Wrestling: Lex Luger

Lawrence Pfohl (b. 1958) is one of the biggest legenstars in this — GAAAAH (*tears off shirt*) is a retired American Professional Wrestler originally from Buffalo, NY who competed from 1985 to 2005 as Lex Luger.

He debuted in Florida and was pushed hard right off the bat, defeating Chief Wahoo McDaniel for the NWA Southern (Florida) Heavyweight Title a mere 19 days into his career. He would hold the title two more times before National Wrestling Alliance promoter Jim Crockett closed down Florida. Crockett, obviously sensing drawing power in Luger, brought him up to the Carolinas, where he replaced Ole Anderson in the Four Horsemen. This lasted until Luger turned face in early 1988.

After leaving WCW in 1992, he jumped to the WWF to be part of their ill-fated World Bodybuilding Federation. After that failed, Luger debuted in WWE at the start of 1993, where he would feud with Mr. Perfect until Hulk Hogan left after losing the World Heavyweight Title to Yokozuna at King of the Ring. On July 4 on the U.S.S. Intrepid, Luger became the first person in WWE to bodyslam Yokozuna, an obvious sequel to the Hogan/Andre legend. However, Luger was never able to actually beat Yoko for the title (another victim of Vince McMahon's chronic second-guessing), and ended up in the midcard before he suddenly jumped back to WCW on the debut episode of Nitro, where he remained to the bitter end. He would make sporatic appearances in TNA and elsewhere before retiring to Crockett's old turf, Atlanta.

Lex met Miss Elizabeth during the Millionaries/New Blood storyline of 2000. Three years later, Elizabeth was found dead of a drug overdose in their Georgia home. Luger was charged with battery and drug possession; found God; suffered a spinal stroke; spent three years relearning how to walk with the help of Steve Borden. The sick part is he's one of the lucky ones.

Not to be confused with Lex Luthor, although apparently that is where he got the name.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"The Total Tropes":

  • '80s Hair: He had the MacGyver look down to a science.
  • All American Face: Bodyslamming Yoko for AMERICA! (Though it was more of a hip toss but still...)
    • WWE repackaged him as one following Hulk Hogan's departure. For his push, we got vignettes of his airbrushed bus on tour to raise awareness of patriotism.
  • Alliterative Name
  • Appropriated Appellation: An in-joke. The nickname The Total Package was a play on the fact that he didn't even know how to do a small package.
  • Arch-Enemy: Ric Flair, easily. He had many other feuds, but this was his biggest.
  • Author Avatar: Of Vince McMahon [!!] during his much-publicized steroid trial. WrestleCrap let him have it:
    Art: And I guess that meant Dr. Zahorian was like Ted DiBiase? And that it was the federal prosecutor who was actually distributing the steroids, not Vince? Okay, I guess the parallels ended there. In other words, this angle was the second-most insulting analogy for the McMahon steroid trial in history. But you’ve got to admire McMahon’s chutzpah for using Lex Luger as a symbol of his innocence on steroid charges.
  • Autobiography: 2013's Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler - His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption
  • Batter Up: Started using one in late 1999.
  • The Big Guy: As a face. Lex was terrible with a mic and had no real experience, but he was a bull and able to slam some of the bigger guys, so he made his name that way.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: As a heel.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: His late 2000-early 2001 Tag Team with Buff Bagwell was called "Totally Buff."
  • Career-Ending Injury: A spinal stroke that left him weighing around 150 lbs.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: He's been on both sides of this. At WCW Halloween Havoc 95, he and Randy Savage ran in during the Hogan-Giant match, but Luger turned on Savage. At WCW Bash at the Beach 96, during the Outsiders-Luger/Sting/Savage match, where Luger had already been taken to the back, Hogan came in ostensibly to make the save...and, of course, turned heel to launch the NWO.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: He looked like someone's lab experiment. First guy in WWE to slam Yokozuna, thus kicking off his "The All-American" gimmick. In the battle royal at WCW World War 3 96, he got THE GIANT (THE BIG SHOW) in the Torture Rack.
  • Chicago: Billed from there.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Luger's well thought out and planned interviews.
  • Collegiate American Football: For the University of Miami
  • Double Agent: He turned heel at Halloween Havoc 95 and sided with the Dungeon. However, he and Sting defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) for the WCW World Tag Team Titles on the January 22, 1996 WCW Monday Nitro, which meant that he was aligned with both a top babyface and a top heel group at the same time. WCW finally resolved this by turning Luger face in the Doomsday Cage match at UnCensored in March, because they needed him as a face due to what was coming two months later.
  • Expy/Legacy Character: "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters' original Narcissist gimmick drew many comparisons to Luger. Mark Jindrak's "Reflection of Perfection" gimmick did as well.
    • CHIKARA's Green Ant qualifies, if only for a short time. During the fan conclave for King of Trios 2011, the BDK's Jakob Hammermeier dared anyone to try to slam the group's monster Tursas. Green Ant walked out dressed the same way Luger had for the Yokozuna Bodyslam Challenge and even used the same music. Unlike Luger, Green Ant was not successful at the time at slamming Tursas. However, during Night II, Tursas interfered in the Colony (Fire Ant/Soldier Ant/Green Ant) vs. BDK (Delirious/Hammermeier/Tim Donst) match, and Green Ant slammed him and followed by making Hammermeier tap out to the Torture Rack. CHIKARA even had Green Ant ride on a bus to build up for his match with Tursas.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: As a heel. He was even billed as this at the start of his WWE run. Hell, he even provides the page photo. Skeptics felt Luger was more focused on developing his body than developing his in-ring skills, leading to this gimmick.
  • Finishing Move: The Torture Rack/The Rebel Rack (Argentine Backbreaker), Superplex, Attitude Adjustment (Piledriver), Running Forearm (as The Narcissist)
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Between 1998 until the end of WCW, he'd turned so many times that somewhere along the line he lost any semblance of personality or momentum he'd ever had.
    • He did avert this a few times, though. He was a face for the entirety of 1994 and of 1997, the latter due to his being one of the lead guys in the fight against the NWO.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: He's Cena with a mullet...or he should be. An ex-bodybuilder, he became a wrestler during a time of upheaval within the sport. His biggest flaw was probably his biggest strength: He had probably the best looking physique of any wrestler in history, but so much focus was put on the physique (Vince just liked his look, and WCW liked that Vince liked his look) that his promos were plain and his matches were lacking. That, plus politics and a host of personal issues, put an end to a once-promising career. It's unfortunate, but he will always be remembered (rightly or wrongly) as a guy who was pushed prematurely and fell short, alongside Ultimate Warrior, Diesel, Bobby Lashley, etc.
  • Improbable Weapon User: A steel plate in his forearm
  • Invincible Hero: At times. During his Florida run, the Shock Troops (Ed "The Bull" Gantner and Kareem Muhammad) attacked him in the ring with some kind of weapon, and manager Sir Oliver Humperdink said, "Maybe it was Kryptonite, you've got Superman laid out in the ring there."
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice
  • Megaton Punch: The running elbow was a devastating move which got phased out after of his face turn. Because it was ILLEGAL! Didn't you listen to The Brain? Lex had metal in that forearm from his motorcycle accident. He was cheating! /kayfabe
  • MUSCLES ARE MEANINGFUL: Seriously, just look at the picture. He gained noterierty as one of the most ripped guys in wrestling during his time, which makes up for a lot. He also torture racked the Big Show like 1000x times.
  • No True Scotsman: To this day, opinion is split within the IWC on the Total Package, as his "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" reputation shadowed him wherever he went.
    • The pitch going into Great American Bash ’91 was Luger finally gets his big blowoff after Flair cheating him with every trick known to man. Didn't happen. The Horsemen steamrolled him yet again and Flair announced he was going to drop the belt to Sting. When Jim Herd stopped playing Mister Nice Guy and told him to elevate Luger, Ric balked and was fired; in retaliation, he took the belt with him to the WWF.
    • Lex had two more title reigns in WCW before calling it quits, a most unimpressive ranking. (Of course, it didn't help that he was feuding with the nWo at the time.)
    • From Uproxx: "I’m not certain, but if you do your scrapbooking on Luger’s career, there seems to be a great sense that he wasn’t trusted, or wasn’t respected as much as someone like Sting because he thought of being a wrestler like it was any other job (ironic, because Sting himself doesn’t seem like a huge wrestling fan). The timing of his flips from WCW and WWF, Flair taking Big Gold with him to the WWF because he refused to drop it to Lex over Sting, originally joining Titan as a WBF member and not a wrestler, even early stuff like the famous cage match in Florida with Bruiser Brody where Brody just gave up in the middle of the ring and refused to cooperate with him."
  • Pec Flex: He did it a lot during his run. Hell, he's probably one of the most famous examples of this trope in professional wrestling.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Before he could wrestle, there was one tiny proviso in his contract which backfired in a big way. Since Luger had a no-compete clause, Vince figured he could just buy the World Bodybuilding Federation and bring Luger in to promote it. Luger went over like a lead balloon, and McMahon reportedly lost $15 million dollars on that company.
  • Power Stable:
  • Reading Stage Directions Out Loud: "What kind of disgusting, dippyda—despicable lack of respect does that warden Billy [whatshisname?] show?! (I'M PISSED NOW.)"
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Had to turn face after Sting suffered a knee injury trying to climb the cage to attack the Horsemen at Clash of the Champions X on February 6, 1990.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Used John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" at the start of his All-American gimmick.
  • Red Baron: 'The Total Package', though a better variation would have been 'The Complete Tool.' He dropped the 'Lex Luger' name entirely in around the turn of the millennium.
    • In WWE he was "The Narcissist" before turning face and becoming "Made in the USA."
  • Road Trip Plot: "Lex has zero mic skills, Vince. What should we do with him?" "GIVE HIM A BUS, DAMMIT!"
    • A rare case of being literally "Put On A Bus", as WWE had Luger ride around in the "Lex Express" in order to build up anticipation for his match with Yokozuna at SummerSlam 93. The bus turned up again on Nitro as the Millionare's Club's transportation, with Lex driving(!) while Vince Russo absconded with Miss Elizabeth.
    • The Lex Express wa repainted and became the DX express, then repaired, salvaged, re-repainted and became the Exotic Express!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Left WWE in 1995 to go back to WCW, surprising a lot of people.
    • Crossed with Oh, Crap when Bruiser Brody notoriously wouldn't sell for him during their cage match in Florida.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps
  • Sole Survivor: Of the All-Americansnote -The Foreign Fanaticsnote  match at Survivor Series 93.
  • Something Completely Different: For the Four Horsemen, as his considerable strength and musculature made him stand out among the rest of the group (Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and manager JJ Dillon) who were all Badass Normals.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Barry Windham has admitted in the past that he was resentful of Lex becoming WCW champ because it was Widham's turn. However, Flair leaving with the belt certainly hurt things a lot. Lex had some pretty good matches and could be a pretty good interview—sometimes. Did Luger draw? No. Was he the right guy to carry WCW? Probably no. But he was the latest one to feud with Flair, so he took the top spot by default.
    • WWF took Lex and proceeded to dismantle everything that made him interesting, because Vince was only interested in finding a new Hulk Hogan. What he failed to realize was: people didn't want a new Hulk Hogan. They wanted the original Bret Hart.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Hogan, and in the worst way. The problem with the face turn was that it was a total swerve. He just arrived in a chopper on the Intrepid and then slammed Yoko. Nobody was clamoring for Luger to take his shot. The fans already had their guy: Bret. Bret had already been screwed out of his opportunity—by Hogan. Vince, this is not rocket science.
  • Tag Team: The Allied Powers, with the British Bulldog
  • That Man Is Dead: He said this about 'Lex Luger', when he was being pushed simply as 'The Total Package'. However, he didn't act that much different.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sting