Death of Big Boss Man Ray Traylor

Big Boss Man

Bret Hart’s Calgary Sun Column

Not again.

The wrestling fraternity mourns the loss of yet another brother. Big Boss Man, Ray Traylor, died of a massive heart attack. He was only 42. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters just, 8 & 11.I’ve started to become numb to the sad and seemingly never ending roll call of dead friends. The length of the list became alarming a long time ago. Why? Why are so many pro wrestlers of my era dying so young? And at a rate something like ten times higher than football players of the same age. Ray Traylor’s gimmick name became his calling. His friends called him Boss Man. He was a big, husky kid out of Georgia, the epitome of all that’s good about Southern rasslers. His good ole’ boy accent was no put on and despite being a 300 pound brute that terrorized Hulk Hogan with a billy club, in real life Ray was a big, friendly southern boy. A charming, likeable shy man with a penchant for laughing and joking all the time. He usually had a big grin on his face and it actually sounded natural the way he said, “gal dang it” a lot. The first time I met Boss Man was in the old Hart Foundation days. I’d joke with him that with his beard, shades and matching flat top he was Anvil’s younger bigger brother.

At that time the WWF was highlighting big monster cartoon gimmicks to work with the Hulkster. Ray Trayor got his start in wrestling in 1986 as Jim Cornette’s bodyguard, Big Bubba Rogers. He submitted his resume to Vince McMahon who noticed that he’d been a real life prison guard in Marietta, Georgia, and Vince took it from there and Boss Man was born. I could write about Boss Man’s epic battles with the like of Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and even Andre The Giant - or the rare but great matches when Boss Man teamed up with Akeem against the Hart Foundation. But I’d rather tell you about the real Ray Traylor, a good and decent family man who lived a clean life.

And he was a good westler. In the last bits of Hogan’s real era he drew serious money and was respected by his fellow wrestlers for being a team player and goold ole boy with a big heart. How that heart could finally give out, at such a young age, scares me.

I used to enjoy looking forward to a time, many years from now, perhaps a cauliflower alley or hall of fame get together. .. or maybe even just in my back yard sitting around my fire pit shooting the bull with Owen, Davey, Pllman, Perfect, Rude, Boss Man, even Miss Elizabeth. But the list of dead friends is yet another name longer.

like it here. After all I’ve been through I want to stay awhile. I took a long bike ride yesterday and thought about Boss Man all day asking why. Ray was especially close with Perfect and Rude and if heaven is indeed such a great place I find solace in believing that they will tell him why.

Good bye Ray Traylor.

I can't believe my heart's still pounding
I can't believe how close I came
And meanwhile heaven's falling
The fallen angels flown away
My worst nightmares became real
I got so scared that I forgot my name
And that'll be me someday
With stolen wings and evil ways
Straight south with the keys to the pearly gates
(Alkaline Trio)