Series: Top Ten United States Champions of the 1980’s

United States Champion
Greatest US Champions 1980 Photo Credit: WWE / Sports Al Dente Illustration

We’re continuing our series in ranking the top ten United States Champions from each decade. Next up, the 1980’s, the time of hair Cabbage Patch Kids, MTV, and the fall of the Berlin wall. In the wrestling world, the 80’s brought us Hulkamania, WrestleMania, and Starrcade.

Continuing from two weeks ago, the same rules apply: championship reigns only from the 80’s, only 10 wrestlers ranked and we’ll only be taking the U.S. Championship reigns into account, not what a person did with a separate championship.

The championship is still known as the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship and will stay that way until 1991 when the title is adapted by WCW.

Join us as we Rank the top ten United States champions from the 1980’s.

10. Ric Flair

We kick off our list with the wrestler who ranked number two for the 70’s, Ric Flair. Although Flair was a great champion in the 1970’s, he didn’t find similar success in the 80’s. During the 80’s, Flair won the championship twice and held the championship for a combined 162 days. In his first reign, Flair beat Jimmy Snuka for the title. in the summer of 1980, Flair and Greg Valentine traded the championship before Flair lost to Roddy Piper in January 1981.

9. Dusty Rhodes

Number 9 is Dusty Rhodes, who held the championship once for a total of 141 days. Rhodes beat Lex Luger in a steel cage match to win the championship in November 1987. Rhodes defended the championship a total of 13 times before being stripped of the championship after attacking NWA president Jim Crockett.

8. Roddy Piper

The Hot Rod himself comes in at number eight on our list. Piper held the championship from January – August 1981 spanning 193 days during his first reign. Piper held the championship twice in the 80’s. Roddy beat Flair to win his first championship, but lost it Wahoo McDaniels on August 8th. In his second reign, Piper held the championship for only 14 days, winning and losing his championship to Greg Valentine.

7. Sgt. Slaughter

The number seven spot on our list goes to Sgt. Slaughter  Slaughter held the championship two times for 229 and 76 days, respectively. During most of ’81 and ’82, Slaughter flip-flopped the championship with Wahoo McDaniels. To start his first reign, Slaughter won a tournament after the title was vacated. During his reign, the Sgt. defended his championship successfully over 40 times.

6. Wahoo McDaniels

Our number six entrant won the championship a total of 5 times. McDaniels’ reigns lasted 31,17,74,7, and 167 days, respectively, racking up a total of 296 days. McDaniels defended his championship successfully a little over 30 times during his reigns.

5. Magnum T.A.

Magnum T.A comes in at number five with his two reigns during 1985-86. During his two reigns T.A. held the championship for 120 and 182 days, respectively, totaling 302 days. Magnum successfully defended his championship around 57 times against the likes of Ole and Arn Anderson, Nikita Koloff, and Tully Blanchard.

4. Barry Windham

For two decades in a row, we have a member of the Windham family on our list. Barry, the son of Blackjack Mulligan, held the champion only one time for a total of 283 days. Windham was also the last champion in the NWA before the championship moved to WCW in November 1988. Windham successfully defended the championship 46 times.

3. Nikita Koloff

Koloff comes in at number three, with one reign. Koloff’s one reign lasted 328 days from August 1986 – July 1987. During his reign, Koloff defended his championship 15 times against the likes of Brad Armstrong, Ron Garvin, and Arn Anderson. Koloff holds the record for most days held during one reign in the 80’s and holds the number 10 spot for most days held all-time.

2. Lex Luger

Our number two spot goes to Lex Luger, the man who held the championship three times during the 80’s. During his first two reigns, Luger held the title for 138 and 76 days, respectively. During his third reign, Luger ushered the championship into the 90’s with a reign lasting 523 days, 223 of those days in the 80’s. Luger successfully defended the championship 85 times throughout his three reigns in the 80’s.

1. Greg Valentine

Drumroll, please! Our number spot goes to Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. Valentine held the championship three times for 121, 163, and 228 days, respectively. Valentine’s reigns total 512 days, which is the most amount of days someone held the championship over multiple reigns. During his reigns, Valentine successfully defended the championship over 70 times. With over 70 defenses and 512 days held, its safe to say that Greg Valentine was the greatest United States Champion in the 1980’s.