Thursday, February 28, 2013

80's Theme Week: Day 4


So here we are on the official last day of 80's week here @ the House of Fun. And what a ride it's been.
I sincerely hope any and all of you that have actually read these trips down memory lane, enjoyed them and got you reminiscing about your own cherished childhood memories.

As I wrap up 80's week, I was trying to think of what to finish up on. At first it was going to be music, like maybe a Top 5 list of my favorite 80's songs. But really, trying to list only 5 is nowhere as easy it might sound, and by god it really shouldn't be or else you've never really listened to any 80's music at all.

So today, I'll do a Top 5 list anyways, but it'll be about a true passion of mine growing up: Professional Wrestling.

Yes, say what you will, but it was the shit back in the day, and it still is.

I'm picking my top 5 favorite WWF Baby faces(or good guys) and Heels(bad guys).

Baby Faces:

5). Jake "The Snake" Roberts

Jake The Snake was the shit back in the day! The pioneer and master of the dreaded DDT, Jake the Snake was a cool, customer, as cold and calculating as the very reptile he was nick-named after. His promos were very cool because unlike most promos by wrestlers, he didn't scream and yell. He very calmly and deliberately told you what he was going to do to you, mixing in popular catch phrases and song titles of the day in these promos. He was a master of psychology, playing mind games with his opponents, who only had to look in his corner to find his ever trusty pet snake, Damien lying in wait. After the DDT and win, Roberts would take Damien out of the bag, and drape the huge beast over his near-unconscious opponent. It was that little extra that made watching Roberts so exciting.

Oh and another cool factoid, Jake "The Snake" was accompanied to the ring during Wrestlemania 3 by the legendary rocker, Alice Cooper. Fucking cool indeed!

4). The Ultimate Warrior

Hey what list from the 80's would be complete w/o this guy right? 
Clad in bright colorful colors, face paint, and an awesome mini-show of an entrance, the Ultimate Warrior was true sight to see for the young kids of the 80's. It was pretty much like watching a superhero come to life right out of the comic books, which is exactly what a lot of the popular heroes and villain wrestlers of the time resembled. 

What also made UW so popular and memorable, was his total nonsensical promos. Seriously, this guy's rants made absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever, but that didn't harm his rise to fame one bit.
He hit his peak at Wrestlemania 6, in the legendary battle of good guys(which just didn't happen back then) between then WWF Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior and the then WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. WWF fans were had their loyalties tested, as they tried to decide who to root for: the Ultimate Warrior or Hulk Hogan. In the end, it was the Ultimate Warrior who won, with Hogan passing the torch to the Warrior. Warrior didn't last too long though, due to both the steroid scandal of the early 90's and Warrior demanding more money from the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon. 
From there, Warrior would make sporadic appearances, before leaving the WWF for good in 1997.
Still, longtime fans look back on the Ultimate Warrior as one of the true icons and popular superstars of that era.

3). "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

Ah yes, the Rowdy one. 
The Hot Rod did start out as a vicious heel blessed with the gift of gab. He demonstrated his quick-witted mic skills on a regular basis with his hit "talk show segment" on WWF TV, called the "Piper's Pit."
This is mostly one of the things he's most famous for, as he would regularly belittle and insult his guests who were mostly good guys. One of the most famous examples is his 1985 interview with popular superstar "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, where Piper would insult Snuka, then attack him with of all things, a coconut. He clean bashed Snuka over the head with it, and from there Piper became the buzz of the WWF.
After a very popular most watched feud with the ever popular Hulk Hogan, Piper turned face due to the fans loving the very qualities about him that made him such a popular bad guy in the first place. And that's the Piper I remember watching.
One of my most favorite personal memories of watching Piper, was his Wrestlemania 5 appearance  where he attacked the then popular and very controversial talk show host Morton Downey Jr. with a fire extinguisher after repeatedly blowing cigarette smoke in Piper's face despite Piper's repeated objections to it.

Piper to this very day is fondly remembered as a pioneer and true icon of the business during the 80's boom.

2). The "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Like Piper, The Macho Man Randy Savage also started out his career in the WWF as a heel. He was like a wild animal in the ring, attacking his opponents as soon as the bell rang. He'd use quick cheap shots or jump you from behind, but either way, he was very smart in the ring.
Accompanied by his manager(and then wife) the lovely Elizabeth, it didn't take long before Savage caught on with the fans, turning face in at the tail end of 1987, eventually winning a one night tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship @ Wrestlemania 4 in 1988.
He was definitely ahead of his time, with his humorous and sometimes nonsensical promos(probably fueled by the drug of choice back in the 80's, Cocaine) and his Arial attacks from the top turnbuckle, like his signature finishing move, The Flying Elbow Drop. He was a trend-setter for future smaller stature guys like Savage(most popular wrestlers and champions were in the high 200's-300 lbs) who only weighed around 236-8lbs.
Much later in his career during the late 90's he was probably best remembered for his popular Slim Jim commercials.
Either way, he was a true legend who'll be missed, especially in light of his untimely death in May of 2011.

1). Hulk Hogan

Shit, you'd probably have to look really far in the world to find someone who doesn't know who Hulk Hogan is. And that seems like a truly impossible task considering Hogan was the top guy and face of the WWF during the 80's.
Who growing up during that time period, doesn't remember the Hulkster telling his Hulkamaniacs to "Train, Say their prayers, and Eat their vitamins everyday"?
The irony being Hogan forgot to add to not forget your daily dose of steroids;)
Still no other wrestler alive and active during that time was as hugely popular and over with the fans like the Hulkster. It, along with his classic monumental Wrestlemania 3 match with Andre The Giant, is the reason why Hogan remains so popular to this very day and resonated so much with the kids at the time.
And that's why he's numero uno on the list.


5). Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

This was one rough and tough son of a bitch! 
The master of the Figure-Four Leglock(other than Ric Flair) Greg "The Hammer" Valentine was a no-nonsense, bare-bones wrestler who lived to beat the ever-loving shit out of his opponents. If he didn't hammer you senseless with his powerful forearms to the chest and head, he'd cripple your ass by applying the Figure-Four Leglock on you, making you cry and tap out like a bitch;)

Oh, and as an added bonus of what made the Hammer so tough, was he was a 2nd Generation wrestler, following the footsteps of his father, legendary wrestler, Johnny Valentine.

4). The Honky Tonk Man

I loved watching this guy back in the day. His gimmick was basically that of an evil Elvis Impersonator. Yep, you heard me right; The Honky Tonk Man was evil Elvis;)

Sure the Evil Elvis gimmick was performed better in the movie 300 Miles to Graceland, but ol' HTM played it up everything it was worth, just like his theme song claimed, "He was cool, cocky, and bad."

He was never too far from his manager, the legendary "Mouth from the South" Jimmy Hart, and always carried his trusty guitar with him just in case he felt like playing El Ka-Bong on someone's head.
Some of the more famous victims of his guitar shots includes the Macho Man Randy Savage and Jake "The Snake" Roberts(who suffered a permanent neck injury when he was hit with a real guitar, as opposed to the usual hollowed-out, gimmick guitar HTM used)

HTM's claim to fame was his year-long run as the self-proclaimed "Greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time" and losing that championship in a under a minute against the Ultimate Warrior at Summerslam 1988.

3). Andre The Giant

If you were a wrestling fan in the 70's and 80's, then you definitely remember this legendary big man. Billed as standing at nearly 7 feet tall and over 500 lbs, Andre the Giant was a true larger than life icon of Professional Wrestling.

I'm only including him in the Heel section, because that's exactly what he was when I first watched him in the legendary main event of Wrestlemania 3 against Hulk Hogan. 93,000 plus fans witnessed history in the making that night, as Hogan picked up and body-slammed Andre the Giant down to the mat. No one at that point in Andre's career had ever successfully body-slammed Andre like that, and thus a historic and pivotal movement in WWF history was made.

From there Andre would be involved in a legendary angle that saw Hogan get screwed out of his WWF Championship and be awarded to Andre, who would immediately hand it over to the man who made#2 on this list, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.

Andre would hang in there for a few more years, before finally retiring by 1991. Years of health problems, such as the genetic disorder Acromegalia and drinking would ultimately catch up with the legend, to which he would finally succumb in 1993.

Fan factoid, Andre the Giant appeared in the 80's cult classic movie The Princess Bride.

2). The "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase 

Who doesn't love to hate those snob-ass rich guys who enjoy rubbing their wealth in other people's faces?
And thus is the gimmick of The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase. Accompanied by his faithful bodyguard Virgil, Dibiase was just one of those guys you just loved to hate, and wanted to see get his ass beat. 
That was the appeal of the Million Dollar Man, who would shove Hundred dollar bills in the mouths of his opponents after putting them to sleep with his finishing move, "The Million Dollar Dream."

And that's not all. Nope, there was also a time where he would offer to pay an X amount of $ to anyone who would do whatever he asked like kiss his foot, or dribble a basketball a certain amount of times. Of course ever the bad guy, he'd always cheat, so as to get out of paying up.

1). "Mr. Perfect" Curt Henning

My top all-time favorite bad guy, had to be Mr. Perfect Curt Henning.
Just watch some of these vignettes that showed off just why he was called Mr.Perfect:


Like those videos showed, whatever the sport, be it basketball, golf, baseball, or running track, Mr. Perfect could do it all, and do it perfectly.

No shit, whether it was shooting a perfect 3-pointer or hitting a perfect home-run shot, Mr. Perfect was able to do so in one take. Yes, one take!
That's a hell of a testament to a hell of a athlete.

One of my other favorite moves of his, was his entrance. He'd walk down the aisle, throwing his towel behind his back and catch it perfectly every time!
The same thing would happen with his signature spitting out of his gum, only to swat the damn thing while in mid-air, and  never once did he ever miss. Ever!

Sadly, Curt Henning passed away before his time in 2006/7 due to his history of prescription pain medicine abuse and steroids.

Either way, he'll always be number one on my book.

Now a quick note, some of you might be asking, "But where's Ric Flair?" Well The "Nature Boy" didn't show up in the WWF until Jan 1992, thus he'll show up for 90's week.

Well, that;s it for me for this week, I really hoped you enjoyed this stroll through memory lane because I sure as hell did.

Have a great weekend people, Mr. Morbid loves ya!;)


Omega Agent1 said...

the DDT was my shit. I know some of my little friends at the time went home with concussions.

the Smooth Operator Rick Rude was who I pretended to be though. Made me a wresting belt and everything.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i went through a very brief period where i was into this nonsense back in the 80s. this an aspect of the 80s that is best forgotten.

Dale Bagwell said...

@Omega: Yep. I have fond memories of trying to re-enact those moves as well, even when I was older me and some friends did the same. And for the record, a real figure-four leglock fucking hurts as much as you'd think it would;)

Shlomo: Gotta' strongly disagree on that one buddy. But it's cool, I wouldn't hold it against you;)

By The Moons of Munipoor: Summer Edition

Here's some quick summer gags for you guys courtesy of my action figure shelf's production company, starring Dr. Strange and Not-q...