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Do you remember these?...
Andre the Giant (d. 1993)

Paul Bearer
Big Boss Man (d. 2004)
Bam Bam Bigelow (d. 2007)
"Classy" Freddy Blassie (d. 2003)
King Kong Bundy  GALLERY
Bushwhackers  GALLERY

Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Mr. Fuji

Gorgeous George (d. 1963)
"Superstar" Billy Graham

"Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart  GALLERY
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
Hercules Hernandez (d. 2004)
Hillbilly Jim
Hulk Hogan  GALLERY

Junkyard Dog
(d. 1998)  GALLERY

The Killer Bees  GALLERY

The Machines
Don "The Rock" Muraco  GALLERY

"Mean" Gene Okerlund

Hot Rod "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

Leaping Lanny Poffo

Jake "The Snake" Roberts  GALLERY
Ravishing Rick Rude (d. 1999)  GALLERY

Tito Santana
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (d. 2011)  GALLERY
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

George "The Animal" Steele  GALLERY
Big John Studd (d. 1995)

Lou Thesz (d. 2002)


The Ultimate Warrior
The Undertaker

Virgil
Nikolai Volkoff

Koko B. Ware  GALLERY




Big Boss Man

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Raymond Walter Traylor, Jr.
  • Before his wrestling debut in 1985, Traylor actually had been a prison guard in Cobb County, Georgia.  His Big Boss Man character was based on this persona.
  • Big Boss Man died on September 22, 2004 at the age of 41.  Cause of death was a heart attack.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • Sure he was a bad guy, but I always liked this character.  He reminds me a LOT of a kid I grew up with, who was actually a friend of my older brother.  When this kid was younger, and fatter, he looked JUST like Big Boss Man.  Plus, Big Boss Man was just a funny character.

Bam Bam Bigelow


Quickie Facts:
  • Had a role in the film "Major Payne" (1995) where he gets his a** kicked by Damon Wayans!
  • His real name is Scott Charles Bigelow.
  • Bam Bam died on January 19, 2007 of drug abuse (cocaine and an anti-anxiety drug).  He was only 45 years old.
  • He made his wrestling debut on August 23, 1985.  He retired from wrestling in 2006.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow was with WWF from 1987-1988, and again from 1992-1995.  In his first WWF term, he was a hero.  In his second WWF term, he was a heel.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I wasn't into Bam Bam Bigelow too much as a wrestler, but I love his name!  I think years from now, people will remember the man's name more than the man himself!  My favorite thing he did was his role in the film, "Major Payne" (1995).  He proved he could be tough, scary, and funny all at the same time!  I think Bam Bam missed his calling, and should have played a bunch of characters like this in movies and television.  Sadly, like too many wrestlers, he made some bad personal choices that destroyed his entertainment career, and ultimately his life.  I think, on a good day, Bigelow might have been a cool guy to be buddies with.  However, I think he also had a dark side.

Mr. Fuji

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Harry Fujiwara.
  • Although his character portrayed him as Japanese, he was really a Japanese-American born in Hawaii.
  • He made his wrestling debut on December 15, 1965, and retired in 1996.
  • Mr. Fuji actually wrestled until 1985, when he became a full-time manager bad guy.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • Mr. Fuji was another one of those likable bad guys.  He seemed a bit friendlier than most bad guys, despite the fact that he liked to throw salt in peoples' eyes and trip them with his cane.  That's all show.  I think Mr. Fujiwara, in real-life, would be a pretty cool guy.  You always wanted to know what he was up to.  "What's Mr. Fuji doing now?!  What's he gonna do next?!".

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Raymond Louis Heenan.
  • Heenan made his debut in the wrestling world in 1960, but did not join the WWF until 1984 (his most famous period).
  • Heenan was a manager bad guy but, odd enough, people liked seeing him.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • He's such a twerp!  But a cool twerp, if that makes any sense.  Yeah, he was a weasle manager, but entertaining to watch.  Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was sort of WWF's answer to Boss Hogg from "The Dukes of Hazzard".  Heenan is another bad guy who I think, in real life, would be cool to hang out with.

Bushwhackers


Quickie Facts:
  • Previously wrestled under the name of The Sheepherders!
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • These guys are FUNNY!  They'd stomp into the ring like a couple of retards and just act ridiculous.*  I thought the Bushwhackers name was more appropriate for them than Sheepherders, as they are a couple of whackers.  The Bushwhackers guys were always entertaining!
  • *No offense to the mentally retarded.  This statement is just meant as an observation.

Hercules Hernandez


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Raymond Fernandez.
  • Also went by the ring name of just Hercules.  His gimmick was that he believed he was the one, true Hercules.  He certainly looked the part!
  • Hercules died in his sleep on March 6, 2004 of heart disease.  He was only 47 years old.
Personal Thoughts:
  • His most famous period was the WWF days (1985-1992), but he never did get as much attention as he should have from the company in airtime or merchandising.  He just wasn't hyped up like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, and others.  I thought it was cool to have "Hercules" as a wrestler...the guy had a good character.

Hillbilly Jim

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Jim Morris.
  • He made his wrestling debut in 1975.
  • As Hillbilly Jim, he worked for the WWF from 1984-1990.
  • Hillbilly Jim returned to the WWF in December, 1995.  He was the manager of pig farmer cousins Henry O. and Phineas I. Godwinn.  In the Spring of 1997, the Godwinn's turned heel and Hillbilly Jim disappeared, as he was no longer needed for their manager.
  • In 2001, Hillbilly Jim appeared in the "Gimmick Battle Royal" for Wrestlemania 17.
  • Hillbilly Jim became the official WWE Legend host for the WrestleMania Fan Axxess tours for Wrestlemania 20-23, which appeared in malls across the United States.
  • Jim Morris is also a DJ!  In 2005, on Sirius Satellite Radio, he started his own music show called "Hillbilly Jim's Moonshine Matinee".  Jim plays a variety of classic country music and Southern rock.  Between records, he talks about his days with the WWF.
  • Hillbilly Jim guest-starred in a highly-anticipated episode of the comedy/variety show, "Hee Haw" in 1987.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I liked Hillbilly Jim, but he wasn't at the top of my favorites list.  I just don't think the storylines gave him enough to do, and they didn't make him as funny as they could have.  But he is a good character.

Hulk Hogan


Quickie Facts:
  • Hulk Hogan's real name is Terry Gene Bollea.
  • Hogan was the first wrestler-turned-actor to have a pretty respectable acting career going.  Roddy Piper was the second.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • As far as wrestler characters go, Hulk Hogan is still pretty high on my list.  When I was a kid, Hulk Hogan and Junkyard Dog were IT.  They were my favorites.  I also liked Macho Man a lot.  As far as bad guys go, I always got a kick out of Hot Rod "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.  He made me laugh because he was just so goofy.  These four guys were the tops, but Hulkster was the most special.  He was always the hero.  I hated it when he turned into a bad guy for a few years ("Hollywood" Hulk Hogan).  I don't think anyone wanted to see that, and he changed back to a good guy after a while.  I also like Hulk in his movies because he's still Hulk Hogan, and still a good guy.  More than any other wrestler character, Hulk Hogan will be the one that everyone remembers from the 1980s.

Junkyard Dog
  GALLERY

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Sylvester Ritter.
  • Junkyard Dog died in a car accident on June 2, 1998.  He was only 45 years old.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I absolutely love the Junkyard Dog.  It's hard to say who I like better, him or Hulk Hogan.  Hulk certainly had more dazzle, but Junkyard had the cooler personality.  He just went into the ring, acting all bad and stuff, with his chains and the theme music playing (usually "Another One Bites the Dust"), and he totally kicked a**!  It was a shame when he left the WWF; they really lost a good thing.  I was also very sad to hear when he died in a car accident.  In the 1980s, Junkyard Dog was such an icon.  He deserved a lot better than what he got.  I, for one, will always be a fan of the character.
The Machines

Quickie Facts:
  • The Machines were only around from 1986-1987.  It started out as a tag team, but became a sort of loose confederation of wrestlers.
  • The idea behind The Machines is that they "said" they were wrestlers from Japan when, in reality, they were already-popular WWF wrestlers in disguise.  They'd get the bad guys all upset because their identities were obvious, but they couldn't prove it to anyone.  The only thing that really hid their true identities were Japanese-style wrestling masks.
  • Giant Machine was really Andre the Giant.  Super Machine was really Bill Eadie, best known as Ax from the tag team Demolition (after this).
  • Later on, the Machines were joined by other obvious Machines such as:  Animal Machine (George "The Animal" Steele), Big Machine (later known as Blackjack Mulligan), Crusher Machine (Reginald "The Crusher" Lisowski), Hulk Machine (Hulk Hogan), and Piper Machine (Roddy Piper).

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I kind of remember them at the time.  I thought the idea was stupid, but...such was wrestling.  Anybody that takes pro-wrestling seriously in any form shouldn't be allowed to walk the streets!  Kind of funny and interesting, though.

"Mean" Gene Okerlund

Quickie Facts:
  • Gene made his wrestling announcer debut in 1974.
  • Okerlund joined WWF from 1984-1993.
  • In 1984, wrestler/commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura gave Okerlund his "Mean Gene" nickname.  What was funny about this nickname is that Okerlund was probably the friendliest (not to mention least physical) person in the wrestling industry!
  • Gene then worked for WCW from 1993-2001.
  • Okerlund came back to WWF (renamed WWE in 2002) in 2001 and presently has a lifetime contract.
  • Although wrestling is not his forte, Okerlund did win a victory against evil manager Mr. Fuji in 1984 when he and Hulk Hogan took on Mr. Fuji and George "The Animal" Steele.
  • Gene Okerlund is very anti-smoking.
  • In 1989, at the WWF SummerSlam, "Mean" Gene Okerlund made one of the greatest wrestling bloopers when he uncharacteristically yelled "F*** it!" among other choice words, thankfully with no audio for television, but the audience heard it, and the muted tape made it on television!
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair
  • I always liked Mean Gene!  He was one of my favorite personalities on WWF.  I still giggle every time I hear the name "Mean" Gene Okerlund!  He never striked me as being much different from Higgins on "Magnum, P.I.".  I've just always found Gene to be funny with a kind of dry wit that's always appealed to me.

Hot Rod "Rowdy" Roddy Piper


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Roderick Toombs.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I'm a HUGE Roddy Piper fan!  HUGE!  I liked his wrestling character because he was so unique and goofy.  A guy with a Hot Rod T-shirt and a kilt?!  With bagpipes?!  And obviously Canadian?!  What the heck?!  But he was so funny and likable (for a bad guy).  His acting career is what really dazzled me.  I love Hulk Hogan in his movies, but he's always Hulk Hogan.  Roddy Piper has played distinct characters in all of his acting appearances...and often as heroes!  I was surprised when Roddy got into acting...and even more surprised to find out that he was good at it.  Until The Rock came into acting, Roddy Piper was the only legitimate wrestler-turned-actor.
Leaping Lanny Poffo

Quickie Facts:
  • He's the real-life brother of "Macho Man" Randy Savage!
  • Leaping Lanny had a number of interesting gimmicks.  He did a lot of aerial stunts in his wrestling (hence the "Leaping").  He also wrote original poems on frisbees that he tossed into the audience.
  • Lanny has also wrestled as the character, The Genius.  He used the poetry gimmick for that character as well.
  • Lanny made his wrestling debut in 1973.
  • Lanny Poffo is best-known for his time with WWF, although he has wrestled in the independent circuits before and since.
  • He is a dedicated non-smoker and has even written poems for young children about the dangers of smoking, drugs, and alcohol.
  • Although not as well-known as his brother Randy, Lanny has had a pretty successful and respectable career.  At one time, he defeated Hulk Hogan in the ring and afterwards hit the talk show circuit.  Among those shows, "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee".

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • The thing I remember best about him is the frisbee-throwing.  I've read about him in a number of articles, and he seems like a cool guy.  He interviews nice.  I think he genuinely likes his fans more than most wrestlers do.

Ravishing Rick Rude
  GALLERY

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Richard Erwin Rood.
  • He made his wrestling debut in 1983, and first joined the WWF in 1987.
  • Rude was with the WWF from 1987-1990.  Although he was only with the company for a relatively short period of time, he became one of the company's best-known bad guys.
  • Rude was then with the WCW from 1991-1994.  In 1996, he joined ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) and by 1997 he was back with the WWF.
  • Rude returned to the WCW from 1997-1998.
  • Ravishing Rick Rude died on April 20, 1999 of a heart attack.  He was only 40 years old.  Cause of the heart attack was an overdose of mixed medications.
  • The character of Ravishing Rick Rude was an arrogant, self-centered man who thought he was the sexiest man alive and the best wrestler in the history of the universe.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • He was a funny bad guy!  I just loved how arrogant he was.   You wanted to see him get his a** kicked!  He didn't always lose, but he lost often enough to satisfy the crowd.  Ravishing Rick Rude is noted for being one of the "greatest talkers" in the history of wrestling and I agree.  His character had a very distinct personality.  You knew where he was coming from.

Tito Santana

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Merced Solis.
  • Tito made his wrestling debut in 1977.
  • Tito Santana is best-known for his time with WWF (1979-1993).
  • From 1987-1989, Tito Santana was in a tag team with Canadian Rick Martel called Strike Force.
  • In 1991, Tito Santana took on a bullfighter gimmick and the nickname, "El Matador".
  • In 2008, he released an autobiography, "Tito Santana: Tales From the Ring".

Personal Thoughts:
  • Tito Santana just seemed to me like he was a cool guy.  Awesome hero character.

"Macho Man" Randy Savage  GALLERY


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Randall Mario Poffo.
  • He is half Italian (father's side) and half Jewish (mother's side).
  • His brother is professional wrestler Leaping Lanny Poffo.
  • His father is wrestling legend Angelo Poffo.
  • He made his wrestling debut in November, 1973.
  • "Macho Man" was with the WWF from 1985-1994.  He then started a main stint with WCW from 1994-1999.
  • Savage retired from wrestling on February 18, 2005.
  • Unlike many wrestlers, Randy Savage seems to have kept his act together.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I loved "Macho Man" when I was a kid.  Still love his character.  He was one of my favorites.  Pretty high up on the chart.  He was a meathead, but you liked him, and liked to watch him.  Randy Savage had a lot of charisma.  The interaction between him and manager Miss Elizabeth is what really made it work.  Savage wasn't a "good guy" wrestler, but he wasn't completely a "bad guy" wrestler, either.  Miss Elizabeth brought out Macho Man's gentler side.  When the two divorced in real life (1992), everybody felt bad.  It was one of the few times a wrestler made a public statement about his actual private life.  The split from Miss Elizabeth hurt the appeal of "Macho Man" Randy Savage.  He was still cool, but something was missing.  The replacement character of Sensational Sherri did nothing for Macho Man.  In 1996, Savage and Elizabeth were briefly re-teamed in the WCW, but it wasn't the same; Elizabeth's character was made trashy.
  • I really enjoyed Macho Man when he was the spokesman for Slim Jim beefsticks.  His commercials were better than the product!  I also liked his movie cameos in "Ready to Rumble" (2000) and "Spider-Man" (2002).

"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is James William Reiher.
  • Snuka made his wrestling debut in 1969.
  • "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka made his WWF debut in 1982.  This lasted until 1985.  He later rejoined WWF from 1989-1992.
  • Snuka played a bad guy and, in real life, had a number of personal problems that became public.  Sadly, this is something that is not uncommon in the world of wrestling.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I didn't follow "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka too much, but I loved saying his name!  I still love saying his name!  Plus, he did have a cool character concept.

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat


Quickie Facts:
  • Had a younger brother named Vic Steamboat who also enjoyed a long wrestling career.  Vic never became as well-known, nor was he in the WWF like his older brother.
  • His real name is Richard Henry Blood.
  • He made his wrestling debut on April 23, 1976.
  • Ricky Steamboat was first with WWF 1985-1988.  This is when he added "The Dragon" to his stage name.  He returned to WWF from 1990-1991.  It wasn't until 2005 that he continued his association with the company, now known as WWE.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I can't explain it, but there was something about the character of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat that I really liked when I was a kid.  The Asian thing was cool; he looked cool, anyway.  He came to the ring with the most outrageous, colorful outfits.  He breathed fire.  It was just something really cool to see.  I also liked the name.

Big John Studd


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is John William Minton.
  • He died on March 20, 1995 of liver cancer and Hodgkin's Disease.  He was only 47 years old.
  • Minton made his wrestling debut in 1977.
  • Big John Studd was with WWF from 1982-1986 (as a heel), and in 1989 (as a face).
  • Studd retired from wrestling in 1990.
  • Big John Studd did quite a bit of acting, although he never became a headliner like Hulk Hogan or Roddy Piper.
  • Studd made a great appearance in an episode of TV's "Hunter" as a bad guy white supremicist.
  • Another awesome Studd movie role is that of hero Jack Daniels in the film, "Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man" (1991).

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • I didn't really pay much attention to him in wrestling.  He just seemed so ordinary.  There are lots of big, rough-looking guys in wrestling, so he just seemed like another face in the crowd.  I liked him better as an actor.  His very early roles were just thugs, but his later roles, as in "Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man", actually show some depth.  I think he could have become a very accomplished actor if he had lived longer.

The Ultimate Warrior


Quickie Facts:
  • His birth name is James Brian Hellwig.
  • In 1993, he legally changed his name to Warrior (not "Ultimate Warrior").
  • He made his wrestling debut on November 28, 1985.  His first stage name was Jim "Justice" Hellwig.
  • Hellwig did not come to the WWF until very late 1987.  As "The Ultimate Warrior" he became a household name almost overnight!
  • The Ultimate Warrior was with WWF from 1987-1991, again for about half the year in 1992, and for a few months in 1996.
  • Warrior is Hellwig's real name now, and even his children carry the Warrior surname!
  • In 1996, Warrior even had his own, self-titled comic book series!  It did well the first few issues, but quickly slowed down in sales before it was ended in early 1997.
  • In 1999, Warrior officially retired from wrestling.
  • In 2005, the WWE (formerly WWF) released a very unflattering documentary DVD called "The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior".  Warrior and the WWE have actually been to court over this.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • To me, Ultimate Warrior still seems like one of the "newbies" of the 1980s wrestling world.  I know he came out in 1987, but he was definitely a different take on wrestlers than Hulk Hogan and Macho Man.  Ever since the Ultimate Warrior came out, there have been TONS of imitators.  This was the beginning of the "mentally unstable" wrestler cliche.  When WWF started their "New Generation" era in 1994, just about every wrestler was an Ultimate Warrior wannabe.
  • The Ultimate Warrior caught on quick in popularity.  Heck, I even liked the Ultimate Warrior character when he first came out.  He's the first of his kind, and still the best of his kind.  Warrior was a crazy man, but colorful and funny.  His countless imitators take the persona to a way-too-dark side.
  • When the Ultimate Warrior came out, toys and other merchandising came out very quick.  Lots of wrestlers before him were quick to be commercialized, but I don't think ANYONE was put into plastic as fast as The Ultimate Warrior.  The character just struck gold!
  • I like the Ultimate Warrior character, but the "Warrior" comic book series is not very good.  The comic book takes itself way too serious.

Koko B. Ware  GALLERY

Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is James Ware.
  • He made his wrestling debut in 1978.
  • Ware was with the WWF from 1986-1994 as "Birdman" Koko B. Ware.  He came back briefly in 1999, but left when Owen Hart died in the middle of the storyline.  He made another appearance in 2005.
  • Ware retired from wrestling on April 4, 2009.
  • His macaw's name was Frankie.

Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • Koko B. Ware is cool!  I love the colorful outfits, the sunglasses, the bird, the funny voice...all of that!  Ware was like a funkier version of the Junkyard Dog but, unlike the Dog, Ware specialized in a lot of aerial stunts.  I just really like the character of Koko B. Ware.
  • Koko B. Ware was popular enough in the 1980s, but he was never given the attention that he deserved.  In airtime and merchandising, I think he always took a back seat to WWF's more-established stars.  Koko had a cooler gimmick than most wrestlers, and he really should have had more recognition.

Virgil


Quickie Facts:
  • His real name is Mike Jones.
  • He made his wrestling debut in 1985.
  • Virgil is best-known for his time with WWF (1987-1994) as manservant to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.
  • Mike Jones, when first arriving at WWF, went by the name of Lucius Brown and got his a** kicked by Paul Orndorff.  It wasn't until the Summer of 1987 that he took on the Virgil character.
  • Ted DiBiase's "Million Dollar Man" was a heel.  Virgil was his "everything" man.  When Ted started losing a fight against a hero, he'd run and let Virgil take the beating.
  • In the storyline, Virgil finally turned against Ted DiBiase at the Royal Rumble in January, 1991.  However, Virgil was still a bad guy.
  • Mike Jones/Virgil left WWF in August, 1994.
  • After retiring from wrestling altogether in 2000, Mike Jones came back to WWE (same as WWF, just a different name) in 2010.
  • Mike Jones reprised his character of Virgil the bodyguard in 2010, this time for Ted DiBiase, Jr.
Personal Thoughts From Polar Blair:
  • "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase was NOTHING without Virgil.  These two just had to be together.  I found the idea of Ted and Virgil an interesting story within itself.  Virgil could whoop his a**.  Why was he playing "Rochester" to this creep?  If the two had to split, I would have liked to see Virgil become a good guy.  When Ted and Virgil split in 1991, it ended something cool.  I think it's interesting that Virgil has since become the manservant to Ted DiBiase, Jr.
  • Even though Virgil was supposed to be a bad guy, you kind of felt sorry for him due to the complete lack of dignity given to him by "The Million Dollar Man".