It’s WWE WrestleMania Month here at Rotten Ink. As you can see, we are once more at the Rotten Ink Arena for a big event, and for this one I really do mean big as one of the 80’s best wrestling giants is our main event “R.W.I Wrestling Legend” superstar. I am talking about the one and only Big John Studd, a man who feuded with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant and was a true monster of the ring. So let’s find our seats order some drinks and maybe some popcorn and get ready as this is one I have been very much looking forward to doing since the start of the “R.W.I Wrestling Legend” updates. Get ready to cheer and see if any one can collect the money set as a prize for the Big John Studd body slam challenge.
Big John Studd started his pro wrestling career in 1972. He was trained by Killer Kowalski and worked for Los Angeles NWA Hollywood Wrestling under the name The Mighty Minton and was in a short lived tag team with Superstar Billy Graham. Later in 1972, he would sign on for a short run in the WWF and go under the name Chuck O’Connor and would have a few big matches including going for the WWF World Heavyweight Title against the then-champion Pedro Morales. By early 1973 he was gone from the WWF and would end up in Mid-Atlantic and would be booked pretty strong teaming with Ken Patera. The two would capture tag team gold. And during this time starting in 1975 he would also be working for the AWA and stay around with them for around a year. Also while still doing some work in Mid-Atlantic he would also head to WWF again and wear a mask calling himself Executioner # 2. He was part of the team called The Executioners, and they would even win the WWF Tag Titles. But once more by 1977 he would leave the company again and stay with Mid-Atlantic. Throughout the 1970’s John Studd would work many of the old NWA territories. Big John Studd was a giant of the ring and was a big draw for the companies that he would have short runs in, and while he would only stay for a small amount of time, he really did leave his mark in those companies.
In 1982 Big John Studd would return to the WWF and would be managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie and quickly became one of the companies top heels as he would bring a stretcher to the ring and his opponents would have to be taken out on one. During this time even he would try and win the WWF World Title from champion Bob Backlund, and while he would come close to winning it, he never did. And he would also start his biggest feud of his career with Andre The Giant during this time and it was over who the real giant of wrestling was, and Studd would even offer $10,000 (later $15,000) to anyone that could body slam him! Andre of course would slam Studd several times and the two would even meet in steel cage matches as well as even broke the ring during a match due to the power of a slam. The war between the Giants raged on for a long time, and in 1984 while still feuding with Andre he would also go after the WWF Title again this time held by Hulk Hogan and like before he would come close but was not able to capture the gold. During this time as well Studd would drop Freddie as his manager and take Bobby “The Brain” Heenan as his new one and would be the first member of the stable called “The Heenan Family” that would later get members like The Missing Link, King Kong Bundy, Ken Patera, Adrian Adonis and Harley Race to name a few. During this time he and Patera even beat up Andre The Giant and cut off his hair! And Big John Studd remained one of the WWF’s top Heels and had high profile matches at WrestleMania as well as WrestleMania II and would have many big matches against other big name wrestlers and teams like The Machines, British Bulldogs, Ted Arcidi, The Islanders and Junkyard Dog. He would be paired with King Kong Bundy in a monster heel tag team and they would feud with many of the company’s top stars. But in 1986 Big John Studd decided to retire from wrestling. Before his first retirement, Big John Studd would win some titles in NWA, WWF and EWU and was always a main event star. But while Studd would be retired, he was not fully done with wrestling.
After taking time away from Pro Wrestling for two years Big John Studd would return to the sport and the WWF in 1988 and announced his return on the Brother Love Show. Bobby Heenan came out to welcome him back into the “Heenan Family Stable” but to Heenan’s shock, Studd refused the offer due to Andre The Giant being apart of the stable now and with this he was turned face and the fans loved seeing him back. He would then start feuding with The Heenan Family and had matches against the likes of Haku and Andre The Giant and he would win the 1988 Royal Rumble and would even be the special guest referee in a match against Andre The Giant and Jack “The Snake” Roberts at Wrestlemania V and during this time fans really began to cheer and support Studd who was rising up the card as one of the company’s top baby faces. But by mid 1989, Big John Studd would leave the WWF again due to what he thought was bad payoffs. Studd would then go around and work a few Indie shows from 1989 to 1990, and his final match was against Honky Tonk Man before retiring. During this time he also had his own line of supplements for workouts and trained Ron Reese, who would work for WCW under that name as well as The Yeti, The Super Giant Ninja and Big Ron Studd. Sadly Big John Studd would pass away from lymphoma cancer in 1995 and one of wrestling’s true giants would be gone. In 2004 Big John Studd was put into the WWF Hall Of Fame, and on a side note, his son Sean Studd is also a wrestler.
Big John Studd has always been one of my favorite Big Men of wrestling in the 1980’s and I would always be cheering him over the likes of Andre The Giant, but do have to admit that I did always turn on him when he would go after Hulk Hogan and the WWF World Title as he was so good at being a monster heel and he had the size, look and attitude to pull it off making me always think he was a big threat for the title. His time as a member of the Heenan Family was fantastic and him being in it really helped it be one of the biggest and baddest Heel Stables in the world of Pro Wrestling, only behind the Four Horsemen for me as they always felt like every baby face was in deep trouble when manager Bobby Heenan set his sights on targets and set his stable loose on them. His tag team with King Kong Bundy always seemed like a tag team that would be unbeatable as they were truly the type of heels that were larger then life and looked like they could squash you life a bug. My fandom of Big John Studd also went outside the world of pro wrestling as he was a character in the cartoon series “Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” and he was also an actor in such films as “The Protector (1985)”, “Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man (1991)” and “Shock ‘Em Dead (1991) and was on such popular TV Shows as “The A-Team”, “Hunter” and “Beauty And The Beast”. And I can remember geeking out when seeing him as Officer Meak in the cheesy horror movie Shock ‘Em Dead as you all know that I am a big fan of Horror Films and seeing wrestling and that genre mix was awesome. I can remember in 1988 when Studd returned to WWF, it seemed like a big deal and when he won the first PPV version of the Royal Rumble it seemed like he was going to be a big main eventer, but I can remember being let down as he quickly went away and was off the roster. Say what you will about Big John Studd; while he might not have been the best technical wrestler and pretty much just worked the brawling big man style, he still remains one of my favorite wrestlers of the 1980’s. I should also note that growing up I had his LJN figures, all of them from the Thumb Wrestler to the Bendy and when playing with the toys he was always a main eventer. And funny enough, every kid I knew in school who was a fan of WWF had at least one figure of Big John Studd in their collection showing just how big of a star he was in the sport.
On October 23, 2021 Juliet and I traveled to Saxonburg, Pennsylvania on a very cloudy and rainy day to visit the grave of Big John Studd that was located in the Saxonburg Memorial Church Cemetery, a very small cemetery that is located across the street from a feed store and was broken into two sections as one was older graves and the other part had newer ones. And after wandering around in the cold weather for a moment Juliet spotted his grave and we were able to pay our respects and we left a penny to let him know that we did so (as John served in the Army and is a veteran). It was very neat to see the care that was put into his tombstone and it was awesome to be able to tell him how he was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. We stayed at the grave for around 10 minutes before heading back to the car as Juliet was getting chilly as it was in the mid 40’s. But below are some pictures I took at my visit and it really was an honor to be able to visit him.
We are now at the point of this review where we will be taking a look at the DVD set and review some of the matches on the discs, like always between 4 to 8. I want to thank Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing for having this set in stock and also want to thank Big John Studd for his hard work in the world of wrestling. I also want to remind you that I will only be breaking down randomly selected matches from this set and will be breaking down the match and will be rating the matches on a 5 Star rating system. I also only choose from Single matches, as I want to break down his matches that showcase his style. Here is what the stars mean: ½ means a really terrible match, * means a bad match, ** means a below average match, **1/2 means a good average entertaining match, *** means a good match, **** means a great match, ***** means an epic match. So if you are ready, let’s step into the ring with Big John Studd.
Best Of Big John Studd
Match 1: Big John Studd vs. Rickey Steamboat
The match starts in progress and Steamboat has Studd locked in a figure four, and the crowd is going crazy. Studd is able to roll while in the hold and get to the ropes and the hold has to be broken. Once the hold is broken, Steamboat continues to work on the legs and knees of Studd trying to keep the big man down. And when Studd tries to fight back Steamboat cuts him off and even goes for a pin and getting a no count due to Studd’s arm on the ropes. Steamboat tries to go for a karate chop, but Studd is able to dodge it and locks on a bear hug that is draining the energy out of Steamboat, but he is able to escape and starts landing massive chops onto Studd. The two then exchange hits, and it’s clear that both men are tired and that they have been at war with each other. Studd then kicks Steamboat out of the ring and will not let him back in the ring and then even goes out after him and keeps ramming Steamboat’s head into the metal posts. And as the two are still outside the match just ends with the outcome unclear. Well this looked like it was a really good match between the crowd favorite Ricky Steamboat and the hated heel John Studd but we join the match already in progress and that already kills the mood and story telling build of the match, and then we do not even get a finish, leaving this one a little sad and not a high star match rating that I am sure it would have been incomplete. Steamboat and Studd, from what I could see, both did a great job of selling for each other as well as getting the fan all railed up and cheering and screaming like crazy, Steamboat looks like a true superstar and what we see has the upper hand most of the match until it goes to the outside and that’s when Studd is able to show his true heelish tactics. What I could see it looked like a great match, but what I didn’t get to see is why I have to only give this a two star rating.
Match 2: Big John Studd vs. Paul Jones
We start the match already in progress and Big John Studd has Paul Jones on the mat and is landing massive clubbing smashes down on him, but it’s clear that Studd’s knee is hurt but he is keeping Jones down on the mat, and he even drops a massive falling chop that rocks Jones and Studd goes for a series of pins and is not able to get the win yet. Studd keeps the pressure on Jones and keeps him grounded and beat up. Studd also keeps trying to get the pin on Jones and tries to use his power and size to hold him down. Jones uses head scissors for a moment to try and get the match turned around, but its short lived as Studd is able to use his power and size to once more take over. Studd then locks in the bear hug and it looks bad for Jones as Studd has it locked in for a very, very long time, but with the fans cheers and a knee to the gut he is able to escape. And after a short comeback Paul Jones is finally pinned when he charges at Studd who dodges and slams his head hard into the turnbuckle. I have to start that at times during this match moves are clearly not connecting and at times when Paul Jones is trying to power up he looks like a kid throwing a temper tantrum as he flops around like a fish. And for some reason Paul Jones is booked super strong while he gets beat up most of the match he is able to withstand Big John Studd’s finisher the Bear Hug and has the not going down to my dying breath baby face style. Big John Studd looks like a beast and uses big power based moves and even when Jones is trying to make him look bad Studd comes off as a real giant bad ass. Paul Jones while a legend in the business I for one have never been impressed and the way he tried to make one of the industries biggest rising heels look in this match just shows you how big his flopping around ego was inflated. And its crazy when you see just how loud he is cheered by the fans and he is the definition of generic wrestling baby face. And even when pinned Jones no sells as he moves around like he was not fully phased. But with all the flaws of the match mostly Jones and his ego or I guess I should say the way he was booked the match was a great way to showcase the power of Studd even him his opponent didn’t sell it like he should. And the star rating is for Big John Studd as he had to make due with an opponent who was not very good.
Match 3: Big John Studd vs. Antonio Inoki
This match takes place in Japan and Big John Studd is wearing a mask for it. As soon as the bell rings, they size each other up and its clear that Inoki is the quicker of the two but Studd towers over Inoki and is able to land some big forearm smashes and uses his power and size to land some big moves and punches keeping Inoki down and trying to limit his speed. Studd lands a body slam and goes for a pin and gets a one count before locking in a chin lock. Once out of the hold Inoki uses his fast and strong kicks to weaken Studds legs, but after a clothesline Studd is able to get the match momentum back on his side and once more locks Inoki into another chin lock. Studd really works the lock as the crowd starts cheering Inoki as he is able to get to the ropes to break the hold. Studd then lands some power moves and when he cannot get the pin he once more goes back to a chin lock and then even lands a falling elbow to try and get the pin victory. Inoki is able to roll out of the ring and try and catch his breath and once back in Studd once more starts working over Inoki and keeping the match at his pace, and even when Inoki is able to make a small comeback they end up just trading being in charge of the match with Inoki working over the arm of Studd in order to try and hurt the big man. The two want to get this win and hit moves and pin attempts on each other with both men not wanting to let the other get the victory. In the end after a ensuigiri Inoki is able to knock Studd down and get the pin fall victory. This is a great match and does a great job of showcasing Big John Studd as a world wide massive heel as he is able to really put a hurting on Inoki who was a massive star in Japan, but while Big John Studd is in charge of most of the match he still does a great job of making Inoki look great and sells for him really well making both of them look great. But to be fair both of these guys really are some of the best wrestlers in the world at the time. And while both guys use rest holds, the story they are telling is great. And yes, it’s weird that they have Studd wear a mask again. And Studd is a mountain of muscle in this match and the kicks of Inoki are great and brutal. Over all to sum this up I would say that this is a great match that is very entertaining.
Match 4: Big John Studd vs. Ted Dibiase
When the bell rings both men size each other up and even when Studd uses his power to back Dibiase into the ropes his speed gets him away from taking any major hits. And with his speed Dibiase is able to land some punches and even a drop kick that makes the big man stumble and then gets him into head scissors and then a headlock in order to keep Studd down on the mat and limit his size and power. But when Studd is able to get off some punches and moves, he takes over the momentum and is able to pull off a big body slam as well as some forearm smashes, and slows down the pace with a big chin lock in the middle of the ring and is draining the energy out of Dibiase, and even when he is able to get out of the hold its short lived as Studd just beats him up and places the chin lock right back on. But once out for the second time the two exchange moves and Dibiase is able to truly hurt the big man as Studd himself works over the back of Dibiase. But when being charged Studd is able to dodge Dibiase who runs into the post and falls out of the ring very hurt, and Studd will not allow his opponent to get back into the ring. But Studd by doing this leaves his own legs open for an attack and that’s what Dibiase does in order to get back into the ring and take over the match as the knees of Studd are now injured and he keeps up his attack up on his knees. And as Dibiase goes for the figure four leg lock he is kicked out of the ring by Studd, who goes out after him and the two end up brawling outside the ring with chairs even being used. And it’s ruled a double count out and even after the bell the two brawl all the way back to the locker room. This is a solid match and the fans in attendance were eating up the story they were telling in the ring. This match pitted two rising stars against each other and both had great in ring chemistry and this allowed both of them to look good in the match as they sold well for each other and each allowed the other to pull off big moves and get near pin attempts. And its great seeing Ted Dibiase as the baby face as years latter in 1988 the roles would be flipped when both were in the WWF. While the match does have some rest holds that slow the pace at times, it’s still very entertaining and both tell a great story together.
Match 5: Big John Studd vs. Andre The Giant
In this match Big John Studd is working as the face and Andre is the heel! Before the bell even rings, Studd goes on the attack on Andre and knocks The Giant into the ropes and this causes him to get tangled in them, but before Studd can take advantage of this Andre gets free and starts to choke his opponent as the referee tries to stop this illegal attack. Studd is able to escape the choke by falling out of the ring and takes a few moments in order to catch his breath. And once back in the ring Studd is quickly placed into a bear hug by Andre who also keeps landing massive chops when he breaks the hold and then starts working on the shoulder nerves of his opponent, this match once the bell rang is all Andre in control as he goes from rest hold to rest hold trying his best to bring John Studd down. Even when John Studd would try and make a comeback he is cut off by Andre who uses his massive size to his advantage, and things get worse when Haku a fellow Heenan Family member comes to ringside to help Andre and distract Studd, and when knocked out of the ring Studd is attacked by Haku behind the referees back. And this causes Hacksaw Jim Duggan to come out and help John Studd and be in his corner. And all hell breaks loose when Andre and Haku attack Studd when Hacksaw is knocked down, but once up he gets into the ring with his 2X4 and starts cleaning house. And Big John Studd wins the match by DQ and is hurt in the ring as Hacksaw stands guard until Andre and Haku leave the ring area. This is the battle of The Giants of wrestling that took place in the late 80’s with both men at the twilights of their careers and Andre The Giant looking really bad and is hardly able to move around the ring making Studd do most of the work and taking almost all of the matches bumps. Andre in this match is moving in slow motion and his moves are all pretty much rest holds, and its clear that throughout the match they wanted everyone to know that Andre is the real Giant of the WWF even when he is wrestling as a heel. Big John Studd does his best to work with the extreme limitations of Andre and does a great job of selling his moves even when they are botched by The Giant who clearly should have already been retired from the sport as he was not good in this match and clearly was in pain just moving around the ring. And the downside to this is that Studd had to be on the back end of a terrible match and sell for Andre in order to make the match not look bad, and while he won the match is was also clear that Andre did not want to put over anything that Studd wanted to do. A clunky match that had two Big Men brawling that still for some reason had a very epic feel to it. I should also note it was cool seeing the fans cheering for John Studd and booing the heck out of Andre.
Match 6: Big John Studd vs. Hulk Hogan
If Hulk Hogan slams John Studd in the match he will get $15,000 and Hogan has to keep an eye out as Bobby Heenan is also at ringside managing Studd. This match is for Hogan’s WWF World Title. As the bell rings the two wrestlers just stare and size each other up as the crowd is going crazy and when the two finally lock up they both attempt to body slam each other and this gets the crowd roaring even louder. The pair break apart and trade some hits and then both try and slam each other again with both getting very close to doing so. Hogan then lands some big punches that rock Studd as does a big boot to his face, Hogan goes for the slam but Studd is able to fight it off and take the momentum of the match that is until Hogan once more lands some big punches to make it swing his way once more. Hogan again goes for the slam and this once more gives Studd the chance to block the attempt as well hit Hogan with some massive hits. But like before Hogan lands some punches and a clothesline that leaves Studd to almost being slammed and he would have been if the ropes were not in his reach keeping him grounded, and the two end up brawling outside the ring and Hogan is busted open. Once back in the ring Hogan is bleeding and Studd continues to beat up on the champion as he wants the title belt, and even jumps off the top rope with a forearm smash. John Studd goes for several pin attempts and every time Hogan uses all his strength to kick out and keep the match going, but Studd is able to body slam Hogan hard to the mat and the fans are fuming with anger as Hogan is then knocked out of the ring again. Studd is also pulled outside by Hogan the fans start cheering and this makes him Hulk Up and he even body slams Studd outside the ring! As Hogan gets back into the ring Studd is counted out and Hogan wins the match and keeps his world title, but did not win the money as the slam was not in the ring. What a fun WWF Title match as champion Hulk Hogan does a fantastic job of making Big John Studd look like a major threat for his title, he sells really well for the challenger, he bleeds for him and all the while has the fans cheering and so into the match. Say what you will about Hogan and his in ring skills, but the man was a major draw and it was clear that fans loved him and paid to see him wrestle. Big John Studd looks great as well as he played the role of monster heel really well and had fans hating him and as well hit some major big power moves to make it seem possible that he could take Hogan’s belt. While it was by no means a technical masterpiece and by all means really was your typical 80’s Hogan match there is something special about his matches as you as a viewer as well just feed off the live crowds responses. A very solid match between two icons of 80’s wrestling and true WWE Hall Of Famers that you should check out if you are fans of either or both.
I need to stress that Big John Studd might not be the world’s best big man wrestler and he might not have put on Five Star matches, but what he was for sure was a believable Big Man Monster Heel who seemed like he could have beaten the hell out of every fan favorite baby face at the time and then maybe even squash a few fans in the crowd for the fun of it. His matches against the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant and Hillbilly Jim always were entertaining and brought excitement to fans. And while his face run in 1988 in the WWF was fun, I have to say I always liked him better as a heel. Well it looks like the update is over and Rotten Ink Arena is closing down for the night, but do not fret you know as well as I do that our next update will bring us right back here to the arena as WrestleMania month continues and our next update will be about Killer Khan! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local wrestling federations. See you next time cause Killer Khan is coming for you!