The recent documentary Dark Side of the Ring has returned Bruiser Brody's name to prominence, but what makes him such a larger than life performer? The answers may surprise you.
Frank Goodish in many ways perfectly exemplified the prototypical professional wrestler of the 1970's and early 1980's. For one thing, Goodish was massive, billed as six ten but a legitimate six foot seven inches. He adapted to the body building aesthetic of the 1970's, and was one of the first wrestlers to sport a truly chiselled musculature.
Goodish played football at Texas A&M before signing with the Washington Redskins in the NFL. After his football career ended, Goodish tried his hand at sports writing. It was during this time he met the legendary Fritz Von Eric, who trained him to wrestle.
Frank Goodish would adopt several different ring names, like Red River Jack and the Masked Marauder. However, it was as Bruiser Brody and King Kong Brody that he achieved his greatest fame.
Brody never won as many Championships as Ric Flair, and he didn't become the poster child for pro wrestling in the 1980's as Hulk Hogan did, but in many ways, his shadow eclipses both men. The triumph of his career and the tragedy of the end of his life play out in many ways like a Greek dramatic play from Ancient times.
So just why is Bruiser Brody still being talked about so many years after his untimely death? Here are seven reasons why Bruiser Brody is a legendary figure in pro wrestling.
#1 His physique rivalled sculptures of Greek Gods.
Frank Goodish was a huge mountain of a man. Just based upon that, he could have had a stellar wrestling career.
But Bruiser Brody didn't go in for good enough or half measures. He spent hours at the gym, honing his body to the peak of human perfection. His strength was legitimately feared by other wrestlers, who never knew just how far Brody was going to take the match at any given time.
His larger than life build is just one of the reasons Brody remains a legend to this day.
#2 A wild, compelling character
Just by virtue of being huge, Bruiser Brody was going to have a successful wrestling career. Then he built up his body until it rivalled those of the icons of the era such as Superstar Billy Graham.
But what really catapulted Bruiser Brody to fame and eventual legendary status was his fantastic presence and performance of his wild man crazy as heck character. Bruiser Brody would charge through the fans in the arena swinging a giant chain, and the fans would scatter like leaves before the wind.
In fact, Brody was so good at playing the crazy man, it may have helped his killer walk free. The jury in the murder case was confused between Bruiser Brody the character and Frank Goodish the man, which may have led to an acquittal in the court room.
#3 A surprisingly technical and nuanced performer
There's no doubt about the fact that Bruiser Brody is considered one of the greatest brawlers the sport has ever known. In fact, he is considered an innovator in brawling techniques and battling outside the ring in pro wrestling. Many fans point to his bloody brawls with Abdullah the Butcher as one of the highlights of late 1970's/ early 1980's wrestling.
While his brutal and bare knuckled style stood out, that wasn't all there was to Frank Goodish in the ring. Bruiser Brody was capable of technical wrestling, and could work a match with a great deal of nuance. Brody remembered the cardinal rule of pro wrestling matches, namely that they should tell a compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end.
It was his ability to work great matches that made Brody a legend as much as his massive size and larger than life crazy man persona.
#4 A great mind for the business of Sports Entertainment
While Bruiser Brody was definitely over as a wild and crazy, out of control mad man, behind the scenes he had one of the best minds for the business many had ever seen.
Brody was often consulted by other talent on how to perform their matches and they also hit him up for interview tips. Perhaps because of his college education and time spent as a sports writer, Brody was able to tell a story quite well in words or with his actions in the ring.
In fact, Bruiser Brody was so cerebral and wise about the business of sports entertainment he even acted as a booker for the WCCW promotion. Brody performed so well in this role that his duties were expanded to include producing the WCCW's weekly television show as well.
#5 A shrewd Businessman who promoters feared
Professional Wrestlers are, and have always been, independent contractors in most promotions. This means that they often negotiate their own contracts with the companies they work for, though some will employ lawyers.
Bruiser Brody was known as a keen negotiator and shrewd business man when it came to wrestling for the various regional promotions. Promoters learned to fear dealing with him because he would sometimes refuse to perform if his salary demands were not met. While it may have been difficult dealing with Brody's exacting management of his career, the promoters went ahead and signed him anyway. After all, Brody was selling out arenas years before anyone had ever heard the term 'Hulkamania'.
While some promoters labelled him greedy, the truth was Goodish was just trying to provide for his family as best he could.
#6 A great talker on the microphone
These days, pro wrestling promos have become somewhat formulaic. Either they are too long winded, too repetitive, or are just an excuse for the fans to chant catch phrases at pre-determined points.
But during Bruiser Brody's era, speaking to the crowd was considered an art form and a rare honor. Not every wrestler was allowed time to speak, and those that were had to get over a ton of information. Because it was pre-internet, they had to get across where they were actually going to wrestle. They also had to tell who they were wrestling, why they were wrestling them, and what it meant to them personally.
Brody was a master of this style of interview, and is credited with popularizing the 'shoot' style promo, where the fans wonder if it's the character talking or the wrestler portraying them.
#7 An untimely tragic end
From Elvis to John F. Kennedy, dying young means that there will always be speculation about what might have been.
This is no different for the pro wrestling business. When Bruiser Brody was tragically slain in a Puerto Rican locker room, it felt like he left behind unfinished business. There were many who had hoped that Brody would have a definitive run with the WWE or the NWA, the dominant promotions of the time.
There were also those who believed that he could have wrestled for another ten years or more had his life not ended so soon. Due to the murky and sad events surrounding his death, his legend grew even greater. Brody is sorely missed by fans of a certain generation and even those who were born after his passing, thanks to archives and the world wide web.
There you have it; Seven reasons why Bruiser Brody is a legendary figure in pro wrestling.
Questions or comments? Please leave them after the article, and as always thanks for reading!