In the 1980s, two things became apparent. 1) The WWE was the #1 promotion in North America, and 2) That the WWF’s top talent was a bit lacking. It was not until 1988 when Hulk Hogan returned to the company that they finally had a top star who could stand up to Vince McMahon in any way, shape, or form. So for the first half of the decade, they did what they could with what they had at hand.
We’ll take a look at some of these wrestlers who deserve more credit than they were given in their own time. We will also take a look at some wrestlers who got over despite themselves and we’ll see if we can discern why this happened and what it means for wrestling today.
Here are the top 1980s wrestlers:
“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka (1980-1991)
“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka was one of the most unique characters in wrestling in the 1980s. His character was unlike anything else seen at the time. He was a face, but he was a face with an edge. He was jovial, but he was also a bit wild. He was loved by fans, but he could turn on them in an instant.
Snuka made a name for himself in the early years of the decade, feuding with The Grand Wizard and Don Muraco before being paired up with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff as his manager/partner. They had a memorable if short-lived run before Snuka went off on his own and created a new persona known as “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka.
He would go on to the main event WrestleMania II against Hulk Hogan, one of the biggest matches in the history of WrestleMania and one of the biggest matches of all period. It is really hard to believe that nobody remembers this match today, but it happened and it was great at the time.
Hulk Hogan (1980-1986)
Hulk Hogan was the biggest star in wrestling in the 1980s. He had a great run in the WWF and became an even bigger star when he left and went to the NWA. This led to a buying of NWA by McMahon that led to the formation of WCW, which Hogan took over as their top guy.
Hogan’s run as a top name in wrestling lasted for almost ten years and saw him win multiple titles, including four WWF Championships, two NWA Championships, three WWF Tag Team Championships, and one WCW Championship. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest wrestlers ever and is also considered one of the biggest draws in wrestling history as well.
Hulkamania was at its peak during his run and there is no doubt that he is one of the biggest stars in all of pro wrestling history. Despite all this success though, Hogan never really left his mark on the sport like some people would have you believe.
Andre The Giant (1979-1991)
Andre The Giant is one of the most unique wrestlers in the history of that business. He was a great wrestler and a great attraction for the promotion, but he was also something special. He was a star in a huge way. Fans loved him and he was a great talker.
He won the WWF Championship in 1987 by defeating Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. He was the first-ever guy to do this and he did it against one of the biggest names in wrestling history. It made him a star, but it also made him a legend.
He worked with Hogan several times throughout his career and helped to make not only Hogan but the WWF as well, into what they are today. He also helped to make smaller wrestlers cool with fans which is something that we never would have thought possible before he came along and did it.
His legacy will always be that of being one of the most unique characters in wrestling history as well as being one of the most influential stars of all period. As much as some people love his work, they don’t give him enough credit for how important he was to WWE’s early years and how important he remains even in today’s product.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (1982-1995)
Randy Savage was one of the most unique characters in wrestling history. He was one of the biggest personalities that the WWF had to offer during the 1980s. He was a great wrestler, but he was also an incredible talker. He could talk for days and fans would listen to every word.
He is considered by many to be one of the greatest trash talkers ever and his promos were always memorable. He could say what he needed to say and make it interesting at the same time. His character was very over with fans, but he also had a great look about him as well which helped make him into a star even more than his promos did.
Savage won multiple titles during his run including three WWF Championships, four WWF Intercontinental Championships, and three WCW Championships. He was a multiple-time World Tag Team Champion as well with partners like Hulk Hogan, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and Ric Flair. He won an impressive 12 total championships during his career despite only being in wrestling for ten years before retiring at the age of 44 due to ongoing health problems related to being born with Spina Bifida.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 and his career is considered to be one of the greatest in wrestling history. He was one of the top stars of the 1980s and deserves a lot more credit than he ever received for his work.