For a guy with the look that he had, King Kong Bundy’s descent from main eventing WrestleMania two to being treated as a joke by the company was staggering. In this piece we look at the career of Bundy and some of the events that played out during his time with the WWE.
At 6’4 inches tall and weighing close to 500 pounds….King Kong Bundy looked tailor made to be a main event talent during the 1980’s wrestling boom. Bundy made a nice little career for himself having successful tours of various territories like Memphis, World Class, Mid South and the AWA.
While born with the name Chris Pallies, it was changed professionally to ‘King Kong’ in honor of the mythical giant gorilla from film to compliment is size and girth. The last name of Bundy was taken from the sadistic serial killer known as Ted Bundy…to show his evil side. When Vince McMahon began his national expansion of the World Wrestling Federation and was seeking top talent…Hulk Hogan suggested bringing in Bundy.
Originally, when Bundy was signed to the WWF in 1985…he was given ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart as his manager. Hart was very familiar with Bundy from their days in the Memphis,Tennessee territory and because of Hart’s small stature…he made Bundy look even more massive. After dominating on the under card for a year and a quick squash match with SD Jones at the very first Wrestlemania….King Kong Bundy switched managers to the more verbally abrasive Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.
It didn’t take long for Heenan and Bundy to make a huge impact and sky rocket to main event status. On March 1, 1986 in Phoenix, Arizona on an edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event…King Kong Bundy interfered in a match between Hulk Hogan and Don Muraco. Splash after splash…Avalanche after Avalanche…Bundy with the assistance of Muraco completely decimated the Hulkster. It was truly the first time since Hulk Hogan was champion in the WWF that he was shown brutalized so badly by anyone.
The attack cemented Bundy as the top contender for Hogan’s WWF title and he was placed in the main event of Wrestlemania 2. While Wrestlemania 2 wasn’t the best card overall…as previously discussed here on the blog…the main event did show promise. You see, the WWF was playing up the fact that Hogan was vulnerable due to his rib, neck and back injuries and that King Kong Bundy was a monster heel that could easily take the title from him.
The match took place inside of a steel cage…but this wasn’t just any ordinary cage…it was supposedly a reinforced cage constructed with Bundy’s massive size in mind. This was the first time the now classic “Blue Cage” was introduced in the WWF.
Their Wrestlemania 2 main event match wasn’t anything spectacular…but it did give you (at least me as a young fan at the time) an eerie sense that Hulk’s injuries and Bundy’s relentless style would cost Hogan the title. In true Hogan fashion, after bloodying Bundy…Hulk “Hulked Up” and overcame Bundy’s assault by defeating Bundy and retaining the WWF title.
While Bundy became just another casualty in the run of Hulkamania…it still was believed that Bundy would remain a main event tier talent for quite some time. That didn’t happen…
After Wrestlemania 2, things began to quickly change for Bundy. He was put in a tag team with Big John Studd and feuded heavily with the “Japanese” team called the Machines. In reality, it was Andre the Giant, Masked Superstar and Blackjack Mulligan under masks. From there, things got even worse for Bundy as by the time Wrestlemania 3 came along….Bundy was completely out of the main event picture.
At Wrestlemania 3, Bundy teamed up with two ‘midget’ wrestlers named Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook to face Hillbilly Jim and his team of Little Beaver and Haiti Kid. So basically, Bundy went from wrestling in the main event of Wrestlemania 2 to wrestling in a comedy match at Wrestlemania 3. A steep drop off if you ever seen it. So what happened? Why did King Kong Bundy fall so hard and so fast within just a year’s time?
According to Bundy, in 1987…Bundy wasn’t being paid all that well or at least what he felt he was deserved for his work. He got a job offer to do an ad for a Dutch computer company. Bundy took the money and did the ad…figuring that the ad was overseas and nobody in the States would see it. Before too long, that ad made its way to the United States and when Vince McMahon saw it…he flipped and got extremely angry.
Bundy felt that that was career suicide for him in the WWF…as McMahon didn’t want any of his stars do anything that went outside his company. After seeing the ad, McMahon treated Bundy differently and his once monster push was dwindling down to almost nothing.
In 1988, King Kong Bundy was gone from the WWF and soon out of wrestling. He focused more and more of his time and attention to outside interests like acting and stand up comedy.
King Kong Bundy would briefly return to the WWF in 1994 as a part of Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. Bundy claims that McMahon promised him a big push..but in reality…McMahon used him to get over his younger talent like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. King Kong Bundy was never able to relive that once great push he had in 1985/1986. Was it really defying Vince McMahon a kiss of death on his career? Who knows for certain? What we do know, is that King Kong Bundy fell hard and fast and became a joke years later on WWE TV. Could Vince be that bitter? Hmmm?