The ‘80s were an interesting time to be a fan of professional wrestling. Never before had there been so many professional wrestling organizations doing so well for themselves. While WWE was certainly at the top of the mountain in terms of revenue, there was enough television time and money to go around. Because of this, promotions started to hire more and more wrestlers to join their rosters full-time in an effort to build a stable of top stars and even started to reach out to more hired gun performers to round out the cards of their biggest shows.
What it all added up to was a lot more people getting the chance to gain exposure as professional wrestlers. This philosophy produced a lot of wrestlers that seemed like a big deal at the time, but just kind of faded from your memory as the years went on. If you ever do stop to think about some of these wrestlers, however, you’ll no doubt start to wonder what happened to them after the spotlight moved on to someone else. These are 15 forgotten 80s wrestlers, and this is what they are up to now.
Fred Ottman went through a number of gimmicks during career (including an, unfortunately, memorable stint as The Shockmaster), but many WWE fans will forever remember him as Tugboat. Maybe that has something to do with his red and white striped singlet or the fact that a wrestling tugboat captain doesn’t make any sense, but the gimmick did help Ottman work his way into some pretty high-profile matches as a member of WWE. Following a brief return to WWE in 1994 that only lasted a few months, Ottman didn’t wrestle another major wrestling show until the WrestleMania X-Seven Gimmick Battle Royal match.
Much of his time in-between those appearances was spent bumming around the indies as the character Typhoon. These days, Ottman serves as the safety manager for a building cleaning service in Florida.
14 Nikolai Volkoff
Before he was an evil Russian, Nikolai Volkoff actually had a pretty successful mid-70s run in WWE as a Mongolian-born strong man who often challenged Bruno Sammartino for the championship. Despite the success of the gimmick, Volkoff eventually left the WWE in order to spend some time in the Mid-South Wrestling promotion. When he did return, he adopted that Russian gimmick that made him an ‘80s heel legend who typically got beaten by any wrestler waving an American flag. Volkoff has stayed pretty busy since retiring in the mid-90s, as he still makes occasional cameo appearances for WWE in comedic roles. He’ll still wrestle a match on the indie circuit every now and then, and he even tried to run for the Maryland State Delegate in 2006.
13 Dan Spivey
Dan Spivey was never a fixture on the WWE roster during the company’s boom period in the ‘80s, but he always seemed to be on-call whenever Vince needed someone needed someone to step in and be a creepy heel. The highlight of his stint in WWE was either his WrestleMania II Battle Royal appearance or the time when the company repackaged him to dress like a skinnier Hulk Hogan. Spivey got a little more screen time when he joined WCW, but most of that involved him losing to The Road Warriors.
Incredibly, Spivey is reportedly the man who inspired Bray Wyatt to adopt his current gimmick as a play of Spivey’s old Waylon Mercy character. Spivey himself certainly wasn’t using it as the man didn’t wrestle from 1995 to 2015 when he made an appearance at Dory Funk Jr’s Japanese promotion !BANG!. Spivey also serves as the brand ambassador for the breakfast chain The Breakfast Station.
12 Butch Reed
“The Natural” Butch Reed rose to fame as a member of the WWE roster in the late ‘80s even though he actually got his start as a fairly active member of the Mid-South Wrestling roster earlier that decade. In fact, he actually participated in one of that promotion’s most memorable feuds when he took on the beloved Junkyard Dog. His stint in WWE was much less eventful as the feud he was meant to have with Superstar Billy Graham was canceled due to Graham’s deteriorating health. Reed then served as a regular on the WCW tag scene for a few years before leaving the company forever in 1992.
From there, Reed became the second to last GWF World Champion before the company folded, took some indie bookings throughout the 2000s, and made his WWE return in 2008 during a backstage segment on SmackDown. He’s currently retired from in-ring activity and is involved in the class action lawsuit filed against WWE over the matter of brain injuries.
11 Sam Houston
Working under the “every good wrestling show needs at least one cowboy gimmick” logic that dominated wrestling in the ‘80s, WWE hired Sam Houston (real name Michael Smith) in 1987. Sam’s career before that mostly involved getting into mid-card feuds with the likes of Ole and Arn Anderson which, sadly enough, is about as high as he would climb considering that he quickly descended into jobber status as a member of WWE following his introduction. He got a little work in WCW after leaving WWE in 1991 but mostly served as an indie part timer.
Smith was arrested in 2005 following a string of DUI arrests and had his home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He later tried to start his own wrestling company (Mid South Entertainment), but it folded after only one show.
10 Jimmy Valiant
While Jimmy Valiant (James Fanning) arguably reached his career peak in the ‘70s when he and Johnny Valiant served as WWWF tag-team champions for quite some time, he did resurface in the ‘80s as a regular for Jim Crockett Promotions during some of their early PPV and super card shows. His biggest show during this time was Starrcade 1984 where he lost a Loser Leaves Town Tuxedo Street Fight to Paul Jones. Valiant had his “retirement” match at WrestleReunion in 2005 which only lasted until a 2012 return to tag team wrestling.
The 74-year-old Valiant doesn’t do much in-ring work these days, but you can usually find him at some indie shows signing autographs as well as copies of his autobiography “Woo…Mercy Daddy!”
9 The Warlord
The Warlord (Terry Szopinski) was a memorable WWE wrestler if for no other reason than the fact that he possessed a superhuman physical figure that managed to stand out even in an age of impossible (i.e. steroid-assisted) superhuman physical figures. As a member of The Powers of Pain, he and his partner The Barbarian actually managed to capture the WWE tag-team championships (with the help of the late Mr. Fuji) before they dropped them back to Demolition at WrestleMania V.
Szopinski retired from wrestling in 1996 following neck injuries he sustained in a car accident, but was able to return to the indie circuit in 2003. His last major wrestling appearance was as a member of the Faces of Pain alongside The Barbarian and Meng at Chikara’s 2012 King of Trios tournament. He is also currently involved in the class action lawsuit against WWE over brain injuries.
8 The Barbarian
What would a conversation about The Warlord be without taking a look at what his good friend The Barbarian has been up to these last few years? Much like The Warlord, The Barbarian (Sione Vailahi) got his big career break part of the Powers of Pain in WWE. Following the end of that team, Vailahi bounced between WCW and WWE but was never able to recapture that same magic he found as a member of The Powers of Pain. He was actually a member of the WCW roster from 1995 to 2000 (even though he rarely ever made an appearance during that time), but eventually, his contract was terminated due to cost cutting measures.
He was actually able to find a little success in the indies as he briefly served as the NWA Virginia Heavyweight Champion, but he spends most of his time running a construction business in North Carolina. He is also involved in that WWE class action lawsuit.
7 Tony Atlas
One of America’s all-time great bodybuilders, Tony Atlas actually managed to win Mr. USA three times before he decided to become a professional wrestler. He bounced around quite a bit between various federations during his prime, but he was a pretty successful tag team wrestler for NWA and is even technically the first man to have pinned Hulk Hogan even though the victory was tainted by the referee not seeing Hogan’s foot on the ropes. After spending a year in World Class Championship Wrestling under the moniker of “The Black Superman,” Atlas battled a drug addiction before returning to WWE in the early ‘90s as Saba Simba.
Many younger fans will likely remember his run in WWE as Mark Henry’s manager and his appearance on the WWE Network show Legends’ House. Mostly, though, Atlas has embraced the private life and spends time with his family in Alabama.
6 One Man Gang
Early on in his wrestling career, someone recognized that George Gray looked like a pretty tough guy and gave him the memorable nickname “The One Man Gang.” The gimmick stuck, and Gray soon became one of the Universal Wrestling Federation’s top heels before taking his talents, and gimmick, over to WWE. Once the One Man Gang character had run its course there, Gray was burdened with that unfortunate Akeem The African Dream gimmick. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work out, and Gray went back to being One Man Gang in WCW.
He actually lost quite a bit of weight in 2000 following a heart attack, but he was forced to leave his job as a prison guard and occasional professional wrestler due to back injuries. Earlier this year, Gray lost his Baton Rouge home to severe flooding.
5 Jacques Rougeau
Whether you know him as a member of the Rougeau Brothers or for his brief stint as Canada’s most evil Mountie, it was hard to watch WWE in the ‘80s and ‘90s and not remember Jacques Rougeau Jr. as a pretty good professional wrestler who just rarely was given anything of substance to work with. Even still, he certainly made the most of every storyline WWE gave him during his eight-year stint as a member of that organization, and he proceeded to make the most out of relatively little as a member of WCW. In fact, he once beat Hulk Hogan at a house show in Montreal.
Rougeau went on to open a wrestling school where he helped train the likes of Kevin Owens and even tried to join the Montreal Police Department in order to become an actual Mountie but was denied due to his lack of a high school diploma.
4 Abdullah The Butcher
There’s never really been another wrestler quite like Abdullah The Butcher (Lawrence Shreve). Oh sure, there have been many hardcore wrestlers in the past, but few of them have ever really achieved the notoriety for participating in the kind of unbelievable acts of violence that Abdullah does, and few of them were doing the violent things that Abdullah was doing back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Abdullah was rarely a regular for any one promotion and spent most his prime years as a gun for hire that was called whenever someone had to get bloody.
That’s actually still what Shreve is up to these days as he spent most of the last decade participating in random hardcore matches. Shreve was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 and lost a legal battle in 2014 related to accusations that he gave wrestlers hepatitis C as a result of his regular blading.
3 Ron Garvin
Ron Garvin (Roger Barnes) made a name for himself as a rugged brawler who was capable of working both babyface and heel during his years as a member of Jim Crockett Promotions. Most of his career highlights occurred during this time, as Garvin’s blue-collar style really seemed to speak to that particular crowd. His success attracted the attention of WWE, but Garvin never really was able to make a name for himself in that company despite his very popular feud with Greg Valentine. He left WWE without much fanfare in 1990 and seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth until he was spotted working a carnival wrestling show in 1993. He considers himself to be semi-retired from wrestling and instead makes his living off of the used car dealerships he owns in North Carolina. He’s also quite the pilot who holds licenses for several single and multi-engine aircraft.
2 Don Muraco
If nothing else, Don Muraco will forever be remembered for his part in those excellent Fuji Vice segments that he did with Mr. Fuji as part of his comeback in 1985. Before those memorable skits, however, Muraco spent a lot of time bouncing around various Hawaii and Florida wrestling organizations as a mid-card star. He entered WWE in 1981 with that same status and quickly won the Intercontinental Championship. Following his decline in WWE not long after the Fuji Vice sketches, Muraco actually went on to become the ECW Champion before they re-branded into the hardcore ECW we know and love today. He’s mostly worked in Hawaii and Japan since then and even served as the kayfabe commissioner of a Hawaiian wrestling organization while also working as a longshoreman. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 and inducted Mr. Fuji into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
1 Greg Valentine
Greg Valentine (Jonathan Wisniski) had the good fortune of coming up with Ric Flair in the late ‘70s a member of the National Wrestling Alliance and quickly made a name for himself as one of the best heels in all of southern wrestling. WWE came calling for him at the start of the ‘80s, but it just didn’t work out. Valentine went back to NWA after that where he raised his stock yet again and was able to join WWE once more in 1984. He was always involved in one storyline or another but never seemed to reach that main event level. His career would only dwindle from there following his 1994 departure from WWE until Valentine finally settled for showing up at the occasional indie show during much of the 2000s.
His post-wrestling career has involved an appearance in an Insane Clown Posse film and a podcast appearance where he said that women shouldn’t be wrestlers and should be at home washing dishes. Despite the comments clearly being a joke, Valentine attracted a good bit of controversy over his remarks.
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