February 26, 2012
Bagwell goes back to school
By MATTHEW ASHER - SLAM! Wrestling
MARIETTA, GA. -- Wrestlers working in a high school gym is nothing new. But last Saturday, when Marcus "Buff" Bagwell wrestled at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia, it was something different since it had been his high school, and it was a fundraiser for the football team, whose coach is a former teammate of Bagwell's.
Along with that special occasion, Bagwell brought back wrestling's Attitude Era, teaming with fellow nWo member "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner in the main event of UCW's Superclash.
Most athletes will agree that there is nothing better than returning to your hometown and putting on a memorable performance for everyone who saw you growing up. This was one of those moments for Bagwell as he and Steiner, who both still look as good as they did in the late '90s, worked well together and sent the crowd home on several high notes.
Bagwell has been in the business for 22 years. He was a staple during the Monday Night Wars and fought with and against WCW legends such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Sting. But with all that under his belt, Bagwell would agree with the philosophy of Alphonse Karr regarding time and change. "Nothings changed," Bagwell told SLAM! Wrestling. "In all my years, the business it's still the same. If it wasn't, guys like me and Scottie [Steiner] would have been out of work years ago."
Case in point for Bagwell is his appearance. Looking at Bagwell's physique, you'd be hard-pressed to tell he was competing in 2012 and not in 1997. Bagwell credits his persona as the main reason for his consistent look. "My name's the reason," Bagwell joked. "If you've got a name like ‘Buff' you better look the part." All jokes aside, Bagwell still takes his craft seriously. His timing was great and he and Steiner still looked like a tag-team that worked together day and night, rather than two guys who just decided to join forces that night.
For Bagwell, as a member of both the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets football and baseball teams, the night was punctuated with having Billy Shackelford (known at Sprayberry as "Coach Shack"), the current football coach and former football teammate of Bagwell as his corner man in the night's main event against a Luke Gallows lead tag-team.
But Bagwell's presence wasn't the only notable feat that night at Sprayberry High School. It also marked the pilot episode of UCW's TV series. While it may seem a bit presumptuous for an up and coming wrestling company to already start considering television, this is one company that has a great shot at making it work.
UCW's motto is "Tradition Rises from the Ashes" and that is no more apparent than when looking at the roster, which is full of a great combination of well-known wrestlers from the past (Bagwell and Steiner), present (Gallows) and (hopefully) future (including the über narcissistic tag-team "Hot Like Lava" led by their manager Jonny Fairplay of Survivor fame). In addition to having such names as Steiner, Bagwell and Gallows, Joe "The Assassin" Hamilton serves as UCW's advisor. With 50-plus years of wrestling knowledge (and 33 of those as an active wrestler), Hamilton has seen it all and knows what will succeed.
When asked what separates UCW from other wrestling promotions, Hamilton simply said, "We don't have talking heads. We simply wrestle." And Hamilton was right. From the opening match featuring the Rock n' Roll Express' Robert Gibson to the Bagwell-Steiner main event, every single wrestler showcased their athleticism, not their vocal talents.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist living in Atlanta and one day hopes to have a body like Hot Like Lava's Cru Jones.