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The Best Wrestlers of the 80s Will Body-Slam Your Nostalgia

You could make a pretty strong argument that the 1980s were a golden age for professional wrestling, with worldwide television audiences helping to boost the sport’s profile and turn its stars into celebrities. And, speaking of “strong” and “stars,” the best wrestlers of the 80s were among the greatest ring performers of all-time and maintain rabid fanbases even to this day. Which of these legends was your favorite?

Ric Flair

– Ric Flair (1972 – 2004) had long been considered one of wrestling’s greatest heroes before he turned on the fans as part of Ted Turner’s ill-fated 1990s WCW experiment. “The Nature Boy” was always a model of class and sophistication in the ring, strutting around with his signature fur coat (upon which he would often stand after winning a match) before using his finishing move—the Figure-Four Leg Lock—to put an opponent out for good. A 16 time world champion in WWE and WCW combined, Flair is one of wrestling’s most decorated competitors.

Andre The Giant

– Andre The Giant (1967 – 1993) spent much of his career as a heel due to fans not being able to take him seriously due to both his gigantism and lack of English. Despite this adversity, though, Andre dominated opponents through sheer size alone: One legend has it that Hulk Hogan had trouble picking up Andre during their first match. After becoming a face, though, Andre became one of the most beloved wrestlers in history; he even had his own comic book series.

Hulk Hogan

– Hulk Hogan (1979 – 2003) was wrestling’s most recognizable superstar for decades upon decades thanks to roles on TV shows like “Thunder In Paradise” and movies such as “No Holds Barred.” Unfortunately for Hogan—and many other professional wrestlers from this era—the seeds were sown for WWE’s eventual dominance of the wrestling industry when Vince McMahon purchased Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1984.

Rowdy Roddy Piper

– Rowdy Roddy Piper (1975 – 2006) competed in his first match at the age of 18 and was a world champion by the time he turned 24, but it wasn’t until after years as an undercard wrestler that “Hot Rod” became one of pro wrestling’s most popular stars during its heyday in the 1980s. His feud with Mr. T is still considered to be one of TV history’s best moments, while matches against Hulk Hogan are among some of pro wrestling’s most iconic battles; for example, their steel cage bout at WrestleMania I spawned numerous internet memes due to its dramatic ending when both men simultaneously pinned each other.

Kamala

– Kamala (1973 – 1997) was a Ugandan big man who rose to fame in the 1980s after debuting as an imposter of André The Giant, and would later go on to become one of wrestling’s most recognized figures for the next decade; his wide array of foreign objects he brought into matches made him infamous with fans, even though he wasn’t very successful at winning them due to being limited by his size. His character is best remembered for having never won a championship belt throughout his career during its prime years but has continued making sporadic appearances over time.

King Kong Bundy

– King Kong Bundy (1974 – 1996) competed against Hulk Hogan just once in WWF before Vince McMahon purchased it from him when they had their first Wrestlemania event, where he was a fan favorite. Bundy would later go on to become one of the most feared heel wrestlers during his time in WWF, with him being best known for winning three times at early Wrestlemanias and defeating Hulk Hogan when they met again.

Butch Reed

– Butch Reed (1974 – 1994) was an American professional wrestler who engaged in feuds against The Junkyard Dog, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Tito Santana, Dusty Rhodes and Jim Neidhart throughout his career. He also served as a tag team partner to Ron Bass before getting fired from WWE after losing interest following their championship victory.

Mr. Perfect

– Mr. Perfect (1985 – 1995) is remembered by wrestling fans all around the world for his high flying moves, his finishing move the “Perfect Plex” and for being one of only two men to hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship twice. He was also a three-time World Tag Team Champion during his time in WWF.

Don Muraco

– Don Muraco (1972 – 1991) is best known for winning the first ever Royal Rumble match while still wrestling as part of WWE. His career spanned over twenty years and he had memorable feuds with Superfly Snuka and Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka which included kayfabe kidnappings, assaults on female fans at ringside, dog bites against each other’s trainers.

Rick Rude

– Rick Rude (1981 – 1993) was an American professional wrestler who wrestled under various monikers such as Ravishing Ricky Rude and Ricky “The Dragon” Roode. He held the WWE Intercontinental Championship twice, plus he was a three-time World Tag Team Champion with two different partners.

(Like Wrestlers of the 80s? Then you might like our article on Wrestlers of the 70s, click here.)

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