Now up in the 2016 WWF HOF series is the Big Bossman aka Ray Traylor and a host of various names on the same theme in WCW. It is always surprising to me when someone who was not a top guy is inducted posthumously, but the Bossman was near the top of the card for a period of time. Also, I know many places list him as “Big Boss Man” but to me “Bossman” has always sounded better as one word.
One Man’s Opinion: Traylor has a helluva story for the start of his career. In early 1986 he debuted on one of the Crockett shows as a job guy, which is hilarious to think about since there aren’t many of those at his size. Traylor (who worked under his real name) took a slingshot suplex from Tully Blanchard and everyone was blown away by the big man’s ability to take the move. So he was taken off TV for months and packaged as Big Bubba Rogers, a bodyguard for Jim Cornette. By 1987, he was the UWF champion as they were being absorbed into JCP.
Like so many others, Crockett let him slip away when he could have been a foil for the Horsemen as a face or an opponent for Sting/Luger. The Big Bossman was of course his best run and a play off his actual experience as a prison guard. His first program? Hulk Hogan. That’s a pretty damn good push. By the time he turned babyface in 1990, he had started to drop weight (from mid-300 lbs to closer to 300) and is a great example of weight loss enhancing a guy’s ability in the ring. He memorably ran through the Heenan Family in 90-91, had the jailhouse match with the Mountie, then the bizarre feud with Nailz, a former prisoner. The less said about his WCW stint after 1993, the better. But he came back to WWF in 1998 and was a solid midcard player for most of the Attitude Era.
Most Famous Moment: Gotta go with him crashing Hogan’s appearance on the Brother Love Show in late 1988 and beating the holy hell out of him. Sure made an impression on nine year old me in Massachusetts that’s for sure.
Most Infamous Moment: It’s easy to pick any of his WCW gimmicks: Guardian Angel, the Boss (“Man, is he big” is what the announcers would literally say), and others probably forgotten. There is a story about him playing cards in the back and forgetting to do a run-in against Steve Austin at some point, but that’s not well known.
My vote: The Starrcade 1986 scaffold match. As Cornette’s bodyguard, he was to catch Corny as he felt from the underside of the scaffold. Unfortunately, the sunglasses he wore inside were not helpful in seeing Cornette so he missed him completely. Cornette hit the mat on his feet and blew out his knees and Traylor later humorously said that he didn’t think he’d come down so fast.
Best Match: May 1989 Saturday Night’s Main Event steel cage match vs Hulk Hogan, which is a match that was done on house shows and included the famous spot where Bossman was superplexed from the top of the cage. He had great chemistry with Hogan and even had a match with him on the first episode of Nitro.
Legacy: If you have any nostalgia for late 80s/early 90s WWF, you definitely have fond memories of the man who carried a nightstick. The character was very well done; he turned face because he didn’t want to be doing bidding for cash, he would do it because it was the law. For a big man he could really move around the ring. His 1991 Royal Rumble match with the Barbarian is a true hidden gem. He was very well liked by everyone in the business so this is a richly deserved honor, even if he sadly isn’t around to enjoy it.