I was reading your recent Royal Rumble 1991 rant and your comment about Rick Martel being ripped struck a chord with me. I was thinking the same thing around that era and was actually going to write you about it before your post.
I know that you can't put yourself in the minds of the wrestlers, but what do you think the thought process was behind this? To me, Martel was always more of a high flyer, but after his heel turn and during his singles run, he seemed to pack on the muscle.
Was this his way of extending his career as this was seemingly towards the end for him? I'm not aware of him having any nagging injuries for which he was trying to compensate. Excluding his WCW run in 1997-1998, which I actually enjoyed, Martel was seemingly done with WWE by 1994-1995, so this would have been the last 3-4 years of his career.
Or do you feel he thought that if he changed his look, he'd be in line for a major singles push? Although he had some feature feuds with Tito Santana, Jake Roberts, Shawn Michaels, and Tatanka, as well as occassional IC title shots against Bret Hart and Razor Ramon, it didn't really seem to amount to more than him putting everyone else over.
I bring this up because he has not been the only wrestler to do this. Arguably one of the most successful at this was Scott Steiner. Another one that comes to mind is the worst, Dino Bravo. I'm not familiar with Bravo's work outside of WWE, but Wikipedia states he wrestled from 1970-1992. In his early 80s WWE tag team work he seemed like a chunky babyface and somehow morphed into strongest man by 1987-1988, again towards the end of his career. My last example would be Davey Boy Smith, although he made the change earlier in his career during his WWE absence between 1988-1991.
I'm not looking at this as a steroid argument and whether or not a guy used them before or after his change as I don't doubt Davey Boy was using in 1986. I'm also not looking at this as a simple gimmick change (though this seems to follow a gimmick change), but was wondering why one would change his body type and entire working style so late in his career when he's already had success without it.
Wrestling is a weird business and wrestlers can get body issues as much as anyone. That being said, Martel wasn't really steroid-y at the Rumble, it was more that he was all shredded up and clearly proud of it. I feel like Bulldog was a guy who clearly saw that bigger guys were getting the pushes and just decided to get big and keep up with them. A lot of times high-flying guys like Bravo will get injured and be forced to work a different style. That's a big reason why Scott Steiner drastically altered his style and body type, since he just couldn't do all the stuff he used to be able to. And hey, some guys just get big into bodybuilding and might like bonding over it. Like I said, wrestling is a weird business.