The Glory Days of Wrestling: The True 1980s Golden Age

Hayley-L GrahamSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

There's nothing in the world which compares to sitting down in front of the television on an otherwise dull evening and embracing the true spirit of wrestling.

Whether it be the newest offering from WWE, or an old VHS of NWA, there is nothing that can come close to settling down with a bottle of Coca-Cola, cranking up the volume and indulging in a sports pastime which has enthralled us over the generations.

With the state of wrestling today, it's no surprise that some true fans explore the vaults for some classic magic from the bygone eras.

It's no surprise either that the same true aficionado's always look back to the same single decade when asked for wrestling's "Golden Era," that being the 1980s.

What is it though, that makes us look back at the 1980s with such equal measures of admiration and sorrow, fondness and melancholy?

In short, what was it about the 1980s that makes us crave its return so badly?

I, like so many of today's stereotypical wrestling fans, never experienced the opportunity to be alive during the 1980s, so why is it that so many of us can lay claim as to have seen some of the greatest bouts ever competed within the squared circle?

Why is it that some of the most recognisable names in sports entertainment history all derive from the same, common starting point?

Why do we look back at the 1980s as the metaphorical "birth of modern wrestling?"

There are so many reasons why we might cast our eyes back over Professional Wrestling history and so frequently come to rest at this one decade, but why just the 1980s?

Why not its predecessors? Why not its followers?

Simple: The 1980s became the forerunner, and subsequently the foundation, of modern wrestling.

Many people look at post 1990s performers, such as The Rock, Steve Austin, and John Cena, and regard them as the first true crossover stars in wrestling history.

The truth is, they are merely modern day equivalents of true greats of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Ricky Steamboat, and Randy Savage, among others.

The prevalence of the "Rock and Wrestling Connection" in the mid-1980s meant that a link was forged between Vince McMahon's traditional creation and the newly-born MTV generation.

This allowed for wrestling, and thus the wrestlers themselves, to be thrust into the limelight and become household names alongside some of the most popular musicians of the era.

Many of the biggest stars of the decade became Hollywood superstars, musical sensations, and regular faces on the celebrity scene.

Some of these appearances helped lead to some of the most iconic moments in not only wrestling, but media history. Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman anyone?

Of course, wrestling isn't wrestling without a good rivalry, something to engage our attentions for the precious amount of time we spend watching the show itself.

Some of the most classic rivalries in the history of wrestling came straight from the 1980s.

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, and so many more were all contested at some point during the decade, treating fans to some memorable matches, emotional confrontations and unforgettable images that have forever been burnt into the mind of the casual watcher.

It didn't matter how many times we had seen the bouts before, we were always hungry for the next encounter, the next beat down, even the next little video package.

Wrestling revolved around creating the traditional Heel vs. Face matchup, not only in the ring, but in the outside world too.

There were no Internet dirt-sheets informing us of the latest scandal, story, or breaking rumor.

Just our own two eyes seeing people for what they were pictured to be.

Some of the most notorious heels had to be escorted from arenas by security to ensure they were safe from overzealous observers, were physically attacked by masses as they walked down the street, and were truly hated beings.

The faces? They were made into saints, being adored by the nation and becoming role models to many who saw them upon their television screens.

This was the true magic of the 1980s. Everything was shown to be real, like there was no invisible wall obscuring the view of the wrestlers, just the simple enjoyment and pleasure of watching these athletes ply their craft.

Unfortunately, the Internet has killed the innocence that most wrestling fans possessed, but that doesn't stop us from occasionally overlooking the booking and agendas and just enjoying the sport we love.

The 1980s contained within it this almost indescribable, unique power to draw people together and let them sit down as a single group and share the experience.

There was nothing to cloud the excitement, to put a damper on proceedings, just the feeling of pure euphoria as fans watched the matches, listened to the words, and lived their dreams through their favorite performers.

Maybe it's just a lack of appreciation for today's wrestlers that makes us cry out for the glory days, maybe it's boredom and frustration with over-done feuds. It could even be loathing for the current product that makes us wish it would return and revive the sport.

Many people have different feelings and opinions on the subject. Some of them could seem totally ignorant to the situation, others could seem like the truest words ever spoken.

There is no one single factor that really differentiates our views, except from our own expectations of what we want to, and subsequently do, see.

Despite all our pleading and protesting, there is no way we'll ever get a chance to live through another "Golden Era" of wrestling, but would we want to do so?

Would we want to taint our image of the perfect wrestling decade, much like the current ECW seems to taint the original in the eyes of many?

So, the 1980's is gone and never coming back. It doesn't mean that we can't dream for the day when we can all sit in front of the TV, settle down with others, and truly enjoy the sport once more.

We never know what the future could bring, but we all know this right now:

The 1980s was truly one of the brightest times in wrestling history, and that is never going to change in the hearts of the wrestling fans.


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