I wanted to save Bruiser Brody for last because he doesn’t fit the conventional “scary wrestler” archetype. He didn’t wear a mask or face paint, he didn’t spray black mist from his mouth, nor did he ever teleport around the arena. What made Bruiser Brody scary wasn’t a horror-esque getup or supernatural backstory. What made Bruiser Brody scary was Bruiser Brody. Nearly seven-feet tall, 300 pounds and a body full of battle scars, Brody not only had the stature of a real life monster, but the in-ring characteristics of one too.
Photo credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Brody, though branded as a special attraction, never signed to any major promotion aside from a few short appearances. His brief stints in companies like Vincent J. McMahon’s World Wide Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling granted him legendary status. For whenever he made his presence known in a promotion, the bout would be memorable for the sheer brutality he conveyed.
Whether it was The United States, Japan or Puerto Rico, Brody became universally feared to wrestling fans due to the havoc he wreaked against any and all opponents he would face. While his often babyface foes would walk down the entrance ramp and high-five those with outstretched arms in the front row, Brody would terrorize those same individuals. He’d growl, scream, swing a chain around his head and literally chase them about 30-feet away. When the match started, his clear rapport with instilling fear was only complemented by the amount of bloodshed he caused. Brody would use chains, steel chairs, wires and closed fists to not only clobber his opponent, but bust their foreheads open “like a stuffed pig,” as good ol’ JR would say.
To add to Brody’s fantastic monster character-work, Frank Goodish, the man behind the gimmick, rarely broke character. In fact, he would often act belligerent and feral in front of the press, fans and other wrestlers backstage. So you know that big, bearded giant you just saw that nearly made your favourite wrestler bleed to death? Yeah, he’ll act as if he’ll do the same to you after the show when you ask for an autograph. In reality though, Goodish was a kind-hearted, family oriented and gentle dad and husband. This fact makes it all the more tragic to detail what happened to Bruiser Brody on July 17, 1988.
On that day, Jose Gonzalez, better known to wrestling fans as Invader #1, fatally stabbed Bruiser Brody backstage at an event in Puerto Rico. Gonzales was acquitted of the murder charge a year later after a court determined he was acting in self defense, yet witnesses to the killing dispute Gonzales’ claim. Wrestlers Dutch Mantell, Tony Atlas and Special Delivery Jones all confirm that prior to the killing, Gonzales had said behind Brody’s back that “one day, [he was going] to kill that man.” Gonzales continued as a fan favourite in his native Puerto Rico and resumed his backstage roles at wrestling events until 2014. All while the man robbed the world of one of professional wrestling’s scariest, most undeniably legendary characters of all time. Fuck you Jose Gonzales. Long live King Kong, Bruiser Brody.