wrestling / Columns

Top 7 Wrestling Cowboys

February 3, 2020 | Posted by Steve Cook
Terry Funk World Championship Wrestling 6-24-1989 Image Credit: WWE

I’ve never been much of a style connoisseur. However, I can tell you that cowboys are back in fashion in pro wrestling! This is largely due to the recent exploits of one of All Elite Wrestling’s top young stars. After a bit of a false start, “Hangman” Adam Page is starting to find his niche. He won the AEW Tag Team Championship with Kenny Omega and had one of the best championship celebrations in recent memory.

Cowboy stuff is becoming a thing in AEW. It’s been a thing in wrestling nearly since the beginning. I thought now would be as good a time as any to look at the seven most magnificent cowboys. There’s no lack of competition!

7. “Cowboy” Bob Ellis

I don’t know if Ellis was the first cowboy in wrestling, but he was early in the role and one of the few legitimate cowboys in the business. Dude raced horses! He’s also known for being the first person to reverse the figure four leglock, which was actually a pretty big deal back in the days before Ric Flair got it reversed on him every match. When he retired, he went home to his ranch. All cowboys should retire to their ranch when they’re done.

6. “Tennessee Cowboy” James Storm

Being that Page doesn’t hail from a traditional cowboy outpost, somebody like James Storm should give him a lot of inspiration. You won’t find too many cowboys in Tennessee, but you will find plenty of people wearing cowboy hats and trying to get into country music. I don’t remember Storm trying to do much singing over the years, but he was your general Tennessee type cowboy otherwise. He definitely had the drinking part covered.

5. “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr.

Bob wasn’t just a second-generation wrestler, he was also a second-generation cowboy, as his father worked in the WWWF as “Cowboy” Rocky Fitzpatrick. Orton would be higher on the list if the cowboy persona wasn’t like the third most important part of his gimmick. The cast on his arm, status as Roddy Piper’s “Ace” & being Randy Orton’s father all trump the whole Cowboy business.

4. “Cowboy” Bill Watts

Watts admitted years later that he wasn’t actually a cowboy. He didn’t know nothing about tending to cattle, or living on a ranch. He shot promos at his future business partner Leroy McGuirk’s ranch & claimed it to be his own. It worked, people were still calling him a cowboy when he was running WCW in the 1990s. He certainly had the personality of a cowboy down to a T.

3. The Blackjacks

What’s better than one cowboy? Two cowboys! Lanza started out in the AWA during the 1960s as part of Bobby Heenan’s family, and was joined in the 1970s by another Blackjack. The two men became known for their classic cowboy look. Black hats. Black tights. Black vests. Black chaps. Black gloves. Black hair. Black mustaches. If you look up the word “cowboy” in the dictionary, Lanza & Mulligan’s pictures ought to be next to it.

2. Terry Funk

Funk had many different personas during his lengthy career. During the mid-1980s, he entered the WWF as a renegade cowboy type, complete with cowboy hat, chaps & branding iron. There was one memorable incident where he hog-tied a ring announcer. He left the brand of the Double Cross Ranch on too many wrestlers to count.

1. Stan “The Lariat” Hansen

There was no better representation of the cowboy lifestyle than the bad man from Borger, Texas. He had nine kids & a fat wife (neither of these things are actually true to the best of my knowledge), and he had to beat people up to keep his family fed. Hansen found that the best place to do that was in the Land of the Rising Sun. Japanese fans loved to hate Hansen, and loved to love him later on. His persona would have fit right in a Western movie, which would have been among the ways Japanese people related to America.

You know, like how we relate to Japan through Godzilla movies.

Hansen was like a Godzilla in the ring, tearing through everything in his path without remorse. He became infamous in the WWWF after breaking Bruno Sammartino’s neck. He was a 4-time All Japan Triple Crown Champion. His one reign as AWA Champion ended with Hansen running over the belt with his pickup truck. I’m not sure wrestling cowboys could act like Stan Hansen today if they wanted to.