Dark Side of the Ring: Bruiser Brody (by Dave!)

Hi Scott,

With an hour spare, I’ve reviewed the Bruiser Brody episode for you if you want to post it.

Cheers,

Dave

Narrator Mick Foley cites Bruiser Brody as an inspiration and introduces the three key experts:


Tony Atlas, one of the last people to see Brody alive.

Dutch Mantel, wrestler and booker.

Abdullah the Butcher, Brody’s greatest wrestling nemesis, who now looks old as dirt, uses a zimmer frame and has lost a lot of teeth.

Abby emphasises the level of violence in their matches and how they weren’t “fake”. Dutch adds to it by describing their matches as bloodbaths. Brody is shown swinging the chain in the audience and scaring the fans off, but at the same time Atlas describes him as a massive draw.

Now we go to Austin, Texas, and a lockup belonging to Barbara and Geoffrey Goodish, widow and son of Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish. They go through his personal effects throughout the show, including his diary. Barbara is from Australia and met him in a hotel over there.

An interview from 1987 with a news affiliate catches Bruiser off-guard giving his real name and details of his athletic/football background (Washington Redskins). When he realises the camera was recording him, he asks for that not to be shown as he doesn’t want to let people learn about the man behind the character.

Barbara talks about what a family man he was and how much he loved his son, but unfortunately Geoff can’t remember much of it, guessing that he’s blocked it out. Barbara was married to Frank, but could see the transformation happen when he became Bruiser Brody.

Brody departs for Puerto Rico in 1988. Abby, Dutch and Atlas talk about it as a violent territory with equally violent fans (“They throw urine on you, they throw piss on you, they throw faeces on you…”, says Tony).

It’s now revealed that WWC was co-owned by Gorilla Monsoon, Victor Jovica and Carlos Colon (WWE Hall of Famer), who Dutch compares to Roberto Clemente in terms of popularity. His right hand man was Jose Gonzalez, AKA Invader #1, wrestler and booker of the territory. Bruiser had wrestled him in the WWWF and beat the shit out of him, trying to preserve his indestructible image. Invader never forgot this, having told SD Jones en route to the hospital that he’d kill him one day.

Dutch recalls that Bruiser made a lot of money in Japan and was looking to buy into a territory. Victor Quinones was a minority owner and was trying to broker a deal for Monsoon to sell his stock in the company to Brody. Not mentioned here, but some allege that Quinones was Monsoon’s illegitimate son. Atlas says that the existing ownership wanted his money but not his ideas.

Enter David Manning, World Class booker and referee. Manning says they owed him $20-25k and Brody had said he was coming back with it even if he had to beat it out of them. At the same time, Invader was grieving the death of his daughter, who drowned aged three in their swimming pool at home. The tension was going to lead to something bad either way.

Tony can’t hold back any more and says he’s ready to explode (he has told the story before, though). He and Brody trained and ate breakfast in the morning. Brody revealed he’d bought into the territory and said that he was going to make some changes.

Traffic to the show was terrible, so they imagined a sellout. A bit of weirdness occurred with Brody missing a ride to the show from Invader. When Atlas got there, Colon, Gonzalez and Jovica were conferring between themselves in a huddle, which was very uncommon for them.

Gonzalez got up and looked Atlas in the face before leaving without saying anything. Dutch could feel massive tension in the room, so went to see the crowd coming in. Atlas was sketching and Brody was impressed by his ability and asked him to do a sketch of his son from a picture in his wallet. Then Gonzalez, with a towel over his hand, asked Brody if they could have a word in the showers.

Brody went in to talk, followed shortly thereafter by a deep cry. Brody staggered out holding his gut, so Atlas supposed he’d been hit in the stomach. Then he saw the knife. He claims Gonzalez went to cut his throat, but he pulled Brody out of the way and instead his ponytail got sliced off (I call bullshit on that one). Carlos was telling people to stay back.

Tony says Brody’s stomach was sliced open with his intestines coming out, begging to not let “them” hurt him any more. Dutch came back in and found out from Mark Youngblood that Invader had stabbed Brody. Colon asked if he could do anything for him; Brody said to take care of his family and to tell his wife that he loved her.

Invader stayed in the showers with Jovica and they were apparently having a screaming match with one another. Then Invader came out, with his shirt torn, grabbed his keys and went home.

It took 45 minutes for the paramedics to arrive and they couldn’t get him on the gurney, so Tony lifted him onto it. He also went in the ambulance with him. Tony got the feeling from the locker room that they were mad at him for going. He tried to give Bruiser reassurance while breaking down himself.

At the hospital, the doctors weren’t rushing to help Brody because stabbings are apparently as common as colds in Puerto Rico, so Tony manhandled a doctor into going over to him. He recoiled when he saw Brody’s feet were going blue and he punched a wall in frustration.

Back at the arena, Abby gets word in the heel locker room that Brody had been stabbed and thought it was an angle. A doctor confirmed it and he was shocked.

Back at the hospital, the surgeon working on Brody reveals that he has two eight-inch cuts, one on his chest and one in his stomach. The intestines were OK, but his liver had been sliced. The doctor told Tony he needed to go because he was scaring everyone, so he went back to the arena.

Back in the babyface locker room, Invader returns in a clean shirt like nothing had happened. The show went on, to Tony’s horror, and everyone was carrying on like nothing happened too. Tony went mad and got calmed down by a police officer. The police officer asked if he’d seen “the fan that stabbed Brody” that everyone said was responsible. Atlas turned and said “that son of a bitch” (Invader) was the one that did it. Because it was wrestling, the police officer thought he was working him.

Tony says he worked with the Iron Sheik in a match that went about two minutes that night when Sheik found that “the King Kong of the Brody” had been stabbed by “that motherfucker Invader”. Tony was met in the locker room by TNT/Savio Vega, who gave him his bag and told him not to go to the hotel with the warning that people were looking for him, so instead he went down to the beach and walked it up and down all night.

At the hotel, Dutch asked for any calls for Brody to be put through to him. In Texas, Barbara Goodish got calls into the early hours before picking it up and hearing Nancy Colon, who said there’d been an incident and that she needed to come to Puerto Rico. Barbara called the hotel and got put through to Dutch. Dutch revealed that he’d been stabbed, but didn’t know any more than that at that point. He had the hotel call the hospital in the morning, who revealed Bruiser didn’t make it through the night.

Tony found out from Abdullah “at the meeting” that Brody had died. Abby denies that any meeting took place. Atlas says he’s lying. Abby reveals that he owned 5% of the territory, so people wouldn’t want to say stuff to him and he wouldn’t want to say stuff to them because of the conflict of interest.

Dutch confirms a meeting took place in someone’s room and nobody knew what was going on. Abby removed himself from everything according to him. Atlas and Dutch gave statements to the police. Atlas’ statement was different to everybody else’s, so he was told he’d be called upon again as witness. The police told Dutch “Tell Carlos Colon that we run this island, not him”. Dutch couldn’t say what happened because he wasn’t there at the time of the stabbing. Tony left the island, while Abby went to the airport to meet Barbara and Geoffrey Goodish.

Barbara introduced herself to Abby, not knowing more than what she’d been told. Abby revealed to her at that point that he hadn’t made it and she grabbed onto him in tears. She made the arrangements to get Bruiser back, with Nancy Colon as her translator. Geoff talks about how harrowing it was and something he couldn’t get over for twenty years.

Bruiser had to be cremated in Puerto Rico, with Geoff picking out his dad’s blue casket. A simple ceremony followed, including a few of the wrestlers and their families, before they headed home.

Dutch heard that Invader was arrested four days later. His bail was paid for by businessmen, he never went into the cells. Barbara won’t say the name of Brody’s killer, but she heard the whole proceedings were a sham. In a 2008 shoot interview, Carlos Colon claimed no knowledge of a cover-up and didn’t want to talk about it because it was “very sad”.

Back in the US, Tony Atlas found out from Tony Rumble that the trial had gone ahead without him ever being called to attend, with Invader being acquitted on account of self-defence. Similarly, Dutch got his subpoena days after already knowing the verdict. He claims that the mark fans and people bought into Bruiser being a maniac and Invader being a hero, so they found him not guilty.

A month later, AJPW held a tribute for Brody in Japan with Barbara and Geoff present. Barbara was moved immensely by how much the fans thought of him.

The show ends with the aforementioned Bruiser interview with the news affiliate, with Brody saying he’d sacrifice his football career for the chance to gain greater fame and success in wrestling. Geoff in the present says he’d like to see some “personal justice” be dealt out rather than legal justice. Tony draws a picture of Brody, saying that legends never die and in that sense Bruiser Brody will live forever.

The Puerto Rican contingent declined to be interviewed for the show.

Abby wishes he was still here as he watches old matches and clips of himself and Bruiser to conclude.

In conclusion: I could talk about Tony Atlas, who seems honest, but overblown, and his timeline seems all over the place. I could talk about Abby, who seemed sensitive but detached and evasive. I could talk about Colon, who seemed shifty as heck and about as emotional as a bank manager.

Instead, I’ll talk about Geoff Goodish, who stands out as the person who was the most affected, even now. His mom had obviously had to find the inner strength to get herself and Geoff through it, but you can tell that he is tortured by what he lost and what he will possibly never get, which is answers and justice. For that reason, with him as the connection point, it’s a very sad episode that beggars belief when you consider that Invader did it and got away with it.

Feel free to comment below, hope I did a good job of reporting/reviewing the show.