Wrestling is not a traditional story. Wrestling has no beginning or end, just a perpetual middle. Wrestling is a saga with a constantly changing cast. Last week, I discussed evolution in wrestling but I did not really touch on the actual wrestlers themselves. This week, I will be curating a list of wrestlers I personally feel could have been as effective in other generations of the wrestling timeline. Where possible, I will try to name particular promotions that would suit these wrestlers however, in some cases I will just discuss their potential working the territory system. Without further ado I give to you the wrestlers I feel could work in a different era.
It is easy to name Randy Orton as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time. Or one of the best sports entertainers of all time, if you want to be finicky. It is impossible to deny the career Randy Orton has had is one that will permanently be etched in legend, somewhat ironically given Orton’s former gimmick. He is a wrestler that could easily slot himself into any iteration of wrestling but, for this list, I am going to slot Randy Orton into 1980’s NWA. Less the traditional touring champion, a heel Randy Orton would be able to talk fans into shows like Starrcade, The Great American Bash or Clash Of Champions and would have been the perfect heel champion for Jim Crockett to build the early WCW around.
The late George Raymond Wagner was a pioneer in gimmick wrestling and his flamboyant attitude perfectly encapsulated his charisma. Gorgeous George was never the most imposing of men but he was an accomplished mat wrestler. Despite sadly passing away in 1963, only a year after his retirement his enigmatic character lived on. The robes he wore, the bleached hair and the over the top narcissism would later be adopted by many wrestlers over their careers. The question is, where would George fit on a list of this description? There are many places a man like Gorgeous George could work but I would book him as an over the top heel in mid-90s WWF. With the emergence of the androgynous character Goldust, George would work two fold. He could be a rival and a partner for the character, eventually transitioning into a manager pushing Goldust into upper-mid card territory.
CM Punk was a wrestler in a sports entertainers world towards the end. Once in a while a talent comes along that gets every aspect of the business; they can talk, they can wrestle and they understand their own character and tweak it to prevent it getting dull. Punk was a white meat babyface on an ECW brand already on life support before becoming the Straight Edge Saviour which lead to him becoming the Voice of the Voiceless. Never at a loss for words, Punk’s promos in 2011 felt like a throwback to a bygone era. With that in mind, I am going to have to put Punk in a spot initially held by Shane Douglas in 1994 ECW. The promo cut by Douglas on August 27th of that year changed the landscape of wrestling for almost a decade after. Gone was the heritage and tradition of the NWA World title and in its place was a belt that represented anarchy and revolution. In this scenario, the promo is the same but the wrestler is a 2011 CM Punk. Fed up and pissed off with the status quo of wrestling, he became the face of an uprising.
Guerrillas of Destiny
This won’t be the only tag team I name in this series of posts. In fact, I would be willing to bet as you read this you are fantasy booking the likes of FTR, The Young Bucks, The New Age Outlaws and The Four Horsemen. But, for now, I am going to go with GoD. Again, there are many landing points for GoD across the history of professional wrestling, but the obvious answer is the best, in my opinion. A pair of smash mouth wrestlers with plenty to say, to suggest they should leave NJPW today would be heresy so I won’t do that. Instead I’ll say they should have been debuting in WCW in 1996. The nWo would become overbooked, over saturated and satirised as a result, but if I could add just two more members to the early days of this faction it would be Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa. They have the attitude and the aptitude to have dominated the tag division in WCW. And, before we get inquisitive in the comments, this would have freed up Nash and Hall to chase singles angles and singles titles which, in turn, would’ve allowed WCW to take Hogan off TV at times to allow him to freshen up before embarking on another world title reign. On top of all that, a feud with Meng and Kurasawa would be too good to pass up.
Bad News Brown
Bad News Brown was one of the hardest men to ever set foot in a wrestling ring. And not just in the wrestling ring; he won Bronze at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal in heavyweight Judo and having overheard racial slurs from Andre The Giant, Brown demanded the bus the two were sat on be stopped so they could step outside and fight. Brown didn’t just play a tough guy. Brown was a legitimate badass who could likely destroy any normal man without breaking a sweat. Known mostly for his run in WWF between 1988 and 1990, I am going to take Brown and place him in the only timeline a man of his stature fits, the modern day NJPW NEVER Openweight division. Imagine the matches he would have with Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto or even Minoru Suzuki. For fans of strong style, these matches would’ve been enough to make you salivate a lake.
That is where we will finish for this week. This is a series I am going to work on going forward with some special pieces dotted in. My editor, Dan, has suggested I write some more expansive pieces to further detail how I would have liked to book wrestlers in other time periods and we have brainstormed weeks of material already.
Are there any wrestlers you would like to see in different generations? Sound off in the comments and I will endeavour to write, at the very least, a short summation of your suggestion!