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Logic

Top Five Professional Wrestlers of All Time

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Posted (edited)

I saw this topic trending on Twitter today and figured I'd bring it here for discussion.

For those who ever followed, or continue to follow, professional wrestling, the question is simple: who are your top five professional wrestlers of all time, and why? It could go deeper, as far as "best promo guy", "best work rate", etc, but to keep things simple, we'll just say a general "top five" for now.

I'll start. For frame of reference, my time as a wrestling fan came between about 1988 and 1998. I haven't watched "new" wrestling in 20+ years, other than some NJPW here and there. Lately, I've been re-watching a ton of it on WWE Network, though. I started with Starrcade '85 and have been watching both NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE chronologically in order since then. I'm up to 1995 now.
  

1.) Bret "Hitman" Hart - My favorite wrestler of all time. For my money, the absolute best technical wrestler of all time. Truly the Excellence of Execution. His ability to perform the moves correctly and safely, to sell the opponent's moves very well, to tell a great story in the ring and display good ring psychology, and to have good matches with all sorts of different opponents led to this selection. He was a high quality tag team AND singles wrestler. He was good in the mid-card, he was great in the main event scene. The only thing keeping him from the top spot in my book is that he was never a truly great promo guy. He could hold his own, no doubt, especially by about '97, when he became "heel in the U.S., face in Canada" Bret. Still, never a strong point for him.

2.) Ric Flair - not my personal FAVORITE wrestler of all time, but I just couldn't bring myself to list the Nature Boy any lower than #2. His in-ring ability, his ability to cut a great promo, his ability as a top heel and ability to always get heat from the crowd no matter where he went were all factors. His enduring impact is another. Pro athletes, musicians, and people in all walks of life still quote Ric Flair or imitate his strut. Also, the amount of different people he worked with over the course of his career, the fact that he traveled to territories all over the country, always putting over their top stars and making them look like a million bucks...Flair was, quite simply, the gold standard. Classic feuds with Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, and on and on.

3.) Shawn Michaels - The best combination of in-ring work and promo/persona/crowd work ability. Incredibly athletic, an exciting move set, and was ahead of his time in terms of how high flying he was in an era where not many U.S. wrestlers could be labeled as such. Was an exciting tag team wrestler, then a great mid-card heel and one of the all time best Intercontinental champions, then a too-short reign as a main eventer, cut short by his back injury. Then, by some major grace, he was able to come back and wrestle for another decade or so, putting on more great matches and solidifying his spot as an all-time great. The sheer excitement of his wrestling style, combined with his charisma, his ability to tell a great story, etc, etc, led to his spot on this list for me.

4.) "Macho Man" Randy Savage - This dude was TNT in a bottle. His promos were just insane. He, more so than any other guy that I can ever think of, was an improvisational genius when it came to promo work. He'd just come up with everything completely spur of the moment, off the cuff, without prior rehearsal. Or other wrestlers would give him some weird prop right before his promo to see if he could find a way to work it into his promo, and he always did! Aside from his legendary promo work, he was incredibly talented in the ring. His Wrestlemania III match against Ricky Steamboat is still one of the greatest of all time. He held all the major belts in both the WWF and WCW, his popularity transcended wrestling, and he is surely on pro wrestling's Mt Rushmore. 

5.) Chris Benoit - I know, I know. Look, this guy was just an incredibly great wrestler. His move set, style, execution, the stiffness with which he worked, his ability to work with all shapes and sizes of different opponents...he was a great one. He could wrestle cruiserweight style matches, he could wrestle technical masterpieces, he could even wrestle knock-down, drag-out brawls with tables and ladders and chairs. His promo skills were basically non-existent, but his in-ring work is so excellent that I don't miss his lack of mic skills. Besides, it wasn't as if he didn't have a clear persona. He was the Rabid Wolverine. Too badass to even have to say anything at all. I greatly respect the art of wrestling itself, and Benoit was one of it's all time greatest artists. I realize there is much controversy in making such a pick, but I find it akin to saying that  OJ Simpson was one of the greatest running backs ever which, despite what came later, is still true.



Well, who ya got?

Edited by Logic
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I'm not going into all the detail, but here's my top 5 in no particular order off the cuff. Tomorrow could be a different list. 

1. George "The Animal" Steel

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin 

3. Hulk Hogan

4. Rick Flair

5. The Undertaker 

 

Honorable mentions

Iron Sheik

One man Gang

Abdullah the Butcher

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Macho Man

.....the list goes on and on

 

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1. The Undertaker and it isn't even close.

 

2. Kurt Angle

 

3. Bret Hart

 

4. Stone Cold

 

5. Shawn Michaels

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37 minutes ago, RaoulDuke79 said:

I'm not going into all the detail, but here's my top 5 in no particular order off the cuff. Tomorrow could be a different list. 

1. George "The Animal" Steel

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin 

3. Hulk Hogan

4. Rick Flair

5. The Undertaker 

 

Honorable mentions

Iron Sheik

One man Gang

Abdullah the Butcher

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Macho Man

.....the list goes on and on

 


Not many people mention George Steel. He was certainly...something else. After wrestling, he was a high school teacher. How would you like to have THAT dude as a teacher?!

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Logic said:


Not many people mention George Steel. He was certainly...something else. After wrestling, he was a high school teacher. How would you like to have THAT dude as a teacher?!

If I remember correctly he was a physics or chemistry teacher. Also, staying in the wrestling genre, I watched and episode of Dark Side of The Ring on Vice, which was pretty good. It was the Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka episode. It looks like there are a lot of others including Chris Benoit that look to be worth a  watch. 

Edited by RaoulDuke79

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1. Ric Flair

2. Chris Benoit

3. Bret Hart

4. Chris Jericho

5. Arn Anderson

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Ivan Koloff (The Russian Bear)

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1 hour ago, RaoulDuke79 said:

If I remember correctly he was a physics or chemistry teacher. Also, staying in the wrestling genre, I watched and episode of Dark Side of The Ring on Vice, which was pretty good. It was the Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka episode. It looks like there are a lot of others including Chris Benoit that look to be worth a  watch. 

 

I’be watched the Benoit two parter, the Montreal Screwjob, and The Killing of Bruiser Brodie episodes. The Benoit and Bruiser Brodie episodes are well worth your time.

1 hour ago, Mark Vader said:

1. Ric Flair

2. Chris Benoit

3. Bret Hart

4. Chris Jericho

5. Arn Anderson

 

3/5 from Canada. Those Canucks sure can wrestle. Almost put Jericho on my list.

 

side note: if you’re a Bret Hart and an Arn Anderson fan, check out the Hart Foundation vs Brain Busters (Arn and Tully) match if you’ve never seen it. 

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2 hours ago, Logic said:

 

I’be watched the Benoit two parter, the Montreal Screwjob, and The Killing of Bruiser Brodie episodes. The Benoit and Bruiser Brodie episodes are well worth your time.

 

3/5 from Canada. Those Canucks sure can wrestle. Almost put Jericho on my list.

 

side note: if you’re a Bret Hart and an Arn Anderson fan, check out the Hart Foundation vs Brain Busters (Arn and Tully) match if you’ve never seen it. 

I remember that match. Summer Slam, correct? That was a very good match.

 

I got into professional wrestling by watching the NWA in the late 80's. To me that was the best that pro wrestling had to offer. Not the cartoon superhero characters of the WWF. I'm from California, where the WWF was very popular and most fans had never heard of the NWA.

 

I love the heels way more than the baby faces, so of course I am a big time fan of The Four Horsemen. Ric, Arn, Tully & Barry was when they were at their best.

 

Some other wrestlers that did not make my list that I have to mention are Kurt Angle, Dean Malenko, Mike Rotondo, and the most underrated wrestler ever, Bobby Eaton.

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Bret Hart

Dynamite Kid\Benoit 

Rob Van Dam

Hogan

Curt Henning

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Bruno Sammartino.

Once he threw 600 pound Haystacks Calhoun out of the ring his legend was sealed.

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1. Bret Hart

2. Shawn Michaels

 

Shawn is probably my personal favorite, but everyone else is far below these 2 for me. These guys could deliver the absolute classic matches, which to me, is the ultimate pay-off and purpose of wrestling. Others were better for hyping a match, but were not in these guys’ class. Bret was the greatest storyteller in the history of the business.

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Any list must include

Hulk Hogan

Rick Flair

 

And filled with many greats

Piper,

Macho Man

Bruno Samartino

Sweet Daddy

Andre

Hit Man Hart

Whipper Billy Watson

Superfly Snuka

Steve Austin

George "the animal" Steel

JYD

And from WNY area

The Miller's

Billy Red Lyons

Ivan K

The Iron Sheik

We could ask Chuck Healy but I think he left us a while back

 

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1)Dominic Denucci

2) Bob Backland

3) Ivan Putski

4) Steamboat

5)George the Animal

 

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Iron Sheikh 

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Junkyard Dog

Hulk Hogan

Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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George The Animal Steel

Hulk Hogan

The Iron Sheikh

Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Andre the Giant

 

 

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OMG..Just heard from Chuck Healy....channel 4 sports and famed wrestling broadcaster pre Mean Gene..

Forgot Ilio diPaolo, Georgeous George and Fritz von Erich ( master of the CLAW)

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9 hours ago, Mark Vader said:

 

 

Some other wrestlers that did not make my list that I have to mention are Kurt Angle, Dean Malenko, Mike Rotondo, and the most underrated wrestler ever, Bobby Eaton.

 

I loved Mike Rotondo during his Varsity Club days. I came up during 90s WWF, mostly, so I knew him as “I.R.S.”, who was less than impressive. In recent years, I watched his late 80s NWA run against Rick Steiner, and he was awesome. Barry Windham is another guy that I irrationally liked a whole lot. Big, mean, tough son of a B word.

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