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Fred Ottman

Fred Ottman
Ottman in 2014
Birth name Fred Ottman
Born (1956-08-10) August 10, 1956
Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Residence Lakeland, Florida
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Big Bubba[1]
Bubba the Belt Collector[1]
U.S. Steel[1]
Big Man Steel[2]
Tugboat Tyler[3]
Tugboat Thomas[1]
The Shockmaster[1]
Super Shockmaster[1]
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2]
Billed weight 384 lb (174 kg)[2]
Debut 1984
Retired 2001

Fred Ottman (born August 10, 1956) is a retired American professional wrestler best known as Tugboat or Typhoon, and for teaming with John "Earthquake" Tenta as The Natural Disasters in the World Wrestling Federation. Ottman is also well known for his infamous Shockmaster character in World Championship Wrestling. In the WWF, he is a one-time World Tag Team Champion.


  • Career 1
    • Early career (1985-1988) 1.1
    • Florida Championship Wrestling (1988-1989) 1.2
    • World Wrestling Federation (1989–1993) 1.3
      • Tugboat (1989–1991) 1.3.1
      • Natural Disasters (1991–1993) 1.3.2
    • World Championship Wrestling (1993–1994) 1.4
      • The Shockmaster incident (1993) 1.4.1
      • Post-Shockmaster (1993–1994, 2009) 1.4.2
    • Return to the WWF (1994) 1.5
    • Japan, Independent circuit, and retirement (1994–2001) 1.6
  • Other media 2
  • Personal life 3
  • In wrestling 4
  • Championships and accomplishments 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early career (1985-1988)

Ottman was trained by Texas All-Star Wrestling and the Continental Wrestling Association as Big Bubba.[4]

Florida Championship Wrestling (1988-1989)

In September 1988, Ottman wrestled on the Gordon Solie-hosted TV shows of Florida Championship Wrestling as a babyface called U.S. Steel. He feuded with Scott Hall, among others.

World Wrestling Federation (1989–1993)

Tugboat (1989–1991)

Ottman made his first appearance in the WWF in June 1989 in a dark match under the ring name Big Man Steel with Slick as his manager. That September, his name was changed to Tugboat Tyler, then Tugboat Thomas, as he portrayed a fan favorite on house shows, defeating the likes of Barry Horowitz, The Brooklyn Brawler and Boris Zhukov.[3] He debuted on WWF television on the January 27, 1990 episode of Superstars under the Tugboat Thomas moniker and defeated Iron Mike Sharpe. His ring name was soon after shortened to Tugboat. His costume consisted of a red striped shirt, white pants, and a sailor's hat. Part of his gimmick included miming pulling the cord of an airhorn and making a "Toot-toot" noise, like a foghorn on a ship. Tugboat aided Hulk Hogan in his feud with Earthquake and "Canada's Strongest Man" Dino Bravo. This coincided with a substantial push that saw Tugboat emerging victorious on television against numerous opponents. He made his pay-per-view debut at that November's Survivor Series, where he teamed with Hogan, The Big Boss Man and Hacksaw Jim Duggan to face the team of Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Haku and The Barbarian. Tugboat was eliminated when he and Earthquake fought to a double count-out, and Hogan went on to be the sole survivor.[5] Tugboat was the first true test of The Undertaker, who defeated him in numerous matches between December 1990 and March 1991.[6][7] Tugboat received a shot at Mr. Perfect's Intercontinental Championship on the May 5, 1991 episode of Wrestling Challenge, but was unsuccessful.[7]

Natural Disasters (1991–1993)

In May 1991, Ottman teased a heel turn by attacking Hulk Hogan in a battle royal on NBC's Saturday Night's Main Event. Ottman completed the turn on the June 15 episode of WWF Superstars. Tugboat and The Bushwhackers were facing The Nasty Boys and Earthquake in a six-man tag team match when Tugboat attacked his teammates, allowing Earthquake to hit the Earthquake Splash on Bushwhacker Luke and pin him. On the June 17 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Earthquake's manager, Jimmy Hart, reintroduced Ottman as Typhoon, and he and Earthquake became known as The Natural Disasters.[7] As part of the character change, Ottman began wearing a red, white and black singlet with a tidal wave on the front and "Typhoon" in black letters under it (to match the design on Earthquake's wrestling gear, seismograph lines and "Earthquake" in red letters across the middle).[8]

The Natural Disasters dumped Hart and turned into fan favorites in early 1992, feuding with and winning, in July, the WWF Tag Team Championship from Hart's new top team, Money Inc. ("Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster). They lost the title back to Money Inc. three months later.[9] After Earthquake took a leave of absence from the WWF early in 1993, Ottman wrestled in singles matches before leaving the company that spring.

World Championship Wrestling (1993–1994)

The Shockmaster incident (1993)

After departing from the WWF, Ottman found himself at the center of one of the most infamous moments in wrestling history. He had signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and was to make his debut in a match alongside the fan favorite team of Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith. He would be their mystery partner in the upcoming eight-man War Games match against the heel team composed of Sid Vicious, Big Van Vader and Harlem Heat at Fall Brawl, a replacement for Road Warrior Hawk (who had been advertised).

On "A Flair for the Gold" (an interview segment hosted by Ric Flair), in front of a live audience at Clash of the Champions XXIV, Sting and Smith were confronted by Sid and Harlem Heat, demanding to know the identity of their new partner. Sting exclaimed, "All I have to say is, our partner is going to 'shock' the world, because he is none other than The Shockmaster!" The camera then zoomed in on a section of the set where two torches set off a small pyrotechnics explosion in front of a sheetrock wall. With a new costume consisting of a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet painted purple and covered in silver glitter, a pair of jeans and a long, black, puffy vest, Ottman was supposed to make a dramatic entrance by crashing through the wall.

While making his entrance, Ottman tripped over a piece of lumber that was framing the set, causing him to fall forward through the wall with his helmet falling off and sliding across the floor. His face accidentally exposed, he scrambled to put the helmet back on as Flair exclaimed "Oh, God!" Ottman donned the helmet and got back on his feet, shifting his weight and dusting his hands off in an attempt to shrug off the gaffe while Harlem Heat's Kole asked, "Who is this motherfucker?" and Smith exclaimed "He fell flat on his arse...he fell flat on his fucking arse!". Both of these comments were audible to the live audience and television viewers, but were partially censored in future showings of the footage by WWE. Ottman then began gesturing toward his would-be opponents several seconds before Ole Anderson started his scripted promo as Shockmaster's menacing, gravelly voice via remote microphone. Sid Vicious reacted in rage to Shockmaster, and the broadcast focused on Vicious for the duration of the voiceover. The announcers said nothing as the segment ended.

Despite generating zero crowd reaction, WCW tried to continue with the angle, repackaging The Shockmaster character as a klutz in a series of pre-recorded promos (featuring Ottman in different attire, without a mask and using his own voice). It was this version of the character that went on to appear as planned in the main event of Fall Brawl, teaming with Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith in the War Games match. His ring attire for his match was a plain white shirt, jeans and a white construction workers helmet, very different to the character in its infamous debut. He entered last into the match and actually gained the victory for his team by forcing Kole to submit to a bear hug. This was the last major appearance of the character and it was abandoned soon afterwards.

[10] and "a debacle many still consider one of the worst gaffes in the history of sports-entertainment."[12] While Ottman was initially displeased with the turn of events, he now finds humor in the incident.[10]

Post-Shockmaster (1993–1994, 2009)

WCW attempted to salvage the incident by introducing a new character called The Super Shockmaster. Also portrayed by Ottman, he was presented as The Shockmaster's nephew, and referred to the Shockmaster as "Uncle Fred."

In 2009, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Dusty Rhodes were on a segment of WWE Raw talking about the DVD release of The Rise and Fall of WCW when Triple H brought up the subject of the Shockmaster's debut. During that segment, the WWE recreated the Shockmaster's stumbling through the wall, with Santino Marella portraying the character and Arn Anderson providing the voice.

Return to the WWF (1994)

Ottman returned to the WWF as Typhoon in May 1994, taking the place of his former partner Earthquake in house show matches against Yokozuna after Earthquake left the WWF. Typhoon made his return to television on the June 25 episode of Superstars, defeating Quebecer Pierre. He then primarily lost matches to Yokozuna on television and at house shows before departing in August.[13]

Japan, Independent circuit, and retirement (1994–2001)

After leaving the WWF in August 1994, Ottman, still using the Typhoon name, began wrestling on the independent circuit in the East Coast. In December 1995, he went to Japan to compete in a one-night tag team tournament, held by WAR. He teamed up with Shinja and advanced to the semi-finals, before losing to Genichiro Tenryu and Ultimo Dragon. In March 1996, he wrestled a tour of Malaysia for the National Wrestling Alliance.

By the late 1990s, he was wrestling primarily in Florida, where he competed for FOW and WXO. In WXO, he was given a gimmick where he was too big to get out of his own car.

Ottman was one of the participants in the 20-man Gimmick Battle Royal match at WrestleMania X-Seven as Tugboat, and was eliminated by his former partner, Earthquake.

Other media

In 1992 he appeared as Typhoon (along with Earthquake) in the SNES version of the video game WWF Super Wrestlemania. The Disasters were absent from the Sega version.

Personal life

Ottman retired from wrestling after WXO folded in 2001. He now lives in Lakeland, Florida and works as a safety manager for Gaffin Industrial Services, a building cleaning service. He also coaches the little league team of his two sons, Berkley and Beau and daughter, Bailey.[14] He is the brother-in-law of late pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes.[15] He is one of the two uncles of Cody Rhodes, the other being Jerry Sags.[16]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^ a b c d e f
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Fred Ottman profile from
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  6. ^ Singles matches between Tugboat and The Undertaker, from
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ Fred Ottman images, from OnlineWorldofWrestling
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Typhoon's 1994 WWF matches, from
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b

External links

  • WWE Alumni profile
  • WWE "Where Are They Now?" feature
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