Matt O’Brien writes and maintains the Wrestleview.com poll every two weeks.

The top act in a wrestling company is vital. The individuals on top are the main characters of the show. What would 24 be without Jack Bauer? The same thing can be asked for what a wrestling company would be like without (fill in the blank). Over the past twenty years, WWE has changed a great deal. The people on top are telling signs of how they wrestling has changed. In the most recent Wrestleview poll, we put the question the readers. It asked who your favorite top act was in the last two decades. There are the obvious, and the forgotten. After a little over two weeks of voting, and over 21,000 votes, the results are as follows:

Who is your favorite top WWE act of the last 20 years?

Hulk Hogan 18.06% (3,919 votes)
Bret Hart 6.1% (1,323 votes)
Shawn Michaels 9.92% (2,152 votes)
The Undertaker 22.37% (4,854 votes)
Steve Austin 22.32% (4,843 votes)
The Rock 5.38% (1,167 votes)
Triple H 8.85% (1,920 votes)
John Cena 5.33% (1,157 votes)
Other 1.67% (362 votes)

Total votes cast: 21,697

One reason why polls are on the Wrestleview homepage for at least two weeks is because it gives readers a chance to vote over the course of time, and not just catch a select few votes in a matter of hours. This particular poll had three different men take the lead over the course of voting. At the end of the day, The Undertaker walked away as the readers’ pick. He beat out Steve Austin by just nine votes. Undertaker has never been THE face of wrestling, but he has always been at the top of the card, and has become a living legend. A lot of guys have come and gone over the last twenty years, but Undertaker has been there the whole time. As beat up as he is, injuries have not forced him away before his time was up, nor did he leave for another show. His match at Triple H at Wrestlemania last Sunday created a surge that put him in the lead, giving the nod to the Dead Man.

Steve Austin can do no wrong in the eyes of wrestling fans. They will always cheer him. Whenever he was up against another baby face, be it Rock or Undertaker, etc, Austin was always the crowd favorite. He was the top act for maybe five years, and that is being generous. That’s not counting the year he was out recovering from neck surgery, nor his absence in 2002 when he walked out. Still, whenever he resurfaced, he was welcomed back with open arms. He truly is one of the most popular wresters ever.

Hulk Hogan has his heyday in the 1980s, but was still with WWE twenty years ago as a top act. He walked away in 1992, only to return briefly in 1993, and then leave for nine years. When he came back in 2002, he headlined two more Wrestlemania shows and won another world title. There is no denying his importance in wrestling history. Readers had him in first place for a brief time, but he fell to eighteen percent, bringing him to third place when the poll closed.
Shawn Michaels was passed the torch in 1996 by Bret Hart who left the company for about six months. Michaels took a backseat to Hart when the Hitman returned, then became the top guy again when hart left WWE for good in 1997. However, HBK was only a keeping a spot warm for Steve Austin. HBK retired in 1998, but fans would always have fond memories of his matches. Those fans got a second chance to see him in action when he returned in 2002. He became an Undertaker-like figure. He was not necessarily the main guy, but he was at the top of the card. He headlined Wrestlemania shows in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2010. His close friend, Triple H, came in just below him in the poll. HHH is another guy who became a pillar of the company, but it must be remembered that Triple H was up on top with The Rock in 2000 while Austin was on the shelf, and again in 2003, 2004 and 2005 until the establishment of John Cena.

Coming in under Triple H was Bret Hart, who was a huge change for a top guy considering WWE went to him after having Hulk Hogan on top for over eight years. Hart did the best he could, and changed the perception that fans had of main event talents that had grown up during the Hogan years. He also was able to use his status to establish new talents such as Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin.

Here we are just days after the huge Wrestlemania main event between The Rock and John Cena. They even came within ten votes of each other. However, they came in at the bottom of the poll. The Rock is very popular, but he was not always the favorite of his time, nor of anyone else’s. John Cena has always had a hard time getting fans to really like him. Both men are unique, there is no one like them, and they are also very different from each other, yet here they are taking a backseat to people from their own time.

Lastly, comments left referenced other stars such as Ric Flair, Randy Savage, CM Punk, Randy Orton and Kurt Angle.

A huge thanks goes out to all those who participated and set a new record for voting. Be sure to cast our voted in the current Wrestleview poll asking what you thought of Wrestlemania XVIII!

Matt O’Brien
Columnist, Wrestleview.com
mattman5436@yahoo.com