As captains seek to lead their teams to victory at Survivor Series, Steve Cook takes a look back at wrestling’s Top 5 Captains!
This is the time of year where every WWE Superstar is bickering over who the captain of their Survivor Series team is. I’ve never really understood this. Sure, back in the day when the teams had cool names like Roddy’s Rowdies, The Perfect Team & such, it was important to be team captain so your name would be the basis of the team name. Now? It’s just lame crap like “Team Raw” or “Team SmackDown”. And you’re just teaming for one night anyway. Odds are you’ll be wrestling against most of your teammates within a month. If you’re on a Team NXT, you’ll probably be wrestling against your teammates the night before and a few nights after.
What does it matter being “captain” for one night? It’s not even like your teammates are going to listen to you! Fans complain all the time about this “brand supremacy” stuff, but at least some people occasionally act like they care about it. Who the “team captain” is doesn’t matter unless you’re playing hockey. And even then there’s like a whole “leadership group” filled with half the team. I’ve always figured that only serves to piss off the veterans that aren’t given a letter to put on their jersey.
Listen, some of your favorite wrestlers are going to spend their week arguing about who the captain of their team is. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t mean a hill of beans. The only captains that matter in pro wrestling are in this column. They are the Top 5 Wrestling Captains.
5. Captain USA
When you were as big as John Studd was, you had a pretty good chance of being a star in pro wrestling. Early on in his career, Studd wrestled under several different personas, a couple of them coming with different masks. One of them was Captain USA, who from what I can tell appeared mainly in the Houston area during 1977. Oddly enough, there’s record of Big John Studd appearing in the Dallas area at the same time, so the guy was working multiple gimmicks in the same state. I mean, Texas is a big place and TV wasn’t what it is now, so I could see it working back then.
At the end of the day, he made the right move sticking with the John Studd character. Captain USA was asking for a lawsuit from Stan Lee at some point.
4. “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch
If you look up the word “redneck” in the dictionary, you’ll probably see Dick Murdoch’s picture next to it. He was a mean ol’ cuss that you didn’t want to get on the bad side of. Murdoch was legitimately a United States Marine, and we’ll all take his word for it that he was a captain. We’ll also take his word for it that the communists would have taken over if not for him.
Murdoch was an interesting case. He could have one of the best matches on any card. He could also have one of the worst, depending on what kind of mood he was in. Rednecks are like that sometimes.
3. Captain Mike Rotunda
Rotunda’s collegiate wrestling experience at Syracuse University made him a perfect fit for Kevin Sullivan’s Varsity Club. After a brief disagreement with Rick Steiner, Rotunda was eventually named Captain of the squad after Steiner lost some matches and the confidence of his teammates. The Club had a decent run of a year & half or so before splitting up, and Rotunda was left with a useless captainship.
Or was it?
Rotunda took some time off after the VC split and came back as the captain of a boat. A boat! He even had a first mate, good ol’ Norman the Lunatic. Abdullah the Butcher was also part of the crew, which makes one wonder how the ship ever survived a voyage. When you can pivot from being captain of a wrestling team to captain of a boat, you deserve to be on this list.
2. “Captain Charisma” Christian
These days, Christian seems to be more remembered as Edge’s tag team partner. It would be a shame if people forgot the run that helped put him on the map as a singles competitor. He had had problems finding himself after splitting up with Edge, but once he became Captain Charisma and started talking about his Peeps, things started clicking. The term “Captain Charisma” seemed ironic at first because we didn’t exactly think of Christian as charismatic at the time. More of a good hand. The more he started delving into that side of his character, the more people started buying in.
It got to the point where people wanted Christian as the top contender to John Cena’s WWE Championship. They got Christian in a three-way with Cena & Chris Jericho because Vince McMahon wasn’t quite 100% sold on Christian. That was when Christian knew it was time to move on…at least for a little while.
Dishonorable Mention: Captain New Japan
To say Captain New Japan’s stint in NJPW was a disaster would be…well, fairly accurate honestly. The Captain lost the lion’s share of his matches and didn’t fare well in his feud with Bullet Club, so he decided if he couldn’t beat them he might as well join them. (That didn’t go much better for anybody involved.) The highpoint of Captain New Japan’s existence was teaming with Captain All Japan & Captain NOAH at All Together 2.
Honorable Mention: “Captain Morgan” Aron Stevens
— kenny z (@kenzurawski20) November 13, 2019
I mean, Stevens can’t walk into a wrestling studio with that getup on and not expect the fans to compare him to Captain Morgan. He’s been around long enough to know better.
1. Captain Lou Albano
There have been more talented managers. Few can claim the level of fame that Lou Albano could during the 1980s, and even fewer can say they had the impact on the wrestling business that Captain Lou had. He’d been the top heel manager in the WWWF for over a decade when he randomly met Cyndi Lauper on an airplane. The two hit it off & Albano ended up appearing in a number of Lauper’s music videos. Cyndi also made her way to the World Wrestling Federation, and you already know the rest of that story.
Albano guided a record fifteen teams to the WWF Tag Team Championship during his managerial career, and later went on to more pop culture fame as the star of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. There’s little doubt who the most successful Captain in pro wrestling history was.