View Full Version : Lex Luger

Prime Time
05-10-2018, 07:38 AM
To carry on our previous conversation, does anyone think that one of the reasons Luger didn't catch on when he finally did might not have been just timing, but that he turned too often? It seems to me that he turned around once a year in those days, and after turning around four times in as many years is it possible that by the time he finally won the belt no one really knew whether or not to buy into it anymore?

It's probably telling that his next two big title chances/pops came in the WWF, where fans had largely missed his hopping around, and then in 1997, when he'd been a babyface for well over a year and was wrestling against a seriously over heel in Hogan.

05-10-2018, 12:31 PM
Oh god, a thread just for me to fight with you and Cult about Luger!

From what I've seen Luger was very over for the most part as a face in '88, and I know he and Flair did really strong house show business together so the interest was definitely there at the time. His '89 heel run was well received too. His '90 turn back to being a face was kind of abrupt, but fan reaction seems to indicate he still had a lot of crowd support up until Capital Combat, where the hype with him finally died as he came up short for stupid reasons one too many times, and he never really got his buzz back in that run. Was definitely hot again as a face in '93 up until Summerslam where he was AGAIN booked to come up short in a really stupid way and looked like a fool.

For his '97 run, I don't think it's quite fair to attribute Luger's popularity solely to the fact that he was opposing Hogan. His "Rack Across America" gimmick got enormous fan reaction over time, and if I'm not mistaken he won the "Wrestler of the Year" vote from PWI that year, edging out Steve freakin' Austin.

Prime Time
05-10-2018, 12:36 PM
For his '97 run, I don't think it's quite fair to attribute Luger's popularity solely to the fact that he was opposing Hogan.

Sorry, wasn't trying to suggest that. More that after a good year of solid time as a babyface, they put him against a top heel which in part might have meant that the previous yo-yo-ing mattered less at that point than in would have done previously.

So it'd work this way. He's really over, they turn him. He's really over, they turn him. He's really over, they turn him. And somewhere in that sequence people lose commitment because they don't know what he's about anymore, to the point that he could only hit that level with top booking and opposition (1997) or in front of a different audience (1993).

I don't know this for sure, it's just a thought - but he does turn more than is normal during that run.

05-10-2018, 01:06 PM
I don't think he ever reached Big Show levels of turn fatigue, but I can see what you're saying. I'm curious to know what people thought was Luger's best role. I feel like in the past I've seen him praised primarily as a heel, that was my impression before doing TLS at least, but now it's clear to me that he was always at his best as a face until very late in his career, where he had a mini-renaissance as a low key brilliant chickenshit heel.

Prime Time
05-10-2018, 01:10 PM
No one except Kane has ever reached Big Show levels of turn fatigue!

I think he was better as a face for most of his career. I mean, it's easier to be a heel and he was quite decent at coming off like an ass, but I tend to find whatever you look at people seemed to want to cheer him up until maybe 1999. The reactions were always bigger as a babyface - at least out of the stuff I've seen. That's true of the eighties stuff, where the chants of 'LUGER, LUGER' are deafening at GAB'88, but it's also true of the Narcissist vs Made in the USA stuff. And Luger as a heel on his return to WCW doesn't compare to the year as a babyface.

05-10-2018, 01:15 PM
I actually love Luger as the ne'er do well partner of Sting, acting goody in front of his buddy and like a jerk behind his back, but yeah, in terms of crowd reaction there's no comparison to the Luger redemption arc. Honestly, the Luger story from the day he comes back to the title win is just amazingly good.

Macho Mourn
05-10-2018, 01:33 PM
I actually love Luger as the ne'er do well partner of Sting, acting goody in front of his buddy and like a jerk behind his back, but yeah, in terms of crowd reaction there's no comparison to the Luger redemption arc. Honestly, the Luger story from the day he comes back to the title win is just amazingly good.

Yep. All of that. He was one of the MVPs in WCW during that time. At least, during the just before NWO time. That tag angle was money. Sad that a true end never happened.

05-10-2018, 01:44 PM
Yeah, it still kills me that right after losing the title he was playing second fiddle to Zbyszko in the Scott Hall feud and then went right into jobbing to Bagwell, and from there it was the meaningless Wolfpac run and then the character killing moment where he joins the real nWo as an afterthought during the disastrous fingerpoke of doom angle.

05-26-2018, 08:33 PM
I love how a Lex Luger thread was one of the first threads on the recreated LOP Forums. Funny how it seems like only on LOP will youfind kind words to say about the narcissist.

05-28-2018, 01:07 PM
It's a recurring theme around here, haha. The Sting/Luger wars live on, here at LOP!

Prime Time
05-29-2018, 05:32 AM
I can honestly say that this rewatch (and my WWF rewatch, still ongoing but I talk about it a lot less) have improved my perception of Luger. However, my perception of Sting has also gone up, and he's actually in both my favourite matches so far from 1988 as well as performs more consistently from week to week, so I'm still team Sting... sorry Mizzie!

Be interesting to see whether that holds true when I get to 1990, because I know that is the controversial time, and I know that 1989 is a year that's supposed to be a real big one for Luger. Doesn't Meltzer give him something like most improved that year or something?

Even so... he's still pretty good in 1988, much better than some people would have you believe.

05-29-2018, 11:44 AM
Haha, I won't begrudge you your Sting fandom. Maybe he comes across better week to week than Luger. It actually wouldn't shock me, as it's not out of character for Luger to just turn it on for the big shows. Someday I'll go through the TV and see if my perception shifts again.

On the subject of awards in the period you mentioned:

In 1988, Meltzer (and his voters) gave Sting the "Most Improved" award, which makes sense as you never really hear about Sting before '88. He gets the same accolade from PWI, so it seems pretty clear this was the year Sting broke out, if there was any doubt. Sting also walks home with "Most Charismatic" that year, which seems like pure nonsense with Hulk Hogan sitting on the other side of the fence. Sting even takes home the WON Match of the Year for this Clash bout with Flair, which really surprised me. Luger also finished #3 in the PWI Wrestler of the Year poll, with Sting not appearing. Luger takes home the Feud of the Year award for his work with Ric Flair as well. Sting and Luger both appear in the top 4 of the Best Babyface poll, with Sting at #3 and Luger at #4.

In 1989, Meltzer does indeed give Luger the "Most Improved" award, which seems a little silly considering he was having top level matches prior to that year. '89 is a good year for him though, no doubt. He once again takes home the #3 spot in the PWI Wrestler of the year poll, again with Sting not appearing. Sting does once again nab #3 in the Best Babyface poll, with Luger not appearing due to his heel turn, instead grabbing the #4 spot for Best Heel.

In 1990 I found at least one hilarious fact, as Sting wins the short-lived WON category for "Most Unimproved", just two years after winning the opposite award 2 years earlier. Will be interested to see if your opinion of the man slides in that period, Pete. On the flip side, Sting takes home the #1 spot for the PWI Wrestler of the year poll, with Luger slipping down to #4, which is quite a leapfrog. Despite this, Luger once again takes home the top spot in the Feud of the Year poll, again with Flair, with Sting's feud against Flair not appearing (Black Scorpion may have something to do with that...). Sting does move up to the #2 Best Babyface spot, with Luger appearing again on that side of the fence with another #4 placement. Sting is voted "Most Inspirational" that year too, I'm assuming because he came from injury to win the world title. I wasn't especially inspired, but I guess people were at the time.

For the love of Terry Funk
06-01-2018, 07:31 PM
Most unimproved... Harshest award ever?!

06-03-2018, 11:21 AM
Haha I know, some of the old WON awards are ridiculously mean.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 11:46 AM
I mean it's interesting, because I was just listening to a video that I'd heard before that was talking about Lex's failure to connect with the fans, and the stuff I'm watching... I mean, he's been pretty well over for most of 1988, especially with the women. Makes me wonder if this is going to be a short term thing and not something he can do on the regular, or if this is a narrative that isn't actually borne out by the facts. Hey, even very smart people who were there can be influenced by what they hear, and if the stuff about Flair is all true enough people were impressed by Flair and liked what he did to believe a lot of what he told them. Plus, though later runs were not great, that first run made a lot of people a lot of money, so that'll inspire some loyalty real fast.

But yeah, the idea behind it was that Lex, not being a wrestling fan and not really getting why anyone would be a wrestling fan, struggled to present himself in a way that people would believe. So perhaps there's an element of his being flavour of the week here and the girls are attracted to him, the kids are suckered in, and that'll be that - maybe it won't last in the longer term.

Sting also wasn't really a huge wrestling fan, it seems, but the one thing everyone says is that he's a decent guy, and maybe that's why he was able to get over as a babyface - people bought into him as just a decent, ordinary guy, with an intensity and a bodybuilder physique that could make him extraordinary. I dunno. Frankly when we're talking about audiences at this kind of historical distance you always have to be at least a little bit careful.

06-05-2018, 11:56 AM
Nothing I've seen has ever born out the idea that Luger wasn't over, in fact he seemed to be over far more often than not. People, both in the industry and out, seem to love to try to penalize Luger for not loving the business as much as they think he should have. I don't think that was even a consideration for fans at the time, who responded to him consistently (at least as far as I've seen).

Sting had bright colors, raw charisma, energy, and he engaged the live crowd, which is sometimes all it takes to be over as a babyface. Guys like Duggan and Sid stayed over big time doing far less than Sting. Sometimes you just have that right collection of elements.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 12:05 PM
Oh I've definitely seen bits where Luger's been flat. Though to be fair, they've come in bits where most of the product has been flat, and they often come after periods where Luger-backers tend to say he'd been mismanaged, so perhaps it's not surprising.

But I think you're missing the point slightly about not loving it. It's not used as a stick to beat him with in this interview so much as it's offered as a reason why he didn't try to get better than he was. He came in, started making good money almost straight away, and didn't have any interest in anything other than the money: where's the incentive to get better? But from what I've heard from most of the old timers the attitude is that's actually fine, so long as you're making money for me too. It's actually more in the ECW/Attitude era that the 'having to love it' becomes much more of a thing.

06-05-2018, 12:15 PM
Fair enough, but that's also around the time that people started gathering online to create new narratives about people based on the wealth of new knowledge that was available. Luger quickly became despised online in those early days, and it always seemed like that was one of the reasons why.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 12:42 PM
Oh, for sure. A lot of the later stuff is bullshit. It's the same attitude that led to wrestlers doing more and more, taking bigger and bigger risks. All symptoms of the same disease.

There is a difference between the older guys saying it is what it is, and that more pernicious, and frankly more damaging, later development.

Prime Time
09-14-2018, 08:03 AM
Giving this a bump because I've just got to his heel turn in 1989. There's a big reaction in the first instance, though I'm not sure how much of that is because a) who he's attacking and b) because the reaction for him running in as a babyface was itself very strong. But the next time we see him it's so flat, very little heat on him at all. The crowd sound more confused than anything. So far it's definitely as if they just don't want to boo him, and it's like he has to work twice as hard for half the reaction.

09-14-2018, 01:04 PM
Having seen how unbelievably hot he was as a face in '88, I can't say I'm very surprised. What was the rationale for turning him? Just not wanting to keep running him as a failure against Flair? I remember digging parts of his time in the US division but it does feel like a misfire.

Prime Time
10-14-2018, 12:10 PM
D'you know, I'm not sure what the rationale is for it. From what I've heard, it sounds like they didn't really think he was a natural face or heel, and it'd be easier for him to be a heel - people would look at him and see how much he had going for him, and be more likely to take an immediate dislike to him. I'm not sure that wasn't a misstep in hindsight, though I would understand why they'd have come to that conclusion.

It's also around the time George Scott is replaced by the booking committee, so that might have something to do with it. New ideas about who he is and what he should be for the best.

10-16-2018, 01:17 PM
That's the committee that Flair is head of, right? Or did I mix up my timeline?

Prime Time
10-16-2018, 01:19 PM
That's my understanding. JR and Eddie Gilbert prominent on it.

10-16-2018, 01:45 PM
I'll refrain from my usual Flair/Luger conspiracy theories, haha. :)

Prime Time
10-16-2018, 03:33 PM
Y'know it'd have a lot of weight if there hadn't been that period under Scott in which Luger just sort of listed. If he'd gone straight from being red hot under Dusty to turning, it'd be very, very suspicious.

As it is, maybe they thought that was his more natural role and that he also needed freshening up after a quiet few months?

It does not stop the women screaming for him, regardless.

10-17-2018, 03:15 PM
I wonder if the fact that he was disliked backstage for being business minded made a committee of insiders think he would be disliked by the fans as well? Or maybe they just wanted to freshen things up. Hard to say now but interesting to speculate. :)

Prime Time
10-19-2018, 07:35 AM
Absolutely plausible. My take on it is that whatever he was better at, and they might well have been right that he was technically 'better' as a heel, sometimes someone just sits in a role for whatever reason. No matter what the reason whether or not we can put our finger on it, I think people wanted to get behind Lex. Maybe the fact that he wasn't a natural at it who could prove that he belonged in that role beyond doubt, and that there were people backstage who didn't see what the appeal was because they were used to being aroud people who liked him less, caused them to miss that. From this distance it's really hard to say with any certainty.

A deep dive through Luger's work from 1988-1998 turns up one thing for sure though: if anyone thinks he only ever did good stuff with Flair, then they need to think again.

10-19-2018, 07:54 PM
Oh absolutely, Luger's catalogue of good-great matches is much deeper than he gets credit for!

Cult Icon
10-19-2018, 08:43 PM
Allow me to say this before this thread descends into mizfan and I fighting like two strippers over a merkin; I love Lex Luger. I loved him as a kid, I love him as an adult and I think he's one of the most underappreciated wrestlers ever who gets an enormously bad wrap. The only problem I ever have with theses sort of discussions is that it ends up turning into "Luger was so much better than Sting!" and "Sting was overrated and pushed at the expense of Luger!" I firmly disagree with that because Sting, like Luger, was also really good and is now himself very underappreciated himself by people who try to act like he wasn't a huge deal or a great talent.

The reality is that both Luger and Sting were in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially in the early 90's. If they had been in WWE instead of WCW then I think it's safe to say that come 1990 one of them would've taken the spot Ultimate Warrior got and done a lot better than he did because they were a lot better. Instead they were in WCW during that 1988-1990 period and no one was going to topple Ric Flair. And guess what; no one should've toppled Ric Flair. He was not only one of the best wrestlers in the world but he was one of the biggest draws in wrestling at the time, with no signs of slowing down. You could argue that under normal circumstances Luger could've beaten Flair in 1988 to establish a new star but you also have to remember that around this time WCW was in the midst of being bought by Ted Turner. One of the reasons Turner wanted WCW was because he admired Flair so much; de-pushing him and giving the title to Luger or Sting (who obviously had gained notoriety off that legendary Clash of the Champions match) could've been a big negative for a promotion that needed that Turner deal to keep going. It's unfortunate but it probably was the right call on WCW's part, and by the time the deal was up Flair was about to start that Ricky Steamboat series. Are we really going to suggest that Luger should've been pushed over that, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestling trilogies ever? No matter how you feel about any of the participants, that was absolutely the right call to make.

And then after that it was just more bad luck, for Sting and Luger both. Sting had the injury, which kept him out for several months and hurt his momentum, and then one of the worst booked title reigns ever. Luger unfortunately got caught in all that by having to abruptly turn face and while he did a hell of a job under the circumstance and any other time should've won the title, I cannot fault Flair for fighting to keep his promise to Sting. That's a very noble thing, it's what had been agreed upon and at the time no one knew that WCW was going to book Sting as a midcard champion who hung out with RoboCop and feuded with Sid and the Black Scorpion. Luger just happened to be the guy in the middle and unfortunately shit happens. And then of course WCW did Luger no favors again by finally pulling the trigger on him after nuking their relationship with Flair and then turning Luger heel for no reason. That was the one WCW without question screwed up. The rest of the scenarios were difficult decisions where the right call was probably made and Luger, sadly, was just in the wrong spot. Sting too, although he was hurt more by awful booking whereas Luger was hrt by awful circumstances.

I really think 1996-1997 WCW shows you what Luger and Sting could be under the right circumstances. It's really the only time in either man's career that WCW (or WWE) got it right and got the timing right with them, from the start of their weird face/heel tag team all the way to Starrcade 1997. Which of course just makes it all the more frustrating that WCW failed to do anything with Luger after he won the title (he should've lost it as WCW was building to Sting, but the fact he got no follow up was unforgivable) and then kneecapped Sting for good by giving in to Hogan at Starrcade. Even when things worked out for them it turned to shit.

Prime Time
10-22-2018, 06:51 AM
I'm a big fan of Sting, so it isn't going to go that way with me. And in 1988, Sting's just as much a contender for it as Luger.

I do think that it's getting at slightly cross purposes to invoke the Steamboat trilogy though, because to do so is to argue different things. I don't think anyone expects Luger, or Sting for that matter, to have the kind of matches that Flair went on to have in 1989, if they do switch it up, and I don't believe that is what anyone is suggesting. I think the confusion there is between match quality and business.

It's a wider trend in wrestling for sure, but WCW business starts to die off across 1988, and continues to sink in 1989. Flair may have been having great matches but the trend across the second half of 1988 and through 1989 is of decline. From what I understand the audience literally halves in the last year of his title reign before the switch to Steamboat. Clash of the Champions VI had Flair and Steamboat wrestle a classic but we forget now that the Superdome was half empty (and I'm being kind when I say half). I'm not trying to lay this at the feet of Flair - there's a number of reasons for it, some specific to the company and some that are external factors. It may well be that he did as well as anyone could, though of course we're dealing in hypotheticals and there is no way to know for sure.

So when you read it through the lens not of quality but of business, it's a more complex picture. No one can know the answer to these questions, of course, but they are an interesting intellectual exercise. If Lex (or Sting) was hot in 1988, could they have defied the slump better than happened in real life? Given that they obviously wanted to go with Lex and/or Sting, did they miss the window to do that effectively in Lex's case? How different would wrestling look now, if WCW had changed it up, it had worked, and the WWF had continued to slump into the 1990s? Less hypothetically, how much better would Luger's run be remembered today if he'd won the title and been consistently a top babyface through that 1988-1992 period, rather than chopping and changing and limping into that first world title reign? Or would Lex have collapsed like a crap souffle if he'd won in '88- would WCW have never made it to bringing in Hogan in 1994, or have never been in a position to start the Monday Night War?

Again, impossible to answer those questions with any certainty because it's impossible to know 'the road not taken'. It's fun to ponder over them though.

I will admit, business arguments aside, I'd be loathe to give up the Steamboat matches, or the Funk feud, if I were given the chance to change history.

Cult Icon
10-22-2018, 12:46 PM
Even if you argue business wise I don't think it changes anything. Aside from Clash of the Champions, the other two Flair-Steamboat matches were well within the range of selling out (and may have depending on how WCW laid out the arenas). Furthermore the two Flair-Funk matches were both sell outs (with the Great American Bash drawing nearly 15K in Baltimore), Halloween Havoc in the Philadelphia Spectrum (with Flair and Sting taking on Funk and the Great Muta) was at worst a near sell out and Starrcade 89 did over 10K too despite it being a shell of it's former self. And that's not accounting for ratings and buyrates either. Buyrates were indeed down in 89 compared to 88 but not by a deadly margin, and both the Flair-Steamboat and Flair-Funk matches on Clash of the Champions did a 4.3 and a 4.7 rating respectively. Considering wrestling was entering it's cool off age, business was still pretty good for WCW. Certainly we'll never know if Luger and Sting could've done the same but business wasn't down so much that the question really needs to be asked in my view. If the Flair-Steamboat/Flair-Funk matches were drawing half of a sellout outside of the Superdome and 2.3's in the ratings then sure. But beyond the Superdome they all did solid business at worst and at times great business. I certainly don't think Luger or Sting are bettering that in the same situation.

Prime Time
10-22-2018, 01:00 PM
I suppose it depends on the numbers and whether the ones I've seen are accurate. What I've seen suggests that the WCW buyrate for Starrcade '89 was about 33% what it had been at Starrcade '87, so losing two-thirds is quite a big deal. But if that's not accurate, then it does change the equation.

But y'know, you might well have a point about it not changing a lot. We'd also be assuming that Sting or Luger getting the title in 88 or 89 would be better booked than Sting was when he eventually got the strap in the first place, and there's no guarantee of that. I suspect Dusty would have done better with them then than what happened afterwards but there's no guarantee that Dusty sticks around, and Luger on the belt with Scott in charge could have been a disaster.

Where I think the interesting question comes in, is could those super-low buyrates of 1991 and 1992 been improved, if they'd pulled the trigger on Lex when he was hot. Once Flair is gone they're left scrambling and you can't help but wonder what if they'd really made one of those guys earlier on. If you were to press me I don't think there's a huge difference either way in 1989 (we'd lose some great matches but I honestly don't think you'd see a great difference beyond that - certainly I don't really believe in my heart that Lex is the answer to them defying the general downward trend, even though I think we buy into the idea of 'cycles' far too easily) but that it could have changed things a lot for the time when they couldn't rely on Natch anymore.

Two obvious comebacks on that. 1) is that there's a lot of hypothetical points in there, including the idea that they don't ruin the champ in the Jim Herd era, which is a huge hypothetical given that's exactly what happened to Sting, and 2) hindsight is 20-20 and I imagine they never thought for a minute Flair would jump ship.

Cult Icon
10-22-2018, 01:40 PM
I'm not sure why you're thinking Dusty would've done a better job. There's a reason he was fired beyond his issues with Flair and the spike incident with the Road Warriors. Dusty certainly was a genius but ever since he got involved with NXT there's been a lot of people who have concluded he was great at all times. The reality is Dusty as a booker was not good in those later years. He relied too heavily on the Dusty Finish, pushed people like Ronnie Garvin as World Champion, completely buried the UWF invasion angle (we forget Bill Watts' promotion had been really well known before financial problems doomed it, and upon buying it Crockett and Dusty did the same thing that WWE would do to WCW 25 years later) and at one point tried to book Rick Steiner (RICK STEINER) over Flair at the 88 Starrcade instead of running Luger and Flair. He's also the guy who hurt Luger's momentum by trying so hard to protect him with those Dusty Finishes that instead made Luger look like a nerd for always failing. In his time Dusty was certainly a force to be reckoned with as a booker but by that time he was floundering (and pretty much continued to until he got involved in NXT, around the same time WWE revisionist history started pushing him as an always great booker). If anything I think he just makes it worse for Luger or Sting with goofy angles and weird finishes if he stays.

I truly believe it's just wrong place, wrong time situation for both guys. You bring up the drop between Starrcade 87 and Starrcade 89 Prime but that was inevitable after all the problems WCW had in between (not to mention a sale). It also doesn't discount the good business Flair did the rest of the year in 1989 nor the fact that, as I stated earlier, one of the biggest reasons Turner bought WCW was because he wanted a promotion where Flair was the guy. Creatively and business wise he still should've been the guy until he dropped the title to Sting in 1990, or Luger that same year if Sting hadn't gotten healthy. From that point forward it should've been about Sting and Luger as natural rivals, initially with Sting as the top face, Luger as the top heel and then the roles reversing and so on as time went by (with Flair always involved in some capacity as well). That was the right call to make. Unfortunately, save for that era where Flair feuded with Steamboat and Funk, creative in that period wasn't capable of doing the right thing.

Prime Time
10-22-2018, 02:05 PM
I mean there's some bits in there that I'd want to push back on a bit more if I had the time right now but I don't think Dusty was some kind of infallible genius and I know he made mistakes, as anyone who has read my posts around here will know.

But he was booking when Lex got hugely popular in the first place and it seems to me a basic and obvious principle that if he did it once there's enough knowledge there that there is at least a chance of it happening again. Obviously that's dependent on his booking well, but it'd be insanity to deny the possibility.

10-22-2018, 02:47 PM
The reality is that both Luger and Sting were in the wrong place at the wrong time

Not gonna get into the old argument with Cult, I'll just say I wholeheartedly agree with this! In fact I think anyone who ended up coming into the main event coming off the 80s boom had a rough time. It's not as obvious for Bret and Shawn on the WWF side but ultimately you can't compare their peak popularity with the biggest stars before and after them. There were a mess of factors limiting people in the era these guys should have had their biggest successes.

I think ultimately Lex would have been best in a scenario where he was pushed steadily to the top and ridden until the momentum died off. Sting would have been best off in a roster of guys who weren't afraid to rough him up and push him to keep growing, the way Vader and Foley did. And obviously if he wasn't booked like shit, that would have helped too!

I do also want to say that Rick Steiner was obscenely popular at the tail end of '88. Wouldn't have dreamed of making him a long term guy but a transitional reign doesn't strike me as such a crazy idea.

Prime Time
11-07-2018, 03:20 PM
That's absolutely true, there were always going to be struggles in following on from the boom. There's just two things to really think about, one is whether someone else could have stopped the slump reaching the levels it did, and the other is whether it had a long term detrimental affect on their next generation of assets by holding on with Flair.

The last thing I saw of his was his match with Pillman at Halloween Havoc '89. Kinda hard to really judge where he was at off that one, not least because that Philadelphia crowd was pretty atypical.

Now to those other points. I think if you know anything about me you should know that I'm not someone who is especially susceptible to WWE revisionist history. That whole monday night wars series I did was literally a whole pushback against that, and I'm basing what I say on my own research, not anything WWE has had to tell me.

There's no such thing as a perfect booker, and Dusty certainly wasn't. I don't believe he was as good as his mentor, based on the research I have done. And that final run when he came back to WCW doesn't sound good at all. But I've watched back through a lot of those Crockett shows in 1987 and 1988, and you know what? They are pretty fucking good, on the whole. Even the 'bad' stuff holds up pretty well compared to the vast majority of booking I've seen anywhere in the twenty first century.

So yes, I think that a lot of that run of Dusty's was pretty good, there's reason for optimism that he could have gone on and done a lot better than the actual booking was in 1989, and that the idea that a lot of that run was poor is revisionist history of rather a different kind. The Garvin situation, Steiner situation, and a host of other points too, are all completely open to more nuanced readings than has been suggested here. The only real bad spot is the UWF Invasion, but I think people tend to underestimate the complexity of that. Much like the WCW invasion of the WWF they see it as nothing but an open goal and don't see the full range of factors involved - or indeed, the pitfalls that you can fall into when you're trying to jam together two complete promotions like that.

01-06-2019, 01:11 AM
I have documented the struggles of being a fan of Lex Luger and all the bullshit you get from almost every corner of the wrestling world. Today I write with a rare moment of goodness.

In his WCW run, nobody disliked Luger much more than Eric Bischoff. They had worked together in the early 90s and EB was not a fan. He only brought Luger back in 1995 as a favor to Sting. He gave Luger a grossly low offer hoping Luger would turn it down.


Over the years, Bischoff and Luger eventually did a 2-part sit down and they seem a lot closer. Recently, on 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff praises Lex Luger, particularly Luger vs. the Giant from Starrcade 1996.

He ponders it being Luger's best performance. I've always taken it further, saying it is one of the best and most important matches in the entire WCW-nWo run.

Dear god, I've lived long enough to see what rarely happens. Luger praised and human beings changing their minds about each other.


01-06-2019, 12:35 PM
That was a pretty heartwarming listen. I love to think the master narrative on Luger is changing. I enjoy that match with the Giant just as much as the best of the Flair matches, to be quite honest, though it appeals in a different way.

Prime Time
11-04-2019, 08:02 AM
It's the question that never really goes away, and it's coming back today. We all know that the Yokozuna finish dented Lex a lot in 1993 - but here's a question: how redeemable was it? Could you have got the train back on the tracks? And if it was, how much weight do we have to put on the angle with Ludvig Borga, for the fact that it never really happened?

11-04-2019, 02:44 PM
Yeah, difficult question for sure. Several pieces to it... if Luger won by countout but didn't celebrate like an idiot, does that make a difference? How much did the presentation after that point make a difference? I lean towards the idea that it was redeemable but I'm an admitted Luger fan.

Speaking of Lex, I was watching the '88 War Games match from Greensboro last night and when Lex came into the ring you'd think it was Steve Austin at his peak from the way the crowd reacted, just unreal. I still can't believe they didn't put the title on him at Starrcade, even if it went back to Flair later I think a run on top would have established his value for the company at a higher level for years to come.

11-04-2019, 03:23 PM
The celebration was a horrible move long term. A count out win in the main event of the 2nd biggest show of the year was obviously a mistake, but by having him celebrate as he did, it felt like there was no reason to get behind him any further. Had he lost by count out, and been frustrated, it would have kept the door open for more down the line.

We've seen more examples in recent history, but the rushed push to the top for a babyface is very tough to pull off. When Hogan seemingly started the trend, it was the first time. And he ran wild over everyone. Luger stumbled in his first attempt, but acted like King of the World. He looked like a doofus.

Also, as a Canadian fan, I was able to chant USA along with Hacksaw, or understand Hogan carrying the US flag vs Slaughter. But by 1993, I was 12, and wondering why I should be cheering this guy just because he's a patriot. I know, WWE is US based, so I'm not saying it was a bad move for US audiences. But internationally, I'm sure it was harder to get behind him.

11-04-2019, 03:39 PM
Also, as a Canadian fan, I was able to chant USA along with Hacksaw, or understand Hogan carrying the US flag vs Slaughter. But by 1993, I was 12, and wondering why I should be cheering this guy just because he's a patriot. I know, WWE is US based, so I'm not saying it was a bad move for US audiences. But internationally, I'm sure it was harder to get behind him.

I always wondered how bad did the Canadian fan hate the mid 90s Hart Foundation story line, where they were portrayed as the foreign heel. Canada has been one of the US's biggest supporters, and the WWf made the Canadian wrestlers out to be dicks and anti-American. I know when the WWF went to Canada, they were treated like heroes, but what did the kids, or the parents think back then?

Prime Time
11-04-2019, 03:41 PM
If it's anything like here in Britain, we mostly just cheered the heels, because the Americans kinda came off as bigger assholes anyway.

11-04-2019, 03:45 PM
Fair enough, and that's because we are. ;)

11-04-2019, 05:51 PM
I always wondered how bad did the Canadian fan hate the mid 90s Hart Foundation story line, where they were portrayed as the foreign heel. Canada has been one of the US's biggest supporters, and the WWf made the Canadian wrestlers out to be dicks and anti-American. I know when the WWF went to Canada, they were treated like heroes, but what did the kids, or the parents think back then?

Awesome question. I hope this story is interesting to share.
I LOVED WWF in 1997. But I was just getting into becoming a "smark", calling a local hotline (no internet yet in my home). Also I only had Saturday afternoon wrestling recapping Raw, but I didn't actually catch an actual episode of Raw until this time. And it was Raw is War, which was completely different from the Sat afternoon Prime Time or whatever it was called at that point. I didn't know of ECW, and Nitro was not on TV as far as I knew. There might have been Raw and Nitro the entire time, but I wasn't aware until 96-97.

But, I wasn't the biggest Bret Hart fan. His run in 1992 was when I started to wane from wrestling. It's similar to today's style, I prefer characters over "I'm an athlete and I wrestle good" characters. Yet, the stuff vs Austin got me back into wrestling, and his heel turn was fascinating. And his anti-US was fucking glorious. In my older age, I appreciate the things Bret did that I was bored by in 1992-1996. But at that age, his values weren't strong enough to me. It wasn't until he developed more to his character that I was agreeing with the best there is, was, ever will be (until CM Punk).

11-04-2019, 07:21 PM
Hart and Punk are both rotten trash.

11-05-2019, 05:05 PM
Really dig that story, Pen. Always interesting to hear about lived experiences from those hot times. Were you on team Bret or Luger in '93?

11-05-2019, 05:15 PM
Yes, good story.

11-05-2019, 05:32 PM
I don't really remember caring very much in 1993. I know I watched some of the PPVs thanks to connections with illegal cable boxes. I know I was super into SummerSlam 94. But I remember caring about Luger or Bret. Though I think Owen vs Bret was a great story that hooked me in, and maybe the 2 Undertakers stuff as well.

11-06-2019, 05:33 PM
The two Undertaker stuff, despite being critically panned, definitely intrigued me when I first heard about it.

Watching some early Nitro stuff and am loving the little circle of babyface distrust between Luger, Sting, Savage, and Hogan. Amazing that they didn't run at Luger & Sting vs. Savage & Hogan tag match on top of a PPV at some point, but I guess Hogan playing with monster trucks and recreating the shittiest possible version of the '92 Rumble was more important.

Prime Time
11-07-2019, 06:44 AM
As silly WWF stuff goes, the two Undertakers angle was fine. The payoff wasn't great, but they got a lot of decent enough segments out of it, even though it probably is Undertaker at it's silliest.

Given that Bisch wasn't that sold on Lex in '95, and that Hogan and Savage were almost indestructible at the time, my guess is that he just didn't see a tag match between those two pairs as even a bit of a fair fight. I mean, a few months later Lex couldn't beat Hogan/Macho with seven other partners. I know Sting was a different kettle of fish and all, but even so....

11-07-2019, 10:11 AM
This thread is silly good. Wish I could give it ten stars.

Luger/Hogan, Sting/Hogan, Luger/Sting vs. Savage/Hogan were dreams matches for almost a decade in anyone but Bischoff's head. Evidence bears that out. Pro wrestling mags were flirting with a Luger-Hogan match as far as late 80s/early 90s. Instead, Sting had become a midcard talent since Hogan arrived in 1994 (especially in any space close to Hogan), Flair went from "let's have a series of title switches with you and Hogan" to "let's have you be a jobber to Hogan so we can move Brother Brutus to the main event." If I told you mid-90's WCW would have the opportunity to have almost every dream match imaginable in that era, the part that you would scoff at is how is WCW going to get the top stars from WWF? Bischoff did wonders with Ted Turner's checkbook, to employ those top stars, but the great blindspot that kept WCW, early on, from being fantasy booking dream matches, is that the same man who ran WCW and brought WWF to WCW didn't value anything produced by his own company.

11-08-2019, 09:25 PM
Given that Bisch wasn't that sold on Lex in '95, and that Hogan and Savage were almost indestructible at the time, my guess is that he just didn't see a tag match between those two pairs as even a bit of a fair fight.

I'm sure you're right about what Bischoff thought, but the fact that instead he ran with Hogan being hugged to death by Giant and THE YETAYYY should prove his judgment was far from sound much of the time!

Prime Time
11-09-2019, 07:38 AM
You won't get any arguments from me on that. I seem to remember Nitro being horrible to watch for the first six months or so. Though maybe it would have been different if I'd seen it in real time - we didn't get Nitro in the UK until May of 1996.

Cult Icon
11-09-2019, 01:00 PM
What on earth are you guys talking about? That Hogan stuff from 1995 IS THE FUNNIEST SHIT EVER! Let's review; first we had The Giant coming in as Andre the Giant's son. Then we had the "WHERE AM I?! THERE'S NO HULKAMANIACS HERE!" angle where Hogan invades the Dungeon of Doom and learns that the water there, is in fact, not hot. Then we had the Dungeon shaving off Hogan's mustache, an offense just as terrible as burning the American flag, followed by the Yeti breaking out of ice (I may have the order wrong here). There is of course Halloween Havoc 1995, an all timer of an event which features the funniest match in wrestling history (the Monster Truck Sumo match), followed by Hogan pushing Giant off the roof ("OH NO!"), followed by The Giant inexplicably surviving the fall with no explanation given, followed by the Jimmy Hart heel turn that led to Hogan losing the title BY DQ, and finally ending with The Giant, Yeti and Hulk Hogan having a live sex celebration while a newly turned Lex Luger (LOOK HOW I TIED IT ALL BACK!) re-evaluated his life choices (in between all this Sting is betrayed by Ric Flair for the 9,000th time in an angle that was not good at all. Totally sucked. Nowhere near as good as the shit I just talked about!). And then, just when you think it's all over, Hogan comes back with PHANTOM OF THE HOGAN!


And that's just some of the shit; I haven't even gotten to Hogan ripping up the Observer on World War 3 and giving Pen his first erection ("OBSERVE THIS BROTHER!") or the triple decker cage match from Uncensored 1996 where you can finally see Lex Luger's heart fully break (that's why he betrays The Alliance to Kill Hulkamania at the end despite being on their side the whole match) and Hogan finally realize "you know...maybe this babyface thing has run it's course!" Incredible stuff. Keep your Hogan/Savage vs. Luger/Sting dream matches and all that other shit; I wouldn't trade the Hogan-Dungeon of Doom feud for another season of Lucha Underground!

11-09-2019, 03:12 PM
It was a semi. Or at least that's what I tell anyone who laughs at the size.

Mr Chop
11-09-2019, 06:44 PM
Hang on, hogan ripped up the observer on a ppv??? Hahaha!

Cult Icon
11-09-2019, 07:02 PM
He didn't rip it up; he threw it into a flaming garbage bin! EVEN BETTER! At the risk of killing Pen's semi, it was because Meltzer has reported that Savage had torn his triceps (true), so Hogan lashed out at Meltzer for saying Savage wouldn't be on the show (Dave had reported weeks earlier Savage would be on the show and would be forgoing surgery) and that The Giant would win World War 3 (Meltzer had said Sting or Savage were the favorites, although he thought Giant was the right guy to win). Hogan also threw his Phantom of the Hogan clothes into the flaming bin as well, just to give you some insight into how off his rocker he was at the time. Just another day in Hulk Hogan's 1995.

11-09-2019, 08:12 PM
He even leg dropped the bin.

Mr Chop
11-09-2019, 08:56 PM
I never thought I'd say this. I can't wait to watch world War 3 1995.

11-11-2019, 12:35 PM
Just skip the Duggan match and the shit show of the battle royale itself, and it's actually a very good show!

Funny enough I was just watching through this exact era, right down to that silly burning the Observer segment. Perhaps even more ridiculous than the burning is Hogan first being shown in a black shirt and bandana (because he was so edgy at the time, you see), only to take them off and burn them as well. Okerlund and everyone is shocked at this... as the camera pans back and we see Hogan was wearing blindingly bright yellow and red tights in plain sight the whole time, haha. :) Oh, and he also told the fans that the internet had all "the scoops"!

I am actually really enjoying the opening months of Nitro. As Cult mentioned, the stupid stuff is at least funny, the introduction of guys like Guerrero and Benoit is quickly spicing up the in ring action (which was already getting pretty strong outside of the main event), and while Hogan's goofiness is running wild you do get some elements of great booking, of which the Luger/Sting relationship is a great example. Even as Luger is managed by the now evil Jimmy Hart, Sting still teams up with him and includes him on the babyface side of things. Layered stuff that will eventually feed really well into the Crow transformation!