It would seem that WWE has affixed the proverbial rocket to the back of rookie Bo Dallas, with plans to shoot him to the moon. Of course, sometimes those rockets misfire (Sin Cara) or never quite get off the ground (Tensai), but Dallas seems to have the makings of a main-roster star.
After several years in WWE’s developmental puppy mill, he emerged to prominence at the Royal Rumble Fanfest event last weekend in Phoenix, where he defeated three of his peers to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble. He was the 16th entrant in the Rumble and survived an impressive 20 minutes, during which he notably tossed out Wade Barrett. Even more impressive: after being challenged by a furious Barrett to a singles match the following night on Raw, Dallas scored a clean win against the Intercontinental champ.
To get better acquainted with this capable young upstart, here are some lesser-known facts about Bo Dallas.
Bo Dallas was born Taylor Rotunda on May 25, 1990, meaning he’s still barely old enough to buy alcohol. He shares a birthday with both Alberto Del Rio and Roman Reigns, although he is five years younger than Reigns and 13 years younger than Del Rio. He is one of the youngest wrestlers ever to compete on Raw, joining the ranks of the 1-2-3 Kid, Jeff Hardy, Zach Gowen and a small handful of others.
Like The Rock, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Randy Orton, Bo Dallas is a third-generation wrestler whose forebears had long and successful careers in the ring. His grandfather is the legendary Blackjack Mulligan, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 (alongside longtime partner Jack Lanza). His father is Mike Rotunda, who is still best known for his portrayal of the sneaky taxman Irwin R. Schyster — though he had periods of great success as a tag wrestler, particularly with partner Barry Windham (who is Bo Dallas’ uncle). Wrestling is truly the family business, as Dallas’ real-life brother Windham is WWE’s Bray Wyatt (formerly Husky Harris).
In a 2009 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Dallas said he instantly bonded with some of the other developmental wrestlers who come from wrestling lineage: “A lot of the second- and third-generation guys are automatically friends,” he said. “We all know what each other have been through.”
Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo won the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championships twice. Bo Dallas and his brother Windham Rontunda (Bray Wyatt) have won the Florida Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championships twice. Mike Rotundo was known by a number of different gimmicks in his days, from I.R.S. to Mike Drond to Michael Wallstreet (he adopted the latter persona the same year Bo Dallas was born). Despite his relatively short time in wrestling, Bo Dallas has already had his share of alter-egos, including Tank Rotunda, Tank Mulligan, Bo Rotundo and Taylor Rotundo.
As Irwin R. Schyster, Mike Rotundo won three tag team championships with partner Ted DiBiase as Money Inc. In Florida Championship Wrestling, Bo Dallas frequently joined forces with Brett DiBiase, often in six-man tag matches with other partners (including Maverick Darsow — son of WWF’s Repo Man).
On Sept. 1, 2011, Dallas forfeited the FCW Heavyweight Championship, which he won several months earlier from his longtime rival Lucky Cannon. It was later revealed the injury that forced Dallas to forfeit the title was a lacerated kidney, from which he needed several months to recuperate.
Just over a year ago, Dallas was nabbed for driving drunk around Tampa at 2:30 in the morning. A breathalyzer revealed he had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. According to Tampa Bay Online, he spent the night in jail and was released the following morning on $500 bond. In an interesting coincidence, a spokesperson for the police department in nearby Orlando is named Mike Rotundo (no relation, as far as we can tell).
In one of his very earliest matches in Florida Championship Wrestling, just over four years ago, Bo Dallas (wrestling under his real name) tagged with longtime developmental talent Kris Logan (a.k.a. Brian Cage) to face Ryback and John Cutler. So Bo Dallas can partly lay claim to a feat that practically nobody else on the WWE roster can — a victory over “Big Hungry.”
Dallas’ underdog victory against Wade Barrett this past Monday was not without some back-story. Barrett and Dallas have squared off in the past, both in the developmental territory and in a dark match before a Smackdown taping on Aug. 23, 2011. Barrett won that match by pinfall, perhaps sparking a grudge that Dallas never forgot. Dallas went straight for Barrett at Sunday’s Royal Rumble and eliminated his rival almost immediately. When Barrett sought revenge on Monday’s Raw, Dallas scored perhaps the biggest underdog upset since the 1-2-3 Kid toppled Razor Ramon. Expect these men to tussle at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, and possibly even WrestleMania.