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"I just believe in science over brawn." - Larry Zbyszko, 1978.
As we stand right now on the cusp of Wrestlemania XI, the business is in somewhat of a period of transition. Diesel, the chosen face of WWF's 'New Generation', is continuing to carve out his place for the future. He will be going up against his former associate, tag team partner and a man penciled-in as the wrestler of the nineties, Shawn Michaels.
In WCW, we await the return of Ric Flair to in-ring competition. Back in 1994, it was thought fans may never see 'The Nature Boy' compete again; but in his absence, we have seen the long-overdue return to the main-event stage of the man they call Vader.
Without a doubt, the company with the most understanding of what 'the future' should be, is Philadelphia's ECW. Shane Douglas seems to be an inevitable pick for one of the two national promotions, the company continues to take the over-looked and under-valued names of days gone-by and make them relevant to a new fan base and truly build a foundation for years to come.
But, while we await the arrival of the future, it should never be forgotten that there were once those who worked to build this industry for what it is and what it would become.
Back in 2015, the landscape has long-since changed from what we know it as twenty years ago. Some time ago, we reflected on the mesmerising absence of Randy Savage into WWE's Hall of Fame; which has now, thankfully, been addressed. However, it is now apparent that this year we should not simply be treated to the entry of a true legend who has sadly passed; but also another 'living legend'.
Larry 'The Lip' is one half of this writer's favourite tag team of all time. For a fan growing up in the years of the Midnight Rockers & the Legion of Doom, this may well be surprising; but together with Arn Anderson, 'The Enforcers' were something very, very special.
Double-A and the 'Living Legend' were never ones for cartoon gimmicks, technicolor or crash-TV. They were the embodiment of a by-gone era which, some would say, had no place in nineties wrestling. But, it could be said, this is a major reason why they made such an impression on a young fan of the "sport of professional wrestling", to quote ECW's 'Franchise'. For what this period of time had become, they were perhaps two of the few remaining bastions of something that was once known as psychology. In 1995, it was a dying art. In 2015, it is quite possibly extinct.
The last time the project saw Larry Zbyszko, it was against another young ring psychologist in Lord Steven Regal at WCW's Clash of the Champions. Whilst not the company's most memorable year for in-ring competition - particularly in the second-half of the year - this show was seen as one of the more solid outputs from Atlanta, and Zbyszko & Regal played no small part in this. Contrary to the year's appearances of the Honky Tonk Man and other 'names' which would pass through the door, the difference with Zbyszko was he could still go. And put on a terrific match. And get a young guy over. Quite an innovation, no?
But, for anyone unfamiliar with The Lip's portfolio, to see Larry Zbyszko at his uninhibited best, he must be looked at for his work as a heel. The man was not disliked or mistrusted. He was frankly despised and involved in an abhorrent series of actions throughout the majority of his career. This was in a day where the industry was much more protected and it would not be uncommon for the bad guys to be the subject to in-arena abuse and out-of-arena assaults. He was Jerry Lawler before there was a Jerry Lawler.
So, whether first seeing the twilight of his career in WCW; his time in NWA with Barry Windham; the AWA against Bockwinkel & Stevens or even back to the 1970's against former trainer and mentor Bruno Sammartino in the WWWF; if you want to see the lost art of being an insufferable ****; look no further than the 'Living Legend', Larry Zbyszko; WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.