What If is a column by Walter Yeates that ponders how much success a wrestler from the past would have if they were in their prime in today’s wrestling industry. The previous column on Manami Toyota can be found here.
Lex Luger has been famously known by his moniker “The Total Package” since 1987 when he was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). While his legacy is tainted by domestic abuse and the untimely death of Miss Elizabeth the following month between April – May 2003. Luger has publicly denied the abuse allegations and has detailed his side concerning Miss Elizabeth’s death.
Wrestling fans either love or hate Luger. Those who grew up as fans during Luger’s time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) are typically more critical of Luger as a wrestler. During his career Luger was NWA World Tag Team Champion, 2x WCW World Tag Team Champion, 2x WCW World Television Champion, 2x WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, 4x NWA United States Heavyweight Champion, and 2x WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
In his prime Luger wasn’t world-class in the ring, but could hold his own given the right opponent. However, he was known more for his physique than his ability within the ring.
How would that translate over to the modern age of professional wrestling? What if Luger was in his prime right now?
This is an interesting thought, Luger may not be able to get over with crowds around the world that are more becoming more invested with the in-ring product than physiques. Since 2012 and the rise of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as an international company, wrestling fans have shown a steady move towards promotions that put more of an emphasis on athletic competition than theatrics.
Luger could be a top figure in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), but it’s difficult to see him translating over towards NJPW. Companies need more depth in drawing positions like NWA and Ring Of Honor (ROH) — might fit for Luger — especially the former as they maintain the same style Luger was able to thrive under.
Outside of the box thinking could lead Luger into becoming a draw for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). If he could adapt to the Lucha Libre style CMLL presents, he would stand out for his size and physique. He would likely not fit in with Lucha Libre AAA (AAA) and it would be questionable if he could make a mark in All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Imagining Luger in his prime right now is difficult, but due to WWE’s continued fascination with physique and size — it’s projectable that he would have a long-term home in the promotion.