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Thread: A SCF Greatest Of All Time List?

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    Senior Member Fallout's Avatar

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    A SCF Greatest Of All Time List?

    This is something I've been mulling over in my head for the past few weeks; the possibility of a list ranking the all-time greatest wrestlers from a fairly objective standpoint, whilst accounting for many of our western biases with regards to our exposure. For example, someone like The Miz would probably make our top 100 list if we're judging strictly on a modern western perspective, but there's no way he's making the list when going back to the days of Gotch and Hackenschmidt, and accounting for Japan and Mexico.

    Now, Dave Meltzer has already done this, but there's a couple of issues with his work:
    1: It was released in 2002, so that obviously doesn't account for 17 more years of wrestling, as well as allowing the legacy of more modern names to sink in.
    2: It contains your standard Meltzer bias like ranking Jushin Liger over Harley Race, and putting fucking Sting at #92. There's accounting for western bias, and then there's just being blatantly biased against the West. I like Jushin Liger, but this would be like ranking Rey Mysterio over Steve Austin. Totally cretinous, and I'd love to see people make the argument he should be ranked above Sting in terms of impact. But I guess that's my "western bias" speaking.

    So I thought it would be fun if we could draw up a list together, 10 wrestlers at a time perhaps, and make our own rankings and list together, for the sake of clarity. I have enough faith in people here to not make this like the Wrestlezone Tournament and have people like Goldust rank above Lou Thesz, and just turn it into a popularity contest, but I also think we're not going to go Meltzer levels of contrarian and have the list filled to the brim of names your typical wrestling fan would have never heard of. It's obviously important to remember people like Jim Londos and their impact on wrestling, but are we really going to say, I dunno, Gene Kiniski for example is ranked above The Undertaker? Both are definitely in a top 100 list, but a lot of people pointing out the limitations someone like Kiniski had like a lack of television exposure due to the time period are also missing the limitations current wrestlers have today with regards to weekly televised shows which will hurt W/L ratio, as well as a more tumultuous schedule factoring in house shows, which results in the straining and ending of careers much earlier on average. I have mad respect for people like Gelgarin for educating me more on wrestling's past, but we shouldn't positively discriminate against wrestlers from the past as a result of technological limitations. This isn't entirely a one-sided conversation about which generation was at a greater disadvantage (even if I do agree ultimately that the prior generation does have a disadvantage).

    I've been hard on Meltzer, but to be fair, his list is easily the best I've seen, given I've seen some particularly horrendous examples throwing Frank Gotch in as a token #100 and having Abdullah the freaking Butcher at #33, over guys like Tiger Mask and Gorgeous George. And I'm not expecting us to get a perfect list by any means, or even one as good as Meltzer's necessarily. But I think it would be worth a try anyhow, and just a bit of fun at the end of the day, sparking some interesting debate.

    Would anyone else be interested in this? If we get a few people wanting to take part, I'll be happy to post my personal top 10, and running it by other top 10's to hopefully draw together an average ranking.

    "We are not entitled to our opinions. We are entitled to our informed opinions." - Harlan Ellison (1934 - 2018)

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    Administrator Slyfox696's Avatar
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    It seems like a pretty fun idea, but I think you'll have a hard time being able to get it done. I think your 10 wrestlers at a time will be especially difficult.

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    Senior Member Fallout's Avatar

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    The idea I had would be for people to begin listing their personal top 10 greatest of all-time, and to work out an average placing for the first 10.

    For example, if two people submit a list, and both have Hogan as #1, Hogan will be placed at #1 in the list of lists. If someone has Austin second on their list, and someone else has him 5th, but Flair is third and second on the lists respectively, Flair will get #2. Of course, it'll be slightly more complicated than that to calculate the mean score, but that's the idea behind it.

    Doing it incrementally will prevent any disparity between lists being dumped entirely in one go. You might have someone rank Jim Londos 83rd or something, whereas everyone else puts him in the top 25. It minimises situations where wrestlers get dragged down because of an anomaly in voting. It's in descending order because it's way easier to remember who you think are the most influential wrestlers of all-time as compared to your 97th rank off the top of your head. Plus it gives you more frame of reference for the next round of voting, (e.g The Rock and Harley Race get nominated during the first round, but don't make it in the top 10, so they'll probably get brought back into the conversation once more).

    "We are not entitled to our opinions. We are entitled to our informed opinions." - Harlan Ellison (1934 - 2018)

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    Senior Member SSJPhenom's Avatar

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    I'm interested. I've been waiting for something like to take shape. I miss the tournaments and things like this that we used to do over at Wrestlezone. I understand that this will not be like the Wrestlezone tournament. You can count me in.

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    Senior Member Echelon's Avatar

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    I used to put together a top 100 list every year for fun and whatnot. Haven't tried to do one since 2017 so I'm not sure what my rankings would be. I know my top 10 hasn't changed. But on a project like this everyone's going to have a different list. Maybe that's part of the fun. Otherwise there's never going to be a clear consensus on who the "best" actually were.

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    Senior Member Fallout's Avatar

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    Alright, I just wanted to lay out a couple of ground rules before we get started.

    1: I think female wrestlers deserve their own list at a later period. Combining them with the men's ranking creates a lot of problems with regards to biases and the rankings as a result. I think it is fair to say that male and female wrestling, whilst there have been instances of intergender competition, are primarily their own separate entities and I think it's fair to consider them as such. You're not going to see much female representation on a top 100 list, and the few that make it are going to be critiqued for their mere inclusion, when someone else could have made the list. You end up pissing everyone off putting them together.

    2: The criteria for ranking will be similar to Meltzer's, sans one category: How good they were in the ring. Whilst in-ring work is definitely something to make note of, it is not necessarily indicative of impact or success, unlike the other criteria. This is probably the reason someone like Jushin Liger ranked so high on Meltzer's list. I don't necessarily think just because someone is a good worker means they necessarily can be considered the greatest in the sense that we're describing. So the other four criteria apply, and feel free to add your own salient reasoning if there's anything I missed:

    • Professional success
    • Importance to history
    • Their drawing power
    • The mainstream status they achieved.



    With those clarified, here's my top 5. Ranks 6-10 will hopefully come in the next day or so. I'd be appreciative if you could justify why wrestlers are on the list, but you don't have to write an odyssey. A short paragraph is sufficient.
    Click for Spoiler:

    1: Hulk Hogan



    Why is he here?

    I don't think any other wrestler can lay claim to the accomplishments Hogan achieved, the lasting impact he has had on popular culture and his influence on bringing wrestling to a wide, mainstream audience across a multitude of nations. El Santo certainly managed it in Mexico, as did Rikidozan in Japan, but not to the same level as Hogan. You can argue until the cow's come home about how he was limited in the ring (he was actually a lot better than people gave him credit for) and how he was in the right place in the right time (as if that changes anything; Hogan got the rocket at the end of the day, and he undeniably ran with it. Other men could have easily caved in with that burden to bear, but Hogan didn't.), but I'm willing to wager, however indirectly that at least 99% of today's western wrestling audience have Hogan to thank for getting them into the medium. He, behind Vince McMahon is the reason why not only WWF/E, but all of wrestling achieved its audience and appeal in its peaks since, and its continued support. Remove Hogan from the equation, and chances are, you aren't a wrestling fan today.

    2: Lou Thesz



    Why is he here?

    Before the rise of the WWF, you had one undisputed hegemony in the history of wrestling, and that was the NWA. The NWA was a project that aimed to unite the territories across every part of the United States under one coalition, whilst also having their own championships that would be considered of national prestige instead of regional. Put simply, to be the NWA World Champion was the ultimate honour; the equivalent of winning the Masters in golf. And Lou Thesz held this championship for a combined total of OVER TEN YEARS. And that's merely the tip of the iceberg.

    Thesz was responsible for crafting some of the most important moves in wrestling today. Variations of suplex, the Thesz Press, the STF, and perhaps most importantly of all, the powerbomb. His first run with the NWA title lasted for seven years; and in this period, he won championship after championship, becoming recognised as the undisputed world heavyweight wrestling champion, a feat not seen since the days of Frank Gotch. During his second reign, Thesz came to Japan, and had a series of matches with Rikidozan that helped establish wrestling as the phenomenon that it is in Japan today, making him instrumental in not only one wrestling sphere, but two.

    There's several more things people more literate about Thesz's success could tell you, but I think what I've presented is enough to make the claim that Thesz is one of, if not, THE greatest wrestler of all-time.

    Why is he below Hogan?

    Mainstream appeal and the test of time. You can call me and a bunch of other fans "culturally illiterate guttersnipes", but 10 years ago, when I was nothing more than a casual fan, the only thing I knew about Lou Thesz is that Steve Austin had a signature move that was invented by him. This isn't necessarily a cultural divide either as Thesz was primarily popular in America. Maybe a re-writing of history courtesy of Vince McMahon and the WWE due to time difference, but you can't deny this has undeniably undermined his perceived impact on the business. Whilst most everyone knows who Robert De Niro is, most everyone also knows who Orson Welles was, despite being of a prior generation. And sure, film is a more popular medium than wrestling, but even wrestling fans and not curious onlookers can't tell you who Thesz is without doing a lot of research first. The fact the equivalent of essays have to be written for people to realise how important he is suggests that despite everything he did, he cannot be called the greatest of all time in my opinion. There is nonetheless a more than strong case to be made for Thesz to be ranked over Hogan however.

    3: El Santo



    Why is he here?

    Whilst not the initial architect of lucha libre, El Santo undoubtedly perfected the formula and made it the pop culture phenomenon it is today. It was around his time that televised wrestling in Mexico took off, and he became a pop culture icon on the same level as someone like Michael Jackson in the west, if not greater. Santo’s appeal lied very much in his mask and the mystique behind who was behind it; he was dominant beyond compare and challenged to various stipulation matches in which had he lost, he’d have been forced to unmask. Suffice to say, he never lost any of those matches, and scarcely lost at all in his career in Mexico.

    His rivalry with the Blue Demon was the stuff of legends, to such an extent that it actually transcended wrestling and entered pop culture in the likes of films both men starred in. Just days before he passed away, Santo, without warning, unmasked himself for the first and last time on a talk show, effectively giving a final goodbye to his fans. His funeral was among the biggest in the history of Mexico, the likes of which only reserved for great leaders, and several statues were erected in his honour across Mexico. Suffice to say, El Santo was the king of lucha libre

    Why is he below Thesz?
    Limited exposure outside of Mexico. Whilst Mexico is undoubtedly a huge market for wrestling, Santo never really got well-known elsewhere outside of wrestling historians until after his passing. Despite being considered practically a god in Mexico, he did not shape wrestling to the same extent Thesz did.

    4: Rikidozan



    Why is he here?
    In the 1950's, Japan was still recovering from their defeat in World War 2, in particular the annihilation of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They needed something to unite the nation and bring pride back to their land. Enter Rikidozan.

    Rikidozan was not only highly successful and frequently victorious against some of the greatest Americans of the era (including Lou Thesz!), he was perhaps the only wrestler of his era to be cheered in the United States of America, who, around just a decade prior, were still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbour and the war against the Axis Powers. You thought the 8.1 rating Raw got in the middle of 1999 was good? Try EIGHTY-SEVEN AND SIXTY-SEVEN in matches against Lou Thesz and The Destroyer, the former holding about 70 million viewers according to my sources. That's around about half of the people in the United States, a country with more than twice the population had watching the fucking moon landing. Think about that.

    If you want a perspective of how Rikidozan is seen in his native country of Japan, well, here's just one example:


    Why is he below Santo?
    His early death. Rikidozan was murdered at the age of only 39 in December 1963. This effectively capped a lot of further success Rikidozan could have had. Furthermore, in Japan, whilst Rikidozan is nonetheless the cream of the crop, several other talent have risen to at least be considered in the conversation of being the all-time great in puroresu, whereas El Santo's status is head and shoulders above everyone else.

    5: Frank Gotch



    Why is he here?
    Pound for pound, Frank Gotch may have been the toughest man ever to step inside the squared circle. Nowadays, this might not seem like such a big deal, but during Gotch's day, the catch style of wrestling ran supreme. What this meant was that professional wrestling was the most legitimate it ever would be. In those days, carnivals would regularly host competitions in which if a spectator could beat their travelling strongman by pinfall or submission, they would win a sizeable cash prize. Therefore, wrestlers needed to be tough as nails in order to be effective, and even whilst young and unexperienced, Gotch held his own against some of the very best catch wrestlers of his era,

    But it was his feud with George Hackenschmidt that propelled him into stardom. Now, this was a time where the only source of news distribution was the printing press; television was years away from being invented. And yet, Gotch became a national icon, defeating Hackenschmidt to become the World Heavyweight Champion. He convincingly defeated all of his peers during his era, even being invited to the White House by Teddy Roosevelt and beating a Japanese jiujistu expert in a shoot fight. He was arguably wrestling's first megastar; and travelled the world, become respected wherever he travelled, but particularly across the United States, becoming one of the most famous athletes of his era.

    But who was it that finally put Frank Gotch down? Who was his Gene Kiniski, his Ivan Koloff, his Brock Lesnar? The answer is no-one. Gotch retired in 1913 after being World Champion for five years, winning his retirement match, and decimating any opponent put in his path. The dominance Gotch had at the top, especially in a time where wrestling was very much stiff and not overly worked, is unparalleled, even by the likes of Thesz.

    Why is he below Rikidozan?
    A lack of legacy. Gotch would also die young at 40 (some say it was because of how strongly he fought against others), but he at least managed to retire before this time. The issue was, after Gotch's retirement, the catch style of wrestling had begun to die out, as the Gold Dust Trio attained commercial success by moving towards a style closer to that of what we see today. It was still undoubtedly old-school by today's standards, but it was also removed from the heavily legit focus of Gotch's era.



    I may have goofed a historical detail or two, so I'd appreciate constructive criticism from those more accustomed to the pre-1984 era.

    EDIT: If you want my hot-take for the list so far:
    Click for Spoiler:
    Flair isn't in my top 10.
    Last edited by Fallout; 12-06-2019 at 11:12 AM.

    "We are not entitled to our opinions. We are entitled to our informed opinions." - Harlan Ellison (1934 - 2018)

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    Senior Member SSJPhenom's Avatar

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    Here's my top 5 wrestlers of all time. 6-10 to come later.

    1. Hulk Hogan

    If we're not going to take in ring work into account then Hulk Hogan should be 1 on everyone's list. Wrestling is still around today because of what Hogan was able to accomplish in the 80s. He was the main catalyst behind wrestling's first major boom period. He was the face/draw that took wrestling from regional territories to a national stage. Then, in the mid 90s, he was at the forefront of wrestling's second major boom period by turning heel and starting the nWo. There were other more important figures for the boom period of the 90s but Hogan played a major role himself. Look, I've never been a huge fan of Hogan's. When I started watching wrestling, it always seemed like, IMO, that he came in and stole the spotlight rather then just trying to contribute and make the product better. I think part of what put WCW out of business was Hogan's spot (and others) always at the top of the card rather than trying to build new stars. I've never been a fan of his matches. Sure, he had a few gems that were very good, but for the most part his matches were boring and unexciting. Especially at the end. As I said, though; if we're taking in ring ability out and focusing on success and impact then Hogan is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest professional wrestler of all time.

    2. Ric Flair

    I read your hot take Fallout and Idk how you could not have Flair in your top ten. Idk how anyone could not have Flair in their top ten. Here's my hot take: My list isn't going to have many names on it pre 1980. Reason why is I think the stars of the 80s onward is who built wrestling into this world wide entity that it has become. Maybe they were helped by cable tv being able to reach more people's homes and what not, but without the stars of the 80s wrestling wouldn't be what it is now. I can't say the same about the stars pre 80s. Without them, wrestling still would've been struggling regional companies and promotions. Anyways, back to the list. Where Hogan was without a doubt the biggest name in wrestling during it's first major boom period; Ric Flair was without a doubt the second biggest name in wrestling during that same time. Flair was head and shoulders the biggest draw in the NWA and he did most of that as a heel. Also, what I think Flair has over Hogan is that Flair not only was a top dog, but he helped to build other top dogs in the business as well. Flair put over names that would stand the test of time. Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, and so on. Flair also showed the importance of putting on a show in wrestling. His persona and mic work were second to none. Also, 16 times World Heavyweight Champion means something as well. As important as Hogan was to the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s; Flair was to the NWA at that same time period. Put it this way, without Flair, there likely wouldn't have been a WCW for Ted Turner to buy and for Hogan to go to in 94. When we look at all the things that are required to be a great in the wrestling business, Flair checks them all off and adds more in the form of ring work and mic abilities. No top ten list is complete without Ric Flair. Whether you like or don't like it; learn to love it because its the best thing going today. Diamonds are forever and so is Ric Flair.

    3. Stone Cold Steve Austin

    If we're to take success and impact into account above all others then Austin should be at the top of most people's list. I wouldn't be surprised if some people put him number 1. I think Hogan and Flair edge him out because they had a period of time where they were the top dogs and there was no Austin. When Austin was head and shoulders the top dog, however, Hogan and Flair were still around and they were still huge names in the business. When talking success and impact, though, Austin was the biggest name in the industry during the industry's most profitable period it ever had. McMahon has gone on record many times and said that Austin was the absolute biggest draw that the business had ever had. What hurts Austin, however, is the relative short amount of time that he was able to do it for. Hogan and Flair had more than a decade at being the industry's top draws. Austin had about 4 years and one of those years, if we're honest with ourselves could easily go to the Rock (2000). Still, it was Austin's success that gave the Rock the platform and format for him to become as big a name as he became. When talking greatest of all time and we're talking success and impact; there are few that out pace SCSA.

    4. Bruno Sammartino

    I said that my list would have few names on it earlier than 1980. I didn't say that it would have no names on it before 1980. Bruno was the Hogan of his era. While wrestling was still a regional act during his time he was the biggest name in the business during that time. Bruno was able to make Professional Wrestling look legitimate. While he was champion and on top of the business, people thought it was a shoot. He gave off the look and feel of a legit badass who was the champion and people believed in him. Longest consecutive title reign in history at over 2800 days. Then, he has another reign at more than 1300 days. If the title goes to the man who is the top draw that means that Bruno was on top of the WWWF for longer than a decade. Although Hogan took the industry to much larger heights; Bruno was the standard bearer for the old ways and definitely one of the greatest of all time.

    5. The Rock

    I know that this one is going to be quite controversial, however, when taking into account the Rock's mainstream success and the fact that he had started that success because of how big a name he was in the wrestling world, I don't think the Rock can be over looked as one of the top ten greatest wrestler's of all time. Again, the Rock had a relatively short time as the top guy. What, maybe one year as THE GUY? 2 at most? By that time, though, wrestling wasn't really relying on the undisputed top guy formula any more. It had become more of an ensemble during the Rock's time. We had Austin, Rock, 'Taker, Foley, Angle, Trips, and so on during the Rock's time and those are some huge names. The Rock has had more mainstream success than any other wrestler in the history of the business and I think that more than warrants his place in the top ten.

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    Senior Member Fallout's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSJPhenom View Post
    2. Ric Flair

    I read your hot take Fallout and Idk how you could not have Flair in your top ten. Idk how anyone could not have Flair in their top ten. Here's my hot take: My list isn't going to have many names on it pre 1980. Reason why is I think the stars of the 80s onward is who built wrestling into this world wide entity that it has become. Maybe they were helped by cable tv being able to reach more people's homes and what not, but without the stars of the 80s wrestling wouldn't be what it is now. I can't say the same about the stars pre 80s. Without them, wrestling still would've been struggling regional companies and promotions. Anyways, back to the list. Where Hogan was without a doubt the biggest name in wrestling during it's first major boom period; Ric Flair was without a doubt the second biggest name in wrestling during that same time. Flair was head and shoulders the biggest draw in the NWA and he did most of that as a heel. Also, what I think Flair has over Hogan is that Flair not only was a top dog, but he helped to build other top dogs in the business as well. Flair put over names that would stand the test of time. Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, and so on. Flair also showed the importance of putting on a show in wrestling. His persona and mic work were second to none. Also, 16 times World Heavyweight Champion means something as well. As important as Hogan was to the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s; Flair was to the NWA at that same time period. Put it this way, without Flair, there likely wouldn't have been a WCW for Ted Turner to buy and for Hogan to go to in 94. When we look at all the things that are required to be a great in the wrestling business, Flair checks them all off and adds more in the form of ring work and mic abilities. No top ten list is complete without Ric Flair. Whether you like or don't like it; learn to love it because its the best thing going today. Diamonds are forever and so is Ric Flair.
    Let me be 100% honest: I think Ric Flair is at least somewhat overrated.

    Is he a legend? Undeniably? Is he among the best of any era? Without a shadow of a doubt. And I have mad respect for him not only surviving a plane crash that very well could have killed him, but after being told he'd never wrestle again, returning to the ring in just eight months or so. But seeing Flair make it to #1 on Meltzer's list, among so many others, just perplexes me for several reasons.

    Firstly, he was not the originator of his gimmick. Now, he does rank above Buddy Rogers on my list, primarily because Rogers did put him over on his way out of the business (as well as having a longer and more successful career), but whilst Flair was undoubtedly a talented performer, I'd also argue other wrestlers had been doing the same thing for longer and arguably better. Freddie Blassie was such a good heel in his work with Rikidozan in Japan that he drove people to heart attacks, killing them in some cases. Gorgeous George, while it is somewhat of a misconception that he created the overall idea of the gimmick, was the first to create a character that was more than a tough guy or related variant, and Flair and Rogers have everything to owe to him also. That's not to take away from Flair, but he took an idea that had already been established and ran with it to his own success. He was a successor to a successor.

    Secondly, yes, he did a lot to establish WCW, as the #2 brand at the time. But the fact is, during Flair's time, they were a distant 2nd. Yes, being second to Hogan and the WWF is nothing to be ashamed of, but the WWF soaked in all the glory. Jim Crockett was the TNA of the late noughties of its day, the alternative that locals and fans more in the know about the business watched, and carved out a niche to survive Vince McMahon's expansion, but were never going to touch the golden era, and only established themselves as serious competition during the New Generation Era.

    Thirdly, a lot of those title reigns were a result of temporary trades. For example, Harley Race beat Flair for the title only to hold it for three days. Similar things happened to Dusty Rhodes and Kerry Von Erich. Those title reigns were padding. Now, Flair did also have some good reigns with the belt, but the fact is, those meaningless losses, whilst good for the careers of Race, Rhodes and Von Erich, didn't help Flair in looking as strong as the likes of Hogan, Thesz, Santo, Rikidozan and Gotch.

    Fourth and perhaps most importantly, Flair wasn't as versatile as you might think. He played a great heel, but rarely did that translate to being a face; the best he could accomplish is riding from his success as a heel. He was the wrestling equivalent of typecast essentially. To me, there's an elite seven, the last two of which will be revealed in my next crop (I don't think you'll be disappointed in my choices though). Flair isn't in that category to me, as he never felt dominant enough of a force in wrestling's history. He's in the next-tier down from that, in that they're hugely influential and worthy of respect, but not quite to the point of wrestling godhood. Demi-godhood perhaps.

    Fifth and finally, I just think there's other great wrestlers out there that surpass Flair in terms of accomplishments and impact. Sure, if you cut through the international performers and old-timers, he'd easily be in my top 10. Yes, wrestlers post-1980 did shift the needle in terms of making wrestling successful on a mainstream level and bringing in fans, but you forget that wrestling most definitely had a wide audience despite the technological limitations before Hogan's era, something I highlighted in my #2 - #5 picks. That is something you have to factor into the equation, even if, yes, the post 1984 era had its own limitations too.


    There's no-one whose ranking I find objectionable on your list though for the record though. It's very western-orientated, but I'm not going to hold that against you, all five of those guys are easily top-tier.

    "We are not entitled to our opinions. We are entitled to our informed opinions." - Harlan Ellison (1934 - 2018)

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    Senior Member Jeff Deliverer of Mail's Avatar

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    Hulk Hogan Can't argue what the man did for wrestling, the hero of heroes who took the World Wrestling Federation and strapped it to his back and rode a Hulkamania wave around the world. In an age before internet, this man's name was EVERYWHERE. Even if you didn't watch wrestling, you heard his name mentioned before. Then after years and years of Hulkamania.....he did the best heel turn in wrestling history in WCW and was the figurehead of the N.W.O.

    Ric Flair To be the man, you gotta beat the man, WOOOOO!!! One of the best promos in wrestling lore, good in the ring even after suffering a broken back in a plane crash. His accomplishments are simply too vast to number (Including 16 World Championships) and his 4 Horsemen are also part of The Hall of Fame. He's squared off against everyone in wrestling and was the master of the -cut open- and face plant after a hard punch.

    Stone Cold Steve Austin Stone Cold ruled the attitude era after a mid card career in WCW as Stunning Steve. His blue collar bad ass who fights his boss turned the Monday Night War around for the WWE to eventual victory. His merchandise, value, accomplishments with Rumble Victories and titles hold him high. If his career wasn't cut short I'm positive he'd be still wrestling today and undisputed number one on everyones best wrestler lists.

    John Cena The company man who towed the brand like Hogan did as a face. Wasn't the best in the ring starting out but got better year after year, eventually having great matches. Tons of world and mid card titles and massive merch seller.

    The Rock At one point, just The Rock's catch phrases and promos were the most talked about thing in wrestling. He went from a smiling, skipping face to a third person spewing Elvis/eye brow raising bad guy....to insanely popular face. Accomplishments in wrestling aside, The Rock was smooth as silk in the ring, had style and swagger in his moves. The most successful transition to hollywood ever as he's the number one paid actor in hollywood today.

    The Undertaker He went from Mean Mark in WCW, a pale redneck big guy who was easily forgettable compared to most of the roster at the time. Then WWF happened and he became the best gimmick in history. Dominated Wrestlemania for 22 years unbeaten, won titles, was involved in the craziest, yet coolest storylines. Even though hes old as dirt now...its still special when he shows up and stares at somebody.

    Triple H The Cerebral Assassin, The Game, Hunter Hearst Helmsley has an epic career winning multiple titles and high profile feuds, was also a Harley Race type ring general who brought grudge matches to new highs.

    Randy Orton The Viper has a stellar career, his snake-like in ring style was unique and he has won multiple championships. He also has one of the most protected finishers in history with The R.K.O. Rarely kicked out of.

    HBK

    Brock Lesnar
    Frank: Ludwig?!
    Goon: Drebin!
    Frank: Yeah, I'm Drebin!
    Goon: I have a message for ya from Vincent Ludwig!
    Goon: Take that, you lousy cop!
    Frank: I'm sorry! I can't hear ya! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!

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  14. #10
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    1.) Lou Thesz - One of the biggest draws of all time. A bout between him and Michele Leone set wrestling's first 6 figure gate. Was one of the most culturally popular wrestlers of his era. Wrestled everywhere and was highly influential to wrestling across the globe. Incredible longevity. Was active across seven decades. Held a recognized world title for 18 combined years: longer than anyone. Innovated and/or popularized a number of maneuvers and performance tactics still used by big stars today.

    2.) Ed Strangler Lewis - Larger than life charismatic persona and wrestling's biggest superstar post Gotch. One of the most tenured world champions of all time. Wrestled and drove business all over the US and several parts of the world. Biggest reason why's he's #2 on my list is his influence. Pro wrestling as we know it today (with the organized cards, the full rosters, and enforced time limits) can be traced back to Lewis along with Sandow and Mondt. Even some of the added pzazz with the bodyslams and dropkicks can be traced back to their Slam Bang Western Style. The Lewis troupe was also the first to experiment with placing a world title that they controlled on a non-wrestler to see if it would drive business.

    3.) Jim Londos - Inflation adjusted, Londos is the biggest live attendance draw of all time. Some of his feats include 20,000 drawn to a match in Mexico, 40,000 drawn to a match in the US (a gate record that stood some 18 years until Thesz/Leone) 80,000 drawn to a match in Egypt, and a disputed 100,000 drawn to a match in his native Greece. No one past or present has had that kind of appeal in so many different organizations. And Londos wrestled in the 1930's when world of mouth was still the primary form of advertisement. As the "Golden Greek" he was one wrestling's first successful gimmicks. The handsome adonis with shimmering hair and a chiseled frame, it would be practically impossible to count of wrestlers who have adopted his style over the years. And he reigned as world champion for a combined 16 years. I go back and forth on Lewis vs Londos and I place Londos #3 because I don't think he was as influential on the industry as a whole as his rival.

    4.) Hulk Hogan - Wrestling's most popular and influential star of the last 30 years. Was at the epicenter of business in both WWE and later WCW. 30-40 year career in and outside the ring. His track record drawing live attendances while champion wasn't as stable or impressive as the others which is why the Hulkster doesn't crack the top three for me. Sure, he sold a lot of tee shirts but it's not fair to use marketing strategies that didn't exist decades before as a point in his favor.

    5.) Bruno Sammartino - Bruno was a bigger house draw than the Hulkster (and really of all time sans Londos) but he didn't have nearly the overall impact on the industry as Hogan did. Which is why he's #5 for me. If we're ranking strictly WWE champions, I'd rank Bruno first because he helped build the platform that Hogan and others would later stand on. And no, Bruno wasn't just a "regional champion." Vince Sr. wasn't a member of the NWA during the 60's. Bruno wrestled all over world, both as a champion and as an attraction, and was successful everywhere. The NWA wanted to make Bruno their champion. That's how big his appeal was. He turned them down.

    6.) Verne Gagne - Perhaps I'm ranking Verne too high, because his detractors will always say that he placed the belt on himself way too often, but the way I see it the AWA was in business for 31 years and of those Verne was champion for a combined 12. He was always a very successful champion that people loved and the proof is in the longevity and mainstream popularity of his company. He remains of the most successful promoters as well. Think of how many wrestlers Verne either trained or gave a platform too. Pretty much every big name of the 80's and 90's passed through that company on their way to the WWE or NWA. His importance to the wrestling world can't be denied.

    7.) Frank Gotch - Gotch is a difficult one to place. Some people might place him top 5 or even #1 and it would be justified. He was pro wrestling's first real big superstar. And on top of that, from what I've read, the guy was a rockstar. He was a vaudeville star and had amassed a fortune barnstorming in the Yukon years before winning the world title. Wrestling was popular because Gotch was popular. That's how influential he was at the time. Wrestling was a more popular sport than boxing and baseball. The man was introduced as a special guest during the Johnson vs Jeffries "Fight of the Century." When he'd go to Cubs game, the players would line up to get his autograph. Teddy Roosevelt was a huge fan and Gotch even got to wrestle a match on the Oval Office floor. What hurts him is his lack of longevity. When he retired, wrestling entered a huge slump. The next big star in wrestling would be Joe Stetcher (Lewis' primary rival during the 20's) but Gotch died before a "dream" match between them could happen.

    8.) Ric Flair - If Hogan's 1A many would say the Nature Boy's 1B. Flair's low ranking for me is his lack of consistent mainstream appeal, popularity, and drawing power over the years. Especially compared to Hogan's. While I do think Flair's importance to wrestling has been horribly overblown by the WWE machine, he nonetheless remains one of the most influential figures on the modern era.

    9.) Steve Austin - Say what you want about Austin's rise to fame, after really thinking about the events that led to not only the rise of Stone Cold, but the Vince McMahon character too, I think the stars aligned there. Everything was simply perfect and 1997-2001 were magical years for wrestling. And the Rattlesnake is the one who usually gets the credit for saving the WWE and allowing them to continue to morph into the global juggernaut that they are today. Ultimately Steve's lack of longevity is what really hurts his ranking for me, still I feel that all things considered he's got to be in the top 10. Since he's not a big Hollywood action star like the Rock, I feel if it weren't for the WWE machine reminding the youngsters that "hey Austin existed" his legacy would really start to fade.

    10.) Andre the Giant - Andre's another name that others might rank a lot higher, and that's fine too. Andre's the most successful attraction in wrestling history. Not only as a live attendance draw but as a cultural icon and movie star as well. While his impact on the wrestling industry isn't nearly as profound as some of the others in my top 10, there's still plenty of mainstream (Big Show) and independent wrestlers still borrowing the mannerisms of Andre to this day.

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