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Thread: Lex Luger

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Lex Luger

    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.

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    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.

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    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    The Brain
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    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.

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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    The Brain
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    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.

  7. #7
    As it should be. Macho Mourn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    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.

    “Stoop to your own level. Your nature. Trust yourself. And most importantly... You have to learn what laws are really laws and not… Oppression."

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    The Brain
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    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.

  9. #9
    People either love me, hate me, or they don't care CanadianCrippler's Avatar
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    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.

  10. #10
    The Brain
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    It's a recurring theme around here, haha. The Sting/Luger wars live on, here at LOP!

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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    The Brain
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    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.

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    Most unimproved... Harshest award ever?!

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    The Brain
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    Haha I know, some of the old WON awards are ridiculously mean.

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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  16. #16
    The Brain
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    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.

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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  18. #18
    The Brain
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    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.

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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  20. #20
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  21. #21
    The Brain
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    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.

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