Justin Henry here. First off, thanks for contributing to my Dean Ambrose article for Fighting Spirit a couple months back.Turned out very well, actually.
After reading the thread on Foley's pre-ECW resume, it got me to thinking. Fans today who never saw Mick wrestle prior to, say, 2007, might see him as some fat buffoon who makes lame puns and comes off like the blissfully out-of-touch uncle. Of course, you, me, and many older fans remember his gift-of-gab in WCW and ECW, and of course, the inhuman amount of punishment he'd take in redefining the wild brawl.
So for question fodder: looking back to your formative days of fandom, what wrestler, above all others, did you misjudge when you first saw him, not realizing that his prior work was as legendary as it was?
For me, getting into being a fan as a five-year-old in 1989, I thought Dusty Rhodes was just some fat ass that unclogged toilets and danced with an older black woman. I had no frame of reference that he was a brilliant speaker and gifted booker that warred with Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard in a series of bloody brawls and high-drawing main events.
Who's your pick?
Pedro Morales. When I started watching in 86 he was a curtain jerking jobber working the house show circuit against Honky Tonk Man, and then much later on I found out he was a former long-reigning WWF champion and New York legend. He was still a shit wrestler, though, even when I saw his career prime stuff.
Also, my first exposure to Don Muraco didn't really give me a fair assessment of him, since he was deep into his big fat beach bum phase and I had never seen his more mobile stuff or his hilarious promos. Or, indeed, Fuji Vice.
Also, Dennis Condrey. By the time I started watching the NWA on a regular basis, it was strictly the Eaton and Lane version of the Midnights and Condrey was this old-looking guy who I occasionally saw on a Crockett compilation tape. I really didn't appreciate him until I started becoming a Midnights completeist and tracked down a bunch of their World Class and Mid-South run.