Wrestler of the Day – April 25: Lex Luger

Today is a very complete entry. You might even call it the Total Package. Or Lex Luger.

 

Luger started in 1985 so we’ll take a look at a match from Florida on January 31, 1987 for Luger’s Southern Heavyweight Title.

Southern Heavyweight Title: Bad News Allen vs. Lex Luger

Allen tried to claim a bounty put on Luger’s head by Oliver Humperdink to set this up. Luger jumps him to start but misses an elbow drop, giving Allen control in the corner. They head outside for some chair shots from Bad News but Luger comes back by sending him into the post.

Back in and Luger gets choked against the ropes to give the challenger control again. This time though it’s Bad News missing an elbow drop and Luger takes over again. Luger yells at Humperdink on the floor but catches Allen with an atomic drop. Out of nowhere, Luger misses a charge into the corner and gets rolled up with Allen’s feet on the ropes for the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. This was more of an angle than a match but the ending happened way too fast. Luger was brand new at this point so he wasn’t able to do much besides just flex and hit a few clotheslines. Unfortunately that would plague him for several years but we’ll get to that later on.

Luger would be on the big show soon after this and immediately start feuding with the Horsemen. This led to the one of the biggest matches on the first Clash of the Champions.

World Tag Team Titles: Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard vs. Lex Luger/Barry Windham

Anderson and Blanchard are defending and Windham and Luger are incredibly popular due to the Horsemen (the champions) kicking him out of the team for reasons explained earlier. Luger starts with Tully and pushes him down with ease. The champions try some double teaming but both get clotheslined followed by a powerslam to Blanchard. Lex puts Tully in his Torture Rack finisher but Anderson kicks Luger in the knee for the save. Arn comes in and goes after the knee before it’s back to Tully for more of the same.

Lex sends the Horsemen into each other and Tully can’t stop the hot tag to Windham. Barry cleans house and hits the lariat followed by a powerslam for two on Blanchard. Ross is losing his mind on commentary as only he can. A sleeper nearly puts Blanchard out but Barry lets him fall to the floor for a breather. Back in and Tully goes up but gets slammed down and put in an abdominal stretch. Arn makes the save and Horsemen manager JJ Dillon distracts the referee, allowing Anderson to DDT Windham for a very close two.

Anderson tries to hold Windham’s shoulder down for two but jumps in the air, allowing Barry to raise his knees and crotch Arn for a breather. Tully breaks up another tag attempt but gets caught by a cross body for two. They run the ropes a few times and collide, knocking both guys down to the mat. A gutwrench suplex puts Tully down again and it’s back to Anderson who misses a knee drop and gets popped with a right hand. Windham is spent though and collapses before making the tag.

Tully comes in again and hits his slingshot suplex finisher for a close two on Barry. Anderson comes in off the tag but Barry goes over to the corner and falls into the tag to Luger. Lex cleans house again and sends the champions into each other but Tully gets in a knee to the back to slow him down. Luger shrugs it off and snaps off the powerslam as everything breaks down. Dillon holds up a chair in the corner but Luger reverses a whip to send Arn head first into the steel for the pin and the titles. The crowd reaction for the pin is other worldly as the Horsemen were despised at this point.

Rating: B. This was the kind of match the show needed to make it historic as the Horsemen had held the titles for months on end and Luger was the man that needed to take them away. Barry was making the match work here before Luger came in to clean house at the end. That’s a good formula for someone like Luger and the result worked well.

Luger continued to rocket up the card, eventually getting into a major feud with Ric Flair. After their first showdown at the 1988 Great American Bash, they met again at Starrcade 1988.

NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger

Speaking of Dusty being fired, since he knew that he was going to be gone as both a wrestler and the booker soon after this, he tried to mess with his real life rival Ric Flair before leaving. The original plan for this match was to have the Varsity Club jump Luger and have Rick Steiner, who remember is basically mentally handicapped, beat Flair for the world title in five minutes. As you can guess, that’s not what happens but it’s an example of what happens when personal issues get in the way of the booking.

If Flair is disqualified here, he loses the title. Flair WOO’s in Luger’s face to start before strutting around a bit. No contact in the first minute or so. Flair hits some chops before being clotheslined out to the floor by the much stronger Luger. Legendary wrestler Lou Thesz is in the audience. Back in and Flair tries a hammerlock but is easily overpowered into the ropes.

Another clothesline puts Flair down and he hides in the corner for a breather. A powerslam puts Ric down again and there’s a gorilla press for good measure. Off to a wristlock by Luger before he no sells a chop. Flair is sent arm first into the buckle and it’s off to a hammerlock by the challenger. Back up and Ric FINALLY pokes him in the eye to get himself a breather. Flair tries the chops again and Luger just yells at him. Those chops never worked on guys like Luger and Sting but Flair never learned.

They head to the floor with Luger cranking Flair’s arm around the barricade to injure it even more. Back to the armbar by Luger as this has been one sided so far. Back up and another clothesline puts Flair down for one and Flair rolls to the apron. There’s a suplex back inside for another near fall on the champion. Luger isn’t getting frustrated yet but he misses a jumping elbow drop to slow him down.

Back to the floor with Flair sending him face first into the barricade and chopping away which actually has an effect now. They go back inside and Flair stomps on the ribs but tries more chops which just wake Luger up. Lex puts on a sleeper but gets suplexed right back down to give both guys a breather. The Figure Four is countered into a small package for two by the challenger, followed by a superplex for two more.

Now Luger puts the figure four on Flair but the champion eventually makes it into the ropes. Lex pounds away in the corner but accidentally knocks the referee down. Flair uses the distraction to rake Luger’s eyes and throw him over the top, but Luger dives back in for a clothesline for two. Lex pounds away in the corner and sends him into the other corner for the Flair Flip. Another suplex gets another two on the champion but the referee gets taken down again.

Luger hits another powerslam but doesn’t cover for some reason. To be fair the guy never has been all that bright. He calls for the Rack but a JJ Dillon distraction lets Flair hit Luger in the leg with a chair to completely change momentum. Back in and Flair cannonballs down onto the leg as Luger is in BIG trouble. Flair kicks him in the knee and drops his own knee on Luger’s bad knee before putting on the Figure Four. Luger sits up and flexes his muscles before turning the hold over for a break. The leg is badly damaged though so Luger’s explosiveness is gone.

Flair goes up but Luger manages to slam him off the top on just one good leg. Luger no sells a right hand to the head and is all fired up again. There’s another gorilla press slam but the knee goes out as he turns Flair over. Flair sends him out to the floor again but Lex comes back in with a sunset flip for two. Luger flexes again but pounds Flair down in the corner on pure adrenaline. A clothesline gets two and there’s another powerslam. Luger calls for the Rack but after he gets Flair up, the knee gives out and Flair falls on top, throws his feet on the ropes for additional leverage, and retains the title.

Rating: A. This is an excellent match with an excellent story being told. Luger was such a natural athletic machine that he would never stop going on pure athleticism alone and eventually his body gave out on him, giving Flair the win. These two had great chemistry together and would always have good if not great matches together. Excellent main event here and well worthy of closing out the biggest show of the year.

Going into 1989, Luger picked up his old rivalry with Barry Windham over Windham’s US Title. Here’s their showdown from Chi-Town Rumble.

US Title: Barry Windham vs. Lex Luger

Barry turned on Lex months ago to join the Horsemen and this is the revenge match. Barry is also champion. The champion says he’s going to beat up Lex. Matsuda is with him as well, as he’s been with every heel tonight. They exchange shoulder blocks and no one moves. Lex no sells a suplex and throws Windham around as only Luger can. Windham suplexes him back in but can’t grab the Claw. It’s gotten a bit stronger since Dusty stayed in it for about five minutes last show.

Lex’s eye is busted a bit due to right hands. Out to the floor again and Barry manages to punch the post. It busts open Windham’s hand and injures him to the point that the Claw is worthless. Oh please like that’s the case after last year’s Bash. A powerslam gets two. Barry is like screw it and goes for the superplex but Lex gets up at two. Barry isn’t sure what to do now so he goes for a belly to back and it’s the ending where Lex gets his shoulder up first to win the title.

Rating: C+. Pretty decent here but there were a lot of times on here where I wasn’t sure what the appeal of it was. Lex would go on for a huge run with the title, holding it nearly two years. Barry would be in the WWF by about Mania time so this was his last hurrah in the NWA, at least for a few years.

Luger would turn heel soon after this before defending his US Title against Ricky Steamboat at the 1989 Great American Bash.

US Title: Ricky Steamboat vs. Lex Luger

Steamboat brings a komodo dragon with him for no apparent reason. Luger is WAY over even though he’s the heel here as he’s against probably the purest face ever. Luger says either make it a standard match or he’s walking. The promoter comes in and says Steamboat is more or less stuck so he says screw it and goes with what Luger says, giving into the EVIL of the insanely popular guy that looks like a face if there ever was one.

Steamboat gets a fast rollup for two and then another one. Make it three as Steamboat is out moving him to start. We head to the floor and Luger just kills him with a clothesline. BIG chops take Luger back though as Steamboat is all fired up here. In a very funny spot, Luger yells at Young about the speed of the count and gets rolled up with Young rifling off a very fast two. Funny stuff.

They’re going back and forth with Steamboat never quitting but Luger just uses straight up power. Luger is trying as hard as he can to be the heel here but he’s far too popular for it to work. The problem is that he had one moment of evil but other than that he’s the same guy with just a bit more aggression.

Luger misses a clothesline (does he get paid per clothesline or something?) and hits the floor. Ross talks about the similarities between these two which might be a stretch to put it mildly. Steamboat takes over now and cranks it up one more time. Top rope chop puts Luger down again for two. Luger launches him into the other ring and goes to get a chair.

That’s a nice little thing as Luger is a hypocrite. Steamboat saves himself and catapults Luger into the corner while he’s still holding the chair. Steamboat gets the chair and fires the referee out of the ring for the DQ and then just massacres Luger with the chair as he tries to run away.

Rating: B-. I’ve heard people talk about how this is a great match and I really don’t get that. It’s good and it’s entertaining but it’s certainly not one of the best matches I’ve ever seen or even a great match. The storyline was good and all that jazz but this wasn’t a classic or anything close to it really. Good match and even quite good, but not epic or anything.

Another US Title defense, this time from Halloween Havoc 1989.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman

This is in the middle of Luger’s huge title reign while Pillman is the young fireball that no one can keep up with. They go to the corner to start and Lex looks irritated. Lex tries to keep things slow and throws Pillman to the floor. Brian comes back in with a slingshot clothesline and knocks Luger to the floor with a dropkick. Baseball slide takes Luger down and as they come back in, Air Pillman is teased but Lex heads to the floor.

Lex gets in some kicks to take over but Pillman comes off the top with a spinning cross body. Off to the arm and Pillman has a small advantage. Lex tries to power out of it but Brian takes him right back down with the armdrag. Luger is clearly getting frustrated here so he comes back with more power striking. Crucifix gets two for Pillman and it’s back to the arm. The idea of it isn’t to get a submission but rather to frustrate the champion which is working here.

Brian goes up but misses his splash attempt and Lex takes over again. He’s all fired up and yells at the fans who seem to like him as much as Pillman. A clothesline to the back of the head puts Pillman down and Lex is all fired up. Suplex gets two and Brian is thrown to the floor. Luger brags too much and walks into a sunset flip for two. A big clothesline puts Lex over the top and out to the floor as Brian makes his comeback.

There are ten punches in the corner and an atomic drop to boot. A top rope sunset flip gets two. Pillman hits a jumping back elbow and Luger is in trouble. Air Pillman, the springboard clothesline gets two as Luger got knocked into the ropes. All Pillman at the moment but he misses a missile dropkick and both guys are down. Pillman tries to speed things up but walks into a Hot Shot for the pin and Luger retains.

Rating: B. Luger wasn’t the guy you wanted running a match, but if you give him the right guy to work with such as Pillman here, look out because you’re likely to get a great match. Pillman’s flurry at the end was great but he went too fast and tried to do too much and the more experienced champion caught him. That’s a nice little story and it worked well here, giving you a great match.

Luger would turn face again soon after this and go after the World Title again, at WrestleWar 1990.

NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger

Sting is with Lex while Woman is with Flair. The idea here is that Sting was supposed to get the title shot here but legit injured his knee which makes this out to be a “tragedy” according to the introductions. This is the main event and we have 45 minutes to go during Flair’s entrance. Chain wrestling to start with no one having an advantage. Flair shoves the referee and is shoved right back.

Flair agrees to a test of strength and down goes Naitch. Flair bails to the floor and says Wooo a lot. Lex knocks him to the floor again so Ric takes the walk. Luger chases him down and the beating continues. Lex is US Champion here. A gorilla press by Luger puts Flair down so Flair tries the chops. Those do about as well as they do against Sting and Lex is all fired up.

There’s a bear hug which Luger bends forward for a two count. Luger hits ten punches in the corner but Flair ducks a clothesline and Luger falls to the floor. Flair chops away outside and back in they go. Scratch that as Flair dumps him again and calls for Woman to get on the apron. With the referee distracted Flair sends him into the barricade and chops him down. Flair punches him back down to the floor as I guess he’s looking for the countout.

Back in for more than ten seconds this time and Flair drops a knee on the head. Another knee drop hits for two. Lex pops up for his comeback but misses a corner charge and is right back down again. This is one of those matches that’s hard to make fun of because they both know what they’re doing and have such great chemistry together that there’s not much they can’t do together.

Flair hooks a hammerlock and stomps on the arm. Lex starts coming back again so Flair pokes him in the eyes, which Funk calls the Achilles Tendon of big men. Luger gets caught in another hammerlock and when he tries to punch his way out of it, the referee stops the fist, allowing Flair to poke him in the eye again. Ric works on the arm even more but Lex grabs the throat to break it up. He throws Flair into the corner for the Flair Flip and we go to the floor.

Flair chops Lex again and Luger is all fired up. Back in and Flair is caught in a sleeper which puts him down. The champ gets his foot on the ropes and manages a belly to back to escape. Luger suplexes him right back and goes after the knee. He wraps it around the post and tries a figure four. Even JR basically says it’s awful as he spins the wrong way, making him look like he’s a nine year old imitating it.

Ric fights up and chops some more but walks into a powerslam for two. The pop on the kickout was big as the fans thought it was over. Flair still can’t get that the chops don’t work and Lex is all fired up. After a quick exchange outside, Luger backslides him for two. Luger punches him in the corner but Flair atomic drops him, hurting Lex’s knee in the process. Where are these knee injuries in matches against people not named Flair?

A pair of top rope axhandles gets two for Flair. Butterfly suplex gets two. Here’s a sleeper by Flair as he hasn’t gone after the knee much yet. That gets broken after awhile and NOW it’s knee time. We’re probably half an hour into this. Flair works on the knee in his usual manner as Sting comes back to ringside. Sting cheers Luger on enough for him to reverse the hold and it’s broken up.

He slaps Lex to fire him up and Flair bails fast. Out to the floor and Lex no sells a whip into the barricade. There’s a gorilla press and Flair goes up, only to get slammed down. Luger clotheslines him to the floor then suplexes him back in for two. There’s the powerslam which Luger earlier said would set up the Rack. Woman distracts Luger, allowing Flair to knee Lex in the back, crushing the referee in the process.

Lex clotheslines Flair down but there’s no referee. A superplex kills Flair dead again but the Andersons run in because there’s no referee. There’s the Torture Rack and the referee is back up, but the Andersons go after Sting. Luger drops the hold when Flair is about to give up, going to save his friend. The Horsemen keep him out there long enough for the count out and a HUGE boo from the crowd. Sting’s day was coming soon though.

Rating: A. See, THIS is how you book a screwjob finish. It made perfect sense for Lex to go out there, meaning that for once he wasn’t an idiot. They had the crowd into this and when you can do that during a forty minute match, that’s usually a great sign. It was an excellent match and the ending is about as perfect as it could have been. Luger would get a rematch the next month in a cage and then it was Sting’s turn.

Here’s a match that I just have to throw in here.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Mark Callous

Mark has Dangerously with him. This is Mark’s only important match in WCW. He takes over to start and works on the arm and they actually go to the mat. Lex arm drags him to the corner where Mark complains of a hair pull. Callous is the Undertaker because I’ve done the “who is he” thing too many times. Mark misses a corner charge and a cross body gets two. Time for some arm work and Paul is on the phone to someone named Murray.

Mark jumps over him with a leapfrog but misses a punch. The second attempt works and Callous takes over. This is as slow as it sounds. Mark works on the arm for awhile and then knocks Luger to the outside. Luger gets a quick sunset flip for two. He no sells a suplex and clotheslines Mark down a few times. There’s the Rack but the referee takes a shot to the head.

Dangerously throws in the phone which goes into Luger’s ribs. The fans are a lot more into this than you would expect them to be. Mark crawls over to him and gets a very slow cover for two. Mark calls for the Heart Punch but Luger gets a boot up, knocks Paul down, and wins with a clothesline of all things.

Rating: D+. Nothing to see here but this was a much more normal concept back in the day: having the midcard titles defended against big guys who haven’t really done anything of note yet. Mark would get a lot better after getting the right gimmick in about 5 months. Until then though, he was pretty worthless.

We’ll jump ahead a year to what was supposed to be Luger’s big moment at the 1991 Great American Bash. Due to some issues of WCW being stupid, instead of Luger FINALLY beating Flair for the title, it was Luger vs. Barry Windham for the vacant title. Stupid stories aside, this was a big moment for Lex.

WCW World Title: Barry Windham vs. Lex Luger

In a cage if you missed that point and the title is vacant. Luger is clearly the more popular guy. Remember that. This is a short cage too as it’s maybe eight feet off the mat. The LOUD Flair chant begins again. Oh and another thing to complete the joke: Flair has the physical belt so they’re using the old Western States Title with a cheap looking plate over the part that says Western States.

The fans want Flair and we get going. They collide but no one goes anywhere. Luger hip tosses him down as we’re still in a feeling out process. They hit the ropes and Barry dropkicks him down and things slow down again. Small package gets two for Lex. He runs Barry over but the elbow misses. There are a lot of standoffs in this. Barry backdrops him down and they stare at each other some more. The camera guy looks at the fans as they chant for Flair. Nice job dude.

They go to the mat and Barry finally pops him in the face. A suplex puts Windham down and they stand off AGAIN. A figure four is broken up by Lex despite Barry not touching the leg at all yet. We’re like five minutes into the match so far and NOTHING has happened. Barry grabs a headlock and runs Luger over again. Lex grabs a sleeper but Barry counters into one of his own. Riveting stuff I tell you. Riveting.

Luger sends him into the corner to escape and this a DDT for two. That’s your biggest move so far people: a DDT. Lex goes up and gets slammed down, followed by a knee drop for two from Barry. Windham misses a top rope knee drop and Lex hits his series of clotheslines for two. There’s a powerslam and Luger puts him in the Rack but Barry kicks off the cage and backflips out in a cool counter.

A belly to back puts Luger down but he shrugs it off and loads up a superplex. That gets countered and Barry hits a top rope lariat. A regular lariat still gets no cover but a slam gets two. Barry goes up and hits a kind of flying superkick for two. Harley Race and Mr. Hughes come out for no apparent reason and Race says NOW IS THE TIME. Luger pops up and piledrives Windham for the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. The problem here is that while there were two or three good minutes at the end, the first five minutes of the thirteen minute match were just dull. The heel turn at the end made NO sense and most people didn’t catch on because they popped for the pin. The match just wasn’t that good but there were good pieces to it if that makes sense. The ending sucked though and that brings it down even more. Eh screw it we’ll go with a D+. They earned it. Take that for what you will.

Here’s Luger’s lone successful title defense on PPV.

WCW World Title: Ron Simmons vs. Lex Luger

Luger is defending and has Harley Race with him while Simmons has Dusty Rhodes for no apparent reason. This is 2/3 falls. Feeling out process to start and they trade hammerlocks. Simmons tries a dropkick but misses completely to give Lex the advantage. Ron comes back with a facejam and snaps off a powerslam for no cover. The spinebuster gets the first fall in about five minutes total. That came out of nowhere and we have a one minuet rest period.

Simmons slams him down onto the back again and whips him into the corner time after time to have Luger hiding in the corner. Let’s talk about the Braves, who are playing in the World Series at the same time as this show. A sunset flip gets two for Simmons and Race is freaking out. Simmons misses a charge and Luger sends him flying out to the floor. Back in and an elbow drop gets two for the champion.

Lex hits a powerslam of his own for one because his back is too messed up to cover fully. Off to a chinlock as Luger tries to buy himself a breather. Simmons fights back with elbows and punches before grabbing a rollup for two. A backslide does the same and Luger is getting in more and more trouble every second. Race distracts Ron so Dusty gives him the big elbow. In a HORRIBLY STUPID MOMENT, Luger charges at Simmons who is on the ropes. Race holds Simmons against the ropes and Lex falls to the floor, AND THAT’S A DQ. That rule was so stupid that I can’t fathom it at times.

After another rest period it’s the third fall. Simmons is ready to go while Luger is sucking wind. The champion gets in a sucker punch and goes on a big rush of offense. He’s also bleeding from under his right eye. Simmons shrugs that off and pounds away in the corner. A clothesline gets two. Luger knees him in the ribs and Simmons is slowed down almost immediately. A powerslam puts Luger right back down and a middle rope shoulder puts Lex on the outside. Simmons’ shoulder hits the post and we go back inside so the piledriver can get the pin for Luger to retain.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t big on this one. This felt more like a really big TV main event rather than a PPV main event. Simmons would become a lot bigger soon enough and would get the title off Vader in 1992. The DQ here was just freaking dumb as there were far worse throws earlier in the night, but it made sense here because it needed to. Not a very good match but I’ve seen worse.

Luger would drop the title to Sting in February 1992 and promptly injure his arm in a motorcycle crash. This put him on the shelf for over a year until he eventually came back in the WWF. Here’s his first major match, from Wrestlemania IX.

Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect

That sounds pretty awesome on paper. Anyway, Luger is the Narcissist at this point and comes out with some women in bikinis with thongs, sending Heenan through the roof. Well over the top of the columns at least. Perfect gets a very solid pop here but he would be used sparingly until he left in the fall. They trade headlocks to start and Luger bails to the corner. Now they trade hammerlocks and Luger bails to the ropes again.

Perfect hits a dropkick to send Luger to the outside as the crowd is staying hot. Back in and Luger starts using the power but Perfect blocks a big boot attempt. There’s the Robinsdale Crunch on Luger’s knee and Perfect cranks on it a bit for fun. We head to the corner for some LOUD chops but Lex whips him into the corner a few times to take over. We head to the floor with Luger ramming the injured back into the apron, followed by a backbreaker in the ring for two.

Perfect fights out of the corner with right hands but Luger scoops his legs and puts his own feet on the ropes for two. Mr. comes back with a nice sunset flip for two but a quick sleeper attempt is broken up. Back up and they slug it out a bit more with Perfect hitting a backdrop to take over. A slingshot sends Luger into the buckle and a forearm to the head gets two. Perfect hits a clothesline and neckbreaker for two each, as does a kind of missile dropkick. Luger wins the fight over a backslide and even though Perfect gets his feet in the ropes, Luger gets the pin anyway.

Rating: C. Decent match here but it never hit the level they were capable of. That ending was actually designed to set up something at the NEXT Wrestlemania which was unheard of at this point in time. Anyway, decent match here but it’s a disappointment due to how good this could and should have been.

Since I’ve covered Luger’s face turn and failed attempts at winning the title to death in this series, we’ll jump ahead to Summerslam 1994. Around this time, Ted DiBiase had been helping Luger win but Lex swore he hadn’t sold out. Luger’s friend Tatanka didn’t believe him and a match was set up between the two.

Lex Luger vs. Tatanka

The fans aren’t sure how they feel about Luger at the moment. They finally lock up with Luger taking it into the corner for a clean break. A shoulder puts Tatanka down but Luger still won’t follow up. Tatanka grabs the arm as we’re still in first gear. A cross body gets two for Tatanka and it’s time to slug it out with Lex taking over. Tatanka starts the war path and hits a top rope chop for two but a high cross body only hits mat. Luger starts his comeback but here’s DiBiase with a bag of money. Lex shouts that he didn’t sell out, allowing Tatanka to roll him up for the pin.

Rating: D. The match was very slow paced which isn’t good in a short match. We were waiting for the angle here instead of the match which is fine, but it didn’t make the match any less dull. Tatanka was into a more serious phase of his career here and his matches got a lot less fun to watch as a result.

Post match Luger is mad and he kicks the bag out of DiBiase’s hand…..only to have Tatanka reveal the HE sold out by destroying Luger. Tatanka puts him in the Million Dollar Dream and shoves money down Luger’s throat. This has always been a favorite of mine.

Luger would form a tag team with Davey Boy Smith and find enough success to earn a Tag Team Title shot at In Your House II.

Tag Titles: Yokozuna/Owen Hart vs. Allied Powers

The Powers are Lex Luger and British Bulldog and are challenging. Luger and his old world title rival Yokozuna get us going as the fans chant USA. So do they hate Bulldog as well? Yokozuna shoves the very strong Luger into the corner but Lex comes back with right hands. A clothesline puts Luger down but he avoids a big elbow drop and tries to pound on Yokozuna a bit.

The big man’s head is rammed into the top turnbuckle ten straight times and Yokozuna finally falls into the corner for the tag off to Owen. Yokozuna didn’t want to tag though and shoves Owen down as a result. Hart hides from Luger in the corner before being armdragged down into an armbar. Off to Owen’s real life brother in law Davey Boy Smith so they can fight over a wristlock. Bulldog tries a backdrop but Owen doesn’t flip over, landing on his face instead.

Off to a chinlock on Hart before he fights up and goes after the leg. Yokozuna comes in again and walks around a lot before putting on a nerve hold. Bulldog fights up but gets caught by an elbow to the jaw. Back to Owen who gets two off a clothesline before taking Davey’s head off with an enziguri. Davey comes back with a clothesline as the fans chant USA.

The hot tag brings in Luger to punch Yokozuna some more, as well as taking Owen down off the top rope. He throws Owen at the big man to put both guys down. Everything breaks down but Owen breaks up a Luger cover. Yokozuna misses a charge into the corner and a double belly to back suplex puts the big man down again, only to have Owen come off the top to break it up. Luger is stunned from Owen’s shot, allowing Yokozuna to drop the big leg to retain the title.

Rating: D+. This was a better choice than the Smoking Gunns but even power guys like Smith and Luger can only do so much with a guy that big. The double suplex was an impressive spot but it wasn’t enough to save the match. The entire tag division was basically Owen/Yokozuna, the Smoking Gunns and a bunch of jobbing tag teams that would never make it onto a PPV. Nothing special here at all.

Luger would jump to WCW soon after this and hook up with Sting, getting a shot at the Tag Team Titles on Nitro, January 22, 1996.

Tag Titles: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat

Heenan is ranting about something after we get back which apparently is that he isn’t being allowed to talk. This is happening because Sting and Luger decided they were going to be a tag team now so they’re #1 contenders. We start it off after a brief commercial. Back and there’s the bell and it’s Luger vs. Stevie to start us off. Luger gets beaten down a bit but managed to bring in Sting who cleans house, beating up both champions at once.

Scorpion goes onto Stevie but Booker makes the save. Booker gets an armbar on Sting as this is going very quickly but it doesn’t seem like much is happening at the same time. Luger breaks up a cover as Sting is getting beaten down pretty badly. Sting tries to fight back but gets clothesline on the top by Stevie. This is about as going through the motions as you could ask for.

Harlem Heat is rather boring indeed. LONG nerve hold by Booker wastes a good deal of time. Sherri, Harlem Heat’s manager, isn’t here since she’s about to get married tomorrow which didn’t happen either. Booker goes up but the Harlem Hangover misses. Jimmy Hart runs out again and slips Luger something. With the referee distracted Luger drills Booker with what turns out to be a roll of silver dollars for the pin and the titles.

Rating: D+. I couldn’t get into this one again. I don’t know what’s going on with these guys tonight but the show has been off by a step all night. I don’t know if it’s the being out west or what but this hasn’t worked at all for the most part all night despite there being talented guys out there. Sting and Luger would hold the belts for a few months.

Lex would quickly turn full face when the NWO arrived. He would be part of the team that would face off against them, but since he was out of most of the match, we’ll look at one of his warmup matches from that show from July 22, 1996.

Sting/Lex Luger/Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair/Steve McMichael/Chris Benoit

No Anderson, not even as a second. Flair isn’t here either but we were told earlier he would be making an entrance. After a break Arn is checking a white limo for whom I’d assume to be Flair. He can’t find him though so Arn, who just happens to be in wrestling gear, is filling in. The announcers speculate about who the next guy in the NWO could be and Heenan says it’s all about money. I guess you could call that foreshadowing.

Sting vs. Anderson to start us off. Mongo takes Sting down and the double beatdown is on. Back inside and here’s Benoit. I’d love to see early 90s Sting vs. Benoit in a 20 minute match or so. Mongo gets a bad neckbreaker for two. A bad dropkick follows and we look at the white limo. Off to the Crippler again and an elbow gets two. Only Sting has been in so far.

Anderson takes a few punches but manages to stop the tag. Back to the football dude who hammers on him in the corner and it’s very clear Mongo isn’t ready to be in there yet. It’s not his fault but he’s just not experienced enough yet. Even a few months in a minor league would have done wonders for him. Lex finally gets the hot tag and cleans house. Everything breaks down and the girls try to slip in the briefcase. Savage manages to steal it back and clocks Benoit with it, allowing Luger to get the easy pin.

Rating: C+. This was fine. It was short but given Mongo, that’s probably a good thing. He was trying but the experience and coordination just didn’t click. He was a great football player but it’s a different thing and I think he learned that quickly. Savage was never legally in the match I don’t think.

We’ll jump ahead again to February of 1997 when Luger was a major soldier in the war with the NWO. Luger was scheduled to team up with Giant to face the Outsiders but was injured coming in. From SuperBrawl VII.

Tag Titles: Outsiders vs. The Giant

Ok so there’s a backstory here. Giant and Luger are partners but Luger has a broken hand/arm and couldn’t get a doctor’s clearance in time so Giant has to go this alone. Syxx is with the champs. Hall starts off here with the idea being to tick Giant off. Hall hammers away which seems to just be getting him in trouble. One armed slam by Giant and it’s off to Nash. This was the teased match for an entire year which didn’t happen until the following January because Nash didn’t want to job to Giant.

Giant gets a dropkick to send Nash to the floor and manhandles him with ease, including ramming him into the post. Elbow gets two back in the ring. Nash gets in a shot with the Cruiserweight Title and Hall adds what was supposed to be a bulldog but Hall manages to wind up behind Giant, making it more like a Zig Zag.

Basically this is 3-1 and that’s about what was expected. Nash misses the running pelvis to the head with Giant on the middle rope in a 619 position. That move REALLY needs a name. Off to Hall again who hammers away in the corner. Giant fights them off as Syxx comes in and slips the belt to Hall who drops Giant with it. Nash manages to powerbomb Giant in a cool spot as somehow we haven’t had a DQ yet.

Here’s Luger with a cast on to clean house. He Racks Nash who hurt his back on the powerbomb. That rings a bell for a submission somehow but wait, Nash wasn’t legal. Therefore Giant (illegal) chokeslams Hall, the legal man, and pins him for the definitive pin. Naturally this was overturned the next night on Nitro for literally no reason other than “that wasn’t legal” but it was a stupid moment so I can forgive it.

Rating: D+. Match was junk for the most part but that powerbomb was indeed awesome. Nash vs. Giant would FINALLY get blown off 11 months later because WCW saw no problem with Nash screwing over a PPV audience at Starrcade. Anyway, this was more stupid stuff that meant nothing if you were paying attention but it’s WCW so there you go.

Later in the year, Luger had his biggest moment of the 90s in WCW. From August 7, 1997.

WCW World Title: Lex Luger vs. Hollywood Hogan

Dang man how long has it been since Hogan wrestled on Nitro? They trade hammerlocks to start and Hulk heads to the ropes. More feeling out until Hogan pounds away in the corner to take over. The fans are WAY into this here. Hogan keeps beating on him and drops a bunch of elbows. A clothesline in the corner has Lex in trouble and Hulk chokes away. Luger comes back and rams the champ into the buckle a few times to get himself a breather. Hollywood takes his head off with another clothesline and we take a break.

Back with Hogan still in control and hitting a suplex for two. A belly to back suplex puts Luger down again and a big right hand gets two. The big boot and legdrop hit for two and the pop is really weak for some reason. Another legdrop misses and it’s comeback time. Luger decks the Outsiders and Savage as they try to run in. The forearm takes Hogan down and there’s the Torture Rack to give us a new world champion.

Rating: B. The match itself was as by the book as you could get, but that’s exactly what it should have been. The rating is almost entirely for the moment, which is WAY better here than I remember it being. Hindsight would say it was obviously only going to last until the PPV, but still man this worked really well. I’m actually surprised at how much I liked this.

The locker room empties out for the celebration. The fans go NUTS too. Everyone goes to the back and we see Giant and Luger polishing the belt to get the NWO paint off as champagne is flowing everywhere.

Lex wouldn’t do much for the rest of the year so we’ll skip ahead to his time in the Wolfpack and a US Title shot on Nitro from August 10, 1998.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Bret Hart

Bret is defending in another match that should have been at the PPV. Luger shoves Bret to the floor to start before accepting a test of strength for some reason. A hammerlock gets the champion nowhere so Luger elbows him out to the floor. Bret grabs the belt and starts to walk away but Luger will have none of that. Luger actually armdrags him into an armbar but Bret takes him into the corner and stomps away.

We take a break and come back with Bret sending him into the barricade and slamming Luger down on the concrete. Back in and Bret does the Hogan hand to the ear but Luger jacks his jaw with right hands. A low blow puts Luger down again but the referee doesn’t seem to care. Hart puts him down with a Russian legsweep and the headbutt to the abdomen.

A snap suplex gets two and Bret takes a breather to yell at the referee. The champ loads up the Five Moves but Luger gets a boot up to stop the elbow. Luger comes back with his clotheslines and the forearm for two before putting on a sleeper. The referee gets taken down and Bret pulls out a foreign object. Before it can be used though, Lex picks him up in the Torture Rack for the submission and the title.

Rating: C-. Pretty basic match here but it was nice to see something get some time on this show. I continue to shake my head whenever Bret comes on screen though as he’s now lost his title in his first defense after being wasted for about nine months. The match wasn’t bad and the Wolfpack did need to win something so I don’t have much to complain about here.

We’ll skip ahead again due to Luger being injured for about six months. Here’s one of his few final big matches from WCW at Halloween Havoc 1999.

Total Package vs. Bret Hart

Bret dominates to start and Luger can’t get anything going at all. As they fight to the floor for the second time, Liz trips Bret which doesn’t work at all. Lex finally takes over with more generic offense. These old guys really can’t do much but why should they? They’re making a fortune already. Bret grabs a Russian legsweep for two. Luger’s official name here is Lex Luger but you get the idea.

Bret keeps firing off and we hear about Goldberg and Sid some more. Here are the Five Moves of Doom by Hart and he loads up the Sharpshooter, but Lex pokes him in the eye. Someone tries a hiptoss and they tumble to the floor. Back in and Bret’s knee is almost done. Lex goes after the leg, works on it for about 10 seconds and hooks a half crab for the clean tap out. Yes, in 1999 Lex Luger got a clean submission win over Bret Hart.

Rating: D-. This match sucked and the only thing that keeps it from failing is how Liz looked in that dress with her implants. I can’t comprehend the booking of this show but believe me: it’s going to get worse. It’s not like Luger meant anything at this point, so let’s put him over Bret freaking Hart. Makes sense.

And finally, from SuperBrawl Revenge in the dying days of WCW.

Totally Buff vs. Kronik

Wow that sounds like a pair of indy teams if I’ve ever heard one. The fans chant for Goldberg and Totally Buff says he was fired. They run their mouths for awhile longer and we’re told that Brian Clark hasn’t been released to wrestle yet. So it’s a handicap match now with Adams fighting both of them. Oh never mind there he is. The lights are still out for the entrance though and we can’t see Clark. Yeah we know what’s coming so just get to it.

Clark is put down by a chair shot so it’s a handicap match anyway. Adams gets a terrible double DDT but can’t get a full nelson slam on Luger due to a low blow. Off to Bagwell and we begin the standard double teaming and tagging in and out by the heels. Other than that double DDT it’s been all heels here. Camel clutch by Luger and he poses a bit. Luger jumps up and down on his back a few times but gets caught in a double knee to the Package’s package.

Bagwell goes down also and it’s off to Adams in control. He fires away with basic stuff that doesn’t really get him anywhere. Totally Buff sets for a double team Blockbuster but Adams fights off Luger’s shoulders and gets a belly to back suplex to take him down. You know, if Bagwell had actually, I don’t know, DONE SOMETHING OTHER THAN STAND ON THE ROPES AND WATCHED, Adams might not have been able to take over like that.

Anyway we get an attempted full nelson slam to Bagwell but Clark apparently turns on Adams and drills him. Ah but it’s a ruse and it’s Mike Awesome in Clark attire with a wig. Why is that the case you ask? No one knows, but my guess would be because it makes no sense and makes Awesome even more worthless than he was before. Rack and the Blockbuster ends Adams quickly.

Rating: D. Hey what do you know? It’s a pointless match that isn’t any good with a screwy ending that makes no sense. Who in the world would have seen that coming? Awesome continues to be completely wasted (no match tonight) and again, NO ONE CARES ABOUT LUGER AND BAGWELL!!! Terrible match….again.

I’ll even throw in his lone TNA appearance as a final match. To the best of my knowledge this was the last match of his career. From November 17, 2003.

AJ Styles/Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett/Lex Luger

Luger alone could make this a trainwreck. Sting comes out first here which is a strange choice to say the least. It doesn’t help that JB calls Styles (accompanied by Jimmy Hart of all people) Sting’s opponent. Jeff is world champion because he’s Jeff Jarrett and this is TNA. Luger is heavily muscled but clearly not in the best of shape. Before the match, Jarrett’s manager Don Callis (Cyrus/The Jackyl) says that AJ doesn’t belong in the same ring as Luger and Jarrett. Sting of course disagrees and we’re ready to go.

Jarrett starts with Sting and is quickly shoved down and headlocked. A Stinger Splash misses but Sting puts on the brakes and clotheslines Jarrett down. Off to AJ for the drop down into a dropkick and a knee to the chest for two. The good guys both try Scorpions on the heels but Luger and Jarrett bail to the floor.

It’s off to Luger for his first match in America since WCW went under. AJ is easily shoved down and a gorilla press shows off Luger’s power. We hit the bearhug for a few moments before Lex drops him to tag Jarrett back in. A spinebuster puts Styles down again and it’s back to Luger. That goes nowhere so it’s back to Jeff who counters a hurricanrana attempt. AJ is stuck on Jeff’s shoulders but gets him into the corner for the tag to Sting, only to have Luger distract the referee so the tag doesn’t count.

Jeff’s Figure Four is blocked but AGAIN the referee misses the hot tag. Luger sends AJ to the floor so Sting comes in sans tag to clean house. A Death Drop gets two on Jarrett but Luger breaks up the pin. Sting escapes the Torture Rack attempt as AJ comes back in with a springboard cross body on Luger for two. In a HORRIBLE looking ending, Sting comes in with the ball bat and hits Luger twice in the ribs and chest. Luger, ever the great performer, TOTALLY NO SELLS THEM until Sting hits him in the jaw, knocking Luger into a rollup by AJ for the pin. Luger pops up after the pin and looks shocked instead of, you know, dead.

Rating: D. The ending drags this down even more than I expected it to. Luger was trying but it was the same act that was getting tired eight years before this match. I’m not sure how much you can blame Sting as he hit Luger with a freaking BASEBALL BAT but Luger wouldn’t sell the shots. That just looked ridiculous and nearly more comical than anything else.

Luger is the kind of guy who was WAY over back in his heyday and his run in 1988 was just awesome. The problem is he was labeled a choker early on and people stopped caring as a result. He had the look, he had the charisma, but he didn’t exactly have the ability to back it up in the ring. Still though, when he was on he was VERY on and is still fun to watch.

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1 comment

  1. Fred says:

    If one tracks carefully, one can find the exact moment Lex Luger started to phone it in, and that was Road Wild 97 when he was pretty much squashed by Hollywood Hogan. After that, it was pretty much impossible to find a solid match from him, regardless of who he was facing