Date: August 14, 1999
Location: Sturgis, SD
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Armpit reader HB2KBuzzsaw
Buff Bagwell and Ernest Miller are two pro wrestlers whose on-air personas are not far off from their real life personas. So when the two were booked into a feud with each other, it’s not surprising it came to blows backstage.
Bagwell was a strong babyface when he first came on the scene, both in Global and later WCW where he got over largely based on his handsome, clean cut good looks and body. He later developed something of an ego with his heel run in WCW and friendship with Lex Luger, where the two often laughed behind the backs of the cruiserweight wrestlers. Still, even then, he showed an ability to be an effective babyface when he wanted to be, as he showed great potential when he returned from his broken neck in 1999 before WCW foolishly turned him heel when a golden angle was handed to them.
Miller was a legitimately tough guy, having been in several karate tournaments. He knew he was tough and wasn’t afraid to let others know either. Bagwell did not have a reputation for being a tough guy, whether he really was or wasn’t.
As part of their television feud, Miller usually got the upper hand in the angles that led up to their scheduled match at WCW Road Wild ’99. Back then, wrestlers had more freedom in their promos, and Bagwell did a promo in black face that Miller felt was racist. Because of that promo, there was already existing heat between the two.
At Road Wild, Miller was booked to go over. Bagwell complained to Kevin Nash, who was one of the main bookers, and Nash had it changed. Bagwell felt he was the one who was always left lying in the television angles, and thus felt he should be the one going over. At one point it was believed the finish, as well as the post-match, were constantly being changed. Bagwell even complained about a scenario in which he’d win with a cradle, but then get laid out in the post-match. That scenario was scrapped as well.
The two had a discussion before their scheduled match, and it got heated. One source said Bagwell slapped Miller, while another said he looked like he was going to slap him, but never did. Either way, Miller responded with two solid punches to the mouth and cheek. They then went to the ground, with Bagwell trying to hold him close to prevent any further punches. In the fall, Bagwell cut his elbow pretty badly and was bleeding.
When it was broken up, the two stood up and Miller wanted to continue. But Bagwell tried to calm him down, which many saw as him trying to save face because he underestimated Miller’s ability to fight back.
The match went on later that night, which wasn’t the smartest decision, but luckily there were no real problems. The finish decided on was Bagwell going over after Sonny Ono accidentally hit Miller with a foreign object, and there was no post match. However, Bagwell was punished by being removed from Nitro that week. Miller was not only not punished, but also protected on that Nitro. As part of that show, Sid Vicious went on a spree and laid out several wrestlers in the early matches. Miller was spared from being one of Sid’s victims.
Some have said that Bagwell’s black face interview led to the argument in the first place, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Ironically, The Armpit was specifically mentioned in a radio interview with Miller in 2005, and he at first said the internet always gets their stories wrong and that it was blown out of proportion. After saying the internet had it wrong, he then acknowledged the fight did happen and seemed to indicate it was more about Bagwell not wanting to do the job than anything. Miller did put Bagwell over as otherwise being a nice guy.
When The Armpit was brought up to Miller, it was not in regards to this post, but a previous post in which a very short blurb was written about the incident. This post is being written many years after the fact.