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Daniel Bryan on 20 wrestling beards that grow on you
The beard is here! But we here at WWEClassics.com don’t want to forget the ring greats who have sported impressive facial hair throughout squared circle history.
To get the lowdown on 20 of sports-entertainment’s finest beards, we went to SummerSlam's WWE Championship challenger Daniel Bryan. No active Superstars were eligible for this list, but that didn’t stop the submission specialist from giving highly opinionated thoughts on 20 follicular, spectacular beards.
One of the most beloved Superstars of the early WrestleMania era, the jovial Hillbilly Jim stood taller than 6-foot-6 and weighed well more than 300 pounds. Facing off with his fellow behemoths like King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd, Jim always stepped it up in the ring.
BRYAN SAYS: Hillbilly Jim had a great beard. He is one of the icons of beards for the ’80s.
VERDICT: GREAT BEARD.
Mad Dog Vachon
Maurice Vachon earned the nickname “Mad Dog” early in his career for his vicious, animalistic style. In the 1960s, the sadistic Vachon became one of the most feared competitors of the AWA and shockingly defeated Verne Gage to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. Mad Dog had four additional reigns with the title, defeating legendary competitors including The Crusher and Dick the Bruiser.
BRYAN SAYS: Mad Dog Vachon had an OK beard. It was grizzly, it was nice, but he manscaped. Manscaping is bad.
VERDICT: OK BEARD.
Dubbed “The Intelligent Monster” by the Japanese wrestling press, Bruiser Brody stomped through competition wherever he went. Wanderlust led the incorrigible brawler — a tall and lean, no-frills powerhouse — to every corner of the globe in the 1970s and 1980s. Entering arenas to the cautionary howl of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” Brody, whose forehead appeared to be held together by scar tissue, struck fear in the hearts of fans and foes alike. — JOHN CLAPP
BRYAN SAYS: Bruiser Brody is one of those guys that you’d expect me to say, “He had a great beard.” But the problem was he kept it a little too well. His hair was wild and free but his beard, it was a little kept. We don’t need any manscaping here when we’re judging beards.
VERDICT: OK BEARD.
Perhaps the most recognizable personality in sports-entertainment history, Hulk Hogan’s first of six reigns as WWE Champion remains the third-longest in history. While in WCW during summer 1996, Hogan went Hollywood and betrayed legions of Hulkamaniacs when he donned the black and white of The nWo.
BRYAN SAYS: Hollywood Hogan’s is everything I hate in a beard. He’s got the dyed handlebar goatee or whatever that thing is. And then there’s the black rest of the beard that’s trimmed, manscaped and done to perfection. It’s just hideous.
VERDICT: HIDEOUS BEARD.
After splitting his WWE Hall of Fame tag team with his brother Johnny, “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant broke out on his own, traveling around the country, bringing his unique brand of soul to the squared circle. As he ditched his Hollywood ways and became a man of the people, “The Boogie Woogie Man” settled down in the Carolinas, becoming one of the most beloved stars of Jim Crockett Promotions. — BOBBY MELOK
BRYAN SAYS: Jimmy Valiant had one of the greatest beards in pro wrestling history. It is the early version of what my beard should be. The only problem with Jimmy Valiant’s beard is the dye job. Had he not dyed his beard, it would have been what Lou Thesz is to the NWA Title. Jimmy Valiant would have been that to beards, but because of the dye job, he’s not. He’s long forgotten in the list of wrestling beards.
VERDICT: GREAT BEARD.
Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
The powerful half of The Hart Foundation alongside the technical expertise of Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart earned the nickname “The Anvil” after winning a cash prize in an anvil-throwing competition. Neidhart was a former shot putter and NFL player before training with Stu Hart in Calgary, Alberta’s legendary Hart Dungeon. The Anvil’s legacy lives on with today’s roster through his daughter Natalya.
BRYAN SAYS: Horrible beard, great goatee — the length, the structure, everything. Perfect.
VERDICT: GOOD BEARD.
"The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
Though he came close on several occasions, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase never officially won the WWE Championship. DiBiase finally wrapped a title around his waist when he created his own Million Dollar Championship, and also won the World Tag Team Titles on three occasions as a member of Money Inc. with Irwin R. Schyster. In 2010, DiBiase was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and his son has had success of his own in the ring.
BRYAN SAYS: That’s manscaping at its worst. Perfectly trimmed, coiffed — what is he, some kind of French poodle?
VERDICT: HORRIBLE BEARD.
Captain Lou Albano
One of the most beloved personalities in WWE history, Captain Lou was referred to as “The Guiding Light” for his uncanny ability to lead tag teams to championship gold. That wasn’t the only uncanny aspect of Captain Lou. Often imitated, but never duplicated, his wardrobe consisted solely of Hawaiian shirts and rubber bands. The WWE Hall of Famer is also responsible for helping to usher in the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” era of the 1980s due to his friendship with Cyndi Lauper.
BRYAN SAYS: Captain Lou Albano had a glorious beard. I sang a song about Captain Lou Albano. It was called “Captain Lou.” Kimya Dawson and I sang it. It’s all about Captain Lou. And it allows you to be weird. He was a guy who was cool. He had rubber bands in his beard. Nobody did that! He allowed beards to awesome and magnificent.
VERDICT: GLORIOUS, AWESOME AND MAGNIFICENT BEARD.
Three-time WWE Champion, New York Times best-selling author and Hardcore Legend, Mick Foley went from navigating the choppy waters of Japanese Death Matches to becoming WWE’s very own lovable Santa Claus. But don’t let the red suit fool you, Mick is still as brutal and sadistic as they come when he needs to be, traits that allowed the barbed wire brawler to gain the upper hand in rivalries with Vader, The Undertaker and The Rock.
BRYAN SAYS: A glorious beard. No manscaping whatsoever, great length, lots of personality. Fantastic.
VERDICT: GLORIOUS BEARD.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Before Rey Mysterio dove off the top rope, Randy Savage was one of WWE’s first true highfliers. Savage’s extravagant style could not be matched, even during an era full of flamboyant attires and larger-than-life personalities. Sailing from the top turnbuckle with his signature elbow drop, Savage was the WWE Universe’s true superhero.
BRYAN SAYS: “Macho Man” Randy Savage had a strange beard, because it was wildly out of control, but also very kept. I don’t like the kept part, but the out-of-control part is excellent.
VERDICT: GOOD BEARD.
Emerging during the early days of the re-launched version of ECW, the bruising powerhouse known as Mike Knox was as intimidating as they come. Knox was one of CM Punk’s early rivals before the quiet monster moved to Raw and SmackDown. Unleashed from ECW, Knox manhandled the likes of Rey Mysterio and R-Truth before departing WWE.
BRYAN SAYS: Mike Knox’s beard is everything I aspire to. It is length, it is girth, it is anything anyone could want.
VERDICT: GREAT BEARD.
In 1985, veteran grappler “Dirty” Dutch Mantell took then–NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair to the limit in a Steel Cage Match, and a year later, he teamed with Jerry Lawler in an epic Tag Team Texas Death Match in Memphis, Tenn. Responsible for helping to launch the careers of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ultimate Warrior and Sting, Mantell had a stint in WWE during the mid-1990s when he managed a rookie JBL. — JOHN CLAPP
BRYAN SAYS: Dutch Mantell is a man who should have had the greatest beard in the history of beards. If you look at him, his hair, his body hair, everything about Dutch Mantell is hair. He is a hairy man. The fact that his beard did not reach epic, Mike Knox–level proportions is disgraceful.
VERDICT: DISGRACEFUL BEARD.
The “Huss! Huss!” of The Berzerker is familiar to any longtime WWE fan. Marching and pillaging his way through the early 1990s, the ring’s version of Leif Eriksson took on legendary competitors like Jimmy Snuka, The Undertaker and Bret Hart. But The Berzerker’s greatest claim to fame was his propensity for launching opponents over the top rope, a skill that made him color commentator Bobby Heenan’s pick to win the Royal Rumble Match.
BRYAN SAYS: The Berzerker had a beard that you can aspire to. All the fans out there, they can’t reach Mike Knox level, but they can get to Berzerker level. And that’s what I think all of you should aspire to.
VERDICT: GOAL BEARD.
There are few sports-entertainment icons more recognizable than WWE’s legendary Phenom. Debuting at Survivor Series 1990, The Undertaker’s career spans three decades and includes seven World Championship victories, a Royal Rumble Match win and an unfathomable 20-0 record at WrestleMania. No competitor represents everything the professional wrestling is known for more than the one and only Deadman.
BRYAN SAYS: The Undertaker had a rotten beard. He’s great in many aspects, but his beard was rotten. He shaved his upper lip. Who shaves their upper lip? That’s unmanly and unmasculine.
VERDICT: BAD BEARD.
When the former Fabulous One landed in WWE in summer 1991, Steve Keirn was Skinner, a knife-wielding, tobacco spitting alligator hunter. Known for his tremendous skill in the ring, the dangerous man from the Florida Everglades went toe-to-toe with The Undertaker on an early episode of Raw and challenged Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship.
BRYAN SAYS: Skinner had a good beard. He had the potential to have a great beard. When you look at the thickness and density of Skinner’s beard, it was fantastic. But if he would’ve let it grow, just let it hang, let it be free, it could’ve been one of the best beards in wrestling history.
VERDICT: GOOD BEARD.
Rick Steiner originally rose to fame in both WCW and WWE as half of a tag team with his brother, Scott, but broke out on his own in the late 1990s. The Dog-Faced Gremlin began wearing a collar to the ring, which was a perfect complement to his collegiate wrestling headgear. Receiving a chorus of barks whenever he’d nail his patented Steinerline lariat on an opponent, Rick was quick to exclaim, “If you don’t like me, bite me!”
BRYAN SAYS: Rick Steiner had a horrible beard. Anybody who dyes their beard, especially with a stripe down the middle, is rotten.
VERDICT: ROTTEN BEARD.
Much like his Dog-Faced Gremlin of a brother, Scott Steiner started out as a clean-cut grappler with a neon singlet and a Michigan varsity jacket. But after joining The nWo, Steiner made one of sports-entertainment’s most jarring transformations by morphing into Big Poppa Pump, a “Genetic Freak” whose biceps were as big as his mouth. Holler if you hear him.
BRYAN SAYS: Scott Steiner’s beard was worse than Rick Steiner’s beard. It wasn’t even a beard, it was a goatee. He didn’t just dye the strip, he dyed around a strip. So there was one strip that he did not dye. It was wretched.
VERDICT: NOT EVEN A BEARD.
"Superstar" Billy Graham
Well ahead of his time, “the man of the hour, the man with the power” re-imagined sports-entertainment and proudly proclaimed he was “too sweet to be sour.” Billy Graham’s bleached blond hair, feather boas, tie-dye and chiseled physique were a tremendous influence on future greats like Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan. In 1977, Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino for the WWE Championship and maintained a stronghold on the title for an astonishing 10 months.
BRYAN SAYS: “Superstar” Billy Graham’s was the essence of everything that is wrong with beards. He started the whole beards-being-bad trend. If you looked at it, it was a dyed mustache and a dyed little strip right beneath his lower lip. What kind of man does that?
VERDICT: HORRIBLE BEARD.
The Wild Samoans
Members of the legendary Anoa’i family, WWE Hall of Famers Afa and Sika followed in the footsteps of The Rock’s grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, in what has become a long tradition of sports-entertainment Samoans. After joining forces with Captain Lou Albano, the barbaric tandem won the World Tag Team Championships on three occasions, taking on teams like Bob Backlund & Pedro Morales, The Strongbow Brothers and The Soul Patrol of Tony Atlas & The Rock’s father, Rocky Johnson.
BRYAN SAYS: The Wild Samoans had amazing facial hair, especially for Samoans, because you don’t see a lot of Samoan facial hair — like, LOTS of Samoan facial hair. These guys had Samoan facial hair that was symmetrical with their actual hair. That is something to be praised and people should aspire to that.
VERDICT: AMAZING BEARDS.
Employed by WWE from 1963 until his tragic passing in 1999, it is a little-known fact that Gorilla Monsoon was actually part owner of WWE. Going from hated villain to cheered hero, Gorilla’s most defining ring moment came in 1976 when he hoisted Muhammad Ali on his shoulders and took the boxing champ for an Airplane Spin. Later in his career, Gorilla became a beloved play-by-play broadcaster alongside Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan and was eventually made WWE President.
BRYAN SAYS: Gorilla Monsoon had one of those shaved upper lips that I’ve said I hate so much. What an unmasculine, unmanly beard.
VERDICT: BAD BEARD.