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The Epitaph: Aristocrats from Above
by Marcus Madison on 2001-09-23

This weeks edition of the epitaph is a look at how high flyers have revolutionized over the years and where it is headed. This retrospective look at the aristocrats of the air will give fans an opportunity to see how the smaller athlete has evolved over time. Professional wrestling has marveled at the talent of these gravity and death defining athletes. They combine speed, skill and the ability to fly higher than any bird or plane.


The first of these athletes is my childhood hero Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Steamboat, used his ability to fly in a variety of ways. Whether it was a dropkick, a cross body block or a chop off the top rope Steamboat was able to take down several opponents. As many may remember from my "eyes of the dragon" column, Ricky Steamboat revolutionized high flying maneuvers along with his martial arts skills. He is long remembered for his feuds with Ric Flair, and Don Murocco but it was his feud with Randy Savage that defined the rules of gravity. Their feud combined speed, revenge and arguably one of the best matches of all time. The match Wrestle Mania 3, the battle was over the Intercontinental Championship at the time. This contest saw both men throw everything they had in the arsenal. The match saw both men use their signature maneuvers along with a few others to get the better of each other. The double axe handle from the top rope and, the chop from the top rope were two moves that made there way into this match. In the end Steamboat prevailed and will forever be an aristocrat of the air.

THE ORIGINAL MADNESS...Ohhhhhhh Yeahhhhh!!!!!!!

The second athlete that helped define wrestling in the 80's was Randy "Macho Man" Savage. The difference between Savage and many of this time during this period was that he was VIOLENT. He combined his maneuvers with speed, and technique. Today he is not as familiar for doing these maneuvers. One particular maneuver that I miss seeing was when he would run across the ring holding his opponents hair as he leaps over the top rope to the floor, thus causing his opponents throat to be dropped across the top rope. Do some of you wrestling fans remember what I am referring to? During this time his signature maneuvers were the "double axe-handle from the top rope to the floor" and the "flying elbow drop from the top rope" onto his fallen opponent. He is most recognized for his feud with Hulk Hogan, George Steele, Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair. Randy Savage has consistently been a major player in the wrestling industry and his career and character were as colorful his ariel skills. The Macho Man now inducted as an aristocrat of the air.


The next recipient is Tommy Billington better known as "The Dynamite Kid". He was a multiple tag team champion as one half of the legendary tag team the "British Bulldogs". His lighting light speed, and revolutionary maneuvers were what many wrestlers today have been influenced by. Several maneuvers such as his tope rope superplex, diving head butt from the tope rope and his catapulted head butt via a gorilla press from his partner Davey Boy Smith were what he was always recognized for. He and Davey Boy are remembered for their feuds with such teams as the Hart Foundation, Brutus Beefcake and Greg "the Hammer" Valentine and the Rougeau brothers. Although he is not competing today, Tommy Billington he will always be mentioned as a role model for wrestlers today around the world. The Dynamite Kid, now inducted a an aristocrat of the air.


The next wrestler to be recognized as a major influence on several wrestlers today was Jimmy "Super fly" Snuka. He has had several feuds during his career but none had left it's mark like the feud he had with Don Murocco. In fact one move in particular at one time in particular is what I believe has made him a legend in the sport today. Mick Foley, has often said when Jimmy Snuka leaped off the top of a fifteen foot high steel cage onto the fallen Murocco that moment in time played a major part in his decision to become a pro wrestler. His character was reminiscent of the "Tarzan" character. He was the jungle man with superb speed, and his top rope splash is often immolated by several athletes today. In my eyes Jimmy Snuka was a major talent and accomplishments could never be duplicated and I am fortunate for having watching him. Jimmy "Super fly" Snuka, will now and forever more be dubbed an aristocrat of the air.


I would be hard pressed if I did not include this legendary athlete. The late Owen Hart during the eighties added gymnastics along with a high impact ariel attack in every match. He was a former European, Intercontinental, and tag team champion(along side, his brother in law Davey Boy Smith, Yokozuna and Jeff Jarrett, I believe)in the company. Wrestling fans will recall his long standing feud with his brother Brett which allowed both of these fine athletes to showcase not only their superb skills but to be innovative and creative in how they attempted their moves as well. Owen had one of the most devastating dropkicks from both the ground and at the top rope of anyone during his career. He also will be remembered for his feud with Shawn Michaels where he was credited for "taking Shawn" out with the "Insagouri". Owen Hart will forever be etched in my memory as an aristocrat of the air.

This concludes part one of my look at the high fliers in the sport during the eighties, and the role models for some of today's top talent. This is not to say that honorable mention must be made to the Fantastics, Rock n'Roll Express and Marty Jannetty who were as significant at this time as well. Check back in soon for part two when I will look at the nineties and how Rey Mysterio, Jushin Leger, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michaels among others who were major players in this decade.

Marcus Madison...Can you read through the madness?

You to can read through the madness. Check out Marcus Madison every week on Joltin Joe's Wrestling line at (416)350-3000 ext 2049. Long Distance charges may apply.

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