Joseph Melton James (October 3, 1939 - August 27, 2020) was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, "Bullet" Bob Armstrong. In the course of his career, which spanned five decades, Armstrong held numerous championships throughout the Southeastern United States. Armstrong was also the patriarch of the Armstrong wrestling family; he has four sons (Scott, Brad, Steve, and Brian), all of whom became wrestlers. On February 28, 2011, following WWE Monday Night Raw, it was announced on WWE.com that Armstrong would be the third inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011, joining Shawn Michaels and Jim Duggan.
When he was a child, Joseph James's father took him to see Gorgeous George wrestle. The young James was impressed and intrigued by the flamboyant performer. As a young man, James served in the Marine Corps of the United States armed forces and was stationed in Korea. During his recruit training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on Parris Island, South Carolina, James was named Honor Man. After leaving the military, he began working for the Marietta Fire Department as a firefighter in 1962.
He debuted as a wrestler in the same year, adopting the ring name "Bob Armstrong". By 1966, Armstrong had become a popular face in the Savannah, Georgia area, and in 1969 he ceased working as a firefighter and began focusing on his wrestling career.
Armstrong achieved considerable popularity in the Southeastern United States, particularly in Alabama and his home state of Georgia. He frequently wrestled for affiliates of the National Wrestling Alliance, and on October 9, 1974, in Miami Beach, Florida, Armstrong unsuccessfully challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
While bench pressing a dumbbell weighing upwards of 180 lb (82 kg) in a gym in Huntington, Georgia, the bench that Armstrong was lying upon broke, leading to the weight falling on his face. Armstrong's face was severely damaged and his nose was torn entirely off, and he required US$38,000 worth of plastic surgery to repair it. While undergoing surgery, Armstrong donned a wrestling mask to conceal his disfigured features and began using the ring name "The Bullet". As "The Bullet", Armstrong feuded with the Stud Stable in Continental Championship Wrestling. He eventually discarded the mask after his surgeries were complete, but retained the nickname "Bullet" for the remainder of his career.
Armstrong trained each of his sons to wrestle and formed tag teams with them in the 1980s and 1990s. In the course of his career, he toured both Japan and Korea.
Armstrong went into semi-retirement in the 1990s. In addition to making occasional appearances on the independent circuit in Georgia and Alabama, Armstrong acted as the commissioner of Smoky Mountain Wrestling and worked backstage with Southeast Championship Wrestling and the Continental Wrestling Federation.
Armstrong appeared on the first weekly Total Nonstop Action Wrestling pay-per-view on June 26, 2002, alongside fellow National Wrestling Alliance veterans Corsica Joe, Dory Funk, Jr., Harley Race, Jackie Fargo, and Sarah Lee. His next appearance was on the August 14, 2002 pay-per-view, where he was introduced as an on-screen authority figure and informed Jeff Jarrett that he would face a mystery opponent one week later. The mystery opponent was revealed to be "The Masked Bullet", a masked wrestler who imitated Armstrong's mannerisms (although Armstrong himself came to ringside during the match, proving that he was not the Bullet). On the August 28, 2002 pay-per-view, Jarrett fought the Bullet to a no contest before striking Armstrong with a chair. On the September 18, 2002 pay-per-view, the Bullet unmasked, revealing himself to be Armstrong's son Brian.
On December 5, 2005, Armstrong underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Despite being advised to refrain from wrestling until March 2006, Armstrong resumed wrestling later that month.
On the December 3, 2005 episode of TNA Impact!, Armstrong returned to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, congratulating the newly formed Four Live Kru on their unity. However, at Turning Point on December 11, 2005, the Four Live Kru disintegrated, with Konnan betraying fellow members Kip James and B.G. James (the youngest son of Bob Armstrong). Armstrong declared that he would reunite the Kru and unsuccessfully petitioned the fourth former member, Ron Killings, to that effect on the December 24 episode of Impact!. One week later, Armstrong tried once more to reform the group, this time approaching Konnan. Apparently willing to negotiate, Konnan led Armstrong backstage, only for Armstrong to be ambushed and beaten down by Konnan's newly formed stable, Latin American Xchange (LAX). Footage from Armstrong's knee surgery from earlier that month aired on iMPACT! in January 2006, with the kayfabe explanation that the assault at the hands of the LAX had necessitated the surgical repair of Armstrong's knee.
At Against All Odds on February 12, 2006, Kip and B.G. James (the James Gang) faced the Latin American Xchange, with B.G. intent upon avenging the harm done to his "daddy". The James Gang were victorious, but were ambushed by the LAX after the match. They were saved when the returning Bob Armstrong entered the ring and chased the LAX away. The confrontation led to a six-man bout between the LAX and Armstrong and the James Gang at Destination X on March 12, which was won by Kip James. Despite the two consecutive victories of the James Gang, Armstrong remained hungry for revenge, and challenged Konnan to an arm wrestling contest, which was to be held on the April 8, episode of Impact!. The contest did not finish due to interference from Homicide and the newest LAX member, Hernandez, who had been sent to the locker room prior, as were the James Gang. The James Gang ran back out to the ring to help Armstrong, and later in the show, a rematch was announced for Lockdown on April 23. Armstrong went on to win the rematch in his final appearance with TNA. Recently Bob has wrestled for All-Star Championship Wrestling with his son Brad, promoter Rock Parsons, and Ole Anderson.
On the January 17, 2008 episode of Impact!, B.G. announced that Bob would be his tag team partner when he used his Feast or Fired Tag Title shot. He and his son came up short at winning the championship.
On August 27, 2020, Armstrong died from bone cancer at the age of 80.
- Finishing moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Mid-South Sports/Georgia Championship Wrestling
- NWA Columbus Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- NWA Columbus Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Robert Fuller
- NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (4 times) - with Dick Steinborn (1) and Robert Fuller (3)
- NWA Georgia Television Championship (1 time)
- NWA Macon Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA Macon Tag Team Championship (6 times) - with Paul DeMarco (1), El Mongol (1), Bill Dromo (3) and Argentina Apollo (1)
- NWA National Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Brad Armstrong
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Georgia version) (1 time)
- NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (Georgia version) (4 times) - with El Mongol (1), Bill Dromo (1), and Roberto Soto (2)
- NWA Mid-America
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- CWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Brad Armstrong
- NWA Alabama Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA Southeast Continental Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Championship (Northern version) (8 times)
- NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Championship (Southern Division) (1 time)
- NWA Six-Man Tag Team Championship (Southeastern version) (1 time) - with Brad Armstrong and Steve Armstrong
- NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (Northern Division) (8 times) - with Ken Lucas (1), Robert Fuller (2), Jos LeDuc (2), Steve Armstrong (1), and Brad Armstrong (2)
- NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (Southern Division) (1 time) - with Robert Fuller
- NWA Southeastern Television Championship (Southern Division) (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him # 155 of the 500 best singles wretlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003.
1Title was awarded to them sometime in 2005 though the records are unclear as to the exact date and which promotion they wrestled in at the time.