CvC: Dick the Bruiser, The First American Bad Ass!

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CvC: Dick the Bruiser, The First American Bad Ass!

Hello everyone. As always I would like to thank all of you for spending some time with me today.

 

In this CvC, we're here to discuss grapplers from the past who have changed the world of pro wrestling. Growing up, I always found myself rooting for the heels. Things haven’t changed much, as most of my favorite wrestlers are still heels.

 

Whether it is the way a heel can humiliate his opponent on the stick, or always find a grimy way to swindle his opponent out of a win. I just found my self always thinking, “Man, those guys are bad ass.”

 

So it would only be fitting that my CvC is on one of the greatest heels to ever step in the ring. He was beer chugging, cigar smoking, and foul-mouthed man. He was also regarded as the toughest S.O.B in the business.

 

Before we get a chorus of “HELL YEAAAHS”, the man I am referring to is not Stone Cold Steve Austin. The man I am referring to today is none other than Dick the Bruiser.

 

Dick the Bruiser was not only know as a “Legit Tough guy.”. He would also single handedly change the way heels were looked at. He was referred to by many as a double-crossing, back-stabbing bastard.

 

He was known for being stiff in the ring and cheating his wrestlers out of pay. His promos would sometimes start riots in the crowds. People legitimately hated the Bruiser, and for good reasons.

 

That still doesn’t change the impact that this man would have on the world of pro wrestling. Like most stories, they always begin somewhere. For this little tale, we have to travel all the way back to 1929.

 

William Afflis was born in Lafayette, Ind., in 1929. Unlike many other tales of past grapplers, Afflis would be born into a wealthy family. He would later move to Indianapolis at a young age.

 

Growing up, Afflis would attend the best schools and live the life that others could only dream of. In life, though, tragedy has no boundaries and Afflis would be no exception to the rule.

 

Afflis was in high school when his father would pass away. His mother would get remarried a short time later and abandon him as a teen. The only thing she would leave Afflis was an apartment to live in.

 

It is believed by many in the wrestling world that this was when Afflis developed his mean streak.

 

Afflis was 260 pounds of pure muscle and would go on to become a standout football player. After graduation, he would be enrolled by Purdue, and it was there that his mean streak would get him into trouble.

 

During practice, his coach reprimanded him in front of the other players. Afflis took exception to this and smacked his coach in the head with his helmet. This action would get him suspended and he would have to leave the school.

 

This would be a trend for him throughout his collage career and would bounce around from school to school. He would finally end up at the university of Nevada, where he would get a degree in engineering.

 

In 1951, he would make his debut in football with the Green Bay Packers. With his athletic build and size, it would seem only fitting that he would excel in football. This was not the case, though, as he would only last a little more than three seasons.

 

If you went by Afflis’s story, he left because he wanted to find greener pastures in the world of pro wrestling. If you talked to some of the former players though, it was because he deliberately broke a defensive lineman’s leg and was blackballed from the game.

 

In 1955, he would start wrestling for promoter Tony Stetcher. He would turn heads quickly in the ring and after only two months, he was wrestling Lou Thesz for the title.

 

By 1956, “Dick the Bruiser” was becoming known all around the wrestling world. He was creating a style that would be the building blocks for future heels for generations to come.

 

He was one of the first ever to cut heel promos. He would also be one of the first heels to bring and use weapons in the rings. While this seems normal now, at the time it was unheard of for this to happen.

 

His promos and regular use of weapons would cause riots wherever he went. The fans hated this man with a passion. He would go down in wrestling history after he was banned from N.Y after he started a riot at Madison Square Garden.

 

The promoters didn’t care, though, because he would pack the house wherever he went.

 

He wouldn’t win his first title until 1957, when he beat his future business partner Wilbur Snyder. Wilber and the Bruiser would continue to feud for the next few years, and would pack the house wherever they went.

 

Dick the Bruiser had the reputation as a stiff worker and would often leave his opponents bloodied and battered. Many of his opponents feared getting on the ring with him.

 

When the 60s came rolling around, Dick the Bruiser was a household name. He grew tired of just being the draw on the card and wanted more. He would soon make waves in the wrestling world as a promoter.

 

While it isn’t confirmed, it is said by many that Dick’s business practices were beyond grimy. He would often promote and carry the WWA title; this was a big no-no back then.

 

In order to achieve this feat, he and his partner would put the business in their wives' names.  This was just one of the few unethical business practices he would be known for. He was also known for stiffing wrestlers out of their pay.

 

Unethical or not, Dick the Bruiser was still a great ring worker and would draw huge crowds. He would win not only multiple AWA titles, he would also take home countless NWA belts.

 

Through out his time as a promoter he was also known for double switching the TV tapings. This would lead to mass confusion over who the champs were. It was believed by many of the local promoters these tactics were done in order to run them out of business.

 

In 1964 Bruiser and Snyder would run most of the Mid-West. This would only last a year though, when they were unable to control so much territory. By 1965, they were either leasing out or just selling the different areas all together.

 

In the mid to late 70s, he lost just about everything that he worked so hard to gain. The WWA titles were no longer recognized. In order to survive, Dick the Bruiser would have to hit the road again.

 

He would win the NWA heavyweight title 5 times, and the WWA heavyweight title 11 times, during his great career. He would also go on to become a many time tag team champion.

 

When he was paired up with the Crusher, he remained undefeated for almost a decade. This was a feat rarely seen for any heels in those days.

 

Dick the Bruiser has feuded with the best in the business. He has waged war with Lou Thesz, Freddie Blassie, the Crusher, and Angelo Poffo; just to name a few. He was known as being ruthless in and out of the ring throughout his career.

 

He was considered by most as one of the most ruthless men in the business. The tactics he incorporated for heels are still used today. While he may have been a cold-hearted bastard, he was also a standard setter for many in the business.

 

He would pass away at the age of 62 in 1991 due to internal bleeding while working out. In 2005, he would finally have his place in the wrestling world cemented, when he would finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

I would like to thank you all again for joining me today.

 

As always, have a great day and God bless.

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