wrestling / Columns

The Mount Rushmore Of Wrestlers Who Succeeded on Charisma Alone

March 2, 2020 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Goldberg WWE WCW


Wrestlers Who Became A Success On Charisma Alone

Greeings, good people.

Remember, Mt. Rushmore isn’t just a basic list that’s based on simply on quality or lack-thereof. It’s a matter of magnitude, importance, influence, and quality. So, give that a thought before you yell at your boy. Then feel free to yell.

I got the idea for this one from a reader, but I can no longer find the comment in which they suggested it. So, to whomever it was, please identify yourself in the comments so I can give you your due. Thanks for the idea.


Why He’s On The Mountain: It’s Dusty Rhodes. The world’s third most recognizable athlete. A guy who breathed rare-air in the world of professional wrestling, as he got to the absolute tippy-top of the business, just about everywhere he went. I mean, on paper, if I said there was an over-weight white guy with a massive lisp who talked jive who was soon to be one of the most over-athletes of all time, you’d think I was crazy. However, he did just that. From Florida, to New York, to the Carolinas, Dusty was King of’em all. However, his greatest contribution to the wrestling world was behind the curtain, as the style and lessons he learned from Eddie Graham in Florida, he took to the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-80s, where over the course of multiple years he lead them to their highest grossing and most successful years.
Unfortunately, after years and years of being an over-the-top success, one’s ego can tend to get a bit large, and work against the very success it helped you build. As the years went on, Dusty’s booking was no longer working out, as he constantly made himself the bad-ass, held down others, and reused the same ideas over and over. It all came to a head in the late 80’s when defying the wishes of the higher-ups, Dusty bled on national TV and was promptly fired. It was then he’d go to the WWE, where many thought he was doomed to fail as “The Common Man”. However, no matter what he was saddled with, whether it a rib or not, Dusty made it work and as he said “went to the pay windah”, because his charisma wasn’t going to be stopped for nothing,.

Dusty Rhodes vs The Macho King Randy Savage – SummerSlam 1990
Before the match gets underway, Ted DiBiase comes out to show Dusty that Sapphire has been bought, as she comes out in a dress, fur coat, diamonds, and a bag of cash. I bet in real life Rhodes was over the damn moon about this change. He tries to chase them down, and as a result, Macho jumps him from behind and throws him into the ring, pummeling him until Rhodes makes a come-back. However, Sherri distracts the ref as Macho smashes Dusty with a loaded purse for the 3 count. Shit, I was not expecting that to be nearly as quick as it was. I wonder why it was done that way. Not much to say about this one.
Macho King wins with the 3 count after smashing Dusty with a loaded purse at 2:15 | *


Why He’s On The Mountain: Roddy Piper wrote the book on heel work in 1984/85. He wasn’t a chicken shit heel. He was a bad-ass. He was a bad-ass with a mouth who was quite before his time, because if the crowd in ’85 was like the crowds of today, Piper would have been cheered like a motherfucker. After his massive heel run in ’85 and portions of ’86, Piper went baby-face legend and never looked back. He would drop in and out, and be over as ever each time. In his prime, Piper was as over as any of his counterparts, and with the exception of Hogan, more over than the rest of them. He’s had feuds with the biggest names this business has ever known, a career that spans 5 decades, and he’s one of the most revolutionary and mimicked wrestlers of all time.
All that, and Piper isn’t much of a worker. He never talked about having a “match”, to Piper it was always a “fight”, and it showed. I mean, other than his dog collar match with the Hammer, and his 5 star classic with Bret, can anyone name a classic Rowdy match in terms of a technical sense? No. Because he wasn’t the Steamboat type, he was smash mouth and ugly when he got into the ring, but it never mattered much.

Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan – Starrcade, 1996
Geez, even Hogan’s mannerisms before the match made it look like a title match. Piper’s in great shape. Hogan cracks me up in this match “Watch him on the break! I don’t trust him!”. Brilliant shit. The crowd is super hot for this. I mean, people not only popped, but LEPT TO THEIR FEET for an eye-poke. It’s funny, everyone back then talked about how over-the-hill these guys were, talked about being too old, yet these days everyone is super stoked for Orton vs Edge, when Orton has been on top for almost 20 years, and Edge goes back to the freaking 90s. Funny how we view things these days. Piper gets a leather belt and whips Hogan, but blows his momentum by chasing after DiBiase who grabbed his foot. Hogan attempts the leg drop, only for Piper to move out of the way, then he does his taunt from WCW vs nWo World Tour. At this point the Giant comes in, and puts Rowdy up for a chokeslam. But then a fan hits the ring, so the ref & Hogan have to take care of it, meanwhile, the Giant is just holding Rowdy up….holding Rowdy up….holding Rowdy up, it’s hilarious. Finally, the fan is taken care of, so Hogan can get back to the match. He gets near the Giant, who’s been holding Rowdy up for about 30 minutes, when Rowdy kicks Hogan, then bites The Giant, boots him out of the ring, and slaps the sleeper on Hulk for the win. The best part was the look on Randy Anderson’s face, selling the shock that someone just won with a freaking sleeper.
The match isn’t amazing, as it’s pretty much punch & kick, but it’s still fun, at least I think so. Hogan is great here, as he’s in the prime of his Hollywood Hogan run, and Piper has always been great at making every piece of offense he ever gets hit with the equal of an A-Bomb. I don’t care about Piper not winning the strap, but they definitely should have made that clear.
Piper wins with the sleeper at 15:27 | **1/2


Why He’s On The Mountain: Usually with every Mt. Rushmore article I tend to have an entry where I feel no explanation is needed, this is that case. Bill Goldberg’s first year in pro-wrestling can be described no less than a phenomenal miracle. A perfect storm of right place, right time, right look, and right booking. He was only ever over for about 6-9 months before he completely dropped off, but during that time he was about as hot as anyone else in the sport has been.

Raven [C] vs Goldberg – United States Heavyweight Championship – Monday Nitro, April 20th, 1998
Goldberg at this point was like Austin in late ’97 early ’98, where he’s become over in an organic way, and everyone just loves the fuck out of him before becoming over-exposed or booked badly. I mean, the crowd is on fire. Raven works him over, but it doesn’t last for long, as Goldberg starts to make a come back, and then clears the ring of Flock members, as the crowd loses their goddamn minds. I mean, they’re literally jumping up and down. He hits the spear and the Jackhammer on Raven for the 3 count, and the crowd goes insane. I honestly believe they were more hype for this than when he won the world title. This was pretty much a perfect Goldberg match.
Goldberg wins with the Jackhammer at 8:47 | ***


Why He’s On The Mountain: It may be a bit of cheating to include a tag-team here, but oh well, I felt they suited this list perfectly. On the mountain instead of 5 heads, we’ll just split one head and have half be Hawk’s and half be Animal’s. Now, that said, these guys were essentially the tag-team version of Goldberg. They were massive, and intense. Combined with a unique and awesome look, as well as a pretty damn good promo, especially Hawk, the Road Warriors had no other option than to make it to the absolute peak of the wrestling world, on multiple occasions no less. On top of that they had a slew of imitators, most of which never saw 1/100th of the success of the LOD, because there are just somethings you can’t teach, and those things are how certain people make it to the top.
Much like Goldberg, you didn’t wanna see these guys go to a 60 minute draw. Very much the opposite. Their allure was break-neck speed, smash-mouth style, and all power. They were innovators in every sense of the word, and easily one of the greatest tag-teams of all time, and I’d dare say the most successful.

The Road Warriors vs The Midnight Express – Scaffold Match – Starrcade 1986
Goddamn, I love me some Corny. Bobby is about to climb up, and Cornette is holding onto his leg for dear life and begging him not to go. I love it. Holy crap, this scaffold looks like the most ratchet, rinky-dink set up ever. I’d be afraid to breathe wrong. The Midnight take a beating for a second at first, but then both throw powder into the eyes of the Road Warriors, giving them the advantage for a minute. They trade some shots, a few attempts to throw each other off, and this is how it goes for a while before both members of the Express fall off as they’re hanging from the bottom of the scaffold. Afterward, Cornette tries to clobber Ellering, but he catches the racket and they chase him up the scaffold where he also takes the dive, and blows out his knee in the process. This isn’t a match you go to for quality, it’s purely an attraction, and it sure as hell attracted the people.
The Road Warriors win via tossing the ME off the scaffolding at 7:00 | **

Thanks for reading, ya’ll. And as a parting gift, Maria in NJPW….


Any questions, comments, drunk-ramblings, feel free to send them my way, I always dig hearing from you, the beautiful people.

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