When I was a young teenager living in Atlanta, Georgia Championship Wrestling was entering its apex of popularity. And at the same time, Vincent K. McMahon was plotting to take over the Sports Entertainment industry. Some wrestlers could just walk into the ring and have the “it” factor. Others, well, let’s just say they were parking cars a few weeks later.
But the great thing about wrestling in the area was the Superstation TBS. On Saturday night from 8 pm until midnight the station hosted wrestling from Georgia Championship Wrestling, AWA Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling and Mid-South Championship Wrestling.
In honor of all those great stars that graced the television and produced four hours of some of the best soap opera drama on the screen, here is a look at the 10 best wrestling gimmicks of all time:
10. The Junk Yard Dog: JYD was a great in ring performer in the Mid-South area and later on with Georgia Championship Wrestling. He brought his leash and collar to the ring and used the “butt bump” as one of his trademark finishing holds.
Later on in the WWE, he was underused and the barking and dog-like antics took away from his in ring persona. He was still a fan favorite, but wasn’t the same wrestler.
9. Dusty Rhodes: A heavyset white man who can rap like Muhammad Ali and walk into a ring act a little feminine and still get the crowd to feed into his overselling of a match. Rhodes won the fans loyalty because he was one of them.
He also was not athletic in terms of size and speed. But he honed his craft, used the dangerous “Bionic Elbow” and fought his way to the NWA world championships.
While in the WWE he was another man who was brought down by the WWE machine. Seeing Rhodes in polka dots was an embarrassment.
8. Kevin Sullivan: This is a surprise pick. In the early 80's, Kevin Sullivan used the dark side to convert The Purple Haze (Mark Lewin) and Jake Roberts. Actually, I think it was a lot of drug use. But people bought into the persona and a cult leader was born.
Sullivan was a good technical wrestler in Florida before he became the transformed dictator. And when he formed the Varsity Club with Mike Rotunda, Steve Williams and Rob Steiner, he continued his domination of a group of solid wrestlers who could play the role of followers.
7. The Road Warriors: They dined on danger that is for sure. Just the sounds of Ozzy Osborne over the PA system let everyone know who was in the building.
Hawk and Animal were two of the baddest dudes in the business and held the NWA, AWA and WWE world tag team championships. They teamed with friends Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff from time to time and chased the Four Horseman around in War Games.
6. The Four Horseman: You never knew what would happen when Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair stepped into the ring. But what you got was some of the best technical wrestling ever to be shown in the ring.
At one time, all four men held gold and were the best group of individual performers in the business. Flair held the World Championship longer than anyone. The Andersons held the World Tag Team Championship and Blanchard carried the World Television Championship. Whether together or as a single performer, watching anyone of them was like watching ballet.
5. Degeneration X: How can making something so stupid look so funny? That is the question with this group which originally consisted of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Road Dogg Jesse James and Billy Gunn. Later James and Gunn were eliminated from the group while Chyna began wrestling and beating men at their own game.
Some of their antics were hilarious and some were down right crude. But when guys are having a good time and laughing at it, for the WWE, all it did was spell ratings.
4. The Rock: We can smell what the rock is cooking. Maybe the best interview of all time. He is strong, athletic and can talk better than anyone on the WWE. His feuds with Steve Austin, Triple H and the Undertaker are legendary.
But what the Rock may do better than anyone is bring the audience to a fever pitch and then hold them in suspense. It is truly electrifying.
3. Steve Austin: Hell Yeah! There is no other wrestler that can make you proud to hate your job, flip your boss off and drink beer. And if you can do all three at once, then you earn his respect.
His in ring persona is much like his out of ring aura. He can work with the best of them, and has.
Knee and neck injuries curtailed his career. WCW was stupid to let him get away. WWE got a real steal.
2. Ric Flair: How could he be left off this list? Flair is one for the ages, sequins and all. He is the best technical wrestler (with maybe an exception to Shawn Michaels or Rick Steamboat). He is flamboyant, classy and the best there ever is and ever was. His strut and his knee drops were painful. His knife-edge chops where lethal. And his microphone skills were second to none.
1. The Undertaker: It never gets old. The Dead Man continues to electrify the crowds and bring in the fans. The Wrestlemania record is a thing of beauty and his in-ring technique is on par with no one.
How many 6' 10" 300 pound men rise from the dead, walk top ropes and launch themselves through the air?
The fire and whole aura keeps people in the seats and hasn’t gotten old in the entire time he has been at the head of the WWE class.