Ronald Heard, a.k.a. “Outlaw”, Ron Bass passed away on Tuesday at the age of 68. Heard reportedly suffered complications from a ruptured appendix, which he wasn’t aware of and went to the hospital after his issue was discovered, but it was unfortunately too late to treat his condition by that point. Bass worked in every major territory and ended his career with a three-year run (1987-1989) in WWE.
I’d imagine that every wrestling fan remembers exactly when they were introduced to this colorful and zany world of spectacle and sport. What about the second time? I’ll never forget mine as it was a stark contrast from being entranced by the charismatic aura of the Mega Powers.
August of 1988 saw Ron Bass turn an episode of WWF Superstars into a bloody and censored affair. The Outlaw blindsided Brutus Beefcake as he was giving one of his post-match haircuts to a fallen foe. Bass tossed the referee out of the ring, wrapped the bullwhip around Beefcake’s throat and dragged him around the ring.
The angry Texan went on to repeatedly gouge Beefcake’s head open with his spurs. A red “X” with the word “censored” was brandished across the screen as blood poured out of Beefcake’s head. Bass wouldn’t let up until several babyface wrestlers ran out to make the save.
It was unlike anything my seven-year-old eyes had seen before.
Bass would get his comeuppance when he lost a hair vs. hair match on Saturday Night’s Main Event to Beefcake. In a 2016 interview, Bass stated that getting his head shaved was one of the most lucrative paydays of his career as he received residuals from that show for a long time.
WWE.com stated in their announcement of Heard’s passing that following his retirement from the ring in 1991, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University. Speaking as an adult who is continuing their education, I think that is an amazing accomplishment.
I despised Ron Bass as a kid due to what I saw on tv (and also what I saw in my imagination once the show was censored) but I have learned to appreciate his performance as an adult because I value the entertainment he provided to me. Heard was one of many plaintiffs in the current class action concussion lawsuit against WWE. Despite the tragic lingering effects linked to the grievance, I hope that he found peace and fulfillment in his final years.