The American Phenomena: The 1980s
Professional wrestling in the United States began around the turn of the century. It continued on throughout the early part of the twentieth century even enduring through the Great Depression. It saw its ups and downs, especially during the latter part of this century. Pro wrestling hit the height of its poularity in the early eighties. Let’s take a look at some of the figures that helped this industry.
Andre the Giant:
When one thinks of past greats in American professional wrestling, one can not help but think of Andre the Giant. Even though this man who stood a towering 7’8″ and weighed well over 500 pounds was not American but French, his epic battles always stands out in one’s mind. Andre was the gentle giant and beloved by all wrestling fans. At one time he was WWF champion with no one to oppose him. After leaving the ring, Andre tried his hand at acting. As many may know Andre played the loveable giant, Fezzig, in The Princess Bride. His character warmed the hearts of millions and his personality the hearts of those he worked with. The movie written by Billy Crystal, My Giant, patterns the main character after Andre. Andre died in the early nineties from a heart attack. He was mourned by millions worldwide.
Although he goes by Hollywood Hogan now, Terry Bollea will forever be remembered as Hulk Hogan. Hulkamania ruled the 1980s after he took the heavyweight title from Andre. Children fans could seen taking their vitamins and saying their prayers because that is what Hulk told them to do. The red and yellow was a banner of many things to many people especially to the American public. Hogan and Hulkamania stood for freedom. This was never more true than in 1989 when Hogan lost and then regained his title from the pro-Iraqi Sgt. Slaughter. Hogan was a multi-time World Champion in both WWF and WCW, always winning with the big Leg Drop. He also tried his hand at acting. First with a bit part in Rocky III, and followed starring in the most remembered movies of all time, No Holds Barred. He went on to star in less successful movies such as Suburban Commando and Mr. Nanny.
He is now a former 14 time World Heavyweight Champion, WHOOOO! Ric Flair is known as the dirtiest player in the sport of wrestling. He is the master of the Figure Four Leglock, a submission hold. Flair is purely a mat technician unlike Hogan and Andre who depended on thier strength to win matches. “The Nature Boy,” as he is called, has been known for his flamboyant style and bleach blonde hair. Escorted to the ring by women on a regular basis in a robe covered with sequins and trimmed with feathers, he looks to be a “priss,” but that is a false assumption. Flair is not afraid to “mix it up.” “The Nature Boy” is one of the toughest men in this sport.
The Ultimate Warrior:
He covered his face with paint and won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in the most talked about match of Wrestlemania history. The Ultimate Warrior came from parts unknown and disappeared there just as quickly. HE had a reappearance in the mid-1990s in the WWF and one last summer in WCW. However, this fan favorite comes and goes. One never knows where the Warrior might show up.
“The Macho Man” Randy Savage:
Decadent outfits and pretty women also seem to be on the bill if Savage is on the card. First he was escorted to the ring by the lovely Miss Elizabeth, who he later married and divorced, and now by Gorgeous George, Miss Madness 1999, and the lethal Madusa. “The Mach Man” uses his famous Elbow Drop from the top rope as a finishing manuever. He is always sure to captivate audiences with his high flying tactics as well as ring techniques. No one quite knows what to expect when the “Madness” is in the arena.
These are the superstars of wrestling I grew up watching on Saturday and Sunday morning TV. They have been the focus of movies and even cartoons. These wrestlers were some of my heroes growing up, and I hope that they were some of yours too.