Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, TheSportster proudly brings to you, the greatest sports entertainers in the WOOOOOORLD! We got superstars from the 70s, superstars from the 80s, and they’re still lacing up their boots today. So, if you ain’t down with that, we got two words for ‘ya……
If that doesn’t get you pumped up about your favorite old school wrestlers still performing today, we don’t know what will.
Maybe eat some Booty O's cereal.
To be a wrestler, you have to have some grit and toughness, especially if you want longevity in the business. This global industry breaks bones, damages tissue, and even claims lives. That’s why it’s amazing to hear about some of our favorite superstars from the past still performing in front of fans today. The risks they take when entering the ring are still as dangerous now as they were decades ago. No one’s saying these “old” superstars are doing springboard back flips, suicide dives, and power bombs, but they’re still exposed to danger.
Like all loves in life, in this case wrestling, a performer can have an unbreakable bond that can’t be destroyed by age. We applaud the wrestling organizations that still let these superstars feel like their old selves again. Billtown Championship Wrestling and Brian Knob’s (Nasty Boys member) Legends of Wrestling have helped give these wrestlers a canvass to showcase their art.
Before we get started, we need to let you know why a wrestler you’re hoping to see on the list isn’t there. The superstar must be more than 50 years old, debuted before the 90s, and performed in one match in 2016. Also, the wrestler’s career must have been predominantly in the States. The exceptions to the qualifications are The Undertaker and Kevin Nash because everyone knows what they’re doing these days. For those fans that love the international scenes in Mexico and Japan, you should be happy to know Negro Casas, Atlantis, Blue Panther, the Great Muta, and Jushin Liger are still going strong.
Wrestlers that missed the cut include Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Greg Valentine, Honky Tonk Man, 2 Cold Scorpio, and The Nasty Boys but you can learn about them at TheSportster’s’ “Top 20 Older Wrestlers You Didn’t Know Were Still Active Today.”
15 Koko B. Ware: Legends of Wrestling Event
The WWE once had a snake, bulldog, and a macaw as mascots for some of the wrestlers. Who was the proud owner of Frankie the Parrot? You guessed it, none other than Koko B. Ware. The best thing that came out of that gimmick is hearing wrestlers talk about how the parrot would curse a lot. Sadly, Frankie would die in a house fire many years ago. While he had a solid singles career as an mid-card performer, Koko also teamed with the late Owen Hart, but was cut before they could gained any real momentum as a team. Regardless of his less than stellar record, he became a WWE Hall of Famer in 2009.
The argument can be made that he truly was a fan favorite as he would entertain the crowd flapping his arms just like a bird. The 58-year old debuted in 1978, worked over 1300 matches, and stepped back into the ring twice this year. He worked BCW’s Night of Legends in March participating in a six-man tag match with other members on this list. In January, he performed at a Legends of Wrestling event, winning a tag match.
14 Tatanka: Independent Circuit
The realization that Tatanka was in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WresleMania 32 hit every fan at the same time. If you weren’t asking yourself if that was actually Tatanka or if your eyes were playing a trick on you, then you’re fibbing. He was a top baby face for the WWE and was a part of the “New Generation” era in the company during the early 90s. One of the better entrance themes at the time, Tatanka would be pushed to the moon, going on an undefeated streak and facing Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania IX for the Intercontinental Championship. He would win by count out, but as we know the title can’t change hands that way. His babyface status peaked at that point and he became a heel, working with Ted DiBiase a year later.
His momentum as a top superstar would falter and he would eventually leave the company before the Attitude Era. Seeing him back in the ring this year surprised us, so we had to find out where else Tatanka has been of late. Besides his appearance in the WWE, he’s been quite the busy body, losing a title match against indie wrestler CJ O’Doyle in Freedom Pro Wrestling this May. The 54-year old has worked with 4 Front Wrestling, Heroes and Wrestling Legends, Pro Wrestling Pride, and International Wrestling Cartel this year. He did sign a WWE Legends Contract in 2015 and we hope to see more of him in some capacity this year.
13 Shane Douglas: Independent Circuit
Shane Douglas won the NWA title in 1994 and, on that same night, he threw it on the ground in disgust. He then raised a new title, the ECW Heavyweight Championship, and pronounced to the world a new era in wrestling. Douglas said to a shocked crowd, “So tonight, let the new era begin, the era of the sport of professional wrestling, the era of “The Franchise,” [and] the era of the ECW.” What makes this an iconic piece of wrestling history is the fact that the only people who knew of this stunt was Paul Heyman, Terry Gordon, and Douglas himself. That’s right, no one in the NWA knew Douglas would be trashing their prestigious belt the same night he won it. Shortly after, ECW was no longer Eastern Championship Wrestling but Extreme Championship Wrestling.
He became the flag bearer of a small indie organization that battled with both WCW and WWE in ratings. He would also wrestle in WCW, WWE, and TNA but his dominance wouldn’t be the same as it was in ECW. Douglas still wrestles to this day and works the most out of anyone on the list. His last known match was a losing effort against indie superstar Ethan Page for Alpha 1-Wrestling.
12 Jim Neidhart: BCW Night of Legends
We all know Bret Hart was the one who came out to support his niece, Natalya, in her match against Charlotte Flair at WWE’s Payback. Was anybody wondering why wasn’t Jim Neidhart, Natalya’s father, in Bret’s place instead? We know he doesn’t have the same credentials as Bret, but it would’ve been cool to see him in some type of capacity. After all, he’s an original member of The Hart Foundation. Before he was in the wrestling business, Neidhart had a short stint in the NFL, playing for both the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders in preseason games.
Maybe not making those teams was the best thing for him as he became a star for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling and eventually married Stu’s daughter, Ellie Hart. After working several territories, he made his way into the WWE in 1985 when Stu sold his promotion to Vince McMahon. The rest is history, especially making pink look cool, so maybe the 61-year old is trying to get back into ring shape after seeing Bret on television with his daughter. He competed at BCW’s Night of Legends with Koko B Ware as his teammate and won the match. What we wouldn’t do to see him pull on his gingered beard one more time.
11 Nikolai Volkoff: Night of Legends Event
Debuting in 1968, Nikolai Volkoff would go on to have a successful career as a tag team specialist and an anti-American heel. He originally was called Bepo Mongol, and teamed with Geto Mongol with “Captain” Lou Albano as their manager. They would capture titles but wouldn’t last long as a team together. Volkoff would leave the company but return in ’74. During the time away from the WWE he would become the Russian nationalist that we all love to hate. When he did return to the WWE, he was put in the main event against Bruno Sammartino. He truly knew how to get the fans riled up with his in-ring psychology. He became WWE Tag Team Champions this time with The Iron Sheik and won a few single titles outside the organization. It was great to learn that Volkoff once again laced up the boots this year. The match took place at BCW’s Night of Legends in March and just like many heels in the 80s, he lost the match. Who here hopes to see Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, and Volkoff in some kind of segment on WWE again? We do.
10 The Powers of Pain: WrestleMerica Event
Terry Szopinski and Sione Vailahi came to be The Powers of Pain through Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. They epitomized heel tag teams in the 80s. They had Mr. Fuji in their corner, yelled a lot, and looked the part. How can you not be major heels when your names are The Barbarian and The Warlord? Somebody must have loved the “Conan the Barbarian Series,” because both characters represented that type of content to a tee. Their most notable feud came against Demolition when working in the WWE in 1988. After Demolition beat Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) for the tag titles, Strike Force hired the Powers of Pain as mercenaries.
Their feud with Demolition ended at WrestleMania V, losing the match. Their hype wasn’t as strong after, feuding with various teams and even being a part of Ted DiBiase’s stable at Survivor Series ’89. The team separated in 1990 but many years later, the reunited to wreak havoc on the indie scene. As of today, they have been feuding with another tag team on this list for Big Time Wrestling. They’ve also worked with WrestleMerica and BCW the past year. Let’s just give them a round of applause for competing well into their 50s. Like every wrestler on this list, they deserve more notoriety for the amount of years they put into the business.
9 Bushwhacker Luke: Real Canadian Wrestling
A great entertainer with his partner, Bushwhacker Butch, they entertained thousands of fans, even though they usually lost. Once called The New Zealand Kiwis and The Sheepherders, the tag team made their first appearance for the WWE in 1988, well over a decade after their wrestling debuts. Bushwhacker Luke still does his famous WWE Royal Rumble spot to this day. Haven’t seen it? Well for $9.99 you can check it out on the WWE Network. Even at the age of 69, Bushwhacker Luke still performs and travels to different shows in North America.
This past year, he has worked for Legends of Wrestling, teaming with Koko B. Ware, and won a singles match in BCW. He even wrestled for Ring of Honor last summer, entering a nine man gauntlet match to decide the number one contender for ROH’s Television Championship. Even though he had no shot at winning the gauntlet, he still gave the fans what they wanted, the Royal Rumble spot that will always be remember as a classic moment. The Hall of Famer is scheduled to appear at a Real Canadian Wrestling event at the end of May.
8 Rock 'n' Roll Express: Big Time Wrestling
Ricky Morton and Rob Gibson both began their careers in the defunct Continental Wrestling Association located in Memphis, Tennessee. Quite possibly the greatest tag team to never hold a WWE Tag Team Championship, The Rock ‘n’ Roll express feuded with the most talented tag teams during their prime. They secured tag team titles in the NWA, AWA, Mid-South, PWA, Smokey Mountain Wrestling and several other promotions during their careers. They also had a major feud with the Four Horsemen, which was probably their best and most entertaining feud in their careers. Now you know why they may be the greatest tag team to never perform in the WWE.
Both wrestlers are in their late 50s but that hasn’t stopped them from competing in the indie scene. Maybe they’re still looking for one last shot at competing in the WWE. They continue to wrestler for Big Time Wrestling and have worked with WrestleMerica and Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. As we noted earlier, their feud with The Powers of Pain needs more recognition among the fans. With so many deaths and tragedies of the wrestlers in their generation, it speaks volumes to how they can still tussle in the ring to this day. A spot at WrestleMania 33 against Powers of Pain anyone? No? Fine.
7 Marty Jannetty: Vendetta Pro Wrestling
Once part of a great tag team with Shawn Michaels, The Rockers, Marty Jannetty went into a full blown melt down after the team broke up. The success of HBK and the failure of Jannetty is as poetic as it is troublesome. Every team that breaks up is now compared to The Rockers with one of the superstars becoming a legend while the other is making trouble outside the ring. When HBK threw Jannetty through a glass window, not only did the glass shatter to pieces, but Jannetty’s career did as well.
It has been quite the year for Jannetty outside the ring. In February, he posted his thoughts about Stephanie McMahon using his name in a segment on RAW. During WrestleMania 32 weekend, reports alleged that he was a drunken fool and getting kicked out of bars. A photo surfaced of him walking in a fountain inside the hotel lobby that same weekend. Jannetty is still booked in matches by Vendetta Pro Wrestling as of last month. Jannetty and his supporters can blame others all they want, but it’s not HBK’s fault that Jannetty has sunk this low. Everyone is responsible and should be held accountable for their actions and behaviors. We hope Jannetty can wise up and gain some positive publicity.
6 Demolition: Independent Circuit
They had all the ingredients to be fantastic heels. Mr Fuji was in their corner, the wild face paint scared the kiddies, and they looked like Mad Max characters. Yet, like we’ve seen with Stone Cold Steve Austin, the fans would embrace the heels as one of their own. As documented with the Powers of Pain, they would beat Strike Force and become Tag Team Champions in ’88. They then broke the record for longest reign in the WWE’s history at 478 days. Talk about an instant success in a new promotion.
It’s debatable that they got the biggest “pop” ever for a tag team at WrestleMania VI when they beat Haku and Andre the Giant for the tag titles. It was the end of a feud with The Heenan Family and it was the last time they would win the prestigious belts. They would never recreate that buzz about them after their departure from the WWE. Fast forward to 2016, the 68-year old Ax and 56-year old Smash are still tearing up the ring on the independent circuit. They performed for the National Wrestling Alliance Top Of Texas, Great North Wrestling, and BCW.
5 Steiner Brothers: Independent Circuit
They’re real brothers with real wrestling backgrounds, so the fact that they became instant babyface heroes is no surprise. The whole college wrestling look got over real quick and you can see shades of that gimmick in NXT’s American Alpha today. They pretty much took the tag team belts in every promotion they were in. When they decided to stay in WCW in the 90s, the company eventually broke the team up. We all know Big Poppa Punk had the more successful singles career as compared to his brother. Scott Steiner would go on to main event pay-per-views, become involved in major feuds, and become the face of the company at one point.
It also helped that he has beautiful women valet for him all the time. His mic skills were dreadful but not everyone can be a five tool player. Rick ended up being a crazy mid-card wrestler who liked to be collared and leashed. The contrast in singles careers hasn’t stopped them from working together. The Steiner Brothers lost a 3-on-3 match against The Powers of Pain and Kahagas at an American Pro Wrestling Alliance event in February. Both brothers also competed separately this year. Rick performed for Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling while Scott worked with Big Time Wrestling. Both in their mid-50s, we doubt either will stop doing what they love anytime soon.
4 Haku: New Japan
You can call him King Haku, King Tonga, or Meng, it doesn’t matter, just recognize his greatness. If you know anything about Haku, you know that he was one of the most terrifying individuals known to mankind. We don’t mean he had a terrifying gimmick that scares children, we mean one tough S.O.B. that even Andre the Giant wouldn’t mess with. According to Kevin Sullivan, Haku was involved in a bar fight when he bit a chunk out of a guy’s back. Ted DiBiase claims Haku snapped the handcuffs police put him in after a brawl ensued in a bar. Regardless of how crazy he may have been outside the ring, he put on some great matches for the WWE and was a part of some very important stables.
If the WWE exchanged titles as quick as they do now compared to the 80s, Haku would definitely have a few championship reigns. Both his sons, The Guerrillas of Destiny, work for New Japan Pro Wrestling and are the IWGP Tag Team Champions. They’re also members of The Bullet Club, so that makes Haku a part of the sweetest stable in the world. It’s only fitting that Haku would make a return to the ring for NJPW. He participated in a battle royal and a four-on-four match in January representing BC.
3 Tito Santana: Independent Circuit
His achievements in the WWE include a two-time Intercontinental Champion, the 1989 King of the Ring winner, and a two-time Tag Team Champion with both Ivan Putski and Rick Martel. When fans spoke about the Intercontinental title being the “work horse” title in the 80s and 90s, Santana is one of the reasons why that’s so. Whether it was singles or tag matches, Santana’s work rate was top notch. Many people might not know this, but he also was the ECW Heavyweight Champion before losing it to Shane Douglas. Simply put, Santana is a work horse and a legend in the business. The 63-year old wrestler has been busy in his four matches in 2016 so far.
In April, he won a 15-man battle royal hosted by the Independent Wrestling Federation. He became one-half of Pro Wrestling World-1’s Tag Team Champions, defeating the Extreme Rednecks. He also worked with East Coast Wrestling Association and BCW’s Night of Legends event. If it was up to us, we would let the Hall of Famer get one more crack at WWE’s IC championship. Outside the ring, he’s still a part of his families’ hair salon and helps troubled children in Texas.
2 Jimmy Valiant: CWA Championship Wrestling
Handsome Jimmy or The Boogie Woogie Man, it doesn’t matter how you remembered him, but the fact that he’s still wrestling in 2016 is absolutely awesome. Millennials might not recognize him, but the 73-year old was a known commodity during the territorial days. He was WWWF Tag Team Champions with Johnny Valiant and had a decent singles career with NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotion. He has won numerous singles and tag titles in multiple promotions during his time as a wrestler. His biggest feud probably came against Jerry Lawler during late 70s and early 80s.
The WWE Hall of Famer was also known for being one of the more charismatic heels in the industry, especially when most wrestlers didn’t have a pinch of charisma in them. He would rock the long bright blonde hair and wore a whole bunch of different outfits, keeping himself fresh in the public’s eye. The grandfather of six wrestled for CWA Championship Wrestling in March and for Hoosier Pro Wrestling in April, winning both contests. He’s a part a few wrestlers that can say they wrestled through five decades. You can find more information on the legend by going to jimmyvaliant.weebly.com.
1 Jerry Lawler: Independent Circuit
The younger fans may never have seen Lawler wrestle in a ring, but believe us, he was a wrestling god in the mid-south, especially Tennessee. He would help transcend the wrestling industry, especially when he feuded with comedic actor, Andy Kaufman, which many thought was a real shoot at first.
Not even a heart attack in 2012 could stop Lawler from performing in the ring. With a plethora of our favorite wrestlers passing away from a failed heart, Lawler refused to end up on that list and applied a piledriver to the Grim Reaper. The 66-year old superstar debuted in 1970 and has had an epic career revolutionizing the industry. It’s now 2016 and he’s still wrestling multiple times a year.
He has wrestled for Imperial Wrestling Revolution, Northeast Wrestling, Maryland Championship Wrestling, and CWA Championship Wrestling this past year. The King has reigned supreme in all of his bouts, defeating everyone in his path. We all know Lawler’s work with the WWE, but this year he became the owner of a wrestling-themed restaurant called King Jerry Lawler’s Hall of Fame Bar & Grille in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. What more can you want than Memphis BBQ and wrestling?