The Big Boss Man has been announced as the fourth inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The announcement was made on March 7, 2016, live on WWE Monday Night RAW.
When fans that grew up the Hulkamania era of pro wrestling in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s reminisce about the wrestlers they grew up with, The Big Boss Man is often a name that crosses their lips. The Boss Man was a mainstay of that time period and then continued to reinvent himself and find success for himself all throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium.
The late Ray Traylor began wrestling in 1985 as an enhancement talent for the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions. Booker Dusty Rhodes saw potential in Traylor and repackaged him as the silent enforcer Big Bubba Rogers. He worked as a bodyguard for Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express and feuded with top guys like Rhodes and Ronnie Garvin. And as part of an exchange program he ended up in Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation, where we won the company’s Heavyweight Championship from One Man Gang.
In the summer of 1988, Traylor hit paydirt when he joined the World Wrestling Federation. It was there where WWE boss Vince McMahon christened him The Big Boss Man, a play on his previous real life job as a corrections officer in Cobb County, Georgia.
The Boss Man was pushed early on as a villain and was poised a top rival to Hulk Hogan and then-WWF Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage within months of his debut. His manager Slick also paired him with his former rival One Man Gang (now rechristened Akeem) to form the gargantuan Twin Towers. The alliance lasted until early 1990 until Slick tried to sell Boss Man’s services to “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase to neutralize Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
From that point on Boss Man changed his ways and fought for the good of law and order. He feuded with DiBiase, his former partner Akeem, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and his Family, fellow lawman The Mountie and ex-con Nailz. By late 1992, Boss Man’s role had faded and was used to put over rising villains before leaving the company in early 1993.
He resurfaced in World Championship Wrestling in late 1993 as The Boss, using a near identical variation of his Big Boss Man gimmick. WWF lawyers came calling and he was forced to change gimmicks into The Guardian Angel. He spent nearly all of 1994 feuding with Vader but failed to recapture the magic from the WWF.
In 1995 he reverted back to his villainous Big Bubba Rogers gimmick. He teamed with various villains and then joined The Dungeon of Doom, only to turn on them and join the new World order. An injury in early 1997 took Bubba out of the picture, and when he returned he had been ex-communicated from the nWo. For the first time since 1985 he wrestled under his real name and formed an alliance with Ted DiBiase and The Steiner Brothers. Quickly he fell down the card once again and left WCW in early 1998.
He returned to the WWF in late 1998, once again known as The Big Boss Man. Updated for a new decade, he was clad in black riot gear and worked as the personal enforcer for Mr. McMahon and his Corporation. Boss Man found new life in this role. He won the Tag Team Championships with Ken Shamrock and found a niche in the Hardcore Championship division. In the wild “Attitude” era, Boss Man had outlandish rivalries with The Big Show (after mocking his dead father) and Al Snow (which involved feeding Snow a meal of his dead dog).
As his star faded, he formed partnerships with new stars like Prince Albert and then Bull Buchanan. After missing the WCW InVasion due to injury he returned in late 2001 again as an ally to Mr. McMahon. But his time had passed him by and he was relegated to the low card within weeks. He was quietly released in 2003.
Traylor passed away from a heart attack on September 22, 2004. He was 41.
The Big Boss Man was one of the most recognizable pro wrestling characters of his day. He worked well as a hero or a villain. He had charisma in spades, and an incredible gimmick. He had God-given size and the speed and agility of men half his size. He was a complete package that changed with the times, and kept him relevant in different environments. While he found much success as Bubba, he will most remembered as his tours of duty as The Boss Man.
His former manager “The Doctor of Style” Slick will do the honors of inducting him into the Hall. He is joined by Sting, The Godfather and The Fabulous Freebirds in this year’s class. This year’s Hall of Fame ceremony will be held on April 2, 2016, inside the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. This is the night before WrestleMania XXXII.