As Dave Scherer noted earlier tonight, it was announced this evening that Nicole Bass (real name Nicole Bass-Fuchs), who had a short run in both WWE and ECW, had passed away at the age of 52. The cause of her death was not publicly acknowledged but a post on her Facebook page noted that she had been in ill health for some time and was told in the last several days that there was nothing doctors could do for her. There has been no independent confirmation of her passing beyond the statement posted on her Facebook page as of this writing but the word that is being passed around among pro wrestlers that knew Bass is that she passed away following a stroke.
Bass was a bodybuilder in the 1990s who won numerous titles in competition and became far more well known when she became one of many unique, eclectic personalities to become regular guests during The Howard Stern Show during the same time period. With an extremely masculine, larger than life frame and a deep, deep voice, Bass was perfect fodder for Stern's penchant of pushing the envelope on the air, with a running gag in the appearances being Stern questioning whether she was really female.
Bass parlayed that fame into professional wrestling, debuting for the original ECW in early 1998 in Queens, NY as muscle for Justin Credible with the idea that she was the girlfriend of Credible's manager Jason Knight, "The Sexiest Man on Earth." Bass was with ECW for a few months as part of Credible's feud with Tommy Dreamer, including the company's fourth PPV, Living Dangerously '98.
WWF, in the midst of the Attitude Era, which regularly mined over the top 1990s material such as Stern, South Park and The Jerry Springer Show for inspiration, brought Bass in. She debuted as a surprise at Wrestlemania XV in Philadelphia, PA as Sable's bodyguard, interfering to assist her in beating Tori. Bass was green and extremely limited as a performer but looked like a beast in comparison to the relatively smaller females on the roster. She remained with WWF for several months before being released in July 1999.
The most newsworthy aspect of her WWF run actually came after she was cut from the company. In the wake of her release, Bass filed a $120 million civil lawsuit against the company, alleging she had been wrongly fired, that women were not paid at the same level of men in the company, that she had been sexually assaulted by Steve "Brooklyn Brawler" Lombardi during a flight to Great Britain for a tour (stating he grabbed her breast and grinded against her), charges Lombardi denied.
Bass claimed that at the time, she intended to report Lombardi but had been told by him that if she did, there would be reprisals. Bass would later allege that when she was hit with a guitar during a match against Debra, the guitar had not been gimmicked as planned, busting Bass open - the promised reprisal.
Bass also alleged she and other WWE female performers were sexually harassed by male WWE personnel during her time with the company, including male talents and executives coming into the female locker room without warning. As one would expect, WWE denied all charges.
The case went to trial in New York City in the fall of 2002 (and received a lot of media attention locally at the time) with WWE attorneys pushing the idea that Bass had been hired for her unique look but had nothing beyond it to warrant remaining with the company. The also pointed out a number of inconsistencies with her claims. A number of Attitude Era female performers, including Jacqueline Moore and Lisa "Ivory" Moretti testifying that no sort of sexual harassing incidents ever happened. Alicia "Rian Shamrock" Webb did testify that male talents regularly walked into the female locker room, naming Triple H as one of those who would do so. Triple H would testify that he had no recollection of any such incident happening.
During the trial, Vince McMahon testified and stated that Bass had been let go because she had "two left feet", was not going to improve as a performer and was not at the level of athlete that WWE sought. He also testified that there were no known sexual harassment issues reported during her time with the company. McMahon also stated that while Bass had been cut by the guitar, that was due to Debra hitting Bass incorrectly.
The case went before a jury in October 2002. It ruled in WWE's favor after just over four hours of deliberations and declined to award Bass any damages. Jury foreman Pete Sutich told The New York Post, "I think this kind of stuff belittles all those valid arguments by women," and regarding Bass' claims, "Her and many of her witnesses, we felt were not telling the truth."
WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt commented after the verdict that he believed Bass was trying to blackmail the company to pay her off but that the company wouldn't buckle. Linda McMahon told The Post that the company had given Bass an opportunity and commented, "I regret the lawsuit, and it never would have happened if we hadn't hired her."
After the trial had concluded, Lombardi denied the charges against him and told The Post, "I don't feel tarnished at all. Look who made the allegations."
Bass would file appeals but they would never go anywhere.
Bass would make occasional appearances on the independent scene but her pro wrestling run really ended after WWF released her. In recent years, Bass would occasionally visit independent events and make convention appearances.
In recent years, Bass had been dealing with a number of financial and health issues and endured the passing of her husband/manager Bob. Several years ago, she was arrested after being caught shoplifting in a Queens supermarket in 2015 but the charges were dropped after Bass agreed to counseling and to stay out of trouble for six months.
On behalf of everyone associated with PWInsider.com, we'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Nicole Bass.
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