Many people have asked this question over the course of the years, and the answer may never be definitive -- but let’s do our best to tackle it today for no other reason than to spark conversation at the dinner table tonight. Ready?
“Who is the Greatest WWE Wrestler of All Time?”
Before we dig in, let me tell you what I love most about professional wrestling…
The sport is a complete release for me. I love that fans who attend the shows are fully aware that the fighting is staged; yet they chant and boo as if the show is real. Both the wrestlers and the audience are in on the joke. (Wait – did I just burst your bubble?) The more the joke morphs to become campy, over-the-top and excessively passionate, the more we love it. Now that you’re aware of the angle I’m coming at this – you’ll see why I selected my picks.
Let’s start with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Nobody embodied the Attitude Era quite like Steve Austin did. The Texas Rattlesnake was the blue-collar warrior for the common man. He proudly raised his middle fingers in the faces of all who dared oppose him and he embodied a brash and defiant style in the ring and on the mic. Stone Cold delivered an epic promo after he won King of the Ring in 1996 and the phrase “Austin 3:16” was born. This six-time WWE champ, movie star, WWE Hall of Famer and pop culture phenom has to be on the list for raising hell like a rock star in the ring. And that’s the bottom line.
Also in my top five is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This pick may be debatable for many, but there is a reason he has been dubbed The Great One, The People’s Champ and the Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment. The first, third-generation Superstar in WWE History, Johnson won the Intercontinental Championship within months of first setting foot in the ring. From there, his momentum never slowed as he laid the smack down on Attitude Era rivals and spouted off endless catchphrases that immediately became part of national conversation. You know what else I think about this pick? It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m just gonna know my role and shut my mouth. Ya smell?
Let’s take it back to original Hollywood and put Hulk Hogan on a list that some say he created. Face the facts, fans: There is nobody more charismatic than this man. He is beyond an icon and has earned his spot in history as the face of Professional Wrestling. He first rose to stardom starring as “Thunderlips” in the hit movie,Rocky III. Two years later, Hulkamania was officially born and The Hulkster would go on to win five WWE Championships before leaving for the WCW where he captured six world titles and then started the nWo. The Undisputed champ earned a spot in the Hall of Fame and we think it’s more than deserved, BROTHER.
Ooooh Yeah, you know “Macho Man”, Randy Savage is on my list. During the course of his career, Savage held two WWE Championships, four WCW World Championships and a 14-month reign as Intercontinental Champion. If his rap sheet isn’t enough to land him a spot amongst the greats, his style certainly is. No one was as dynamic or as stylish as the Macho King. His over-the-top wacky get-ups worked for him.Savage also successfully managed a romantic relationship in front of the wrestling fandom at large. Miss Elizabeth was Savage’s Manager AND his gorgeous wife, who was a constant fixture in his corner during most of his career in the 80s. Savage made the cross over to mainstream thanks to his work with Slim Jim. His loud and proud personality, hoarse voice and bulging biceps meshed perfectly with the zany commercials and no one will ever “Snap into a Slim Jim” without thinking of the Macho King. R.I.P.
Rounding out my top five picks is Ric Flair. In the WWE there are countless Superstars and a few legends, but there is only one Ric Flair. “The Nature Boy” is the record setting 16-time World Champ, who also holds the distinction of being the only performer ever inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice. Ric Flair is a perfectly concocted combo of charisma, mat skills and microphone prowess. He had an unmistakable strut, an overdramatic flop, and issued flagrant low blows, and he did it 340 days out of every year for four decades. Flair’s signature look of designer suits, outlandish robes and shoes that cost more than my house added to his colorful personality. Also known as the Alimony Pony, Flair lost several wives to his love of the sport. He simply did not quit and if he isn’t one of the greatest, no one is. Wooooo!
And there you have it. My top five picks for the Greatest WWE Wrestlers of all time. If I could add Honorable Mentions I would throw in The Undertaker and John Cena. So lay it on me in the comments below… who is the Greatest Wrestler of all time according to you? Bonus points if you use you’re top wrestlers’ catchphrases.