Remembering the craziest, funniest, coolest, and cheesiest wrestlers of the 80’s. Here’s what they’re up to now.
Many of them will never be forgotten. Some of them will. They are the WWF wrestlers of the 80’s. Many of them transformed the wrestling federation into a dynamite entertainment spectacle. Many of them are remembered for their wrestling techniques, and many of them are remembered for their strange gimmicks, humorous catchphrases, or unforgettable sidekicks. Here’s a trip down memory lane to remember these old school wrestlers and to find out what they’re up to now.
Hulk Hogan, born in 1953 as Terry Gene Bollea , has been in the wrestling spotlight since the beginning of the 80’s. He is a twelve-time world champion and in 2005 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
In the 1980’s, Hogan transformed the wrestling industry into a primetime sports entertainment spectacle for people of all ages and backgrounds. His grand entrances and theme songs such as “Eye of the Tiger”, grabbed the attention of people all around the world. He was portrayed as a real-life superhero in the eyes of his younger fans. Hogan was featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated, TV Guide, and People magazines, while also appearing on The Tonight Show and co-hosting Saturday Night Live.
Although his roots are still with wrestling, Hogan is focusing more on television roles. He now has his own reality show, called “Hogan Knows Best”, which focuses on his own family life. In addition, he now hosts the comeback series “American Gladiators”.
Other past acting gigs include roles on Rocky III, No Holds Barred, The A-Team, Walker, Texas Ranger, and others.
Andre the Giant
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Andre the Giant, born André René Roussimoff in 1946 in France,began wrestling professionally in his late teens. He made his WWF debut in 1973 and remained with the federation until 1991. He was the first to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was one of the most famous professional wrestlers of the 70’s and 80’s and was loved by audiences and fans all over the world.
Andre was of course best known for his great size. He stood over 7 feet tall, and weighed over 300 pounds at the beginning of his career. By the end of his career he had reached a whopping 540 pounds. Andre also had an abnormally large wrist, at 13″, which is indicative of overall bone structure.
Supposedly he went 15 years without a loss by pinfall or submission before being pinned by Hulk Hogan in 1987 at WrestleMania III In 1986, André won a twenty-man battle royal that featured top NFL stars and wrestlers.
By the late 1980’s the disease that granted him his immense size started to take its toll on his body. André was in constant, near-crippling pain, and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive body. When he was not in front of a camera, he was usually in a wheelchair. .André died in his sleep on January 27, 1993, in his Paris hotel room. He was in France to attend the funeral of his father. André’s body was cremated in accordance with his wishes and his ashes scattered at his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The’ Macho Man’ Randy Savage, born Randall Mario Poffo in 1952 in Columbus, Ohio, made his WWF debut n 1985. Savage became instantly known by wrestling fans for his distinctively deep, husky voice, colorful attire (often comprised of sunglasses and a bandanna, gaudy robes and/or a cowboy hat), and his catch phrase “Oooh, yeah!”For much of his tenure in the WWF, he was managed by his real life wife, “Miss Elizabeth” Hulette.
Macho Man was a two-time WWF champion and a four-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Savage later became known for his rivalry with Hulk Hogan, after accusing Hogan of sleeping in Elizabeth’s bed during a road trip. Savage and Elizabeth were divorced on September 18, 1992. Savage and Hogan reportedly have a strained relationship to this day.
In 2005, Savage reported he was unable to wrestle any longer due to health concerns.
He also reported that he will star in the next season of of VH1’s The Surreal Life along with Playboy Playmate Tina Marie Jordan and rock musician Peter Steele. VH1 has not released the official cast list yet.
In 2003, Savage released a hip hop album titled: Be a Man. The album features a tribute to wrestler and friend Curt Hennig and the title track which mocks former friend Hulk Hogan.
His former wife Elizabeth Hulette was found dead in the home of professional wrestler Lex Luger on May 1, 2003 from a drug overdose.
Jake’ the Snake’ Roberts
Jake “the Snake” Roberts was born Aurelian Smith, Jr. in 1955. His nickname comes from being thin and snake-like. He often would slide into and out of the ring on his belly under the bottom rope. By the time he reached the WWF in 1986, Roberts was bringing a huge, live Burmese Python, named Damien, to ringside in a canvas bag. After executing a DDT, Roberts would coil the constrictor around the opponent’s neck, and the snake would slither around on top of the fallen wrestler, sometimes appearing to strangle him.
Roberts made his initial WWF debut in 1986. He later left in 1992, but then returned again in 1996. He was always known for his dark charisma, his extensive use of psychology in his matches, and has been credited for inventing the DDT, though that has been challenged. He is also credited with training wrestlers and teaching wrestling psychology to famous wrestlers Steve Austin and the Undertaker.
Jake “the snake” is still involved with professional wrestling today. However, his long bout with alcoholism and drug abuse has caused him some troubles over the years. In December, 2007, the WWE placed him in a nine-week rehab program.
The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior (born Brian James Hellwig in 1959) was a WWF superstar from the mid-1980’s to early 1990’s and was known for entering the ring at full speed and violently shaking the ropes up and down with extreme energy. He was also known for the distinctive patters of face paint.
His tenure at the WWF was characterized by several feuds with the federation owner, Vince McMahon.
The Ultimate Warrior had three runs with the WWF. His WWF debut was in 1987 and continued until 1991. He left in 1991 over a pay dispute with owner, Vince McMahon. He then returned to the WWF, as Dingo Warrior, in 1992. Rumors began that Dingo Warrior was not the original Ultimate Warrior and that the original Ultimate Warrior had died. These rumors were shown on several occasions not to be true. The Ultimate Warrior left WWF, again, in late 1992 after yet another feud with the federation, this time over the legal rights to the name “Ultimate Warrior”. The WWF cited steroid use as the reason for firing the Ultimate Warrior from the WWF.
In 1996, he returned again. This time the WWF fired him for taking time off to grieve his father’s death. McMahon stated that the Ultimate Warrior didn’t have a close relationship with his father and hasn’t seen him in over ten years. Warrior claimed that the real reason why he was a no-show to the WWF events was a breach of contract by McMahon.
In 1993, Jim Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior in order to retain the legal rights to use the name outside of the WWF. His children carry the Warrior name as their legal surname
In 1996, Warrior a comic book entitled WARRIOR, featuring himself as the main character. The comics sold well in the first two months. The sales slowed and the book was taken out of circulation in early 1997.
After officially retiring from professional wrestling in 1999, Warrior began a new career as a conservative speaker and commentator, denouncing left-wing politics. Specifically, he has made comments against homosexuality, stating that “the human race would die out if everyone were a homosexual.”
Brett “Hitman” Hart
Bret Sergeant Hart, aka Brett “Hitman’ Heart, was born in Alberta, Canada, in 1957. Known for his fluid technical skills and agility and for his ability to create tense and entertaining matches, he is thought to be one of the most popular and gifted technical professional wrestlers of his generation.
>Hart was a seven-time world champion through his career in World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation. In 2006, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was also placed in the top five best technical wrestlers of all time.
He made his first televised WWF debut in August 1984. In 1985, he partnered up with Jim Neidhart to build the tag team known as The Hart Foundation. The partnership lasted a few years but eventually split up.
Hart wrestled with most of WWF’s infamous wrestlers. Notable opponents include his brother, Owen Hart, and wrestling legend Stone Cold Steve Austin. Hart also had an on-air rival, “announcer” Vince McMahon, who at the time was being exposed as the owner of WWF.
Hart retired from professional wrestling in 2000.
On June 23, 2002, Hart suffered a major stroke after hitting his head in a bicycle accident. He suffered total paralysis on his left side, which required months of physical therapy. He has since recovered much of his mobility and is in good health.
In late 2007, Hart released an autobiography, titled Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling. The book is an honest look into the world of wrestling as he describes in detail the chronic abuse of drugs and alcohol he witnessed during his tenure. He also discusses his own infidelities and personal struggles. The book reached number one on the Globe & Mail bestseller list.
Ravishing Rick Rude
Ravishing Rick Rude, born Richard Erwin Rood in 1958, was known for his over-confidence and arrogance in the WWF. Before a match he would make a show of removing his robe while running down the males in the crowd. After a successful match he would kiss a girl from the audience. On one occasion, he tried to get Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ real-life wife, Cheryl, to comply, which upset Roberts. On another memorable occasion Rude came to the ring with a picture of Cheryl stenciled on the front of his tights. A furious Roberts charged the ring and stripped Rude naked (he appeared as naked to TV viewers but was in fact wearing a thong).
Rude departed from WWF in October 1990 to later enter the WCW (World Championship Wrestling). After injuring his back during a fight in 1994, Rude did not return to wrestling until 1997. He came back to the WWF as an “insurance policy” and assisted with several sneak attacks on The Undertaker. Rude was not signed to a full-time contract with WWF, he was performing on a “pay-per-appearance”. Later that year he departed to return to the WCW.
In 1999, Rude died at the age of 40 after suffering heart failure. An autopsy report showed he died from an overdose of “mixed medications.” At the time of his death, he was planning on opening a wrestling school in Rome, Georgia, where he and his family resided.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, born James Stuart Duggan in 1954, is best known for his gimmick as an American patriot with his favorite weapon, the 2×4.
Duggan was signed to the World Wrestling Federation, in 1987. He was the winner of the first Royal Rumble in 1988.
Although he did not win any major titles in the seven years, he was a consistent fan favorite with his patriotic gimmick. His character was mainly comical, as he rarely was in major contention for titles.
Duggan left the WWF and signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1994. During his employment with WCW, Duggan was diagnosed with kidney cancer. His real-life struggle with the disease was very public and his comeback to wrestling after fighting off the ailment was a triumphant.
Duggan is still wresting. He returned to the WWE in 2005.
The British Bulldogs
The British Bulldogs were the team of cousins Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid who joined the WWF in 1984. They are considered one of the top tag-teams of all time.
Their first and probably most well known feud was with the Hart Foundation. . In 1987, the British Bulldogs lost the titles to the Hart Foundation in a match that saw Dynamite Kid so debilitated that he was carried to the ring by Davey Boy Smith. They left the federation for a while. When they returned to the WWF, they had a real live bulldog, Matilda. They quit the federation in 1988 as a result of backstage altercations between Dynamite Kid and Jacques Rougeau.
After leaving the WWF, the Bulldogs returned to their old “home” in Stampede and also resumed touring with the AJPW (All Japan Pro Wrestling), but years of steroid abuse made them too large and Dynamite Kid’s back injury limited his movement. In 1990, Davey Boy Smith abruptly withdrew the Bulldogs from AJWP by returning to the WWF, fabricating a lie that Dynamite was in a serious car accident and couldn’t compete. Dynamite went on to form the British Bruisers with the AJWP but the years of steroid abuse, working a high-impact style and cocaine usage caught up with the Dynamite Kid.
In 2002, Davey Boy Smith died of a heart attack while vacationing in Invermere, B.C. Dynamite Kid is now confined to a wheelchair.