Top Five Stars of WWF’s Rock N Wrestling Era

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Brian Damage, Lowlife Louie Ramos, Padraic Toolan and Amerigo Diehl

Howdy folks! This week we are returning to the Top Five format. This week’s selection is the top five stars of the WWF’s Rock N Wrestling era. Who are the top five wrestlers who helped shape and define the WWF in the 80’s? Yes, celebrities can be added if you so choose.


Brian

5. Captain Lou Albano

To me, the catalyst that got the ball rolling on the entire Rock N Wrestling era. Albano appeared in a Cyndi Lauper music video and soon enough, it spilled back into the World Wrestling Federation making wrestlers into mega stars.

4. Wendi Richter

Way before the Women’s Revolution in WWE….there was Wendi Richter who was a true trail blazer for women’s wrestling in the promotion. She had looks and skill and was extremely popular for a female wrestler during a period of time when they were an afterthought on a card. Richter was right in the middle of the Rock N Wrestling explosion and deserves recognition.

3. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper

Almost every great story has a great villain. In this particular case…a great heel. Roddy Piper was exactly that during the entire Rock N Wrestling era. Here was a man who legitimately hated the circus atmosphere that was around him with all the celebrities and you could truly feel his anger and resentment. Piper was an extremely important cog in the era and made it as successful as it was.

2. Cyndi Lauper

Let’s be honest, would there have even been a Rock N Wrestling era hadn’t Cyndi Lauper came onboard the WWF? Lauper was a very vital piece for the whole explosion in popularity in the 1980’s. She had crossover appeal that brought in a whole new set of eyes to the company that quite frankly wouldn’t have watched the programming without her presence. She is more than deserving of having her own wing in WWE’s Hall of Fame…yet isn’t there. Rumors are that Lauper wants nothing to do with the Hall of Fame. True or not, either way..a terrible shame to a performer who is so worthy of it.

1. Hulk Hogan

There couldn’t be another number one for this particular top five. Hulk Hogan was the biggest name in professional wrestling at that time and with a little help from a cast of characters…took the WWF on his broad shoulders and helped make the WWF into the empire it would become.


Louie

Honorable mention

Mr.Wondeful Paul Orndorff, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Big John Studd, Iron Sheik, Tito Santana, Greg Hammer Valentine

5) Andre the Giant..At the time before the rock and wrestling boom, Andre was the most famous and recognizable wrestler on the planet. He toured the world and worked in every conceivable territory. Once the idea of R & W got off the ground, Vince Jr locked Andre up. He would go on to still have huge star power but a little below some others on this list.

4) Junkyard Dog.. The J.Y.D..super popular at this time, especially with the younger fan base, which he sometimes bring young fans into the ring with him to dance the THUMP. Dog would figure prominently at 1st..but after the Rock and wrestling era started heading downward, sadly so did his career.

3) Capt Lou Albano…Capt Lou, who was a crossover star from wrestling into Hollywood and TV was probably the most directly responsible for R & W..
His direct involvement with Cyndi Lauper and the music video Girls just wanna have fun is directly linked to this era. Albano would go on to receive an award, which in turn led to his attack and the famous war to settle the score, which would air ….on(at the time) a rock music centric station MTV

2) Rowdy Roddy Piper..Without a villainous, despicable heel, could we truly have a saving hero.. NO..Roddy Piper was that bad guy…in my opinion the work he did here was probably the best heel work of all time. With his actions and words he would being crowds to near riot levels. His blasting Capt Lou over the head and shoving Cindy Lauper probably started the movement..

1) Hulk Hogan.. You guys all probably say.. oh Hogan topped his list again lol…but here it really can not be argued. Hogan was the face..the heartbeat and soul of this era. He would go on to topple Andre in popularity, break merchandise records, appear on the cover of sports illustrated and even have a cartoon..Hogan is synonymous with the R & W era, and was the perfect hero to take on Piper ,Orndorff ect..


Padraic

So many stars were made during this time, and not just in the ring. My honorable mention: Randy Savage, Paul Orndorff, Mr. T., Bobby Heenan, Lou Albano, Jimmy Snuka, Iron Sheik, Jim Duggan

5. Cyndi Lauper

Talk about crossover appeal! Lauper was so huge in the 80s, and the segment on Piper’s Pit is unforgettable. Lauper certainly brought a whole new audience to the WWF.

4. Mean Gene Okerlund

Mean Gene was EVERYWHERE and in the middle of everything during this era. “YOU KNOW SOMETHING MEAN GENE?” Yes, Gene knew everything. I would say that Gene was the voice of the Rock N Wrestling Era, and he’s one of the WWF’s greatest legends.

3. Roddy Piper

He may be the original “cool heel”. He loved to be hated, and the crowd loved to hate him, but we still laughed at his ridiculous and hilarious promos and insults. As Louie said, we needed a great heel to have a great hero, and Piper was truly that great heel.

2. Andre the Giant

The term “larger than life” is thrown around a lot, but when I hear that phrase, my mind immediately goes to Andre. He was a star in and out of the ring long before his legendary feud with Hulk Hogan. He had definitely slowed down by this point in his career, but he was still one of the most famous wrestlers in the world.

1. Hulk Hogan

It could not be anybody else. Hulk Hogan is, was, and forever will be the personification of pro wrestling in the 80s. He was the face of the WWF and he is still the hero of many fans who grew up watching during that time. Beating Iron Sheik for the WWF Championship, The Mega Powers, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, headlining the first three WrestleManias… he was in the middle of the biggest moments and angles and helped WWF become synonymous with professional wrestling.


Amerigo

Top 5 Rock and Wrestling

5. Bobby Heenan– I am choosing Heenan because he was arguably the first heel manager outside of the big 3 (Albano, Blassie, Grand Wizard) to come along in years. His role in hyping up Studd for his Mania I slam match against Andre was classic heel heat. Then grabbing the bag of money from Andre as he was throwing it out to the crowd was just a preview to his huge influence over the next decade.

4. Mean Gene Okerlund– I have to put Gene on this list. Prior to him virtually all interviews were done in an empty arena by Vince, or occasionally by Vince or Pat Patterson after a match, and they were usually pretty boring. When Gene came from the AWA he brought his charisma with him, and it made the interviews much more exciting.

3. Roddy Piper– Having known about Piper’s wrestling style from religiously reading every monthly magazine I could get as a 10 year old, I knew how good he was in the ring. However, since I have never heard him cut a promo I had no idea just how amazing he was on the mic. Piper was a different kind of heel, and the heat he drew was white hot. If you tried to explain Piper to someone who had only ever seen Hogan, all you would need to say is “Piper is the heel equivalent to Hogan’s popularity in terms of getting over”. That would be all you would need to say and they would understand completely.

2. Captain Lou– Lou gets the runner up spot because of a plane ride, and a chance encounter with Cyndi Lauper, and her boyfriend/manager. Had this never happened, the Rock and Wrestling connection might have just been a figment of Vince’s imagination. It truly was the start of wrestling becoming more than just smoky,dark arena’s on Friday nights attended by beer drinking guys. It became a media and merchandise darling that is still going today.

1. Hulk Hogan– Yes, Albano’s chance meeting was the catalyst, but without the right vehicle the idea goes nowhere. Hogan was the vehicle. His charisma, and over the top style drew fans in and made wrestling appealing to entire families, especially kids who were the ones begging parents for toys, posters, and t-shirts of their heroes. No matter what anyone thinks of Hogan’s attitude, politics, or wrestling ability, without him, we might still be in those smoky, dark arena’s watching boring matches.


You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.


6 thoughts on “Top Five Stars of WWF’s Rock N Wrestling Era

  1. 1. Cunt Hogan
    2. Rowdy Roddy Piper
    3. Andre the Giant
    4. Captain Lou Albano
    5. Junkyard Dog

    Honorable mentions: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Wendi Richter, Mr. T, Randy Savage, Tito Santana, and King Kong Bundy.

    Like

      • Well, that’s what he’s known for now since he is a racist piece of shit who we should’ve known was a heel from the start. He stole Macho Man’s wife and stole Bret Hart’s spotlight.

        Like

  2. Top 5 (1985)

    1. Hulk Hogan
    2. Roddy Piper
    3. Andre
    4. Gene Okerland
    5. Nikolai Volkoff

    As for dark, smoky arenas with boring matches, ironically its WWE which is heading in that direction. While it may only now be pyrotechnic smoke now, watch any pre-pandemic Takeover and then compare it to the production style of a 1970s arena show. Lights turned off. Dark building (despite being sold out) with dark ring canvas. Wrestlers with normal names and no defining characters facing off. It’s becoming in many ways what the then WWF had replaced.

    Like

  3. I’m with Brian all the way on this.
    And yes, Cyndi Lauper is more deserving of a Hall Of Fame ring than Koko B. Ware and Pete Rose will ever be.

    Like

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