Top 50 Wrestlers Of The 1990s: #25 - Terry Funk
WrestleMania 34 is coming up, and being a wrestling fan, I tend to get a little more nostalgic for them olden days of when wrestlers didn't have scripts with WWE verbage in front of them. DeLorean back to my early days of fandom during the 1990s and you had a product that was hotter than any Seth Rollins theme song (you know, ”Burn It Down?” Okay, I’ll see that bad joke right out the door).
So from now up until "The Grandest Stage of Them All" (with a little help from Wikipedia to fill in the blanks), I will release my Top 50 wrestlers of the 1990, factoring in their impact from the kid-friendly first half to the cuss-ridden, beer drinking second half to determine where exactly your favorite heel or face fall in rank.
#25: Terry Funk
Hailing From: Amarillo, TX
By any normal parameters, Terry Funk should have been done with in-ring action in the 90s. Now he did retire (many times), but even in the decades to follow it was hard to put the Funker down for the career three-count. While the majority of his stardom came from his time in the 1970s & 80s, the legend that was Terry Funk helped to define the business of the 1990s in many ways.
At the start of 1990, Funk was coming off of a classic feud with Ric Flair from the previous November’s Clash of Champions in an “I Quit” match. He briefly did an interview segment with the promotion until leaving the company.
From there, Funk was all over the wrestling map. He wrestled for Jerry Lawler’s USWA promotion and had a return to Japan for an extremely brutal (get ready for a mouthful) “No Ropes Barbed Wire Exploding Barbed Wire Boards & Exploding Ring Time Bomb Death Match” with good buddy Cactus Jack. However, it was in 1993 where Terry began his most impactful run in the 90s with ECW.
Terry joined when it was still called Eastern Championship Wrestling, but him and his brother Dory certainly brought that “extreme” mindset with them to the Philadelphia promotion. While there, Terry squared off with a “who’s who” of ECW originals.
From Shane Douglas, to Sabu, to Tommy Dreamer, Funk helped establish the young stars of the company and in turn, helped the company establish a credible outlaw brand and identity. It could easily be said that without Terry Funk, there could be no ECW and perhaps, no tilt in attitude towards the business’s edgier culture.
After this run was when Funk “retired.” The proverbial “hanging up of the boots” wasn’t for long as he came back to the WWF to tag with Cactus Jack under the persona of Chainsaw Charlie, which was obviously just a chainsaw wielding Funk in overalls and pantyhose over his head. The two feuded with each other as well, but they eventually captured the tag belts from the super hot act of the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XIV. In a time of expedient title runs, the duo lost the belts the next night on Raw, but this change in character was an absurdly fun change of pace for an already legendary act.
Funk capped off the 90s with a brief return to ECW (and another “retirement), but closed it off with a last stand in WCW before the company went down in flames.
Out of anybody, Terry Funk was a renaissance man in a business that was going through a renaissance. He changed with the times and many stars, not just himself, benefited from his presence.