Serving Hard Time: What You Don’t Know About The Hall Of Fame Career Of The Big Boss Man

Last week, it was announced that the Big Boss Man would part of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2016, which may have left newer fans a bit confused. Who is this Kenny Powers with a brush cut-looking guy in a cheap cop uniform? Of course, if you were watching wrestling in the ’80s or ’90s, you don’t need Boss Man’s induction into the Hall of Fame explained. He wasn’t the most jacked, flashy or charismatic, but few wrestlers could make you love and hate them at the same time quite as well as Big Boss Man. He was a lovable everyman, but could also play the bitter, vicious heel better than almost anybody. Meanwhile, in real life, he was one of the most respected, well-liked men in the business.

Get ready to walk the line with these 10 law-abiding facts about Big Boss Man…

Big Boss Man was an actual prison guard in Cobb County, Georgia.

It’s often said the best characters are just a wrestler’s real personality cranked to 11, and Big Boss Man took that concept about as far as it could go. Born Raymond Traylor Jr. in 1963, the future Boss Man grew up in Marietta, Georgia and really did work for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office as a corrections officer before getting into wrestling. In fact, he didn’t give up being a prison guard until well after he started wrestling. Ironically, Traylor only quit his corrections side gig once he jumped to the WWF in 1988, at which point he started playing a prison guard on TV. There was a reason Big Boss Man was a lot more convincing than the plumbers, garbage men and other “side job” wrestlers littering the WWF in the ’80s and ’90s.

He was, technically, a World Heavyweight Champion.

A fedora, beard and aviators? More like the Big Hipster Man. 

Big Boss Man had plenty of world title matches over his career, but he never won the big one. Or did he? Ray Traylor wrestled for Jim Crockett from 1986 to ’87, and joined the WWF in 1988, but in between he wrestled for the Universal Wrestling Federation as Big Bubba Rogers. The UWF was Oklahoma promoter Bill Watts’ attempt to go national and compete with Vince McMahon and Jim Crockett, and as part of that expansion, he created the UWF World Heavyweight Title.

Traylor would be the third holder of the UWF Heavyweight Title, beating One Man Gang (who would later team with Traylor to form the Twin Towers in the WWF). The UWF would only last a year-and-a-half, folding up shop in late 1987, but during that time, the promotion had a nationally syndicated TV show, and the UWF belt was an at least semi-legitimate world title. So yeah, put an asterisk beside it if you want, but the man who played Big Boss Man was once called World Heavyweight Champion.

The dude could wrestle like a cruiserweight during his prime.

Big Boss Man is a beloved character, but he doesn’t have a great reputation as an in-ring worker, which isn’t fair. Most people remember Boss Man from his later, Attitude Era appearances when age and injuries had limited his mobility, or his late ’80s WWF work when he was wrestling guys like Hogan and Akeem and didn’t really have to push himself. The reality is, when Boss Man hit his stride in the early ’90s, he was easily one of the best big men in the business. Despite standing 6-foot-6 and weighing well over 300 pounds, Boss Man could charge around like a cruiserweight and had a vastly more varied arsenal of moves than his late-career “punch, punch, kick, punch, Boss Man Slam” matches would indicate.