Hey there Wrestling fans and welcome back to Pounding 7’s. This week we continue our series on the 1980’s Power Rankings and we countdown the Power Rankings of 1981. Last week Bob Backlund was the number one wrestler in 1980. Can he repeat and keep that ranking for 1981? Let’s find out right now.
Andre the Giant
Andre falls a bit here out of the Power Rankings as he had his ankle broken by Killer Khan in May of 1981, he would miss the majority of the year due to this injury but would comeback to defeat Khan in a Mongolian Stretcher Match in November, ending the year long feud.
7. Hulk Hogan
Was this the start of Hulkamania in 1981? Maybe, because Hogan started getting involved in the AWA Championship picture, as he turned face in July 1981 for the first time in his career. He would remain a face until 1996 when he joined the NWO. No one could have predicted what was to become with Hulk Hogan in the years to come.
6. Harley Race
Race began 1981 as the World Heavyweight Champion, but lost it to Dusty Rhodes in June of 81. He would continue to be a contender throughout the year for the championship, and would reap havoc on the NWA all year.
5. Greg Valentine
Valentine makes his appearance on the Power Rankings for 1981, as he was literally the main challenger for Bob Backlund’s World Heavyweight Championship. In a match, he was actually awarded the championship in late 1981, but the referee was momentarily blinded, and counted Valentine’s shoulders down, thinking it was Backlund. The decision was reversed.
4. Nick Bockwinkel
Bockwinkle lost to Verne Gagne in Gagne’s final match, but was awarded the championship in May 1981 after Gagne’s retirement. Bockwinkle would not relinquish the championship as he would hold it for the remainder of the year and beyond.
3. Ric Flair
Flair won his very first of a record setting 16 World Championships in September, 1981 when he defeated Dusty Rhodes. This would be the making of a decade long run for the Nature Boy.
2. Dusty Rhodes
Rhodes moves up this week in the 1981 Power Rankings, as he held the NWA Championship from June through September as he defeated Harley Race. While Rhodes would only hold this title for a few months, he was always the primary contender for the NWA title all throughout 1981.
1. Bob Backlund
Back to Back on the Power Rankings, Bob Backlund had another incredible year as he ended 1981 the same way he started, as the World Heavyweight Champion. This year, he overcame challenges from the likes of Greg Valentine, who as we stated earlier nearly dethroned Backlund in late 1981.
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