It’s not uncommon for a fledgling newcomer or a washed up performer to get a few different gimmicks during their careers. A good gimmick can take an individual far. The Undertaker, for example… was a Master of Pain…Texas Red…even a Skyscraper before becoming a phenom. It happens to the best of wrestlers. In some cases however…it happens more than one would like. Take Brad Armstrong for instance…a solid technical wrestler with a solid wrestling pedigree. ( His Dad was Bob Armstrong )
Yet despite his obvious talent, never caught on with certain promoters and fans. It wasn’t a lack of trying, because during his career that spanned over 30 years…he was the given several gimmicks with little or no success. If Dean Malenko was known as, “The Man of A Thousand Holds,” Brad Armstrong was “The Man of A Thousand Gimmicks.”
Let us review in no particular order with some comments from Brad himself courtesy of http://www.tomzenk.net/bradarmstrong.html…
The Candyman: For some strange reason, WCW management thought it would be a great idea to have Armstrong come out to the ring in candy cane striped tights and throwing candy to the fans. Nobody had a sweet tooth for this gimmick…only cavities.
Brad’s take on the Gimmick: “I hated the tights, but I was able to give tons of candy to kids and they loved that.
Mr. R: This was perhaps Brad’s first big opportunity as a singles wrestler. In the early 80’s, in the Georgia territory…Ted Dibiase defended his NWA National Heavyweight title against a masked wrestler named “Mr. R.” Everybody assumed it was Tommy Rich under the mask…as he used the gimmick previously. It turned out to be Armstrong under the hood and he defeated Dibiase for the title.
Dos Hombres: This gimmick was basically Brad and Ricky Steamboat under masks pretending to be a Luchador tag team
Brad’s take: “I was covered from head to toe in red gear and boy was it hot! And they even covered the mouth hole so it was tough to breath.”
Fantasia/Badstreet: This was a masked gimmick where Brad would become a member of WCW’s version of The Fabulous Freebirds with Michael P.S. Hayes…Jimmy “Jam” Garvin…managed by “Big Daddy Dink” AKA Oliver Humperdink. He was initially known as “Fantasia” but WCW feared legal action from Disney, so the name was quickly changed to Badstreet.
Brad’s take: “Loved this one because I could be a heel! I didn’t know I had that in me, but put on a mask and you can do and say anything you want!”
Arachnaman: Another masked gimmick where Armstrong resembled a lot like a human spider. He even shot “webs” out of his hands AKA party streamers. Shockingly, ( insert sarcasm ) Marvel comics had a problem with the character, claiming it was an infringement of their Spiderman patent and threatened legal action. Arachnaman was quickly disposed of.
Brad’s take: “I loved playing that one.”
B.A.: When WCW signed rapper and mogul Master P to a big money contract….the idea was to create a popular stable of wrestlers named “The No Limit Soldiers.” Brad Armstrong was put into the faction and had his name changed to the ever creative “B.A.” The stable never caught on with fans and was soon disbanded. Armstrong was again left out in the cold.
Buzzkill: A Vince Russo era creation used both as an inside joke and parody of his younger brother Brian’s very successful “Road Dog” character in the WWE. Fans did not find the gimmick funny or even remotely interesting and the Buzzkill gimmick was dropped like a bad habit.
Brad’s take: “I hated this more than any other gimmick. The suits at TBS would ask me what I was gonna say and I said I don’t know.. I could make no references to drug or that culture, but I was in tye-dye shirts, dreadlocks and was this old hippie character. My hands were tied!”
“Cursed” Brad Armstrong: In the late 90’s…WCW gave Brad a rather strange gimmick to work with. He didn’t wear a mask or flashy costumes…he just lost matches. He lost so many, it was referred to as the “Armstrong Curse.” He claimed that he and his entire family had been burdened with a curse that prevented him from success.
ECW Color Commentator: After WCW had folded and the WWE restarted ECW…Brad Armstrong was brought in. First as a wrestler who competed in dark matches and house shows and then slowly but surely starting making cameo appearances on ECW television doing some commentary. It was believed Brad would be the heir apparent to Tazz on color…who was leaving the company. But in typical Armstrong style…was scrapped before it ever fully came to fruition.
Brad also very briefly worked a masked gimmick in WCW called “The Freedom Fighter.” All in all, these failed gimmicks would suggest that his career was a flop. Quite the contrary….Brad was a sensational wrestler who had some great achievements in the territories like Georgia, Mid-South, Tennessee, Kentucky etc. He won the WCW light heavyweight title….formed a strong tag team with Tim Horner in the Lightning Express….won both the USWA and Smokey Mountain Heavyweight titles etc. A great wrestler who left us way too soon.