This is the third episode of the six-part series “Dark Side of the Ring” on Vice Network. This episode focuses on the killing of Bruiser Brody.
Well finally we got through the first two episodes and now for the good stuff.
– Mick Foley is doing the narration for this one. He says that Brody was one of the first guys that drew him to wrestling. Tony Atlas, Dutch Mantel, David Manning and Abdullah the Butcher were the main speakers along with Bruiser’s son Geoff Goodish and wife Barbara Goodish.
– Bruiser Brody was one of the most popular and successful wrestlers from the late 70s until he died in 1988. Atlas said he looked like danger coming at you. He was a big man, around 6-foot-8 and he weighed almost 300 pounds. He was exactly as his name described — a bruiser, a brawler, a guy that wasted no time getting to the ring and kicking ass.
– Dutch said he never worked with Brody. Why? “Because he’d beat the shit out of me.” Abdullah said don’t ever say what he and Brody did in the ring was fake. Dutch and Atlas talked about the legendary brawls between Brody and Abdullah. Atlas said promotes loved having Brody on the cards because he put asses in the seats and made you money. Feared as a heel, loved as a babyface (I remember him coming to WCCW to help the von Erichs and it was such a big get because finally they had someone to match up against Terry Gordy).
– They talk about Puerto Rico and how ridiculously violent it was. The matches with bloody and violent, far worse than anything you would see in ECW. The fans were violent, they were blood thirsty. Abby said they needed the blood and the violence because they had to believe it was real. He talked about the fans throwing cups of urine and rocks as the wrestlers among other things. The footage they is just sickening. There was a match with Invader #1 (more on him later) where he’s lying down waiting to take a top-rope spot from Manny Fernandez and he’s coughing up fountains of blood (assumably this was a gimmicked blood packet that burst, but still…it’s not a pleasant visual).
– Geoff and Barbara go into a storage where a lot of Brody’s stuff was. His old football helmet — he played college football at West Texas A&M and played for the Washington Redskins for a couple of years — and a planner he had where he wrote down his schedule. Barbara said she never knew Bruiser, but Frank was a good man, a smart, kind and gentle man. He was that way from the start and even better when Geoff was born. From that point he just wanted to get everything he could out of wrestling to take care of his family.
– In the summer of 1988 Brody headed back to Puerto Rico and the WWC, which was started by Carlos Colon, Gorilla Monsoon, Victor Jovica and others. Colon, however, was the boss and Jose Huertas Gonzalez, also known as Invader #1, was his right-hand man and booked the territory. Mantel describes Colon as the Roberto Clemente of the territory.
– Brody and Invader didn’t get along from go. Brody knew that in order to keep his reputation and his value high around the wrestling world he couldn’t look weak anywhere, especially Puerto Rico. Mantel dates it back to the mid 70s when Invader was young and trying to impress American regional promotions (the WWF and WWWF at the time) as the next Puerto Rican star and Brody wouldn’t give him anything. Mantel said something about their matches just didn’t seem right. Atlas said Brody was a decent guy if he liked you but he’d beat the shit out of you if he didn’t. Invader often got beat up. They show footage of Bruiser absolutely destroying Invader’s brother Maelo Huertas in a match. Atlas said one time Brody beat up Invader so bad that he and S.D. Jones had to take him to the hospital and Atlas claims it was there where Invader said “one day I’m going to kill that man” (not sure if he said it in Spanish or whatever…and frankly Tony tells the story so well I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt). Mantel said Brody was worried about one image, his own, and once he got beat a couple of times his value and mystique would diminish.
– Mantel said Brody was making huge money in Japan and was looking to invest in WWC. He said Brody was dealing with Victor Quinones, another minority owner, to convince Monsoon to sell Brody his shares. Atlas believes the deal went through and they took Brody’s money but they didn’t want his input and that didn’t sit well with Brody. Manning said that Brody mentioned he was owed $20-25K from the WWC and was going to get his money. Mantel said that Brody was looking to get rid of Invader and it was a tough time for Invader because he lost his 3-year-old daughter in a tragic accident. He was angry and sad and the elements were just adding up to something explosive.
(So there’s the background. If you’re still awake it gets better from here)
– Atlas has to tell the story. He and Brody worked out in the AM and ate like always, it was there that Brody basically told him he had bought in and that he was going to make a lot of changes. He was heading to the arena and saw Brody and Dutch waiting for Invader. Atlas offered them a ride and they took it. Dutch said that they got to the show and went to the arena. Atlas walked in the dressing room and saw Jose, Colon and Quinones there in a huddle. Mantel said they were really talking. Atlas said Invader got up, looked at Atlas and left. Mantel said he felt a terrible tension and he felt like he had to leave the dressing room. Atlas was sketching, which he did to kill time, and Brody saw him sketching, gave him a picture of his son and asked if he could draw him something. Meanwhile Invader came back in the dressing room with a towel over his hand, he asked Brody to speak with him in the bathroom. Although, as Foley states, it was not unusual to wrestlers to discuss match specifics privately but this meeting would be different.
– Atlas described the sound he heard from the bathroom and hearing it I would say it sounds like a painful contraction. He saw Brody halfway hunched over. Atlas’ first thought was that Invader punched Brody but then he saw the knife. He ran to Brody and grabbed him in time from getting stabbed again. Colon ran to keep Invader from doing into more. Atlas said he was drenched in blood and Brody said “brother, don’t let them hurt me any more” and Atlas assured him he wouldn’t. Colon tried to approach them and Atlas said if he stepped closer he was going to fuck him up but Brody convinced Atlas to let him come. Colon asked Brody what he can do and Brody told him to tell his wife he loved her and to take care of his family. Mantel said Invader never left the showers and he was arguing with someone. Eventually he got his keys and left, his shirt was torn, that told Mantel it was a physical struggle.
– Atlas carried him to the ambulance and decided to ride with him to the hospital. He was emotional but trying assure Brody he’d be all right. Foley said there’s an old saying in wrestling, “consider yourself lucky if you leave the business with one true friend” and Atlas was that friend to Brody that night.
– Atlas said he had to get a doctor to look at Brody and got physical with one to make sure it happened. Atlas said he was taking Brody’s shoes off and his feet was blue. At that point he knew it was urgent. Foley said as Brody was fighting for his life, the word was starting to spread throughout the stadium. Abby said he thought it was a work until the event doctor told him. Back at the hospital Atlas said that the doctor told him that Brody had two 8-inch cuts and they were able to save his intestines but his liver was sliced. The doctor convinced him to go back because the medical workers were more scared of Tony being emotional and acting out (in hindsight Atlas should’ve stayed). Dutch said he saw Invader come back to the show, in a different shirt and was like “sup everyone” and Dutch is thinking, this guy has balls of steel. Atlas said when he got back to the show and the dressing room and he heard the boys joking around with the blood stains on the floor still there. Atlas got in people’s faces and a policeman told Atlas that everyone said a wrestling fan stabbed Brody but Atlas said that’s total bullshit and “that motherfucker right there stabbed him”. “Who Invader?”, “Yes, that son of a bitch!” And Atlas said Invader was just chilling like nothing happened. This was a strange situation because the officer is still thinking this is a work, because the boys were committed to working everyone but Atlas’ demeanor was very serious.
– Meanwhile Atlas had to wrestle since the show was canceled. He was fighting the Iron Sheik and during their lockup he told Sheik what happened and both men agreed to a quick finish as Sheik was pissed hearing that Invader did it. Atlas goes back to the dressing room and Savio Vega gave him his bag and told him not to go to the hotel because the boys were waiting for him since he talked. Atlas said he slept on the beach that night. Meanwhile Mantel goes back to the hotel and tells the front desk to send any calls to Brody to his room.
– Barbara said she gets a call from Nancy Colon and tells her that an accident had happen and she needed to get to Puerto Rico. She gets in tough with Dutch and he tells her she needs to get here. Dutch said he couldn’t sleep and he asked the front desk woman to call the hospital and check on Brody. It was there that he found out Brody didn’t make it.
– Atlas said he didn’t know until the next day when he said Abdullah and some of the other wrestlers at a meeting in the hotel room where the other wrestlers wanted to know what happened. Abdullah denies the meeting took place. Atlas said he’s a liar. Abdullah said he wasn’t there because he owned five percent of the territory and guys didn’t want to talk to him. Dutch basically confirms the meeting happened but doesn’t say who was there. Abdullah said that he left the territory from that point. The boys wanted to know was this being investigated and one of the officers told Dutch to tell Carlos Colon that he doesn’t run this island. Atlas told his story to the police. Dutch told his story, he didn’t see a weapon and one was never recovered. Atlas got his stuff and left the island.
– Barbara had got to Puerto Rico and ran into Abdullah. She introduced herself to him and that’s when he told her that he died. Atlas said he saw a man get stabbed while holding a picture of his son in his hand — a picture Atlas claimed a picture he never let go.
– Nancy Colon accompanied Barbara to the morgue and she identified the body. Geoff said he heard his mom crying for hours. They held a service in Puerto Rico for her, Geoff and some of the wrestlers. We see stills from the service and a picture of Brody lying in the casket. She had him cremated there so she could get him back to the states.
– Barbara says it was clear as day, from everything she heard, it was a cold-blooded murder. The court trial was a total farce. Invader was arrested but posted bail immediately and never spent a second in a jail cell. They show footage of Colon from a 2008 RF shoot claiming there was no cover up but he’s a fucking liar and an accessory to murder so what’s he supposed to say. Atlas said he saw it on TV and saw Invader leaving the courtroom as he was let off on “self defense”. Atlas never got contacted and Mantel said he didn’t get his subpoena until a week or two AFTER the trial. Mantel opined that wrestling was what it was there and people believed that Frank Goodich was really Bruiser Brody and he was this crazy, wild, violent man so clearly Invader was defending himself.
– The Goodich family went to Japan for a very nice in-ring memorial and Foley says that he remains an Icon in Japan. Geoff Goodich says, so honestly, that personal justice would mean more to him at this point than legal justice. Atlas said they killed the man but could never kill the legend. VICE notes that they contacted Colon and Invader but they didn’t want to take part in the documentary, probably because one is a murderer and the other is an accessory. Meanwhile Invader still advertises himself as being available as a guest for children’s birthday parties.
Bottom Line: Well if you ever get killed, don’t let it happen in Puerto Rico. This was a GREAT hour and it left you wanting more. I want to see the Highspots documentary. I want HBO to do a documentary. I know WWE has the WWC library now and they should do a documentary. I knew a bit about this. Brody came through some of the territories I watched as a kid and I remember reading in the Apter mags about his death and their reporting on the trial. I was too young to really grasp it but now it becomes clearer. Hard to believe everything Tony Atlas was saying because a lot of it was dramatics and putting himself over as being one of the few noble people around there. I wish Dutch would have been in that role because Dutch seems like more of a straight shooter. That being said, if what Atlas said was 60 percent accurate it’s a cold blooded murder. This documentary is also available online.