a huge feud.

This was near the very end of his time in Stampede. Earlier in his run he participated in the first recorded ladder match against Bret Hart, but the only footage I can find is a short clip.

Soon after it was on to the WWF in early 1988. Brown’s first major appearance was at Wrestlemania IV in a battle royal.

Battle Royal

Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Jim Powers, Paul Roma, Sika, Danny Davis, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Jacques Rougeau, Ray Rougeau, Ken Patera, Ron Bass, Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zhukov, Hillbilly Jim, Harley Race, George Steele

Just for a big trophy here. Steele chills on the floor and Bob Uecker is in on commentary here. Sam Houston is put out quick as is Sika. Brunzell is sent to the apron by Nikolai but he makes the save. Both Bee’s are sent to the apron but Steele pulls Neidhart out to the floor. Both of the Bees are put out as is Ray Rougeau as the ring is thinning out a bit. Dog puts Bass out but has to fight off the Bolsheviks.

Hillbilly Jim is put out and Roma puts Davis out as well. We’re down to nine and Powers is out too. We’ve got Volkoff, Zhukov, Hart, Roma, Jacques Rougeau, Race, Brown, Patera and Dog. Race and Dog headbutt each other with the canine man winning. Nikolai is dumped by Patera and Zukov gets the same treatment.

Patera is pulled to the floor by Volkoff as Race and Rougeau go out. So it’s JYD, Hart and Brown to go. Dog gets on all fours to headbutt both heels but they finally catch up on him with some double teaming. He gets dumped out and Hart and Brown seem to be willing to split the win. Brown of course turns on Hart and dumps him out to win the trophy.

Rating: D+. This was nothing of note other than the potential beginning of Bret’s first aborted singles push. The problem with battle royals is the same most of the time: there’s no reason for most of them to happen and with no story, there’s not much interest in the match. Sometimes you’ll get a good one, but this wasn’t it.

Brown stands next to the trophy (which stands about 6’0) but Bret jumps him and destroys the trophy.

Brown would feud with Bret over the summer, including this match at Wrestlefest 1988.

Bad News Brown vs. Bret Hart

This is fallout from the Mania battle royal and Bret is officially a face now. Brown would get a short feud with Randy Savage soon after this which was very interesting although it never went anywhere really. The referee gets on Brown for being too evil and Brown tells him not to worry about it. That’s a nice line actually.

Brown goes up and Bret is, say it with me, PLAYING POSSUM. Why would anyone buy Bret selling anything ever? It’s what he does and he does it better than anyone. Bret can’t get anything of note going here. Brown yells out for the Ghetto Blaster, his running enziguri finisher. Here comes the Hitman who might not have that name yet. He hits a sweet dive over the top and Brown is in trouble now.

They crank it up and the match starts getting good. Bret doesn’t have the Sharpshooter yet so he’s going for whatever he can get to get a pin. He hits some of the five moves of doom but after a rollup Brown reverses into one of his own and uses the tights for a win. Neidhart comes out and they both beat down Brown to an extent. I’d love to see them in a real fight as Brown would massacre them.

Rating: B-. Solid little match here as neither guy meant anything yet. Hart was supposed to be showcasing himself here and he did that quite well. He looked like this fast guy that could brawl and have solid matches to go with it. Then they put him back with Neidhart a few weeks/months later and this was completely forgotten about of course.

With nothing else to do, Brown would have a random match at Summerslam 1988.

Bad News Brown vs. Ken Patera

Patera is a former Olympic weightlifter who has seen far better days. Bad News is a former Olympian as well, having won a bronze medal in Judo. Brown goes right after Patera during Ken’s entrance and drops a quick elbow for no cover. Patera comes back with a clothesline and takes his jacket off to really get things going. A back elbow puts Bad News down but an elbow drop misses. Brown stomps away on the apron as we’re firmly in punch and kick mode here.

Patera blocks a backdrop with a kick to the chest and gets two off a bad backbreaker. Off to a bearhug by Patera but Brown pokes him in the eye to escape. Patera can’t get his full nelson on in either attempt at the hold so he botches a charge into the corner instead, hitting the post shoulder first. The Ghetto Blaster (enziguri) is enough for the pin by Brown.

Rating: F. Patera was terrible by this point, not even being able to run into Brown’s elbow in the corner properly. Even the announcers were suggesting that he retire at this point, which I believe he did soon after. This match was nothing more than punching and kicking which doesn’t make for a very entertaining few minutes. It’s a product of the times on house shows that, which for all intents and purposes is what this show is: a big house show with a big main event.

Since Brown hasn’t been doing much in these matches, we’ll take a look at a TV match from Wrestling Challenge on January 15, 1989.

Bad News Brown vs. Bill Mulkey

Mulkey isn’t in great shape and looks like he had a mild stroke at some point. We’re less than a week from the Royal Rumble so Heenan and Gorilla spend the entire match talking about the battle royal. Brown destroys Mulkey with strikes and the Ghetto Blaster (enziguri) gets the pin.

The announcers had been talking about Bad News facing Randy Savage due to a feud over Elizabeth. Bad News had said a few things about her and Randy was livid. Many street fights followed, including this one I believe from Chicago.

WWF World Title: Bad News Brown vs. Randy Savage

This is a street fight so it should be awesome. Both are in brawling clothes and this was Savage’s main feud until we got to the Mega Powers Exploding. They head to the floor immediately and Brown gets in some chair shots. He chases Liz around which I think was what started the feud in the first place. Savage tries to help her but gets beaten up again. Savage finally ducks a punch and Brown’s fist hits the post.

Here’s the weightlifting belt so I guess Hogan stole that idea from Savage? Savage goes up top with a chair but jumps into another punch to the ribs. Back to the floor and Savage is thrown into the crowd. In something I cab’t believe I’m saying in 1989, it’s table time. Bad News sets one up in the corner but according to Wrestling Law #4, he winds up going through it. Well he went into the referee who went through it but whatever.

Brown hits his Ghetto Blaster finisher (enziguri) but there’s no referee. Brown isn’t the best guy in the world at first aid as he tries to wake the referee up by stomping him. Brown spends too long with the referee and Savage wakes up so he can grab a backslide of all things. Another referee comes in and counts the pin to end this.

Rating: B-. Considering this was in 1989, WOW. You had violence, you had a table spot, you had referee abuse, you had chair shots. What other match prior to ECW do you remember seeing that in (indies notwithstanding)? Good stuff here and Brown could have been a very valuable man if he was 15 years younger. Fun stuff.

Brown goes after the other referee and puts him in the Tree of Woe. Savage makes the save and they brawl some more. A bunch of wrestlers come out and they can’t stop it either.

Since we’re in the Mega Powers Era, the next logical match was against Hulk Hogan at Saturday Night’s Main Event XX, Bad News’ lone appearance on the show.

Hulk Hogan vs. Bad News Brown

Liz is with Hogan. The arena is weird looking as there’s no entryway but rather what looks like a hockey board that they open up. Brown takes over to start as is the tradition for a lot of Hogan matches. This only lasts a few minutes as I’m amazed at what Brown was back in this era. If he had been around say 8 years later, he would have been pure gold. Hogan goes to the head but it doesn’t work, making me really wonder how many of these stereotypes were unintentional.

Brown accidentally punches the post and this has been pretty one sided so far with Hogan dominating for the most part. Hogan no sells a chair shot and Brown leaves, saying hang on a second. He comes back shortly….with a broom? It goes nowhere and Brown FINALLY takes over with a clothesline. Brown gets a legdrop for two but it’s only kind of a power kickout.

Hogan gets beaten up and then Brown grabs the mic and goes Rock, talking to Hogan and telling him it’s Ghetto Blaster (his finisher, a running enziguri) time which of course misses. Maybe it would have hit if he hadn’t told him that. Hogan hits a high knee to set up the leg drop to end it. Well that’s different. He and Liz pose a lot.

Rating: C+. Not bad at all here. Again, Brown was an AWESOME character and could have been a great heel both here and ten years later. Him vs. Rock or Austin would have sold great and the fact that he was a legit fighter (Bronze medal in judo in the Olympics) would have easily opened the door to MMA if he wanted to go there. Decent little match and different than what you’re used to from Hulk which is a nice change of pace.

We’re in the late 80s so it’s time for a Survivor Series match, this time from 1989.

Dream Team vs. Enforcers

Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, Red Rooster

Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Rick Martel, Honky Tonk Man

This is mainly over Dusty vs. Bossman which is Dusty’s first big feud in the company. Dusty stole the nightstick and the hat which has ticked Bossman off. The rest of the guys are there because it’s Survivor Series and we need six more guys. Brutus’ music was awesome, just like the names for the teams. Tito and Honky start things off and for the third straight year Honky and Brutus are in the opening match on this show. I’m not sure what that means.

Tito takes over quickly but Honky gets in one kick before RUNNING over to make a tag to Martel. Rick dropkicks Tito down as Jesse talks about the now broken up Strike Force. Tito atomic drops Martel for two and everyone but Bad News gets in the ring at once. Nothing happens but it’s cool to see. Brown not getting in is perfect for his character too. Off to the Boss Man who is immediately armdragged down by Tito.

Off to Dusty who pounds away as the fans go nuts. Chicago was a big NWA town so it’s easy to see why he’s popular. Brutus comes in to another pop but Boss Man takes him down with a few shots to the back. Honky comes in but misses a fist drop. Beefcake hammers away but Martel makes a blind tag and takes over on Brutus. Rooster comes in and the place goes quiet. When you can’t get a reaction in Chicago, things aren’t that good for you.

Martel hits some knees to the face and it’s off to Honky who dances a lot. Boss Man comes in and they slug it out with the big man taking over with ease. Martel comes back in and drops some knees but gets rolled up for two. Back to Honky as Rooster is in trouble. I’m digging these four man versions already as the match seems less crowded and the guys can stay in the ring a little longer. Rooster and Honky collide and it’s a double tag to give us another battle of Strike Force.

Tito goes loco on Martel and beats him down, but Martel breaks the figure four. Santana tries an O’Connor Roll but Martel rolls through and grabs the trunks for the first elimination. Dusty comes in next and hits a dropkick (and a decent one) followed by the big elbow…for two? We must be in the WWF. Brutus comes in to work on the arm and stomp on Martel’s face when he tries a reverse monkey flip.

Rooster comes in and can’t seem to figure out what to do with a headlock. Martel is like screw you you nitwit and backbreaks him down. Off to Boss Man who slaps on a bearhug. Gorilla keeps calling Brutus the team captain but the team is called the Dream Team and Dusty came out last. Rooster bites out of the hold and Boss Man tags Bad News who isn’t interested in coming in.

After Bad News gets pulled in he takes over because he’s fighting a freaking rooster. Just like last year though, Bad News accidentally gets hit by his partner and he walks out. It’s three on three now and we have Boss Man vs. Brutus. After the Barber gets beaten on some more it’s off to Honky for a belly to back suplex. Out of nowhere Brutus hits a high knee to Honky for the fast pin, making it 3-2 (Brutus, Dusty and Rooster vs. Boss Man and Martel).

Martel immediately comes in and puts a chinlock on Brutus which doesn’t last long. The second version of it does though as the match slows down a lot. A backbreaker puts Brutus down and he goes into the buckle a few times. Brutus grabs a sunset flip again out of nowhere to eliminate Martel and it’s 3-1. Brutus tags in Rooster to throw a bone to Boss Man and after some punches from Rooster, the Boss Man Slam gets the fast pin and it’s 2-1.

Dusty is in next but it’s quickly off to Brutus for some knees to the chest. Back to Dusty as the good guys are using some intelligence (yes, Dusty and Brutus are using intelligence) with the fast tags. Boss Man gets whipped into the ropes and Dusty takes him down with a cross body, likely rupturing at least three vital organs of Boss Man and getting the final pin. I may have been right about those organs.

Rating: C+. Nothing special here but it was fine for an opener. The fans liked most of the good guys and other than Rooster, that was a solid set of guys. The match wasn’t competitive or anything for the most part after the first five minutes but there was nothing particularly bad about it I guess.

At the Royal Rumble, Bad News got in a fight with another legitimate fighter, leading to one of the most bizarre matches you’ll ever see. I’ll throw in the pre-match promo.

Now it’s time for one of the weirdest matches you’ll ever see. We recap Bad News Brown vs. Roddy Piper which started with a double elimination and a brawl at the Rumble. That’s all well and good. We go to Piper in the back where Piper says some people call him Hot Rod but then he turns around to show that half of his body is painted black. That side is called Hot Scot and you can hear the racial issues building from here. Apparently it was something about Michael Jackson.

Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown

An interesting point here is that both guys are legit black belts in judo with Brown being an Olympic bronze medalist in the sport. They immediately take it to the mat in a fist fight until Piper gets two off a cross body of all things. The referee (former heel wrestler Danny Davis) keeps separating them so Brown takes over by sending Piper’s head into the buckle. He yells at Piper for trying to be black and it’s off to a nerve hold.

Brown slugs him down a few times and drops an elbow for two. Somewhere in there a buckle pad is ripped off and it’s Brown going chest first into said buckle. Piper pulls out a single white glove (Brown wore a single black one) and a bunch of punches send Brown to the floor. Piper swings a chair but hits the post and it’s a double countout.

Rating: D. Instead of a brawl or something entertaining, this was much more of a bizarre spectacle than anything else. Brown would be gone soon after this while Piper would shift into the broadcast booth to take over for Jesse. The fight was a lot weaker because of how much stuff there was to distract from the action which is never a good thing.

We’ll close out Brown’s WWF run with a showdown over which pet was better (Brown’s sewer rats or a 20ft snake).

Jake Roberts vs. Bad News Brown

Big Bossman is guest referee for no apparent reason. Brown jumps Jake before Bossman is in the ring but has to bail out of a DDT attempt. Back in and Bad News tosses Jake down and gets two off a legdrop. Jake tries the DDT a second time but Brown bails to the floor again. Roberts follows him out and gets hit in the ribs with a chair which isn’t a DQ for some reason. Back in and Bad News pounds away as Piper asks if Vince has ever smelled Brown. Jake avoids a middle rope elbow and hits the short clothesline but Brown backdrops out of the DDT. Another chair shot to Jake is good for the lame DQ.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and I’m still not sure why Boss Man was in here at all. Jake and Brown didn’t do anything else after this and Brown didn’t go after Boss Man after the feud, so I guess he was there as an enforcer for reasons not important enough to explain. The match was just ok.

Brown would leave the company after being lied to about becoming the first black WWF Champion. He would head back to Japan for a promotion called UWF-I, which was a shoot style company (with worked finishes). I’ll be skipping that as it’s far closer to MMA than wrestling and isn’t really something you can review for a series like this.

Overall Brown was a guy WAY ahead of his time. Can you imagine a guy like him in the Attitude Era? A black militant who could talk and was a legitimate Olympic medalist in a combat sport? Bad News was far better as a character than in the ring, but a lot of that was due to him not having a solid set of opponents. Look what happened when he had a guy like Savage who could go move for move with him. Brown is a very interesting worker, but he didn’t have a long body of wrestling to go off of, at least not in the mainstream.

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