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Nicole Bass (1964-2017)



Until recently, professional wrestling has not exactly been an industry fair to women. Way into the 1990s—where Jerry Lawler would scream for “puppies”—women were generally treated as sex symbols who served as eye-candy for a predominantly male audience. The few women in wrestling who were then thought to be able to go toe-to-toe with men—those who had the athletic build, size, and demeanor—became part of the intergender sideshow that featured prominently during the heyday of wrestling in the 1990s. 

Still, many women wrestlers broke the mold, and went toe-to-toe not only with each other, but the biases towards women in wrestling. These wrestlers included Chyna, Bull Nakano, Akira Hokuto, Madusa Miceli, and Cinthia Moreno, among others.

One of them—not as celebrated but still as important, and deserving of dignity and respect—was Nicole Bass.



Bass was 6’2” and 240 pounds, who towered over many women in the WWF during her time. Bass made a name for herself for over a decade as a bodybuilder, competing in various bodybuilding organizations like the National Physique Committee, and the International Federation of Bodybuilding. In 1997, Bass won the 1997 NPC National Bodybuilding Championship, which parlayed into her professional wrestling debut a year after.

Bass entered professional wrestling through Extreme Championship Wrestling, making her debut as Justin Credible’s bodyguard in his feud with Tommy Dreamer. As Credible’s bodyguard, Bass figured in his subsequent feud with Mikey Whipwreck, and in the Credible/Dreamer feud opposite Beulah McGillicutty.



A year later, Bass debuted in the World Wrestling Federation as Sable’s bodyguard at WrestleMania XV, destroying Tori to help Sable retain her Women’s Championship. Following a feud with Debra McMichael, Bass then figured in an alliance with Val Venis, finally winning him over after a long build up. Bass also figured in some brief tussles with Chyna, before leaving the company around 1999 as part of a sexual harassment suit involving the Brooklyn Brawler.

Reports of hardship and struggle followed her since then. But save for some appearances on the Howard Stern Show, Nicole Bass has gradually faded from the wrestling consciousness, often as a throwback to the long-forgotten bits and pieces of the Attitude Era.

Just this morning, on her Facebook page, it was announced that Nicole Bass passed away at the age of 52.


While often the subject of ridicule for her rather rather masculine looks, Bass still carved out a space for herself as a competitor worthy of fear and intimidation in a land of giants. Her career, no matter how brief, showed to the world a streak of competition that was somewhat lacking in women’s pro wrestling then: to dominate, intimidate, and entertain beyond what then were the unquestioned assumptions of what they can do.

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