COMMENTARY | In 2013, the recipe for success as a professional wrestler is much different than it was decades ago.
Most of today's top wrestlers have a combination of mic skills, athleticism, good looks, and little body fat. The need to be a legitimate tough guy with oversized muscles and the endurance to wrestle hour-long matches ranks much further down the list of job requirements today than decades ago. Still, a handful of top stars in 2013 would have succeeded in the past just as they have today.
Take a closer look at 10 active wrestlers who would have succeeded in the past.
One thing that hasn't changed is that promoters still give great amateur wrestlers a shot. In the past, Verne Gagne was an Olympic alternate and Danny Hodge was a Silver Medalist in the 1956 Summer Olympics. As a Gold Medalist, every promoter would have fought to sign Kurt Angle. And he would have been outstanding as a pro.
Andre the Giant was such a huge star that he transcended the industry. Championships were almost beneath Andre in his prime because everyone knew he could squash everyone he faced. With the size of Andre and much better mic skills, Big Show would have been dominant in the past because bookers had large wrestlers win to protect kayfabe.
Antonio Cesaro certainly possesses the technical skills of the legends of the past. And as a foreign wrestler, promoters could have easily packaged him as a heel. However, he lacks the size of many of the older legends. But I could see Cesaro being an outstanding tag team wrestler, in the same vein as the Fabulous Kangaroos were.
If any pro wrestling detractors ever had the notion that Brock Lesnar was not a legitimate tough guy, those thoughts were put to rest when he became a UFC Heavyweight Champion. I'm sure if any of the old shooters had tested Lesnar's mettle, he would have fared just fine. He also would have fit right in with his huge size and poor mic skills.
William Regal possesses a skill set that would have made him a superstar in another era. Like another famous British wrestler, Billy Robinson, Regal has good size and he can utilize a variety of different styles. Robinson's only fault was that he wrestled in the AWA at a time when Verne Gagne wouldn't put the belt on anyone else.
Samoa Joe is such a talented wrestler that he works for a top promotion (TNA) despite not being in great shape. But many legends, such as Dusty Rhodes, Abdullah the Butcher, and Haystacks Calhoun were even more overweight than Joe is. Samoa Joe can wrestle, fight, and portray his character, which is all that mattered in the past.
I don't know if AJ Styles would have been a World Heavyweight Champion in the past. But his southern accent would have made him a huge star in the old territory system. Today, Styles is arguably the greatest TNA wrestler in history. AJ Styles' repertoire of outstanding moves would have also earned him the respect of older promoters.
Basically, Jack Swagger is Kurt Angle without a Gold Medal or mic skills. However, Swagger is an outstanding worker whose skills would have been appreciated by fans decades ago much more than they are today. Swagger is one of the few wrestlers who has a manager today, but he would not have stood out for that reason in the past.
I doubt any older promoters would have packaged Mark Callaway with The Undertaker gimmick. Over-the-top wrestling characters were rare in the past. However, Callaway has great size and balance, which certainly would have impressed older wrestling fans. If not as The Undertaker, Callaway would have portrayed any character well.
Rob Van Dam
With his unique style, RVD would have been a huge hit with older fans. A match with RVD would have been a different spectacle than anything else on the card. I don't know if other wrestlers would have been too excited about RVD making them look bad, though. This could have hurt his chances of becoming World Champion in another era.
Bonus pick: Natalya
Although male pro wrestling is different today than it was in the past, female pro wrestling is almost unrecognizable compared to when The Fabulous Moolah was in her prime. The current female wrestler most likely to succeed in the past would be Natalya. Her size, strength, ability, and good looks would have made her a huge star in Moolah's era.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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