With such a large history to play with, discovering the beauty of Bob Backlund’s charisma or the connection of Bruno Sammartino to the MSG crowd was a new development throughout this project similar to rewatching The Godfather and On the Waterfront to rediscover the genius of Marlon Brando. WWE may not have always been YOUR promotion but for the better part of 50 years, it was THE promotion in the United States and transformed the pro wrestling landscape. This project serves to praise the individuals that best helped shape the vision of Vince McMahon Sr. and Jr. Place to be Nation is proud to present to you a ranking of the Greatest WWE Wrestlers Ever.
– Chad Campbell
Note: Results of this list are based on 118 ballots received between May and December 2017. Voters were asked to submit their list of the 100 Greatest WWE Wrestlers of all time and consider only their WWWF/WWF/WWE career. Ties were broken based on 1) number of ballots a wrestler appeared on and 2) high vote.
Every wrestler who received at least one vote will be recognized in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned to Place to Be Nation as we reveal all of the honorable mentions right through the cream of the crop. Read the other installments, both written and audio, of this project here.
15. CM Punk
Total Points: 9,411
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 20.4
High Vote: 2
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Eric Vejnovich
Nuance: CM Punk was with the company for more than seven years. He played both a babyface and a heel, primarily as a singles star, but he won tag team gold with Kofi Kingston as well. Punk is a master of the little things, as he seems to “get it” regarding what will connect with fans more than many other wrestlers.
Jump Up Moments: Punk debuted in ECW in 2006 and was teaming with DX and the Hardy Boyz by Survivor Series and winning the ECW title in September 2007. At WrestleMania XXIV, Punk won his first Money in the Bank briefcase, and on his first night on Raw he cashed in to win the World Heavyweight Title from Edge. He then teamed with Kofi Kingston to defeat the Legacy for the World Tag Team Championship. Punk won the Intercontinental Title from William Regal. At WrestleMania XXV Punk won the MITB briefcase for the second year in a row. He then feuded with Umaga, culminating in a Samoan strap match at Extreme Rules 2009 before cashing in his briefcase on Jeff Hardy to win the World Heavyweight Title at the same event. Punk and Hardy went on to have a great feud with Punk turning heel claiming moral superiority. In late 2009, Punk formed the Straight Edge Society, becoming a cult leader character that recruited Luke Gallows and Serena. He did great character and promo work during this time. He began a feud with Rey Mysterio and sang to Rey’s daughter before losing to him at WrestleMania XXVI and continuing the feud through Over the Limit when Punk had his head shaved. Later he became the leader of the New Nexus and feuded with Randy Orton through early 2011. In June 2011, Punk became number one contender for John Cena’s WWE Championship and cut his famous pipe bomb promo, threatening to win the title and leave the company at Money in the Bank 2011. At MITB he and Cena had one of the best matches of the decade, helped by the hot Chicago crowd. Punk won the title and fled through the crowd. He returned too soon, but had another great match with Cena at SummerSlam before losing the title when Kevin Nash powerbombed him and Alberto Del Rio cashed in the MITB briefcase. He battled Nash and Triple H before regaining the title from Del Rio at Survivor Series. He feuded with Chris Jericho in early 2012 and the two battled in a very good match at WrestleMania XXVIII and in a Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules. He feuded with Daniel Bryan, Kane and Cena in good matches throughout 2012. He lost the title to the Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble, ending his title reign at a record 434 days. He took on the Undertaker in a very good match at WrestleMania 29. He then feuded with Paul Heyman and his clients, which included a great match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013. He feuded with the Wyatt Family and The Shield before leaving the company in early 2014. Punk is a two-time MITB winner, a World Tag Team Champion, a IC Champion, an ECW Champion, a two-time WWE Champion and a three-time World Champion.
Promos/Character: He’s one of the best talkers in WWE history. You can refer to his best promo simply as “The Pipebomb” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. However, if he never cuts that promo we’re still raving about his work on the stick and character work with the SES. Punk was a master at getting real emotion across and a pioneer of incorporating shoot comments into his promos. He also was able to convincingly portray vastly different characters during his WWE stint.
Workrate: Punk was a very good and consistent worker with a long list of classic matches. His feud with Hardy in 2009 resulted in high level matches at Night of Champions, SummerSlam and a cage match on SmackDown. He had very good matches with Mysterio at WrestleMania XXVI, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit. The MITB 2011 match with Cena is an all-time classic and the SummerSlam 2011 rematch is also great. His match against Jericho at WrestleMania XXVIII was very good match, as were his matches with Daniel Bryan at Over the Edge and Money in the Bank 2012, and his match with Cena at Night of Champions 2012. His battle with Undertaker at Mania was Taker’s last really good Mania match. And of course he had a classic match with Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013.
Staff Thoughts: Punk is an all-time great and fares very well in all NJPW categories. He’s got an incredible list of classic matches and is one of the best promos in company history. He had a record-breaking title reign and the Summer of Punk angle was fresh and different before they fucked it all up by having him come back too soon and face Nash and Triple H. Still, he accomplished far more than many thought he ever would, striking a chord with our voters and landing high on the list. You can hear Will and the guys talk about Punk on this FYC podcast and JT and Aaron discuss him on this Making the Cut.
From the Voters: “Best promo guy of his era by a wide margin. Very good in-ring guy most of the time. Had a couple ***** matches by my measure and many ****-plus. Has to be a top 50 guy, possibly top 15 but that will require thought and study.” – Greg Phillips, May 28, 2017
“This guy is top 10 material for me. He had it all. Amazing promos, great in-ring work, memorable matches. SES stuff was brilliant. His runs in the 10 and 11 rumbles were brilliant. MITB, twice! His feud with Hardy, feud with Cena. His title reign. His work on commentary. Hell, even when he gave ZERO fucks, he was still putting on 4* matches.” – Jason Sherman, May 29, 2017
“Between the Lesnar match, the Bryan match at Over the Limit, and the (insert your favorite) Cena match, that’s three different 4.5-5 star matches with three opponents who all have quite dissimilar styles.” – James Proffitt, June 12, 2017
14. Kurt Angle
Total Points: 9,541
Total Ballots: 114
Average Rank: 18.1
High Vote: 1
First Place Votes: 1
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: El Groino
Nuance: Longevity is about average for Kurt Angle as he had just less than seven years with the company. He played both a babyface and a heel and could be a comedy figure or a complete badass. While primarily a singles wrestler, he had a notable tag team run with Chris Benoit. Angle had all kinds of intangibles from comedic timing and facial expressions to legit wrestling credibility as an Olympic Gold Medal winner.
Jump Up Moments: Angle debuted at Survivor Series 1999, going undefeated until Royal Rumble 2000. The next month he won both the Intercontinental and European titles though the Eurocontinental Champion lost both titles in a three-way match with Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 2000. He won the 2000 King of the Ring tournament and feuded with Triple H in a love triangle with Stephanie McMahon before losing to him at Unforgiven 2000. He won the WWF title from the Rock at No Mercy, holding the title for the rest of 2000 before losing it back to the Rock at No Way Out 2001. He battled Benoit at WrestleMania X7, Backlash and Judgment Day in a series of great matches. Angle battled for Team WWF in the Invasion angle, fighting Steve Austin at SummerSlam in a classic match before winning the WWF title from Austin at Unforgiven. During the Invasion, Angle won multiple titles and eventually joined the Alliance, but then turned back to Team WWF to give them the victory at Survivor Series. In 2002, Angle feuded with Edge is a series of very good matches that saw him lose his hair. He forced Hulk Hogan to submit and had a good match with a debuting John Cena in 2002 as well. Angle was a key part of the famed SmackDown Six, having great matches week in and week out and an all time great tag match teaming with Benoit against Edge and Rey Mysterio at No Mercy. He won the WWE Championship and defended it in a classic match against Benoit at the 2003 Royal Rumble before dropping the title to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XIX. Angle regained the title and had another very good match with Lesnar at SummerSlam 2003. At WrestleMania XX, Angle challenged Eddie Guerrero in an excellent match. He then became GM of SmackDown continuing his feud with Eddie before returning and defeating Eddie in a very good match at SummerSlam 2004. He began a feud with Shawn Michaels in 2005, resulting in outstanding matches at WrestleMania 21 and Vengeance, and saw good character work with Angle mocking Michaels past including Marty Jannetty and Sherri Martel in the angle. In 2006, Angle had a very good battle with Undertaker at No Way Out, before losing his title in a three-way fight with Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton at WrestleMania 22. He was released from the company in 2006 and wouldn’t return until 2017 as the Raw GM. Angle is a WWE Tag Team champion, a Hardcore Champion, European Champion, IC Champion, US Champion, World Heavyweight Champion and four-time WWF/E Champion.
Promos/Character: Our Olympic Hero played multiple character variations and was a master of playing up annoying traits when a heel and downplaying them in favor of badass traits as a babyface. He could play comedy, as shown with his interactions with Mick Foley, Edge and Christian and Steve Austin in 2001, but he could flip a switch to be a legitimate badass machine as well. Angle was a natural on the mic and in backstage skits, showing a level of charisma not expected from someone coming from an amateur wrestling background.
Workrate: Angle is somewhat divisive as a worker, with some not liking Angle’s go-go style, while others think he’s an awesome worker. He has a long list of great matches, including his WrestleMania X7, Backlash and Judgment Day matches against Chris Benoit. His match against Austin at SummerSlam 2001 is a classic, and rematches at Unforgiven and the three-way at No Mercy were also good. In 2002 he had a series of good matches with Edge, a very fun match with Mysterio at SummerSlam and the great tag match at No Mercy. His Royal Rumble match against Benoit is excellent and the WrestleMania and SummerSlam matches against Brock are also very good. Angle also had damn good matches with Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania XX and SummerSlam 2004. His battles with Shawn Michaels have been criticized by some, but many fans consider both matches to be excellent and his bout with Jannetty during the angle was good as well.
Staff Thoughts: Our Olympic Hero taught us all about Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence, and showed he was a natural in the ring and on the mic. He was almost always involved in the main event scene, either holding or challenging for the title when he was healthy. When he was out injured, he served as a GM or in a managerial or mentor role for Team Angle or others (OK it didn’t help Luther Reigns much, but what would?) Few have ever taken to pro wrestling as quickly as Angle did, Oh, It’s True, It’s Damn True. He could play a heel, a face, a goof, a badass, basically he could do it all, and have a list of great matches along the way. The guys talk about Angle on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Top 10-15 easily for me. Great in the Ring and on the Mic. Could do serious and comedy at the drop of a hat. Picked up the business on day 1 when he debuted at Survivor Series 1999.” – Jay Hinchey, May 30, 2017
“I am looking at him in my top 10 right now. Perfect entangibles of workrate, storylines, promos, getting pops, getting his opponent over (Cena, Rey at SS 02). Could end up higher that HHH, Savage, Shawn, Bret Hart. He was that good.” – Jeffrey Thomas, May 31, 2017
“His ring work is some of the most polarizing I’ve come across for any wrestler, but I think he has enough good-great matches and fantastic character work to rank high on my list. Goofy jock heel? He could do it. Sociopathic heel? He could do it. Intense competitor face? He could do it. Heroic babyface? He could do it.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
13. Eddie Guerrero
Total Points: 9,646
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 18.6
High Vote: 2
Low Vote: 64
High Voter: El Groino
Nuance: Eddie Guerrero had a short stint in WWF/E, clocking in at only about five years. He showed great flexibility during this time, working as both a babyface and a heel and having singles success as well as tag success with the Radicalz, Los Guerreros, Rey Mysterio, Tajiri and Batista. Eddie had great intangibles, putting subtle touches in his character work, matches and promos.
Jump Up Moments: Eddie debuted with the Radicalz in 2000 and soon became involved in an angle with “Mamacita” Chyna, that included Eddie earning his GED and taking Chyna to his prom after his match with Essa Rios at Backlash 2000. During this time he won the Intercontinental Title before the couple split. Eddie had multiple feuds over the IC and European Titles in late 2000 and early 2001 before vanishing for a while thanks to personal issues. He returned in 2002, having a good feud with Rob Van Dam over the IC Title, including good matches at Backlash, Judgment Day and a ladder match on Raw. He formed a team with nephew Chavo as Los Guerreros, having great matches with Benoit, Angle, Edge and Rey Mysterio over the new tag team titles, winning the titles at Survivor Series 2002. Chavo got injured, so Eddie chose Tajiri as a replacement, winning the titles from Team Angle at Judgment Day 2003. Eddie won the US Title by defeating Benoit in the finals of a tournament at Vengeance 2003, and had a good four-way match retaining his title at SummerSlam. He then feuded with John Cena defeating him in a parking lot brawl, and reformed his team with Chavo winning the titles from The World’s Greatest Tag Team making Eddie a double champion. Eddie lost the US Title to Big Show. Eddie’s crowning achievement came when he won the WWE championship in an excellent match against Brock Lesnar. Eddie then entered into a feud with Angle, defending the title in a very good match at WrestleMania XX. He then got into an issue with JBL, losing by DQ in a bloodbath at Judgment Day before dropping the title to JBL in a very good bullrope match at The Great American Bash. Eddie renewed his rivalry with Angle in another good match at SummerSlam 2004. At No Way Out 2005, Eddie teamed with Mysterio to win the WWE Tag Team Titles, and the two decided to battle at WrestleMania 21 with Mysterio winning causing tension in the team. They lost the titles to MNM and then Eddie turned heel abandoning Mysterio. Eddie lost by DQ to Rey at Judgment Day 2005, and again at Great American Bash 2005 in a match with a stipulation that Eddie couldn’t reveal a secret if he lost. Eddie lied and revealed the secret that he was really the father of Rey’s son Dominick, which resulted in a ladder match at SummerSlam with custody of Dominick on the line. Rey again won, but lost a cage match on the September 9 episode of SmackDown. Guerrero was named the number one contender for Batista’s World title but struck a friendship up with The Animal, though Batista was always suspicious of Eddie. The two had a series of matches with MNM and Batista defeated Eddie at No Mercy 2005 in Eddie’s last PPV match. Eddie was rumored to be winning the World Title again before his untimely death. Eddie was a four-time WWE Tag Team Champion, a two-time European Champion, two-time IC Champion, U.S. Champion and World Heavyweight Champion.
Promos/Character: He lies, he cheats, he steals! And while that was his original schtick and Los Guerreros had some funny moments and vignettes, Eddie could also turn up the intensity, which you can see in his promo before his SmackDown cage match with Rey in 2005. Eddie was always great on the mic and his character could go from comedy to serious with ease, always connecting with the crowd.
Workrate: Eddie’s a great worker, having quality matches week in and week out. Upon his return in 2002 he had very good matches with RVD over the IC title. Later in the year he would be one of the SmackDown Six, having great matches seemingly every week in singles and tag matches. His US title reign featured good matches with Benoit, Tajiri, Rhyno and Cena. His title win against Lesnar is both a great match and great moment. His match with Angle at WrestleMania XX was very good and his matches with JBL at Judgment Day and Great American Bash were much better than expected. His match with Angle at SummerSlam 2004 is a bit of a forgotten gem. He had good matches at SummerSlam and on SmackDown during his telenovella feud with Rey Mysterio in 2005.
Staff Thoughts: Viva La Raza! Eddie Guerrero could do everything needed to be an excellent pro wrestler and did so during his sadly brief time in the WWE. He had great character work doing comedy, cutting serious promos and everything in between. He had good matches week in and week out and top end matches with Lesnar, Angle, Mysterio and everyone else during the SmackDown Six days. Eddie had a special connection to fans that showed in this voting. Hear Good Ol’ Will and the guys talk about Eddie on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Eddie and Randy Savage are exactly what I want in a pro wrestler. Easy lock for my list, and in contention for top 10. There is literally nothing that Eddie Guerrero is bad at, and he is good to great at everything.” – Brian Meyer, May 31, 2017
“Eddie was one of greatest all around talents you will ever find. to go from an awesome heel, to an amazing face speaks volumes because not everyone can pull it off. But he did. He may not be the biggest wrestler in WWE history but he opened a lot of doors for other smaller guys like him to be WWE championship material. Top 20 for me.” – Matt Rotella, May 31, 2017
“I would add that if you are someone who focuses on peak for any of the criteria being considered or as an all around performer, I am not sure there are 5 people in wrestling that has a better case as a PEAK performer to me. He was so good at everything down tot he last detail and his very best work is untouchable (imo).” – Matthew Richards, May 31, 2017
12. Roddy Piper
Total Points: 9,730
Total Ballots: 117
Average Rank: 18.2
High Vote: 4
Low Vote: 81
High Voter: Jason Fastkade; Taylor Keahey; Glenn Butler
Nuance: Roddy Piper had a three-year run with the company from 1984 until his first retirement in 1987 and would return regularly from 1989 to 1992 and sporadically after that. He has been part of the WWF for a long period of time, but so much of it is has been sporadic returns. During this time he has been a heel and a face, primarily as a singles star but with some tag team runs with Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton Jr. and Ric Flair. He had tons of charisma that grabbed the crowd first as a heel and later as a fan favorite.
Jump Up Moments: Piper first appeared as a manager for Orndorff and “Dr. D” David Schultz before becoming an active wrestler and hosting his Piper’s Pit interview show. During one of his Piper’s Pits he insulted Jimmy Snuka before busting a coconut on his head in a famous segment igniting a hot feud. He later insulted Bruno Sammartino, leading to a cage match that Piper lost. He battled Hulk Hogan at the War to Settle the Score on MTV, which featured Hogan being accompanied by Cyndi Lauper. The chaos of that match created excitement among a new fanbase and Piper was a big part of that. He then was part of the main event of the first WrestleMania losing to Hogan and Mr. T before turning on Orndorff. Piper would have a series of heated brawls with Orndorff before boxing Mr. T at WrestleMania 2. He would then take some time off, during which time Piper’s Pit was replaced by Adrian Adonis’ Flower Shop. This set the stage for Piper to return as a babyface where he was assaulted and humiliated by Adonis, Orton and Don Muraco, before Piper destroyed the Flower Shop with a baseball bat. This led to the hair vs. hair match where Piper defeated Adonis in a fun match at WrestleMania III and then retired afterward. Piper’s Pit had also served as the backdrop when Andre the Giant turned on Hogan to set up the main event of WrestleMania III. Piper returned at WrestleMania V, spraying Morton Downey Jr. with a fire extinguisher. In 1989, Piper would feud with Ravishing Rick Rude in numerous house show matches including steel cage and lumberjack matches, and the two captained teams at Survivor Series 1989. He then feuded with Bad News Brown, facing him at WrestleMania VI. He would egg on Virgil and support him during his feud with the Million Dollar Man. In late 1991, Piper would have a series of good matches with the debuting Ric Flair. At the 1992 Royal Rumble, he won the Intercontinental Title from the Mountie before participating in the legendary Royal Rumble match. He would lose the IC title to Bret Hart in an excellent match at WrestleMania VIII. He returned in 1994 and feuded with Jerry Lawler, facing the King at King of the Ring 1994 in a fairly dreadful match. He returned again in 1996 as Interim WWF President, leading to him having a “Backlot Brawl” with Goldust at WrestleMania XII. Hot Rod once again returned to the company in 2003, running in during the Hogan/McMahon match at WrestleMania XIX, attacking Hogan with a steel pipe and later feuding with “Mr. America” and aligning with Sean O’Haire. He would return again in 2005, feuding with Cowboy Bob and Randy Orton. In 2006, he teamed with Ric Flair to win the World Tag Team Championship from the Spirit Squad. Piper teamed with Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat to take on Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV. He would host Piper’s Pits periodically until 2014.
Promos/Character: When you think about the greatest talkers in WWF/E history, Piper’s name has to be on the list. He was given Piper’s Pit and he ran with it, advancing a staggering amount of angles on the show from his feuds with Snuka and Bruno to the Hogan/Andre feud at WrestleMania III. He was also a key cog in the Virgil vs. Million Dollar Man feud. His manic promo style and quick wit led to many great one-liners from the Hot Rod over the years. As a character, he was one of the most memorable in company history, from the bagpipes to the kilt and later the leather jacket now worn by current WWE superstar Ronda Rousey. The character has endured, as if you asked former fans or non-fans to name a pro wrestler, undoubtedly the Hot Scot would come up sooner rather than later.
Workrate: Piper was a good brawler and did a strong job conveying emotion during his matches, though his work could be a mixed bag in more traditional matches. He typically added heat to his matches through promos and character work, like in his cage match with Sammartino or his feud with Orndorff. His match with Hogan at the War to Settle the Score was a good example of pandemonium that created interest in the product, and the main event of the first WrestleMania was good as well. The match against Adonis is a fun match strengthened by a very good angle behind it. Piper’s best matches may have been in late 1991, with Ric Flair, and early 1992, with his match against Bret Hart for the IC title at WrestleMania VIII standing out as great.
Staff Thoughts: Piper is such a beloved character for his work in the early days of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era that voters seemed willing to give him a pass on some of the crap on his resume (Bad News Brown facepaint match, Lawler feud). But he was such a great talker and memorable character ingrained in the fabric of the WWF during this hot time, who could blame them? He was the first villain to be vanquished by Hogan and was set up as the top heel during the early WrestleMania years. And he played such a pivotal part in so many angles through Piper’s Pit. His returns were a mixed bag, adding to his legacy by winning the IC and Tag Titles and having a great match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII, but he also overstayed his welcome at times. Still, he always gets over with the crowd and was forever a great promo, even on random Piper’s Pits decades after his prime. To hear Good Ol’ Will and crew talk about Piper check out this FYC and to hear JT and Aaron’s thoughts check out this Making the Cut.
From the Voters: “I know “workrate” is where he usually gets criticized, but he’s got really good matches on his WWE resume with Bret, Perfect & Flair. Plus, like Hogan, his charisma makes up for that criticism in spades. If “workrate” translates to “fun to watch wrestle,” then I’d argue that Piper is actually a really great worker.” – James Proffitt, June 2, 2017
“Not as bad in the ring as some tend to say. Obviously part of some of the most important moments in the company’s history. While I think he fell off a cliff somewhat in terms of promos I am not sure anyone was more important to the company when it came to running his gums. You could hit those bagpipes any night up till the day he died and the crowd would have popped.” – Matthew Richards, June 2, 2017
“I truly believe that, without Piper, Hogan would not have been as big. Without a great villain how good can your hero be? Carried the build up to Wrestlemania on his back with amazing promo work that nobody could get away with today. Piper’s Pit was well ahead of its time and was the catalyst for the Rock & Wrestling Connection. The coconut incident with Snuka was the best start of a feud ever. The WWF wouldn’t be where they are today without Hulk, but Hulk would not have been where he was without Piper.” – Tim Tetreault, June 2, 2017
11. Mick Foley
Total Points: 9,817
Total Ballots: 117
Average Rank: 18
High Vote: 1
First Place Votes:1
Low Vote: 91
High Voter: Ian Goldsworthy
Nuance: Mick Foley had a four-year run with the WWF in his initial run and has had numerous returns through 2012. He not only played a babyface and a heel, but played three different characters at the same time, and evolved these characters (original Mankind to corporate Mankind to lovable goof Mankind) as well. Foley was primarily a singles star but had notable tag teams with Steve Austin, The Rock, Terry Funk, Kane, Al Snow and Edge. Foley has always been a master of intangibles, giving nuanced performances that allowed him to play all of his characters and move between them in ways that made sense. With a lesser performer, the idea of playing three characters could’ve been hokey, but Foley made it work.
Jump Up Moments: Foley debuted as Mankind the night after WrestleMania XII and quickly began feuding with the Undertaker, defeating him at King of the Ring and in the first Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam 1996. Later in the year, he earned the spot as number one contender for the WWF Title and had a classic match with Shawn Michaels at IYH: Mind Games. He continued his feud with the Undertaker battling at Buried Alive, Survivor Series 1996 and Revenge of the Taker. Foley then began doing a series of sit-down interviews with Jim Ross, mentioning the Dude Love character and turning Mankind babyface. Foley debuted the Dude Love character as Austin’s tag team partner winning the tag team titles in a match against Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. Dude Love then feuded with Hunter Hearst Hemsley, allowing Mankind and Dude Love to have an interview segment discussing who should take a falls count anywhere match, which was the introduction of the Cactus Jack character. He also had a good cage match with Helmsley as Mankind at SummerSlam 1997. At Royal Rumble 1998, Foley appeared three times, as Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack. He then began teaming with Terry Funk, battling the New Age Outlaws and winning the Tag Titles at WrestleMania XIV in a dumpster match, before being stripped of the titles the next night and losing to the Outlaws in a cage match. He turned heel and Dude Love was the mystery opponent facing Austin at Unforgiven, winning by DQ. After defeating Funk to earn another title shot, Foley had a classic match as Dude Love against Austin at Over the Edge 1998. Foley’s loss there led to Mr. McMahon firing Dude and Foley reverting to his Mankind character. Mankind would then face the Undertaker in Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1998 in one of the most memorable matches ever. Through 1998 Mankind became more of a comedic character, trying to befriend McMahon, including using a sock puppet he dubbed Mr. Socko to cheer up his “Dad.” The Hardcore Title was created and awarded to Mankind, and he was the favorite to win the WWF Title at Survivor Series before the McMahons turned on him and The Rock won his first title. He would then feud with Rock over the title at Rock Bottom, before winning his first WWF Championship in one of the more memorable matches in Raw history on the 1/4/99. Fans tuned into Raw in droves as Tony Shiavone announced the title change on Nitro in a key moment in the Monday Night Wars. He then lost the title back to Rock in an uncomfortable “I Quit” match where he took infinite unprotected chair shots at the 1999 Royal Rumble. Mankind won the title back from the Rock in a match on Halftime Heat that took place during halftime of the Super Bowl, before eventually losing it back to Rock in a ladder match on Raw. Later in the year, Mankind would befriend Rock, forming the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection and combining on the “This is Your Life Rock” which is one of the highest rated segments in Raw history. Mankind won the WWF Title again in a three-way match with Austin and Triple H at SummerSlam 1999 before losing it to Hunter the next night on Raw. He would feud with Triple H throughout 1999, leading to the return of Cactus Jack in early 2000. The street fight with Hunter at 2000 Royal Rumble is an all-time classic and their HIAC match at No Way Out is not far behind. Foley then retired until the next month when he competed in a fatal-fourway match in the main event of WrestleMania 2000. He would then become commissioner before being fired by McMahon and returning as special referee in the Vince vs. Shane match at WrestleMania X7. He returned in 2003 to referee a HIAC match between Triple H and Kevin Nash and later being attacked by Randy Orton, kick-starting their feud. That stretched to mid-2004, with a fun tag team match between the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection and Evolution at WrestleMania XX. The next month Cactus Jack faced Orton in a hardcore match for the Intercontinental Title in an outstanding match. He returned again in 2005, feuding with Carlito. In 2006, he feuded with Edge and faced him in a very good hardcore match at WrestleMania 22 that ended when Edge speared Foley through a flaming table. Clearly, that created a friendship forged in fire, as the two joined forces and teamed with Lita in a rowdy six-person tag against Funk, Tommy Dreamer and Beulah McGillicutty at ECW One Night Stand 2006. Foley would also feud with Ric Flair in 2006 and would return and appear in the 2012 Royal Rumble match. Foley is an eight-time WWF tag team Champion, a Hardcore Champion and a three-time WWF Champion.
Promos/Character: Foley is an all-time great promo, and his interview segments with Ross were so good they turned him babyface. He could cut serious promos and do comedy as well as anyone, like when he debuted Mr. Socko and called Mr. McMahon “Dad.” He would later do a great job playing a sympathetic character during his feud with the Rock. When the two became partners, he was a critical part of the “This is Your Life Rock”, one of the highest rated segments in Raw history. His work as commissioner with Edge, Christian and Kurt Angle showed some great comedy sketches, bantering about such things as kazoos and sodas. He did great promo and character work when he turned heel ahead of ECW One Night Stand.
Workrate: Foley was a very good worker and has an impressive list of great matches. His Mind Games match with Michaels in 1996 was an instant classic. His cage match with Helmsley at SummerSlam 1997 was a good match. The Dude Love vs. Austin match at Over the Edge 1998 was an excellent storyline driven match and memorable classic. The HIAC match with Undertaker is on of the biggest matches in company history because of the two huge bumps, that may be the most replayed moments of all-time. His feud with the Rock in early 1999 was uncomfortable but memorable, particularly the “I Quit” match and the Raw match where he won his first WWF Title was iconic. The street fight at Royal Rumble 2000 is fantastic and the HIAC at No Way Out is very good as well. The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection vs. Evolution at WrestleMania XX is fun and the match with Orton at Backlash 2004 may be Orton’s best match and one of Foley’s. His match against Edge at WrestleMania 22 is a great crazy brawl and their six-person tag at ECW One Night Stand is also very good.
Staff Thoughts: Mrs. Foley’s baby boy portrayed three of the best characters the WWF/E has ever had. And really, Foley is one of the best character workers ever. Foley was a great talker, able to deliver thoughtful promos, leading to logical turns, and also being a master of comedy with Vince, Edge, Christian and Angle. He’s got a long list of great matches against Michaels, Undertaker, Orton, Austin, Triple H and Edge. He’s a guy who checks every box on the NJPW system and, really, does everything necessary to be a good pro wrestler very well. He sacrificed his body and used his mind (before all the bumps took effect) to cut great promos. And if you make a list of memorable moments his fall from the Cell and first title win have to rank highly, along with good supporting matches and moments. Add that all up, and it made Foley a favorite, right here at Place To Be Nation! Thumbs up! To hear JT and Aaron’s thoughts on the New York Times Best-Selling Author check out this Making the Cut. To hear what Good Ol’ Will and the guys had to say check out this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “As I rate people according to the NJPW criteria, Foley keeps shooting to the top of my list. He’s had great promos, good matches, unique storylines, and the most memorable moment of the Attitude Era. I didn’t initially think he’d be in my top 10, but it looks very likely now.” – Jeff Walker, June 23,2017
“Had THREE incredibly entertaining characters. Was involved in one of the most incredible and perhaps most replayed moment in company history (KOTR 98). Plus, had some fantastic matches with Austin, HHH, Rock, and Taker to name a few. A versatile performer. He could make you hate his guts as a heel and he could make you laugh hysterically and feel sympathy for him as a face. Easily in the top 100, probably in the top 50.” – Matt Souza, May 31, 2017
“He has done a lot to tarnish his legacy over the past 17 years–and a little to enhance it, like his Edge and Randy Orton feuds–but not enough to drop off the list. Unlikely WWF champion who reached the main event purely on hard work. All-time classic matches and moments with Undertaker, HBK and HHH. And yes, he played three roles. Lock for my top 20.” – Ben Morse, June 1, 20117