Jim Ross has discussed the WWF career of Lex Luger and pinpointed the moment he says when the former WCW World Champion began to flounder in the company.
Luger joined the WWF after a stint in the ill-fated World Bodybuilding Federation in 1993. The former WCW star debuted at the 1993 Royal Rumble as ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger with Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan and an array of mirrors by his side. By July of that year Luger was in for a major character shift as he turned into the company’s new All-American hero by slamming Yokozuna on a naval warship on July 4th.
A Lex Express tour followed with a bus taking Luger around the US to meet his now-adoring public. A SummerSlam main event followed for Lex Luger where he would go one-on-one with Yokozuna for his chance to become WWF Champion. Luger won the match and was joined by the other heroes of the WWF locker room to celebrate his win. However, the celebration may have been a tad overblown as Luger had only been able to win by count-out leaving the mighty Yokozuna still WWF Champion. This would be the closest Lex Luger ever got to the main prize in the company.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross discussed Luger’s time in WWF and explains where it all started to go wrong for the Total Package. Co-host Conrad Thompson brought up Luger’s position in a WWF Title match at WrestleMania X where he again failed to capture the title. Thompson then said after that run it felt like Luger was simply going through the motions in the WWF.
Jim Ross responded:
“Well for a lack of a better expression, probably. Going through the motions also signifies to me that somebody is not putting out any effort. Not doing anything extra to get over. I’m not so sure it was that extreme but for simplicities sake, Lex could read the handwriting on the wall. His goal to be the champion was sh*t on in Chicago at SummerSlam. You tell this beautiful story, you get there and there’s no climax. There was no payoff and the fans felt let down and they felt ‘Well he’s not our guy.'”
“Then you try to salvage all that again, revisit it again at the Royal Rumble. Rethink it again. We said earlier the idea would have been interesting, we don’t know how it would have worked out but it would have been interesting to see if Lex had beat Yokozuna at SummerSlam. You could have done it just as easily as said ‘You can lose [the title] by disqualification’ because he had [Jim] Cornette out there, Mr. Fuji and all the cast of thousands. Count outs count the same as a pinfall – we’ve seen those matches. So Yoko could have done the same thing, take a big old bump, didn’t make it back in the ring, and Luger wins the title by count-out. That could have happened, would it have been ideal? Not really. […] I think Vince had heard enough from [Pat] Patterson and maybe even Bruce [Prichard] that it was time to move on from this project, it just wasn’t gonna work.”
Jim Ross also discussed his views on the steroid trial Vince McMahon went through in 1994 and if the impending day in court had anything to do with Luger’s lack of main event success in the company.