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Throughout 1998, the WWF experienced a growth in roster size but due to limited amount of TV time a number of their more genuine "tough guys" were left without much to do. As a result, the idea for a legit tough guy tournament was bandied about as a way to both utilize some of these men and capitalize on the recent interest in Toughman Contests around the country.
It is highly rumored that the idea developed as a way to push "Dr. Death" Steve Williams as a genuine tough guy. Williams was a successful wrestler in the NWA and early 1990s WCW, but might not have been well known to newer WWF fans in the Attitude Era.
Participation in the tournament was strictly voluntary.
Each match consisted of three one-minute rounds. Whichever wrestler connected with the most punches per round scored 5 points. In addition, a "clean" takedown scored 5 points and a knockdown was worth 10. If a wrestler was knocked out (decided by an eight-count rather than a ten-count), the match ended. The matches were scored by ringside judges including Gorilla Monsoon.
WWF audiences grew impatient with the relatively complicated rules, lack of explosive kayfabe-style finishes and generally slower action (in the first week, crowds chanted, "We want wrestling").
The tournament also resulted in a number of legitimate injuries -- Steve Blackman and Road Warrior Hawk were unable to work in usual WWF capacities for a while after. Savio Vega aggravated an old arm injury and would never work for WWF again.
UFC veteran Dan "The Beast" Severn was pulled from the tournament for unknown reasons.
WWF management's favorite, "Doctor Death" Steve Williams, got knocked out by Bart Gunn in the third round of his match, which lessened the tough-guy mystique being built for his character, effectively ending his push.
Bart Gunn defeated Bradshaw by TKO on the August 24, 1998 episode of Raw is War to win the tournament and $75,000. Bradshaw received $25,000. During this bout, Shawn Michaels provided guest commentary alongside Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross.
A follow-up to the tournament had the winner, Bart Gunn, matched against pro boxer Eric "Butterbean" Esch at WrestleMania XV. Gunn was knocked out approximately 30 seconds into the bout and soon after was out of the WWF. Though Gunn's legitimate knockout of Williams did not bring him success in the WWF, he was seen with great mystique in Japan where Williams is highly regarded. He tours the independent circuit and Japan under the name Mike Barton.
Brawl for All tournament bracket
KO - knockout; TKO - technical knockout; Pts - points; Dec - referee's/judge's decision
|First round||Second round||Semifinals||Finals|
|8/17||Darren "Droz" Drozdov|
|8/10||Darren "Droz" Drozdov||Pts|
|RAW||Darren "Droz" Drozdov||Draw|
|7/6||Road Warrior Hawk||Draw|
NOTE: Steve Blackman defeated Marc Mero but was unable to compete in the next round, permitting re-entry into the tournament for Mero.