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WWE Legends – Before and Now 

The WWE has long had a stranglehold on professional wrestling in the West. The company built by the McMahon family is now the largest pro wrestling promotion in the world.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the biggest legends of professional wrestling and get a look at where the stars of old are now. Then, check out these secure gambling sites to see how you can gamble on today’s most popular wrestling stars. 

Pioneering Legends of the WWE

The original company that would end up becoming the WWE was founded in 1953 under the name Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC). It would eventually be renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in 1963. The business was still territory-based during that time, and the top stars of that era included the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant.

Bruno Sammartino


Italian-born wrestler Bruno Sammartino was pivotal to the early days of the WWE. He began his career in 1959 and competed in multiple National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) companies. He joined the WWWF in 1963.

Sammartino won the WWWF Heavyweight Championship for the first time shortly after joining the company. He held the belt for 2,803 days, the longest reign in company history.

Bruno returned in 1972 after a brief hiatus and won the top championship again. He held the belt for 1,237 days during his second reign. Bruno would hold various other NWA belts before retiring in 1981. He returned to the WWWF in 1984 and then retired again in 1988.


Following his second retirement, Sammartino heavily criticized Vince McMahon, who was now running the WWE. Bruno and Vince eventually repaired their relationship enough to do business together. Sadly, Burno passed away in 2018 at the age of 82. He has been inducted into multiple pro wrestling Hall of Fames, including the WWE in 2013.

Andre the Giant


Another star of the early days of the WWWF was French wrestler Andre the Giant. He began his career in 1064 and made his way to the WWWF in 1971.

Andre was one the biggest stars, literally and figuratively, of pro wrestling in the 1970s and 1980s. His feud with Hulk Hogan throughout the ‘80s is one of the defining storylines of the decade. 

He was also a part of many major moments after the company transitioned from the WWWF to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He appeared in the first iterations of WrestleMania and won multiple championships during his time with the company.


Andre passed away in January 1993 at the age of 46. The WWE, then known as the WWF, created its Hall of Fame the same year, and Andre was the first and only inductee in the inaugural class. He also appeared in films and television shows throughout his wrestling career, most famously as Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

Golden Era WWE Stars Then and Now

The so-called “Golden Era” of the WWE ran from the early 1980s to the start of the Attitude Era in the mid-1990s. During this time, wrestlers added more flair and showmanship than previous generations. This was also the first of many eras overseen by Vince McMahon himself.

Hulk Hogan


The WWF and pro wrestling as a whole expanded significantly in the 1980s. You could argue that the boom would not have been possible without one Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster started with the WWF in 1979, but his initial stint with the company only lasted a couple of years.

Hogan appeared in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and NJPW throughout the early 1980s. He returned to the WWF in 1983 and became one of the biggest stars of all time. His second run with the company lasted a decade and included multiple title runs.

In 1993, Hogan left the company and eventually reappeared in rival WCW. He would stay with WCW until its downfall in the 2000s. Hogan then returned to the WWE for a short run. He has made appearances in several other promotions since, including an extended run in Total Nonstop Action (TNA). 


Hogan’s last official match was in 2012, but he has remained involved in the wrestling business. He has made several appearances at WWE and other promotions throughout the years and has appeared in several movies and television shows over his career. Hogan has been honored in multiple Hall of Fames, including two inductions into the WWE’s HOF.

Rick Flair


Another star of Wrestling during the 1980s was The Nature Boy, Ric Flair. A legend of the early days of the wrestling boom, Flair started his career in 1972. He wrestled for many promotions during his prime, including WCW and the AWA.

Flair finally made his way to the WWE at the tail end of the Golden Era in 1991. He stayed for two years, winning the 1992 Royal Rumble during his first run with the company. Flair returned to WCW in 1993 and would not make his way back to the WWE until 2001.

There is no denying Flair’s impact on the wrestling business. However, he largely competed outside of the WWE during his prime. His longest in-ring run with Vince’s company came in the 2000s when he was with the WWE from 2001 to his “retirement” match in 2009.


Despite his age, Flair is still considered an active in-ring performer. His most recent match came in July 2022, and he has since stated that he never wants to retire. Flair currently works for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and has been inducted into the WWE HoF twice.

Roddy Pipper


Roddy Pipper started wrestling in the late 1960s and was a popular heel in the AWA and NAW throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He had a brief stint in the WWWF in 1979 but would not have an extended run with the company until 1984. His talk show, Piper’s Pit, was the set of turning points in major storylines of the time.

He left the company briefly in 1987 but returned in 1989. He lasted another seven years and won several championships during this run. Piper left in 1996 and went to WCW but returned to the WWE after they purchased the company.


Piper had a brief run in TNA in the early 2000s and also made several appearances at WWE events. He passed away in 2015 in his sleep. Piper is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and also had an extensive acting career in both television and movies.

WWE Legends of the Attitude Era

After the Golden Era ended, the Attitude Era took over. This time period was marked by a more mature product and aggressiveness. This period spawned many superstars, but none were bigger than the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The Rock


Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started his wrestling career in 1996 after failing to make a career as a football player. He was pushed early by the WWF and won the Intercontinental Championship in 1997. The Rock turned heel later that year when he could not get over as a babyface.

Fan eventually fell in love with Rock’s character, though. He was one of the hottest heels and babyfaces in the business throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Rock won several championships, including multiple runs as the WWF and WWE champion.


The Rock retired from full-time competition in 2003 to focus on acting. He has made dozens of hit movies, and his popularity with wrestling fans has only grown. Johnson has returned several times over the years, even having a short WWE Championship run in 2013. The Rock recently returned and appeared to challenge the current champion, and his cousin, Roman Reigns.

Stone Cold Steve Austin


Arguably the biggest star of the Attitude Era was Stone Cold Steve Austin. His abrasiveness and lack of respect for authority embodied the sole of the time period. Austin started wrestling in 1989 and joined the WWF in 1995 after stints in WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

After a slow start in the WWF, Austin finally broke through in 1996 with his infamous “Austin 3:16” promo. The interview changed his career and the course of the WWF. He would go on to have multiple title runs and feuds with other legends of the era, including Vince McMahon himself.

Sadly, multiple severe injuries cut Austin’s prime short. He retired from in-ring action in 2003. He has made several returns as an in-ring personality of the years and had one last match at WrestleMania 38.


Austin has used his wrestling career to launch a television and movie acting career. He has not appeared in as many roles as The Rock, but he has hosted several successful television shows. Austin was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Who Is Your Favorite WWE Legend?

The WWE rose to the top of the pro wrestling world in large part due to its ability to showcase its stars. Check out the list above to learn more about seven of the biggest legends in WWE history and see where they are now.

Courtesy to Shaun Stack

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