James Fullington (born June 19, 1963), better known by his ring nameThe Sandman, is an American professional wrestler, best known for his career with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he developed into a smoking and drinking “Hardcore Icon” and held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship a record five times. He also had stints in World Championship Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Fullington got his start in professional wrestling in the Philadelphia-based Tri-State Wrestling Alliance under the ring name Mr. Sandman, managed by his then real-life wife Peaches. He also performed in Memphis in 1991–1992.
In April 1992 he arrived in Eastern Championship Wrestling (later renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling) as a crowd favorite. He won his first ECW Championship from Don Muraco on November 16, 1992, but lost it back to Muraco on April 3, 1993. At the end of 1992, he changed his name from Mr. Sandman to The Sandman. For the rest of 1993, Sandman teamed on and off with JT Smith and was featured regularly.
In 1994, Sandman changed his gimmick after ECW owner Tod Gordon suggested that he channel his own personality into his character, creating an edgier gimmick. In February 1994, he began a feud with his former tag team partner Tommy Cairo, after The Sandman was temporarily blinded following a match and inadvertently struck Peaches. When The Sandman regained his sight and saw Cairo assisting Peaches to her feet, he attacked Cairo. The Sandman subsequently became estranged from his wife (claiming “life’s a bitch, and then you marry one”). After losing a match against Cairo, that led to Peaches hitting him with a strap profusely, Woman attacked Peaches and led her back to the ring where Sandman held her and Woman applied the strap to her skin before Cairo returned to save her. After this event Sandman adopted Woman as his new manager. In keeping with The Sandman’s character, Woman opened his beers and lit his cigarettes prior to matches. She began carrying a Singapore cane with which she struck The Sandman’s opponents.
After Cairo insinuated that he was sleeping with Peaches, The Sandman stated that Cairo owed him “$25 a romp” and began demanding that Cairo “pay your bills”. Following the highly publicized caning of Michael P. Fay in Singapore on May 5, 1994, Sandman adopted another defining attribute of his new gimmick as he began wielding a kendo stick, referred to as a Singapore cane, taking delight in caning other wrestlers such as rookie Tommy Dreamer or his “estranged” wife. Sandman and Woman faced Cairo and Lori in a mixed Singapore Caning match on May 14, 1994 at When Worlds Collide. After Cairo and Lori defeated their opponents, Lori caned Sandman’s crotch until Woman threw salt in her eyes, enabling Sandman to regroup and use his cane on both Lori and Cairo.
During a match against Tommy Dreamer, Sandman’s valet: Woman attempted to attack Dreamer on his behalf when Dreamer planted a long kiss on her. After the match Sandman was told by Woman that Dreamer was with Cairo and that they were both sleeping with his wife, which enraged Sandman. Woman wanted to make Dreamer suffer and so she lured Dreamer into a match with Sandman wherein whoever lost would have to receive ten strikes from the other with a Singapore cane. After losing the match Tommy began to take the strokes, when it became clear that Woman’s intention was to humiliate him by making him beg her for mercy, which he did not, much to her chagrin, and Dreamer was idolized by the fans for his resolve and the level of disdain for the Sandman was increased. This was a defining moment for both men and for ECW in years to come.
In late-1994, The Sandman was once again (kayfabe) blinded after a lit cigarette was pushed into his eye during an “I Quit” match with Tommy Dreamer. Woman blamed Sandman for the injury and abandoned him. The Sandman subsequently claimed that he would have to retire as a result, with Dreamer responding by dedicating the remainder of his career to The Sandman. Cairo began mocking The Sandman, which led to Dreamer heavily beating him during a match at November to Remember. At Sandman’s retirement ceremony during the same event, an attempted reconciliation with Lori was interrupted by Woman, who caned Lori and threatened Sandman. As Dreamer came to the rescue, Sandman revealed that he was not in fact blinded and attacked Dreamer. The Sandman later revealed that his blinding had been an elaborate ruse concocted to trick Dreamer into hurting Cairo on his behalf. Sandman had to wrestle Dreamer again the following month at Holiday Hell when he and now reconciled partner Tommy Cairo, teamed up against Cactus Jack and Dreamer, but were defeated by the duo.