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.
39. Scott Hall
Total Points: 6,149
Total Ballots: 112
Average Rank: 46.1
High Vote: 14
Low Vote: 94
High Voter: Andy Halleen
Nuance: Razor Ramon was with the WWF for four years, and his return as Scott Hall lasted only a few months, so his longevity is limited. He worked as both a heel and a babyface and was effective in both roles. He had limited tag team work, but did team with the 1-2-3 Kid on and off. Whatever the “It” factor is, Razor Ramon had it. The Bad Guy oozing machismo was cool, which was undeniable and something wrestlers generally either have or don’t.
Jump Up Moments: His upset loss to Kid was one of the biggest moments in the early years of Raw, and led to a nice story arc where he would feud with, team with and feud with Kid again. His biggest bouts were excellent ladder matches against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X and later SummerSlam 1995 over the IC Title. Ramon challenged Bret Hart for the WWF Title at Royal Rumble 1993 in a good match. He had a memorable feud with Goldust before leaving the company in 1996. Ramon was a four-time Intercontinental Champion.
Promos/Character: The Bad Guy was a fantastic character, colorful enough to fit in with the cartoon world of the early 90s WWF, but gritty enough and realistic enough to stand out. He was oozing machismo, dripping with gold (from his neck and often from the IC title) and a dead-eye shot when flicking his ever-present toothpick. Razor was introduced to WWF fans through a series of well-done vignettes, based on the Scarface character, where Ramon would talk encourage fans to “Look at me, mang” and see how he was about to take the WWF by storm. Razor was a good talker, but may have been hancuffed a bit by the gimmick when it comes to delivering his promos. Still, the character is one of the most memorable of its time (or any time really) and it’s impossible to picture anyone besides Scott Hall doing it effectively, even if the WWF tried that once.
Workrate: Razor was a good, solid worker, always capable of delivering a strong match. He was very athletic for a man of his size, threw good punches and had a cool, unique and effective finisher in the Razor’s Edge. Unless he was backdropped over the ropes trying to hit the move. Which happened every match, but we digress. Ramon could occasionally climb to higher heights as a worker, as he did in the two ladder matches with Michaels. He also had a tag team match teaming with Kid against Shawn Michaels and Diesel that was fantastic as well.
Staff Thoughts: The Bad Guy was one of the coolest characters the company ever did, mang! The vignettes, the gold chains, the toothpick, the accent, it was all very memorable, and undoubtedly led to countless eye injuries from errant toothhpick flips of fans trying to ooze machismo. His match with Kid on Raw was a great surprise moment and led to a cool story arc between the two characters. His ladder matches with Shawn are fantastic and were revolutionary at the time. We’ll just forget about the NWO run on his return, even though it did lead to a WrestleMania match with Steve Austin, shall we? You can hear JT and Aaron talk about the Bad Guy on this Making the Cut podcast.
From the Voters: “Memorable character who was good on the mic and in the ring. Threw the best punches in the history of the business. Ladder match with Shawn is an all timer. Liked his matches with Bret too at Royal Rumble and King of the Ring 93. Even his matches with Diesel were pretty good I thought. If not for personal issues he easily could’ve been World Champion, but still didn’t do too shabby as he was the IC Champ a lot. Only thing against him is longevity as his Razor run checked in at only a little under four years.” – Wade Ferrari, June 2, 2017
“Razor is someone that kept me interested during a down time in the WWF, he came in strong in late 92 and really had a great run through 1995 and pretty much owned the IC division his entire run. Worked well with Bret, Jarrett, all the Clique guys, and had some fun squash matches on those early Raws, probably a middle of the list guy for me.” – Sean Zern, June 9, 2017
“Razor seems like a good ‘short run’ candidate. He wasn’t around all that long, but I think he’s a very memorable character, I like him as a worker, he has some memorable moments (losing to Kid, ladder match), held the IC title 4 times when that meant something, and was very over once he turned babyface. I think he would have been accepted as world champ in 95. It’s a back end kind of resume, but I think he merits serious consideration.” – Andy Russell, July 19, 2017
38. Ultimate Warrior
Total Points: 6,437
Total Ballots: 105
Average Rank: 39.7
High Vote: 8
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Andy LaBar
Nuance: Ultimate Warrior and nuance go together like water and a grease fire. Warrior is pure, unbridled insanity. A man, no, myth from Parts Unknown who had one job – destroy in an Ultimate way, use his energy for great applause, to get in and out and be unbeatable. Warrior came in in 1987, and was gone in 1992, and the less we pretend to care about his 1996 run, the better. He was muscles, rope-shaking, and gorilla press slams. Warrior was a Rob Liefeld comic before such a thing existed, like no one before him nor after him. The problem is, when you create someone who is unbeatable, who is literally not of this world – you put yourself into a corner that is hard to come out of. His tag team runs were fun, if unmemorable.
Jump Up Moments: The Warrior lacked nuance because he was one jump-up moment after another. A candle that burned so bright, it went out entirely too quick. From the moment the guitar riffs of his music hit and Warrior ran out to the ring, shaking the ropes, spinning around, pointing at the sky, there are few things in wrestling more iconic from a imagery standpoint as that. He worked jobbers and squash matches for a year, before surprising the crowd at SummerSlam 88 by destroying the Honky Tonk Man and ending his lengthy IC title run. He wrestled Andre the Giant on SNME, Ted DiBiase in Tokyo, and he’s beaten Randy Savage, Rick Rude, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan as well. He BEAT Hogan in an excellent main event at WrestleMania VI, was given the ball to run with and blew it. Lastly, as morbid as it is – the way that Warrior died is as much myth as anything, and seems to be the only way this BEING could go out. Returning to the company after two decades, being inducted into the Hall of Fame, showing up at WrestleMania XXX, giving a promo at Raw and then dying the next day – intense and unreal – just like his life.
Promos/Character: “DIG YOUR CLAWS INTO MY ORGANS! STRETCH INTO MY TENDONS! BURY YOUR ANCHORS INTO MY BONES FOR THE POWER OF THE WARRIOR WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL!”
“NOW YOU MUST DEAL WITH THE CREATION OF ALL THE UNPLEASANTRIES IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE AS I FEEL THE INJECTION FROM THE GODS ABOVE!”
“I WAS SENT IN A CAPSULE FROM A PLACE NOT FROM HERE AND I CAME HERE FOR ONE REASON: TO ATTACK AND KEEP COMIN’. NOT TO ASK, BUT JUST TO GIVE. NOT TO WANT, BUT JUST TO SEND.”
“NORMAL PEOPLE, PEOPLE THAT WALK THE STREETS EVERY DAY, WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND!”
Workrate: Say what you will about the Ultimate Warrior as a technical wrestler – he had almost nothing in that category, but due to this energy, the Warrior was one of the best big match wrestlers of his era. So while one would be hard pressed to point to little things here and there that make the Warrior great inside the ring, his matches that are highly thought of are amongst the best of the early 90s in WWF. He has legit four-star matches with Rick Rude, Randy Savage and one of the biggest Main Event feel wars of all time with Hulk Hogan. Watching Warrior is like reconfiguring your definition and notions of what “workrate” is. He obviously has stinkers, but to the idea that he is one of the worst of all time is unfounded – he has some of the most memorable matches in company history.
Staff Thoughts: Yeah, I’ve gushed here. And I’ll get this out of the way here, even as the high voter on Warrior – he was a real piece of crap human outside of the ring (and perhaps even inside), but as laid out in the “Andy and Chad talk the GWWE” podcast, Warrior is the purest distillation of 80s and 90s excess – a character that was unlike any that came before (or that capitalized on all those that tried), and one that will forever be impossible to do again. Warrior came at the perfect time, lasted the perfect amount of time and will go down as one of the most memorable wrestlers in the history of wrestling. The facepaint, the tassles, the music, the promos. There is no humanity within the Ultimate Warrior – he is escapism, pure and simple and that’s something we could stand to value a little bit more in wrestling. Oh, and the match with Savage at WrestleMania VII is STILL the best story the company has ever told.
From the Voters: “Ol Jim was a sack of shit. I love warrior. I think his best matches are among the best in wwf/e history. I love his promos, his look, nostalgia or not. To this day, I get excited when Warrior is on tv. It’s the ultimate unreality, the ultimate distillation of what wwf tried and tried and tried. I expect to be the high man on Warrior.” – Andy LaBarr, November 3, 2017
“To me a prime example of what the WWF was best at in the late 80s and early 90s which was creating larger than life characters. He will go down in the lure as one of the more colorful people in WWE history. To me that has to be in consideration, I feel the in ring hurts his cause to be more of a threat but still should be on the list.” – Danny Louis Kuchler, June 7, 2017
“He is a top performer worthy of this list. Sure, his amphetamine-inspired promos were difficult to decipher as a child. To his credit, he worked his tail off to get his character over, which is what the WWF during the Federation years demanded.His in-ring style against enhancement wrestlers were difficult to watch, but when it was time to shine on major shows, he hardly disappointed. He got over every time. I was never a mark for the Ultimate Warrior, but he will have a strong showing on my list.” – Jeffrey Thomas, June 7, 2017
37. Randy Orton
Total Points: 6,548
Total Ballots: 105
Average Rank: 38.6
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Brad Faulk
Nuance: Randy Orton’s been around forever, debuting with the company in 2002, so he’s definitely got the longevity box checked. He’s worked as both a babyface and a heel, primarily as singles worker, but with notable tag team runs with Edge and the Wyatt Family, as well as being in stables like Evolution, the Legacy and the Authority. If you could create a prototype for a pro wrestler it would look like Randy Orton, but whatever the extra “It” factor that connects a wrestler to the audience seems to be at worst missing, or at best inconsistent, from Orton.
Jump Up Moments: Orton had strong early heel work, from his RNN updates when he was returning from his shoulder injury to joining Evolution, becoming The Legend Killer and winning the IC title. His feud with Mick Foley was a definite hit and their match at Backlash 2004 might still be Orton’s best. He became the youngest World Champion ever, defeating Chris Benoit in a very good match at SummerSlam 2004. He moved to SmackDown and feuded with the Undertaker having memorable matches at WrestleMania 21 and SummerSlam 2005, before teaming with his father to defeat the Deadman in a handicap match and then lock him in a coffin and set it on fire. They would then battle at Armageddon 2005 in a Hell in a Cell match. In 2006, he joined with Edge to form Rated RKO, feuding with D-Generation X and captured the World Tag Team Championship. Orton had a good triple-threat match for the WWE title with Triple H and John Cena at WrestleMania XXIV. Feuded with the McMahon family, punting Vince and Shane and RKO’ing Stephanie and then won the 2009 Royal Rumble to set up a match with Triple H for the title. In 2011, Orton had a great series of matches with Christian feuding over the World Heavyweight Title with matches at Capitol Punishment, Over the Limit, Money in the Bank, SummerSlam and matches on SmackDown, including a steel cage match in August. He then feuded with Mark Henry during his hot 2011 run. Orton won the 2013 Money in the Bank briefcase, which he cashed in on Daniel Bryan after he won the WWE Title, joining the Authority and serving as the foil to Bryan until WrestleMania XXX. He then joined forces with Batista and Triple H to reform Evolution to face The Shield at Extreme Rules and Payback 2014. Orton is a former IC Champion, World Tag Team Champion, SmackDown Tag Team Champion, Money in the Bank winner, two-time Royal Rumble winner, four-time World Heavyweight Champion and nine-time WWE Champion.
Promos/Character: The Legend Killing Apex Predator Viper really lacks in this category. These days all promos are scripted, but it’s really more evident than when Orton gives his often wooden performances. And Orton’s character work is that he hears voices in his head and is pretty much a douche (as a face, as well as a heel). He’s always seemed like he’s just missing a little something, just a step away from getting it with his character, but not quite getting there. And if anyone’s ever had a dumber, douchier pose we can’t think of them.
Workrate: Orton’s got all the tools to be a very good worker, and when he puts it all together he’s capable of some really great matches. The RKO OUTTA NOWHERE is a great finisher, and he’s countered shooting star presses, springboard dives, curb stomps and other moves for memorable finishes and nearfalls. He has a lot of other crisp and impactful offensive moves, like his powerslam, his draping DDT and the punt. However, his offense generally works best when he’s a babyface, but his character works best as a heel. Still, his resume of good to great matches is long and distinguished. His Backlash match with Foley in 2004 is great and the Evolution vs. Rock nN Sock at WrestleMania XX is a fun match too. Check out any of his 2011 matches with Christian, as that series is all great. He provided a good corporate heel foil for B+ Player Daniel Bryan to conquer on this road to WrestleMania XXX, and they had good matches along the way. The Shield vs. Evolution matches are great as well. While Orton’s highs are tremendously high, it should be noted he goes through lengthy periods where he seems to mail it in, and can also be guilty of dreck like his WrestleMania and House of Horrors matches with Bray Wyatt.
Staff Thoughts: It’s hard to imagine many wrestlers with more of a mixed bag than Orton. He’s got a lot of good to great stuff, some really bad stuff and A WHOLE LOTTA “just there” periods where he’s doing nothing interesting. His promos and character trend from awful to acceptable, and his Legend Killer and RNN updates were entertaining and may have been his promo highlights. Still, his resume is stellar and he has a lot of good to great matches and he’s just so ingrained into the WWE it’s impossible to imagine the company without him.
From the Voters: “I’m not his biggest fan, but it’s hard to ignore how important he has been to the company for the past 15 years. He is Cena #2. He’s in my upper tier, but the back half of that.” – Jason Sherman, June 2, 2017
“He is probably going to be in my Top 30. He was my favorite guy on the roster outside of HBK from 2007-2010. He’s always done great character work. I feel like he could have been higher if he didn’t have periods of time where he didn’t appear to be trying.” – Mike Eller, June 2, 2017
“I loved his early heel run, got bored with him during Rated RKO, got back into him in 07, then the HHH feud really killed it for me until that series with Christian which were incredible, so there is lot to weigh in on, he will be ranked but there is some rewatching that I have to do.” – Sean Zern, June 2, 2017
Total Points: 6,563
Total Ballots: 115
Average Rank: 43.9
High Vote: 10
Low Vote: 92
High Voter: Nikolaj; Good Ol’ Will From Texas
Nuance: Goldust has been with the company about 15 years, having been in and out of the company since 1996. He also appeared with his father Dusty Rhodes to take on Ted Dibiase and Virgil at Royal Rumble 1991. He’s been both a face and a heel and a singles as well as notable tag teams with Cody Rhodes and Booker T. Goldust is a master of little character touches and evolutions that makes him stand the test of time.
Jump Up Moments: Goldust had a memorable feud with Razor Ramon in 1995-96 due to his unwanted advances toward the Bad Guy. Razor ‘s suspension killed the feud abruptly and resulted in Roddy Piper subbing for him in the Backlot Brawl at WrestleMania XII, which was memorable and a decent brawl before nonsense took over. As a face he warred with Hunter Hearst-Helmsley and then had a really memorable feud with Brian Pillman following teaming with Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock and the Legion of Doom against the Hart Foundation in the all time classic main event of Canadian Stampede. Goldust later formed a fun team with Booker T and feuded with the UnAmericans winning the Tag Team Titles. His tag team run with half-brother Cody in 2013 was great and featured terrific matches against The Shield at Battleground 2013 and on Raw to win the tag titles. Goldust is a nine-time Hardcore Champion, a three-time IC Champion, a World Tag Team Champion and two-time WWE Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: The Goldust character was edgy and revolutionary when it debuted in 1995, as a movie quoting eccentric with a crush on Razor Ramon. That was quickly established to have been just playing mind games in order to avert any heat that may come their way for negative portrayal of a gay character. He would continue to be a face painting weirdo for most of the next two decades, which shouldn’t work, but Goldust made it happen. There had been effeminate characters in wrestling before, which were usually cheap heat magnets, but that wasn’t Goldust, he always had more depth. From his early vignettes quoting movies to his comedy work in his tag team with Booker, Goldust was always evolving. By the time he was teaming with Cody, the character was really more like “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes in the not so natural facepaint and ring attire of Goldust. This groundbreaking character work and evolution is a big part of what lands Goldust on this list.
Workrate: Goldust has some stellar work with his tag team with Cody and the matches from late 2013 are really great. He had a very good match with Randy Orton on Raw during the same timeframe. He’s enjoyed a late career renaissance that’s led to him having very good TV matches in recent years and being a consistently great worker and ring general. The early Goldust years featured a lot of stalling and “mind games” as he was transitioning from working as Dustin Rhodes to working as Goldust.
Staff Thoughts: One of the more revolutionary, edgy and certainly memorable characters in company history. He’s done great work as a weirdo character, as a comedy character and as a serious character, all as different shades of the Goldust character. He’s been a consistently entertaining part of the company for nearly 20 years, and can be counted on to deliver good matches whenever he’s called upon. You can hear JT and Aaron discuss him on Making the Cut and hear Good Ol’ Will profess his undying love on FYC for …deep inhale…Goldust… CHOMP.
From the Voters: “Listed probably somewhere in the 30s. A controversial adult-y character in still kid friendly 95 WWF. Had great feuds with Razor, Piper, and HHH. Reinvented himself with TAFKAG and the weird ass gear. Did it again tagging with Booker T and yet again with his brother.” – Dennis Nunez, May 29, 2017
“I’m surprised to see people giving him a pass for some of the awful boring matches he had in 96, but that said — I love this dude. The definition of buying into a character and making it work. He’ll be nowhere in the vicinity of my top 10, but I can see him being a top 50 guy on the basis of his work post-2002 and his overall character and promo work. A truly great pro wrestler.” – Greg Phillips, June 1, 2017
“Ok, he was assured a Top 20 spot for being possibly the greatest offensive wrestler ever in the fed, having a great singles feud with Val Venis, 2 legit great tag teams with multiple great matches, multiple runs in different eras constantly remaining over and even being a smart comedy figure. Been watching the Booker/Goldust tag stuff and they were pretty great. Raised Booker and Dustin on my list. Going through his New Generation stuff now.” – Good Ol’ Will from Texas, May 30, 2017
35. AJ Styles
Total Points: 6,643
Total Ballots: 108
Average Rank: 39.5
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 97
High Voter: Taylor Keahey
Nuance: Longevity is the knock on AJ Styles as he’s only had two years with the company. During this time he’s played both a babyface and a heel and has been effective in both roles. He’s been primarily a singles star, but had a brief tag team run with Chris Jericho. AJ Styles carries himself like a star and felt like a huge deal from the moment he debuted.
Jump Up Moments: The Phenomenal One debuted at the 2016 Royal Rumble to a huge pop, with the fans telling WWE they already thought this guy was a star. He went on to prove them right. After starting slow with a program with Chris Jericho lasting through WrestleMania 32, he went on a run of great matches to rival anyone in company history. AJ challenged Roman Reigns for his WWE World Title at Payback and Extreme Rules 2016 in awesome matches. He then attacked a returning John Cena, setting their feud up, defeating him at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam in many people’s 2016 WWE match of the year and one of the best SummerSlam matches ever. AJ then defeated Dean Ambrose for the WWE World title at Backlash, and successfully defended it against Ambrose and Cena at No Mercy in another stellar match. Styles first title reign came to an end when he lost to John Cena at Royal Rumble 2017 in another match of the year contender. At WrestleMania 33 he defeated Shane McMahon in a better than expected bout that he completely carried. He then had a good feud with Kevin Owens winning the US Championship twice in the process. At TLC 2017, he was a last-minute replacement for Bray Wyatt and had a good match against Finn Balor. Styles won his second WWE Championship by defeating Jinder Mahal on an episode of SmackDown in November in Manchester, England, becoming the first recognized World Champion crowned outside of North America. This was the first time a world title changed hands on SmackDown since 2003. He then challenged Brock Lesnar in a champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series that was great, before retaining his title against Mahal at Clash of Champions at the end of the voting period. Styles is a two-time WWE Champion and a two-time United States Champion.
Promos/Character: The “Face That Runs the Place” has played a compelling character as both a face and a heel during his short time with the company. Unlike so many stars of the day, the fans have been invested in Styles his entire run, always caring about whatever he’s doing. He has cut good promos since coming to the WWE, something that was a weakness at times prior to his arrival.
Workrate: AJ Styles’ in-ring work is sensational, incredible, terrific, unbelievable and yes, phenomenal. During his short period of time, he’s had a string of classic matches that wrestlers who spent more than a decade in WWE can’t touch. His feud with Reigns produced great bouts. His feud with Cena produced multiple MOTYC across two years and those matches are on the short list of best matches ever on both SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble. His match against Lesnar at Survivor Series was great and the match against Mahal at Clash is probably Mahal’s best match ever. Styles has done all this while having almost no down periods or bad matches.
Staff Thoughts: Your mileage on AJ Styles likely depends on how you value output compared to longevity. Yes, he’s only been with the company for two years, but during that time he has made his case with meaningful feuds and classic matches, nearly all being near the main event level. If you just look at the matches and moments he’s had, they rival plenty of wrestlers with a far longer tenure. You can see AJ gaining momentum with voters in the Facebook comments, as the initial talk was his rookie year with the company might earn him a spot low on the list. But as he just kept producing, more and more voters shot him up the rankings, as he likely benefited more than anyone else for his work during the voting period. Styles was the highlight of nearly every show he was on, and it’s hard to imagine WWE without him during the past two years. You can hear the guys talk about the Phenomenal One on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Think he’s light years ahead of any other guy who has started in the most recent era apart from perhaps Reigns (and I still think he’s comfortably ahead of him). He will make my top 50. Probably not top 25. His run is short but the body of work is still there as he’s in a work heavy era. Amount of shows & PPVs means he’s probably had as many televised matches as guys from bygone eras who had 5-8 year careers. He currently has only 1 PPV appearence less than Warrior and 1 more than Piper, for example.” – James Derbyshire, July 12, 2017
“By the time this list is submitted and compiled we’ll likely be looking at 2 full years of AJ as a WWE performer. Guys like Rick Rude are getting merit and he only had three years is look over. So yeah, AJ is going on the list. He might not have a huge body of work to be in the top 30, but he’s kinda my 50 right now with room to move up.” – David Mann, July 12, 2017
“Since the Jericho feud, one could argue he hasn’t had any ppv singles matches that clocked in below 4 stars. He was main eventing by his fourth ppv, pinning Cena clean his 6th month in, won the WWE title on his 8th month with the company, and then had the best straight run of ppv matches since maybe Triple H in 2000. He’s killing it, and by December, he’ll be 2 years in. Some would argue he was in WWE’s best match in 2016, and right now, he’s probably half of the leading candidates (with the same opponent) in 2017. If he left tomorrow, he would be remembered for years, and at this moment, I think he’s already had more ppv main events than Daniel Bryan did. Like Steve Williams said, longevity is his enemy, so while I’d argue he’s not top 30 or 40, I’d also argue he definitely has a place on the list.” – James Proffitt, May 31, 2017
Total Points: 6,646
Total Ballots: 112
Average Rank: 41.7
High Vote: 8
Low Vote: 95
High Voter: David Carli
Nuance: Christian had a seven year run with the company from 1998 to 2005, and another four years upon his return in 2009, giving him more than a decade on his resume, so he checks the box for longevity. He played both a face and a heel, and had singles runs as well as notable tag teams with Edge, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm. Christian had a number of intangibles from acting ability to facial expressions that ensured he always got over with the fans in a way that often exceeded his push.
Jump Up Moments: Christian won the Light Heavyweight Title in his debut match and joined forces with Edge and Gangrel as the Brood. He really took off when he formed his tag team with “brother” Edge, having a great three-way feud with the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz that featured legendary classic ladder and TLC matches at No Mercy 1999, WrestleMania 2000, SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania X7. The team with Edge also gave us great backstage comedy segments with Kurt Angle and Mick Foley and in-ring poses “for the benefit of those with flash photography.” He feuded with Edge over the Intercontinental Title when the team split, trading the title back and forth. Christian would later form the UnAmericans stable with Lance Storm and Test, winning the WWE Tag Team Titles while feuding with Booker T and Goldust. Christian then formed a tag team with Chris Jericho that competed in a very good four-team TLC match on Raw and later won the WWE Tag Team Titles. He would then bet Jericho $1 (Canadian) that he could win the affections of Lita before Jericho could win the hand of Trish Stratus. The angle saw great character work from all involved and culminated in a very good match at WrestleMania XX between the two former friends where Trish morphed into Hot Evil Trish and joined Christian. He competed in the first Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21, before beginning a feud with John Cena claiming Cena was a poser and that Christian was a better rapper. The two had a triple-threat match along with Jericho for Cena’s WWE title at Vengeance 2005. Christian then left the company until 2009, winning the ECW title quickly upon his return. He was the veteran steadying force on ECW having good-to-great matches with Jack Swagger, Yoshi Tatsu, Tommy Dreamer, Zack Ryder, William Regal, Shelton Benjamin and others on a weekly basis through 2009, before finally losing the title on the last episode of ECW. Christian won the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules 2011 and embarked on a classic feud with Randy Orton over the belt. The two had outstanding matches over the title through August. Christian would feud with Del Rio over the World Title again in 2013 and the two had a very tremendous match at the loaded SummerSlam 2013 card. He would also turn in a solid performance at the Elimination Chamber match in 2014. Christian is a former Light Heavyweight Champion, Hardcore Champion and European Champion, a four-time IC Champion, nine time Tag Team Champion, two-time ECW Champion and two-time World Champion.
Promos/Character: CHRISTIAN! CHRISTIAN! AT LAST HE’S ON HIS OWN! And despite the very good character work he did with Edge, when he was on his own he really got to show his character and promo chops (and that badass rock opera theme song). Captain Charisma was such a good talker that he was given his own interview segment “The Peep Show” to speak to all his fans. He was able to tweak and evolve his character over time, being able to play comedy better than almost anyone on the roster, but still be considered a serious challenger for mid-card titles and eventually the World Title. The character work during the angle with Jericho, Trish and Lita was top-notch from all involved and Christian more than held his own, earning his $1 Canadian. He made the feud with Cena into something legit with his promos, getting cheered in the process, and getting himself over, likely more than the company ever intended.
Workrate: Captain Charisma had good to great matches up and down the card throughout his entire WWE career. The ladder and TLC matches he had when he teamed with Edge are great trainwreck wars. His feud with Jericho and their match at WrestleMania XX is a bit of a hidden gem, often overlooked. He did great work in the mid-card for the IC title and in the tag division in 2002-2005 before the brief feud with Cena and his departure. When he returned he carried anyone with two legs to very good matches during his run with ECW. Then some of the best matches of his career (and likely Orton’s) came in 2011 at Over the Limit, Capitol Punishment, SummerSlam and a cage match on the 8/30 episode of SmackDown. He also had a very great match with Del Rio at SummerSlam 2013 that gets lost on that all time card. Christian had very good matches week in and week out and was known for being an elite TV worker. The only weakness in his game came when he started using the spear as his finisher as a tribute to Edge, despite it looking silly for a man his size to do and it kept him from using the much cooler Unprettier/KillSwitch to close out matches.
Staff Thoughts: Damn, Christian has a lot of great stuff on his resume. And the only blemish we can find is that Steve Austin was leaving Christian a voicemail when he came up with the “What?” nonsense that plagues us to this day. But we won’t hold that against Captain Charisma. He could do it all from talking and character work to bringing the goods in tags, mid-card and main event feuds. The voters have spoken and clearly they are among the Peeps that Christian catered to during his long and distinguished WWF/E career. To hear what Aaron George and Ben Morse had to say about Christian check out this podblast.
From the Voters: “I don’t know about top 15 but I would be surprised if Christian is out of my top 25. The guy has a lot of quality stuff and ranks high on most of the NJPW structure. I think he also has some real memorable feuds given his placement on the card. Like the Jericho vs Christian stuff was only around 3rd most important thing on just Raw in 2004 and it is still really memorable stuff.” – Chad Campbell, May 28, 2017
“The back half of his run is really good when he came back. The feud with him and Randy Orton was huge part of Smackdown in the Summer of 2011. Also i enjoyed his runs as ECW Champion after his return. Can’t leave out his first run of course with Edge as Tag Champs and feud with Chris Jericho in 2004. Going back and watching some of early 2004 on The Network that feud was a huge part of RAW before and Post WM 20. Check out the Cage Match they had on May 10th if nobody has seen it in a while, its very good.” – Jay Hinchey, May 28, 2017
“The man had good to great matches on a weekly basis during his run as ECW Champion, including matches with people like Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Tommy Dreamer, and Shelton Benjamin that are highlights of their respective careers. After years of WWE searching for a veteran presence who could provide stability to the ECW brand, Christian held it down. Later he got good matches out of the likes of Brodus Clay, Alberto Del Rio, and Randy Orton, a cumulative achievement that might as well make him a miracle worker. And that’s not even considering his tag run.” – Glenn W. Butler, May 28, 2017
33. Sgt. Slaughter
Total Points: 6,784
Total Ballots: 109
Average Rank: 38.8
High Vote: 10
Low Vote: 94
High Voter: Kelly Nelson; Kevin E. Pittack
Nuance: Sgt. Slaughter had about a six-year tenure with the WWF as an active competitor over three runs from 1980 to 1992. He showed the ability to play both a babyface and a heel on multiple occasions and was over with the fans regardless of his role. He worked primarily as a singles wrestler but was able to work tags when asked.
Jump Up Moments: Sarge entered the company as a hated heel, immediately becoming one of the top challengers for Bob Backlund in 1980-81, with the two having a series of great matches. Slaughter was one of the only stars of the day that Backlund didn’t defeated at MSG during this run. He then went on to feud with Pat Patterson after calling him “yellow” and doubling the payout if Patterson could break his cobra clutch. When Patterson accepted and was breaking the hold, Sarge released it and beat down Patterson, resulting in a hot feud and the famous Alley Fight at MSG on April 21, 1981, which is a fantastic match. Slaughter returned to the company in 1983, beating Backlund with his riding crop to reignite their feud, and the two had another series of very good matches. In 1984, Sarge turned babyface to defend America’s honor from no-good foreign heel the Iron Sheik. The two had an incredibly intense bloody feud, culminating in the famous Boot Camp match at MSG that’s must-see for any wrestling fan. Slaughter would return to the WWF in the fall of 1990 as an Iraqi sympathizer and win the WWF World title from the Ultimate Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble. He would lose the title to Hulk Hogan at the main event of WrestleMania VII in a really good match. Slaughter would lose a three-on-two handicap match to Hogan and Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1991 before turning babyface until retiring from active competition in 1992. He would be named commissioner in 1997 and feud with D-Generation X having a Boot Camp match with Triple H at the D-Generation X PPV.
Promos/Character:Listen here, maggots, Sarge could get his point across in any promo he wanted to, as a heel or face. During his initial heel run he was paired with the Grand Wizard, but still did plenty of his own talking, including calling Patterson yellow to kick off their feud with the cobra clutch challenge. After his face turn he was able to bang the drum and wave the flag for the ol’ US of A adding even more heat to the Iron Sheik feud. Slaughter claims he was never comfortable with the Iraqi sympathizer angle (and many feel it was a bit in poor taste) but he added fuel to the fire calling US troops soft and claiming he supported Iraq because they were violent and he liked violence. The angle was effective getting heel heat for Slaughter and he took to wearing a bulletproof vest when he went out in public. The drill sergeant character resonated and made a good natural heel before being easily transitioned into a patriotic babyface. The character worked so well, it landed Sarge a spot as a G.I. Joe character, having his own action figure and appearing in their cartoon and animated movies.
Workrate: Sarge was an incredible worker during his 1980s stints, with the Alley Fight with Patterson and the Boot Camp match with the Iron Sheik being among the best WWF matches of the decade. Slaughter brought an intensity and violence to these brawls that’s second to none. He also had very good matches with Backlund in both 1981 and 1983, bringing the intensity to all their matches as well. Even in 1991, he was able to have good matches with Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior at a time when that wasn’t always the case. Regardless of his opponent or the time of his run, Slaughter was a top-notch worker, and anytime he stepped through the ropes you knew he was going to deliver.
Staff Thoughts: Slaughter was a revelation for many voters, according to Facebook posts, and that alone makes this project as success, because Sarge is fucking awesome. The cobra clutch challenge! The Alley Fight with Patterson! The Boot Camp Match! Beating Backlund to within an inch of his life with a riding crop! It was all awesome. Add in the late career Iraqi sympathizer angle and title run and Sarge was an easy addition to the top portion of the list. You can hear the guys talk more about Slaughter in this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “The Backlund/Slaughter series at the Spectrum in I think 83 were really good. Slaughter makes my list, it’s just a matter of where. The boot camp match with Iron Sheik is one of my favorite matches.” – Matt Souza, June 2, 2017
“Sarge is very likely going to be top 20, and may even crack the top 10. Insanely entertaining in all his forms.” – Kevin E. Pittack, December 10, 2017
“Some awesome wars with Pat, Sheik and Hogan at the Garden.His 90-91 heel run was very risky with what was going on in the world, but was the perfect guy for the role.” – Jason Greenhouse, June 3, 2017
32. Jeff Hardy
Total Points: 6,879
Total Ballots: 112
Average Rank: 39.6
High Vote: 13
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Henry Rivers
Nuance: Jeff Hardy has put in nearly a decade over three separate runs, with the latest his current run, and he also sporadically appeared as a jobber for the company prior to 1998. Other than a brief stint as the New Brood, he’s never worked heel, spending his WWF/E career as popular babyface. He’s had a successful singles run in the mid-card and main event and is one half of one of the greatest tag teams in company history with his brother Matt.
Jump Up Moments: The Hardy Boyz team had great matches with Edge & Christian in a ladder match at No Mercy 1999 to burst onto the scene. They would then have an extended three-way feud with the Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian, tearing the house down in ladder and TLC matches at WrestleMania 2000, SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania X7. Jeff stood out as the star of those matches with his daredevil aerial moves off the ladders. In 2001, Jeff received his first singles success, winning the Intercontinental title from Triple H, as well as the Light Heavyweight and Hardcore Title throughout the year. Hardy would make the Hardcore Title matter again with his matches against Rob Van Dam and the Undertaker during this timeframe. In 2002, Jeff challenged the Undertaker for the Undisputed title in a ladder match on Raw in a very good match. Upon his return from a four-year absence from WWE, Jeff defeated Johnny Nitro for the IC title and the two traded the belt back and forth while Hardy reunited the tag team with his brother. They competed in a four-way ladder match at Armageddon 2006 in the match where Joey Mercury took a ladder off the face, igniting their feud with MNM. Their matches with MNM at Royal Rumble and No Way Out 2007 are some of the best non-gimmick tag matches put on by the WWE. Hardy competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23 driving himself and Edge through a ladder in another daring aerial maneuver. Jeff began a feud with Umaga over the IC title winning it for a fourth time and starting his push toward the main event. He would team with and challenge Triple H during the last part of 2007, with Hardy winning a match to become number one contender at Armageddon 2007. He hit Randy Orton with a Swanton Bomb from the top of the Raw set in anticipation of their match at Royal Rumble 2008. Hardy was drafted to SmackDown in summer 2008 and was a regular challenger for the WWE Championship. He was scheduled to be in the title match at Survivor Series 2008, before being “attacked in his hotel” and being removed from the match. He would win the WWE Championship from Edge in a three-way also involving Triple H at Armageddon 2008. He would lose the title the next month when brother Matt turned on him, igniting their feud from WrestleMania to Backlash. Jeff then won the World Heavyweight title from Edge in a ladder match at Extreme Rules, but CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and starting a great feud. Hardy and Punk had a series of very good matches at The Bash, Night of Champions, SummerSlam and the August 28, 2009 episode of SmackDown, which saw Hardy lose a cage match resulting in him leaving the WWE. He returned with Matt at WrestleMania 33, winning the Raw Tag Team titles and the two have had good matches with The Bar. Jeff is a six-time WWF/World Tag Team Champion, a WCW Tag Team Champion, Raw Tag Team Champion, Light Heavyweight Champion, European Champion, three-time Hardcore Champion, four-time IC Champion, WWE Champion and two-time World Champion.
Promos/Character: The Charismatic Enigma can’t cut a promo. Let’s be honest here, he may have shown improvement, but it was going from possibly the worst promo by someone who speaks a language similar to English to merely bad. His painted face era talking about E-MADGE-EYE-NATION or whatever it was left quite a few of us wondering if he was mid hallucination or we were. Still, despite that, the character was OVER. Fuck was he over. And he did have a unique character of, let’s say artistic free spirit, which matches nicely with his daredevil ring work. From Team Xtreme to the World Champion, he was always unique and you could always hear the little girls squeal whenever he took his shirt off, for whatever that’s worth.
Workrate: It was a mixed bag for Jeff as at his worst he could be sloppy and reckless and at times his matches lacked direction. Oh, but at his best he was great. He always worked the high flying reckless style and it served him well in ladder matches and TLCs of the day. But he refined his style to keep all the highspot hits while having very good match structure around them with Triple H, Edge and Punk. Add that to the tag team resume that includes the triangle ladders and TLCs and MNM feud, as well as his mid-card matches with RVD and Umaga and you’ve got a really impressive body of work.
Staff Thoughts: Good Ol’ JR might say Jeff’s goofier than a pet coon, but that uniqueness certainly resonated with a portion of the audience. Even the fans that didn’t wear cut-up pantyhose on their arms appreciated Jeff for risking his life by jumping off the highest thing he could find for our entertainment. He was also a master of generating sympathy from the crowd through his selling (and possibly legitimately nearly dying many matches as well). His athleticism was undeniable and his matches were always exciting. He built a helluva resume of good to great matches in the singles and tag ranks and connected as a character by overcoming his struggles and flaws to grab the proverbial brass ring. All of that lands the Charismatic Enigma in a prominent spot on our list.
From the Voters: “Top 100 for sure just don’t know where exactly. Very unique individual and very over whether it be with one of the greatest teams of all time with Matt or by himself as the WWE champion. A daredevil, he stole the show in the TLC matches and had two great Monday night Raw matches one against the Undertaker in a ladder match and another against HHH both I believe were around 2002 2003.” – Eric Boyd, May 30, 2017
“A legit draw on top with two distinct runs with the company. And now starting a third. His ’08-’09 saw the culmination of his World title quest and he finished strong with the Punk feud. Has serious tag AND singles credentials here too.” – Brad Warren, May 30, 2017
“Possibly top 50. While he was never as versatile or as good a character as his brother, he was undoubtedly the bigger star and could connect with the crowd like few others could. At his peak, he was rivaling John Cena in terms of star power and merchandise selling. And as short-lived as his main event run was (primarily due to his own demons), his ascent to the WWE Championship and feud with Punk were top-notch stories. Not to mention he is arguably the king of the “car crash” spottiest.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
Total Points: 6,977
Total Ballots: 112
Average Rank: 38.7
High Vote: 11
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Sean
Nuance: Batista had an eight-year run with the company after his debut and had another run in 2013-14, mainly feuding with Daniel Bryan and the Shield. Batista has played a babyface and a heel and been effective in both roles. He’s been largely a singles wrestler, but had notable tag teams with Ric Flair and Rey Mysterio, so he has shown flexibility. Batista was a master of facial expressions and body language, which was a critical component to him breaking out as a star from Evolution. He’s always carried himself as a star.
Jump Up Moments: After spending a brief period of time as the Deacon to Reverend D-Von, Batista joined Evolution, winning the World Tag Team Titles with Ric Flair. The WrestleMania XX match with Evolution against the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection is a sneaky fun match. Batista began showing more character, often rolling his eyes in the background while Triple H cut promos on behalf of Evolution. The Animal then won the 2005 Royal Rumble and decided to challenge Triple H for his World Heavyweight Championship, winning the gold at WrestleMania 21. He continued feuding with Triple H, culminating with a great Hell in a Cell match at Vengeance 2005 and becoming the first person to pin The Game inside the Cell. He teamed with Rey Mysterio winning the WWE Tag Team Titles in a good feud with MNM. Batista had a very good match with Undertaker at WrestleMania 23, and the two continued feuding through much of 2007. He faced Umaga at WrestleMania XXIV and then feuded with Shawn Michaels after HBK retired Ric Flair. Batista won the World Tag Team Titles with John Cena to further their feud, which culminated in a really good match at SummerSlam 2008. In 2009, Batista teamed with Rey Mysterio to unsuccessfully challenge JeriShow for the Unified Tag Team titles, and later turned on Mysterio after a Fatal Four-Way for the World Heavyweight Title. Batista destroyed Rey, which led to a feud throughout 2009. Batista renewed his feud with Cena in 2010, with good matches at WrestleMania XXVI, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit. Batista returned to the company in 2014 winning the Royal Rumble. He would go on to lose his shot at the WWE World Championship in an exciting three-way match with Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXX. He eventually joined forces with Orton and Triple H reforming Evolution and having great six-man tag matches against The Shield at Extreme Rules and Payback 2014. Batista is a former WWE Tag Team Champion, three-time World Tag Team Champion, two-time WWE Champion and four-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Promos/Character: Batista has always done great character work, getting over by conveying he didn’t buy what Triple H was selling in Evolution through his facial expressions while standing in the background. One of his most iconic moments is giving Triple H and Flair the thumbs down before signing his contract to challenge Triple H at WrestleMania 21. And his turn on Rey yelling “You were supposed to be my friend!” is one of the best turns of recent memory. Batista always came off as a natural and it’s no coincidence he has found success in Hollywood post-WWE, as he was one of the best actors in the company. His promos were always believable, usually as a cool guy in contrast to the screaming manic style of others. He played a believable douchebag heel in his feud against Cena, and he deserves credit for recognizing a negative fan reaction in 2014, and embracing it by becoming an effective heel.
Workrate: Batista was hit or miss in the ring depending on whether he had chemistry with his opponent. When he does, The Animal can have classics and he provides good power offense. His HIAC match with Triple H in 2005 is great, and he always had good battles with the Undertaker, particularly their WrestleMania 23 match. His run with Cena in 2009-10 had lot of very good matches. The six-man tags against The Shield in 2014 were great as well.
Staff Thoughts: Batista has a sneaky good resume, providing excellent character work during his entire run, more very good main events than you might expect and almost no bad stuff. He’s one of the best actors in the company and he behaves like you’d expect a normal human to behave, rather than ranting and raving like a lunatic. But when he has a reason, he can come unhinged, like when he turned on Mysterio. His matches with Taker and Cena are top-level main events and his latest return saw him doing solid heel work to put over Daniel Bryan and then join with Evolution to have a very good feud with The Shield. He always came across like a big star and carried himself like a big deal. You can hear what the guys had to say about Batista on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “I thought he still turned into a huge star, and he kind of walked away at a time when he was having his hottest run in the company. He still had a great 5 year run, and i thought he had a fun run his last time back. I’m thinking he’s going to be a top 20-25 guy for me.” – Sean Zern, May 28, 2017
“I could end up having him very high. I hated Evolution too, but he was the best guy in it. Got over huge in 05 and actually drew big and had very good matches with boring, top of the card failure, HHH. Loved his tag stuff. Undertaker match at Mania is outstanding. Farewell feud with Cena was incredible. Comeback was excellent. Turned into a tremendous promo over time. Was over as a face, but was excellent as a heel. He lacks the longevity and blowaway impact I want out of a top tier guy, but I could easily see myself rating him ahead of some major names. Might make my top 25.” – Dylan Hales, June 7, 2017
“He was around a lot longer than it seems, and I was starting to weigh up his good and bad periods but like, what are the bad periods? 2006. MAYBE 2009 before he went to SD. But like the rest…he was good in Evolution. Good in 2005 breaking out. Good in 2007. Good in 2008 before the injury. Good in 2009/10 as a heel. And even in 2014 he was fine once he turned heel. He feels like a hot and cold candidate but really, he was good for a lot longer than he wasn’t.” – Stacey O’Loughlin, June 7, 2017
30. Greg Valentine
Total Points: 7,085
Total Ballots: 105
Average Rank: 33.7
High Vote: 3
Low Vote: 93
High Voter: Pete Schirmacher
Nuance: Greg Valentine had about a decade run with the company, appearing first in late 1978, and having a long uninterrupted stretch from 1984 to 1992. He was also one of Shawn Michaels’ Knights at Survivor Series 1993 and appeared in the 1994 Royal Rumble. The Hammer aplayed a heel for the bulk of his career, but had a babyface run from late 1990 to the 1992 Royal Rumble. He was a singles star with a successful tag team run with Brutus Beefcake and another tag team run with Honky Tonk Man.
Jump Up Moments: Valentine came to the WWF in late 1978 and would soon break Chief Jay Strongbow’s leg, giving him the aura of a badass with no remorse. He was managed by the Grand Wizard during this time and would face Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship in a great one-hour draw at Madison Square Garden in February 1979. The Hammer returned in 1981, again challenging Backlund, with the title being held up when a dazed referee accidentally handed Valentine the belt. He would face Backlund in a great steel cage match at the Philadelphia Spectrum in February 1982, before moving on to feuding with Pedro Morales over the Intercontinental title, injuring him by suplexing him on the floor. Valentine left the company until 1984 when he returned for good, winning the IC title from Tito Santana on September 24, 1984. Valentine then put Santana in the figure-four leglock, further injuring the leg Valentine worked all match and igniting the red-hot feud between the two. Valentine defended the IC title against the Junkyard Dog at the first WrestleMania, losing by countout when he took a walk. Hammer then resumed his classic feud with Santana in many very good matches culminating in the classic cage bout where Santana regained the IC title on July 6, 1985 in Baltimore. Valentine was enraged and destroyed the belt after losing his IC title after a 285-day reign. Valentine then formed The Dream Team with Brutus Beefcake and won the WWF Tag Team Championship from the US Express on August 24, 1985. The Dream Team would have excellent matches with The British Bulldogs, Santana and Ricky Steamboat (4/21/85, Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens) and the Killer Bees, before losing the titles to the Bulldogs in a classic match at WrestleMania 2. The Dream Team may still be suffering from the effects of the Nightmare at the Rosemont Horizon, if Gorilla Monsoon is to be believed, but they did challenge the Bulldogs for the titles in a series of cage matches during the summer of 1986. The Dream Team then moved on to feuding with the Fabulous Rougeaus, culminating in a win at WrestleMania III that saw Beefcake turfed from the team. Valentine did his best to carry Dino Bravo in the New Dream Team, but the Hammer is only a mortal man, and some people can’t be carried. In 1988, Valentine began a feud with Don Muraco that included putting his manager Superstar Billy Graham in the figure four leglock, despite Graham having an artificial hip and walking with a cane, but the feud was dropped when Muraco was fired. Hammer then went on to feud with Ronnie Garvin, defeating him in a retirement match, but asking he be reinstated after Garvin insulted Valentine as ring announcer at SummerSlam 1989. The feud continued until Garvin won a very good submission match at the 1990 Royal Rumble, countering Valentine’s Heartbreaker shin guard used to put more pressure on his figure four, with his own Hammer Jammer shin guard. Valentine then formed the Rhythm & Blues tag team with the Honky Tonk Man, before turning babyface losing to Earthquake at WrestleMania VII and Irwin R. Schyster at SummerSlam 1991 and appearing in the 1992 Royal Rumble match.
Promos/Character: Valentine was not the best promo, and was always paired with a manager, going from The Grand Wizard to Capt. Lou Albano to Luscious Johnny V to Jimmy Hart. Hammer played a no-nonsense character who would kick-ass, take names and break legs. At this writing it’s still unknown whether he was the motivation for the classic album “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em” by MC Hammer. Other than being an asskicker, there wasn’t a lot of character depth for Valentine, which likely limited his upward mobility on this list.
Workrate: Some voters would tell you that Valentine is THE BEST worker in WWF/E history, and he is certainly on the short list of contenders. His matches against Backlund for the title are among the greatest matches of that era. The Valentine/Santana feud is one of the greatest angles of the 1980s and the cage match to settle the feud is particularly memorable. The Dream Team is an underrated tag team with classics against the British Bulldogs and Santana & Steamboat, and our hot take is that Beefcake was NOT the workhorse of that team. Valentine went on to have another excellent feud with Ronnie Garvin late in his career to round out his case. Hammer always worked hard often forcing other wrestlers to keep up, making every match good at worst. You’ll almost never see a bad Valentine match, as he always did the little things and knew how to structure a match to get the crowd engaged. He knew how to bring hard-hitting offense and still sell and show ass as a heel. Few wrestlers had his consistency nor his high-end classic matches.
Staff Thoughts: Valentine gets in on the strength of his classic matches with Backlund, the all-timer feud with Santana, the Dream Team run and the late career feud with Garvin. That’s a diverse resume, from the hour-long draw with Backlund in 1979 to his Garvin match at Royal Rumble 1990. No doubt, it was a long and distinguished career for the man who reached middle-age at 21 and then never aged a day since. Along the way he had classic tag team bouts and can console himself with the fact that he made Beefcake part of a good tag team, as he continues to struggle to recover from the Nightmare at the Rosemont Horizon. Add it all together and Valentine has a strong resume as an all-time great worker than hit with voters placing him high on our list.
From the Voters: “I think you can honestly make a case for Valentine as the greatest WWF worker of all time. Backlund’s best opponent, four insanely amazing matches (dont sleep on their 84 match). The Tito feud. Dream Team, Oh My God, the Dream Team! US Express, Bulldogs and a Can-Am Match all great. His solo runs through 90 were great. Garvin feud was awesome as were his matches with Blue Blazer and a reprise of the Tito feud in 88. What did he so well was he took all these WWF wrestlers out of their comfort zone. He forced people to work hard and react organically. He was selfless, but he wasnt going to let you coast. He reminds of Regal in that respect. When you watch a Valentine match in the WWF setting it is like nothing else on a WWF card.” – Martin Boulevard, May 29, 2017
“Oh for sure. Probably got the best matches out of one of the greatest champions in the company (Backlund). Had an epic IC title run. Did the best he could with some nonsense later in his career. I got nothing but time for Valentine. He would for sure be on the list.” – Matthew Richards, May 30, 2017
“He’s a top 20 contender in this thing. Feud with Tito is legendary. Hell of a tag guy. Carried those scrubs Brutus and Bravo for two years. Feud with Garvin is a hidden gem from 89-90. ”- Jason Greenhouse, May 29, 2017
29. Ricky Steamboat
Total Points: 7,218
Total Ballots: 114
Average Rank: 37.7
High Vote: 6
Low Vote: 88
High Voter: Vince Male
Nuance: The nuance category isn’t kind to the Dragon, as he had only about a five-year run with the company from 1985-88 and a brief stint in 1991.Ricky Steamboat was the consummate white meat babyface, having never worked heel. He’s primarily been a singles worker in WWF but has some very good tag matches teaming with other babyfaces, like Tito Santana and Hulk Hogan.
Jump Up Moments: Steamboat defeated Matt Borne at the first WrestleMania before entering into a feud with Mr. Fuji and Don Muraco, where the heels hung him with his karate black belt, before battling on two Saturday Night’s Main Events. He defeated Hercules at WrestleMania 2, before moving on to his feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. The feud began when Roberts attacked Steamboat before their match on the May 3, 1986 SNME, giving Steamboat the DDT on the floor. The Dragon beat the Snake in a Snake Pit match at the Big Event in Toronto and later on the October 1986 SNME in a Snake Pit rematch. Steamboat then challenged Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Title, losing by countout on November 22, 1986, only for Savage to continue his attack injuring Steamboat’s larynx by coming off the top rope with the ring bell. He returned at SNME in January 1987 saving George Steele from an attack with the ring bell by Savage. This two would have several matches, including a great one at Maple Leaf Gardens from February 1987 before meeting at WrestleMania III. That match is an instant classic, beloved by a generation of fans, as it had an epic feeling that was the first of its kind since the Hulkamania era began. Steamboat would then drop his IC title to the Honky Tonk Man in a shocking upset on the June 13, 1987 edition of Superstars. He lost in the first round of the WrestleMania IV tournament to Greg Valentine, robbing us of a rematch with Savage. Steamboat then left the company until 1991 when he returned in a dragon costume breathing fire (literally) where he was undefeated on TV and teamed with Kerry Von Erich and Davey Boy Smith to defeat Warlord, Hercules and Paul Roma at SummerSlam 1991, before again leaving the company. In 2009, Steamboat took part in an angle with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka taking on Chris Jericho, who was running down the legends. Steamboat appeared in-ring for the first time in nearly 15 years teaming with Piper and Snuka against Jericho at WrestleMania XXV, and the Steamboat/Jericho portions were shockingly good. He had a strong singles match with Jericho at Backlash 2009.
Promos/Character: Perhaps Steamboat’s best promo work came when he was trying to speak again after Savage’s attack injured his throat. Otherwise, Dragon wasn’t much of a promo guy, doing his talking in the ring. He played a great white meat babyface, but that was due more to his in-ring character work than his out of the ring work. The less said about the fire-breathing dragon costume era, the better.
Workrate: Ricky Steamboat is an all-time great worker, with nearly every match being good and his best being classics. The WrestleMania III match stands out as an all-timer and, while you may debate it’s star ranking, for many young fans, it was a match unlike any they’d seen before. It’s undeniable how influential that match was, with its multiple near-falls (though some may count this as a negative due to how persistent this would become). Steamboat played one of the best underdog babyfaces of all-time, giving greater credence to matches during his feuds with Savage, Roberts and others. He didn’t often have tag team matches, but did team with Tito Santana to challenge the Dream Team in an excellent match on 4/25/1985 at the Maple Leaf Gardens. He also had a great match with Savage in 1986 at the Boston Gardens that is on the Macho Madness DVD.
Staff Thoughts: His run was short, but my God was it memorable. Ricky Steamboat represented the ultimate underdog babyface to a generation of fans who started watching WWF in the mid-1980s. For young fans who weren’t watching the Iron Sheik/Sgt. Slaughter feud or the Santana/Valentine feud, the WrestleMania III match showed that there could be more to wrestling than lumbering giants and Hulk up comebacks. Add that iconic, influential match to his feud with Roberts and his other work with Savage and his shocking loss to the Honky Tonk Man, and voters definitely remembered to Enter the Dragon on their ballots. You can hear the guys talk about Steamboat on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “One of the best white meat babyfaces ever. It was a smart move never even hinting at a heel turn for him, would’ve been a disaster. Steamboat was a good guy personified. Savage feud was amazing, but I enjoyed the Muraco feud even more. My only issue was his very short IC title run. I know he had asked for time off to be with his family, but it was such a disappointment to see such a small reign after such a great chase. That, combined with his best work being in WCW, makes me have him ranked lower than most other people will.” – Tim Tetreault, June 2, 2017
“Naturally. All time greatest babyface that never had a run with the WWF Title. Best arm drag in the business period, even to this day. His work in the 80s speaks for itself. And I truly almost cried when he showed up at Wrestlemania 25. The guy still had it.” – Michael Schoen, June 2, 2017
“Not enough time to be way up the list, but Jake and Savage feuds were good and memorable. His comeback was short but fun. I saw him go 25 mins with Drew Mac on a 2009 house show and it was great. Will make it, but not enough meat to be top tier.” – Dylan Hales, June 16, 2017
28. Tito Santana
Total Points: 7,335
Total Ballots: 111
Average Rank: 35
High Vote: 5
Low Vote: 97
High Voter: Dean Coles
Nuance: Tito Santana appeared in the WWF in 1979 and 1980 before returning to the company in 1982 for a 10-year run, so he has longevity covered. Santana has always played a babyface, but has had both a successful singles run as well as tag team success with Ivan Putski and Rick Martel.
Jump Up Moments: In 1979, he teamed with Ivan Putski to defeat Johnny and Jerry Valiant for the WWF Tag Team Championship, before losing them to the Wild Samoans in 1980. Tito returned to the WWF for good in 1982 and began feuding with Don Muraco over the Intercontinental Title in 1983. During this same timeframe he would challenge the Iron Sheik for the WWF Championship at the Philadelphia Spectrum battling to a double-DQ in one of the Sheik’s only title defenses. After a lengthy feud, Sanatana captured the IC title on February 11, 1984. “Chico” would then start an epic feud with Greg Valentine over the IC title, losing it to The Hammer in September 1984 and being injured by Valentine shortly afterwards. Santana began using Valentine’s figure-four leglock and appeared in the opening match of the first WrestleMania making The Executioner submit. Santana and Valentine would continue their feud in a series of no-DQ, lumberjack and other matches in singles and tags. The feud finally ended in a great cage match on July 6, 1985, and is considered one of the best in-ring feuds in WWF history, and likely the best of the 1980s. “Chico” would defend the title until losing to Randy Savage in February 8, 1986 when crooked referee Danny Davis failed to notice Savage using a foreign object. He would challenge Savage in a series of rematches, all of which are quite good. Tito teamed with JYD to take on Terry and Hoss Funk in a very good match at WrestleMania 2. At WrestleMania III, Santana teamed with the British Bulldogs to challenge the Hart Foundation and aforementioned crooked ref Danny Davis. Tito would then join forces with Rick Martel as a team that strikes with force… called Strike Force. Strike Force would have a great series of matches with The Islanders, and then go on to defeat the Hart Foundation for the WWF Tag Team Championship, holding the belts for five months. At WrestleMania IV, Demolition would end Strike Force’s reign in another good match. Strike Force split during a match with the Brain Busters at WrestleMania V when Martel walked out on Santana. Tito would feud with Martel for the remainder of 1989 with the two being on opposing teams at SummerSlam and Survivor Series 1989, and Santana defeated Martel in the finals of the 1989 King of the Ring tournament. Santana made it to the finals of the IC title tournament in 1990, losing to Mr. Perfect. Their SNME title rematch was of the top WWF bouts of the year. He was the sole survivor for his team at the 1990 Survivor Series and he lost to the Mountie at WrestleMania VII. He would then adopt the El Matador gimmick and wrestle Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania VIII and Papa Shango in a dark match at WrestleMania IX, making him the only performer other than Hulk Hogan to appear in the first nine WrestleManias. Santana is a two-time WWF Tag Team Champion, a two-time IC Champion and the 1989 King of the Ring.
Promos/Character: Tito was not a good promo. His two most memorable promos were probably the one with Martle naming their tag team because they strike with force or Tito screaming “Lord” at Lord Alfred Hayes after Valentine injured his knee. Both of those would be memorable more for unintentional comedy than anything else. His character work is a bit flat, though he does play the best matador to grace the squared circle we have ever seen.
Workrate: Santana is another wrestler with a strong case for being one of the best babyface workers in WWF history. His feud with Valentine may be the best feud of the 1980s and one of the best in-ring feuds of all-time. Strike Force was a great tag team with excellent matches against the Islanders and good feuds with Demolition, the Brain Busters and other teams of the day. Tito worked great as an underdog, as he’s an excellent seller and shows great fire when fighting from underneath. Tito was always able to capture fan’s attention and support, doing most of his character work in-ring.
Staff Thoughts: Tito Santana is one of the all-time great in-ring workers in the WWF. He’s had a prominent role in the transition into the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era, holding down the workrate portion of the company with his stellar feud with Valentine,while also appealing to the kids WWF was targeting (he was a character of Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling cartoon). Tito is the only wrestler not named Hulk Hogan to appear at the first nine WrestleManias, which speaks to the faith the company had in “Chico.” The feud with Valentine and tag work with Strike Force provides his top-end stuff, but Tito was also a very consistent worker and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad Tito Santana match. To hear the guys talk about Tito check out this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Tito is a guy who as a kid i never really appreciated however going back and watching some of his stuff great worker a guy who was a stalwart of the mid card. Great matches with Greg Valentine, Randy Savage and others. I need to see a lot more including more matches with him and Valentine but he would be on my list.” – Mike Poulin, June 4, 2017
“Tito, might make it into my top 20. At first when I think of the guy I’m like “yeah sure, he’ll be in there somewhere.” But I forget that I missed a lot of his key feuds and matches. He was really the workhorse of the company from 84-86. He was adapt as a singles and tag guy. And he was always over with the crowds. Here’s a guy that I wish the Network would spotlight with a Collection because you know he has a bunch of gems, 10-15 minute clinics that go unheralded.” – David Mann, June 5, 2017
“If this were just based on ring work, he’d be very high. One of the best pro wrestlers of his era. Unfortunately he had nothing in the way of promos or great character work. He was extremely versatile in singles and tag work, but never got a heel run, which would have been interesting. He gave Curt Hennig his best match in the WWF that didn’t involve Bret Hart. Tito’s a lock, just not sure where. Probably somewhere past 50.” – Greg Phillips, June 8, 2017
27. Jake Roberts
Total Points: 7,464
Total Ballots: 111
Average Rank: 33.8
High Vote: 6
Low Vote: 76
High Voter: Taylor Keahey
Nuance: Jake “The Snake” Roberts had a six-year run with the company from 1986 to 1992 supplemented with his return in 1996 into 1997 and brief appearances in 2005 and 2014. He played both a heel and a babyface, showing great flexibility, though primarily as a singles wrestler. If there’s anyone who could give a nuanced performance, it’s Jake the Snake, as his psychology, character, body language and tone were second to none.
Jump Up Moments: Roberts debuted in March of 1986 and defeated George Wells at WrestleMania 2 making him foam from the mouth when he wrapped Damien around his head. The first of his many great feuds began at the May 1986 Saturday Night’s Main Event when he DDT’d Ricky Steamboat on the floor and laid his snake on The Dragon. The two would have Snake Pit matches at the Big Event and the October 1986 SNME. Jake would get an interview segment called the Snake Pit at this time. He also was getting cheered and would be turned face by the fans. Jake officially turned when the Honky Tonk Man attacked him during an episode of the Snake Pit, legitimately injuring his neck with a guitar shot. This led to their match at WrestleMania III which saw Alice Cooper accompany Jake to the ring where he shockingly lost to HTM. Roberts would challenge Honky for the IC title throughout much of 1987. In 1988, Jake began feuding with “Ravishing” Rick Rude, who inadvertently selected Jake’s wife Cheryl as the lucky winner of his post-match celebratory kiss, though Cheryl refused and slapped Rude. This led to Rude airbrushing images of Cheryl on his tights, sending Jake into a rage. Jake appeared on the winning team at Survivor Series 1988 opposite Rude and other members of the Heenan Family, including Andre the Giant, who he also feuded with. On the March 1989 SNME Jake came out to assist Brutus Beefcake in his match against Rick Rude, using Damien to scare Andre (who was assisting Rude) into a “heart attack”, starting their feud. Andre won most of the house show circuit matches, but Jake won their WrestleMania V match by DQ when Andre attacked guest referee Big John Studd. The Snake then moved on to a feud with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase after DiBiase attacked Roberts following a match with Virgil. Jake returned from injury to steal the Million Dollar Belt and dared DiBiase or Virgil to reach into Damien’s sack to retrieve the belt. Roberts took on The Million Dollar Man at WrestleMania VI, losing via countout, but giving away DiBiase’s money afterwards. Roberts feuded with Rick Martel in 1990-91, after The Model sprayed Arrogance in Jake’s eyes blinding him. This hot angle culminated in a blindfold match at WrestleMania VII, in an interesting match for crowd participation, which ended when Jake located Martel and planted him with the DDT. He would then feud with Earthquake after the big man squashed Damien and served Quakeburgers to Lord Alfred Hayes. This caused Jake to introduce a new snake Lucifer, who was Damien’s big brother. In 1991, Jake was helping train Ultimate Warrior in the dark ways to prepare him for his feud with the Undertaker, locking him in a casket, burying him alive and having him walk through a room of live snakes, only to be bitten by a cobra, revealing that Snake, Taker and Paul Bearer had been working together all along. Warrior was fired before the scheduled series of matches took place. During the wedding reception for Randy Savage and Elizabeth, Jake and the Undertaker gave them a live cobra as a gift, starting his feud with Savage, where he later goaded him to the ring and had a cobra bite his arm. The two would feud into 1992 battling at This Tuesday in Texas and on SNME. Jake was poised to hit whoever came through the door next, Savage or Elizabeth, before being stopped by the Undertaker, leading to their feud. This led to Jake demanding answers on The Funeral Parlor and DDT’ing Bearer before trapping Undertaker’s hand in a casket and hitting him repeatedly with a chair. This led to a match between the two at WrestleMania VIII. Jake would leave the company until 1996 when he returned with his born-again Christian gimmick. He advanced to the finals of the 1996 King of the Ring losing to Steve Austin and being the motivation for Austin cutting the Austin 3:16 promo.
Promos/Character: Jake “The Snake” Roberts has to be on ANYONE’S short list of the best promos in WWF history. He was a stark departure from the manic screaming of the main eventers of the day, and Jake would talk slowly and silently staring a hole through your soul and talking about dark matters. He would tell you to “Never Trust a Snake”, and he certainly played that character to a T. His feuds were some of the best of the time, if not all-time, because he played that dark character and cut promos with a scary psychology not seen before and never done as well since. He’s a hugely memorable character and is remembered with mixtures of fondness and fear by fans of the era.
Workrate: Jake was a capable worker, but his blow-off matches never lived up to the hype of his feuds. Most of the matches weren’t that memorable, even when the feuds are. He had great in-ring psychology and the DDT is one of the coolest finishers of all-time, but workrate is a bit of a weakness for the Snake.
Staff Thoughts: There’s never been anyone like Jake the Snake, with his deep, dark promos and psychology. He just got it and connected with the crowd on a whole other level, whether as a babyface or a heel. His feuds were always some of the best of the time and as a promo there’s no one better. The slow, quiet delivery and that stare just made everything he said that much creepier. For someone who never won a WWF Title, could he possibly be more memorable? That list of feuds is incredible, showing he was always busy, never just killing time during his WWF run. The lack of memorable matches likely hampered Jake’s placement on the list, and if not for his personal demons, there’s no telling how high he may have climbed. Still, his character work feuds and promos alone struck a chord with voters for sure. You can hear Good Ol’ Will and the guys talk about Jake the Snake on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “No doubt. Mind, promos, matches with big time feuds..steamboat, honkey, rude, Martel, dibiase, warrior, savage. One of the best heels of all times!” – Shawn Kidd, May 30, 2017
“Hard to imagine any fan of the federation era not including him on their list. Pretty much epitomizes the era and probably an easy top 25 choice for me. A lot of guys get hyped up for their psychology and mind for the business. Jake lives up to that hype. Best worker ever? No, but I was compelled with every feud he was ever in from Steamboat in 86 to undertaker in 92.” – Brian Meyer, May 30, 2017
“I’ve been rewatching his DVD set lately and gaining even more appreciation for him. The master of the little things. His matches rarely drag because he’s always doing something. Great at elevating feuds to the next level; had great ones with Steamboat, Rude, Martel, and Savage. He may not have had a lot of great matches, but he also had very few bad ones. Superb as both a face and a heel. One of the best promos of all-time.” – Ben Morse, June 7, 2017
26. Ted DiBiase
Total Points: 7,518
Total Ballots: 112
Average Rank: 33.9
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 84
High Voter: D. Macgregor
Nuance: Ted DiBiase worked eight years as an in-ring competitor for the company, including a babyface cup of coffee in 1979, and his main run from 1987-1993, before transitioning to a managerial role in 1994. He had a babyface run in 1979, but is best known for his heel work as The Million Dollar Man. He had both a singles run and a tag run teaming with Irwin R. Schyster as Money, Inc.
Jump Up Moments: DiBiase’s 1979 run was significant for a feud with Pat Patterson where he lost the North American Title, leading Patterson to unify that title with the South American Title in that good ol’ tournament in Rio de Janerio. He was also Hulk Hogan’s first opponent in Madison Square Garden during this time. Upon his return in 1987 as the Million Dollar Man, he attempted to buy the WWF Championship from Hulk Hogan, who told him he’d have to win it in the ring. DiBiase attempted to do this unsuccessfully before recruiting Andre the Giant to win the title for him. This led to the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant match on the Main Event on Feb. 5, 1988, where Andre “won” the title and presented it to DiBiase, before WWF officials discovered the wrong Hebner counted the pin, leading to the title being vacated and a tournament to crown a new champion at WrestleMania IV. DiBiase would advance to the finals of the tournament losing to Randy Savage, and continuing to feud with him at house shows where the matches would be better than their WrestleMania IV main event. DiBiase would team with Andre the Giant to take on Hogan and Savage in the main event of the first SummerSlam in a very good match. He would then win the 1988 King of the Ring. He purchased Hercules’ contract from Bobby Heenan with thoughts of making him his slave, but Hercules turned face proclaiming he was a man and feuded with DiBiase. In 1989, he would create the Million Dollar Belt and feud with Jake ”The Snake” Roberts over the belt, as well as continuing his feud with Hogan by aligning with Zeus. As punishment for buying #30 in the 1989 Royal Rumble, DiBiase was forced to take #1 in the 1990 Rumble, lasting over 45 minutes, a record at the time. Roberts returned from injury stealing the Million Dollar Belt and putting it in Damien’s sack, leading to a match at WrestleMania VI where DiBiase won by count out. At SummerSlam 1990, DiBiase bought the services of Sapphire leading to crackerjack detective Jim Duggan looking for her and DiBiase feuding with Dusty Rhodes through the beginning of 1991. DiBiase captained a Survivor Series team in 1990 with the debuting Undertaker being the surprise team member. At the 1991 Royal Rumble, DiBiase and Virgil defeated Dusty and Dustin Rhodes, and DiBiase ordered Virgil to put the Million Dollar Belt around his waist but The King of Meat Sauce instead hit him with the belt. At WrestleMania VII, DiBiase lost via count out to Virgil, and would lose the Million Dollar Belt to Virgil at SummerSlam 1991 to a huge pop. In 1992, DiBiase would team with Irwin R. Schyster to form Money, Inc. The team won the WWF Tag Team Titles from the Legion of Doom in February 1992 and defended the titles against the Natural Disasters at WrestleMania VIII and eventually lost the them to the Disasters over the summer. They would regain the titles and feud with the Nasty Boys. DiBiase faced the returning Brutus Beefcake on an early episode of Raw, smashing his face with a briefcase causing Jimmy Hart to turn on Money, Inc. and Beefcake’s friend Hogan to challenge the team to a match at WrestleMania IX, where Money, Inc. retained their titles by DQ. The team would then feud with the Steiner Brothers, trading the tag team titles back and forth. His last match for the WWF was against Razor Ramon at SummerSlam 1993. He would take on a managerial role as head of the Million Dollar Corporation from 1994 to 1996. DiBiase was the inaugural North American Heavyweight Champion, a King of the Ring and three-time WWF Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: The Million Dollar Man is one of the most memorable and colorful characters in WWF history. From the vignettes announcing his arrival to his in-arena skits challenging fans to bounce basketballs or perform demeaning tasks for money, it was clear that “Everybody had a price and everyone’s going to pay” for the Million Dollar Man. DiBiase played the part perfectly, from his trademark evil laugh to his suits with dollar signs and his custom made Million Dollar Championship. DiBiase was a great talker, always able to add to his feuds and make them seem important. Plus, it was such a hateable character, his matches often had unreal heat.
Workrate: DiBiase was a technically sound wrestler and everything he did looked good in the ring, but he lacks the memorable top-notch matches to put him over the top. The 1979 babyface matches with Pat Patterson are very good. His house show matches with Savage are good, not great. His feud with Virgil was very hot and the SummerSlam match where Virgil wins the Million Dollar Belt was a memorable moment after a strong match. The Money, Inc. tag team run featured mostly forgettable matches. Overall, his in-ring results are a bit underwhelming, particularly for someone like DiBiase, who we know to be talented from his work elsewhere.
Staff Thoughts: The Million Dollar Man is one of the top characters that the WWF has ever had. He was involved in so many memorable moments. His feuds with Hercules and Virgil were fun, as was him purchasing Sapphire and feuding with Dusty and Dustin. He was in the main event of WrestleMania IV in the finals of the tournament and later faced Hogan for the tag titles at WrestleMania IX, so he had his WrestleMania moments. The memorable matches were few and far between, which limits his place on the list somewhat. Money, Inc. was a top team at a time when the tag team scene was dreck, for whatever that’s worth. You can hear the guys talk about DiBiase on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “As a character, he could be Top Ten. Unfortunately, he has no classic matches in the WWF. I enjoy some of his matches but there are so many guys with better matches on the list. Maybe his 10 minute challenge against Dustin in 1990 or the Mania match against Macho Man. Couldn’t stand the Money Inc tag team overall. On the plus side, so many memorable moments and angles. He makes the list but I don’t have him very high.” – Good Ol’ Will from Texas, June 3, 2017
“The definition of not needing a title to get over. I know they did the Hogan/Andre thing where DiBiase sort of had the belt for a bit, but it just seems like he should’ve been the main man at that time and had a run with the title. Such a great, believable heel with the mat skills to back up the talk. Definitely in the Top 50 for me.” – Mike Andrews, June 8, 2017
“Difficult guy for me to rank, partly because of the categories. He has so many “jump up” moments, but almost no “jump up” matches, even though many are good. I think particularly to his work with Bret. Yet his work was always crisp, he always had the crowd engaged and was always over as a heel. I think he’ll end up placing higher than some might think.” – Greg Phillips, June 8, 2017
25. Mr. Perfect
Total Points: 7,569
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 35.8
High Vote: 5
Low Vote: 87
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Mr. Perfect was a character in the WWF for about a nine-year stretch, though he missed a couple of years of that time due to injury. He also spent some time in the early 1980s teaming up with Eddie Gilbert. Mr. Perfect spent time as a heel and a babyface, with the bulk of his time in singles work.
Jump Up Moments: Mr. Perfect debuted with perhaps the best series of vignettes the company ever did, showing Perfect performing a variety of sporting events, well, perfectly. While Tom Brady can’t throw and catch the ball himself, according to his wife, Mr. Perfect showed he could in these vignettes. He was one of the survivors at the 1989 Survivor Series and was undefeated on TV for over a year. Perfect helped The Genius defeat Hulk Hogan via count out on Saturday Night’s Main Event, kick-starting a feud between Perfect and Hogan, where they wrestled at live events and Perfect defeated Hogan via DQ in a match televised from MSG. Mr. Perfect was the runner-up in the 1990 Royal Rumble. He suffered his first pinfall loss on TV to Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior on an MSG Network special. He also lost to Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania VI. Perfect lost to Hogan in a good match on SNME April 28, 1990. Perfect won the tournament for the vacated IC title and successfully defended the title against Tito Santana on SNME in a great match before dropping the title to Texas Tornado at SummerSlam 1990. He captained the Perfect Team in a losing effort at Survivor Series 1990 and then regained the IC title from Tornado. He then retained the IC title against Big Boss Man at WrestleMania VII. Perfect then suffered injuries and lost the IC title to Bret Hart in an excellent match at SummerSlam 1991. He spent the next year as Ric Flair’s executive consultant, forming a power team with Flair and Bobby Heenan. Perfect eventually turned on Flair joining Randy Savage for a tag team match against Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series 1992. He would then feud with Flair winning a memorable loser leaves WWF match on Raw in January 1993. Perfect then began a rivalry with Lex Luger, losing to him at WrestleMania IX. He had a very good match with Doink to qualify for the 1993 King of the Ring, where he defeated Mr. Hughes, before losing to eventual winner Bret Hart in the semi-finals in another great match. He then challenged Shawn Michaels for the IC title at SummerSlam 1993 in a match that WWF promised would be a classic, but was not. He then retired from in-ring work until his return to the company in 2002, when he was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble lasting until the final four. Mr. Perfect was a two-time IC Champion.
Promos/Character: Mr. Perfect is on the short list of best characters the WWF has ever had. The vignettes where he executed every sport from billiards to swimming were fantastic. Perfect played the character… ahem… perfectly with his cocky walk and sneer and especially that gum swat. He was always nails on the gum swat, no matter the trying circumstances. Mr. Perfect was great on the stick as well, later serving as an executive consultant for Ric Flair (and if you can be called upon to cut promos to help Ric F’n Flair, you know the company thinks you can talk) and as a color commentator. Add it all up and Mr. Perfect was a character that stood the test of time with fans, making him one of the more memorable characters ever.
Workrate: Mr. Perfect was a great seller (if anything it was too overblown and some fans feel like he oversold too much) and had some innovative moves like his somersault neck snap and the PerfectPlex finisher. Sometimes his offenses wasn’t as impactful as you might like, and the number of classic matches aren’t quite what you’d like from someone with Perfect’s talent. Still, the matches with Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1991 and King of the Ring 1993 are excellent, and his matches with Hogan are very good. His match with the Blue Blazer at Wrestlemania V is one of the best five-minute matches in company history and his loser leaves WWF match against Flair is very good as well.
Staff Thoughts: Mr. Perfect is one of the most memorable WWF characters ever, with the excellent vignettes holding up to this day. The towel, the gum swat and the sneer made him a great character and instantly a big deal. He then went undefeated for a year and feuded with Hogan, showing that he was a big deal. His star fell a bit, but he was the IC title level anchor for the early 1990s and had classic matches with Bret Hart. He was an important part of the team with Flair and Heenan and then had a good feud with Flair before he left the company. All said, the in-ring quality and strong character work make him the Perfect candidate for the top portion of our list. To hear what the guys had to say about Mr. Perfect, check out this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “You absolutely nailed exactly one of the things I am looking for on my list in general which is this is a WWE exclusive list. What do we know about the WWE? It is very much character driven. Mr. Perfect might have done a lot more elsewhere but in the WWE he had to get over the gimmick that he was given, and he absolutely did. Oh, and he may not have been as great of a worker as he was in previous stints… but he was still pretty damn good, particularly when you compare him to his peers within the WWE within his era.” – Brian Meyer, June 2, 2017
“So many factors that put him inside the cut. His selling of the Mr. Perfect gimmick. Fantastic athlete who was fluid in the ring. He also sold others offense effectively. He was willing to job to inferior talent and not lose momentum. He jobbed to Beefcake at Wrestlemania and then Von Erich at the very next PPV while keeping momentum as a dangerous threat to the title. It was strange to see him as a face, but his promo work and attitude helped him get over with the fans. It would not surprise me if he finished as high as 60.” – Jeffrey Thomas, June 2, 2017
“My favorite wrestling character of all time (well, behind deviations like Heel Stone Cold and Hollywood Rock). Not a lot of folks know that. I adored him. He was an exceptional, phenomenal worker who made *everyone* he wrestled look better than they did coming in (Shawn Michaels at SummerSlem excluded). His two matches with Bret are among the greatest matches I’ve ever seen. Could talk like few of his peers, could work like few of his peers, and was still over in his comeback run. He’s in, and he’s going to rank highly for me.” – Greg Phillips, June 2, 2017