For those of us who grew up watching wrestling, and even for those who did not, the community of characters that emerged almost all became iconic in and outside of the ring. One of them became a governor of a major U.S. state, many dabbled with acting, and all of them generally just left their mark on pop culture. In some cases, for better or for worse.
They've pretty much all reached the limits as far as buffness is concerned, and whether or not injections were involved almost doesn't even matter in this sport. Because, as we all know... *spoiler alert* wrestling actually isn't exactly real. But I think we can all agree that it's incredibly real where it counts... in our hearts.
Anyway, here are the most iconic wrestlers, then and now...
12. 'Hollywood Hulk' Hogan
Wow, this dude had a pretty brutal fall from grace. He was recently outed as a racist, dropping the N-bomb while referring to the guy his daughter Brooke was dating. Sad. His legendary status is currently pending, whether he somehow does something to pick himself up out of the doghouse being the only thing holding him back. Many racist people have changed their ways for the better, so hopefully Hulk can do the same.
11. Jesse 'The Body' Ventura
Jesse Ventura came into the game as a wrestler, nicknamed 'The Body.' He was definitely muscular enough to be in the ranks of the top wrestlers back in his day. He remained that buff as he stepped into a political career, but polished up his image a bit to lead the state of Minnesota. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't a wrestler, but I would venture to say that Ventura's campaign helped Arnie get the California governor gig once we realized a jacked celeb can run a major state in this country. Trailblazer, indeed.
10. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
Having one of the coolest names in all of wrestling, and some of the best most iconic moves the sport has ever seen, it is truly sad to have witnessed his early passing back in 2011. Fun fact: He appeared in Spider-Man back in 2002 as Bone Saw McGraw and did a pretty good job!
Check him out in action as Bone Saw McGraw in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man:
9. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper
My condolences to Roddy's family at this time, as we're still somewhat fresh off the passing of a really great guy. Interestingly enough, immediately following his passing (by having a blood clot in his lungs) Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34 second knockout to the man. She even took his nickname, 'Rowdy,' and was given his blessing before he died.
8. 'The Honky Tonk Man' Wayne Farris
A bigger-than-average Elvis impersonator, The Honky Tonk Man was one of the more eccentric characters from wrestling, period. Ever. And that is saying a whole lot. The guy was born in Tennessee, and of course he was. It makes perfect sense.
7. 'The Undertaker' Mark Calaway
The Undertaker is 6'10" and an absolute beast. Also, the dude is 50 and I swear I turned on wrestling the other day and saw him still going at it! He refuses to quit. I remember him being incredibly unfair in the Super Nintendo video game that I had back in the '90s. The Tombstone is my favorite wrestling move of all time, so he'll go down in history for that.
6. André 'The Giant' Roussimof
His role in The Princess Bride was perfect. A Frenchman, André the Giant stood extremely tall at 7'4". He was a lumbering brutish behemoth who could have potentially played Hagrid from Harry Potter if the timing had worked out. He was born in France, and passed there, in Paris in 1993. R.I.P.
5. Booker T
I can't say much about Booker T that this video can't express much, much better...
What a dude. Plus, any time you get the cosign from Shaq, you're golden.
4. Lex Luger
This former football player trained with Hiro Matsuda, and was known as a slight "narcissist" in the game back in the day. Sadly, in a freak accident, he was paralyzed from the neck down. Here's what he had to say about it:
"I was in a hospital in Stanford, Calif., where they ran every test on my heart and brain. They told me that I was a healthy 49-year-old, though I‘d be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of my life and need 24-hour medical care. But my recovery has been just phenomenal. Now I live on my own, I'm walking and I'm thankful for that. Nobody knows if I'll make a 100-percent recovery, but I've gotten so much back already … more than anybody would ever have thought."
3. 'Diamond' Dallas Page
Much love and respect to DDP and his new wife Brenda Nair who he married in Cancun, Mexico super recently. DDP has been acting in small budget films, and he's also a fitness guru... specifically, he's been working on DDP Yoga, which sounds unbelievably awesome.
2. Ric Flair
Ric Flair is one of the original greats. Everything about him was flashy and annoying to me, but you had to love his style. He gets mentioned a lot in pop culture and hip-hop as he's truly iconic. He's currently 66 years old and still has a 'Legends Contract' with the WWE.
1. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
Of course, you have no choice but to round off this list with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. I've said it before, and I will undoubtedly say it many more times in the future: The man can do no wrong. How can you not love The Rock? I had to include him on this list strictly out of respect, but hey... we all already knew what he was up to. Crushing skulls and cashing million dollar checks.