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Wrestling / Bob Sapp

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It's Bob Sapp Time.
"Bob Sapp is what ancient Greeks used to protect their mazes. Hes immune to catapults and fire, but he tires quickly."

"Imagine taking someone off the streets and throwing him into the ring with Mike Tyson and then watching that person win."
Bob Sapp, about why Japanese crowds used to love him.

Bob Sapp (b. in 1973) is an American Professional Wrestler, kickboxer and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. An immensely huge guy, he started as a football player, but he achieved little there, so he went to train in professional wrestling at the World Championship Wrestling Power Plant before the folding of the company. With seemingly nowhere else to go but to back NWA Wildside, he gained a few victories in the lower mid card as "The Beast" before being used to put over Omem. However, his fate would change radically upon being scouted by Japanese kickboxing promotion K-1 after a toughman contest. Through his charisma, physique and an insane amount of smart protection by K-1, Sapp became a wild star in Japan, competing both in kickboxing and MMA and winning incredible upsets over veterans of the sports like Ernesto Hoost and Kiyoshi Tamura, in no small part thanks to his overwhelming size. He got so popular that was featured in TV, films, commercials and all kind of merchandising, and of course pro wrestling, becoming the highest paid mixed martial arts fighter at his peak as well as the first and only black guy to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He also competed in the fabulous Fighting Opera HUSTLE and became Heavyweight Champion in the Korean version of the World Wrestling Association. His boom lasted to 2005, a year in which fame caught with him and he slowly became less of a fighter and more as a journeyman, ending with a career twist which saw him taking dives for money for the next years, needed to pay some medical bills. With a late career filled up with loses and a pocket filled up with millions, he retired in 2013, turning to acting and sporadic pro wrestling.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"Beast Tropes":

  • The Ace: Sapp was everything Japanese promoters looked after: he was powerful and imposing, could legitimately excel in the ring against the right opponents, could easily transition from combat sports to pro wrestling and vice versa, and more important, was a crazy draw for casual fans. He was both K-1 and PRIDE's rookie of the year when he debuted, as well as the 2002 Tokyo Sports MVP, and even Black Belt Magazine considered him fighter of the year in 2003 and the best box office draw of 2002 and 2003.
  • Achilles' Heel: His weak points, which opponents figured out after a time, were his lack of heart and poor stamina. His legs were also vulnerable due to him being a Top-Heavy Guy.
  • Angry Black Man: Of cartoonish proportions. His main appeals to Japanese people were that he was a giant black guy who looked like a villain of a martial arts manga and that he crushed big names on the ring just like the villain of a martial arts manga would do.
  • Animal Motifs: He was compared to a bull in his first mixed martial arts fight due to his unorthodox charges swinging his two massive arms. Otherwise, he would be referred less specifically as a beast.
  • Anticlimax: His loss to Kazuyuki Fujita in an MMA rules match at a K-1 event was so anticlimactic that it was decided that Sapp should forfeit the IWGP Heavyweight Title belt and Fujita should just challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi for it.
  • The Apprentice: To Maurice Smith and Josh Barnett, his main trainers. He also trained kickboxing with Sam Greco, who he knew from WCW.
  • Arch-Enemy: In pro wrestling, The Great Muta, Akebono and Wataru Sakata.
  • The Artifact: He was randomly booked by NJPW in 2013 and expressed interest in keeping wrestling for them, but it was clear that the New Japan executives had nothing planned for him, and he was never brought again.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: The Beast's usual behavior was composed of boasting, bragging outrageously and dispensing random violence.
  • Ax-Crazy: Had no qualms about getting fouled or even disqualified in order to boost his character, knowing it would only elevate his stock. In his very first match, he was DQ'ed after pushing Tsuyoshi Nakasako to the ground and hitting him with elbows and stomps.
  • Badass Army: The Beast Army, a team of kickboxers gathered to represent Sapp in his dedicated K-1 Beast event. It was mostly composed by giant and/or imposing fighters, like Sam Greco, Gary Goodridge, Peter Aerts, Butterbean, Montanha Silva and Tom Erikson, and even Sapp's enemy Manabu Nakanishi.
  • Badass Boast: Complete with chewing out photos of his rival and such.
    • Especifically, during the negotiations to him to fight Mike Tyson, Sapp promised to knock out Tyson with a high kick. (It would have been more or less the first time ever Sapp did a high kick.)
    • In an even crazier instance, he wanted to turn his possible rubber match with Ernesto Hoost into a handicap fight against him and the grand sumo champion Wakanohana, and also Hoost's trainer Johan Vos if he dared to make it a 3-on-1.
  • Bald of Awesome: All his hair is below his ears.
  • The Berserker: His main tactic both in MMA and kickboxing was the "bullrush", that is, blindly charging towards his opponents while swinging around his arms in the fashion of wild punches. With a physique like his, the technique allowed Sapp to overwhelm his opponent and land some powerful blows before the adversary could fend him off.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: His reason to take part in the HUSTLE Grand Prix, in which the winner could ask a wish in storyline, was to become the president of United States and conquer the world.
  • Big Beautiful Man: His marketing often emphasized this aspect of Sapp, having him dressed in a pimp-ish fashion and behaving like a heartbreaker. They even launched a line of Sapp-shaped dildos.
  • Big Eater: According to a Japanese TV show, Sapp once ate 33 cow tongues, after which he proclaimed he was ready to defeat Hoost in under three minutes. He was also prone to use food-related metaphors to threaten his opponents: he claimed that The Great Muta was an hamburger and that he was going to eat him like an omelette by using his head as an egg. (Yeah, it makes you wonder how in the heaven does Sapp eat his hamburgers.)
  • Big Entrance: This is usual in the bombastic approach of the Japanese combat sports, prone to fill up giant arenas with pyrotechnics and cool music, but Bob got some especially memorable ones.
  • Big Fun: For Japanese people, and pretty much in real life. He's not particularly fat, however, just not as cut as most contemporary fighters.
  • Blood Knight: Only in character. It was precisely his admitted lack of fighting spirit that turned him from a combat sports sensation to a routine jobber.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Disrespected as he might be today by MMA fans for his attitude towards his career, it were many the fighters and trainers who said at Sapp's prime (especially after his fight with Nogueira) that he could have been a force of nature in the ring had he focused seriously in training and learning instead of becoming an entertainer.
  • The Brute: For Antonio Inoki, Generalissimo Takada and Toru Yano.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In character, he could not enjoy more his brutish feats.
  • Carnival of Killers: He employed many "assassins" to get rid of Danshoku Dino, including Jonathan Gresham, Ryan Genesis, Cho-un Shiryu, Dragon Chen and Ryoma Li. Gaylon Summers of GOUGE was the one to finally defeat him, but he didn't get rid of Dino, who would avenge the loss.
  • Catch-Phrase: "The Beast is always hungry!"
  • Challenge Seeker: Sapp liked to challenge everybody; the biggest example was Mike Tyson, whom he tried to lure into a K-1 ring, but he also challenged Bill Goldberg to either a MMA fight or a pro wrestling match. Fedor Emelianenko was another of his challengees, but the Russian humorously replied that he would have to gain 70kg to fight him in equal conditions.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: As a college football player he had near a 600 pound bench press and a 800 pound squat.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Even if it is all just an act, you need some serious craziness to get in front of thousands of people while wearing pink boas and claiming you are going to consume your opponent through detailed gastronomical methods.
  • Combat Pragmatist: During his fight against Jerome Le Banner, which was going to be composed of two kickboxing rounds and two mixed martial arts rounds in alternate fashion, Sapp chose the easiest strategy: he turtled over and defended at the kickboxing rounds, in which his adversary had the advantage, and attacked in the MMA ones, whose rules naturally favored him. Though he did not manage to finish Le Banner, Sapp avoided a more than probable defeat to the burly K-1 veteran and gave a significantly good performance.
  • Confusion Fu: His untrained punching style was based in wild haymakers, forearm clubs and random arm swings, which were both unpredictable and hard to block by classically trained opponents: the former because they did not expect that kind of crude blows to be thrown seriously, and the latter because these were legitimately dangerous coming from Bob, as with a fighter as strong as him any contact could result in a KO.
  • Costume Porn: In his entrances. And they could get very, very costume porny.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: All his mixed martial arts knowledge was composed of clubbing and slamming. Technical stuff like submission holds and precision striking was very rudimentary in his moveset.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Many, many of his fights and matches, sometimes thanks to clever Executive Meddling.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: In a lot of his entrances, as well as his music video.
  • David vs. Goliath: Except when facing Akebono, Stefan Gamlin and Choi Hong-man, all his opponents were clear Davids.
  • Death from Above: One of his wrestling finishers was a diving headbutt. He could also do the classic pescado or plancha to the outside.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: When he defeated Hoost not once, but twice. Sapp was also in the receiving end when Wataru Sakata beat him in HUSTLE, not only choking him out in a tag team match, but also pinning him in a singles one.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: While in pro wrestling, he adhered to his kickboxing ankle wraps as opposed to regular footwear.
  • The Dreaded: Until Sapp's flaws were revealed, his opponents were very wary of engaging him, which was sometimes their very bane. Minotauro Nogueira of all people demanded special rules of no knees on the ground in their fight, and he totally refused when promoters offered him a rematch for a bigger payment.
  • Evil Is Petty: He once attacked Manabu Nakanishi during a boxing event in which Nakanishi was going to give a flowers bucket to champion William Joppy, and even soaked him with a water bottle when people managed to break apart the brawl.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Got accidentally a toe in his eye when he received a high kick by Remy Bonjasky. Ouch.
    • In pro wrestling, Yuichiro Nagashima rolled him for the pin after an eye rake while Sapp was holding him in the Beast Backbreaker.
  • Evil Laugh: Had a rather impressive one.
  • Expy: Though it could be difficult to recognize for non-old school MMA fans, Sapp was the second coming of famous vale tudo fighter Rei Zulu: a huge, Scary Black Man with a flamboyant personality who lacked fighting training but made up for it through size and strength, who became wildly popular and got important victories over orthodox martial artists, and who was finally figured out by the community and turned into a jobber and and entertainer.
  • Finishing Move: Human Bullet Headbutt (diving headbutt), Beast Bomb (powerbomb, sometimes done twice or thrice), Beast Slam (airplane spin into a rolling fireman's carry slam), Beast Backdrop (high-angle backdrop suplex), Beast Backbreaker (Argentine backbreaker) and, appropriately, a Muscle Buster.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Big time example. Sapp got punished by Kimo Leopoldo in the early rounds of his debut fight in United States because he was trying to fight technically in order to appeal the American crowds; it failed because fighting like an orthodox kickboxer actually removed his Confusion Fu factor and just made him predictable for the more cunning Kimo. When Sapp switched back to his wild clubbing style (and after some well placed rest times), he got a fulminant knockdown in less of a minute and ended up winning the fight.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: He definitely evoked the trope, being the closest alive thing to a cartoonish Scary Black Man from anime, but the crowd was always behind him.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Minotauro Nogueira been a bit less tougher, he would have been hospitalized by Sapp at multiple instances.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Suffered one while playing football in Baltimore which made him turn to pro wrestling.
  • Gay Bravado: Some of his promos, entrances and TV appearances involved him draped in feather boas and dancing to Madonna songs, but nobody dared to doubt his heterosexuality.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: He tried to do this on Bono-kun in an event of HUSTLE in which they were teaming up, as Bono was upset on him for accidentally splashing him in other match and was refusing to wrestle. Unfortunately, Sapp's way to do it was attacking Bono from behind, suplexing him on the ring and leaving him to be pinned.
  • The Giant: Was huge, heavy and strong, though he was also infinitely more charismatic than your average wrestling giant.
  • Gimmick Matches: Bob Rules Match in Dramatic Dream Team. At DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2011 he competed in a "30 3 Minute Rounds with Alternating Bob Rules & Gay Rules" match against Danshoku Dino.
  • Glass Cannon: A subversion in which he lacked more stamina than defense. Sapp was incredibly fast for his size, large enough to be difficult to knock out, and strong enough to power out from holds; he also could inflict massive damage with his strikes and brute his way to basic submissions if his opponent gave him the chance. However, he got tired easily and could become skittish towards tough opposition, meaning that his performance started going down with every minute if he failed at finishing his opponent early.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: His fighting style, helped by his large arms. He also tried knees and kicks sporadically, but it never caught with him.
  • Groin Attack: Did it sometimes through his career in kickboxing to soften a particularly difficult enemy, knowing that Japanese referees were reluctant to DQ him.
  • Hard Head: Bob had a tough noggin although attacks to his head did affect his drive, they did not damage him very much, even if they were knees or soccer kicks.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Suffered one when he got his orbital bone broken by Mirko. It was as if he realized at the moment that, after all, there were fighters in the world who could harm him seriously.
  • Hero Killer: His first bouts saw him destroying Ernesto Hoost (a multiple K-1 champion), Kiyoshi Tamura (one of the shoot-style MMA aces), Manabu Nakanishi (who was considered NJPW's resident Japanese Hercules) and The Great Muta (needs no introduction).
  • I Know Football: With no more background than his football career, Sapp described his offensive as "NFL-style".
  • It Can Think: Sapp played with the trope during his post-fight interview, describing himself as an "Intelligent Beast" after armbarring Yoshihiro Takayama. Even if Takayama didn't have great skills and could hardly have defended a hold from such a strong foe, it was a surprise to many that Sapp could grapple at all. Minotauro Nogueira also noted it during his perilous match with him:
    "There was a time where he escaped a triangle, and I'm going to tell you that [Sapp] didn't escape it with power, he escaped it with technique. In the last one he slammed me in the ground, and I went for the triangle but he immediately escaped with technique. If he hasn't trained for it he wouldn't come out. He is a smart guy! He is not just about power. He is intelligent! He will give a lot of guys lots of trouble in the future.
  • Jobber: A weird voluntary example. The second half of his fighting career is made of tapping out at the first punches and running away with the money.
  • The Juggernaut: Thanks to his size and muscle mass, Sapp was actually very durable. If his adversary did not capitalize on his weak points, Bob could take more or less everything they threw at him and keep moving forward, at least until his stamina ran out.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Minotauro Nogueira described Sapp as K-1's ultimate weapon against mixed martial artists, as his size and strength alone were almost enough to nullify all the advantages MMA guys had over kickboxers (namely, wrestling and grappling).
  • Lethal Joke Character: Zig-zagged. Superheavyweights tend to perform badly in high-level mixed martial arts, especially when they are showy and overpushed and behave outrageously, but Sapp was just as a dangerous in the ring as he promised in his promos, only not enough of a fighter to capitalize on it. Nowadays, being a voluntary fighting jobber, he qualifies for a Joke Character, though.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Incredibly fast for his size, he could maneuver around his opponents at high speed and even perform aerial pro wrestling moves.
  • Neck Lift: Used an alternate Head Lift variation in pro wrestling. He also had the chokeslam as one of his signature moves.
  • New Transfer Student: Sapp's character in his dedicated manga Babibubebobubobu!! Sapp-kun by Hidemitsu Shigeoka was a Foreign Exchange Student who grew giant when becoming angry and had an alien invader enemy called Boss Sapp. Interestingly, the manga also featured a character called Akebono-kun who was Sapp-kun's best friend.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: His poor performance against Kimo Leopoldo was the reason Nobuaki Kakuda was banned from refereeing in United States, as everybody could see he was there clearly to protect Sapp and nothing more.
  • No-Sell: He showed absolutely no reaction to some punches from Nogueira, and also shrugged his way out of a triangle choke.
  • Oh, Crap!: His sole mass was enough to elicit this reaction from an unprepared opponent, but the truth is that Sapp, not being a well prepared fighter himself, had some of those whenever he realized his opponent was tougher than he had imagined.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Knocked out Tommy Glanville with his first punch. The fight itself was actually not very short, as Sapp spent several moments parrying and blocking by instance of his trainers in order to practice his defense.
    • His victories against Yoshihisa Yamamoto and Kiyoshi Tamura also count, though they were more of One Charge Kill.
  • One Steve Limit: Started in NWA Wildside as The Beast but that was also being used as the ring name by a member of the well established Vachon family, so he went by his real name with The Beast as a nickname.
  • Popularity Power: His duel with Akebono at New Years Eve was the first time ever than a combat sports event got more share than the annual NHK Kohaku music festival.
  • Power Stable:
    • Makai Club (in NJPW)
    • Takada Monster Army (in HUSTLE)
    • CHAOS (in NJPW, non-official member)
  • Puzzle Boss: The reason why he was in increasing inferiority against his opponents through his career: they had footage of him to study in order to figure out his weaknesses, while he didn't have much time to study theirs or even hit the gym due to his growing media schedule.
  • Rags to Riches: He skirted the poverty line after failing in the National Football League.
  • Ramming Always Works: If a guy like him does it.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: In some of his entrance attires. One of them had Sapp dressed like an angel and downed from the ceiling. No, really.
  • Red Baron: "The Beast", "Ankoku Nikudan Majin" ("The Demonic Human Bullet of Darkness"), "Muteki no Bosou Kikansha" ("The Invincible, Rampaging Mech"), "Kinniku no Nisetai Jutaku" ("The Two-Winged Household of Muscle").
  • Scary Black Man: The initial image he was billed with, which worked more when it came to scaring opponents than it did the audience, who found him novel.
  • Screaming Warrior
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • K-1 officers and referees were rather happy to allow Sapp to throw illegal blows and to call out the fight after anything which looked like a victory for him. Several blatant examples were enforced by known referee Nobuaki Kakuda.
    • Parodied in HUSTLE during his match against Bono-kun, in which several referees were knocked out to save Sapp from a defeat. The first one was used as a Human Shield by Sapp, the second was kidnapped by the Monster Army, and a third one, who was the (in)famous Yuji Shimada, cheated Bob's way to win.
  • Self-Deprecation: His "Beast Will Fight For Money" gimmick in Dramatic Dream Team.
  • Shmuck Bait: Bobby Lashley was audibly booed when he publicly announced he was going to stand and box with Sapp at FFI Ultimate Chaos and then immediately did a single leg take down when the bout started.
  • Signature Move: Besides those mentioned elsewhere on the page, the ever popular German suplex, Avalanche Hold (a falling powerslam), sambo suplex, lariat and lots of shoulder blocks.
  • Technician vs. Performer: An unapologetic performer.
  • The Movie: Sapp Time The Movie!
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: Learned Muay Thai before his fight with Mirko Cro Cop, and it was rumored that he also trained with Bas Rutten.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: A scarily literal real life example. His legs are not small, but his arms and upper torso completely dwarf them.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Resorted to low blows against Cro Cop and other fighters.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Probably the biggest example ever.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: When he fought grand sumo champion Akebono, the heaviest opponent in his record, Sapp was eslightly outsized by his 500 pound rival, but his experience and skill (compared to Akebono, that is) played on his favor, and the unstoppable force won the battle.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The key being to let his own rage tire him out than trying to halt him directly. Akebono, whose conditioning wasn't much better at the time, didn't have such an option.
  • Ur-Example: The first (and so far only) black man to win the IWGP championship.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • He was worfed several times in his fighting career, although he normally managed to bounce back. The first time was against Mirko Cro Cop, who knocked him out and broke his orbital bone; the second was against Kazuyuki Fujita, who simply mandhandled him with expertise and strength.
    • A special example was Mariusz Pudzianowski, who blasted him with a a barrage of punches, took him down with ease and destroyed in roughly a minute and a half. Something of a subversion, as no matter how strong Sapp was he was nowhere near as strong as a former multi-time World's Strongest Man like Pudzianowski.
    • After defeating the ever popular Razor Ramon HG in HUSTLE, Sapp lost surprisingly to Osaka Pro Wrestling powerhouse Zeus.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: He used powerbombs and piledrivers in his MMA match against Nogueira to counter his early submission holds. He trained them deliberately with Josh Barnett, who characteristically loved the idea and believed Sapp could use them for real thanks to his power.