Bruiser Brody: The Last Outlaw

On July 16, 1988, Bruiser Brody was preparing for his match against Dan Spivey at the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, in Puerto Rico, for the World Wrestling Council. This was not a new situation for him to find himself in as he had long been a regular with the promotion, but something just seemed off about this night.

In fact, Dutch Mantel, a witness to what was about to happen, even said so years later when he wrote;

…as we entered the dressing area, I felt tension in the air. I always felt tension in the air there, as it’s an extremely dangerous place to work. But that night it was really heavy. Don’t ask me why. I don’t even know. I just felt it. As I entered, I was following Bruiser and I noticed Carlos (Colon) and Invader (Jose Gonzalez) sitting on a bench to my right. Invader was trying on his leather strap, that he wears on his arm, with his teeth. Neither spoke.”

There had always been a certain animosity from Invader 1 towards Brody, and we will get into the reasons behind this later on in this article, but most had just shrugged it off as nothing more than professional jealousy or the simple fact that the two individuals just couldn’t get along, so when José González approached Brody and asked him to step into the shower area so they could discuss some business, nobody thought that much of it.

Suddenly, two screams rang out, and moments later Tony Atlas burst into the room to find Brody doubled over, bleeding profusely from stab wounds to his arms and his chest. When Atlas looked up he saw Invader 1 calmly standing there, with a knife in his hands.

Bruiser Brody wouldn’t survive the night and José González would be found innocent of any crime at his subsequent trial, meaning that not only did the wrestling world lose one of the greatest to ever lace up a set of boots, but Invader 1 got away with murder.

This is the story that nearly every wrestling fan will have heard, in one way, shape, or form, but if that is all that you know of Bruiser Brody’s career then you are missing out, as there was a lot more to Frank Donald Goodish than a horrific crime that was swept under the rug.

Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1946, Frank would have a pretty standard childhood before going on to Texas A&M to play football and then onto signing with the Washington (Redskins) Football Team. It’s just that football wasn’t really what he wanted to do, so he quit.

After a stint as a sportswriter, Frank decided to turn his hand to the world of Pro Wrestling and he wound up under the tutelage of the legendary Fritz Von Erich. This was a perfect fit for him. He was a very headstrong, very rebellious kind of guy who wasn’t happy taking orders from anyone, so the freedom he was allowed to control his own destiny must’ve appealed tremendously. All of which would’ve been pointless, however, if he didn’t have a natural skill and in-built willingness to do whatever it took to make it in the sport. Luckily for him, he did.

It didn’t take the repackaged Bruiser Brody too long to take the wrestling world by storm. In this era of kayfabe and outrageous characters, Brody was still something else. A monster of a wild man who would march to the ring in big furry boots and a pair of trunks, whirling his trusty length of chain around his head, while yelling “HUSS! HUSS! HUSS!” at the top of his voice. To those who attended these shows and didn’t know that it was all a ‘work’, then it must’ve been a sight to behold and a pretty damn jaw-dropping experience.

Inside the ring, Brody was just as insane as you’d expect him to be. He wasn’t afraid to fight and would use every part of his body to inflict as much pain and damage upon his opponent as he possibly could and when that didn’t work, he’d quite happily pick up a chair or his length of linked metal and batter the other guy into submission.

This commitment to his character would elevate him to the top of the card at a rapid rate and it didn’t take him long to not only perfect his wrestling chops but to figure out his worth as well. Veteran or Rookie, Legend or Greenhorn, if you stepped through the ropes with Frank Goodish, you better make sure you played by the rules or you might just find yourself on the ass end of an ass-whupping.

During his first appearance on The Broken Skull Sessions, none other than The Undertaker recalled the time he, as Texas Red, took on Bruiser Brody and got a little bit too enthusiastic for the latter’s liking:

According to the Undertaker, he clipped Brody a couple of times ‘by accident’ before taking an armbar that he himself had called. A young wrestler taking liberties and calling the match sat with Brody about as well as could be expected and he proceeded to beat the holy hell out of the future Hall of Famer, including a chair shot that broke the damn thing in half and a final boot to the face that left Texas Red collapsed in a heap after the bell. Wanna see it? Of course you do. Here it is in all its violent glory.

What the previous clip between Austin and The Undertaker edited out, for some reason, is that Percy Pringle appeared out of nowhere to be in Texas Red’s corner just before the bell. When he asked why he suddenly had a manager, never having had one before, Pringle calmly explained that he was only out there to show him the way back to the locker room after the match.

The fact is that Brody didn’t take any shit from anyone. Here is another example, in what is now the mythical cage match between Lex Luger and Bruiser Brody where he just stopped selling for Lex. There were a lot of rumors as to why this had taken place and the biggest one was that Lex had tried to lay the match out beforehand, telling Brody just what was going to happen and when. This is meant to have offended him as Luger had hardly any experience so Brody just did a Brody and decided “F*ck you”. Apparently, Luger was so afraid for his safety that he got himself DQ’d hopped the fence, and was out of the stadium before Brody had even left the ring.

The truth, however, is a little less exciting. According to Lex, he approached Brody afterward, thinking he’d done something to upset him, but Brody just explained:

I’m working as a babyface in Texas right now. I’m getting over good there, and you’re a babyface here, it’s just not working, no big deal.”

This was something that he was never afraid to do. He knew who he was, he knew who his character was, and he’d be damned if he’d let some promoter mess it up for him. It earned him a reputation as being difficult to work with, but such was his pulling power, and his ability to get bums in seats that he was never blackballed from any company.

It helped that he could put on a great show as well and he had some of the greatest and at times most brutal matches that Pro Wrestling would ever see. His continuing feud with Abdullah the Butcher set the bar for ultra-violence within the sport as both men were more than happy to bleed like stuck pigs, but it wasn’t a case of ‘getting color for the sake of getting color’. It just emphasized the depth of the story they were trying to tell and made it even more dramatic. Across many bouts, they beat on each other, cut each other open, and made the sight of a large man fighting an incredibly fat man far more entertaining than it had any right to be.

The two fought across different organizations and countries as well, as Frank figured out that he had to go where the money was and wouldn’t allow himself to be tied down to a contract or to overstay his welcome anywhere, so it came as no surprise when he turned up in Japan and took the country by storm.

His work here is held up as the perfect example of how to get over in that country and rightly so. If he was a shock to the system in the States, then here he was godd*mn Godzilla brought to life and heading right for you. He had brilliant match after brilliant match, against some of the very best wrestling had to offer. Terry Funk, Prince Tonga ( a young Haku/Meng), RIC GODDAMN FLAIR!, and it was his time spent in Japan that proved he was more than a one-trick pony and had the skill set to back up his reputation tenfold.

It was also seen as a badge of honor by Japanese wrestling fans to be in the crowd when Brody tore into it and to get smacked upside the head by the man.

He also teamed up with an old friend of his called Stan Hansen to form a formidable duo, who took on the likes of The Funks as well as Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel in a match that truly has to be seen for the sheer amount of badass attitude that is somehow confined to one single ring.

They are easily my favorite tag team of all time and it’s a shame they were never allowed to compete together back home in America. According to Hansen, this was because they were too damn good;

I must say – and I don’t brag a whole lot – but I think Bruiser Brody and I were probably the biggest, most dominant, most feared, toughest tag-team ever in pro wrestling.
I’ll say that – and I’ll get arguments from the Road Warriors and some other people – but over in Japan, it’s a completely different style, a much more physical arena to wrestle in.

We tried to come over to the States a few times together, but people just couldn’t keep up with our style. [We were] basically blackballed in the States because we were so dominant. We had a hard time being accepted over here.”

He was so beloved in Japan that after his murder, Giant Baba held The Bruiser Brody Memorial event in his memory, with his wife and child as guests of honor.

There were a few things that Brody could easily be accused of. Yes, he was dominant. Yes, he was protective of his character. Yes, he would lay a beating on you if he felt you were taking the piss. But he knew that a simple word from him could change how another wrestler was perceived by ‘The Boys’.

Bret Hart tells a story of getting to the WWF, as it was at the time, and riding with Chief Jay Strongbow. All the wrestlers had met up at a cafe and the Chief had asked Hart where he saw himself in the company, too which Hart replied with what Vince had told him, that he would be groomed for the Hogan spot. This annoyed Jay for some reason and he ragged on The Hitman, making sure to announce to everyone in the place that this Hart kid had delusions of grandeur for simply relaying what he’d be promised when he signed up. Bret said that no-one had seen Brody enter the restaurant, but he bounded over to the table where they were sat and proceeded to praise Hart, saying that he’d seen a lot of his work and had been very impressed by it and that that he’d like to do business somewhere down the line. This shut Strongbow’s mouth and he never ragged on Hart again.

He’s also credited by both Hansen and The Berzerker,” John Nord, as taking them under his wing and being a mentor and even Scott Hall got a lesson from Bruiser when he was starting, admittedly one he wasn’t expecting;

So we’re having our little match, and Brody is over like crazy – everywhere he went, particularly over in Kansas City. So we’re out fighting on the floor, and he picks up a chair…and he holds it [up] for a second…and I’m like,


And he just waffled me with it.

Later on, he went, ‘Hey kid…[next time] turn and give me your back, or you know, put your hands up…’”

It didn’t matter where he went. Brody was money.

He had been in and around the World Wrestling Council for a few years but became more of a regular fixture sometime in 1985 and seemed to be working primarily for them. This came as somewhat of a surprise, considering the nomadic attitude he took towards his work, feeling that moving from place to place kept him fresh and guaranteed big money when he returned, yet here he was seemingly settling down if not fully ready to commit just yet.

It was in Puerto Rico that he would meet his murderer, José González, and they didn’t get on from day one. González didn’t like how rough Brody would be with him in the ring, even being rumored as having said that he’d;

…kill that guy one of these days.”

For a long time, people just accepted that this was the reason for the altercation that left Brody bleeding to death in a shower stall, but it turns out this might not have been the case. During the excellent Dark Side of the Ring series, they covered what happened that fateful night and it was revealed that Brody was about to purchase one-third of the WWC from Gorilla Monsoon, meaning that he would’ve had a very large stake in the company and could’ve called the shots.

It seems that José González/Invader 1 was far from happy with this idea as he was the booker for the company, among other things, so knowing that he’d have to deal with a man that he hated on a daily basis and fearing that he’d lose his top billing along with the ability to do what the hell he wanted, he just decided to kill him instead.

I believe that José González and Carlos Colon planned the murder of Bruiser Brody, in an attempt to stop any takeover from happening, and that because of his stature within the country he knew damn well that he’d get away with it.

The trial was a f*cking sham. The only witness to the act, Tony Atlas, was called to testify 10 days after it had ended, as was Dutch Mantel and anyone who wasn’t a Puerto Rican native. This meant that all José González had to do was show up, say “Well, he started it, I was just defending myself” and the judge and the jury quite happily let him walk, with stars in their eyes.

The fact remains that José González is a murderer that got away with it, and where he got to go onto an even bigger career, before entering politics, all Frank Goodish got was a trip back to the States in a fucking box.

It’s a terrible injustice and one that will never be righted, but it doesn’t mean that it should be his legacy. His body of work should speak for itself.

Bruiser Brody is a hero of mine. The Last Outlaw in pro-wrestling, who never settled too long and played by his own rules and he was, is, and should always be a shining example of how to make it in this business off your own damn back.


Written by Cult Cinema Saves The World

Cult Cinema Saves The World

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