Back in the day I would import Japanese wrestling tapes and every now and again, they would feature shoot fights. I remember my young self thinking I definitely had to seek out the U-Japan match between Bam Bam Bigelow Vs. Kimo Leopoldo. Talk about a collision of worlds; the dude who carried the cross out at UFC 3 Vs. Lawrence Taylor’s mortal enemy and at the time, ECW star? Sign me up. I mean, Bigelow is massive, and he grew up on the mean streets of Asbury Park, New Jersey. This was going to be a fight!
Then Kimo destroyed him in a about two minutes. Whoa.
Supposedly, it turns out Bam Bam was offered exorbitant amounts of cash to throw the fight to Kimo. Some people still don’t believe Bam Bam’s claims of the worked fight to be true, maybe he was just trying to save face, but this is a breakdown of what Bigelow said in a ‘shoot’ interview back in the 90’s, by TheSmartMarks:
They couldn’t find anybody so they brought him in. He claims that it was supposed to be a shoot when they were paying him $30,000 but, once they wanted him to job, his price kept going up. He says that he wanted a contract and $100,000 cash, which he got. He dropped 50 pounds, got his cardio up, and was training with a bunch of shooters, then he showed up and was asked to put Kimo over. He figured “I’m getting $100,000 so what the Hell…” and agreed to it. He’d do it again if he got another $100,000 but feels that Ultimate Fighting burns out because the matches are too quick and most superstars’ careers only last about two years. “Thank God my match was a work” because Ultimate Fighters train their asses off and you’ll probably get your ass kicked. (Most MMA people will dispute his claim that the match was a work, as Kimo was a legit badass who had only lost twice at that point, to Royce Gracie at UFC 1 and Ken Shamrock at UFC 8, and could easily have handled an untested fighter like Bigelow.)
Domination or a work? Either way it’s an interesting Blast To The Past. November 17th, 1996 to be exact.