WWE Hall Of Famer Explains Why He Vanished

WWE Hall Of Famer Explains Why He Vanished

Most famous pro-wrestling personalities seem to stick around for decades whilst others mysteriously disappear without explanation.

Such was the case for this former NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Despite already being a former WWE Tag Team Champion with Mike Rotunda, by the late 80s, Barry Windham was considered by most fans to be more of an NWA or WCW wrestler than a WWE one. His profile was perhaps raised due to battles against and eventually alongside the legendary Four Horsemen, led by the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair.

Following a successful nine-month US title run, an eventual loss to former tag partner, Lex Luger and a pay dispute with Executive Vice President of WCW, Jim Herd, Windham returned to WWE in the summer of 1989. Unfortunately, this turned out to be for just a four-month spell as Windham was already gone from the promotion by October. During his brief WWE 1989 stint, he’d appeared with a new heel persona, an exciting new name and was shown particularly dominant against enhancement talent on television. So what happened?

Speaking to RF Video Inc and revived by Title Match Wrestling, Windham explained:

“I called Vince (McMahon) myself. I give my notice to Jim Herd. I told him. I said “you won’t even talk to me. I don’t know if you don’t like me or what it is”. He’s a rough guy to deal with. He’s hard to deal with. That was early ’89… I think I just went home. When I went home, I called Vince and he said “I got a spot for ya.” And he said “well come up here and we’ll figure out something”.”

Windham’s opportunity to rejuvenate his persona in the WWE led to the creation of a new alter-ego, albeit with a touch of familiarity.

“I was the same character that I always was but I put my hair in a ponytail and I slicked it back and I was the one that came up with the name ‘The Widow-Maker’. I said, “Vince, what do you think about this. ‘The Widow Maker’ is a famous rodeo bull.” I said “what he’s done is gourd y’know like six or seven cowboys almost to death. He’s killed a couple of guys… And they actually had to retire the bull because nobody wanted to ride him.”

Windham went out to say that McMahon called him back approving this new darker version of Windham and saying that he thought they could do something with it.

“I had my boots made up in black with the ‘Widow Maker’ on… And I think then, I was probably the biggest and in best condition of my life so far. I was 325lbs, I was doing behind the neck presses with 305… y’know, I was big and I was strong and that’s what Vince wanted. That’s what Vince liked.”

‘The Widow Maker’ Barry Windham impressed viewers watching WWE programming at the time as he was featured beating opponents in squash matches in June 1989. This was standard procedure in building up new talent at the time but he was set to be a member of Randy Savage’s ‘King’s Court’ team at that year’s Survivor Series. Due to Windham’s sudden departure, plans were scrapped and he was replaced by another newcomer in Earthquake.

“The reason it was short lived and this is kinda personal in my family but it’s common knowledge and anybody can find out… But my dad and my brother got into some trouble. So I told Vince. I said, “Vince, I think I’m gonna be, in one way or another, associated with what’s happened with these guys.” And I said, “I think it would be better if I’m at home instead if the FBI… or secret service or whatever… you don’t want the publicity if they think they can tie me into what’s happened”.”

Windham denies any involvement but didn’t wish to be in the limelight whilst his family were being investigated for counterfeiting. By May of 1990, he was back in his old stomping grounds of WCW. He would later return to the WWE in 1996 as ‘The Stalker’. Barry Windham is in the WWE Hall Of Fame twice as part of the 2012 class as a member of The Four Horsemen and in the class of 2024 as a member of the U.S. Express.

The WWE Hall Of Famer Who Is “Proud” To See His Sons Do Battle

Rikishi recently let his feelings known regarding his sons, ‘The Uso’s’ and their WrestleMania battle. Here he compares the situation to the matches against his own brothers.

If you use any of the quotes from this article please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to TJR Wrestling.