Growing up in the 80's I watched a lot of wrestling. As I became older and wrestling went to being a comic book it lost the allure of being a soap opera for men, but those memories will always be there. Back than wrestling was bigger than it ever was. The 80's were the best time in wrestling history. Had the NWA, AWA and WWF all going strong. The regional's like World Class, Mid-South, Stampede were all top notch. Sure, people will argue how big it is today with the money involved and the TV ratings, but I disagree. From my point of view there is one type of wrestler in my mind that is the reason wrestling was bigger pre-Cable; the "jobber". Back in the day you would watch wrestling on Saturday or Sunday morning with a whole card of big names destroying cats like Steve Lombardi, Rene Goulet and Iron Mike Sharpe. At the end of the card you might get lucky and see a Greg Valentine vs SD Jones (WWF) or a Black Bart vs Sam Houston (NWA), but for the most part they had the eyeballs without having star vs star from top to bottom. Wrestling in the modern form they have to keep pushing it further and further and putting all the big names on the card against each other. Shit, I even remember going to Cobo or the Joe and seeing a live card that would consist of the following:
Mid level star vs jobber for the first few matches
Upper, but not champion, for the middle level matches before and right after the intermission
A women or midget match
A tag team title match or a 6 man tag with big names
The main event would involve a title or two big stars (Tito vs Greg for the IC Belt or Hogan vs Dr. D)
Back in the 80's, there was more luster in waiting to see the big names duke it out. Also, with all the regional areas all packed with great names, it was a big thing to see the Road Warriors from the AWA take on the Koloffs from the NWA. All of the things that made wrestling great are gone now. I love to watch classic wrestling and see Studd and Andre or Flair and Dusty.
But on to my favorite wrestler of all time. The nod from JD would have to go to the man himself:
Ric Flair. It would be years before I would see Ric Flair live on TV. When I was a kid we would get all the wrestling magazines and read about this Flair guy down South, the Von Erich's in Texas or Kevin Sullivan in Florida. This was pre-cable, so depending on the region you live there was no way to ever see any of these guys. I still remember when we first got cable and watching TBS and seeing Flair talking smack and beating everyone down with the Four Horseman. His battles with Magnum TA, Dusty and Nikita Koloff were all classic.
I know we have a good group of older school cats (some like Marco I am sure go back to Bruno and Dick the Bruiser), so who was your favorite wrestler growing up?