Men like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair dominated the ‘Golden Age’ of wrestling. Their legacies will be remembered forever. But in the super-competitive world of professional wrestling, not everyone can leave a legacy behind. And even if they do, it can be easy for fans to forget. Especially as the years and decades continue to pass.
In the spirit of honoring those less-well-remembered wrestlers of the 80s, we put together a list of a few men from that either deserved a shot on top or are (in our opinions) underappreciated. Maybe you’ll recognize a few names, or maybe you’ll meet some new wrestlers.
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts
Debuting in the World Wrestling Federation in 1986, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts was one of the most popular wrestlers in the company. The Snake isn’t just a nickname. He carried a snake around each match. How cool is that?
His sinister demeanor and intense promos captivated fans all over the world, not to mention his innovative DDT finishing maneuver.
While he’s held various titles in other promotions, he’s held none in the WWF, including the world championship. We can’t understate his impact. Jake Roberts is a legend. He captured fan’s hearts even when he played a bad guy on television.
‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude
Rick Rude isn’t a name you hear often.
He made his wrestling debut in 1982, wrestling for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Rude was known for his Herculean physique and the infectious tough-guy persona that made him easy to hate.
His career spans many wrestling eras, with his last years coming towards the end of the Monday Night Wars. Rick Rude won the Intercontinental Championship once while in the World Wrestling Federation.
It’s not a failure by any means, but like Jake Roberts, Rick Rude could have changed the landscape at the top. Heels (bad guys) like Rude are fun because you want them to lose. Those that witnessed Rude won’t forget him.
When talking about deserved recognition, look no further than Arn Anderson.
Best known for his placement in the Four Horsemen stable, Arn Anderson’s versatility in the ring made him a dangerous opponent. He could brawl with the best of them and switch up to a more traditional, technical style.
Arn’s championship success came in the form of multiple tag team championships. It’s his tag team with Tully Blanchard where he shined. The duo held tag team gold once together while in WWF. They were a great team and deserved praise.
Arn Anderson’s time in the Four Horsemen may have overshadowed his individual abilities. For that, he earns a place on this list.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow was one of the most recognizable wrestlers ever. From his iconic flame tattoo covering his head and colorful attire, Bam Bam was a fun fighter to watch.
Bigelow had no reason for being as agile as he was. You’d catch him flying with the grace of an angel to weighing you down with his 350-pound frame. Despite winning no titles in WWF, his most memorable moment came when he faced football player Lawrence Taylor at WrestleMania XI.
Bigelow proved his versatility by having a decent match with the football player. It’s a shame he never reached the top. Performers of his size often remained on the ground, but Bam Bam proved size doesn’t matter.
‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton
Best known as a member of the Midnight Express, Bobby Eaton is a legend.
Tag Team wrestling was the meat of Bobby Eaton’s career. His peers viewed him as reliable and a natural talent at the sport. No one had to worry about accidents or miscommunication with him.
As great as his tag teams were, Eaton lacked individual success. Perhaps people only saw him as a tag team guy, but his work was phenomenal and fans were in for a treat when he wrestled.
Bobby is considered one of the most generous and kind men backstage who was a gem to work with. Maybe that was his issue. Many wrestlers got where they did by stomping on others. Who really knows? He retired in 2015. However, the question remains: how different would his career be if not in tag teams? We have video games. If fantasy football exists, why not fantasy wrestling?
‘Leaping’ Lanny Poffo
It’s not rare to find family members entering the wrestling business together. The McMahon Family owns the biggest wrestling company in the world. Randy and Lanny Poffo are no exception.
The late Randy Poffo, best known as Randy Savage, is one of the best. His legacy will always remain. But people forget the impact his younger brother left behind.
Lanny Poffo’s debut into the wrestling world came in 1974 for All-South Wrestling Alliance. Lanny won multiple championships before coming to WWF and even competed in his father’s promotion, International Championship Wrestling. In 1984, the Poffo Brothers jumped to WWF.
While Randy was off in the spotlight, Lanny made a name for himself. As ‘Leaping’ Lanny Poffo, he would toss frisbees into the crowd and recite poetry he wrote. It was an interesting character for sure. Who doesn’t like poetry? Okay, many people don’t. The point is, Poffo earned crowd support without his brother.
Poffo was often used to elevate his opponents. He didn’t look like a fool in defeat, however. He’d often get in his own offense only to come up short one too many times.
One of his best moments came when he turned heel in 1989. The poetry remained. The only difference is, he’d insult the audience, his babyface opponents, or the city they were in. Poffo became ‘The Genius’ and redefined himself as a smart, arrogant, and annoying heel. He had no chance of dethroning characters like Hulk Hogan. He lost so many matches, no one saw him as a threat.
While not as recognized as his brother, Lanny Poffo left his own mark in wrestling.
Windham had everything: good looks and the ideal size for a wrestler back then. Mixing his agility with high impact moves made him fun to watch. So why is he underrated?
Well, like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair also dominated part of the 80s. Ric Flair seemed to hold a belt every second. And when you have one guy dominating, it’d be hard for someone else to break in. Windham earned success as NWA World Champion and as United States Champion, but fans seem to have forgotten him.
‘The Rock’ Don Muraco
Speaking of forgotten, look no further than Don Muraco. Six foot 3, 275 pounds, and an arrogant smirk you want to smack off his face.
He debuted for WWF in February 1981 and won the Intercontinental Championship within four months. Four months! Most people take years, and some don’t win any titles.
Not only that, but Muraco became the first-ever King of the Ring tournament winner. Muraco had all the tools. Get this, he once brought a sandwich into the ring and ate it while overpowering his opponent. Funny? Yes. Absolutely ridiculous? You bet. But Don Muraco made it work. Who would tell him otherwise? The guy could hurt you with a single punch.
He was so hated, fans chanted ‘Beach Bum’ at him, mocking his Hawaiian heritage. A man with his charisma should have had it all. Perhaps Muraco debuted in the wrong era. He may have succeeded in the 90s era of wrestling.
Many faces have come and gone in wrestling. Some found immense success, and some never did. It sucks, but life doesn’t always work how we want. These men changed the game and left their own mark on history.
With the WWE Network, we can take a trip through time and catch these men in their prime. We can witness their greatness first hand and see why they’re considered underrated.