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Wrestling / Lex Luger

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The Total Package
Lawrence Wendell Pfohl (born June 2, 1958) is a retired American professional wrestler originally from Buffalo, New York, 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 WCW, where he was x5 NWA/WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, and earned the first of his three NWA/WCW Tag Team titles (1x w/Barry Windham, 1x w/Sting and 1x w/The Giant) and the first of his two Wolrd Heavyweight titles, winding up as the second winner of WCW Triple Crown ever.

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 WWF Championship 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, beginning a feud with him over the championship. However, Luger was never able to actually beat Yokozuna for the title, 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. He would later suffer a spinal stroke in 2007, and spent three years relearning how to walk with the help of a walker.

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

"The Tropes-all Package":

  • '80s Hair: He had the MacGyver look down to a science.
  • All-American Face: WWE repackaged him as one following Hulk Hogan's departure, bodyslamming Yokozuna for AMERICA! (Though it was more of a hip toss but still...) For his push, we got vignettes of his airbrushed bus on tour to raise awareness of patriotism.
  • Alliterative Name: Lex Luger.
  • 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.
  • The Atoner: Is this nowadays. He is well aware of his less than sterling reputation and now helps the WWE in their Wellness Program. He also does a lot of interviews for the WWE Network and comes off as much more humble and down to earth as he was in his prime. He admits that when Miss Elizabeth died, he was in a dark place.
  • 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.
  • Bash Brothers: w/Barry Windham and The Stinger, both his Real Life besties.
  • Batter Up!: Started carrying a bat to beat up his opponents 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.
  • Biography: His 2013 autobiography Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler - His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: His late 2000-early 2001 Tag Team with Buff Bagwell, during the time Luger called himself "The Total Package", was called "Totally Buff."
  • Camp Straight: As The Narcissist, his promos were a tad...effeminate.
  • 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 1995, he and Randy Savage ran in during the Hogan-Giant match, but Luger turned on Savage. At WCW Bash at the Beach 1996, 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 (BIG SHOW) in his Torture Rack.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Luger's promos made him come off as this, especially the promo from which the "Billy whathisname?" and "I DON'T KNOW!" memes started.
  • Cyborg: The metal plate in his arm got exaggerated to this for WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game, which depicted him as having shapeshifting metal arms that could turn into various weapons.
  • Demoted to Extra: His status in the WWF by 1995. He noticeably went from challenging for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X in 1994 (on virtue of being the co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble, no less) to being part of the opening match at WrestleMania XI in 1995. One of the reasons he split and left for WCW.
  • Double Agent: He turned heel at Halloween Havoc 1995 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.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite making a Face–Heel Turn in 1995, Luger still remained friends with Sting. The two would even have tag matches together, including a run with the WCW tag team championship.
  • Expy:
    • "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, Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes' 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. 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. Truth in Television at the time, according to Bad News Brown.
  • Finishing Move:
    • The Torture/Rebel Rack (Argentine Backbreaker).
    • Superplex.
    • Attitude Adjustment (Piledriver).
    • And as "The Narcissist"/"Made in the U.S.A.", Jumping Forearm, either from the mat or second rope.
  • 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 from 1997-1998, the latter due to his being one of the lead guys in the fight against the nWo, and joining the Wolfpac after they'd turned face.
  • Hidden Depths: According to Jim Cornette Luger's perceived attitude problems were blown out of proportion. He never meant to be arrogant or disrespectful, he was just oblivious or uninterested in all the pro wrestling business quirks.
    • Ric Flair had similar sentiments, saying that Luger was just very introverted and had no idea how arrogant he came off as. If you sat and talked to him he was actually a nice thoughtful guy.
  • Instrument of Murder:
    • A steel plate in his forearm.
    • The Louisville slugger he carried for a while (See above).
    • His hairspray, a maneuver borrowed from The Fabulous Freebirds and Rick Martel. For some reason it acted more like a can of Mace.
  • 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."
  • Jerkass: Was a very effective heel in his prime because his naturally arrogant personality shone through. He was much less convincing as a face.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Not a prominent example, but still.
  • Meaningful Name: Luger is the name of one of the most well-developed handguns in history. The man himself admitted on the A&E Biographies episode about him that he indeed took the name from the pistol, and from then on took the "Lex" from Lex Luthor. ("Lex Lu-thor", "Lex Lu-ger"...) It's worth noting that one immigrant population in the U.S. that has never being well-represented ever, and ironically is the biggest in number, are the Germans. Since Poles,note  Italians, and Puerto Ricans have being graced with a character of Superhero proportions in WWE (Lawrence Pfohl being, indeed, of German ancestry).
  • Megaton Punch: His Jumping Forearm was a devastating move which got phased out after of his face turn and declared illegal because, in storyline, Luger had a metal plate in that forearm from his motorcycle accident.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Oh, yes. Seriously, just look at the picture. He gained notoriety as one of the most ripped guys in wrestling during his time, which makes up for a lot. He also torture-racked The Giant like a thousand times.
  • Odd Friendship: With Sting. (in Kayfabe) Considering that Luger was frequently a heel and pre-Crow Stinger was THE All-American Face. He would even side with his friend against other heels while still a heel himself.
  • 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 the Stage Directions Out Loud: In the "NWA Cyberspace T-shirt" promo. "What kind of disgusting, dippyda—despicable lack of respect does that warden Billy [whatshisname?] show?! (I'M PISSED NOW.)" Poor Lex looks so lost in that promo. Apparently, he "stormed off" into a locked door. And the interviewer is struggling to hold it together.
  • Red Baron:
    • In WCW, "The Total Package." 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: 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.
  • Signature Move: For one, a Gorilla Press Slam. And he really had this thing for counter a Hammerlock with another by taking a back step, thus passing under his opponent's armpit.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: As "The Total Package."
  • Sole Survivor: Of the All-Americansnote -The Foreign Fanaticsnote  match at Survivor Series 93.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff as heel in WWF.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Hogan, after The Hulkster left WWF, being given an All-American Face gimmick to feud with Yokozuna.
  • Tag Team:
    • (in WCW):
      • 3 times World Champion as stated earlier w/ Barry Windham, Sting and The Giant.
      • His Six Man Team w/Sting and Macho Man.
    • (in WWF):
  • 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.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: It were his eyes, and not The Hulkster's ones, those that "lusted" Elizabeth.(!!!) Although Randy Savage stated time and again he never had a beef on him for that, fandom never forgave him. Bonus points if we count he was already married by the time their relationship started.
  • This Means Warpaint: For a brief time for his Six man Tag Team match on Bash at the Beach '96.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sting. Luger has (repeatedly!) turned on Sting and it never seemed to last very long before they were buddies again.
  • Villain Team-Up: "The Alliance to End Hulkamania."