64. BARRY WINDHAM
Aliases – The Stalker; The Widow Maker; Blackjack Windham; Blackjack Mulligan Jr.
Hometown – Sweetwater, Texas
Debut – 1981
Titles Held – NWA Heavyweight; WCW Television; NWA Tag Team; NWA United States Tag Team; TCW Heavyweight; WWF Tag Team
Other Accomplishments – former Horseman; Wrestling
Observer’s Rookie of the Year in 1980; PWI Most Improved Wrestler of the Year award in 1982; PWI ranked him #14 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the year in the PWI 500 in 1991; PWI ranked him # 35 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the “PWI Years” in 2003; PWI ranked him #48 of the 100 best tag teams of the “PWI Years” with Mike Rotunda; PWI ranked him # 87 of the 100 best tag teams of the “PWI Years” with Dustin Rhodes; PWI ranked him # 90 of the 100 best tag teams of the “PWI Years” with Lex Luger; Wrestling Observer Rookie Of The Year 1980; Match Of The Year 1986 (With Ric Flair)
When I think of Barry Windham I think of his classic Five Star outing with Ric Flair from 1987 and his excellent matches as a partner of Dustin Rhodes in 1992. Whether as a singles performer or half of a tag team Barry Windham has always been one of the greatest wrestlers in history.
Windham ranks very highly in my list of favourite wrestlers because of his tremendous speed and technical prowess. An athlete’s athlete in his prime, Windham could wrestler for 10 minutes or an hour depending on his opponent and always had the ability to pull a weaker opponent up to his level. Windham is one of the few wrestlers to have been a major star in both the WWF and NWA during the big wrestling boom of the 1980’s, having reigns with both the WWF and NWA tag team championships within the space of a few years, and also one of the honoured few to have had his name in the lineage of the NWA Heavyweight Championship.
Windham’s run in the WWF in the mid 80’s was his first crack at national exposure. He formed a formidable team with Mike Routundo known as The US Express and together they held the WWF Tag Team Championships. The duo is perhaps best known for losing their titles to The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff at the inaugural Wrestlemania, only to win them back a few weeks later in impressive fashion. Despite success in the WWF, Windham was openly critical of the “Rock Ã¢â‚¬ËœN’ WrestlingÃ¢â‚¬Â approach that the company was taking. Being more of a wrestling purist, Windham and Routundo lost the championships to the combination of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine before jumping back to the NWA to take part in, what can only be described as, two of the greatest wrestling matches of the 80’s.
Ric Flair and Barry Windham had unbelievable chemistry together. Far above the “broomstickÃ¢â‚¬Â level of Flair’s other opponents, Windham and Flair clicked together like few opponents before them and tore wrestling arena’s apart with their energetic matches and angles. Windham and Flair’s time limit draw from January 20th 1987 still remains as one of my all time favourite matches. Without a doubt this match is an unquestionable ***** encounter and any wrestling fan has to see this match at least once, It’s THAT good. At the risk of causing a flame war, I would put it above the Randy Savage Vs Ricky Steamboat collision for MOTY 1987. As you can see, my praise of this match is endless. For many, this was Windham’s defining moment as a singles star, and judging by the match quality, that might not be too far fetched. The match itself was a wonderful mixture of mat wrestling and counter wrestling. The 60 minutes literally fly by and you just want more as the final bell tolls.
Windham and Flair had one of the greatest matches of the modern era in 1987
Windham’s push up the card continued throughout 1988 as he shockingly turned heel to align himself with Flair and The Horsemen. The turn shuck the NWA and again proved that Windham was a powerful commodity to the company. His hot feud with Dusty Rhodes dominated the summer of 88 and he continued to inch his way to major singles stardom. However, around 1990, Windham got stuck back wrestling in a tag team with various partners. The height of his tag teaming, at least in my eyes, would be his teaming with Dustin Rhodes in 1992. Windham and Rhodes teamed up against various combinations of The Dangerous Alliance, having awesome match after awesome match, including probably the best War Games ever at Wrestle War 92 but Windham soon turned heel again and ascended to the level that he’d been built up to for nearly 7 years. Barry Windham was finally going to become NWA World Champion!
Windham as a Four Horsemen
Windham during the period he challenged for the NWA Championship
Windham’s NWA Championship reign couldn’t have started in a worse way. At WCW Super Brawl III Windham faced defending champion The Great Muta for the right to be called champion. Unfortunately, Muta and Windham contested a drab match, spent mostly in a side headlock, that killed the hot North Carolina crowd and really didn’t live up to either man’s lofty standards at the time. What should have been the culmination of Windham’s career and the greatest night of his life, ended up being a big let down. However, Windham showed his ability to rebound and contested a number of exciting title defences from that point, including an amazing match with Too Cold Scorpio at the Clash of the Champions XXIII.
Top of the mountain. WIndham as NWA Champion
Windham’s reign as NWA Champion was ended at the hands of NWA Legend Ric Flair at Beach Blast 93. The match wasn’t up to the standard of their classic battles of the past, and Windham entered to what can be considered as the darkest years of his wrestling career. Windham seemingly fell off the face of the earth and his days as a major contender for World Championships seemed over. Windham resurfaced in the WWF in 1996 with stupid gimmick after gimmick. Amazingly, characters like The Stalker and The New Blackjacks didn’t rejuvenate his career and Windham was a shell of his former self. The glory days were all but over and seeing Windham deteriorate in front of everyone’s eyes was heart breaking. However, Windham had one more ace up his sleeve and again showed that he could always rebound when things looked most bleak.
At his lowest. As The Stalker
Windham came back to WCW in late 98 and formed a team with Curt Hennig. The two had instant chemistry and had a set of tremendous matches with Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Their match at Uncensored 99 in particular was an excellent **** encounter by my book and Windham showed signs of his old self, holding his own with the Horsemen like he’d never missed a beat. Windham and Hennig then joined up with Bobby Duncam Junior and Kendall Windham to form the exceedingly funny and entertaining West Texas Rednecks. The group spent most of their time announcing their hatred for rap music and singing very funny country songs, which won them many a brownie point with me as I happen to hate rap music and love funny country songs. The group, despite being massively over in the south, were soon misused and buried like everything else WCW ever came up with that had potential to get over and the group was killed off with a whimper.
Windham during his Redneck phase. Rap truly is Crap if you’d like my honest opinion
After The Rednecks untimely demise, Windham eased himself into semi-retirement in Dusty Rhodes Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling and continued to have some great matches. Windham these days is pretty much fully retired as an in ring performer and works in production for the WWE. Windham remains one of the 80’s greatest wrestlers and still showed flashes of his old brilliance long after that time. From his incredible highs to his shattering lows, Barry Windham has carved himself a legacy that will live on in the minds of wrestling purists for years to come. I’m glad that we’ve taken the time here on the Pulse to recognise his talents.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.