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View Poll Results: Larry Zbyszko: Overrated or Underrated?
Overrated 8 50.00%
Underrated 8 50.00%
Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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  #1  
Old 12-03-2009, 04:53 PM
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Default Larry Zbysko: Overrated or Underrated?

A little background on who Larry "the Legend" Zbyszko was. He was a former member of the WWWF when Bruno Sammartino was champion. He was involved in some fierce rivalries with his mentor Bruno and even wrestled him in Shea Stadium. So Zbysko was known pretty well in a rather large territory.

THEN Larry moved on to the AWA during it's dying years and was the AWA World Heavyweight Champion. But how he was champion is something that may sound familiar to most modern wrestling fans. See, Larryland was married to Verne Gagne's daughter. Gagne owned the AWA. Sound familiar? Anyway, Zbyszko was AWA Champion during it's last legs and ended up being the last champion of that promotion.

The Legend also had terms in the NWA/WCW where he wrestled as Television Champion against some young up and comers, one including Terra Ryzing, who's now known as Triple H. Later in his career, Larry was a commentator on Nitro and was always having words with Eric Bischoff.

After WCW folded, Larry had brief stints on the Indy scene and in TNA before calling it a career.

Many consider Larry Zbyszko a great wrestler, while others deemed him to be overrated due to whom and how he was able to get major feuds.

So... is Larry Zbyszko overrated... or underrated?

NOTE: If I left anything out about Zbyszko, feel free to post that along with your answer. Thanks.
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Old 12-03-2009, 05:12 PM
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I'm kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to Zbyszko. When it comes to his ability to give promos and mic work, I think the guy was pretty damn good overall. He had an ability to draw great heat from the crowds and was great as an arrogant heel. As far as his mic work goes, I'd have to say he's underrated.

Wrestling in the ring, however, I definitely have to say he's overrated. While it's true that Zbyszko was well known in the WWWF during the 70s and very early 80s, his only memorable feud was against Bruno Sammartino. It was a good feud, don't get me wrong, but that was really it as far as memorable fueds went. When he left the WWF around 1981, the guy dropped off the face of the Earth it seemed until he resurfaced in the AWA. Zbyszko's biggest claim to fame is as a 2 time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, but the AWA was circling the drain when he won the title. When you compared the AWA to the WWF and WCW circa 1989, the inferiority of the AWA was clear to anyone with eyes. Most of their talent was substandard, their production values were for shit and they were playing to mostly empty houses by the time Zbyszko won the title. There was hardly anyone in the AWA that was worth carrying the title by the time Zbyszko won it except Zbyszko himself.

As far as his matches go, they were snoozefests. The man was great on the mic and could generate good heat, but he was absolutely dull to watch in a wrestling match. Zbyszko preferred the very basic, scientific mat wrestling that guys Gagne loved to emphasize despite the fact that most wrestling audiences found it boring. Zbyszko was someone that I think was born about 20 years too late when it comes to what he thought made an entertaining match. Zbyszko would have been a mega star during the 50s and 60s I think had he been born earlier, but I just thought he was dull in the ring.

As a commentator for WCW, the guy left me cold. After a while of constantly hearing his voice, I found the guy to be pretty damn annoying.
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Old 12-03-2009, 06:20 PM
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I have to agree and disagree with Jack-Hammer. Zbyszko's mic skills were great and as a heel, he excelled. Underrated for sure on this one.

His ring skills were extremely boring; which were fine in AWA. I agree that by the time he got the belt there, it was dying and if it weren't for marrying Verne's daughter (keeping it in the family as many territories did in the day), he would've never even considered champion. His "feud" with Bruno was okay at best, and he milked that until there was nothing left of it. It's like HHH saying "Remember my feud with Kane" now. Living in the past rewards no one. After a while, he got to be a relic with young, and more talented performers around him. His career is definitely overrated by a long shot. Did anyone else notice that after AWA folded, so did he. He got by by nepotism.

Now, on the other end, his commentator skills weren't that bad. We've heard worse and less knowledgeable commentators for sure. Was he bad? Not really, but not the greatest. I could easily see him doing Indy shows calling matches. On a side note: I've always seen a resemblance with him and Bill Murry...like a long lost Murry brother.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:36 AM
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I would say that he's overrated, but not by much. He had a successful AWA career, but that was about it. I honestly don't know anything about his wrestling career outside of that, but I do know he was a multi-time champ, and had some big feuds.

But, he was a lackluster commentator in WCW, and the matches he called bothered me for the most part. He dragged out words, and thought little things were so much bigger than they were, or needed to be.

I'd like to forget his time in TNA. I'll leave it at that.

I think the negatives of his career after the AWA outweigh everything he did there, but wrestling is much more important (obviously) for this type of evaluation. So overrated, but only slightly.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:14 AM
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Judging by the replies here I feel save in saying that Zbysko is grossly underrated.

He was PWI rookie of the year. He was a WWWF World tag champ. He had a legendary fued with Sammartino which was PWI Fued of the Year for 1980 and finished with the Showdown at Shea cage match. During all this time he wrestled for the WWWF as a face, battling some of the top heels; and as a heel battling some of the top faces.

Quote:
Jack-Hammer said-When he left the WWF around 1981, the guy dropped off the face of the Earth it seemed until he resurfaced in the AWA.
No, he did what most wrestlers did at that time...he moved along the territories. He ended up in the NWA in the Georgia area, where he was involved in an interesting angle. see if you have heard of it. Wrestler A comes into new area. Wrestler B is champ. Wrestler A wants the title so he offers to buy it from Wrestler B. Sound familiar? Well long before Hogan and DiBiase used thi angle Zybsko had it. Zbysko came to georgia and wanted the National Hwt title. After he was unable to defeat orndorf for it, and after Killer Tim Brooks won it, Zybsko offered $25,000 for the belt. Brooks accepted, the belt was declared vacant and Zybsko won the tournement. About five years later the WWF would recycle this storyline, a little tweeked, for their Wrestlemania 4 event.

He did go to the AWA next, but this was when the AWA was still a power. He came in as a top heel and alligned himself with Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwinkle. Zybsko was the first AWA Americas champ and fueded with Sgt Slaughter over the belt. During his 4 or so years there he was a major player and had fueds with Greg Gagne, Curt Henning, Sgt Slaughter and Scott Hall, a fued that was mentioned during the NWO angle in WCW.

After his AWA stint he went over to the NWA where he was added to the Starcade 87 line up in a 6 man tag. Shortly after arriving with Baby Doll as his manager he won the Western states title off of Barry Windham. He would later add Gary hart as his manager and form a team with Al Perez. During this short NWA run he would fued with Windham and Nikita Kololf and leave as the Western states Champ( The belt would then be retired ).

Now he would return to the AWA on the call of his Father-in-law, which was mentioned, and win the title. Now it is true that at this time the AWA was in decline but he still is a former 2 time world champ. During this run he would fued with Tom Zenk, Wahoo McDaniels, Sgt Slaughter and Nikita Kololf as well as defending the title against Harley Race and Mr Saito.

After the AWA folded it was off to WCW where he formed a tag team with Arn Anderson called the Enforcers. They would go on to win the WCW World tag championships. They fueded with the Steiners, The Patriots and Windham and Dustin Rhodes. After they droped the tag titles both he and Anderson joined the Dangerous Alliance. Zybsko also began a heated fued with Windham after breaking Windhams hand in a car door. he would later be thrown out of the Alliance, fued with them briefly and then retire. He would come out of retirement to win and drop the WCW world TV title.

After all that he became a successful commentater and would wrestle again in selected matches vs the NWO.

Couple things.

Quote:
wrestling fan 666 said-His "feud" with Bruno was okay at best, and he milked that until there was nothing left of it. It's like HHH saying "Remember my feud with Kane" now.
The big difference is that at the time Sammartino was the biggest star in wrestling. When Zybsko bloodied him it was a huge deal. And in fairness, Zybsko added Bockwinkle to his list after he bloodied him. He called himself the legend killer for all the legends he killed. So the HHH reference does not hold water. It was nowhere near as big. Zybsko's fueds would more be in line with Hogan slamming Andre and Dusty Rhodes vs The Four Horsemen.

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wrestling fan 666 said-Did anyone else notice that after AWA folded, so did he. He got by by nepotism.
Did anyone notice how truly wrong that statement is, unless world titles in WCW and being part of a major heel group are nothing.

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nightshiftloser said-I would say that he's overrated, but not by much. He had a successful AWA career, but that was about it. I honestly don't know anything about his wrestling career outside of that, but I do know he was a multi-time champ, and had some big feuds.
then how on earth can you state he is overrated if you only know a fraction of his career?
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Old 12-21-2009, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ServantofTwilight View Post
He was PWI rookie of the year. He was a WWWF World tag champ. He had a legendary fued with Sammartino which was PWI Fued of the Year for 1980 and finished with the Showdown at Shea cage match. During all this time he wrestled for the WWWF as a face, battling some of the top heels; and as a heel battling some of the top faces.
PWI awards mean virtually nothing. I find it odd that there are virtually no instances of major professional wrestling organizations using the PWI awards as part of angles and storylines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ServantofTwilight View Post
No, he did what most wrestlers did at that time...he moved along the territories. He ended up in the NWA in the Georgia area, where he was involved in an interesting angle. see if you have heard of it. Wrestler A comes into new area. Wrestler B is champ. Wrestler A wants the title so he offers to buy it from Wrestler B. Sound familiar? Well long before Hogan and DiBiase used thi angle Zybsko had it. Zbysko came to georgia and wanted the National Hwt title. After he was unable to defeat orndorf for it, and after Killer Tim Brooks won it, Zybsko offered $25,000 for the belt. Brooks accepted, the belt was declared vacant and Zybsko won the tournement. About five years later the WWF would recycle this storyline, a little tweeked, for their Wrestlemania 4 event.
Yeah, I know he toured the territory system and so he managed to do one relevant thing during all that time when he did the angle in the Georgia territory. If you look back over the course of wrestling history, you'll find that even the worst tended to have a few moments in the sun here and there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ServantofTwilight View Post
He did go to the AWA next, but this was when the AWA was still a power. He came in as a top heel and alligned himself with Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwinkle. Zybsko was the first AWA Americas champ and fueded with Sgt Slaughter over the belt. During his 4 or so years there he was a major player and had fueds with Greg Gagne, Curt Henning, Sgt Slaughter and Scott Hall, a fued that was mentioned during the NWO angle in WCW.
By the time he came to the AWA, the AWA was hardly a power. It was going downhill and downhill fast. Low quality matches with low quality wrestlers for the most part. When you looked at Crockett Promotions or the WWF and compared them to the AWA by the mid 80s, the AWA looked so far behind in terms of wrestlers, stories and production value that the AWA looked like some small independent organization somewhere. And the quality of the AWA only continued to decline from there. There would be a few bright spots such as the Curt Hennig/Nick Bockwinkel feud, but the AWA was a shadow of what it had once been.

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Originally Posted by ServantofTwilight View Post
then how on earth can you state he is overrated if you only know a fraction of his career?
Because I don't need to list every single thing the man has done in a post to know that, overall, he was a mediocre wrestler involved in a number of, mostly, forgettable feuds and forgettable title runs. A forgettable feud against Barry Windham against a mediocre and somewhat obscure championship that was around for only a short time, a forgettable tag team with Arn Anderson that had a forgettable run with the WCW tag titles and so on and so forth. You can list everything that Zbyszko has ever done in his career, every title reign, every feud and make it sound impressive just by the sheer length of it. However, when you look closely, the man has had a handful of bright spots in what has been, mostly, a forgettable and overrated career.
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
PWI awards mean virtually nothing. I find it odd that there are virtually no instances of major professional wrestling organizations using the PWI awards as part of angles and storylines.
PWI has long been the outside sourse of wrestling info and specifics. Generally PWI has been the nuetral determination of whether a title is of World Championship rank. They give out awards every year and every year all the winners go to recieve them. On the cover of this monthes issue is Triple H holding his Wrestler of the Decade award.

So while the award may not be on par with the Emmys or the Heismen, in the wrestling world it is an honor and a big deal. PWI chose Zbyszko over evey other wrestler that came out that year. He holds the same award as Backland, Flair, Austin and The Giant.

While I am not saying it makes him great or even on the same level as Flair and others it shows that he had talent and skill which was recognised(sp) outside of the area he was working in at the time.

And even though the fact no major storyline was ever used over a PWI award is pointless there have been instances where the awards are acknowledged.

After Mike Von Erich won the PWI Rookie of the Year award and accepted it in ring Jake Roberts came out and broke the plaque, starting their fued.

In 84 or 85 The Road Warriors accepted their award in ring on AWA television.

In 90 at the Clash of the Champions Lex Luger jumped Flair and then destroyed his PWI Wrestler of the Decade trophy.

Plus the NWA and PWI have worked together on 2 videos; Ringmasters and Lords of the Ring. UWF and PWI sponsered a tournament together in 86. As stated all the wrestlers show up to get their awards and Bill Apter can be seen ringside with his camara at all the big events in the 80s/90s.

I think that PWI desrves alittle more credit and respect than you are giving them.

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Yeah, I know he toured the territory system and so he managed to do one relevant thing during all that time when he did the angle in the Georgia territory. If you look back over the course of wrestling history, you'll find that even the worst tended to have a few moments in the sun here and there.
You are missing the point either by mistake or on purpose. You stated that he fell off the face of the earth. I am pointing out that not only did he not dissappear but while working the territory scene( like all wrestlers did back then- Harley Race was working the Missouri territory when he defeated Flair for the title ) but he was in the main event scene.

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By the time he came to the AWA, the AWA was hardly a power. It was going downhill and downhill fast. Low quality matches with low quality wrestlers for the most part. When you looked at Crockett Promotions or the WWF and compared them to the AWA by the mid 80s, the AWA looked so far behind in terms of wrestlers, stories and production value that the AWA looked like some small independent organization somewhere. And the quality of the AWA only continued to decline from there. There would be a few bright spots such as the Curt Hennig/Nick Bockwinkel feud, but the AWA was a shadow of what it had once been.
No, it wasn't. When Zbyszko competed in the AWA in 84-86 it was still a thriving and relevent promotion. They had wrestlers such as Nick Bockwinkle, Ray Stevens, Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, The Long Riders, The Fabulous Ones, Jim Garvin, Steve Regal, Rick Martel, Jimmy Snuka, Col DeBeers, Stan Hansen, Sgt Slaughter, Jerry Blackwell, Nord the Barbarian, Leon "Vader" White, Kamala, The Fabulous Freebirds, Curt Hennig, Tom Zenk, Scott Hall, Baron Von Rashke, Mike Rotunda, Harley Race, Brusier Brody, Masked Superstar, King Tonga, Wahoo McDaniels, Brad Rheingans, The Midnight Rockers and the Road Warriors. Not to mention they had a working agreement with the NWA in which they put on joint shows and mixed performers.

It would not be until mid 86 into 87 that the AWA would start to decline. When Zbyszko got there it was good. They were good enough to get a TV contract with ESPN.

Now, when he returned in 89 it is true that the AWA was on its last legs, but I would argue that had more to do with the way the company was run rather then the wrestlers themselves. While they couldn't pay to attrack huge stars they had a far lineup of old and new, including Zybszko, Gagne, Nikita Kololf, Wahoo McDaniels, Scott Norton, John Nord, The Destruction Crew, The Trooper( aka The Patriot ), DJ Peterson, Kokina Maximus( aka Yokozuna ), The Texas Hangmen, Tully Blanchard, Slaughter, Race and they had a deal with NJPW in which stars like Ricky Choschu and Masa Saito would compete. Not the greatest line up but fair. Again it was poor booking decisions that really killed the AWA.

Quote:
Because I don't need to list every single thing the man has done in a post to know that, overall, he was a mediocre wrestler involved in a number of, mostly, forgettable feuds and forgettable title runs.
In order to determine if he is overrated or underrated all his accomplishments must be considered. To simply right them off as forgetable even though some are remembered 30 years later is just wrong.

Quote:
A forgettable feud against Barry Windham against a mediocre and somewhat obscure championship that was around for only a short time,
True, his early bouts with Windham were forgetable but his fued with him in 91/92 was long and a major storyline of WCW at the time.

Quote:
a forgettable tag team with Arn Anderson that had a forgettable run with the WCW tag titles and so on and so forth.
Tag Team of the Year, beating out The Road Warriors and the Steiners. Is that how it works, you just get to label everything forgetable even though other people remember.

Quote:
You can list everything that Zbyszko has ever done in his career, every title reign, every feud and make it sound impressive just by the sheer length of it.
Because it is. Worst then some, better then many.

Quote:
However, when you look closely, the man has had a handful of bright spots in what has been, mostly, a forgettable and overrated career.
Award winner, Cauliflower Alley Club Honoree, was in the upper to main event scene everywhere he went, won titles everywhere he went including the big 4 at the time( WWF, AWA, NWA and WCW ), involved in major/minor fueds, headlined cards including a Clash of the Champions, NWA/AWA Star Wars( he challenged AWA champ Rick Martel ) and The Showdown in Shea and was part of a major faction( Dangerous Alliance ).

AND HE IS NEVER MENTIONED.

How can you or anyone call him overrated when he is never mentioned as the greatest this or the best that? The man had a 20 plus year career, awards and titles, fueds and angles and is never mention. He is one of the most underrated wrestlers ever.

Last edited by ServantofTwilight : 12-31-2009 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:04 PM
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great essay! I agree that Larry gets overlooked or even hated on a bit too much by many wrestling fans. The guy was very talented, and had an impressive list of achievements. Yes, I agree that he stalled a bit too much, which is usually the first point of criticism he receives. However, once the match gets underway, Larry is a SOLID performer. I would even call him excellent. He was an old school mat wrestler who could brawl, cheat, stall, and draw great heat. I also think his mic skills were very good. He was intelligent, obnoxious, believable, and made people want to pay to see if the face could beat him. One of the best talkers in AWA history, I'd rate only Heenan and Bockwinkel above him in pure heel charisma and mic skills. I even liked his commentating in WCW and thought he did a good job getting angles over and making matches more credible and interesting.
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