It’s been many years since I have laughed as hard as I did this week.
Thank you, giant man who I’d never even heard of until about 72 hours ago.
So yeah, if you don’t know him, you shouldn’t feel bad. I didn’t either. Had never even heard the name. Didn’t know Big John in Memphis. No idea who Little John from World Class was either. Trapper Jon? I thought he was a guy on M*A*S*H. But lo and behold, they were all one man, a splendid, wonderful, insanely incredible human being who I am sure will bring joy to your innards as well.
His name was John Harris and the dude was 7′ 7″ tall. Whether that was a legit height or a gimmicked one, I have no idea. One thing I do know, though.
He was one big, BIG dude.
Actually, I know more than one thing, also I also know the background for that Memphis set is the most amazingly 1980’s thing I have ever seen. It’s like Tron if Tron was decorating his house for Thanksgiving and wanted to go with a slightly different color palette. Honestly, I am a bit perturbed I had not seen that earlier in November, as I can only imagine the joy my family would have experienced as they ate turkey today with that painted on the walls.
So yeah, while I don’t know he was really seven and a half feet tall, he was obviously ginormous. I mean, let’s say Lance Russell is 5′ 8″. In that picture above, he is talking eyeball to nipple with the guy. And as you can see, this isn’t some prop deal where Lance is in a hole like Vince used to talk with Andre the Giant – they are level on the floor. What’s more, the guy ain’t wearing lifts – he’s wearing tennis shoes. That’s a big dandy.
Originally showing up in Memphis in 1985, he was dubbed Big John Harris. That territory featured all manner of insane hype videos…I mean, who could forget that one with Lanny Poffo dressed up as a knight?
You wouldn’t think it would be possible to top Lanny reciting poetry outside a castle somewhere in Tennessee (wait, what?), but the promo vids we got for Big John were in a class all on their own.
As he was positioned as a big ol’ country bumpkin (is there such a thing as a small one of those?), we got footage of him eating a hearty breakfast, then walking around his farm, then pointing at random things, all before finally lifting a cow over his shoulders for no discernible reason.
I mean, seriously, look at that. Tell me that thing isn’t completely horrified.
Big John’s bovine crippling antics are soon interrupted by two men in completely goofy outfits of their own…
…and while the footage is so blurry I can’t be sure, I am thinking that is Tojo Yamamoto and a very young Jeff Jarrett or an older Jerry Jarrett. If it’s not, let’s just pretend it is.
I love the idea that a 7′ 7″ farmer is being interrupted from his daily chores of utilizing various animals as dumb bells by a kung fu master in a karate gi and a pantsless guy wearing the sparkliest star spangled jacket you ever did. Better yet, seconds later the same man who decided that trousers were unneeded that day…
…decided he didn’t need his shirt either.
His Oriental compadre shared his enthusiasm, and thus the gi has also vanished.
Hey, at least you are wearing a shirt.
Thanks for that.
Following the barnyard antics, Big John joins Lance in the studio for an interview. Said promo consists of Lance asking various questions, to which John replies “Yup.”
Over and over and over and over and over.
I wish that was a joke. S’not.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find a lot of footage of the big guy in the ring. What little I did find was amazeballs though, as we have a clip here of him doing…
…something. It appears that all three men are simply jumping up and down together. Not sure why that would hurt, but apparently it does, as his foes collapse in a heap after a couple seconds of it.
I’d like to think this is his finishing move.
And I’d like to think it is called the BOUNCY CASTLE.
I know he’s a farmer, and that totally doesn’t fit. I don’t care. It’s high time the sport of professional wrestling had a finisher named that.
John would find himself in World Class next, partnering with the Fantastics who at the time were battling the Midnight Express over the American tag team championship. He was brought in via a fun angle in which the Fantastics claimed they had a friend who wanted to be involved with wrestling, a friend they called “Little John”. The Midnight’s manager, the very great Jim Cornette, laughed aloud at the idea of some doofus named “Little John” being a manager. So out comes today’s inductee and Cornette, well…
…yeah, he reacted as you would expect Jim Cornette to react.
This led to a match at the second Von Erich Parade of Champions, with the two forced to sit next to each other at ringside. And it was at this point that things went totally off the rails, as John simply didn’t quite know what he was supposed to be doing. This inexperience caused him to miss his cue to interfere and thus the Midnights wound up winning instead of losing the match as plan. Not to worry, though, as the referee ignored his three count and simply gave the belts to the Fantastics despite them losing the match. Cornette, well…
…yeah, he reacted as you would expect Jim Cornette to react.
Wait, didn’t I just say that?
Anyway, you can get the full story on that debacle from James E himself, who tells it far better than I ever could. Be forewarned, though, this clip is NOT suitable for younger ears.
Off to the AWA next, as John was introduced to the home audience as Silo Sam.
That is a fantastic name. SILO SAM!
Say it three times in a row and tell me you’re not smiling.
Better yet, he was given yet another classic vignette. If you thought the one in Memphis was fabulous, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
First, we get John looking up at buildings in the big city…
…then running around a park. I bet he was trying to escape a PETA agent attempting to gun him down for those antics with that cow above.
While those clips are acceptable, up next we get what may be my favorite 15 seconds of any wrestling program ever.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Silo Sam going for a Sunday drive.
I legit can’t stop laughing at this.
I’d love to think that is in fact how this man drives to the grocery store. Or the post office. Or the courtroom.
Even better, if you look closely, you can see the wipers are on as he backs out of his parking space. I would take this to mean it’s raining. If that’s the case, isn’t he just spraying water right into his eyes?
Maybe it’s just me, but driving around ala Dino Flintstone seems incredibly unsafe.
Unspeakably funny, yes, but also unspeakably unsafe.
John’s next landing spot would be the largest wrestling company in the world.
Yes, Big John Harris, Silo Sam…was in the World Wrestling Federation!
He was rechristened Trapper John, and sadly, no footage of him has seen the light of day. If ever we needed an easter egg on that WWE Unreleased DVD, it would be his try out match. Until we get that, all I can give you is my artist’s rendition of this glorious event.
John would vanish from the wrestling world, but would find himself on the big screen of all places. And odds are, you may have even seen him!
In the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Pee Wee and his friend Simone are hanging out in a giant dinosaur discussing dreams and life. Simone talks about how she wants to go to Paris, but will never be able to do so as her boyfriend Andy flunked French in high school and thus thinks the entire country exists solely to make him look dumb. As Pee Wee exits the dinosaur, he runs smack dab into Andy, who just happens to be…
Yes, the dude who attempted to kill Pee Wee Herman with a dinosaur bone was in fact your new hero and mine!
After this misadventure, John more or less vanished from both films and wrestling. And while I am sad to see him go…
…I’ll never tie of watching him leave!