The 80s was a decisive decade for wrestling, with the influx of popular wrestlers and so many historical events taking place, helping set up wrestling as a mainstream sport which drew more and more eyes as the years passed on. It was especially amazing for the WWE, who saw the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Andre The Giant take them to new heights with their work and establish them as the dominant force in the wrestling industry, much to the dismay of the other independent promotions.
While many credit the 90s for bringing out the most entertaining wrestling in the WWE because of the raunchy Attitude Era, the 80s laid down the groundwork for the WWE to make bold decisions and actually go through with the stuff they did in the Attitude Era. The 80s were a hard time for some wrestlers just as much as it was amazing for the top stars, as many amazing talents were undermined by the WWE and many extremely talented individuals didn’t get the glory they truly deserved in the company.
Not everyone from the 80s has really aged well, and while some of them still look similar to their selves back in the day, others look absolutely unrecognizable and seems like wrestling forced them to age terribly. Let’s take a look at these 20 wrestlers from the 80s whom you wouldn’t recognize now.
20. Jim Neidhart
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart was called as such because of his intimidating, dangerous look as the enforcer for the Hart family as he was the real brawn of the stable. He soared in the 80s as part of the Hart family, going onto win the WWE Tag Team titles twice with Bret Hart and establishing himself as a dangerous heel at the same time as well. Neidhart’s muscular looks and wild wrestling persona made him a threat to all his opponents, as he made many fear for their safety around him. He even wrestled through the 90s, before he had to call it quits. The father of Natalya looks unreasonably old and frail right now, as he has lost every bit of his intimidating nature and has grown overweight and tired.
Sika Anoa’i was laying down the hard work to establish his family’s name before others could benefit from that, as he was part of one of the most ruthless tag teams back in the days in The Wild Samoans. They were one of the more dominant tag teams in the WWE in the 80s, as they won the WWE Tag Team Titles three times in the company before Afa left the WWE to go his own way. This forced Sika to become a singles wrestler, something he failed to become good at as he was pushed at the start, but quickly fell down the pecking order. He started to wrestle less as the years passed, eventually retiring from wrestling. But the person who looked like a monster looks like a shell of that man and is almost unrecognizable right now. He hopes that his son Roman Reigns would achieve what he couldn’t and become the guy he failed to be back in the day.
Akeem was one of the monsters in the WWE in the 80s, as he was this giant of a man who loved to crush his opponents and played the role of a monster heel really well. After failing in his stint as the One Man Gang, he became Akeem who formed a tag team with the Big Boss Man and they dominated the tag team division for quite a long time. Although they never won the WWE Tag Team titles, they did feud with the tag champs Demolition. The Boss Man would then turn on Akeem whom he had a match with at WrestleMania VI, which would be Akeem’s last high profile match in the company. He then turned to WCW for a time and has been wrestling over the years in the Indy circuit, but looks pretty knackered at the moment as he was once this giant, intimidating man with a proper physique but has lost that now. He seems to have gone fat and frail with age, as he has aged terribly and should’ve left wrestling a long time ago and taken more care of his body which seems to be deteriorating right now.
17. Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund was one of the more popular wrestlers in the WWE back in the day, as he attained success right from the beginning and was a big name in the WWE in the 80s. He was a mainstay in the main event feuds, often holding the WWE Championship. But some problems arose between him and the company in the mid 80s, as he was stripped of his title because of a kayfabe injury and was later let go. He wrestled in the Independent scene for a while before making a triumphant return in 1992, after which he’d be right back in the thick of things. Backlund might not have been the most good-looking among his peers, but he definitely had that heel look to him but that has changed a lot over the years. Backlund now looks almost unrecognizable from the old days, but still in decent shape teaming with Darren Young.
16. Nikolai Volkoff
One of the earliest foreign heels in the WWE, Nikolai Volkoff soared along with the Iron Sheik when they tagged together in Volkoff’s early days in the WWE. With their managing being “Classy” Freddie Blassie, they went onto win the WWE Tag Team Titles in their peak. But some problems forced them to disband, as Volkoff went onto form a team with Boris Zhukov. Although they didn’t really win much and weren’t as successful as his former team, they did make quite an impact before Volkoff became a part of the Million Dollar Corporation a few years later. His stock fell heavily after that, as he took semi-retirement sometime after leaving the WWE. But he looks way older than he is right now, as the once intimidating looking heel now looks like a broken old man who is finding it difficult without any proper job right now, as the pressure of wrestling can be seen in his figure which looks absolutely frail and knackered right now.
15. Wendi Richter
Wendi Richter was one of the real “Divas” of the 80s, as she was one of the bombshells during a time when not anyone really paid much attention to the ladies, as she along with some others made the audience get into women’s wrestling. Richter was one of the top women in the WWE at the time, winning the Women’s Championship twice before she was part of a rather unfortunate incident. Richter was involved in the “Original Screwjob” where she shockingly lost her belt to a masked woman (later revealed as the Fabulous Moolah) without even herself knowing that she would lose. She left the WWE in a fit of rage after the match, returning only after decades when she got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010. But the stunning diva from the 80s looks nothing like that nowadays, as her figure has degraded badly after leaving the wrestling industry and she looks
14. Don Muraco
Don Muraco was the original “The Rock” of the WWE as he attained much of his success before getting that gimmick for himself. He entered the WWE with much potential, as he was pushed as a prominent mid-carder who went onto win the Intercontinental Championship twice during his first years in the company. He went onto form an alliance with the villainous Mr. Fuji afterwards, as he would win the King of the Ring in 1985 with Fuji at his side. He’d then get the Rock gimmick, which wouldn’t fair that well for him as his stock fell after leaving the WWE, forcing him into retirement into the 90s. Muraco was known for his toned figure and muscular looks, but nowadays looks nothing like he did back in the days as he has let his body go after retiring and seems to have gotten fat as well and looks absolutely unrecognizable from that hunk back in the days, as age seems to have caught up to him quickly.
13. Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Jesse “The Body” Ventura might not have had much of an eventful career in the WWE in terms of wrestling, but he brought in many viewers with his entertaining commentary. He started to do commentary along with Vince McMahon, becoming the voice of that generation and doing some amazing job of portraying the action into the ring to the viewers. His amazing work as a heel commentator made him stay in the company for a number of years, before he retired from wrestling altogether and started a political career. That seemed to be a right decision for him, as he soared in that field and even became the Governor of Minnesota for a term and has been active in that field ever since. But “The Body” seems to have lost his charm over the years, as he currently looks in quite the unrecognizable, shocking state as his past participation in the army and wrestling has taken a toll on him body and left him in quite the frail shape, looking like a shell of a man he once was.
Kamala was quite the scary wrestler in the WWE in the 80s, as his unique, wild man gimmick fit his intimidating looks really well as he was a solid mid-carder for the WWE in the 80s. He would be involved in some big feuds in all those years in the company, as he was made to work his butt off for the company as his unique gimmick gave the WWE many opportunities to utilize him to his most. But his “big”, intimidating looks could only survive for so long in the wrestling field, as he was out of popularity by the end of the century and had to wrestle in the Indy field to keep his financial situation stable. But Kamala isn’t doing well at all these days, as this big, scary looking man is anything but that right now as both his legs are amputated now because of health problems and is currently quite broke. He looks to be in a terrible state right now, as his situation goes onto show the ugly side of wrestling as he looks nothing like the monster he was back in the 80s.
11. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine was one of the more under-rated wrestlers in the WWE back in the 80s, as the Hammer was quite the hard-hitting, proficient wrestler who deserved more than he got. He found success in the WWE early into his career, going onto win the Intercontinental Championship soon after debuting before going onto form a team with Brutus Beefcake called “The Dream Team”. This sort of dented his career, as he was kept as a mid-carder who would feud with other mid-carders before going onto form another baseless team with the Honky Tonk Man. He was eventually released by the WWE, after which he lost his fame and was left to wrestle in the Independent circuit. Valentine was one of the better looking mid-carders at his time, but has lost all of his charming looks in the past as his body has really regressed over the past few years. Valentine looks quite the tired man right now who has to scuffle through some wrestling stuff to keep his the financial state stable, but his body has really deterred over the years and he looks almost unrecognizable right now.
10. Paul Orndorff
“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff was one of the more charismatic man in his time in the WWE, as he had the looks and the skills as well and deserved to be treated better by the company. Orndorff would be involved in some high-up feuds in the beginning, but he soon went onto become a permanent mid-carder who didn’t really win anything in the company. He’d always get close to something big but fail, as he got frustrated off this and left the company towards the end of the 80s, opting to sign with WCW where he atleast won something. But Mr Wonderful was quite the favorite among some fans for his looks which were perfect for the screen, but his figure and looks has degraded over the years. He has aged quite terribly and looks pretty frail right now, not attaining that charm which got him into wrestling and has lost his body shape as well, as things haven’t gone so good for Orndorff who found out the wear and tear of wrestling the hard way.
9. Terry Funk
Terry Funk is quite the Hardcore Legend in the field of wrestling, as the maniac has been wrestling for decades now and never backs down from a fight which could entertain the audience. He wrestled for the WWE in the 80s, where he still looked fine as he didn’t really enjoy much success in the company in his first stint, forcing him to leave for WCW later on. Funk didn’t really have the best looks in the company even then, but the bruises weren’t still there as he continued to wrestle to the absolute limit in the next years and came out of retirement numerous times after his initial one. While Funk has still maintained his grit to wrestle, his figure has suffered badly over the years as he looks like a tired, broken man with all the bruises wrestling has caused for him and looks nothing like he did in the 80s where he was still sane enough to know his limits, as this man’s passion for the product and his fans made him sacrifice his own health and well-being just to entertain the public.
8. Tully Blanchard
Tully Blanchard was part of the infamous “Four Horsemen” stable which was at the top of wrestling in the 80s, as he won quite a lot of championships for Jim Crocket’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling before making the jump to the WWE. He entered the company with fellow Horseman Arn Anderson, going onto win the Tag Team titles soon after entering the WWE. But their success was short-lived as they would drop the titles soon after, going onto leave the WWE a year after joining. Blanchard was left to fend for himself afterwards, as he started wrestling in the Indy circuit in the next years. Blanchard had quite the figure back in the day and was ready-made for main-event success which he never really attained, but his deterioration over the years is quite horrible. Blanchard’s looks have completely changed from back in the days, as he has aged quite terribly and doesn’t look anything like the handsome man he was back in the 80s as he seems to have let his body go after retiring from wrestling and looks quite terrible nowadays.
7. Harley Race
While Harley Race had been wrestling from much before from the 80s, it was around that decade where he got established as a legend in the wrestling industry and it was also the time when he finally received a call from WWE. After struggling it out in the Independent scene for many a year, he came to the WWE in 1986 and was treated with royalty, going onto win the King of the Ring that year. He called himself “King Harley Race” who would make his opponents kneel before him. He would be in some notable feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jim Duggan, but it was during the feud with Hogan in which he suffered a horrible injury which ruled him out of the WWE. He slowly moved out of the wrestling business for his own safety, as he looked like quite the bad-ass back in the day with that beard and an intimidating looks. But the wear and tears of wrestling have gotten the better of him over the past few years, as he has lost his iconic looks over the years, being reduced to an over-weight, frail looking man who has aged quickly because of his devotion to wrestling and will spend the rest of his life regretting many decisions he took back in the day.
6. Tito Santana
Tito Santana was an inspiration to many up and coming hispanic wrestlers in his time, as his success in the WWE made many try their hand in wrestling as well. Santana had quite the amazing start to the 80s in the WWE, as he won the Intercontinental Championship after a lengthy feud with Don Muraco. He then became a mainstay in the Intercontinental Championship, going onto lose it to Greg Valentine. He regained it from Valentine in a steel cage match, also getting a new IC title after Valentine destroyed that one. Santana would slowly move out of the IC Championship scene, later going onto form a team “Strike Force” with Rick Martel. They wouldn’t really win anything as Santana would slowly go down the ladder and left the WWE after the turn of the century, going onto wrestle for many Indy promotions. The muscular, well-toned man is now reduced to look like a frail, old man as he hasn’t taken care of his figure at all over the years and looks nothing like what he used to back in the days. He looks almost unrecognizable at the moment with his tired looks as age caught up with him quickly and reduced him to a broken shell of what he used to be.
5. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
“The Barber” Brutus Beefcake might not have been a top level talent in the WWE, but he was still pretty entertaining who made for some entertaining stuff in the company. He was a mid-carder who was often used to fill shows as he would found some success when he teamed up with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and won the WWE Tag team titles with him. But things went quite downhill for him after that, as he would be a mid-carder who often lost when it really mattered and a bad injury into the new decade stalled his wrestling career. He’d still be in the WWE thanks to best bud Hulk Hogan, later also getting into WCW for him. Beefcake might not have been that good a wrestler, but he definitely had the looks which made him an able entertainer but he has seemingly lost that over the years. Beefcake looks quite the worn-out man who has lost his physique and charming looks over the past years, as he still gets work due to his name and needs to look after himself before his body completely falls off.
4. Dan Spivey
Dan Spivey might not have been exactly a main-event level talent when he came to the WWE in the 80s, but he still had some talent when he was put in a tag team with Mike Rotunda. They would wrestle in the top of the tag team division for quite-sometime but never managed to win the Tag Team Titles, as Spivey was quickly released after his stint with Rotunda came to an end. He would come back in the mid-90s where he was revamped as Waylon Mercy, who was based on the character of Max Cady in the film “Cape Fear”. This didn’t really work that good either, but did lay its ground-work which inspired the character of Bray Wyatt right now, but Spivey’s deterioration over the years is quite depressing. He wasn’t the best looker, but he looks shockingly unrecognizable right now as he has gone horribly skinny and looks like a broken man right now, as aging hasn’t been kind to him at all and turned him into a shell of what he was back in the days.
3. The Iron Sheik
The original Anti-American heel in the WWE, The Iron Sheik was quite the definitive bad guy in the company in the 80s and played a massive role in its growth as well. The Iron Sheik would be drafted straight to the main event feud when he came to the WWE, winning the WWE Championship from Bob Backlund. He would then infamously lose the title to Hulk Hogan in what is considered as the beginning of Hulkamania, as he would later be degraded to form a team with Nikolai Volkoff. They would win the Tag Team titles but The Sheik would find it difficult to get back to the top, which was made impossible after he and Jim Duggan were arrested in 1987 were he was found to be high on cocaine. This made the end of his WWE career, as he was later released and even though he would return later on, his wrestling career was dampened by this. He kept on wrestling in the Independent circuit, as he currently seems to be in quite the horrible shape after retiring from wrestling. Not only is he a grumpy, abusive person nowadays, he has grown fat and is in quite the unhealthy shape right now, as he looks quite unrecognizable because of his shape at the moment as this legendary heel is currently in a difficult predicament after villainizing himself in the eyes of many over all these years.
2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was one of the best heels in the WWE in the 80s, as his cold and calculative mannerism and snake-like personality made him quite an asset for the company at the time. But he was still not treated as well as he should’ve been, as he did get into some high-profile feuds with the likes of Randy “Macho Man”, Ricky “The Steamboat” Dragon and even Andre the Giant, but never got the push to the main event, one that he thoroughly deserved. But his addiction to drugs meant for the end of his WWE career, as he was released with the new decade and was brought back for a short stint (in which helped to kick-start Austin 3:16). Roberts’ alcohol addiction has had an awful effect on his physical appearance, as the cold and calculating heel now looks like a tired, broken old man who seems to have gone through a lot of pain over the years. Alcohol absolutely tore down his health and physical appearance, but luckily DDP swooped in and seems to have saved Roberts, who looks much better after following DDP Yoga.
1. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Although Bobby “The Brain” Heenan couldn’t really make it as a wrestler in the WWE, he worked absolute wonders for the comoany as a manager at first and commentator afterwards. He has managed numerous wrestlers in his career, prominently the likes of King Kong Bundy and Andre The Giant. He would also manage Ted DiBiase and “Ravishing” Rick Rude later on, before going onto join the commentary table where he worked quite wonders for the company as their primary heel commentator. His team-up with Gorilla Monsoon in the commentary table would make WWE much money as they called the in-ring action amazingly, as he would leave the WWE after some years of commentary. He’d go onto join WCW and was involved in the wrestling industry for many years, but his health started to deteriorate with the turn of the century. He has had tongue cancer in the past amongst other health problems, as all these problems have left him in quite the awful, unrecognizable shape as he is just managing to hang in there because of how big of a fighter he is in real life and despite all these life-threatening diseases and injuries has managed to oust fate and keep himself alive, but barely.
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