The 80s was indeed the Golden Era of pro wrestling. Everyone around the world knew who these larger-than-life characters were and were just hooked on watching them beat the life out of each other in tights and spandex.
Back then, we looked up to these wrestlers like they were superheroes. People would dress up like them for Halloween, or emulate their moves on their beds and sofas. Almost four decades ago, these men and women, who put their bodies on the line in the ring, were superstars.
Every character was flamboyant and over-the-top--you had an All-American brother, an Irish ass-kicker, a perfect man, a nature boy, a son of a plumber, and a savage macho man. Every wrestler was more out-there than the other, and we all loved them. And to pay tribute to the Golden Era of pro wrestling, we remember the best wrestlers of the 80s who paved the way for the superstars of today.
10. Andre The Giant
The Eighth Wonder of the World stood at 7 feet and 5 inches, becoming the greatest wrestling attraction everywhere he went. When he got to the then WWF, he went straight to the main card, having memorable matches and feuds with Big John Studd and, of course, Hulk Hogan.
Before the iconic Crow phase of his career, Sting was a combination of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and The Ultimate Warrior, entering the National Wrestling Alliance with some high expectations. He even wrestled The Nature Boy to a 45-minute draw on the Clash of Champions. The kid from Venice Beach went on to tour around the world in the NWA, WCW, TNA, and lastly the WWE.
8. The Ultimate Warrior
What many don’t know is that The Ultimate Warrior actually started as Sting’s tag team partner. And then he went to Texas as the Dingo Warrior before heading to the WWF. He defeated Hulk Hogan only to prove that he can’t sell tickets as good as the Hulkster did. Warrior was a one-dimensional wrestler--he was great looking, strong, powerful, and had a great character, but it wasn’t enough to launch him into superstardom.
7. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
The Dragon had just as much to do with the success of wrestling as anyone else. He came to Jim Crockett Promotions and lit up the area. He wrestled in NWA and then left to have arguably the greatest match in wrestling history against Macho Man, winning the Intercontinental Championship in the process. After that, he came back to
6. Nick Bockwinkel
An AWA legend, Nick Bockwinkel was the man who ended Verne Gagne’s historic seven-year run as AWA World Heavyweight Champion. He then got into feuds with the
5. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Piper’s Pit will be the talk show that every other wrestling talk show will be measured against until the end of time. The Hot Rod may very well be the best talker in wrestling history, with some mat game to back it all up.
4. “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes undoubtedly had one of the best minds in pro wrestling. Whatever he wanted to create or make people understand, he did so effectively and charismatically. The son of a plumber was an everyday hero that the people really fell in love with and cheered on. Whether he was in NWA, WWF, WCW, he was respected and loved by every single fan.
3. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Macho Man was as flamboyant as they came. Not only was he a man filled with high energy, but he can also back it up in the ring, having some of the most memorable matches of all time. Whether he was in the WWF, or in the WCW, Randy Savage was always gold, and he had titles on his waist to prove it.
2. Hulk Hogan
We all remember that historic bodyslam that launched Hulk Hogan’s career beyond imagination. He became the poster boy for the WWF, took pro wrestling to mainstream entertainment, and made wrestling an international phenomenon in the mid-80s. To this day, he is probably the most well-known wrestler. Just ask anybody on the street. They know Hulkamania.
1. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
You can call us out for this, but “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair is wrestling itself. Because while the Hulkster was creating his larger than life persona and branding, Flair was wrestling 60-minute matches and beating everyone across the globe. He won the world title 16 times in the NWA, WCW, and WWF. He helped launch the careers of Sting, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and Arn Anderson. There is no one in wrestling with a greater pedigree than that of The Nature Boy.