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By Mike Johnson on 2019-03-05 00:44:00

While details are still coming in, can confirm that former Wrestlemania main eventer Chris "King Kong Bundy" Pallies passed away yesterday.   We are told he had been dealing with some health issues of late.

Bundy, 61 years old, was the perfect monster villain to headline against then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan in the main event of the second Wrestlemania in 1986.   Billed at 458 pounds from Atlantic City, NJ, Bundy was an excellent heel as a core member of Bobby Heenan's family.   In an excellent angle, Bundy attacked and destroyed Hogan's ribs on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, crushing him with Avalanche after Avalanche in the corner as Don Muraco held Hogan, who had no way of escaping.  This set up a steel cage match that saw Hogan emerge victorious in what was the first-ever WWF title bout held on a Wrestlemania card.

The odd thing about that run up to the title bout was that Bundy had the chance to show how charismatic and funny he was while doing media to promote the event, which eventually brought him several acting offers, including an IBM-compatible computer commercial that ran nationally in the late 1980s (a commercial Bundy claimed Vince McMahon was upset over), a small role in the Richard Pryor film Moving and appearances on FOX's classic Married...With Children.  The Bundy family name was actually inspired by Bundy himself.

Bundy, a legitimate native of New Jersey, was trained by the late Larry Sharpe in the Monster Factory before first making an impact working for World Class in Texas.  Originally billed as Big Daddy Bundy, the "King Kong" moniker, obviously playing off the famous giant gorilla in the 1930s film, came when he went under the tutelage of Gary Hart.  He began feuding with the Von Erichs, losing his hair along the way, creating his iconic bald look.  He actually wrestled Fritz Von Erich in Fritz's retirement bout.

While Bundy worked several other areas, including Mid-South, Memphis and the AWA, his 1985 debut in the WWF, at the time managed by Jimmy Hart, showed he was a match made in heaven for the promotion stylistically.  Hulk Hogan had actually been responsible for Bundy coming in, seeing him as a potential challenger, and convincing Bundy, who he crossed paths with on a New Japan tour, to come to WWF when he was slated for a longer run in the AWA.

Bundy was a monster in a WWF era where monsters always reigned, at least until they fought the super hero champion who ruled the area.  Bundy was built as a beast, crushing enhancement talents and even beating S.D. Jones in seconds at the first Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden.    He would overpower and destroy his opponents, splashing them and demanding the referee count to five to show he had completely demolished them, a gimmick that began while working under Bill Watts in Mid-South.  With his large frame, bellowing voice and knowing exactly how to play the role, Bundy quickly became an iconic personality for the WWF in that time period.

Eventually, Bundy was "traded" to the Bobby Heenan family, where he and Big John Studd were the ultimate monster tag team at the time and feuded with Andre the Giant.  After the feud with Andre, Bundy was built up for the Hogan run at Wrestlemania 2, which was built around the idea of a giant blue reinforced steel cage designed to handle Bundy's weight.  After losing to Hogan, Andre and Studd feuded with The Machines, an alleged tag team from Japan that actually featured the "suspended" Andre the Giant teaming with The Masked Superstar and Blackjack Mulligan as the alleged Giant, Super and Big Machines.

Bundy would team with Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo in a mixed tag team bout against Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid and Little Beaver at Wrestlemania III, which saw Bundy disqualified when he attacked Beaver, breaking the rules that the full-sized wrestlers could not attack the midget tag team partners.    Bundy would appear at the first-ever Survivor Series, but with Andre the Giant having turned heel and obviously being positioned as the top monster in the company, Bundy's run was slowing down, and he exited the WWF in February 1988.  His initial plan was to take a year off, but Bundy ended up investing in a local bar and doing some acting and took longer than expected off from professional wrestling.

During that period, Bundy all but disappeared from pro wrestling until popping up, unannounced as Terry Funk's mystery partner at the first-ever ECW November to Remember in 1993, losing to Sabu and Road Warrior Hawk.  It was a huge surprise at the time.  By the next year, Bundy was once again back for a run in the WWF, again as a heel, but this time as a member of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation, with that run climaxing with a Wrestlemania 11 bout against The Undertaker.  He was never positioned again as the top villain for the company and exited again in late 1995.    Bundy would later claim he wished he had gone to WCW at the time but returned to the WWF after promises were made but with business down, he wasn't happy with the return run.

After his second WWF exit, Bundy remained a constant on the independent circuit, especially in the Northeast, where he could play off his WWF fame and even work as a babyface, usually wrestling names like The Iron Sheik, Jimmy Snuka, Tom Brandi, Hacksaw Duggan, and others.  Bundy had not wrestled in years, but was still making occasional appearances at wrestling conventions in the Northeast.  He was slated for next month's Wrestlecon event and his Twitter account had actually plugged an appearance for him there several hours ago, as Dave Herro, who was bringing Bundy in, had been given access to the account.

Pallies was among those who had brought a lawsuit against WWE in July 2016, alleging the company had not properly prepared their performers for neurological and concussion-based injuries, a lawsuit that would later be dismissed by the United States District Court of Connecticut.  The lawsuit claimed that Pallies, as of July 2016, had been on social security disability for eight years and  medicare due to health issues, stemming from "neurological injuries" that he suffered in the ring "culminating in cognitive difficulties, including, but not limited to, headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, and burning pain all over his body."  

While one would have thought Bundy, given his early Wrestlemania importance and his iconic stature as a villain during an extremely popular time period in WWF history, would have been a shoe-in for the WWE Hall of Fame, the induction never happened and once the lawsuit was filed, any chance of it had become an even bigger longshot.  None of that, however, erases the unique and iconic nature of Bundy, the character, from the lore of professional wrestling.

On behalf of everyone at, I'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of King Kong Bundy, Chris Pallies.

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