Today we return with a ‘Many Faces Of‘ piece, the first in a while, looking at the in-ring career of WWE Hall of Famer Ray Traylor, better known to WWE fans as the Big Boss Man through a nearly two-decade-long wrestling career.
Big Bubba Rogers in Jim Crockett Promotions
After a spell as a corrections officer, in Cobb County Georgia – we’ll hear of that again – Ray Traylor, under his real name, debuted in Jim Crockett Promotions as a jobber in 1985. However, Dusty Rhodes, then the promotion’s head booker, saw potential in him and pulled him off of TV.
Upon his return, he was billed as ‘Big Bubba Rogers’, a bodyguard for Jim Cornette. Very quickly, he received a push as a top heel in the promotion and began feuding with Dusty Rhodes, the company’s top babyface. Throughout 1986, the pair fought in a series of Bunkhouse Brawl matches, which remained very event until Rhodes won the decider.
Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF)
With their champion the One Man Gang heading for the WWF, Traylor was brought into the company in the early part of the year and, in April 87, defeated Gang on his way out to win the title, become the promotions second heavyweight champion. His reign at the top lasted 83 days before losing the gold to ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams, who held the title until the company went under.
World Wrestling Federation (WWF)
In 1988, he followed the One Man Gang to the WWF and, with a play on his former career, he was repackaged as the Big Boss Man, a corrections officer, managed by Slick, who after picking up a win would handcuff his opponent and beat him with a nightstick or a ball on a chain.
He quickly found himself in a prominent feud after attacking Hulk Hogan during a Brother Love show and then challenging then WWF Champion Randy Savage. Forming a tag team with One Man Gang, now billed as Akeem, the pair, under the name ‘Twin Towers’, feuded with Hogan and Savage as well as challenging Demolition, the WWF tag team champions. During this time, the Boss Man also had a memorable cage match with Hulk Hogan for his WWF title, which Hogan retained in.
In 1990, following two years towards the top of the card as a top heel, he turned babyface after refusing to carry out an errand for the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, and returning Damian, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts’ pet python to him.
He began a feud with Akeem, defeating him in just two minutes at WrestleMania VI, made amends with Hulk Hogan, being his corner man at SummerSlam 1990, and ended his severe beatings of jobbers.
The Boss Man then began a feud with Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan’s group of wrestlers, known as ‘The Heenan Family’, including a DQ win over Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania 7. At the 1991 instalment of SummerSlam he defeated The Mountie in a Jailhouse Match, a match which saw the loser must spend a night in jail – a hugely entertaining programme, particularly the reactions on the night of The Mountie.
The following year, the WWF debuted a character called Nailz. He claimed that he had been a prisoner under the Boss Man’s watch and was mistreated. Things came to a head in May of that year on an episode of Superstars when Nailz, clad in an orange jumpsuit, attacked the Boss Man with his nightstick. This led to a match at Survivor Series 1992, a nightstick on a pole match, which the Boss Man won. Infamously, Nailz left soon after, a story you can read more about in Brian’s excellent piece here.
The programme with Nailz was the Boss Man’s last meaningful one of this run and he soon found himself losing matches to superstars the WWF was trying to establish. His final PPV appearance came at the 1993 Royal Rumble in a losing affair to Bam Bam Bigelow. Towards the end of 1993, he made several house show appearances for the WWF and was expected to resign but, instead, joined World Championship Wrestling.
World Championship Wrestling (WCW)
In December 1993, he debuted on WCW TV as ‘The Boss’, defeating International Champion Rick Rude in a non-title match. He then received a title match against Rude at at Starrcade ’93: 10th Anniversary.
Following complaints from the WWF about similarities between ‘The Boss’ and ‘The Big Boss Man’, not just the name but him wearing an identical outfit, he was renamed ‘The Guardian Angel’, after the organisation made up of unarmed vigilantes. He retained use of the name until he turned heel in 1995 and returned to using the ‘Big Bubba Rogers’ moniker.
In 96, he joined the Dungeon of Doom and feuded with John Tenta, formerly Earthquake in the WWF. By the start of 1997, however, he joined the nWo but his run with that group was short-lived and he spent time off screen selling injuries. Upon his return, he began using his real name and feuded with the nWo. In March 1998, he lost to Bill Goldberg on Nitro, in what would be his final WCW match, and he sat out the rest of his contract.
World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/E)
In October 1998, Traylor returned to WWF TV, once again as the ‘Big Boss Man’. However, gone was his blue police shirt and in its place a SWAT-style uniform as he acted as Vince McMahon’s bodyguard during his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
He would become a member of McMahon’s Corporation and acted out the role of bodyguard for various members of the faction. While part of the stable, along with Ken Shamrock, he won the tag titles as well as single runs as the Hardcore Champion. During this period, he had a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker which ended with him being hung from the roof of the cage.
He would then be involved in two of his most memorable WWF feuds. First up with Al Snow then with the Big Show – both verging on the ridiculous and comical. The first involving a pet chihuahua and the latter a dead father…
During a Falls Count Anywhere match at SummerSlam, the Boss Man whacked Snow with a pet carrier which contained Pepper, Snow’s pet chihuahua, then tossed it to the side. A fortnight later, the Boss Man kidnapped and ransomed Pepper, arranging a meeting in which he fed Snow a meat dish supposedly made from Pepper’s remains. The feud was settled in a frankly dismal ‘Kennel from Hell’ match at Unforgiven. The match saw a cage surround the ring with “attack dogs” outside the ring. Snow won the match and retained the Hardcore title.
Up next was the programme with the Big Show over the WWF title. During this programme, the Boss Man showed up at Big Show’s father’s funeral, made some disrespectful remarks, then chained the casket to the back of his car and drove off. The Big Show attempted to save the coffin by jumping on it, riding it for a few yards before losing his grip and tumbling off, the feud also included a segment in which Boss Man invaded the home of Big Show’s mother and forced her on camera to admit her son was born an illegitimate child. At Armageddon, The Big Show defeated him to retain the title and end the feud.
In March 2000, the Boss Man introduced Bull Buchanan as his protege. Their pairing, however, despite a win at WrestleMania 2000, split in July of that year when Boss Man turned on Buchanan and knocking him out with his nightstick.
Boss Man moved down the card, rarely appearing on Raw and Smackdown, and primarily competing on Jakked and Heat.
On the March 19 episode of Sunday Night Heat, he introduced Bull Buchanan as his protégé. They teamed to defeat The Godfather and D’Lo Brown at WrestleMania 2000, and the Acolytes Protection Agency the next month at Backlash. On the June 5, Raw is War, after losing to The Hardy Boyz and subsequently arguing, Boss Man knocked Buchanan out with his nightstick when his back was turned and the team split up. Despite fleeting appearances on the primary TV shows, he largely remained on Jakked and Heat. On May 20, 2002, at a Heat taping, he lost his final WWE match to Tommy Dreamer. He was released from WWE in 2003 after a spell training developmental wrestlers in Ohio Valley Wrestling.
International Wrestling Association of Japan
Traylor’s final matches were in the International Wrestling Association of Japan, where he competed in a tournament for the vacant IWA World Heavyweight Championship, eventually losing to Jim Duggan.
In July 2004, Traylor ran for Commission Chairman for Paulding County, Georgia and was the owner of a storage company called RWT Enterprises.
On 22 September 2004, aged just 41, Traylor died of a heart attack.
In 2016, he was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His wife Angela and his daughters Lacy Abilene and Megan Chyanne accepted the award on his behalf.
You can read all previous ‘The Many Faces Of’ articles here.