Jim Ross has discussed the politics of wrestling in the World Wrestling Federation and says several members of the locker room convinced Vince McMahon to halt the rise of one of the company’s brightest stars.
Lex Luger had an NWA World Championship run to his name when he first joined the WWF in 1993 after a short stint in Vince McMahon’s ill-fated World Bodybuilding Federation. Entering the company as ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger. However, with the reign of Hulkamania coming to an end at the King Of The Ring in 1993, McMahon was on the lookout for his next All-American hero, and Luger fit the bill.
Onboard the US Navy’s USS Intrepid, Lex Luger answered the challenge to bodyslam the mighty Yokozuna who was WWF Champion at the time. A coast-to-coast tour then followed with the Lex Express hitting the highways and byways of the US so Luger could meet his adoring public. The issue was that the public never quite adored Luger the same way as some of the heroes of the past.
At SummerSlam 1993 Luger faced Yokozuna for the WWF Title in the main event and what could have been Luger’s coronation as champion. Lex Luger won the match but only by countout which meant Yokozuna retained his title. Luger’s next test came at the 1994 Royal Rumble where he and Bret Hart ended up as co-winners. As referees argued over which man’s feet hit the ground first, the crowd was definitely more vocal when Hart’s hand was raised in victory. This led to WrestleMania X where Luger and Hart would face Yokozuna in separate matches. Luger got his chance first and fell to a disqualification defeat at the hands of Mr. Perfect who was acting as special referee. Later in the night, Hart managed to unseat Yokozuna and began his reigns as WWF Champion.
This was as close as Lex Luger got to sitting at the top of the mountain in the WWF. A short-lived tag team with The British Bulldog followed before Luger shocked the world by turning up announced on the inaugural edition of WCW Nitro.
Now Jim Ross has discussed Luger’s career in the WWF on his Grilling JR podcast with co-host Conrad Thompson. Ross revealed that it wasn’t just the fans who weren’t sold on Luger as the main man in the WWF, many of Luger’s colleagues in the back weren’t sold on him either.
Jim Ross explained:
“I think there was something Conrad there that Vince had not sold himself on. There was something missing that was an intangible, as far as it didn’t have an odour, it didn’t have a feel. Just something, a gut feeling that we’re really trying hard with this guy but we don’t seem to be making a lot of headway. A lot of the guys, when they would confide with Vince in private, expressed the fact that he may not be the guy.”
Vince McMahon’s right-hand men at the time were Pat Patterson and Bruce Prichard, JR believes that their opinion carried a lot of weight with McMahon as well:
“There’s a lot of backstage stuff that goes on and things like that. But I believe that I think Vince had heard enough of Patterson, and maybe even Bruce, I don’t know, that it was time to move on from this project.”
Lex Luger’s time in the WWF came to an end in 1995 with his final match for the company occurring on a house show in New Brunswick, Canada. Luger teamed with Shawn Michaels to challenge Owen Hart and Yokozuna for the WWF Tag Team Title. Luger and Michaels won the match by disqualification meaning Hart and Yokozuna kept the title – a scenario all too familiar to Luger. The next night he debuted on Nitro rejoining the company he left in 1992.