On one fateful night in Puerto Rico, the professional wrestling world was plunged into mourning as one of its most formidable and legendary figures, Frank Goodish, met an untimely end. While his given name may not instantly resonate with wrestling fans, his in-ring persona as the wild and untamed Bruiser Brody remains etched in the annals of wrestling history. Born on June 18, 1948, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Frank Goodish would become a wrestling icon known for his ferocious brawls and hardcore style, often drenched in blood and featuring an array of unconventional weapons.
Goodish was a man fiercely protective of his wrestling persona, quick to preserve the aura of invincibility that surrounded him. He had a reputation for strategically losing to opponents to maintain his image as an indomitable force in the ring. Yet, it was his shrewd business dealings that may have ultimately played a role in his tragic and untimely demise. On July 16, 1988, the wrestling world was shaken to its core when Bruiser Brody was fatally stabbed in the locker room of a Puerto Rican wrestling event. The circumstances surrounding his death have remained shrouded in mystery, marked by conflicting accounts from witnesses and allegations of a cover-up by local authorities. What is clear is that on that day, professional wrestling lost a talent on the cusp of becoming one of the sport’s all-time greats.
The Making of a Legend
Frank Goodish’s journey into the world of professional wrestling took an unconventional path. After completing his education at West Texas A&M, he began his career as a sportswriter. Surprisingly, despite having a promising college football career, he chose not to pursue a professional football career. Instead, he sought training under Fritz Von Erich and began his wrestling journey in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). Under the moniker Bruiser Brody (and sometimes King Kong Brody), he roamed various wrestling territories across the nation as a fan-favorite attraction. Armed with a swinging metal chain and a wildman’s howl, Brody sent fans and fellow wrestlers alike into a frenzy of fear.
Brody’s legacy was built on an unwavering commitment to his persona, often refusing to “job” (lose) to his opponents. While some lauded this as his dedication to preserving his character, others questioned his stance. He engaged in memorable feuds with fellow giants of the squared circle, including Abdullah the Butcher, Big John Studd, Kamala, and Jerry Blackwell. In 1976, he even challenged Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title (which later became the WWF, and then WWE), one of the few bouts he lost during his illustrious career. Brody’s history with Jose Gonzalez, known as Invader 1, dates back to their earlier clashes in the WWWF, where Brody’s refusal to sell for his opponent created tensions that would come back to haunt him.
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昭和プロレス好きの英語学習者は100% “Do a Brody”ってフレーズ好きなはず。大意は①大胆な事を思い切ってやってみる②失敗して痛い目見る、って感じだけけど。②なんかは粗暴で暴れ出すと手がつけられずプエルトリコで刺殺されたブルーザー•ブロディ(Bruiser Brody)そのまんまだからね。 pic.twitter.com/XoMpk63lqM
— NekoCat (@kawasem67773210) November 2, 2023
Journey to the East and Back
In the late 1980s, Brody ventured to Japan, where he engaged in a legendary feud with Antonio Inoki. It was during this time that Brody captured the NWA International Heavyweight title on March 27, 1988, marking his third and final reign. His time in Japan showcased his versatility and dominance in the world of professional wrestling.
By 1987, Brody also entered the turbulent wrestling scene of Puerto Rico, working for Carlos Colon’s World Wrestling Council (WWC). The wrestling landscape in Puerto Rico during the 1980s was notorious for its violence and reflected in-ring battles that were often bloody and brutal. It was not uncommon for wrestlers to be carried out on stretchers, legitimately requiring hospitalization. However, the packed arenas promised substantial paydays, making it an appealing territory for wrestlers seeking both financial gain and notoriety. Brody engaged in intense and bloody encounters with the likes of Abdullah the Butcher and Carlos Colon, which captivated audiences and solidified his legacy.
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The Legacy of Bruiser Brody
Bruiser Brody’s reputation extended beyond his wrestling skills. He was known for his intimidating presence and his dedication to his character. However, a significant incident during a match with Lex Luger in Florida in 1987 illustrated both his unpredictable nature and his commitment to his character. Brody stood in the ring and refused to sell any of Luger’s offense, leading to an altered finish to the match. Brody’s abrupt decision left Luger and the referee scrambling to adapt, ultimately ending the bout via disqualification. Luger later approached Brody, inquiring if he had done something to upset him. Brody’s response was simply, “No, the match just wasn’t working.” This episode showcased Brody’s uncompromising dedication to his craft.
Yet, it was his clash with Jose Gonzalez that would ultimately lead to the tragic events in Puerto Rico. Their ongoing feud was marked by personal animosity and, to some extent, a score to settle dating back to their earlier encounters in the WWWF. The culmination of their animosity occurred in a shocking and fatal incident that would reverberate throughout the wrestling world.
The Tragic Night in Puerto Rico
On July 16, 1988, Bruiser Brody arrived for a wrestling event at Juan Ramon Loubrail Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He was scheduled for a tag team match alongside Dan Spivey. While seated in the locker room with Tony Atlas, a fateful request from Jose Gonzalez would set the stage for a tragic turn of events.
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Gonzalez beckoned Brody to join him in the showers, a seemingly routine request where wrestlers could discuss business in relative privacy. While the exact nature of their conversation remains unknown, it was punctuated by two blood-curdling screams. Tony Atlas, concerned by the commotion, rushed to the showers to find Brody with a stab wound to the stomach and Gonzalez holding a knife. A scuffle ensued, and the chaotic scene left onlookers bewildered.
The circumstances surrounding the murder are clouded in uncertainty. Speculations and allegations of cover-ups persist. Some believe that Carlos Colon, the wrestling promoter and booker, may have had a role in the incident, given his proximity to the scene and the subsequent actions of some wrestlers. One chilling detail is the knife used in the stabbing, which was never recovered, further fueling suspicions of a cover-up.
Paramedics faced delays in reaching the scene due to heavy traffic, leaving Brody waiting for over an hour before receiving medical assistance. Tony Atlas, showing immense courage, carried Brody to the ambulance when paramedics were unable to lift him. Brody was transported to the hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Controversy and Acquittal
In the wake of the murder, Jose Gonzalez was put on trial for the killing of Bruiser Brody. Gonzalez claimed self-defense, and in 1989, he was acquitted of the charges. The verdict left many in the wrestling community and beyond critical of the justice system, as concerns persisted regarding witness summonses and the integrity of the trial.
Following Brody’s tragic death and the subsequent trial, the World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico faced significant challenges. Many American wrestlers refused to work for the promotion, fearful of a similar fate. The promotion’s reputation suffered,