Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
Thanks to the WWE Network and YouTube it’s easier than ever to watch some of the greatest moments in wrestling history that maybe passed you by or took place before you were even born. However, seeing those matches and the superstars in them online isn’t the same as living through those times and in this Top Five, the team share the superstars that they wish they’d been able to see wrestling – in their prime – live.
5. Kerry Von Erich
Von Erich is part of one of, if not the, most famous family in wrestling history and played a part in lighting up the Texas wrestling scene as part of World Class Championship Wrestling. A family dogged by tragedy – Kerry saw a number of his brothers die, lost a foot in a bicycle accident, had drug problems and eventually committed suicide. Thanks to the Network I can watch WCCW but before this I had to make do with his fleeting WWE run as The Texas Tornado where he was a shell of his former self.
4. Verne Gagne
The fact that he is one of only six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter halls of fame speaks volumes of his impact on professional wrestling. However, by the time I got into wrestling in the early 90s he had long since hung up his boots and his promotion – American Wrestling Association – was on its knees after the majority of its talent had jumped ship, like many guys during the 80s, to Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. But to have seen Gagne face the likes of Nick Bockwinkel, Larry Hennig or Ray Stevens during his glory days would have been spectacular.
3. The Expresses
OK, I admit, this is cheating a bit but it would have been great to have seen The Midnight Express and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express compete in their 80s heyday and not just a bastard version of the former take on an aged version of the latter during the awful NWA Invasion angle in the late 90s in the WWF. As a fan of tag team wrestling, living through either of them in their pomp would have been fantastic but to see some of their legendary matches as they happened, I can think of few things finer.
2. Magnum TA
As well as robbing him of his health, the car crash that Magnum TA was involved in robbed the world of wrestling of a man that could have, by all accounts, ended up being its biggest stars. It is widely believed he was set to win his third NWA US championship before being groomed to be the next NWA World Champion before tragedy struck.
1. Barry Windham
I was very much, and still am, a WWE guy. WCW largely passed me by during the 90s – even during the Monday Night Wars – bar a few PPVs here and there and the odd tape of a show. The Network obviously provides me with an opportunity to catch-up and I’m gutted I never really got to sit through his stuff there and then, especially, by all accounts, his stuff from Championship Wrestling from Florida and then his WCW run. Unfortunately his various times in the WWF didn’t really deliver what they could have.
5. The Fabulous Freebirds
The version of the Freebirds I was familiar with as a child was the out of shape tandem of Michael P.S. Hayes and Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin. That sentence alone will tell you why the Freebirds are on my list. I’ve heard so much – and watched a little bit via the Network too – about their feud with the Von Erichs. Prolonged, white hot feuds like that just don’t happen anymore.
4. Kerry Von Erich
To me he’s ‘The Texas Tornado’ Kerry Von Erich; everyone’s third favourite wrestler, guy that did surprisingly little considering how good he was, popular Hasbro figure and Ultimate Warrior lookalike. Now that I’m a little older I am fully aware that this guy was the dog’s bollocks in WCCW.
3. The Dynamite Kid
He inspired so many wrestlers, but to this day – save for a few ‘World of Sport’ episodes – all I’ve seen of The Dynamite Kid is his work as one half of The British Bulldogs. A quality tag team with some quality matches in their library, but I am reliably informed that this is the tip of the Dynamite Kid iceberg.
2. The Road Warriors
Let’s face it, the WWE version of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom was a bit shit. For various reasons they never really got up to full speed in the Fed’. Making their names in the AWA and NWA/JCP largely by squashing opponents with devastating power moves, the Road Warriors moved to the WWE in 1990 and immediately encountered numerous wrestlers of similar gigantic proportions. Don’t get me wrong, as a kid I loved LOD, but compared to their run from 1985-1989, the early 90’s version of the Road Warriors I am familiar with is just a bit lame.
1. Ric Flair
Yes, you read that correctly; Ric Flair. Having been a wrestling fan since around 1991 you would think that I’d have seen enough of Ric Flair. While Flair was still at his peak in the early 90’s, I would have loved to have seen him – and The Four Horsemen – during his run in the 1980’s. While Flair could still produce top class matches in the 90’s, nobody can deny that his zenith as a wrestling personality was reached during his heyday in the 80’s.
If you mean live, I have a plethora I wished I got to see live and in color. Five just doesn’t cover all the wrestlers I had wished I got to see…
5. Dusty Rhodes
‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes back teaming with Dirty Dick Murdoch or kicking butt in Florida and or the Mid Atlantic region. I had the priviledge of seeing him on TBS for years and even got to see a watered down version of Dusty live in the WWF.
4. Barry Windham
Again, I’ve seen plenty of Barry in the NWA and WWF…but never live…especially during his heyday as a member of the Four Horsemen. Windham was at one point…easily my favorite wrestler.
3. Jerry Lawler
What a marvelous experience it would be to go to the Mid South Coliseum and see Lawler take on Terry Funk or better yet…Andy Kaufman during their red hot feud.
2. Anybody from World Class
Whether that be the Freebirds…The Von Erichs…Gary Hart…Gino Hernandez…at the old Dallas Sportatorium…what a treat that would be?!?
1. The Midnight Express
My favorite version of that tag team was Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton…never got to see them live and I really wish I had.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.