Top 10: WWE “Legends” Dream Match-Ups by Jerry Whitworth
In the upcoming storyline “Legends” in the WWE Superstars series, wrestlers from across the thirty five year history of the WWF to today’s WWE will compete to tackle age old debates comparing legends of the past against modern day stars. From the minds of Mick Foley (multi-New York Times bestselling author and retired wrestler) and Shane Riches (R.P.M., Afflicted), the arc will feature such bouts as Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Randy Orton, Ultimate Warrior vs. John Cena, and Hulk Hogan vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. However, matches already announced only scratch the surface of the dozens of high profile talent that have come through the WWE. Lets then take a look at some possible battles we could expect to see this Fall from Super Genius Comics.
A champion amateur wrestler and multisport athlete, Jim Duggan became a star in Mid-South Wrestling where he feuded with superstar Butch Reed over the nickname “Hacksaw” and adopted his iconic 2×4 piece of lumber. Duggan made the jump to the WWF with the industry shaking event WrestleMania III and quickly became a fan favorite babyface (hero) who frequently came to the ring 2×4 in one hand and American flag in the other amidst chants of ‘USA! USA! USA!’ Sadly, Duggan didn’t seem like a typical contender for championships not being big enough to match the giants that dominated the ’80s or small and quick like the stars of the early ’90s so he wouldn’t start racking up titles until moving to WCW. However, the athlete’s charisma and enthusiasm made him a beloved fixture of the WWF, remembered for his brawling style in the ring and his comical presence outside endearing him to millions.
Growing up a fan of pro wrestling (present the fateful night in Madison Square Garden when Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka delivered his signature Superfly Splash to “Magnificent” Don Muraco from the top of a fifteen foot steel cage), Mick Foley was going to college when he made the decision to become a pro wrestler. Having had amateur wrestling in high school, Foley spent years on the indie circuit before ending up at WCW as the crazed heel (villain) Cactus Jack. Combating some of the promotion’s top talent, Jack’s popularity helped him transition to become a fan favorite babyface with one of the promotion’s most memorable feuds when he went to war against the monstrous Vader. During a cross-promotion with ECW, Jack ended up at the hardcore company eventually leaving WCW to work therein full-time. It was at ECW he caught the attention of the WWF who brought him to their company as the bizarre sadomasochistic Mankind. Visibly harming himself on air, Mankind brutalized his body in his matches taking bumps that undoubtedly shaved years off of his career. Coming to the company with a memorable feud with fan favorite the Undertaker, Foley would later adopt yet another identity in Dude Love (which he conceived for himself originally after seeing Snuka’s historic splash) in order to befriend the WWF’s biggest star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Foley would alternate between his three personas over the years, becoming Cactus Jack when he needed to deliver brutality, Mankind to survive taxing battles, and Dude Love for relative speed and high flying abilities. While Austin is often credited with winning the Monday Night War between the WWF and WCW, talent like the Rock and Mick Foley also supported the former’s gains. In fact, the night Foley won the WWF Championship, WCW repeatedly announced it live on the air (likely playing on the idea Foley wasn’t your typical idea of a champion, not big like a giant or muscular and edgy like Austin and the Rock) which backfired and saw WCW viewers turning the channel to witness the event. Foley would retire from wrestling a couple years later, becoming a multi-New York Times bestselling author producing several books based on his memoirs as well as children’s books. The author also began touring describing his often comedic stories in person to droves of his followers.
Tony Atlas was a man with few athletic parallel before ever entering the squared circle of pro wrestling. A championship amateur wrestler, bodybuilder, powerlifter, and arm wrestler, Atlas was scouted to come to pro wrestling and whose career shot up like a rocket. Traveling the various territories of the NWA, Atlas scooped up titles where ever he went eventually ending up at the WWF. Therein, Atlas teamed with Rocky Johnson (father of future superstar The Rock) to become the first African-American tag team to gain the championship belts. Just as the promotion was going to give Atlas a push for the Intercontinental belt, a burgeoning drug problem made the superstar a liability. As Atlas became less reliable, he was given less responsibility eventually driving Atlas to leave. The performer’s career languished for years, his drug habit almost ended up taking his life until a woman (who later became his wife) saved him and got him clean.
A storied championship amateur wrestler, Brock Lesnar transitioned to the WWF where he decimated the competition and within two years became the youngest undisputed WWE Champion. In fact, Lesnar wouldn’t suffer his first pinfall loss until he was defending the championship where he was betrayed by his then manager Paul Heyman. Despite the loss, Lesnar’s assault on the WWE and quest for the belt went on leaving his opponents in heaps at his feet. Largely, Lesnar’s razing of the roster wouldn’t come to an end until his bout with Bill Goldberg (a wrestler Lesnar was frequently compared to). The match was the last for both men at WWE as both wanted to move on to do other things, the fight ending with Goldberg scoring the victory. Lesnar went on to join the NFL but this would fall through and he embarked on an impressive career in the UFC as a mixed martial artist. After an eight year absence, Lesnar returned to the WWE only to lose to John Cena in a no disqualification match. Later, Lesnar suffered another loss in a no DQ match against Triple H. However, Lesnar would get a rematch in a steel cage and returned to his winning ways. Lesnar went on to break the Undertaker’s legendary Streak at WrestleMania XXX and later brutally defeated Cena for the championship belt.