“The revolutionary force for over 50 years in sports entertainment” was a clever tag line used in the mid 90s before every WWF show. For most United States wrestling fans that are still alive, it is a way of life. Greater by the day is the lack of variance in the answer of what wrestling an individual grew up on. For better or worse, WWE has been the standard bearer. Throughout that rich history, performers ranging from Nature Boys to Undertakers have graced the squared circle. Foreign legends have had extended runs and some of the most iconic figures in pro wrestling history have been aces of the promotion reaching unequivocal mainstream pop culture heights in the world of wrestling.
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.
84. Bob Orton Jr.
Total Points: 1,934
Total Ballots: 61
Average Rank: 69.3
High Vote: 23
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: David Carli
Nuance: He was extremely good at what he did but you didn’t get a TON of variety charcater wise from Bob Orton. Always a heel, but really could a man who called himself Cowboy despite never once acting like he cared for the wild west at all become a face? Where were the finger guns? The Rope? The lack of dignity in the form of chaps. Oh. Right he had those. His main run was only about three years so the longevity box is really only half a spur as well. We’d be remiss though if we didn’t mention his bravery in the face of that horrible arm injury. That cost him nearly 20 years of his life. A true hero.
Jump Up Moments: Debuted as Roddy Piper’s… umm… bodyguard; Had many excellent matches with Tito Santana, a great one occurring on the December 1984 MSG show; Fought Jimmy Snuka at The War To Settle The Score; Was in Piper and Orndorff’s corner during the main event of WrestleMania; Was in the first main event in Saturday Night’s Main Event history where he got his ass handed to him by the Hulkster; Fought “Broomstick” Pedro Morales in a solid encounter at the December 1985 MSG show; Is one of three men to have boxed Mr. T and potentially the first to exit the encounter without brain damage, Roddy Piper and Rocky Balboa being the other two; Turned on the suddenly sympathetic Roddy Piper and began to “bodyguard” Adrian Adonis; With Don Muraco opened up WrestleMania III against the Can Am Connection.
Promos/Character: It was all the cast, wasn’t it?
Workrate: Really solid worker for the era. Everything looked crisp and smooth from the guy. At first glance you wouldn’t associate agility with Bob Orton, but given time and the right opponent he was capable of greatness.
Staff Thoughts: Bob Orton was an important part of the early stages of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era. Who knows if Piper would have reached the levels he did without his daring, injured bodyguard there to help him out. With more footage with great opponents we would, by today’s standards declare him the best TV worker of his era. Sadly he starred in the house show era which probably helps explain his ranking. Also he fathered a snake.
From the Voters: “So smooth. It’s no wonder Randy is so crisp with his stuff, because his dad was smooth as butter out there, and probably did a better job of making crappy opponents look good. Worked circles around Pedro Morales on a mid-80s house show I watched last year, and created an entertaining match out of it.” – Greg Phillips, May 28, 2017
“Another sentimental favorite. The superplex was a very innovative move when he used it during his 82 run. He was in the mold of Backlund challengers like Valentine, Rose, and Adonis that weren’t your typical monster heels but were on par with Backlund size and skill-wise. All time great run with Piper and Orndorff. His team with Muraco was highly underrated. Orton was the complete package that didn’t need to be the lead guy. He thrived as the “hired muscle” whose actions spoke louder than words” – Tim Tetreault, May 29, 2017
Total Points: 1,945
Total Ballots: 63
Average Rank: 70.13
High Vote: 27
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Troy Brostrom; Taylor Keahey
Nuance: SHAAAAAAAADUP! Evil Sid is legit one of the scariest monsters walking God’s green Earth, and yet, was still able to THRIVE as a face in two very different eras. We only saw a handful of tag matches involving the guy but one of them involved rearranging Brutus Beefcake’s face. Sid is all intangibles. HUGELY over during most of his career and just had an aura that lesser men would kill for. He felt like a big deal. He WAS a big deal, he’s at two WrestleManias and DEMANDED to main event BOTH of them! Watch his walk down to the ring at WrestleMania VIII and tell us that guy is not a star. He’s in synch to the music and is there to kill Hulkamania. He gets dinged for longevity, his run totalling about three years, but we’ll take three years of this suicide machine over 20 years of that’s gotta be Kane machines.
Jump Up Moments: Popped his head out of the curtain like a child after the main event of SummerSlam 91; Tossed Hulk Hogan from the 1992 Rumble to a huge pop; The entire build to WrestleMania VIII is nothing short of incredible character work, from the press conference, to the apology video to finally turning on Hogan it’s perfect; Closed down the local Barber Shop, smashing it to bits with a steel chair; Declared Mean Gene Okerlund a “bald headed little oaf”; Main evented WrestleMania VIII with Hulk Hogan, some may say the match stunk but the opening and the closing segments are WONDERFUL; Came back from hiatus as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard; Turned Michaels face by powerbombing him into jelly the night after WrestleMania XI; Made an amazing comeback in 1996 by barreling his Crown Vic into a bunch of crates; Was mega over at IYH: International Incident; Murdered Davey Boy Smith at SummerSlam 1996; Had a legit great match with Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1996, winning the WWF championship to utter glee from the New York crowd; Solid encounter with Bret Hart from IYH: It’s Time; Main evented WrestleMania 13 with The Undertaker, the less said about the match the better; The more said about him beating up Bret Hart pre-match also the better!
Promos/Character: His charcater, with the exception of possibly his run in the Million Dollar Corporation was ALWAYS bang on. Evil Sid Justice is great in 1992. He crumples his papers (acceptance speech) at the post Royal Rumble press conference, he screams at legit reporters, he was just ON POINT. Even as Michaels’ bodyguard he was interesting. You’ve got DiBiase hitting guys with briefcases but Sid goes and pulls out a knife at WrestleMania XI. Sure he gets points deducted as it wasn’t a pair of scissors, but damnit that man shouldn’t have a knife. Finally his 1996 “Sycho” character endeared himself to the fans so quickly that he was given run of the promotion. As for promos, once again Sid may be the master and ruler of the world. Watch the aforementioned “bald headed little oaf” promo during WrestleMania VIII, the fake apology that preceded it or for a more modern perspective his pre match promo from SummerSlam 1996. Was he a screamer? You bet he was but he got his point across and invented the fist bump to boot.
Workrate: Obviously Sid’s weakness. While far from the worst in-ring worker, Sid struggled with the wrong opponent. Look no further than his match with the Undertaker. His punches looked weak, as did his kicks. No complaints about the powerbomb and chokeslam, which were among the better we’d seen to that point. No one killed jobbers like Sid though. The montage of him murdering guys in the buildup to Mania VIII should be in a damn museum somewhere.
Staff Thoughts: Sid is a sentimental favorite to many people for many good reasons. Sid encapsulates almost everything great about pro wrestling. A great promo with a amazing look and an untouchable aura. If you need any more proof that he’s the master and ruler of the world go back and watch the ending of the Barber Shop: as he screams “I LOVE IT” with shaving cream exploded unto his face we’re faced with one of the great wrestling characters of all time. THAT was pro wrestling. Sid is pro wrestling. SHAAAAAAAAAAAAADAAAAAAAAAAAP
From the Voters: “I absolutely love SID! Watched all the Raws from November 1996-Wrestlemania XII. One of the best promos at the time. Really nailed the tweener role perfectly. His loud-soft dynamics during promos would make Nirvana jealous. His match with Shawn at Survivor Series ’96 is a classic. He had good matches with Bret & Mankind. His punches are goofy but memorable. He came off as a total badass. His interactions with Bret in March of 97 are classic. “You dont know shit, crybaby”. Powerbombing him to Hell at Wrestlemania XII and calling him crybaby as Bret is being helped to the back. Definitely make my list around #70 also. WHO’S DA MAN! FIST BUMP!” – Martin Boulevard, November 14, 2017
“Sid was a beautiful disaster. I really loved him his attack on Shawn after Mania 11, the Shawn feud in late 96/early 97, and just Sid being Sid. The first run kind of sucked. I want to find a case for him, but I doubt I’ll be able to” – Dylan Hales, June 5, 2017
82. Dynamite Kid
Total Points: 2,016
Total Ballots: 58
Average Rank: 66.2
High Vote: 25
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Dynamite Kid debuted in 1984 and his last match with the WWF was Survivor Series 1988, so he was with the company longer than many give him credit for, but did miss some of this time due to injury. Dynamite was almost exclusively a tag team worker for the WWF and never worked heel, so he scores poorly in our flexibility category. He is credited as being a very influential wrestler and the British Bulldogs are one of the more innovative teams of their time and beloved by many fans years later.
Jump Up Moments: The highlight of the British Bulldogs’ run was likely the WrestleMania II title win over The Dream Team in a really good match. The Bulldogs were accompanied by Ozzie Osbourne for the “Nightmare at the Rosemont Horizon,” which was the highlight match of the night and the Bulldogs’ lone WWF Tag Team Title win. They also had a lot of really good matches with the Hart Foundation around the country and had a heated match teaming with Tito Santana to face former crooked referee Danny Davis and the Harts at WrestleMania III. Teamed with Koko B. Ware to take on Bobby Heenan in a dog attack suit and the Islanders at Wrestlemania IV. Dynamite Kid competed as a singles wrestler in the Wrestling Classic defeating Nikolai Volkoff and Adrian Adonis before losing to Randy Savage in the semi-finals.
Promos/Character: Dynamite Kid was not a good promo and that may be kind. The Bulldogs were given Lou Albano as a manager to cut promos for them. His character was… he was British… and a Bulldog in the ring… I guess? Truth is he wasn’t a good promo and the character was pretty one-dimensional as a great wrestler. The Bulldogs did differ from other babyface teams of the time as they were more badasses than fiery underdogs.
Workrate: This is where Dynamite really makes his case. He was an innovative and influential worker, with many wrestlers to come copying his snap suplex and swan dive headbutt among other moves. The Bulldogs were a different kind of tag team, taking more offense as babyfaces than was typical for the time, which made their matches seem unique and made the Bulldogs stand out. It also got them over as a badass babyface team. The Bulldogs had good to great matches with The Dream Team, the Hart Foundation, The Islanders and Demolition.
Staff Thoughts: Dynamite Kid isn’t the most versatile of performers when you break him down by the NJPW system, but there’s no doubt he’s memorable. His unique style and run with the British Bulldogs stayed with voters decades later. Along with Davey Boy, he pioneered cool and hard-hitting tag-team offense, and his diving headbutt and suplexes have been copied extensively over the years. The Bulldogs were featured parts of WrestleManias II, III & IV, and when they were healthy were among the best teams in the WWF. Even with Dynamite’s injuries the Bulldogs had better matches than many teams. And we’ll always have him to thank for bringing in Matilda and forcing The Weasel to wrestle in a dog attack suit.
From the Voters: “Enough on the resume surprised people are nitpicking here when the biggest problem with most candidates outside the top twenty is longevity. Honestly a year is enough to get on my list nevermind the 4 years Dynamite worked. People are sleeping on Bulldogs vs Dream Team. Also there is a great Bulldogs vs Demolition match from MSG 1988 in the summer. He is not a great FIP, but his offense is still crisp as all hell. Makes the cut! Kelly Nelson see I like Dynamite. ” – Martin Boulevard, November 15, 2017
“I think the pendulum swung too far back in some circles. Dynamite was increadible in the ring and would probably make my GWE if I had done one. However, my gut says he just misses a wwe specific list. I may have to go back and look at what all he did in he WWF that was under the radar though.” – Matthew Richards, May 30, 2017
“Terrific wrestler that in my opinion if he didn’t get injured would of had a better career than Davey Boy. But, based on what he did do in the WWF would make my top 100.” – Matt Rotella, May 29, 2017
81. Dolph Ziggler
Total Points: 2,057
Total Ballots: 65
Average Rank: 69.4
High Vote: 28
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Michael DeDamos
Nuance: Longevity definitely works in Dolph Ziggler’s favor, as he had nearly a year-long run with the Spirit Squad, and has been active with the company under his current gimmick for nearly a decade. Dolph’s played both a heel and a babyface during his long tenure with the company and has moved up and down the card during this time. Still, many feel there is some intangible missing that keeps Dolph from connecting to the crowd at a deeper level.
Jump Up Moments: Ziggler won the Money in the Bank contract in 2012, leading to his memorable cash-in and World Heavyweight Title win over Alberto Del Rio on the Raw after WrestleMania 29. Faced Del Rio at Payback 2013 where the two executed a beautiful double-turn during the match. Ziggler gave a strong, memorable performance at Survivor Series 2014, becoming the sole survivor in the match that “ousted the Authority from power.” This led to Ziggler winning the IC Title from Luke Harper in a crazy ladder match. Defeated the Miz at No Mercy 2016 with his career on the line.
Promos/Character: He suffers a bit from a character that hasn’t evolved much and talks too much about showing off and entertaining the fans and not enough about winning matches. While we all know the name of the game is entertainment, it seems a bit off for wrestlers to talk about it in those terms. Dolph’s character has certainly reached the point of being stale in recent years. He’s been the perennial good hand in the midcard for so long, it’s synonymous with him, and he’s been hurt by too many stop and start pushes (not his fault, but does him no favors).
Workrate: Dolph’s got a list of good to great matches a mile long and can usually be counted to deliver a solid match. The ladder match with Harper at Payback 2013, his work in the Survivor Series 2014 match and a good opener with Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam 2009 stand out as matches to check out. Even in workrate, voter opinions are somewhat split with some believing Ziggler’s selling to be too over the top, while others feel it helps draw them into the match.
Staff Thoughts: Dolph Ziggler is a strong candidate for most divisive wrestler on our list, with some voters touting his impressive string of good to great matches, while others cite his stale character and insist he’s not a good wrestler at all. No doubt his character has grown stale over the years, and certainly the company has never gotten behind him during the periods Ziggler has been hot (after the Survivor Series 2014 match for instance). Still, his list of good to great matches matches up well with most anyone. He’s a former World Tag Team champion, a two-time US champion, a five-time IC champion and a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, so he certainly has the resume. Voters seem to either love or hate The Showoff, but he garnered enough love to make the cut. You can listen to what the guys think on this FYC podcast (warning: if you are a big Ziggler fan you may want to skip this one.)
From the Voters: “His MITB cash in was one of the biggest pops I ever heard. He was the star and played amazing face in peril in the Survivor Series 2014 match. Great Summerslam opener with Rey in 09. Many other great matches to cite. I agree he was never quite able to reach that next tier, and he’s been stale for a while, but I don’t think it disqualifies him from being a top 100. The guys a work horse.” – Michael Schoen, May 29, 2017
“No chance. Awful wrestler. I liked him early in the decade but started to lose interest after he turned heel. Has completely overstayed his welcome. The Shawn Michaels cosplay is out of control. Bad mannerisms, bad offense, lame character, lame promo. Awful, awful, awful.” – Devon Motivator Hales, May 31, 2017
“Dolph is great but he is part of a problem I am having with my list. Guys from the 70s until the 90s worked pretty consistently face or heel and on a part of the card for a good portion of their career. Since 2005 or so, everyone pretty much works with everyone at one point or another. And everyone has a good match with Dolph Ziggler. Maybe not literally but where as in the past you could find signature, standout matches from guys, even the most average wrestler can have a pretty decent match with Dolph Ziggler.” – Michael DeDamos, December 14, 2017
80. Don Muraco
Total Points: 2,113
Total Ballots: 56
Average Rank: 63.3
High Vote: 14
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Grady Blount
Nuance: Don Muraco could be taken extremely seriously as a heel but when needed could also pull out the comedy chops with Fuji Vice. How could one ever cheer the man who plowed through a jobber while eating a sandwich? Simple, have him save Superstar Billy Graham and start coming out to music insinuating he was Jesus Christ. We didn’t get much tag team work from The Magnificent One but his duo with Bob Orton is some of his best stuff in his later years. It’d be silly to proceed without mentioning how important he was to the promotion in the pre-Hogan era. Always over, always a top flight heel and instrumental in helping build the Intercontinental division throughout his nearly two-year long reign.
Jump Up Moments: On June 21, 1981 (the first day of summer YAY!) defeated Pedro Morales for the Intercontinental Title; Feuded with then-WWWF champion Bob Backlund for the latter part of 81; In 1983 began his epic feud with Superfly Jimmy Snuka; He and Snuka would have one of the more memorable cage matches in history on October 17, 1983 at MSG; Throughout 1985 headlined the house show circuit with Hulk Hogan; Won the first ever King of the Ring Tournament on July 8, 1985, defeating The Iron Sheik in the finals; His majesty would go on to feud with Ricky Steamboat giving us the wonderful image of Steamboat hanging by his own karate belt; Speaking of wonderful, fought Paul Orndorff in the opening match of WrestleMania 2; With partner Bob Orton opened WrestleMania III against the Can-Am Connection; Was chosen by Hulk Hogan to be part of his team at the inaugural Survivor Series; Advanced to the second round of the WWF Championship Tournament at WrestleMania IV; Oh and the skits with Fuji, ALL of them
Promos/Character: In a world of legit athletes and bodybuilders, Muraco’s lazy beach bum character worked marvelously. And he was an all-time promo as well. Whether he’s calling Pat Patterson BORING or laughing at Bob Backlund’s hurt arm, you could always could on Don’s ability to get the ire of the crowd, an ire that would only grow as he strutted around the ring. At the drop of a hat he could also turn around and give a lesson on giving a grounded serious promo. Check out his pre-Jimmy Snuka cage match stuff for further evidence of that. His skit work is also incredible. All the stuff with Mr. Fuji is well worth your time.
Workrate: Do YOU like slow lumbering matches? Then Don Muraco is the man for you! He was a prototypical 70s wrestler for all intents and purposes, however few meshed their in-ring work with their character as seamlessly as Don Muraco. He was slow, but that was the point. As much as we can criticize it from a modern perspective it’s hard to deny that he was effective in the ring. The fans were with him. All. The. Way. That’s the point right? If you judge a wrestler’s workrate by how he affects the crowd then surely Don Muraco should rate high.
Staff Thoughts: The Magnificent Muraco is an incredible important cog in the WWF machine. A premiere heel of the early 1980s he could always be counted on to enrage the crowd or eat a sandwich at the most inappropriate time. His reign as Intercontinental champion and early run make him a great, add the skits and he’s a LEGEND.
From the Voters: “I might be the biggest Muraco fan in this group and proud of it! He and Snuka created magic together. Pairing Don with Fuji later on made for one of the most entertaining wrestler/manager combinations in company history. In addition, he was Steamboatsfirst big feud. The tag team of Don and Bob Orton were an underrated team for the first half of ’87. Now, his babyface run. Yes, it was a disaster, but he helped new guys coming into the company such as Bam Bam and the Warrior. Don taught those guys how to work the WWF style while teaming with them in tags against OMG amd Butch Reed. Overall, an above average worker in the ring, one of the best piledrivers of all time and you never knew what he was going to say on the mic. Welcome to the class of 100!” – Jason Greenhouse, May 29, 2017
“He may be one of the most hotly contested people in the whole process. I really can’t stand the guy even in most of his heralded matches vs Backlund, Steamboat, Snuka and Hogan. He did have some appeal and charisma but I probably will have to rewatch the Backlund MSG match and some of the Hogan series to see if they are serviceable enough to warrant inclusion for him. I refuse to watch the Backlund hour long draw from Philly unless I am need of a deep sleep.” – Chad Campbell, May 29, 2017
Total Points: 2,181
Total Ballots: 78
Average Rank: 73
High Vote: 30
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Kris Zellner
Nuance: He wore blue sometimes, he wore red sometimes, but he always, ALWAYS made the ring shake. Earthquake was a scary heel who didn’t look like he had an ounce of kindness in him; which is a strange contrast to his good guy character who felt like he had nothing BUT kindness in him. Bad Earthquake would (and could) beat up your dad; good Earthquake would coach soccer with your dad, smiling as you waved at him from the field. What range this man had! Too bad he was only really around for about four years. He killed Hulkamania (for a few weeks), killed a snake and dated a stuffed Cartman doll. If that’s not variety, we don’t know what is.
Jump Up Moments: Debuted on Superstars by repeatedly jumping on and destrucifying the Ultimate Warrior’s back; Replaced Barry Windham at the 1989 Survivor Series and survived his match along with Randy Savage and Dino Bravo, but no word on if he made Mrs. Windham a widow; Was Hercules’ 13th unconquered labor at WrestleMania VI; In the spring and summer of 1990, hit his peak feuding with Hulk Hogan; His attack on the Brother Love Show is the stuff of legend and for a while we thought Hulkamania was truly dead; Co-main evented SummerSlam 1990 against Hulk Hogan; Was the last person eliminated by Hulk Hogan at the 1991 Royal Rumble; In the summer of 1991 killed Jake Roberts’ longtime partner Damien and turned him into snake burgers; Converted a boat into a storm and formed the Natural Disasters; With Typhoon defeated Money Inc to win the WWF Tag Team Titles; Defended Sy Sperling and crushed Adam Bomb all in one night at WrestleMania X; Had a fun sumo match with Yokozuna on an episode of Raw to the delight of Randy Savage and Vince McMahon; Lost weight and had a fun time as Golga, the workhorse of the Oddities
Promos/Character: Was the living embodiment of an Earthquake through and through. A lesser man would have just written Quake on his tights and used the richter scale as a finish but God bless John Tenta for being in perpetual motion whenever he was being interviewed. You CAN’T TAME an Earthquake, Sean Mooney! His promos were a lot of yelling and seemed like he was constantly on the verge of losing his voice, but boy was he intimidating!
Workrate: Fantastic worker for a big man. In particular, his powerslam looked like it could cripple you. Earthquake didn’t need to fly around the ring to get his point across, he was a hoss who would sit on your chest. He did it well, though, and was always convincing regardless of who he was in there with. Also could take a licking, like when Hogan and Boss Man beat the shit out of him with that chair at SummerSlam. Is that why he went crazy and killed that snake? Is that why Jake Roberts in turn went crazy and tried to kill Randy Savage and ruin his wedding? Is Earthquake really only three degrees from the reason Elizabeth got slapped?
Staff Thoughts: Earthquake is a favorite for many and it’s not hard to see why. He’s a big guy that moves around the ring like a guy half his weight and he had a HUGELY memorable feud with Hulk Hogan. Your mileage may vary on what you thought of him as a tag wrestler, but there’s no denying the Natural Disasters were, at the very least one of the top teams in the promotion for a couple of years. Everything you hear about the guy is positive too. He was apparently one of the nicest guys in the business. Except to Jake. WHY DIDN”T HE GO TO JAIL FOR KILLING HIS PET???
From the Voters: “Earthquake was awesome. Main evented Summerslam against the Hulkster and one Half of the biggest tag team I’ve ever seen in WWE. Could move great for a big guy and underrated on the promo skills” – Eric Boyd, May 29, 2017
“Doesn’t have a catalogue of classic matches (that I’m aware of), but he was a solid Hogan opponent and good big man. Found success both as a single and a tag. He’ll likely be on the bubble for me.” – Ben Morse, June 1, 2017
78. Honky Tonk Man
Total Points: 2,185
Total Ballots: 71
Average Rank: 70.3
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Karl Grant
Nuance: You could make an argument that he was the most hated heel of his era. Annoying as fuck, sang and danced for ten minutes before every match, never won despite being a champion for eighteen months. These are all positives. He absolutely flopped as a face, and for good reason: he was a fucking Elvis impersonator!!! His tag run was completely forgettable with its only contributions to the business coming via Diamond Dallas Page driving the Cadillac and Greg Valentine trying to curl his lip.
Jump Up Moments: Lost a “vote of confidence” and turned to the loving arms of Jimmy Hart; On June 13, 1987 defeated Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship; Beat up Randy Savage post match on the October 3, 1987 edition of SNME, shoving Elizabeth down in the process, This would eventually lead to the creation of the MEGA POWERS; Got demolished by the Ultimate Warrior after declaring “just get me someone out here to wrestle” at SummerSlam 1988, ending his 18-month Intercontinental Title reign; Lost a fun match to Dusty Rhodes at the 1989 SummerSlam
Promos/Character: He’s got long sideburns. His hair is slicked back. He’s coming to your town in his pink Cadillac. I’m not sure if he was cool or bad, but he sure was cocky. Honky was ALL character. It’s not like he has a huge cache of all-time great promos under his belt, but you can bet that he played that persona full tilt every time he entered the arena. He couldn’t sing but he sang. He couldn’t dance but he wiggled those hips. He was great at what he did, and what he did worked. An underrated aspect of his character game was that he had a pretty sweet mean streak when he needed to break it out.
Workrate: Come on now. Can anyone name a single signature spot outside of the shake rattle and roll or the guitar to the head. Honky was the definition of a soft wrestler. He makes the Miz look like Stu Hart. That said, he had a stretch in mid-1987 where he absolutely kept up with world class wrestlers like Steamboat and Savage, delivering classic matches at Madison Square Garden and on TV.
Staff Thoughts: Honky surely makes the list almost solely for being the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. It’s an eighteen month run, but WHAT a run. He elevated the title to the point where he could main event the “A” shows against Hulk Hogan. Not only did he elicit a sheer loathing from the fans few have been able to emulate, but he will forever be the catalyst for the formation of the Mega Powers as well as having a huge role in that Ultimate Warrior SummerSlam victory. And that is a moment which is among the best in company history. Without him heeling it up for those months, barely winning or escaping, we surely lose that gem, and maybe the Warrior doesn’t get over to the point he does. Honky is a great example of a guy who got way over in spite of some obvious deficiencies in his game. He STILL gets a pop when he shows up. He sang and danced into a well deserved place in our hearts.
From the Voters: “My most hated heel as a kid by a wide margin. Great character, middling wrestler. Jump up moments are there for someone with a short run. I can’t leave him off, but I can’t gave him high. Might throw him at 90” – Dylan Hales, July 12, 2017
“Honky is in my 60s! I absolutely understand if this seems high (he’s been slowly moving up my list this past month or so, after some HTM on the Network time) bit I can’t imagine a list of the Greatest WWE wrestlers without him even being on it. That just seems willfully overlooking the character.” – Eric Vejnovich, November 30, 2017
77. Marty Jannetty
Total Points: 2,192
Total Ballots: 73
Average Rank: 71
High Vote: 17
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: David Carli
Nuance: There is a great discussion on the Facebook group about Marty Jannetty and how he fills the NJPW criteria, if you would like some additional reading. Longevity is surprisingly Jannetty’s high point here as he was with the company off and on from 1988 to 1996 and also had a cup of coffee in 2005. However, he did miss substantial stretches during that time. It’s interesting to think about Jannetty’s flexibility as he had success as both a singles and tag team, but the tag team work greatly overshadows his singles work and his best singles work came against former partner Shawn Michaels. Jannetty’s character never really evolved past the “Rocker” and he spent most of his time as a babyface. The heel run with the New Rockers was a flop.
Jump Up Moments: Marty’s IC Title win over Michaels was one of the first great moments on Raw, and that feud featured many people’s WWF Match of the Year for 1993. Other notable moments include Michaels superkicking Jannetty then throwing him through the Barber Shop window, and a string of tremendous matches as the Rockers against numerous opponents. He won the tag team titles with the 1-2-3 Kid as well in another hot Raw moment.
Promos/Character: Jannetty was a pretty lousy promo. His character work never really evolved beyond the Rockers, although tweaking it to be a “stuck in the past New Rocker” could’ve been interesting, but wasn’t. So, both character work and promos would be a weakness for Jannetty.
Workrate: Here’s where Jannetty makes his case. The Rockers are one of, if not the best, in-ring team the WWF ever had. Their series with the Brain Busters was fantastic. Their match against the Orient Express to open Royal Rumble 1991 is an all-time tag team classic, and they had very good matches with all the teams of the day. In addition to his stellar matches during the Michaels fued, Jannetty also had a really good two-out-of-three falls match with Doink and his lone IC Title defense versus Bam Bam Bigelow. He had a really good tag match with 1-2-3 Kid against the Quebecers, and even had a good match with Kurt Angle in 2005 during his feud with Michaels.
Staff Thoughts: Marty makes his case on workrate, but he has a tremendous amount of very good to great matches. The Rockers had the bulk of those matches against virtually any tag team, but Jannetty could flat-out go on his own, as shown by his matches against Michaels, Doink and with Kid against the Quebecers. Add that to the surprising moment where he returned to win the IC title from Michaels during the early days of Raw and it was enough for voters to overlook Marty’s shortcomings. Hear JT and Aaron discuss Marty’s case in this podblast.
From the Voters: “One of the most underrated in-ring performers of his era. An argument could be made (and Shawn has made it himself) that Marty was the better worker when they were tagging together. Had a great 1993, some good tag stuff in 94, the aforementioned Shawn match in 96 and Angle match in 05. He was a dreadful promo, but he’s going to be at least an 8 for me in workrate. When he was on, few were better.” – Greg Phillips, June 1, 2017
“Just watched him team with Shawn against the Powers of Pain from the Jan 1990 MSG show and he put on an incredible performance. He even came back in the 2000s and have a really good match against Angle on Smackdown. Add that up with his feud against Shawn and other Rockers work and he likely makes my list.” – Brian Cullinane, May 31, 2017
“Always a solid in-ring guy. Some of the more memorable matches in the early days of RAW involved Jannetty. If it wasn’t for drugs, the guy could possibly have been a bigger player. I say YES.” – Chris Jordan
76. Ken Patera
Total Points: 2,408
Total Ballots: 62
Average Rank: 62.2
High Vote: 13
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Grady Blount
Nuance: Ken Patera was with the WWF for parts of seven years prior to his time in prison and another year in change when he returned in 1987. He was a hated heel for his first run and a babyface for reasons few understood when he returned in 1987. The babyface run was a flop, so Patera can’t get full points for flexibility.
Jump Up Moments: The Texas Death Match against Bob Backlund for the WWF Title in 1980 is an all-time great match. Patera was also involved in “raping Andre of his dignity” angle where the Heenan Family cut Andre’s hair. Patera had a great IC title run in 1980, and also defeated Gorilla Monsoon forcing him to retire. Upon his return he teamed with Hulk Hogan and others against the Heenan Family in the first Survivor Series.
Promos/Character: Patera wasn’t the best promo, which is why he was always paired with Bobby Heenan. Patera played a good heel character despised by fans, but that babyface run in 1987 was trash and has to count against his character work in some way. Why the WWF decided he needed to be a babyface because he went to jail is beyond us.
Workrate: Patera has an impressive list of great matches during his first run. His Texas Death Match vs. Backlund is legendary, and he was one of the top challengers for Backlund. He also was one of the last challengers for Bruno Sammartino during his last reign. Patera won the IC title from Pat Patterson in a good match, leading to his strong IC run.
Staff Thoughts: Ken Patera was a really strong worker with a string of great matches from his first run. As mentioned, the Texas Death Match is must see and anything with Patterson or Backlund is really good. He was involved in the Andre haircut angle and was a key member of the Heenan Family and retired beloved babyface Gorilla Monsoon. The less said about pasty legs babyface jailbird Ken the better.
From the Voters: “Great heel in on and off run between 77-84. 1980 is his peak, as IC champ with several great matches at MSG with Patterson, Morales and the masterpiece Texas Death Match with Backlund. Comeback in 87 started hot but soon sputtered and he didn’t have much left, or no longer cared. Still, heel run is easy top 100 for me, probably top 50.” – Kelly Nelson, May 30, 2017
“Had title shots against all the top guys of his era, including a rare heel v heel match v Billy Graham. Angle with Billy White Wolf is an all timer. Maybe Backlunds best opponent. I-C title run was good. Doesn’t have the depth in the WWE that I’d like but I can’t imagine leaving him off.” – Dylan Hales, June 1, 2017
“How high can one match get you well when that one match is the Texas Death Match against Bob Backlund, pretty damn high? Kelly is right the January 80 match is also an all timer. I need to track down his other stuff from 1980, but he makes it easy based on that. Also a key member of the Heenan Family in cutting Andre’s hair in major angle. Top heel.” – Martin Boulevard, November 19, 2017
75. Sasha Banks
Total Points: 2,617
Total Ballots: 64
Average Rank: 60.1
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 97
High Voter: ElliottPWO
Nuance: The Boss has been with the company since 2012, so has more longevity than you may think, with the bulk of her work being in NXT. She’s played both a heel and face and been part of great mathes as both a single and in tag team matches, usually with other members of the “Four Horsewomen.”
Jump Up Moments: Sasha Banks has been the constant involved in the “Women’s Revolution,” participating in the first women’s NXT Takeover main event, the first Ironwoman match, the first PPV main event, first Hell in a Cell and was one of the architects in the first women’s Royal Rumble match (though the last one occurred outside the voting period). She’s delivered great results when given the ball in these key situations, delivering some classic matches in the process.
Promos/Character: Sasha is not a good promo and that counts against her score here. However, the Boss character was a critical part of the famed Four Horsewomen era of the NXT Women’s division. Her heel work was the counterpoint to ultimate underdog babyface Bayley and laid the groundwork for some classic matches.
Workrate: Opinions vary on Sasha’s consistency, particularly on the main roster, but the classic matches she had in NXT can’t be debated. She had really strong bouts at NXT Takeover Rival where she won the NXT Women’s title in a four-way match and a successful title defense against Becky Lynch at NXT Takeover Unstoppable. She had a classic match in losing the title to Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, telling a great story of the underdog babyface overcoming the strong but overconfident heel champion. Without Sasha’s heel work (including making Izzy cry) Bayley’s triumphant win wouldn’t have worked as well. Sasha and Bayley may have topped themselves at NXT Takeover Respect in a 30-minute Ironwoman match, main eventing and stealing the show. Both the matches with Bayley were Match of the Year Candidates. Sasha’s work with Charlotte Flair on the main roster has been some of the best women’s wrestling in company history.
Staff Thoughts: Sasha has the classic matches with Bayley and other very strong matches against other members of the NXT Four Horsewomen. Her Boss character was memorable and provided a solid heel foil to Bayley’s underdog babyface. Anytime the company needs to break ground in the women’s division, they call on Sasha: in HIAC, PPV main events, the Ironwoman match, the list goes on and on. Her main roster run hasn’t been the rousing success that NXT was, but her matches with Charlotte are as good as any women’s matches the company has had. With the current renewed focus on the women’s division, undoubtedly they will call Sasha’s number again, and she may climb higher if we revisit this list in the future. You can hear Good Ol’ Will, Glenn and Stacey talk about Sasha on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Probably the absolute tops of the NXT women in terms of character. As with the other three, there are times when her ringwork gets sloppy as all hell but the highs by far outweigh the lows. One of the last true heel performances vs. Bayley when she MADE A LITTLE GIRL CRY.” – Joseph Monticello, June 2,2017
“The main roster backlash seems like an old talking point given her eventual 2016. Sure she started slow (I think she was actively bad in the Mania 32 match and easily the weak link), and had to overcome some injuries along the way, but the Charlotte stuff was easily the best womens’ stuff in company history. And she’s anchored by the NXT matches, which are all-timers in a lot of cases. I have Charlotte above her, but that’s it for women at this point of the process.” – Brad Warren, June 6, 2017
“Will make my list. I don’t see any argument for any woman over her. The common denominator in all the big angles, feuds, special highlight moments (first ppv main event, first takeover main event, first HITC, first Iron Woman, Raw main events, et). We can argue about if she’s overrated, but she had 3 classics in a year in NXT and the Charlotte feud on Raw was a legit huge deal which had never happened to that degree before. Her overall impact on the business is much stronger than her current push.” – Dylan Hales, June 2, 2017
74. Jerry Lawler
Total Points: 2,629
Total Ballots: 70
Average Rank: 63.4
High Vote: 20
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Good Ol’ Will from Texas
Nuance: It’s tough to gauge Jerry Lawler’s longevity with the company as a wrestler. Clearly he’s been with the company in his announcing role forever, but only sporadically appearing in the ring. The King has shown flexibility going from the slimy heel insulting Stu and Helen Hart to a babyface defending Good Ol’ JR from that bully Tazz and later challenging Miz and (shudder) Michael Cole.
Jump Up Moments: Lawler’s key feud was with Bret Hart, which stretched over two years from Hart winning the inaugural King of the Ring in 1993 through late 1995. The segment at SummerSlam 1993 where Lawler came out on crutches and had Hart fight Doink as a replacement before his miraculous recovery breaking his crutch over Hart is a classic. Lawler was also the driving force in the ECW angle, with his insults of “Extremely Crappy Wrestling” and mic work leading to Lawler working a match at Hardcore Heaven against Tommy Dreamer. Lawler had a strong and memorable feud with Miz, challenging him for the WWE Title on Raw in a TLC match and eventually at Elimination Chamber 2011.
Promos/Character: Lawler’s fantastic on the stick when he’s at his best and that work has helped add a lot of heat to his feuds. His insults of the Hart family during the Bret feud were gold and have stood the test of time. He drove the interactions between ECW and WWF, cutting the promos that drove the rivalry at a time when working together helped both promotions. His commentary work has varied wildly from very good to… well, it depends on your thoughts on puppies… but his commentary work wasn’t considered for this project.
Workrate: Lawler knows how to have a good match and get the crowd into it, getting the most out of everything he does. The SummerSlam 1993 match against Bret is really good and King knows when it’s time to eat crow (or foot in this case) as was evident when he lost the Kiss My Foot Match in 1995. His matches with Miz for the WWE in 2010-11 were incredibly good, particularly when you consider the feud started on Lawler’s 61st birthday (and it was Miz’s best work up to that time).
Staff Thoughts: Lawler’s highs, the Bret and Miz feuds in particular, are certainly high and make great television. No question Lawler’s a wizard on the stick when he’s on. In the interest of fairness, he’s had some dreadful lows as well in feuds with Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper and others. Still the highs outweigh the lows in the viewers minds, and The Kaang has overcome obstacles with Jezebels and found a place nuzzling with puppies on the list of top 100 WWE stars.
From the Voters: “His best feud was with miz and memorable angle with with hart, but also memorable duds with piper, warrior and jake. Don’t see his wwf body of work making 100.” – Shawn Kidd, May 30, 2017
“Hard to judge because he’s been there for so long, but if you just put his periods of being an active in-ring competitor (and all that entails) together, I wonder what you would get. 2 years? The feud with Bret was great, feud with Miz certainly a mark in his favour. A couple of memorable Royal Rumble appearances (hiding under the ring and “it takes a king…”). A few entertaining one-off matches here and there (vs Goldust and vs Mankind are particularly standing out to me). Lots of rubbish too. Bitsa this, bitsa that. Put it all together and what have you got?” – Adam Russell, July 21, 2017
“I love his WWF run…. had some shitty moments but some overlooked awesome ones too. Might not make top 20 for me but easy Top 50.” – Good Ol’ Will, May 30, 2017
73. Dean Ambrose
Total Points: 2,650
Total Ballots: 79
Average Rank: 67.5
High Vote: 24
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: James Proffitt
Nuance: Dean Ambrose has gotten over as both a heel and a face, first with the Shield as the Hounds of Justice feuding with top babyfaces and later as a babyface both with the Shield and as a top challenger for Seth Rollins’ title. He’s been with the company about five years, so he has decent longevity. Ambrose’s facial expressions and body language are a distinct benefit to his case, as he uses those types of intangibles to add to his character.
Jump Up Moments: The initial run with The Shield is full of memorable matches and moments, from their six-man with Team Hell No and Ryback at TLC 2012 to their epic encounters with the Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014 and a reformed Evolution at Payback 2014. Was part of the main event scene feuding with Seth Rollins in 2015, part of a three-way match with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar at Fastlane 2016 and won the World Title cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Formed a tag team with Seth Rollins winning the Raw Tag Team Championship. He’s a two-time IC champion, the longest-reigning US champion under the WWE banner, a World Heavyweight Champion and Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: Ambrose is a good talker, which can add to his character during the best of times. At other times he may be stuck with bad comedy routines, but does his best to make it work. The Lunatic Fringe character has resonated with fans, making him one of the most popular babyfaces in 2015.
Workrate: The Shield six-man matches are all tremendous. Opinions vary a bit on some of his singles runs, with some liking his run as Rollins’ top challenger, while others find it less appealing. He had a good feud with Kevin Owens culminating in a very good Last Man Standing Match at Royal Rumble 2016. His tag team with Seth Rollins led to some good matches with The Bar, including winning the titles at SummerSlam 2017.
Staff Thoughts: Ambrose can be hit or miss for a lot of folks, but looking through his resume, he’s done a lot with the company. In his five years, he’s always been involved in one of the featured feuds in the company. His work in The Shield, his US title reign, feuds against Rollins and Owens and recent tag team work all have memorable moments. Of course, things like the awful Asylum Match with Chris Jericho and the ghost feud with Bray Wyatt do weigh him down a bit too. Here’s hoping the Lunatic Fringe returns from his injury to have more memorable moments in the future.
From the Voters: “For me it’s borderline. Held every title but tag, really good promo even when having not the best material, but working against him is the repetitive matches and some real clunkers like the asylum and losing via exploding monitor.” – Jeremy Ray, May 29, 2017
“Between The Shield 6 mans, the AJ Styles series, the Rollins series, the Owens series, and the MITB/IC ladder matches, the guy is in double digits with 4.25-5 star matches (and some would aruge that the Bray TLC match, the HHH match and the Shield triple threat were 3 more). He even had a top-notch storytelling match with Miz just this week.He’s an outstanding worker with a definitive character that has multiple layers. I get that people expected more, but I’d argue back that what people want, they’ll get when he’s heel again. He’s a face right now, so he’s a “goofy with a devil-may-care side” face. I get the displeasure with booking, but he’s one of those guys who gets asked to make the proverbial “chicken salad” a lot more than most, and his batting average for pulling it off is very good.” – James Proffitt, June 8, 2017
“Will make my list, albeit will be on the lower end of the spectrum. He’s one of my favorites now, but his inconsistent ring work and cheesy comedy is what hurts him from ranking highly. Still, the Shield alone is enough to put him on my list. Add some legitimately great promos, a fire feud with Seth (ending aside) and strong babyface and heel work, and his spot is most likely safe.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
72. Bobby Heenan
Total Points: 2,737
Total Ballots: 53
Average Rank: 49.4
High Vote: 11
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Dylan Hales
Nuance: Bobby Heenan was a full-time manager and sporadic wrestler for the WWF from 1984 through his stint as Executive Consultant to the Nature Boy in 1992. Following his stint as a manager he became a full-time broadcast journalist where he stayed with the company until 1993. Heenan worked exclusively as a heel. His facial expressions and comic timing are unparalleled in wrestling and he could walk the line between serious threat and comic relief like no one else could.
Jump Up Moments: Heenan was the driving force leading to Andre the Giant turning on Hulk Hogan, leading to one of the biggest angles ever and creating an electric atmosphere at the sold-out Pontiac Silverdome for WrestleMania III. A year earlier he led King Kong Bundy to main event WrestleMania 2. While the “Weasel” was primarily known as a foil for Hogan, he also had memorable moments teaming with the Islanders in a dog attack suit and losing to Ultimate Warrior and wearing a weasel suit. He also lost to the Red Rooster at WrestleMania V. Managed Rick Rude to the IC title in a shocking win over the Ultimate Warrior and the Brain Busters and Colossal Connection to tag team gold and served as Ric Flair’s Executive Consultant when he was the Real World Champion and eventually WWF World Champion.
Promos/Character: Listen humanoids, has there ever been anyone better on the mic than Heenan? He’s got to be on anyone’s short list of the best talkers ever. The Brain is well-known for his comedy, with good reason, but he could drive home an angle with anyone. Hogan/Andre would not have been the same without him and he even added a lot to Ric Flair’s run, from promoting him as the Real World Champion to when he won the belt. Good Ol’ Will called Heenan the Lex Luthor to Hogan’s Superman, the Joker to his Batman in this FYC podcast and I think that’s an accurate way to describe Heenan’s rivalry with the Hulkster.
Workrate: Workrate’s the category that voters struggled with for Heenan. While he wasn’t a full-time wrestler, as Steven Graham noted in the Facebook thread, The Brain wrestled 126 matches in the WWF from 1984 to 1991. In addition, some would argue that working includes taking an active part in a match through interfering and taking bumps as a manager and Heenan did this in spades. His memorable matches always involve him showing ass and looking ridiculous often involving him wearing a silly suit of some kind, either by design or as a stipulation of losing the match.
Staff Thoughts: Heenan is an all-time great character and one of the top heels the WWF has ever had. How you determine whether he is a wrestler or a manager and whether his work as a manager counted toward his workrate likely determined if he made your list and where he fell. The Weasel appeared on fewer ballots with a higher average rank than others finishing in the 70s, meaning that if he met your criteria for inclusion, you likely put him in a high spot. As a character, it’s hard to dismiss his work and it’s impossible to tell the WWF story without him. He was an integral part of one of the hottest times in company history. Hogan/Andre is not the same without him. And I know his announcing doesn’t count, but has there ever been a more fun match call than Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon at Royal Rumble 1992? Even without his broadcast journalist credentials, Heenan did more than enough to score with voters.
From the Voters: “When you’re more over with than the majority of the roster. His matches were sheer entertainment, even though they weren’t technically sound. His promo and mic work can’t be touched. One of the most memorable figures on the companies history. He may not have been a full time wrestler, but he is worthy on being on the top 100.” – Michael Schoen, May 28, 2017
“I don’t think he’s going to make it as a wrestler, though he’s one of the greatest all-around performers in the business. He was always a manager, who sometimes got in the ring just to face his comeuppance. He was entertaining in those moments, but it was mostly comedy stuff.” – Adam Russell, July 21, 2017
“The reality is you can have great workrate outside of the ring. Both Heenan and Sherri fall into this category. They were often the best part of many matches and the reason they will both be on my list. I currently have Heenan in my Top 20.” – Good Ol’ Will From Texas, May 31, 2017
71. Adrian Adonis
Total Points: 2,749
Total Ballots: 73
Average Rank: 63.4
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 96
High Voter: Andrew Lacelle
Nuance: Adrian Adonis worked in the WWF from late 1981 to 1987, so he has moderate longevity. He was part of the East-West Connection with Jesse Ventura, won Tag Team gold with Dick Murdoch as the North-South Connection and competed as a single as well. He only played a heel during his WWF run, BUT he played two distinctly different heel characters between the New York street tough and the flamboyant Adorable One, so he certainly showed flexibility in this run.
Jump Up Moments: His most high-profile feud in the company was with Roddy Piper, after Adonis replaced Piper’s Pit with the Flower Shop and attacked Piper, along with Bob Orton, Jr. and Don Muraco. This led to Piper destroying the Flower Shop with his crutch and their memorable match at WrestleMania III, ending with Adonis getting his hair cut and Piper retiring for a little while. Adonis was also a driving force in Paul Orndorff turning on Hulk Hogan, constantly stirring the pot on the Flower Shop. His pre-Adorable work saw him as a regular challenger to Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship and Pedro Morales for the IC title, as well as a Tag Team Champion with Murdoch.
Promos/Character: Adonis was a good talker, being able to cut an effective promo, and host his own talk show segment, The Flower Shop. The Flower Shop was the backdrop to the Orndorff turn on Hogan and the Piper feud. Adonis played two effective heel characters, both the New York thug and the Adorable gimmick. While certainly not the most enlightened nor PC of gimmicks, Adonis took the Adorable gimmick and ran with it, going all in with the makeup, leg warmers and scarves.
Workrate: Adonis was a great bumper and moved around very well for a man his size, even as that size increased substantially during the Adorable run. He had great matches with Backlund, like this one for example. There are a number of other matches, including tag team work with Murdoch, shared on the Facebook comments section.
Staff Thoughts: Adonis could do it all, from bumping like a madman in title matches with Backlund to pushing Orndorff closer and closer to his epic turn on Hogan. His feud with Piper was one of the top three or four matches of WrestleMania III, which is about as historic of a card as you can get. He could work singles or tag teams and took a gimmick that should’ve been pure crap, and turned it into something. Adonis garnered such interest from voters that they created this article and this podblast to tout his candidacy. His diverse skill set and moments made a believer of many voters and made any doubters say “Goodnight Irene.”
From the Voters: “Makes the cut for me. Always good in the ring who could really go and bump even when got really overweight. Also had the tag title run with Dick Murdoch and one of the bigger matches at WrestleMania 3.” – Wade Ferrari, May 29, 2017
“He will definitely make the top 100 for me. His feud with piper made me a fan as a kid, but through house shows, prime times etc getting to see more. One hell of a bumper and agree with Jt would love to see more of him and Murdoch as a team.” – Shawn Kidd, May 29, 2017
“A bubble guy for me, leaning more in than out. His skills were very obvious during his matches with Backlund. Had versatility, wrestling singles and tagging with Ventura and Murdoch. Also managed to stay relevant by taking on a whole new persona as “Adorable Adrian”, despite how offensive the gimmick was. Even with all the extra weight, he could still bump like crazy and still pull out some decent work. Had 3 separate runs in the WWF, which shows his longevity. And his promos, especially as the tough New Yorker when he came in with Blassie, were solid. Looking at all that, I gotta pop the bubble and put him in.” – Tim Tetreault, May 30, 2017
70. Jimmy Snuka
Total Points: 3,034
Total Ballots: 55
Average Rank: 46
High Vote: 5
Low Vote: 92
High Voter: Jesse
Nuance: Jimmy Snuka came into the WWF as a heel under the direction of Lou Albano in 1982 and stayed with the company until 1985. He would later return in 1989, staying with the company until 1993, before leaving and returning sporadically to diminishing returns each time. Snuka played a despised heel before turning and becoming one of the most over babyfaces of the pre-Hulkamania and early Hulkamania eras.
Jump Up Moments: Is there anyone that doesn’t immediately think of Snuka’s dive off the top of the steel cage during his match with Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden? That moment created a generation of fans, including a young Mick Foley and an aging Scott Criscuolo. Your mileage may vary on whether that is a positive or negative. Superfly also had the overlooked cage dive on Bob Backlund and a red-hot feud with Roddy Piper that started when Piper cracked a coconut over Snuka’s head during a famous segment of Piper’s Pit. Snuka was in the corner of Mr. T and Hulk Hogan during the main event of the first WrestleMania as well.
Promos/Character: Snuka was not the best talker, leading to him being paired with Albano and later cutting some of the most nonsensical, but laid back promos you’re likely to hear. But it didn’t matter, because he’d just smile and do the “I love you” hand signal and that was enough. His Polynesian character and look were unique for the time with his leopard print trunks and headband and he had a connection with the crowd like few others. He was also one of Hulk Hogan’s buddies on the popular Rock ‘N’ Wrestling cartoon, even after he left the company.
Workrate: His work was more about moments than matches and those moments usually involved him jumping off something high. His Superfly splash was one of the first highspots to get truly over. He had famous matches with Muraco triggering the aforementioned leap from the top of the cage, and a famous cage match with Bob Backlund that also saw him leap from the cage, though Snuka lost both those matches. The Superfly continued to return to the WWF whenever they needed a surprise entrant or a legend to trot out or job to the latest disrespectful punk, and those matches got progressively worse. But in his prime he was usually exciting if not always the most skilled in-ring technician.
Staff Thoughts: Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: many voters chose to disqualify Jimmy Snuka from consideration due to a moral consideration because he was charged with third-degree homicide and involuntary manslaughter in the case of his girlfriend’s death in 1983. Others chose to ignore the charges (though he was believed to be guilty by many) and evaluate Snuka solely on his wrestling merits. Both approaches are completely understandable. For voters that evaluated Snuka based on his career only, it can’t be argued he was an unforgettable character in the early 1980s. He was even rumored to be on the short-list of potential top-stars for when Vince McMahon, Jr. took the company national, but was thought to be too unreliable. However, his look, his charisma and his memorable moments, matches and dives make him a huge part of WWF history, and one of the top 100 wrestlers on our list.
From the Voters: “Charisma over skill. He was so so in the ring, but had a great connection to the crowd. Strong runs as both a heel and a face. No real classic matches, but such an enduring character. Late career run as a JTTS hurts his score a bit. He squeaks in on the low end for me.” – Ben Morse, May 31, 2017
“The most exciting face from when he left Albano up to when Hogan won the title. The Superfly Splash was THE move everybody talked about at my elementary school. Molten hot feuds with Albano, Muraco, and Piper. When you think of Piper’s Pit, theSnuka incident is always the first to come to mind. Looking back at his promos, they’re such ridiculous, borderline incoherent, gibberish. But that didn’t matter at that time whatsoever. Great matches with Muraco and Piper were based on crowd excitement, certainly not workrate. I’d have to rank him in the 100 based on these factors.”- Tim Tetreault, May 31, 2017
“The original phenom of the WWE, if it wasn’t for him we would be void of the most memorable moments in wrestling history when he jumped off the top of a cage onto Don Muraco. This moment made fans become fans. Just ask Scott Criscuolo if you don’t believe me. I think the makes the top 100.” – Matt Rotella, May 31, 2017