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.
Total Points: 7,775
Total Ballots: 111
Average Rank: 31
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 94
High Voter: Jason Fastkade
Nuance: Edge debuted in 1998 and lasted with the company until 2011, with some time missed due to injury, but he more than checks the box for longevity. He’s also shown great flexibility, as he’s been both a heel and a face and worked as a singles star as well as half of one of the best tag teams of his time with Christian. He also had notable tag teams with Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Hulk Hogan.
Jump Up Moments: He debuted at SummerSlam 1998 as Sable’s mystery partner, but quickly joined the Brood and formed a tag team with his “brother” Christian. He and Christian had a great three-way feud with the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz, including ladder and TLC matches at WrestleMania 2000, SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania X7. Edge won the 2001 King of the Ring, and unified the Intercontinental and US titles at Survivor Series 2001. He had a hot feud with Kurt Angle in 2002, resulting in Edge shaving Angle’s head. He would later win the World Tag Team Championship with Hulk Hogan, before teaming with Mysterio and having great matches as part of the famed SmackDown Six. That run included one of the best tag matches in company history against Angle and Chris Benoit at No Mercy 2002. He won the inaugural Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 21 and cashed in his briefcase at New Year’s Revolution 2006, winning his first WWE Championship. Prior to his cash in, Edge feuded with Matt Hardy in a strong feud with real-life heat. His hardcore match with Mick Foley at WrestleMania 22 was a great match and they then teamed up alongside Lita to have a very memorable three-way at One Night Stand 2006. His feud with Cena continued throughout 2006 including a great TLC match at Unforgiven. He would then form a team with Randy Orton as Rated RKO and feud with D-Generation X. The Rated-R Superstar then defeated Mr. Kennedy for his MITB briefcase and cashed it in on the Undertaker, winning the World Heavyweight Championship and joining the SmackDown roster. In late 2007, he formed La Familia, a group including Chavo Guerrero, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, as well as SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero, who Edge was in a relationship with. He defended the title against the Undertaker in a good match at WrestleMania XXIV. He was a fixture in the main event in 2008 before being injured again and returning at the 2010 Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant and the eventual winner. He challenged Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXVI and later at Extreme Rules in a steel cage match. Edge successfully defended his World title against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania XXVII before having to retire the night after due to injury. Edge is a former US Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, a Money in the Bank winner, King of the Ring winner, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, 12-time World Tag Team Champion, five-time IC Champion, four-time WWE Champion and seven-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Promos/Character: Edge played a number of different characters, from the goofball tag team with Christian to the scummy Rated-R Superstar in his partnership with Lita (and later Vickie). He had some good comedy segments with Christian, Mick Foley and Kurt Angle and later had the live-sex celebration angle with Lita and made both of those work. He could deliver competent and sometimes good promos, though his facial expressions tended toward overacting, and some voters felt he wasn’t always a believable character. He’s also the Ultimate Opportunist!
Workrate: He’s a good worker and over the course of his long career produced several excellent matches. His ladder and TLC matches teaming with Christian were all time classics, as was the No Mercy 2002 bout. His feud with Angle during that time frame was also very good. His feud with Matt Hardy in 2005 produced some good matches and felt different than anything else they were doing at the time. He had very good matches with John Cena in 2006 and his hardcore match against Foley at WrestleMania 22 and teaming with Foley and Lita at One Night Stand 2006 are excellent. He won the first (and many feel best) MITB match at WrestleMania 21 and had a good straight wrestling match against Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIV.
Staff Thoughts: Edge was another divisive figure with voters. He’s trumpeted by WWE as an all-time great, yet many voters were lukewarm (or lower) on the Rated-R Superstar. Others felt he was in the top-tier of their list. His longevity is both a blessing and a curse, as he had a lot of blah points, but compiled a great amount of memorable moments, matches and angles along the way as well. From the tag team with Christian to his surprise Rumble victory and final main event run he’s had a great career. Along the way he gave us live sex celebrations, kazoos and a shitload of titles and main events.
From the Voters: “I am interested where Edge will end up on my list. I don’t really like him that much as a worker but he does have some performances that are great as well as a bevy of great matches that helps him. His promo ability is wildly inconsistent for me and floats too often between jokey and Mr. Serious. He is someone I will be exploring to see if he is in my top 30 or 50.” – Chad Campbell, May 30, 2017
“Edge is great so he’s def on my list probably top 20. He did so much in just a decade, it’s almost dizzying. His in ring work at times could be a bit choppy but his character work and being the slimy Bastard heel was always fun to watch now. I kind of took him for granted during his main run in 05-08 and regret doing so bc you could argue that SD was his show along with Undertaker.” – Dennis Nunez, May 30, 2017
“Very strong in both heel and face characters. Also played two VERY DIFFERENT heel characters during his career. ( goofy idiot and tonguey scum bag). REALLY had the scum bag role down as of 2005. Had a thirteen year career during which he was rarely injured. He never FELT like a top guy to me though. More like someone playing a top guy. Just didn’t feel natural.” – Aaron George, May 30, 2017
23. Ric Flair
Total Points: 7,809
Total Ballots: 118
Average Rank: 35
High Vote: 2
Low Vote: 88
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Ric Flair spent seven years and change with the WWE between his stint from late 1991 to early 1993 and his run from late 2001 until his retirement match in 2008. He played both a heel and a babyface as a singles and in tag teams with Batista and Roddy Piper. Flair carried himself like a star and his legendary career provided gravitas to his late-era work in the WWE.
Jump Up Moments: The Nature Boy showed up in the WWF with the Big Gold Belt, proclaiming himself the Real World Champion. He had a house show run with Hulk Hogan and an early feud against Roddy Piper before winning the World Title in an all time showing at the 1992 Royal Rumble. He then lost the title to Randy Savage in an excellent match at WrestleMania VIII, also featuring the “she was mine before she was yours” storyline. He would win the title again from Savage and lose it to Bret Hart before losing a “Loser Leaves WWF” match to Mr. Perfect in the first great Raw match. Flair wouldn’t return again until late 2001 where he was a storyline co-owner of the WWF leading to a feud and match with Mr. McMahon at Royal Rumble 2002. He then had a fun match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania X8. He joined forces with Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista in Evolution, winning the tag titles with Batista and having a really good match against the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection at WresteMania XX. Flair won the Intercontinental title and had a very good steel cage match with Triple H at Taboo Tuesday 2005 and gory Last Man Standing match at Survivor Series. He won the Tag Team Titles with Roddy Piper in 2006. In late 2007, Flair began an angle where if he lost a match he would be forced to retire by Vince McMahon. This culminated in an excellent emotional match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV. He would make sporadic returns as a legend and manager for his daughter Charlotte.
Promos/Character: “With a tear in my eye…” we’re telling you Flair is a great promo anywhere and at any age, as shown by the promo he cut after winning the World Title at the 1992 Rumble. Flair’s one of the best talkers of all-time and he cut great promos in his 1992 run and during his return as both a wrestler and a spokesperson for Evolution and later Charlotte. He was able to evolve his character from the limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ champ in 1992 to the legend he portrayed in his last run, generating a great emotional response during his retirement angle. His farewell address on Raw was also a memorable moment.
Workrate: This is a bit of a mixed bag for Flair, with fantastic work in 1992, particularly in the Royal Rumble and the Savage WrestleMania match, but highs and lows in his return. He had good stuff with McMahon and Undertaker in 2002, and the Rock ‘n’ Sock tag at WrestleMania XX is fun, but many aren’t high on his Evolution work. His 2005 matches with Triple H are very good however, and his retirement tour saw some good work too. The WrestleMania match against Shawn Michaels was great and provided a fitting retirement match for Flair’s WWE career.
Staff Thoughts: The Nature Boy is the first person on the list to appear on every ballot submitted. His 1992 run is one of the most fondly remembered years a performer has had and he had enough highs in his return to warrant a spot on every voter’s list. He checks every box on the NJPW scoring. Unquestionably, his best work was elsewhere, but he had excellent work in the WWF/E as well, with the 1992 run, retirement angle and retirement match and Triple H matches in 2005 leading the way. Flair always did good character work and cut very good promos throughout his WWE career. To hear more about Flair’s case, check out this podblast from Greg and Aaron.
From the Voters: “I hate Evolution era Flair. One of my least favorite runs ever from a true legend. That said I love American Onita era Flair (05/06) and the retirement run was extremely compelling. The first run is difficult to gauge – it feels like a giant missed opportunity in many ways but it had some awesome high points and moments. If you discard the non-WWE stuff I think it’s tough to make a case for him higher than the 30s.” – Dylan Hales, June 2, 2017
“Flair is a guy I’m really looking at today. He has a bunch of highs in his 91-93 run. His work during the Summerslam title match was good and it led to a title win over the Macho Man. Right now he is placing around 25, grouped in with the likes of Valentine, Patterson and Santana, and I’m going to make a hard press to find enough positives between 03-08 to keep him there.” – Jeffrey Thomas, July 8, 2017
“I think there’s enough good stuff in his later run. His return was epic. The Vince match was fun. Taker at mania 18 holds up as solid. Hell I’d even put his “wrestling match” with Steve Austin from Raw in the good pile.He’s a huge part of the handicap match at mania 20. And the Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series matches with Hunter in 05 are truly great. I’m not saying he was “Ric Flair” in those years but there’s a stack of great stuff in there that were he not “Ric Flair” we’d be lavishing praise on. And his 1991-1993 is a spectacular run.” – Aaron George, November 25, 2017
22. Owen Hart
Total Points: 7,839
Total Ballots: 115
Average Rank: 32.9
High Vote: 4
Low Vote: 82
High Voter: Bret Hart
Nuance: Owen Hart had a decade of time with the company, with brief run as the Blue Blazer in 1988-89, before returning in 1991 and staying until 1999. He played both a babyface and a heel, though was much more natural as a heel. Owen had good singles runs and found tag team success with his brother Bret, Jim Neidhart, Koko B. Ware, British Bulldog, Yokozuna and Jeff Jarrett. Owen was great at little things, often going so over the top that he made small touches like the Slammy Awards into significant parts of his character.
Jump Up Moments: As the Blue Blazer he had one of the better five-minute matches in company history at WrestleMania V. Upon his return, Owen teamed with Neidhart as the New Foundation, defeating the Orient Express at Royal Rumble 1992, and later formed High Energy with Koko B. Ware, known primarily for their colorful and very large pants. He was part of the WWF vs. USWA angle that was enveloped into Bret’s feud with Jerry Lawler, and Owen won the USWA title in 1993. Owen was part of the Hart Family 1993 Survivor Series team and the only member eliminated, leading to friction between Owen and Bret. The two mended fences and challenged the Quebecers for the WWF Tag Team Titles at the 1994 Royal Rumble, before Bret was too selfish causing Owen to kick his leg out from his leg. This led to an all-time classic between Bret and Owen with Owen pinning his brother clean in the WrestleMania X opener. Owen would then win the 1994 King of the Ring taking the name the King of Harts. He continued feuding with Bret in a good cage match at SummerSlam 1994, and cost Bret the title when he convinced their mother Helen to throw in the towel during a match with Bob Backlund. He would also cost Bret during his title match against Diesel at 1995 Royal Rumble before Bret defeated Owen, ending the feud. Owen then began teaming with Yokozuna, winning the Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania XI and teaming for most of 1995. By 1996, Owen was teaming with British Bulldog and won the Tag Team Titles again. He also faced Bulldog in the finals for the first European Championship in one of the best matches in Raw history. A rematch for the European Title was interrupted by Bret Hart, who convinced both to join the new Hart Foundation. Owen then won the Intercontinental title from Rocky Maivia, though he and Bulldog lost the tag titles to Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin on Raw in another great match. He lost his IC Title to Steve Austin in what was a great match at SummerSlam 1997 before Austin’s neck injury. Owen would win the IC title tournament, before losing it again at Survivor Series 1997. After Survivor Series, Owen disappeared until attacking Michaels after the main event of the D-Generation X PPV, and later challenging Michaels on Raw, winning by DQ when Triple H interfered. Owen would feud with Triple H over the European Title through WrestleMania XIV. He turned heel on Ken Shamrock and joined the Nation of Domination and continued feuding with DX. Owen then teamed with Jeff Jarrett winning the Tag Team Championship again. He also began using the Blue Blazer gimmick again, which resulted in tragedy when Owen fell prior to his entrance at Over the Edge 1999, causing his untimely death. Owen was a three-time Slammy Award winner, King of the Ring winner, a four-time WWF Tag Team Champion, a European Champion and a two-time IC Champion.
Promos/Character: Owen played a number of characters and always played them to the fullest. He nailed the whiny, annoying younger brother during Bret’s feud, was obnoxious as the Slammy Award winner and attempted to show a more ruthless side as the Black Hart. Some of these characters worked better than others, but he always jumped into his character completely and was great with comedy roles. His promos were a mixed bag, as he was generally competent if unspectacular, but had some high-profile flubs, notably “kicking Bret’s leg out from his leg.” His “enough is enough and it’s time for a change” catchphrase was generally a bomb, but proclaiming he was “not a nugget” did get over with the crowd during the early Attitude Era.
Workrate: Owen was an excellent worker with a long list of great matches. His match with Bret at WrestleMania X is an all-time classic. Opinions vary on his cage match at SummerSlam, depending on your take on how violent a cage match should be, but it includes unique psychology around escaping. His tag team work with British Bulldog resulted in some great matches with Austin and Michaels and Austin and Dude Love on Raw. The match with Bulldog in the European title finals is great as well. He was a huge part of the Hart Foundation angle, including the iconic main event of Canadian Stampede. The IC Title match with Austin was damn strong before Owen botched a tombstone piledriver breaking his neck. The tag team with Jeff Jarrett had some decent moments.
Staff Thoughts: Owen had an impressive list of excellent matches, and was a memorable character, whether he was the whiny little brother, channeling his inner Cowboy Bob Orton with his never-healing broken arm or as a nugget. He always made the most out of whatever he was given in an effort to make it entertaining. He was undeniably talented, but things never quite worked out for him, as he wasn’t given much to do after his hot run with Bret in 1994. He was hot again as part of the Hart Foundation angle, but after the Austin injury and then Montreal, both Austin and Michaels were reluctant to work with Owen for different reasons. He never seemed to quite fit in the Attitude Era, despite being one of the better workers at the time, often having the best matches on TV. He could have been re-invigorated in 2000 or 2001 working with Jericho or the Radicalz, but it was not to be. His untimely death at Over the Edge 1999 remains an unnecessary and tragic accident taking a great wrestler beloved by his family, co-workers and fans far too soon.
From the Voters: “Personally I think he’s better than his brother, just a more energetic worker who exuded pure joy in the ring. Worked absolute classics with Bret and Bulldog. Elevated every match or feud he was in. Could do comedy or serious stuff. A tag team specialist. Only knock against him is he wasn’t a great babyface. He’ll place high for sure.”- Ben Morse, June 6, 2017
“I had on KOTR 1994 today with his winning of the Tournament. From this day forward you will refer to me as The King Of Harts. No matter what Owen did either feuding with his brother Bret or teaming up with British Bulldog or tearing the house down with Shawn Micheals or doing commentary on the 1996 KOTR he was always a joy to watch. And you know what he did it all by himself and was a Winner. He’s on mine for sure.”- Jay Hinchey, June 1, 2017
“A lock for my list. A fabulous wrestler. Quite possibly one of the best pure wrestlers in company history. Was involved in one of the best matches in company history with Bret at WM X. Real good character work throughout his career whether it’s as whiny younger brother Owen or Hart Foundation member Owen which I loved. Owen never took a night off. When he got in the ring, you knew he was gonna work his ass off. Real good chance he’s top 25 for me.” – Matt Souza, June 1, 2017
21. Triple H
Total Points: 8,184
Total Ballots: 111
Average Rank: 27.5
High Vote: 4
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Ray Miller
Nuance: Triple H debuted in 1995 and was a regular performer through 2013 or so, and still makes appearances, so few have greater longevity than Triple H. He’s performed as a babyface and a heel, primarily as a singles guy, but he’s had significant tag teams as part of D-Generation X and Evolution.
Jump Up Moments: As the Connecticut Blueblood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley competed in hog pen matches, got squashed by Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania XII and won the Intercontinental title and the 1997 King of the Ring. He would then join DX with Shawn Michaels, Chyna and Rick Rude and take the name Triple H. As part of DX, he had a good feud and matches with Mankind, including a cage war at SummerSlam 1997. He took over DX after WrestleMania XIV, and the group would feud with the Nation of Domination with Triple H feuding with The Rock, including a really good ladder match at SummerSlam 1998. He won the WWF Championship for the first time from Mankind on Raw in 1999, before marrying Stephanie McMahon at the end of 1999 to start the McMahon-Helmsley Era. He had a great street fight with Cactus Jack at Royal Rumble 2000 to kick off an excellent year of matches and angles in 2000. In 2001, he had a hot angle with Stone Cold Steve Austin culminating a well-regarded Three Stages of Hell match at No Way Out 2001. The two then paired together as the Two Man Power Trip before Triple H injured his quad for the first time. When he returned from injury he won the 2002 Royal Rumble challenging Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8. Later in 2002, he turned on a returning Michaels and had a great street fight at SummerSlam. From mid-2002 into 2003, he was the mainstay in the Raw main event scene, forming Evolution and holding the World Heavyweight Title. He had a good match with Michaels on Raw in late 2003 with Michaels, leading to a classic three-way match at WrestleMania XX where Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit won the title. In 2005, he had a really good feud with Batista losing the title at WrestleMania 21 and having a great Hell in a Cell match at Vengeance. He also had a good feud with Ric Flair in 2005. He had a solid match with John Cena at WrestleMania 22 before re-forming DX in 2006, feuding with the McMahons and Rated RKO, before tearing his quad again in early 2007. Upon his return he feuded with Randy Orton and had a good three-way match with Orton and Cena at WrestleMania XXIV. He would be a main event mainstay throughout 2007-2009, before reforming DX again in 2009, feuding with the Legacy and JeriShow. He challenged and lost to the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII and would again challenge him at WrestleMania XXVIII in a HIAC match. Triple H would challenge Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2012 and defeated him at WrestleMania 29, before losing at Extreme Rules. He was the special referee for the SummerSlam 2013 match between Cena and Daniel Bryan, turning on Bryan allowing Orton to cash in his MITB briefcase and forming The Authority. This eventually led to an all time classic match vs. Bryan to open WrestleMania XXX. He then reformed Evolution and had good six-man matches against The Shield at Extreme Rules and Payback 2014. At WrestleMania 31 he defeated Sting and then won the World Heavyweight Title at the 2016 Royal Rumble and lost to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32. He faced Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 33 and was one of the survivors of the Raw team at Survivor Series 2017. He is a King of the Ring winner, two-time Royal Rumble winner, two-time WWF Tag Team Champion, Unified WWE Tag Team Champion, two-time European Champion, a five-time IC Champion, five-time World Heavyweight Champion and nine-time WWF/E Champion.
Promos/Character: On one hand, Triple H kicked off the era of the 20-minute in-ring promos that have opened Raw for a decade and a half. On the other hand, he’s probably more responsible than anyone else for Raw having to start with a 20-minute promo, which some of us hate. He’s certainly capable, if not enthralling on the mic, but also has a tendency to bury his opponent in some cases, like when he said John Cena couldn’t wrestle.
Workrate: Triple H has a long list of classic matches, to go along with a fairly long list of failed attempted epics. His SummerSlam 1997 cage match against Mankind is very good and his 2000 has very good matches against Cactus Jack (Royal Rumble and No Way Out), The Rock (Backlash and the Iron Man match at Judgment Day), Chris Jericho (last man standing at Fully Loaded) and others. In 2001, he added the Austin match at No Way Out and an excellent tag match with Austin against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho on Raw. His matches with Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 2002 and on Raw in late 2003 are very good but there are many other Michaels matches that miss the mark with many fans. The main event three-way of WrestleMania XX is very good. His HIAC match with Batista was great and then his Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series 2005 matches with Ric Flair were very good. His WrestleMania matches with Undertaker are quite divisive with many liking one or both matches. The match with Daniel Bryan to open WrestleMania XXX is excellent. The six-man matches with The Shield in 2014 are very good as well. His matches with Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 32 and Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 33 were not highlights.
Staff Thoughts: Triple H just has a ton of stuff, for every great match there’s a deflating defeat of an up-and-comer (Goldberg, RVD, Booker T). For every memorable moment and great match, there’s a 20-minute promo or a Katie Vick angle. But those memorable moments and matches do exist, and his 2000 to 2001 run is full of great ones. His match at WrestleMania XX is excellent and the match with Bryan at WrestleMania XXX is a classic as well. Without question, The Game has been integral to the history of the WWE, with some better and some worse, but ultimately, he’s been a huge figure in the company for more than 20 years.
From the Voters: “He makes my list but I’m not sure how high up he will be. In ring is interesting. In 2000, he was one of the best wrestlers on the planet but in late 02 and especially 03 he was the hottest of hot garbage. His character is fine didn’t suck but it was never great either. Not sure where he ranks on my list. If I had to guess, probably somewhere in the top 40.” – Matt Souza, June 3, 2017
“He’ll be in Top 30 for me. I don’t have as much simmering hatred or unabashed love for him. He overrates himself and yet has almost become underrated. One of only TWO men to get a decent match out of Great Khali. I like and have other guys currently higher, but there will be a well deserved spot for ‘The Game’. Now stop humping his leg Criscuolo!” – David Mann, July 12, 2017
“He’s a guy I feel almost obligated to include. There’s surely a lot of cons: terrible run on top of Raw, only made 3 acts look good in defeat (Bryan, Batista, and the Shield) out of 20 or so he did not, and long-winded promos. That being said, he’s had a fair amount of good matches, was an important part of two major stables, and could play a great heel when he wasn’t making his opponent look like garbage. I feel like the Bryan feud and stuff with the Shield will boost him the most for me.” – Greg Rossbach, July 13, 2017
20. Rey Mysterio
Total Points: 8,829
Total Ballots: 113
Average Rank: 24
High Vote: 1
First Place Votes: 1
Low Vote: 89
High Voter: Good Ol’ Will from Texas
Nuance: Rey Mysterio had a long 13-year run from 2002 to 2015. During this time, he could be counted on week in and week out to deliver on TV. He was always a babyface and it’s hard to imagine Mysterio playing a heel (we’ll ignore the Filthy Animals stuff in WCW). He worked as a singles wrestler, in main events, cruiserweight matches and everything in between and had notable tag teams with Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Batista and Rob Van Dam, so he he has good flexibility as a worker.
Jump Up Moments: Mysterio debuted in a very good match with Kurt Angle to open SummerSlam 2002. He soon was a central part of the SmackDown Six, tearing the house down on a regular basis, including 2002 Match of the Year Contender with Edge against Chris Benoit and Angle at No Mercy 2002. He was an anchor for the cruiserweight division in 2003, winning the Cruiserweight Title three times. Mysterio teamed with Van Dam to win the Tag Team Titles, and later teamed with Eddie Guerrero to do the same. He defeated Eddie at WrestleMania 21 while still teaming, but that led to Eddie turning on Rey and starting an intense feud, that eventually led to a ladder match with custody of Rey’s son Dominic on the line, in a storyline straight from a telenovella. The ladder match took place at SummerSlam 2005 and the feud culminated in a steel cage match on SmackDown. He teamed with Batista in 2005 winning the tag team titles and feuding with MNM. Rey Rey won the 2006 Royal Rumble entering at number two and lasting 62 minutes, which is still the longevity record. At WrestleMania 22, Mysterio won the World Title in a three-way against Angle and Randy Orton. He became the ultimate underdog champion, until losing the title to King Booker at Great American Bash 2006, before starting a feud with Chavo Guerrero. He feuded with Finlay culminating in a stretcher match at Cyber Sunday 2007. He spent the majority of 2008 fueding with Kane, before lasting 49 minutes in the 2009 Royal Rumble and challenging for the World Title at No Way Out in the Elimination Chamber, where he was the last person eliminated by winner Edge. He won the Intercontinental title from JBL at WrestleMania XXV. Rey then engaged in a great feud with Chris Jericho over the IC title, with good matches at Judgment Day, Extreme Rules and The Bash 2009. Later in the year, he teamed with Batista, challenging JeriShow for the Tag Team Titles, before Batista executed a savage turn on Rey after a match at Bragging Rights 2009. He feuded with Batista through 2009 facing him in a number of good matches, including a steel cage match for the right to challenge Undertaker for the World Title at Royal Rumble 2010. Mysterio eliminated CM Punk from the Elimination Chamber, setting up their feud. Rey faced Punk in a series of good matches at WrestleMania XXVI, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit 2010. At Fatal Four-Way 2010, Mysterio won his second World Title, defeating Big Show, CM Punk and Jack Swagger, but he would lose it at Money in the Bank when Kane cashed in his briefcase. He would then feud with Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes, including losing to Rhodes at WrestleMania XXVII, before winning at Extreme Rules 2011 in a falls count anywhere match. Rey won the WWE title defeating Miz in the finals of a tournament before losing it to John Cena later the same night. In 2012 he teamed with Sin Cara. He appeared as part of the 2013 Survivor Series team with the Usos and Cody Rhodes and Goldust against The Shield and Real Americans and was part of a four-way tag team match at TLC 2013. He appeared in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX. Rey is a Royal Rumble winner, a four-time WWE Tag Team Champion, a two-time IC Champion, a three-time Cruiserweight Champion, WWE Champion and two-time World Champion.
Promos/Character: Promos are the weakness for Rey, as he was OK at best as a promo. His character was fairly one-dimensional as well, as the ultimate underdog. He did a good job conveying that character in his ring work.
Workrate: His debut match with Angle at SummerSlam 2002 is really fun and the No Mercy tag is one of the best tag matches in WWE history. His feud with Eddie Guerrero in 2005 featured very good ladder and cage matches, despite the over the top storyline. Rey had a great 2009, starting with his feud with Jericho, including great matches at Extreme Rules and the title vs. mask match at The Bash. His feud with CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society resulted in really good matches. He had great matches throughout 2011 against Punk, Rhodes and Del Rio. Rey Rey was so consistent that he’s provided fans with countless good to great matches on TV during his decade and a half with the WWE.
Staff Thoughts: Rey Mysterio’s got a strong resume of work with the company during his long tenure. Right from his debut he was having great matches with Angle, as part of the SmackDown Six and in his feud with Guerrero. He kept it up to varying degrees his whole time with the company, with his work in 2009-2011 being particularly strong. He doesn’t really have any crap during his tenure, and can be counted on week in and week out to provide good matches and entertaining TV. Rey did his talking in the ring, and always had good matches for a decade and a half, which struck a chord with voters placing him in the top 20.
From the Voters: “Top 10 lock. Might sneak in my Top 5. A true #1 candidate. One of the 2 or 3 best wrestlers who’s ever lived in-ring. The best TV match worker of all-time. Elite seller & babyface. Great singles & tag worker. 3 all time great feuds in company history with Eddie, Jericho, & Punk. Carried much lesser workers to 3 star matches multiple times. Huge merch seller & a draw in the Latino market.” – Devon Motivator Hales, June 2, 2017
“Probably a top 30 for me even though his style was never my cup of tea and he also was probably my least favorite wrestler for a while as the whole “Ultimate Underdog” who yet wins 90% of his matches and dominates feuds was super annoying. Just has too many great matches. 2009 was probably his best year imo and was probably one of the best years all time someone has had in ring. Did an awesome job as IC champion with great matches with Jericho, Ziggler, and John Morrison. Also had an impressive performance in the Elimination Chamber that year.” – Wade Ferrari, June 2, 2017
“Top 3 or 5. If there’s a bad WWE Rey Mysterio match I have yet to see it. Singles, tag, TV, PPV, Rey was the highlight of almost any show. Very memorable feuds with Jericho, Matt, Punk, and Eddie (the story was ridiculous but the matches were great). Tremendous babyface and high-flyer. The only possible knocks against him would be mic work and his disappointing World Title run but A.) his character work as the ultimate underdog got him over enough without needing to be a dynamite promo and B.) his title run was merely Rey being a victim of bad booking.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
19. Bob Backlund
Total Points: 8,929
Total Ballots: 110
Average Rank: 20.7
High Vote: 3
Low Vote: 75
High Voter: Scott Herrin; TheBestThereNeverWillBe; Karl Grant
Nuance: Bob Backlund had more than a decade with the WWF, between his initial run and his return in the early to mid 90s. He played a virtuous babyface during his first tenure and a completely different character as a crazy old man heel in the 90s. He was primarily a singles wrestler, though did win the tag team titles with Pedro Morales.
Jump Up Moments: Backlund began receiving title shots almost immediately upon his debut in 1977 and defeated Superstar Billy Graham in February 1978 for his first WWF Title. Three days after winning the title he faced NWA champion Harley Race in a 60-minute draw and challenging other champions became a theme of Backlund’s reign. He formed a tag team with Peter Maivia, who then turned on him, resulting in Backlund showing more fire and anger. In 1980, Backlund and Morales won the Tag Team Titles against the Wild Samoans at the Showdown at Shea, but had to vacate them, because no one could hold two championships at the time. Despite an unusual situation with the title being held up when a groggy referee mistakenly handed the belt to Greg Valentine and another situation where he lost the title to Antonio Inoki in Japan, Backlund’s reign is recognized as being continuous from 1978 until he lost the title to Iron Sheik in December 1983. That occurred when manager Arnold Skaaland got up off his chair for once and threw in the towel for Backlund. During this first reign Backlund had tremendous matches with Greg Valentine, Sgt. Slaughter, Ken Patera, Jimmy Snuka, Adrian Adonis, Masked Superstar, Stan Hansen and many others. Backlund surprisingly returned to the WWF in 1992 and lasted 61:10 in the 1993 Royal Rumble, a record that stood until 2004. He then challenged Bret Hart to a match in July 1994, snapping when he lost and locking Hart in the crossface chickenwing, turning heel in the process. He would go on to cut great crazed old man promos, demand that he be called Mr. Backlund, only sign autographs for fans that could recite the Presidents in order and then he attacked his former manager Skaaland. He challenged Bret Hart in a submission match for the title at Survivor Series 1994, winning the WWF Title for a second time when Owen Hart convinced Helen Hart to throw in the towel for her son. He would lose the title to Diesel a few days later. Hart would win the rematch at WrestleMania XI in an “I Quit” match. Backlund has appeared as a manager and in numerous skits and training videos since his last run. Backlund is a WWF Tag Team Champion and two-time WWF Champion.
Promos/Character: In his first run, Backlund was considered somewhat milquetoast as the All-American boy that looked like Howdy Doody, but for most of the run the fans bought in to the character. His promos were by the book and seemed bland by modern standards, but were usually effective. He cut some excellent heel promos as Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994 and his crazy old man character was gold.
Workrate: Backlund was an all-time great worker with a list of classic matches a mile long. He had an all-time Texas Death Match against Ken Patera on May 19, 1980. He had many wars with Greg Valentine, including a 60-minute draw in February of 1979, and a steel cage match at the Philadelphia Spectrum in January 1982. He foguth Jimmy Snuka in a steel cage match at MSG in 1982 when Snuka attempted his Superfly splash off the top of the cage before Backlund moved and escaped to win. He battled Sgt. Slaughter in many matches in 1981 and 1983, including a very good cage match at thee Philadelphia Spectrum March 21, 1981. The Facebook page includes a link to a tremendous match with Adrian Adonis. He had fun cage matches with Pat Patterson and Stan Hansen. He also had a series of matches with Hulk Hogan in 1980. Great matches were more rare in his return, but his match against Bret Hart, winning the title at Survivor Series is quite good. Backlund was a consistently good worker and if he had a good opponent in his first run, you were likely to see a really solid match, with even the most basic moves looking good and meaning something.
Staff Thoughts: Backlund had classic matches with anyone who could walk during his first title reign. Many voters digging into his work during this project came away gushing about his matches with Valentine, Patera, Slaughter, Adonis, and on and on, you get the idea. Some claim that he may have more good to great matches than anyone else in company history and he certainly has a case. His character seems a bit bland, but the crowds of the day were behind him, and he did great character work in his heel run in 1994. His six-year reign was the transition from Bruno Sammartino’s era to Hulk Hogan’s and he kind of gets lost to history because of that, but Backlund had a tremendous reign with tons of great matches to his name. To hear the guys talk more about Backlund, check out this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “I will write a piece on him someday. Completely and utterly unique take on wrestling psychology. Probably the greatest pure babyface working on top. Incredible feats of strength spots. Insanely versatile in the type of matches he can have: brawls with Slaughter & Patera, mat classics with Valentine, strongman matches with Hogan. The heel run in 94 bolsters his case.” – Martin Boulevard, May 29, 2017
“Something I think gets overlooked is how much the fans loved him during most of his title run. His popularity waned toward the end of 83, but go back prior and check out the huge pops he got. His milquetoast persona and stilted promos, in retrospect, make it seem like he would’ve bored crowds to death. But that wasn’t the case at all. During the territory days the WWF was built on face champs facing the heel of the month (with rematches), with the face winning in the end. The thing with Backlund that I remember most back then was he almost always seemed vulnerable and could lose at any time. His victorious comebacks made him loved even more, especially against a really hated heel like Slaughter and Valentine.” – Tim Tetreault, May 29, 2017
“Absolutely! He was the face of the WWWF for 6 or 7. Good in-ring work, not a great promo but he didn’t have to be.” – Will Gertler, May 28, 2017
18. Andre the Giant
Total Points: 9,041
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 23.3
High Vote: 5
Low Vote: 96
High Voter: Timothy Drake; Vince Male
Nuance: Andre the Giant first arrived in the WWWF in 1973 and appeared regularly until 1990, so he had great longevity. He was a beloved babyface in the 1970s and early 1980s before turning to become the number one heel in 1987. He was primarily a singles star, but won tag team gold with Haku as the Colossal Connection. Andre had a presence like no one else has had before or since. He was clearly larger than life, but he was also tremendously charismatic and engaging, leading to him becoming one of the biggest stars in the company for more than a decade.
Jump Up Moments: Andre battled boxer Chuck Wepner in an unscripted boxer vs. wrestler fight on the undercard of the Muhammad Ali/Antonio Inoki fight and Andre threw Wepner over the top rope to end the bout. In 1981, Killer Khan dropped a knee from the top rope, breaking Andre’s ankle and kickstarting their feud. The two faced off in a number of matches before Andre decisively defeated Khan in a Mongolian stretcher match at the Philadelphia Spectrum in November 1981. Andre had a long-standing feud with Big John Studd over who was the true giant of pro wrestling. In 1984, Studd and Ken Patera knocked Andre out and cut his hair while “raping him of his dignity” according to Vince McMahon. That led to the bodyslam challenge match that Andre won at the first WrestleMania. At WrestleMania 2, Andre won the battle royal that also included NFL players. He continued feuding with the Heenan Family, particularly Studd and King Kong Bundy, appearing as Giant Machine after being suspended before he was mysteriously reinstated with Heenan’s approval. In early 1987, Hulk Hogan was presented with a trophy for being World Champion for three years and the next week Andre was presented a smaller trophy for being “undefeated” before Hogan came out to congratulate him and steal the spotlight causing Andre to walk off. The next week the two met on Piper’s Pit, with Andre accompanied by Heenan. Andre challenged Hogan for his title, attacking him and ripping off his cross necklace. The two went on to main event WrestleMania III, filling the Pontiac Silverdome in the most famous main event at the time, and maybe of all-time. Andre would continue to feud with Hogan, with the two facing off as captains of teams at the inaugural Survivor Series, with Andre as the sole survivor. The feud continued with Andre defeating Hogan on The Main Event in February 1988, winning the World Title before selling it to the Million Dollar Man. The win was tainted, as the wrong Hebner counted the pin, leading to the title being held up and a tournament set for WrestleMania IV, where Hogan and Andre battled to a double-DQ. At the first SummerSlam, Andre teamed with DiBiase as the Mega-Bucks to take on the Mega-Powers of Hogan and Randy Savage in a fun main event. Andre then feuded with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, before moving on to Jake “The Snake” Roberts who exposed Andre’s fear of snakes and caused him to have a “mild heart attack.” Andre lost to Roberts at WrestleMania V when he was DQ’d by special referee Big John Studd. Andre faced off against the Ultimate Warrior in a series of house show matches in late 1989, usually losing quickly. He then formed the Colossal Connection with fellow Heenan Family member Haku, winning the Tag Team Championship from Demolition in December 1989. The Colossal Connection lost the belts back to Demolition at WrestleMania VI, with Heenan blaming Andre for the loss, allowing him to turn babyface after the match. He would appear sporadically for the next few years, as a babyface, but Andre’s in-ring career for the WWF was mostly over at this point.
Promos/Character: Andre was not the most articulate promo in the world. However, he was such a presence and so charismatic that he’s one of the most well-known characters the company ever had. Non-wrestling fans know who Andre was, and he was a huge attraction for nearly two decades in the company.
Workrate: While Andre’s not a traditional workrate warrior, he’s had many good matches, thought most of them did not happen in the WWF. However, he has some highlight matches like the Killer Khan Mongolian stretcher match and the main event of the first SummerSlam is quite good as well. The main event of WrestleMania III is not necessarily a traditionally great workrate match, but was worked to perfection and must be seen for the atmosphere, and that doesn’t happen with any other wrestler challenging Hogan.
Staff Thoughts: Andre’s the one wrestler that seems to break the NJPW scoring system, because whenever you try to analyze workrate and promos, he’s likely to score poorly. But then you say to yourself, “c’mon he’s Andre!” And that’s a valid argument, because there’s no one else like Andre, his presence and charisma are off the charts. He was part of the main event that really put the WWF on the map at WrestleMania III. Add that to his role as a huge attraction for the company from 1973 on and he’s a no-brainer for the list. C’mon, he’s Andre, Boss! You can hear the guys talk more about Andre on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “One of the biggest draws/attractions of all-time, half of the biggest match in wrestling history. No doubt he’s on the list.”- Ben Habur, May 28, 2017
“You can look at all the stuff he didn’t have like mic skills or workmate, but when it comes to Andre does it even matter. Andre helped make the WWF what it is today. There will never be a better giant to get in the squared circle. Some may have what he didn’t but no one can match the presence he was.”- Matt Rotella, May 29, 2017
“If I’m judging on importance to promotion I’d put him at a ten (I think he has a case for being the most important personality in company history actually). I’d put him as a 10
As a character/star. We can say his promos sucked artistically, but the goal of promos is drawing people and Andre did that so I’m not sure him being indiscernible has a shred of value as a criticism. I give him a ten on memorable moments because even seeing Andre was the moment – he’s literally and figuratively the most significant attraction in company history. I thought he was shockingly adaptable as an old broken down man. There is a lot of variance between scared of Jakes Snake and teaming with Haku. As a worker I think he’s a challenge to rate, but I wouldn’t give him negative points. Longevity is a huge plus. Will probably make my top 10.”- Dylan Hales, July 7, 2017
17. Daniel Bryan
Total Points: 9,175
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 22.4
High Vote: 4
Low Vote: 90
High Voter: Steven Graham
Nuance: Daniel Bryan had only five years time with WWE, so longevity works against him. He showed great flexibility, working as a heel and a babyface and a singles and tag worker. Bryan’s connection to the crowd was on a level many thought we’d never see again in WWE, and he showed great intangibles and little touches to form that connection.
Jump Up Moments: Bryan was originally part of the Nexus, before being turfed from the group and fired in real-life for choking Justin Roberts with his tie on TV. He would return as part of Team WWE facing the Nexus at SummerSlam 2010. He defeated Miz to win the US Title at Night of Champions 2010, and faced Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler at Bragging Rights 2010 in a good match, before losing the belt to Sheamus on Raw. Bryan won the 2011 Money in the Bank ladder match, beginning a storyline with World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry, where he cashed in his MITB briefcase, but the decision was reversed because Henry was not medically cleared to compete. He cashed in the MITB briefcase against Big Show at TLC 2011 winning his first World Championship. As World Champion, he began a slow heel turn including excessive victory celebrations and was also involved in a romantic storyline with AJ Lee. He successfully defended his title in a three-way cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry, before losing it in 18-seconds to Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVII after a good luck kiss from AJ. He had a great two-out-of-three falls match against Sheamus at Extreme Rules. Bryan then entered into a three-way feud with CM Punk and Kane for the WWE championship, with AJ involved again. This resulted in Bryan proposing to AJ, but her leaving him at the altar to accept the permanent General Manager of Raw position. AJ then forced Bryan to battle Kane repeatedly and then enrolled the two in anger management classes, resulting in them forming the tag team Team Hell No. Team Hell No won the WWE Tag Team Titles and holding them until Extreme Rules 2013 when they lost them to The Shield. Team Hell No also teamed with Ryback to challenge The Shield at TLC 2012 in a classic match. Bryan wanted to prove he was not the weak link in Team Hell No, leading to dissention and the team dissolving, as Bryan’s popularity increased. WWE Champion John Cena picked Bryan as his opponent at SummerSlam 2013 in an all-time classic match that saw Bryan win the title, before being turned on by Triple H, allowing Randy Orton to cash in his MITB briefcase and end Bryan’s reign. This caused Bryan to feud with the Authority, who labeled him a “B+ player,” and Bryan feuded with Orton for the remainder of the year, before seemingly being moved onto a feud with the Wyatt Family. However, fans turned on the Royal Rumble match and eventual winner Batista, because Bryan was not included in the Rumble. This led to the Yes! Movement occupying Raw giving Bryan the opportunity to earn his way into the main event of WrestleMania XXX. Bryan had a great match with Triple H to open WrestleMania XXX, before winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title in the main event in a great feel good moment. Bryan had to undergo neck surgery in May, resulting in him being stripped of the title, and being out until Royal Rumble 2015. Bryan’s participation in the 2015 Royal Rumble caused fans to boo eventual winner Roman Reigns because they preferred Bryan. Bryan faced Reigns at Fastlane in a good match, before winning the Intercontinental Title in a ladder match at WrestleMania 31. Bryan would again face major injury, eventually leading to his retirement as a full-time in-ring competitor from WWE and his retirement speech in 2016. He currently serves as the GM of SmackDown. He is a Money in the Bank winner, a WWE Tag Team Champion, US Champion, IC Champion, WWE Heavyweight Champion and a three-time WWE Champion.
Promos/Character: Bryan is a capable promo, but played one of the more compelling characters the company has ever had. He captured lightning in a bottle with the Yes! Movement, and Bryan connected as a babyface in a way few ever had, forcing the company’s hand into putting him in the main event of WrestleMania XXX. He had other good character work with Team Hell No and the anger management class and his angle with AJ Lee. His retirement speech was a great heartfelt promo that was very memorable.
Workrate: Daniel Bryan is a terrific wrestler and on the short-list of the best workers the WWE has ever had. He’s terrific in every match and he has a nice list of classic matches as well. His match against Cena at SummerSlam 2013 is an all-time classic. The six-man match with Kane and Ryback against The Shield at TLC 2013 is another great one. He had good matches with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt in late 2013 and early 2014 in the Authority angle. His match against Triple H in the opener of WrestleMania XXX is one of the greatest openers in company history.
Staff Thoughts: The goat-faced Daniel Bryan showed himself closer to the GOAT than a B-plus player with our voters. He’s a terrific in-ring wrestler putting on great matches with anyone he faced, particularly in 2013-14. Add to his list of classics the fact that he formed a connection with fans that only the top stars in company history have seen. Unfortunately, that fire burned bright, but burned out quickly due to injury. Still, echoing Bryan’s own words, fans were grateful for that run and had not expected the level of success he achieved in the WWE. This incredible brief yet hot streak resonated with our voters, who recognized his greatness in the ring and as a character. You can hear the guys talk more about Bryan on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “He’s definitely on my list. Probably top 20. He was getting Austin 98 level pops when no one thought we’d ever hear that kind of reaction again for current WWE talent. Promo skills were fine, came off as more an everyman than others but that was part of his appeal: he was the lovable underdog that everyone related to bc he worked his beard off having great matches while HHH and company kept him down bc he was too small. While it wasn’t by design at first, the Bryan madness from Rumble 14 to WM XXX will never be forgotten, IMO. Also deserves a special mention for the great Team Hell No run with Kane. A team that was entertaining that had no right to be.” – Dennis Nunez, May 29, 2017
“Even as an opener in PPVs with Ziggler and Miz, he was often in the best match of the night. He made Kane a watchable tag team partner. Live, he put on amazing tv performances (Cena match, Austin gauntlet, TLC handicap match). Insanely over for years DESPITE bad booking. Had many people’s greatest matches of their career (not his) during that time including losers like HHH and Bray Wyatt. Top ten candidate for me.” – Good Ol’ Will from Texas, May 29, 2017
“Great as both a heel and face and could work any style of match. He’s a little hurt by only being there for 5 years. That being said his connection to the crowd was insane. He was over huge as just plain old underdog Daniel Bryan but was as over as almost anyone ever as the robbed champion leading the yes movement.” – Aaron George, May 30, 2017
16. Brock Lesnar
Total Points: 9,269
Total Ballots: 116
Average Rank: 21.4
High Vote: 3
Low Vote: 96
High Voter: Microstatistics
Nuance: Brock Lesnar had a two-year run with the company in 2002-2004, and has had a five-year run of extremely limited appearances, so longevity is his weakness in this project. He’s been both a babyface and a heel during his run, almost exclusively as a singles star. Brock Lesnar has a presence that makes him and his matches feel special, his aura means every match he’s in is a big match.
Jump Up Moments: Lesnar debuted in 2002, steamrolling through the Hardys before winning the 2002 King of the Ring and defeating The Rock for the WWE Undisputed title at SummerSlam. He then feuded with the Undertaker including a tremendous Hell in a Cell Match at No Mercy 2002. Lesnar turned babyface and won the 2003 Royal Rumble, facing Kurt Angle in a very good match at WrestleMania XIX, winning the WWE Championship. He feuded with Big Show in 2003, having good matches and collapsing the ring with a superplex. He renewed his rivalry with Angle, facing him at SummerSlam 2003 and on SmackDown in an Ironman Match, where Lesnar again won the WWE Championship. He lost the belt in a great match against Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out 2004. He faced Goldberg at WrestleMania XX in a debacle memorable for fans turning on both guys. Lesnar returned to the company in 2012, instantly having a classic match with John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012. He then faced Triple H at SummerSlam 2012, WrestleMania 29 and in a steel cage match at Extreme Rules 2013. He had a classic match with CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013. Lesnar faced the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX ending his undefeated streak in one of the most shocking moments in company history. He then destroyed Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2014. Lesnar had a great match against Cena and Seth Rollins at Royal Rumble 2015. He then took Roman Reigns to Suplex City, Bitch, in an excellent match at WrestleMania 31, before Rollins cashed in to win the title. He would then battle the Undertaker at SummerSlam 2015 and in a Cell match at HIAC 2015. He faced Reigns and Dean Ambrose at Fastlane 2016 in a good match for the title shot at WrestleMania 32, which went to Reigns. At Survivor Series 2016, he faced Goldberg, losing in 1 minute 26 seconds, before gaining his revenge at WrestleMania 33 winning the Universal Championship one of the greatest sub-five minute matches ever. He defended the title in a good four-way match at SummerSlam and had a great champion vs. champion match against AJ Styles at Survivor Series. Lesnar is a Royal Rumble winner, King of the Ring winner, four-time WWE Champion and WWE Universal Champion.
Promos/Character: Brock has had limited promo time, usually being paired with Paul Heyman, who does his talking for him. But Lesnar has an aura of believability from his MMA background an in part due to his part-time schedule that few other performers have ever brought to the table.
Workrate: Lesnar’s list of great matches rivals anyone’s. The HIAC match against Undertaker at No Mercy 2002 is a top end Cell match. His match with Angle at WrestleMania XIX is best known for his missed shooting star press, but was an excellent battle before that, as was the SummerSlam 2003 match between the two. His match against Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out is excellent and provided a feel-good moment for Eddie. Upon his return, Lesnar had all-time classics with Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 and CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013. The three-way match at Royal Rumble 2015 is another great match. His match with Reigns at WrestleMania 31 is on the short-list of best Mania main events. The three-way match at Fastlane 2016 against Reigns and Ambrose was very good. His match with Goldberg at WrestleMania 33 was a great power match being exactly what it needed to be. In 2017, he had good matches at SummerSlam against Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman and against A.J. Styles at Survivor Series.
Staff Thoughts: Brock has an aura that no other wrestler has, partly because he’s a legit badass and partly because of his part-time schedule. Still, over the course of both stints, he has a list of classic matches that most would envy. Longevity and the fact that he doesn’t have more matches on PPV and TV to support his case are his only weaknesses. Still, Lesnar is a one of a kind attraction and has given us great matches in both the early 2000s and last few years, making him an easy top 100 wrestler. Hear the guys talk more about Brock on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Part-time or not, the owner of three of the best WWE matches of the last 5 years (Cena ’12, Punk SummerSlam, Reigns Mania). Incredibly ratio of great matches in his limited appearances (rumble triple threat, fast lane triple threat, goldberg mania on top). Should finish high.” – Brad Warren, May 29, 2017
“His mystique is enormous. There are few other figures in wrestling history who could do what he does, cast the kind of shadow he casts. He’s capable of great matches and adaptable to different styles and opponents. He can talk, but he doesn’t need to. Only thing holding him back–and it’s a big one–is that he’s not around more. Imagine where he’d be on this list if he’d been full-time from 2002 forward.” – Ben Morse, May 30, 2017
“Brock will make my list. His biggest flaws are being a detriment to current WWE booking & that period in 03 when he was miscast as a babyface. Too many great matches & performances over the years to keep him off. ER 2012 vs Cena, Summerslam 2014 vs Cena, Summerslam 2013 vs Punk, RR 2015 triple threat, WM 31 vs Roman, & WM 33 vs Goldberg are all top 100 WWE matches of all time just in this run alone. He’s generally excellent in other matches that aren’t as great. He’s also a great promo (watch the Lesnar-Cena video package for Extreme Rules 2012).” – Devon Motivator Hales, May 30, 2017