For the past few weeks all everyone has wanted to talk to me about is my opinion on the WWE Top 50 Superstars DVD. To say some were annoyed is probably the biggest understatement I will ever make in this column ever. Truth be told it didn’t bother me that much and I look forward to seeing what is said about all that is listed in the DVD when it hits stores. All these top lists are really just opinion anyway. I saw a list by Dave Meltzer where he tried to be more objective in just picking guys who generated money but didn’t really adjust his list for inflation and well even if he did, different eras are different eras and it is hard to really decipher who was a better, more impactful performer than whom. I mean who knows how Lou Thesz would have fared in 2010 or how John Cena would have fared in 1960? It’s an apples and oranges argument but that’s not going to stop me for putting my two cents in, you see this is the 100th installment of “Wrestling Rumblings” here on Wrestleview and what better way to celebrate than to give my 100 top wrestlers of all time…you’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
I’ll be the first to admit this list is not perfect. Almost everyone has no problem doing a top 10, some would even churn out 25 easily but once you get to those middle numbers it’s really almost like a coin flip and I think fans tend to get caught up with what they enjoyed as opposed to what mattered and well there is a big percentage of fan who dedicates all their attention to one particular company and as such would favor that company. I really tried not to do that with my list as I decided to include not just US based wrestlers but wrestlers that I felt had significant success in Mexico, Japan and Puerto Rico as well. I know Puerto Rico will probably generate some question marks from fans but once upon a time it was a significant territory in wrestling and I thought it should have been given strong consideration when making this list. I elected not to include female superstars since I felt they should have their own list and not have to go against their male counterparts since that’s really just not a fair comparison and while titles were important I also had to take into consideration how watered down championship reigns have been for the last 20 years so I hope you understand the thought process in coming up with this list. I fully expect not to have a single person agree with this list since well everyone thinks they can do it better and in truth no one can do it better or worse it just is what it is. With that being said here it is the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100 Wrestlers of All Time”.
1. Ric Flair- Some are going to say I chose Flair because he is my all time favorite wrestler but I really tried to be objective with this. I chose Flair to head the list because I honestly felt that he was the last really great traveling world champion and when I thought of all the traveling world champions I still felt he was the greatest. It didn’t matter what territory of what country he performed in he was a draw that delivered night in and night out on a daily basis. During the 1980’s when fans were jumping on the WWE bandwagon Ric Flair was the main reason the NWA was not totally overtaken by WWE because while WWE had a cartoon character in Hulk Hogan as a champion Ric Flair was the champions champion and well that has to count for something. He is one of the few performers I can think of off the top of my head who got something out of every opponent he faced and well with that being said Ric Flair is my top pick in the 100.
2. Bruno Sammartino- People are going to ask me why Bruno was number two and not Hulk Hogan. Well as much credit as Hogan gets for making wrestling what it is today I am not sure someone else couldn’t have been put in that position at the time and even if that wasn’t the case while Hulk Hogan was a big part of the then WWF Bruno Sammartino was the then WWWF. Can you imagine how different the landscape might have been if Bruno wasn’t around to defeat Buddy Rogers and go on the 8 year title reign? There might not be a WWE right now if that didn’t occur. I don’t feel the same way about Hulk Hogan beating the Iron Sheik. I feel like WWE might not have been as big as it would become but it would have still endured so with that being said I had to give Bruno Sammartino who basically made being the WWE championship worth holding the spot here at number 2.
3. Hulk Hogan- I’ve said it over and over again I grew up a Hulkamaniac. I like many others probably wouldn’t be a fan of this business if it was not for Hulk Hogan. There may be no bigger name in the business on a recognition basis than Hulk Hogan throughout the wrestling world. There aren’t many that have held more world titles headlined more PPV shows or for that matter carried companies than Hogan and with that being said he and others may feel he is the best all time but number 3 is not that shabby on this list.
4. Lou Thesz- WWE has brainwashed today’s fan into think that Chris Jericho is the first Undisputed Champion in wrestling but in actuality the previous man to have the distinction of being the undisputed champion in American professional wrestling was Lou Thesz. Without Lou Thesz the National Wrestling Alliance might have failed before it started which potentially means that companies such as the AWA, WCW, ECW, TNA, and WWE may have all never existed since each and every one of those companies can trace their roots back to some incarnation of the NWA. While most of us probably couldn’t sit through a Thesz match today he was a pioneer of the business being credited for inventing many moves such as the Thesz Press, STF, German Suplex and even the Powerbomb. A 6 time NWA World Champion when world titles weren’t changing hands every other week by cashing in a briefcase and his combined reigns are the longest time served as NWA champion ever. I think he is as good of a candidate as any for the number 4 spot.
5. The Undertaker- I don’t think there has been a gimmick in wrestling that has had as much success for as long a period of time as The Undertaker. From the moment Mark Calloway gave up his Mean Mark persona for the Undertaker in 1990 he was on top of the card and really hasn’t budged much since. I can’t think of a single performer in wrestling who can honestly say that they had that kind of a run on any stage of the business except maybe Jerry Lawler in Memphis and well that was a territory Mark Calloway did it on a national stage. His greatness crossed over and survived many eras in wrestling all the way until today. It can be argued that in 2010 Undertaker is the greatest draw in wrestling as the biggest card of the year is Wrestlemania and it would seem that the card has been built around him for the past 3 years. The only reason he is not higher is because I never felt he was the top star in the company for a prolonged period of time or he would easily make number one on this list but number 5 isn’t a bad spot for a man who was once a WCW prelim to be in. Who knows before all is said and done and he calls it a career he may actually have that number one spot.
6. Steve Austin- Many Austin supporters are going to question why he is not higher on this list and well truthfully I don’t have him higher because he only was on top of the business for a short time. Granted in that short time he probably revolutionized wrestling like never before but he toiled in the undercard far longer than he prospered as a main eventer and I couldn’t really elevate him over the any of the stars listed above him. Still with that being said he did have a spectacular career having held almost every title available to him in WCW except the World Championship and going onto overcome a crummy gimmick in the ringmaster to become one of the biggest stars ever in the business. The one thing Austin has on everyone else who has been mentioned before him is he had to make himself into a star as there wasn’t a promoter out there who pegged him to be the star that he was. He had to grab that bull by the horns where others such as Hogan, Flair and Sammartino were groomed for that spot from day one. He is truly the best kind of star you can be in wrestling the one that elevates him with the help of the fans.
7. Shawn Micheals-If this list was just about what went on between the ropes Shawn Micheals would probably be number one but alas everything had to be considered. That being said Shawn Micheals was for lack of a better word simply put just great. Just like The Undertaker he was another guy who managed to cross over eras and well it seemed the older he got the better his matches were. I mentioned a few columns ago sort of wondering who was going to carry on the moniker of Mr. Wrestlemania this year with Micheals gone and the more and more I think about it the answer is very simple to me and that’s no one. WWE’s first recognized “Grand Slam” champion (the true first “Grand Slam” champion will be mentioned later on in the countdown) and the pioneer of many, many matches in WWE. It didn’t matter if it was a main event program, comedy skit or whatever else the situation called for HBK always stepped up and delivered.
8. Bret Hart-“The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and the Best There Ever Will be” is number 8 on the top 100. It’s funny because he was never the best promo in the business, a strong worker but not the best worker and well when you look at the era he first got noticed in he was probably one of the most unlikeliest guys to be world champion but he stood up and made everyone take notice of him. Easily one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, the only guy to ever hold what I dub the “Big Six” of wrestling (WWE Heavyweight, IC, Tag, WCW World, US,Tag titles) while competing in both companies before there was a merger and a brand extension. As much as everyone tends to be down on the early 90’s period of WWE can you imagine how much worse that would have been if you didn’t have Bret Hart around? It didn’t matter if you gave him performers such as Shawn Micheals, Razor Ramon or The Undertaker who were renowned for being great workers or Jean Pierre Lafitte, Hakushi and Isaac Yankem who were less renowned at the time he made the most of it and always came out better. Bret Hart definitely deserves a spot in the top 10 of the top 100.
9. Antonio Inoki- The first non American wrestler to make the top 100 comes from Japan and that’s Antonio Inoki who I consider to be the most renowned Japanese wrestler throughout the world and with good reason as he has transverse the sport in his native japan by not just being a legendary wrestler but a promoter and even a politician as well. While it can be argued successfully that he was on top far longer than he deserved to be due to his owning NJPW during his career you still can’t argue with his successes. Even today’s wrestling fans growing up know of his clash with Muhammad Ali in a bout that is often referred to as the first MMA bout ever and while he has had many worked MMA bouts since it can be argued that his first introducing the concept of MMA helped inspire other legit MMA promotions such as Pride, Strikeforce, Pancrase and UFC. I think Inoki is very deserving of his spot at the top foreigner in the top 100.
10. Harley Race- I have to admit I was never a big fan of Harley Race as his era was ending right around the time I was really starting to love wrestling. As a matter of fact my biggest memories of him are from the time he was in the WWF as King Harley Race a gimmick that at the time was given to him with the thought that by being King of the WWF he would be seen as a equal to the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan (That’s what Harley claims in his autobiography anyway). Still being the historian of the business that I am he has made strong contributions to the business as a wrestler, manager, promoter (he promoted the Kansas City territory for some time) and a trainer. He is one of those guys who wrestled in every territory he could and achieved some level of success everywhere he went whether it was as AWA Tag Team Champion with Larry “The Axe” Hennig, PWF World Heavyweight Champion and NWF United National Champion in All Japan Pro Wrestling which for those who are unaware are two of the titles that today make up the AJPW Triple Crown, Stampede North American Champion for Stampede Wrestling in Canada, 8 time NWA World Champion and of course he was the first King in the then WWF. It takes a tremendous talent in that era to have success everywhere he went and like him or not Harley Race was a tremendous talent and rounds out my top 10 for the top 100.
11. Andre The Giant- Today’s wrestling fan will never really understand why Andre the Giant was such a big deal but rest assured he was. I can’t really explain what it was that made him such an attraction but it didn’t matter where he went whether it was NWA, WWE, AWA or Japan Andre was such a big draw. He never had that moment where he was carrying a company but was a great gate attraction everywhere he went and helped give a rub to so many of the stars of the territories. One of the first crossover stars appearing in TV shows such as “The Six Million Dollar Man”, music videos like “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper and movies such as the critically acclaimed “The Princess Bride”. Andre has even served as the inspiration for the movie “My Giant” and was the first inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame which was really created to honor him after he passed away in 1993. He may not have been a spectacular worker but he is still the big man that all 7 foot guys will be compared to for the rest of his career and now he is in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
12. HHH- Forget the fact that he is married to Stephanie McMahon, an officer in WWE and potentially is going to run the company one day he is still one of the greatest wrestlers in history and was so before he ever married into wrestling royalty. A 13 time World Champion, 2 time European Champion, 5 time Intercontinental Champion, 3 time World Tag Team Champion (The Unified WWE Tag Team Title reign counts twice), 1997 King of the Ring, and 2002 Royal Rumble winner how can you deny this guy his credit? HHH has definitely earned his spot in the 100 and he is another guy who before his career is said and done may find his spot higher in the future.
13. EL Santo- Finally we get a Mexican wrestler into the top 100 and what a wrestler we get in what is arguably the most famous Mexican wrestler ever in El Santo. He is the wrestler to have popularized wrestling in Mexico and is considered an icon not just in wrestling in Mexico but in all of Mexican sports and for that matter pop culture as he has starred in movies and cartoons in Mexico as well. While there are cases that could be made for many this writer considers El Santo to be the greatest Mexican wrestler ever and as such he gets the top spot for Mexican wrestlers in the top 100.
14. Dusty Rhodes- I don’t think fans will ever truly comprehend what kind of performer Dusty Rhodes was. Truly a success in every territory he went to and even when he first ventured into WWF and they tried to humiliate him with the polka dot gimmick he still managed to get himself over. Dusty Rhodes in my opinion was the epitome of the word charisma as he wasn’t a good looking guy, a terrific wrestler or anything else but just a guy who could talk you into the building and he did it as well as if not better than anyone else in the history of this business. Fans tend to harp on the negative aspects of his time as booker of WCW but he is also the guy who came up with Starrcade, Wargames, and other names and gimmicks and is still respected today as the head guy in WWE’s developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling. I don’t think there is a single wrestling Hall of Fame that doesn’t have him as a member and no top anything list in wrestling would be complete without “The American Dream”.
15. Verne Gagne-Fans are going to be critical of this one as a guy who was only successful because he was able to book himself on top and not be particularly mindful of the fact that Verne didn’t do anything that other promoters of his day didn’t do as well. Fact is he kept his company afloat as a top draw for an extended period of time and deserved most of his time at the top of the card. Gagne holds the record for the most combined days as world champion with his 10 world title reigns and has the third longest title reign in the history of the business. Criticize him all you want but outside of Jeff Jarrett who had a lot of help there is no other wrestler turned promoter who was able to take his company national and unlike TNA the AWA made money and that was due to Verne Gagne being on top of the card for much of that era. A top 10 promoter, top 5 trainer and according to this list a top 15 wrestler he deserves every accolade he receives.
16. Terry Funk-When you talk about a wrestler who has survived the ages you have to start the conversation by talking about “The Funker” who won his first world title in 1975 and his last world title 21 years later. He may be one of the most over the top performers in the history of the business and as such has had much success everywhere he went no matter what role he played at the time. An Icon in Japan as well as the states and well maybe the craziest guy ever in the history of professional wrestling, one of my favorite all time performers Terry Funk number 16 in the top 100.
17. Dory Funk Jr. – The second longest reigning NWA Champion ever and the brother of the previously mentioned Terry Funk occupies number 17 here. There are some that may argue that Dory should have been ranked higher than his brother but I always felt Terry was more flashier and a in a business that really encourages showmanship I had to give Terry the nod but that is not to say Dory was not great in his own right. While less flashy and crazy than his brother he was the better technical wrestler and one of the top technical wrestlers of his day. A solid knack for ring psychology that he helped pass down to his many students in the Funkin Conservatory, you might have seen some of his protégés do their thing today as some of his students include The Hardy’s, Edge, Christian, Lita, Mickie James, Steve Corino and Kurt Angle amongst others. Dory is well deserving of his spot in the top 100.
18. Shohei “Giant” Baba- Although I ranked him considerably beneath Antonio Inoki if Inoki was number 1 as far as the Japanese guys go than Baba would probably have to be 1B as the only reason I probably ranked Inoki higher was because he was so much more successful as a promoter than Baba and got more out of his wrestling celebrity than Baba ever did. Plus unlike Inoki Baba stepped out of the limelight that much sooner. This is not to say Baba did not enjoy his successes in wrestling though as he is the first Japanese wrestler ever to become NWA World Champion, a title he would hold on 3 separate occasions and held several major titles in Japan for JWA and for his own promotion All Japan Pro Wrestling. Definitely one of the top Japanese names ever in wrestling.
19. Sting-Probably the greatest wrestler of this era to never sign with WWE. Sting comes in strong at number 19 in the top 100 with a very impressive resume as he sits with 10 World Heavyweight Title reigns amongst numerous other championships to his name. He has come a long way from the Blade Runner days with another well known name in wrestling The Ultimate Warrior. Probably the most important and valuable performer for WCW during his time and the first big name wrestler to really make an impact (no pun intended) in TNA. Good promo, strong in ring talent and a top 20 guy in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
20. Jack Brisco- I have to say it’s really hard to write about guys that I wasn’t really a fan for their heyday but you always hear wrestlers from that era put over Jack Brisco as one of the greatest wrestlers ever and when you look at his resume it’s very hard to argue against it. Whether it was competing by himself or with Brother Gerry Brisco Jack was on top everywhere he went and won numerous titles and drew big houses. The wrestler who Ric Flair probably really stole the figure four from and well when “Naitch” steals from you that’s pretty high praise. Jack Brisco rounds out the top 20 of the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
21. Ricky Steamboat-Some would say Ricky was the greatest babyface wrestler of all time and while I would probably disagree with that assessment he is definitely in the argument. A consummate professional who worked with everyone whether it was at the top or bottom of the card and seemed to make the most of wherever he was positioned on the card. If you saw Ricky Steamboat on the card you knew you were going to get a solid wrestling match if nothing else. It’s been said numerous times and it deserves one more mention here but for any wrestler who wants to know how to work properly go watch yourself a Ricky Steamboat match and you will be guaranteed one hell of a lesson.
22. Gorgeous George- The first wrestler to truly be a star on TV is coming in strong at number 22 in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”. George wasn’t really known for winning titles but for really being the first gimmick wrestler to gain mainstream attention. You see George was the first wrestler to really take advantage of TV when it first was invented and well he used that to his advantage as he wasn’t just a big wrestling star but just a big star in general. George was such a big wrestling star that he inspired another sports and pop culture icon in Muhammad Ali. George may have been the first one to “talk them into the seats” and as someone who has read and enjoyed the recent Gorgeous George book Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad Boy Wrestler who Created American Pop Culture I find myself really looking forward to the upcoming WWE bio film and well if you are a wrestling fan I imagine you would be as well.
23. The Rock- Finally The Rock has made the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” at number 23. Not bad for a guy who didn’t really have 10 full years as an active competitor. Even though he wasn’t around that long he made an impact in wrestling that will never be forgotten. One of the top stars of the “Attitude Era” with 9 world titles to his credit and probably the funniest, greatest promo ever in the history of the business. I’m like many others who wish The Rock didn’t retire when he did, who knows what would have happened had he stuck around? He may have been higher on this list that much is for sure.
24. Keji Mutoh AKA The Great Muta- Oftentimes you hear about a guy being considered an all time great in Japan and the United States and that wrestler is an American Keji Mutoh may be the only Japanese wrestler who can be considered an all time great in two continents as he has the kind of resume that would make him a Hall of Fame candidate on either continent. While he didn’t invent the Moonsault as many claim (I’ve seen others including Lanny Poffo do it first) he popularized it in America, along with the many different colored and purposed mists. A former NWA World Champion, NWA TV Champion, WCW Tag Team Champion, AJPW Triple Crown Champion, AJPW Unified Tag Team Champion, IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and IWGP Tag Team Champion and he is also one of the only Japanese wrestler I can recall to win titles in WWC where is a former Puerto Rico and TV Champion as well. The Great Muta comes in at number 24 strong in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
25. Buddy Rogers- The Original “Nature Boy” rounds out the top 25 here and I can’t think of a better wrestler than Rogers who was not only a former NWA World Champion but the first ever WWWF Champion as well which of course was the forbearer to the WWE Championship. There is no telling how wrestling would be today if we didn’t have Buddy Rogers around there may not be a WWE, Ric Flair or many of the other wrestlers who have copied some of his style over the years. A strong drawing card wherever he went who was a main eventer for 15 plus years something that is still heralded to this day.
26. Nick Bockwinkle- How can you have a top 100 wrestlers list without listing the great Nick Bockwinkle? To tell you the truth I am still amazed WWE hasn’t come out with a DVD with some sort of documentary on this great former 4 time world champion. Many of todays fans remember him as the WCW commissioner but he really was the AWA in the late 80’s and pretty much went up against everyone in that company at the time. Plus he was a member of one of the greatest tag teams in history competing with the great Ray Stevens and winning multiple tag team titles there. Nick Bockwinkle was marvelous.
27. Mitsuharu Misawa- In wrestling it’s often the case that when a persona that was successful is given to someone else the successor never quite has the success of the original. However that can’t be said for the legendary Mitsuharu Misawa who took over the Tiger Mask gimmick from Satoru Sayama and went on to surpass Sayama’s career in every way. An 8 time world champion in Japan who was so great in his performances that he has more 5 star rated matches by Dave Meltzer than any other wrestler by a very wide margin. He wasn’t just great in the ring but behind the scenes as well serving as All Japan Pro Wrestling President after the death of Giant Baba and the founder of Pro Wrestling Noah and was the driving force of the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance which was created to coordinate efforts with other promotions to help out and avoid competing against each other and has also unified as a union of sorts looking out for the future of its athletes. Misawa was taken from the wrestling world dying in the ring last year but his legacy will last for generations to come.
28. Bob Backlund-Fans always discuss the Sammartino Era and the Hulk Hogan Era in WWE but you never hear much of the Backlund Era which is a shame as Backlund may not have been the most flamboyant champion but what he was, was a great worker who got the most out of his opponents whether it was Jimmy Snuka in which the first cage dive actually took place or against one of the Samoans. If you saw Bob Backlund on the card you were going to get a good wrestling match which is something we can’t say about too many guys in 2010. Plus for all the knocks on his personality it is this writers opinion that he was very entertaining during his comeback in the 90’s as the lunatic Bob Backlund and who knows what would have happened had his last championship run not been cut short. Bob Backlund sits very firmly at number 28 in the “Wrestling Rumblings top 100”.
29. Mil Mascaras-“The Man of a Thousand Masks” comes in at number 29 and is probably the first luchadore I can recall seeing in action and hearing of from a very early age as his exploits are known internationally in both the United States where he has competed in the past in WWE, WCW and the territories and Japan. The word innovator gets thrown around all too often in professional wrestling but if it wasn’t for Mil Mascaras we might not have a Rey Misterio, Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger or any of the other masked greats we have had in wrestling and his bloodline in wrestling goes strong today as his nephew competes today in WWE. You guys know him as Alberto Del Rio and it’s not that much of an exaggeration when Del Rio claims to have a bloodline of kings as Mascaras is one of the “Kings” of Lucha Libre in Mexico.
30. Rey Mysterio Jr. – Yes I went with the Mysterio spelling instead of Misterio and well I believe in paying respect to Rey Mysterio Sr. so I am going to acknowledge it that way in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”. Rey Mysterio is probably the greatest luchadore of the modern era and before all is said and done could be remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest little man wrestler ever. At 5 ft 3 and well under 200 pounds Rey is one of the unlikeliest success stories ever in wrestling being a 2 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Plus as someone of Latino heritage myself it is my opinion that Rey Mysterio Jr. is the most popular Latino wrestler ever with a U.S audience as his shirts and masks are everywhere. Rey deserves all the credit in the world for his success and deserves to be in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
31. Shinya Hashimoto-One of the first Japanese wrestlers outside of Keji Mutoh who I first became aware of as a fan and if you saw this guy in his prime how could you not be a fan of his work as it was stiff and brutal and great to watch. The longest reigning IWGP champion ever and one of two men to hold the NWA, IWGP and All Japan Triple Crown. The founder of the Pro Wrestling Zero One promotion which at one time was one of the bigger promotions in Japan and was the promotion that popped the Japan cherry for many big stars such as Low Ki, Steve Corino, CM Punk, Colt Cabana and others. “Fat Elvis” deserves his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
32. Bobo Brazil-“The Jackie Robinson of Professional Wrestling” comes in at number 32. Bobo Brazil is actually the first true African American World Champion in professional wrestling having defeated Buddy Rogers in a match for the NWA World Title once to hold the title for 2 days in a reign that is not recognized by the NWA record books but did take place. Brazil proved that an African American star could not just appeal to fellow Africans but people of all races and was the African American wrestler to headline against other races. He competed against many stars with his “coco butt” and was the first ever WWWF United States Champion and held that title more than anyone else during its 13 year history. The WWWF United States Championship was at that time the second most important title in the promotion preceding the not yet created Intercontinental Championship. Bobo Brazil is a legend not just amongst African Americans but all wrestling fans and as such has earned his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
33. Superstar Billy Graham-It’s funny how a wrestler who really only had a one year run is so fondly remembered but that is the case with Superstar Billy Graham whose 10 month title reign as a heel which at the time was unheard of in the then WWWF inspired many future generations of superstars such as Hulk Hogan, Jessy Ventura, and Scott Steiner. It’s a shame that he has become so bitter towards the business that has made him what he is but he will always be “The man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour. The women’s pet, the men’s regret. What you see is what you get. And what you don’t see is better yet.” This Icon has indeed earned his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
34. Rikidozan-It’s funny but as big as wrestling is in Japan it was a Korean named Mitsuhiro Mimota who brought the art to the island. Name doesn’t sound familiar to you? Maybe you know him better as Rikidozan? Rikidozan came to Japan to become a champion sumo wrestler and somehow became the father of Puroresu in Japan with his matches being must see TV over there. I remember hearing stories of Rikidozan vs. Freddie Blassie in matches where Blassie was billed as “The Vampire” in Japan for the WWA World Championship in which several elderly fans suffered heart attacks and died while watching the match in horror at the punishment Blassie inflicted upon their hero. I don’t know about you but I have never heard of a fan dying watching Hulk Hogan, Sting, John Cena or anyone else getting worked over in a wrestling match. That kind of reaction shows passion and dedication that Rikidozan must have worked hard to inspire in his fans. He was the founder of the first wrestling organization in Japan the Japanese Wrestling Assocation which would go under after his death and be replaced by All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling which were created by two of JWA’s biggest stars and Rikidozan’s prized pupils Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. Rikidozan inspired a nation to become infatuated with the business and as a result has more than earned a spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
35. Dick The Bruiser-I would say most fans who are really smart to the wrestling business have heard of the Log Angeles based WWA but there aren’t too many fans who acknowledge the Indianapolis based WWA of which Dick The Bruiser owned and headlined for 25 years. During his time in the WWA he was an 11 time WWA World Champion and one of the biggest draws in the company. The WWA was one of the last territories to go under and it was in large part due to Dick’s drawing power. The WWA would go onto have a partnership of sorts with the AWA in which they would co promote and recognize AWA championships and The Bruiser would enjoy a reign as AWA World Champion and have multiple title reigns with his partner Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski. These two were probably the most dominant tag team ever in the AWA whose run was only derailed when a fledgling tag team derailed them and took the business by storm. You might have heard of them they are known as The Road Warriors. Dick The Bruiser may be gone but he is definitely not forgotten and has earned his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
36. Randy Savage-Ooooohhh Yeah!!!! Randy Savage hits the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” strong at number 36 with an awesome career. I have no problem admitting that whether it was as a heel or as a babyface I have always enjoyed Randy Savage and I like many fans miss his participation in the business dearly. A second generation wrestler as he was the son of the late, great Angelo Poffo “The Macho Man” was the star of his father’s ICW which was considered an “Outlaw Promotion” at the time (today we call them “indies”) and was a big star in the south competing against many stars down there such as Austin Idol, Jerry Lawler and Dutch Mantel. Of course like most others who were around in that era he would venture to the then WWF and became a mega star. I remember seeing him early on when he initially feuded with Hulk Hogan and wore “Hulk Who” T Shirts. Even though he was a heel early on he would win over the crowd and become the biggest babyface in the company next to Hogan and enjoy 2 reigns as WWF Champion. He would like others follow Hogan to WCW and enjoy 4 WCW World Championship reigns as well. One of the greatest promos ever in the history of the business and in my opinion one of the greatest characters. “Freak out, freak out” Randy Savage is in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
37. Mick Foley-For such an insane in ring competitor Mick Foley is probably by far and away the nicest guy ever to step foot in a wrestling ring and he ranks highly at number 37 in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”. The original backyard wrestler punished his body for years and was one of the last wrestlers to travel the territories having competed all over including Japan and gained notoriety for being willing to do anything to become a star. After memorable stints in WCW and ECW it happened for him in WWE as Mankind he went on to become one of the most likeable WWE Superstars ever becoming WWE Champion on 3 separate occasions and his biggest contribution to the business has to be in showing that wrestling fans do in fact read and penning 4 awesome biographies. I don’t know many wrestlers who can pen one but Foley has done 4 and each one is great in its own way. When used properly he is still one of the most interesting characters of the business today as he proved not too long ago with a solid last man standing performance against number one in this countdown Ric Flair. Mick Foley crashed into our living rooms at King of the Ring in 1998 in a memorable Hell in a Cell match with the Undertaker and crashed into wrestling fans hearts where he has been ever since. He is now crashing into the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
38. Big Van Vader-“Who is the Man?” Big Van Vader is that’s who? In my opinion one of the greatest super heavyweight wrestlers ever Vader comes in at number 38 in the countdown. How great is Vader? Well to the best of my knowledge he is the only wrestler ever to hold world championships in Mexico, Europe, Japan and the United States some of those titles being held simultaneously. To think this man once was known early on in his career as “The Baby Bull” and was only given the Vader gimmick after the original choice of the Ultimate Warrior proved to be too expensive. The Baby Bull rampaged the wrestling world and I sincerely hope he is amongst many to be honored with the distinction of being a WWE Hall of Famer next year in Atlanta but until then he will have to settle for being in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
39. Jumbo Tsruta-The first ever All Japan Wrestling Triple Crown champion and first co holder of the All Japan Unified Tag Team Championship comes in at number 39 in the countdown. When Giant Baba started All Japan Pro Wrestling one of the smartest moves he made was to make Jumbo Tsruta his top star. Jumbo Tsruta was trained by the Funks and like the Funks enjoyed a long career which had him winning many championships including the previously mentioned AJPW Triple Crown, the PWF World Championship and the AWA World Championship. Jumbo Tsruta was AJPW in the early years competing against many greats such as Terry Gordy, Stan Hansen, Nick Bockinkle and others. It can be argued that while many wrestlers decline as they age his work got better and there are many who consider him one of the best wrestlers in the world during the 1980’s. He definitely earned his place in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
40. El Canek-One of the greatest Mexican wrestlers ever El Canek comes in at number 40 in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”. Canek was one of the more popular wrestlers in Mexico as a heavyweight which is saying something considering Mexico generally favors the lighter weight wrestlers and has held the UWA World Championship 15 times winning his first title by defeating the legendary Lou Thesz. Canek holds victories over many other wrestlers that I would imagine you are all familiar with names like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Big Van Vader and Tatsumi Fujinami amongst others. One of the biggest lucha stars in the 80’s.
41. John Cena- “The Doctor of Thuganomics” comes in at number 41 and you should all hold your groans as he deserves to be on this list. The face of the WWE for the past 5 years and former 9 time world champion may have the world title record when all is said and done. Perhaps the most polarizing babyface ever as I can never recall a beloved babyface getting just as many “you suck” chants as chants for his name but for some reason it works for him. Rest assured the best is yet to come for Cena and I expect his name to rise in this countdown in the future.
42. Stan Hansen-An amazing performer who headlined in 3 different decades Stan Hansen comes in at number 42 in our countdown. Whether it was in the 70’s breaking Bruno Sammartinos neck with his trademark Lariat, the 80’s defeating Rick Martel for the AWA World Championship or the 90’s where he rampaged All Japan Pro Wrestling Hansen left an impression wherever he went. A 9 time world champion in both the US and Japan Hansen has earned his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
43. Jushin Liger-Isn’t it amazing how a gimmick that was based on a popular anime evolved into one of the greatest cruiserweight wrestlers in Japanese wrestling history? Jushin “Thunder” Liger hits the countdown at number 43. What most fans don’t tend to talk about is that Keiichi Yamada (Liger’s real name) actually had a pretty decent career before the gimmick that he would become better known for competing in New Japan and winning the Young Lions Cup and having classic matches with British wrestler Mark “Rollerball” Rocco for the All Star Wrestling Middleweight championship in England and even spent some time in the legendary Hart Dungeon while competing in Stampede. This was all before he would put on the mask and become known as Jushin Liger. That’s a pretty interesting career right there but what comes afterward makes him a surefire Hall of Famer in anyone’s book winning world titles in Mexico, England, Japan and the United States. Many fans are going to have debates as to whom the best cruiserweight wrestler in history is. Some will tell you the exploits of the Dynamite Kid; others will marvel at Rey Mysterio…me? I’m going with Jushin Liger and that’s one of the reasons why he makes the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
44. Kurt Angle-The only man to ever win a gold medal to compete in professional wrestling hits the list at number 44 and what’s scary about Kurt Angle is that he started his wrestling career a little bit later than most or he could easily be much higher on this list and probably will be when his career is finally over. If you count his IWGP 3rd belt title reign (which I don’t) and the brief moment where he was the NWA World Champion (which I do) he is a 12 time world champion although TNA would incorrectly count him as a 13 time champion, regardless his career has been epic and outside of Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker there probably has not been as big of a big match performer as Kurt Angle. Here is a pretty interesting statistic Kurt Angle has held every title in the WWE available to Men except the now retired WWE World Tag Team Championship and has held every title available to him in TNA except the TNA TV Title. There is no other wrestler active or otherwise to have that accomplishment and I doubt there ever will be.
45. Antonino Rocca-It’s a shame how many young fans are not familiar with this name but this was probably the biggest north east draw before Bruno Sammartino for the then Capitol Wrestling Corporation which you might know better now as World Wrestling Entertainment. Rocca was the preeminent aerialist of his era. It’s a little known fact but in WWE’s record books when they list the final opponent of Buddy Rogers in the fictional Rio De Janeiro to crown the first WWWF Champion that opponent was in fact Antonino Rocca so that shows you in how much high regard he was held. He actually did hold 2 versions of the World Title in reigns that are not widely recognized. Antonino Rocca’s contributions are one of the main reasons WWE is around today and that is why he makes the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
46. Tatsumi Fujinami-One of the greatest Japanese wrestlers ever comes in at number 46 as Tatsumi Fujinami is probably one of the more underrated Japanese wrestlers out there. You never hear mention of his matches which go all the way back to the 70’s when he was competing then as a Jr. heavyweight and winning titles in Mexico and the US to the 80’s where he became the first wrestler to ever simultaneously hold the IWGP and the NWA world titles. He would also hold several regional titles such in Don Owen’s territory and in World Class Championship Wrestling and of course he would hold many, many titles in his native Japan. Fujininami is probably better known to US fans as the wrestler who main evented against Ric Flair in the first Superbrawl PPV. What most fans don’t bring up is how that match was actually a unification match in Japan where the WCW and NWA titles were unified once again. Fujininami was one of the greats and is indeed worthy of being in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
47. Chris Jericho-The first Unisputed Champion in over 40 years comes in at number 47. Chris Jericho has come quite a long way from being trained in the dungeon and initially gaining fame as one half of “Sudden Impact” and “The Thrill Seekers”. He has gone onto become not just a wrestling great but a nationally known celebrity. A 6 time former world champion who has been one of the more versatile performers in wrestling history whether it was as a shy babyface, an egomaniac, a comedy figure or otherwise Chris Jericho has made you remember he was on the show and he is more than worthy of a spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
48. Kenta Kobashi- Another Japanese great makes the countdown as Kenta Kobashi comes in at number 48. Kenta Kobashi doesn’t make the list just because he was a very decorated world champion or because he was a great draw, what really makes him stand out is the amazing matches he competed in over the years. As a matter of fact to the best of my knowledge Kenta Kobashi is the only wrestler to have a Wrestling Observer five star rated match on two separate continents. Many fans that are well versed in the US style of wrestling often cite Shawn Micheals as the greatest in ring performer of this generation but the truth is that distinction just might belong to Kenta Kobashi but most fans will never know this unless they followed Japanese wrestling. Kobashi is definitely worth of inclusion on this esteemed list.
49. Blue Demon Sr. – The legendary luchadore hits the list at number 49. Every legend needs a legendary rival to have stories about and in the 50’s you couldn’t talk about El Santo without mentioning his rivalry with Blue Demon and just like Santo he starred in a variety of movies. A huge box office draw and one of the true legends of Lucha Libre.
50. Jerry Lawler-After watching Raw this past week it would appear this Hall of Famer is still going strong at age 61 after 40 years in the wrestling business. One of the greatest regional stars ever having held well over 160 titles during his career as a matter of fact it can probably be said with great certainty that he has held more titles than any other wrestler in North America. Jerry Lawler rounds out the top 50 as the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” rolls on.
51. Jim Londos- “The Golden Greek” was one of the biggest wrestling stars coming out of the Great Depression and held seven different versions of the world title including the original version which is the main title by which all the other titles we have today really spun out of. He had a 31 year career in which he actually retired with the world title ending an 8 year title reign. Was considered a great draw by any era’s standards having once sold out a 100,000 seat venue in Greece where he was considered a national hero. I would say that has more than earned a spot on the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
52. Pedro Morales- Probably the most well known Puerto Rican wrestler ever to US fans. Morales had a great career winning many titles in many territories. He is most well known for his reign as WWWF Champion and for being the first recognized “triple crown” winner in the company. What he receives no credit for is actually being the first “grand slam” champion in that promotions history also holding the WWWF United States, Intercontinental and Tag Team championships as well. As great of a career as he had in WWWF he was always sort of second tier to Bruno Sammartino which is a shame considering he had a pretty strong career before ever setting foot in the WWWF being a big star in the territories specifically Los Angeles where he won the WWA version of the world title on two occasions. Surely a fine candidate for inclusion in this countdown.
53. Perro Aguayo Sr.-You’re just not a follower of Lucha Libre if you are not familiar with Pedro Aguayo Sr. as he is one of the biggest draws ever in the history of Lucha Libre and one of the driving stars of the now defunct UWA and the biggest promotion in Mexico AAA. It was Aguayo who was the big babyface star in AAA and would headline there first US PPV When Worlds Collide against a very young Konann. Aguayo actually was the first WWF Light Heavyweight Champion ever in a reign that the company chooses to not recognize and was the last real rival of El Santo. A hardcore style wrestler before that term was ever coined he more than deserves his spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
54. Dick Beyer-Whether it was “The Destroyer” or “Dr. X” Dick Beyer was probably the most successful US based masked wrestler of his era. A big draw wherever he went and a multiple holder of the world championship. If you can believe it he was also a big star in Japan wrestling of all people Mexican Icon Mil Mascaras in a battle of masked icons. Dick Beyer is probably best known to younger fans as the man who inducted Gorgeous George in the WWE Hall of Fame this year in Phoenix which is a shame because he should’ve been inducted right alongside him.
55. Ed Lewis-As much as Chris Jericho is heralded by today’s fan for being the first undisputed champion in over 40 years what about this man who held the original undisputed title on 6 different occasions. One of the original shooters who learned in his day the art of working the audience and was the first champion to have worked outcomes in his matches. Ed Lewis was the technician of his day inventing the sleeper hold you see Dolph Ziggler use today. One of the members of the famed promoting group known as the “Gold Dust Trio” Lewis understood early on that wrestling needed to be worked to entice more fans to watch and the business has been better off for it. If he is not a candidate for the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” I don’t know who is.
56. Edouard Carpentier- Perhaps the greatest French wrestler of all time was a big draw in his day winning 6 world titles including the NWA and AWA world title of which his NWA title win over Lou Thesz was the catalyst for the creation of the AWA world title. He is probably best known to today’s fans as the man how helped find and train Andre the Giant and actually was the one who helped promote Andre and introduce him to the McMahons.”The Flying Frenchman” was one of the all time greats and is definitely worthy of the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
57. George Hackenschmidt-There are some fans who will probably argue the inclusion of some of the early 1900 wrestling stars but we would have no industry today if not for them and well George Hackenschmidt may have not made the money that could have been made in the 2000’s but he was the first recognized undisputed world champion in the sport; the key word there is “sport” you see Hackenschmidt wasn’t the world champion because a promoter chose him for the title. He was the champion because he legitimately won that title in an era where titles were legitimately competed for. He toured the world and took on champion after champion in other countries until he was universally recognized as champion. Without him winning this title we don’t get to Ed Lewis working matches or Lou Thesz helping solidify the National Wrestling Alliance and we don’t have John Cena or Jeff Hardy running around with world championships today. George Hackenschmidt deserves a world of credit for carrying the sport so that it could get to where it is now.
58. Frank Gotch- The second ever world heavyweight champion in our business and another legitimate title holder having never competed in worked matches. Gotch competed in what was really the original “screwjob” having allegedly conspired to have George Hackenschmidt injured so that he could defeat him for the world title. Gotch maintained a stranglehold on the title for 5 years until retiring and threw the wrestling world off its kilter as it would be another 2 years before the business would recognize an undisputed champion. If Hackenschmidt was the “John Cena “of his day than it could be said that Gotch was the “Randy Orton” of his time also (I know very bad comparison but the best I could come up with)
59. Riki Choshu-The inventor of the Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter comes in the list at 59 as Riki Choshu splashes into the countdown. Riki Choshu was one of the top heels in Japan in the day and actually was the leader of the first Japanese wrestling stable known as ishingun. He won titles in both Japan and the U.S including 5 versions of the world championship and wasn’t just a great wrestler but a tremendous booker and promoter as well.
60. Bruiser Brody-Probably the greatest big man worker ever next to the Undertaker. Frank “Bruiser” Brody was the outlaw of his day not devoting himself to a single promoter when the business was going national and still managing to maintain his star power. To this day there are fans who speculate what would have happened if Brody was in WCW or the WWE but alas he wasn’t as he was prematurely taken from us after an altercation with Jose “Invader” Gonzales. The closest thing the industry will ever have to a true enigma in the business.
61. Toshiaki Kawada-Another amazing worker from Japan makes the list as Toshiaki Kawada comes in at 61. Kawada was an incredible performer with 17 five star matches as ranked according to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer but he probably had a ton of 4 star ones that you just won’t hear much about. A 6 time world champion in Japan who mixed it up with the best of them and has done more than enough to be included in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
62. Chris Benoit- I thought long and hard about including Benoit on this list and while I don’t wish to glorify a murder I couldn’t do this list objectively without including him. Benoit was probably the greatest technician of the modern era of wrestling and from a professional standpoint inspired many of the stars that we see today. While Chris Benoit the man is not worthy of anything but contempt, Chris Benoit the wrestler is indeed worthy of the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
63. Curt Hennig-There shouldn’t be a wrestling fan today who is not familiar with the name “Mr. Perfect”. I remember vividly watching Curt Hennig in that role as a child filming vignettes which would end with him saying “Hulk Hogan you can’t do that” and just seething. He was a fantastic heel and in ring performer who bought the best out of all performers. Although he was the AWA World Champion it was during a time where the AWA was not what it used to be and despite being one of the best wrestlers of his time never really got the accolades that others who were less talented than him received. Curt Hennig is indeed “Perfect” for inclusion in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
64. The Ultimate Warrior-WWE would have you believe he self destructed but part of me gets the feeling that if he showed up today he would still get one of the biggest reactions ever. He was never a great worker but probably had one of the best gimmicks ever as his entrance and character was widely popular in the 90’s the WWE’s first attempt to replace Hulk Hogan and the first guy in over 6 years to cleanly pin Hogan. A former WWF Champion and Intercontinental Champion when those titles meant more. One wonders what would have happened had Warrior got along better with Vince McMahon and stuck around longer but one thing that can’t be disputed is that Warrior is still one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time and as much as WWE can try to say otherwise one of their biggest draws.
65. Jimmy Snuka-One of the most popular performers of his time Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka hits the countdown at number 65. The word inspirational gets thrown around a lot in this business but Jimmy Snuka’s infamous cage dive onto Don Muraco inspired a great deal of many wrestlers to do many other death defying leaps and other stunts. It’s hard to believe that this guy headlined for so many years in the WWF and yet he never won a title there. He did however win several titles in his career including the NWA U.S title and the first ECW title. “The Superfly” has definitely earned a spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
66. Eddie Guerrero-One of my favorite wrestlers of all time, Eddie Guerrero hits the countdown at number 66. What can I say about Eddie that hasn’t been said already? He was a spectacular performer who became popular worldwide winning titles in Mexico, Japan and the U.S and he was taken from us way too soon. The man who was famous for “Lying, Cheating and Stealing” didn’t have to do any of that to make this countdown because he earned it.
67. The Dynamite Kid-One of the greatest workers of all time; The Dynamite Kid hits the countdown at number 67. The Dynamite Kid showed fans early on that size doesn’t matter in the wrestling industry as he captivated a future generation of wrestlers with his talent and passion. This man literally destroyed his body to make an impact in the business and while he probably never achieved the level of success that he should’ve I consider him pound for pound to be one of the greatest wrestlers ever.
68. Kevin Nash-Whether you like him or you don’t he was one of the best things going in his day. Kevin Nash was a star in both the WWF and WCW during the height of the Monday Night Wars. When you consider wrestlers who can say they headlined as main eventers in both those companies during that era Kevin Nash’s name is one of the first that comes to mind and with good reason as he was one of the driving forces behind what was coined “The New Generation” and early on considered the leader of “The New Generation” holding the WWF title for 11 months and was a founding father of the New World Order one of the most successful factions ever. The fastest wrestler to ever win the WWF Triple Crown, a 6 time world champion as well as a 12 time tag team champion. Nash being in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” is “just too sweeeeeet”.
69. Jeff Jarrett-I’ll admit it I have never been a Jeff Jarrett fan but I can’t deny the level of success he has had in the business. Sure most of it has been due to the influence of being the son of former promoter Jerry Jarrett but you can’t take away the hard work that Jeff has put in over the years. A 10 time world champion who has held titles in WWE, WCW and TNA. As much as an opponent of TNA as I’ve been over the years I’ll give Jarrett all the credit in the world for not submitting to the McMahon Monopoly and giving fans something of an alternative product (This is not to say that I think that product is worth watching most of the time). Like him or hate him you can’t deny his passion for the business and that passion has earned him a spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
70. Edge-He has come a very long way from the quiet guy in The Brood. Edge had had unparalleled success in WWE holding 29 championships and is the only wrestler who has held every active male championship in WWE today. The only superstar to ever hold the Money in the Bank briefcase, win the Royal Rumble and the King of the Ring is definitely a candidate worthy of inclusion in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
71. Ted Dibiase-One of the greatest wrestlers to never win the world title. Whether it was Japan, Mid South, WWF, NWA or as a heel or babyface Ted Dibiase always managed to leave an impression on you. Everyone has a price to be included in the top 100 Dibiase’s was winning 29 major championships, being part of the Rat Pack, Money Inc . and the N.W.O. I think that more than gets you a spot in “The Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
72. Rick Rude-Whether it was in the NWA, WWE or any of the territories “Ravishing” Rick Rude was a star wherever he went and was one hell of a worker. From being the first ever World Class Wrestling Association World Champion to teaming up with Manny Fernandez in Jim Crockett Promotions and winning the NWA World Tag Team Championships to beating the Ultimate Warrior at the height of his popularity for the WWF Intercontinental title to feuding with Ric Flair over the NWA World Title Rick Rude made you took notice. Even during his time with ECW he was one of the stars of the company despite never having wrestled a match in his stay with the promotion.”What I’d like to have right now is for all you fat, out of shape sweathogs” to stand up and take notice Rick Rude is in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
73. Kensuke Sasaki-One of the best competitors ever in Japanese wrestling Kensuke Sasaki hits the list at number 73. Sasaki was an awesome performer having achieved accolades in Mexico, Japan, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S. Whether it was as a tag team competitor in winning 9 world tag team championships or as a singles star being the first of just two wrestlers to win all 3 of Japans World Championships (IWGP, All Japan Triple Crown, GHC). Hell he even has two MMA victories under his belt. Kensuke Sasaki is an honored member of the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
74. Terry Gordy-Whether it was as a member of the legendary Fabulous Freebirds, The Miracle Violence Connection or just by himself Terry Gordy was an amazing worker in his day. I can’t say he didn’t his due in America as a singles wrestler as he held a variety of singles titles including the SMW title and being the first UWF World Champion but he really hit his stride in Japan where he is still considered a legend to this day winning the All Japan Triple Crown twice. If you talk about the top five big men workers in the business you aren’t having much of a conversation if you don’t mention Terry Gordy.
75. Roddy Piper-One of the greatest promos ever “Hot Rod” comes in at number 75. If there was ever a dictionary definition for “talk them into the arena” it would have his face on it. A key figure in the Rock “N” Wrestling Era. It can be argued that Hulk Hogan would have never been as popular as he became if Roddy Piper didn’t make the fans hate him so much. Successful wherever he went whether it was Portland where he was one of the top 3 stars ever in the history of that territory, Los Angeles where him and Chavo Guerrero Sr. had a classic feud in which his head was shaved, Mid Atlantic where him and Ric Flair were magic to the WWF where he became the stickman by which all others should be compared. Roddy Piper is indeed an Icon in this business and worthy of inclusion in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
76. Jeff Hardy-“The Charismatic Enigma” is one of the most unlikely stars ever in wrestling starting off his career as an enhancement performer in WWE and growing to become one of its most beloved superstars ever. In addition to his current status as TNA World Champion he has put together an impressive collection of titles including the WWE Championship, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship, European Championship, Hardcore Championship, Light Heavyweight Championship, UWA World Middleweight Championship and 7 World Tag Team Championships. Jeff Hardy is indeed one of the Top 100 wrestlers of all time.
77. Randy Orton-“The Legend Killer” is number 77 on the countdown. Orton at 24 became one of the youngest world champions ever third only to Lou Thesz and the Big Show and he is one of the most popular names in the business today. A third generation wrestler who has held the world title 7 times in his 10 year career and is still only the young age of 30. When his career is over Randy Orton may easily be in the top 10 on this list but for now he is number 77 and considering that he is the youngest wrestler in this countdown that is a pretty impressive number.
78. Booker T.-One of the greatest African American performers ever Booker T. comes in at number 78 “can you dig that sucka?” An extremely decorated performer who has won titles on every level in WCW and WWE and most recently was the first TNA Legends/Global/TV Champion. Who knows maybe he still has some more titles left in him but if he doesn’t his accomplishments definitely warrant him being included in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
79. Carlos Colon-As a person of Puerto Rican descent myself I can attest that Carlos Colon is a sports Icon in Puerto Rico holding the WWC Universal/World Championships 28 times and holding countless other titles in that promotion as well as owning it. There are many fans who will say that the only reason Carlos Colon had such a decorated career was due to owning WWC but what those same fans don’t realize is that the only reason WWC was so successful was due to the starpower of Colon as he was a draw feuding with many of the well known stars of his time including Abdullah the Butcher, Ric Flair, Stan Hansen and Andre the Giant. Carlos Colon helped make Puerto Rico the one territory still left standing and deserves to be mentioned in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
80. Konnan-One of the most influential wrestlers ever in Mexico “The Mexican Hulk Hogan” Konnan comes in at number 80 for the countdown. Konnan has had a legendary career in Mexico being the first ever CMLL World Heavyweight Champion and along with promoter Antonio Pena the driving force behind the early days of AAA. While he never won a great deal of titles he was a big box office draw in Mexico and is easily one of the biggest stars of Mexico in the 90’s. His match with Cien Caras which headlined the first Triplemania is actually the record holder for the highest attended wrestling card ever in Mexico and he has had other legendary matches with Jake Roberts and Perro Aguayo. He was the man who bought many of the luchadores such as Rey Misterio, Super Crazy and Psicosis to the U.S and like them also enjoyed U.S success winning the WCW United States Championship, WCW World Tag Team Championship, NWA World Tag Team Championship and the WCW World Television Championship. Konann was a member of the N.W.O and the mouthpiece for L.A.X when that team was at its best. Konnan is still such a big draw in Mexico that he is the leader of the top heel stable despite not being much of an active wrestler anymore. Konnan is definitely worthy of being on the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
81. L.A Park-The original La Parka comes in at number 81. It takes a ton of talent in my opinion to get one gimmick over Adolfio Tapia somehow got over two to epic proportions. Next to Konnan Tapia was probably the biggest star in the early days of AAA and managed to become an even bigger star over there despite being a comedic figure in WCW. Despite not winning many world titles has been an iconic draw in mexico winning many Luchas Apuesta matches (wager matches).
82. The Big Show-The only wrestler ever to win a world championship in his very first match comes in at number 82 as The Big Show joins the countdown. The second youngest world champion ever and one of the most versatile big men ever having many runs as both a heel and babyface and serious and comedic character. His match with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.was one of the key matches in making Wrestlemania XXIV the highest grossing WWE PPV ever and he is the only wrestler to ever hold the WWE Heavyweight, WWE World, WCW World, and ECW Championships making him one of the most decorated wrestlers ever and gaining him entry into the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
83. Scott Hall-The man who once claimed to be better looking than 10 movie stars comes in at number 83. “Da Bad Guy” has been a featured performer everywhere he has gone whether it was as Big Scott Hall winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship with Curt Hennig to Razor Ramon where he won a then record 4 WWF Intercontinental Championships to his time as a founding father of the New World Order where he won many championships and most recently TNA where he was a former World Tag Team Champion. A solid worker who had many excellent matches and a good promo. Scott Hall in the eyes of many fans may be the greatest wrestler ever never to hold a world title (that distinction in my eyes always goes to Ted Dibiase) but at least he gets to be a part of the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
84. Kerry Von Erich-“The Texas Tornado” whirls into the countdown at number 84. Kerry Von Erich was best known for being one of the stars alongside his brothers in his father’s World Class Championship Wrestling where he pretty much held every title there was to hold in that promotion. A big time star that helped make that promotion one of the elite in its day and used that fame to become NWA World Champion when that title still meant something. He would later go onto the WWF where he became the Intercontinental Champion and while his run there was too short due to personal demons one must always wonder just what kind of career he would’ve enjoyed had he not committed suicide at the age of 33. Still in my opinion an all time great and worthy of mention in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
85. Dr. Wagner Jr.-One of the better workers in the heavyweight division in Mexico Dr. Wagner Jr. comes into the countdown at number 85. Wagner has won many heavyweight and Jr. Heavyweight titles and is one of the most popular wrestlers in Mexico at the moment with strong stints in CMLL and AAA. He is the current AAA and UWA World Heavyweight Champion the latter being a title he has held for over 6 years (although he actually hasn’t defended it in well over 2 years he is still recognized as UWA Champion). Dr. Wagner Jr. is in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100” and that’s “Bien, Bien, Bien”.
86. Rayo de Jalisco Jr.-The final foreign wrestler in the countdown comes in at number 86 as Rayo de Jalisco Jr. checks into the countdown. This CMLL stalwart has basically held every title that promotion has to offer and is one of the most popular wrestlers in the promotions history. Has a perfect Luchas de Apuestas record of 16 and 0 which includes victories over Steel (Sean Morely AKA Val Venis) and Cien Caras who he has defeated twice for both his hair and mask. I had a hard time with this pick but I decided that in the end Rayo de Jalisco deserved to be included in the top 100.
87. Rob Van Dam-The only wrestler with a WWE World, ECW Heavyweight and TNA world championship reign on his resume makes the list at number 87. The most popular wrestler in the history of ECW and it can be argued was the most popular wrestler in WWE early on in his tenure there despite the company’s efforts to hold him down. There aren’t too many decorated performers like RVD who has held every title in ECW and nearly every title in WWE and something tells me it won’t be long before we can say the same about his tenure in TNA. RVD deserves to be in the top 100 so he is.
88. Brock Lesnar-There might be a bit of controversy with this pick but I am willing to take it as Brock Lesnar deserves to be in this countdown. In his short time in wrestling he has won world titles in both the WWE and New Japan and has been a major player from day one. Such a major player indeed that he was able to parlay his popularity into an MMA career where he is arguably the most well known MMA star going and a former UFC World Champion. Whether it’s MMA or Wrestling Brock Lesnar has known nothing but success from day one and the man who was once known as “The Next Big Thing” is included in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
89. Goldberg-Another wrestler who wasn’t around a long time but had an amazing run winning world titles in both WWE and WCW. Probably one of the top merchandise sellers of all time which is saying quite a bit considering he really only had a 5 year career but he worked with everyone available to him in those five years and beat them all. His opponents defeated is a who’s who in wrestling from Kevin Nash to Hulk Hogan to HHH to The Rock and who will ever forget “The Streak” which is the one by which any winning streak in wrestling will be measured to from here on out. Goldberg has earned his place in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
90. Mad Dog Vachon-One of the toughest guys in the business Mad Dog Vachon comes in at number 90. Before Nick Bockwinkle came along Mad Dog Vachon was probably Verne Gagne’s biggest rival back in the AWA winning the AWA World Championship on five different occasions and the AWA Tag Team Championships on two occasions as well as winning many different regional championships. I was very happy to see Mad Dog Vachon inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year after championing his inclusion 2 years ago and am just as happy to put him into the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
91. Lex Luger-When Lex Luger burst onto the scene in 1986 he took the world by storm by taking the prestigious Southern Heavyweight Title. At that point in time never before had a newcomer experienced that kind of success so early in his career to become the main champion of a territory, especially a prestigious territory like Florida. Little did anyone know that Lex Luger was just getting started as he would be main eventing for the NWA World Title the following year. Despite never being the Hulk Hogan like draw that many thought he would be Lex Luger had a spectacular career headlining many shows and winning the WCW World, TV, US, and Tag Team titles on numerous occasions and always being involved in top angles whether it was the feud with Yokozuna in WWE or the fight against the N.W.O in WCW Lex Luger was always “The Total Package” and deserves a spot in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
92. Freddie Blassie-Most in this generation know Freddie Blassie as the legendary WWE manager who did many inspirational vignettes for WWE prior to his passing but Freddie Blassie was one of the greatest heels ever in the wrestling business enjoying his biggest successes in Los Angeles where he would win the WWA version of the world title on 3 occasions and even venture to Japan to take on Rikidozan in matches that are still talked about today due to the real life deaths of people who became so excited watching it they suffered heart attacks. Whether it was against Lou Thesz, John Tolos, or Rikidozan he stood tall and was a major great attraction for many years and deserves his standing in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
93. Johnny Valentine-I chose Johnny Valentine for inclusion into this list for a variety of reasons. For one thing he held so many titles in the territories that I was able to verify through research. Most wrestlers who were successful in territories had maybe 3 or 4 they had great success in Valentine had outstanding success in 17 different territories spanning 3 countries. That shows me that despite never being a world champion he was a tremendous draw to have that kind of success in so many different areas. Another reason he was chosen was due to the respect that I have noticed in past interviews with many legends that his name always seems to elicit. You always hear stories from the legends of what a great worker Valentine was back in the day and how he scared promoters at first with his slow plodding style but his knack for psychology would always wind up increasing houses in the end. Due to this and other factors I thought Valentine deserved inclusion into the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
94. Barry Windham-Whether it was as a tag team wrestler or singles wrestler “The Widowmaker” always delivered fantastic matches on the card. A second generation wrestler who seemed earmarked for stardom from day one but never seemed to take that next step in truly being the guy to carry a promotion hence the reason he is closer to the bottom of this list and not the top. Still with that being said he has had tremendous success up and down the card. One of the last NWA World Champions before that title really stopped meaning anything, a former WWF/WCW/NWA World Tag Team Champion with 6 different partners, a WCW TV Champion and a NWA U.S Champion and a member of the best group of 4 Horsemen ever assembled. Barry Windham may never have been the guy in a promotion but he still had an awesome career and I think he more than deserves to have his name mentioned in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
95. Pat Patterson-The First ever Intercontinental Champion was a really big star back in his day whether it was teaming up with Ray Stevens as half of the Blond Bombers or competing by himself where he not only had success in the WWWF but also in other territories like San Francisco where he was the U.S Champion on 5 separate occasions or in Portland where he was the Northwest heavyweight Champion on 3 occassions. Pat Patterson was a terrific worker and more importantly a draw and he should be included in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
96. Sid Vicious-Definitely come a long way from his early days as Lord Humongous or one half of the Skyscrapers. As much as fans have criticized his in ring work over the years he has managed to keep himself relevant where ever he goes and probably spent more than 75% of his career working in main events. Whether it was Justice, Vicious or just plain Pscyho he kept a stranglehold on top of the card. One of a handful of wrestlers to headline both a Starrcade and a Wrestlemania for those wondering Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage,Bret Hart, and Kevin Nash are the others that is pretty elite company and if you notice all of those guys have made the list why not Sid? A 4 time world champion in both WCW and WWE he definitely is worthy of inclusion in the top 100.
97. AJ Styles- I had to include a TNA created wrestler in this countdown at some point and I chose now to do so and I couldn’t have chosen a more deserving person than AJ Styles who has basically been the Franchise for TNA since day one when he competed in the first ever TNA match. A former TNA everything, the only man to hold every title in TNA making himself the first and only Grand Slam winner in the company, making it more impressive is that he has accomplished that feat twice and with one more TV title reign which is not out of the realm of possibility will have accomplished that feat three times. I tried to think of others that should take this spot but to do so would just be biased against TNA and I don’t think AJ should be punished for the standing of his company although I will readily admit the standing of TNA is one of the reasons he is ranked so low in this list where as if a WWE or WCW wrestler had this same resume they probably would have been ranked significantly higher. Still AJ Styles has plenty of career left and lots of mountains that he could potentially climb for now he can be happy that he wasn’t omitted from the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
98. Tully Blanchard-Most sons of promoters are often discredited with their success because most of their peers would dismiss it as a result of their parentage. I don’t think I have ever heard any of Tully Blanchards peers say he didn’t deserve the success he received in wrestling whether it was as the star of his father’s Southwest Championship Wrestling ,a charter member of the original Four Horseman or as one half of The Brainbusters. Tully Blanchard is one of my all time favorite heels and the truth of the matter is it was when he was no longer involved in my opinion that the Four Horseman stopped being the same as he was arguably it’s best utility guy filling in wherever needed. Bottom line is Tully Blanchard is one of the greatest ever and deserves to be in the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
99. Arn Anderson- “The Enforcer” cracks the top 100 at number 99. In my opinion he was the greatest sidekick in wrestling history as you can’t imagine Ric Flair winning all those titles and leading the Four Horseman without Arn by his side. Another great wrestler who never got to be world champion but he did win many TV and Tag Team titles and mixed it up with everyone worth mixing it up with in his day including Ric Flair, Sting and Hulk Hogan all of who he has victories in his career over. He might not have been the best looking, the best talker or even the best worker but he is definitely an all time great and he deserves mention in this top 100.
100. Tito Santana- I decided to cap this list off with Tito Santana even though Santana really only had major success in WWE just because of his longevity in WWE. He was there 14 years and for most of those years he was immensely popular and always relevant he along with Hulk Hogan are the only two wrestlers who can say they have wrestled on the first 9 wrestlemania’s. As a matter of fact Tito had the very first Wrestlemania match which shows the faith Vince McMahon had in him at the time considering the risk he was taking in promoting that show. Santana came into the promotion in 1979 and was a strong competitor winning the tag team championship on two occasions once with Ivan Putski and on another occasion with Strikeforce which is still one of the top tag teams in WWE’s history. He also got two runs as Intercontinental Champion at which that was tying the record for most reigns with the IC belt. When you consider that the IC title wasn’t held three times or more for the first 16 years of its creation and 10 years after Santana last held it that was a pretty big accomplishment as back then the Intercontinental Championship was the workers championship of the promotion so by giving Tito that title it was sort of an acknowledgement to his value with the company. I think Tito Santana is the perfect wrestler to cap off what has been an amazing “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100”.
So there you have it the “Wrestling Rumblings Top 100 Wrestlers of All Time.” I’m sure I am going to get many responses to this from people who disagree with this list and that’s completely OK as looking at it I’ve edited it a bunch of times and could probably do this list 100 times and still feel differently about it. At the end of the day these were the guys that I thought merited mention. I just want to say that this was by far and away the most challenging column I’ve ever written. Most people who tackle these kinds of things take weeks and months to really get into it. I’ve actually come up with this list in about 4 days but I think I did the best job I could do with it.
So 100 columns on Wrestleview? Everyone’s made a big deal of it in writing me the last few weeks and I guess I can understand why. I’ve been doing this for quite a long time now and have probably written well over 350 columns and when I think of guys who have started and stopped I guess it is a good thing to have been consistent. When I look at Wrestleview a site that has been around for 13 years and realize that I have the longest weekly running active column at the moment. I guess that says something as well. Needless to say I’m hoping the next 100 are better than the last and hopefully one day we can do Wrestling Rumblings #1000 and maybe revisit this top 100 list there.
Let’s wrap up what I’m pretty sure is the longest ever column on Wrestleview.com by giving you guys something to do. I just finished reading The WWE Championship: A Look Back at the Rich History of the WWE Championship at about 296 pages I found it to be an easy read and well if you want to go back and relive some of WWE’s greatest moments involving that title go and check it out. Of course we do have Final Resolution coming up this weekend and I’ll say that while TNA hasn’t done a great job of making me interested in this show there are matches on it that I am looking forward to seeing such as AJ Styles vs. Doug Williams, The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Generation Me in Full Metal Mayhem and Mickie James vs. Tara so if you can get past the booking of TNA go ahead and check it out.
I know most of you want to bury the list so go right ahead at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then, I am out.