Let me just preface this by saying that I don’t know much of Luger’s work in the mid to late 1980’s. I’m aware that he was pushed as the top babyface who was constantly chasing after Ric Flair’s NWA World Championship but was never able to win the championship from him. I remember seeing how many times Luger challenged Flair for the gold and it’s amazing that someone could get that many title shots on television or pay per view and walk away with nothing.
Instead, I’m basing my opinion on Luger from when he arrived in the WWF to when WCW died in 2001. I enjoyed Luger’s original character of someone who is self absorbed and believed he was the greatest person alive. By all accounts, that may not have been a character but rather how Luger actually saw himself.
The character didn’t live up to the highest possible level. He had a feud with Mr. Perfect in early ’93 and would just float around doing nothing of note on television until July ’93 when he turned babyface by slamming Yokozuna and becoming the new, younger version of Hulk Hogan. Though, I’m sure he had the same amount of steroids in his system.
At first, the character that Luger developed wasn’t all that annoying. I take that back, it was a little annoying. Vince McMahon tried so hard to get him over as a Hogan type character, but I think by ’93 at least in the WWF, fans weren’t searching for such a character.
Luger never won the WWF World Championship from Yokozuna and never was the top babyface. I don’t care what anyone says, from the fall of 1992 to the winter of 1996, Bret Hart was the top babyface in the WWF.
Lex didn’t put on great matches during his WWF run. His match formula is to get beaten up, oversell horribly, hit a few clotheslines and win with either the Torture Rack or running forearm smash. Plus, he didn’t really have the personality to suck you into his matches.
Eventually, he formed a team with Davey Boy Smith, which probably should have amounted to something more than it did. Had Luger stayed in the WWF I think we would have seen a feud between Smith and Luger after Smith turned on Diesel in the summer of ’95.
Instead, Luger arrived in WCW on their first show and would flip flop from heel to face seemingly every six months. First, he is on Hogan’s side. Then, he wants to end Hogan. Then, he just hates Savage, but is friends with Sting while still being a heel. It was just confusing beyond belief.
Luger would settle with a babyface push by the summer of ’96 and would pin Hogan on the 100th episode of Nitro to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. That should have never happened. The only time Hogan should have dropped the belt in 1997 would have been at Starrcade ;97 and done so cleanly to Sting. However, we all know how that ended going.
Lex’s star power started to fade as he entered 1998. By the end of 1997 he had lost to Buff Bagwell seemingly every time he wrestled him. I thought perhaps these two would have formed some kind of alliance, but the decision to go with Bagwell and Scott Steiner was the better move. Yeah, WCW did something right!
Luger really started to break down physically in 1999 as he was injured for half the year, but his work was even more boring when he was healthy. He didn’t work much in 2000 until he returned in the fall and had a brief feud with Goldberg to close the year out.
He actually formed a team with Bagwell, Totally Buff, in 2001 but they weren’t pushed and lost a match in under a minute where they were pinned by Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo quickly as if to phase them out of the company.
At a time when in-ring ability wasn’t highly regarded, Luger was able to excel and make a lot of money based off his look. There is no doubt the guy had one of the best bodies in the business, he just wouldn’t wrestle to the same level. Again, maybe he had a good run in the mid to late 80’s but I’m basing this off of what I’ve seen.
I know I did a history lesson on his career with a few comments sprinkled in, but at the end of the day… Lex Luger was a mediocre wrestler at best. He had the look, just not the ability.
What is your opinion on Lex Luger? Memories of the Total Package? Feel free to share them below!
Thanks for reading.