Back to the 80s: Pro Wrestling Favorites & Most Hated – Kickin’ it Old School

Wrestlemania XXIV (24) will take place tonight (Sunday, March 30th). I can’t believe that it has been 23 years since the very first one back in 1985. I loved professional wrestling when I was growing up. Being in the Midwest, I first watched AWA wrestling which was based out of Minneapolis and ran by Verne Gagne.

Sunday mornings after Church, I could always be found in front of the TV watching AWA wrestling. WWF (which is now called WWE) was not available in our market until the early 80s, but then I watched that wrestling too. There was another wrestling show, based out of Texas, on late Saturday nights in our market which was called World Class which I would try to stay up to watch. Once cable television came to our market, we finally had access to the TBS channel which broadcast the NWA/WCW programs on Saturday nights out of Atlanta. I was a fan of them all.

There used to be regional promotions all over the country, but WWF really became the first national promotion and thus began to dominate the industry. You really have to consider Vince McMahon Jr. to be a business genius in those regards for what he has accomplished. Once in a while, I will still tune in to a wrestling show and it is amazing the level of athletes and resources now on display. Professional wrestling has really evolved into a soap opera for men, but it features amazing athletic specimens as its stars.

No matter how amazing the athletes, loud the pyrotechnics or slick the marketing, I will always hold a much fonder place for the pro wrestling of the 80s. Like much of that decade’s pop culture, it takes me back to a simpler time in our world. This sort of nostalgia is priceless to me. In celebration of the 24th Wrestlemania, I decided I would share my favorite and least favorite characters from classic 80s wrestling (including their primary affiliation during those years).


20. Nick Bockwinkel – mostly AWA

19. “Ravishing” Rick Rude – mostly AWA, WWF

18. Abdullah the Butcher – hired gun worked for all except WWFHonky Tonk Man

17. Honky Tonk Man – mostly WWF

16. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) – mostly NWA/WCW

Jesse Ventura
15. Jesse “The Body” Ventura – mostly AWA, WWF

14. Big John Studd – mostly WWF

13. “Gentleman” Chris Adams – mostly World Class

12. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig – mostly AWA, WWFJerry Blackwell

11. Jerry Blackwell – mostly AWA

10. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine – mostly WWFFreebirds

9. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy & Buddy Roberts) – mostly NWA, World Class

8. Larry Zbyszko – mostly AWA, NWA/WCW

7. “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart – mostly WWFKing Kong Bundy

6. King Kong Bundy – mostly World Class, WWFPiper

5. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – mostly WWF

4. Sheik Adnan El Kassey – mostly AWACornette – the original Sheik character was both manager and wrestler

3. Jim Cornette – mostly NWA/WCW – always happened to have his tennis racket handy

2. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan – mostly AWA, WWF – amazing manipulator

1. The Four HorsemenThe Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson & later Barry Windham) – mostly NWA/WCW – boy, did I despise this group of individuals at the time – link to video tribute





20. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels – mostly WWF

19. Magnum T.A. – mostly NWA/WCW

18. “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes – mostly NWA/WCWBaron

17. Junkyard Dog – mostly WWF

16. Baron Von Raschke – mostly AWA

15. “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas – mostly AWA, NWA, World Class

14. The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) – mostly AWA, NWA/WCW

13. The Ultimate Warrior – mostly WWF

12. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff – mostly WWFThe Rock n Roll Express

11. The Rock n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) – mostly NWA/WCWThe Snake

10. Jake “The Snake” Roberts – mostly WWF – most people hated him, but the DDT is one of the best finishing moves of all time and I always liked thatSting

9. Sting - mostly NWA/WCWMacho Man

8. Randy “Macho Man” Savage - mostly WWF

7. Bret “The Hitman” Hart - mostly WWFKerry Von Erich

6. Kerry Von Erich - mostly World Class, NWA, WWF

5. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat - mostly NWA, WWFSuperfly

4. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka - mostly WWFBritish Bulldogs

3. The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) - mostly WWF

2. The Road Warriors aka “The Legion of Doom”(Animal & Hawk) – The Road Warriorsmostly AWA, NWA/WCW, WWF – the most dominant force in tag team wrestling history – link to some old 80s AWA promos

1. Hulk HoganHulk Hoganmostly AWA, WWF – was there any doubt that I was a former Hulkamaniac? – link to tribute video set to the song “I Am a Real American”

There are my lists of my favorite and not-so-favorite wrestling characters from that era. Many of those guys are long gone from the industry and some even deceased. Remember, I was only considering the decade of the 80s. Just thinking about these guys brings back so many memories. Who were your favorites and most hated from that era??? Please let me know in the comments. No, I do not plan on watching Wrestlemania tonight, but there are lots of old matches and interviews available to watch on YouTube, so go search there if any of this has caught your fancy. There are also several tribute videos there for all of the wrestlers who have died relatively young.  Here is a link to one of those videos.

That will wrap up another issue of Kickin’ it. Thanks for reading and please come back often. To find additional 80s articles, please click on the link in the upper left hand column that says “Old School’s ‘80s Related Articles’ Summary” and that will take you to links to all of my past articles on my favorite decade. Peace and much love.

Check this out: There is a guy from Milwaukee named Drew that is in the process of visiting all 30 NBA arenas during this season. I believe he is on #23 right now and he has a blog describing his experience in each city. It is very interesting and includes lots of pictures. I encourage you to go check it out and here is a link to The NBA Season of Drew. It will take you a while to get through all of it, but if you have interest in the NBA it is well worth it.

Quote of the day: “Train hard, say your prayers and take your vitamins and you will never go wrong.” -Hulk Hogan (he used several versions of this quote on a regular basis in his interviews)

Download this: “New Soul” by Yael Naïm


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  1. LOL — my brothers loved the wrestling on Saturdays.
    I don’t like it but I do find the crowds most amusing.

  2. the most amazing things happen in my place is wrestling…

    i grew up with Hulk Hogan, Iron Shake, Ultermate Worrior, Giant, Undertaker and lots more… WWF (WWE) WCW and ECW

    hey its entertainment :)

  3. Wonderful theater. In the end, the good guys win, even if you have to wait a year or so while the bad guys get their turn at the title.

  4. my mamaw use to make homemade hamburgers and fried green tomatoes every saturday morning and we all sat down and watched wrestling.

    She loved The Nature Boy Rick Flair and even got to see his naked butt one time when she went to Bristol VA to watch him wrestle.

    My favs were the Road Warriors, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Sting (till he went bad), and Heart Break Kid Shawn Micheals.

  5. thanks for the visit to my blog! yours is cool.. though i can hardly relate to this wrestling stuff. lol.. i only get to watch wwf bec of my brother

  6. ***UPDATE*** Strange Coincidence last night… I happened to flip by the WWE show and saw that Ric Flair was having a retirement ceremony with lots of the old time wrestlers coming out to congratulate him. Can’t believe that he was still going at it all these years later, but definitely an end of an era in that industry. I was never a fan of Ric Flair (actually the opposite), but respect what he was able to accomplish over all these years.

  7. Reply to: kurtmaddox
    I know that Lawler was a huge favorite especially down south. I never really saw him much on the wrestling programs that I was able to watch (AWA, NWA and WWF). I think most people saw him when he had his feud with Andy Kaufmann, but that was really my only exposure to him during those years when he was at the height of his popularity.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. I’ve been a wrastling fan for years, I know I said wrastling. I always watch RAW and Friday Night Smackdown and I have a huge list of favorites. I really never got into the ECW (Extreme Championship Wrastling) it’s just to corny even for us regular fans. And the WWE Diva can’t be touched, smokin hot.

  9. Reply to: squirrelzone
    What are some of you all time favorites??? How about some of those most hated???
    Did you see Ric Flair’s retirement last night?

  10. Reply to: OldSchool

    Yes, I saw Ric Flairs retirement and it was quite the emotional event, kudos to HHH for doing a great hosting job.

    My favorites past and present would be:
    John Cena
    The Animal – Batista
    Stone Cold Steve Austin
    The Dudley Brothers
    The Hulk
    Mach Man Randy Savage
    The Big Show
    Many more

    I don’t like:
    The Great Kali
    Shawn Michaels
    Mr. Kennedy
    Jesse The Body Ventura
    and many more (drawing a blanl/I’m at work)

  11. Hey, did you see last night (i think it was raw) where rick flair had some of the old timers on… i seen it and thought of you..lol

  12. iron sheik number 1 – he was awesome in the 80s didnt see him on either list ??????????? andre the giant ???

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