Acrylic on 24″ x 24″ wood
Lex Luger is one of the most well-known wrestlers of the mid-1980’s to 90’s. Born Lawrence Phohl, he had a promising time in college football for the University of Miami and was later drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1982, although he never played in a game for them. He went on to play for the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL, where one of his teammates would be his future rival Ron Simmons. In 1985 he began his professional wrestling career, taking on the name of Lex Luger and working in the NWA Florida territory, becoming a draw thanks to his bodybuilder physique and having feuds with the likes of Barry Windham, Kevin Sullivan and Bruiser Brody.
Moving to Jim Crockett’s World Championship Wrestling, Luger joined the legendary Four Horsemen stable with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, before turning heel and feuding with the three and his replacement in the group, Barry Windham. He would see success as a singles wrestler, winning the US Championship and later the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1991 when Flair left the company.
In 1992 he left WCW, first for the World Bodybuilding Federation, and then the WWF. There he first had a heel narcissist gimmick before becoming the babyface ‘All-American’, riding in a patriotically-painted bus called the Lex Express across the country. His time in WWF is largely remembered for the massive push the company put behind him, but without the crowd really getting behind him as well. For whatever reason, it was a strange period.
Luger controversially jumped back to WCW without letting WWF know, appearing on the show the night after appearing for WWF. He feuded with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, before becoming involved in the New World Order storyline, first feuding with them and later joining them. After WCW closed in 2001, he appeared with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and made sporadic overseas appearances. Following his in-ring career, Luger had numerous legal run-ins before crediting his religious faith for turning his life around. He suffered a stroke in 2007 that temporarily paralyzed him, but he is now able to walk again. He has become an outspoken proponent of drug testing in professional wrestling, seeing what the years of steroids and painkillers did to him.
About the piece: I opted to go with the ‘All-American/Lex Express’ era of the character, as it let me play with a limited palette based on the colors of the American flag. Similarly to the Rick Rude piece, I swiped the paint on his torso around with a foam brush, making it interact with the background.