“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.
54. Billy Graham
Total Points: 4,355
Total Ballots: 83
Average Rank: 48.6
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Grady Blount
Nuance: Superstar was cool baby! There was no cooler cat in the promotion throughout the 70s. There was a bigger cat, but we’ve probably been raked over the coals enough for him not being higher on the list. Billy Graham was absolutely an innovator and his influence can still be felt on the world of wrestling today. His promo style and… workout regiment would go on to inspire Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan and the Incredible Hulk. He was one of the first cool heels the territory had seen, with his flashy tights and feathered boas enraging fans to no end as he snuck away with the WWF Title night after night. His face run years later was marred by kung fu and attempting to turn Don Muraco into a literal rock, but hey, they can’t all be winners. He is extremely underrated when it comes to having the most wrinkled head known to man.
Jump Up Moments: Superstar became the first heel to hold the WWWF title for a substantial period of time when he defeated Bruno Sammartino on April 30, 1977. His run of defenses against Dusty Rhodes are still looked back on fondly. Throughout his nearly year-long run he had memorable matches with Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund and Mil Mascaras, of all fucking people. Returned for a short stint in 1982 but did little else besides smash a title belt and lose to Bob Backlund. Old Man Graham required a hip replacement so Butch Reed and One Man Gang beat his ass for being a jive soul bro. Convinced Don Muraco he was Jesus Christ. Nearly ruined the first SummerSlam.
Promos/Character: Here’s where his influence truly lies. Is he a better promo than some of the greats we have seen since him? Of course not, but there was no one, no one in the promotion doing what he did on the mic in the 1970s. It’s no surprise that his feud with Dusty Rhodes popped, both guys could sling words with the best of them. Check out his promos leading up to those matches, or in the build up to fighting Bob Backlund. Graham shines with a mic in his hand (or shoved in his face); he was smooth and very comfortable off the cuff. It’s no surprise that when many of us heard there was a preacher named Billy Graham we were horribly disappointed that it wasn’t the Superstar shepherding the congregation.
Workrate: Some people despise his work while others seem to have outed him as merely adequate. What is undeniable is that he was effective. His every move was booed out of the building in some matches. Wrestling as a heel has its challenges, especially when you’re jacked to the gills, but Superstar played it perfectly. Despite his size, he appeared weak and cowardly, which did nothing but enhance his status as one of the most hated men in the promotion. His selling of beatings as though he was being killed is an oft-overlooked aspect of his in ring game.
Staff Thoughts: Billy Graham was a heel champ for nearly a year in an era when that didn’t fly for the McMahons. He kept his spot with his over the top personality and crazy connection with the fans. His influence is huge and he’s still a ton of fun to watch today. It’s no surprise he landed so close to the top half of this list, he’s a god damn superstar!
From the Voters: “Superstar was a trend-setter. Ventura and Hogan both borrowed from Graham for their look and personas. Ring-wise, he was solid if unspectacular but he had the crowd in the palm of his hand with that charisma. He was way before his time and is easily remembered by any fan from his era. He was probably Macho Man to Bruno’s Hogan.” – Chris Jordan, May 29, 2017
“Has to be in the top 100. Although I’m going to be completely honest here: despite their influence, I haven’t been blown away by his promos. He comes off as doing a very low end Ali impression.” – Greg Phillips, June 12, 2017
“Superstar makes it on my list, somewhere in the middle. I think everyone else on here has hit the nail on the head in describing him so no need for me to repeat everything. Regarding his workrate, WWWF/WWF was never a workrate company. You had exceptions, especially Backlund’s matches, but otherwise style definitely ruled over substance. Bruno was the most popular wrestler pre-Hogan and he was pretty much punch-kick-punch-kick-bearhug. Yet he was a megastar because of his charisma and Everyman persona. You didn’t want to see Bruno wrestler, you wanted to see him kick ass. Same thing with Superstar, his super style more than made up for his lack of substance. I think his 83 and 87 returns hurt his legacy, but not enough to knock him out of the top 50 for me. Workrate, for me, really has to be looked at on an era basis, especially if you’re more a fan of the modern product.” – Tim Tetreault, August 10, 2017
Total Points: 4,378
Total Ballots: 96
Average Rank: 55.4
High Vote: 15
Low Vote: 94
High Voter: Dean Coles
Nuance: Is there anything that Sheamus isn’t good at? Great heel, fun face, excellent tag team worker. There are few guys who have had that much variety in such a short amount of time as Sheamus. He’s been in the promotion nearly ten years and has reinvented himself many times along his shameful, lobster-headed run. Who screams “FELLA!!” better than Sheamus? No one. Not Bob Backlund, not Hugo Chavez, NO ONE. He also goes full tilt into whatever he’s doing. Need someone to dress up like the Celtic Kings of lore? Sheamus is there. Want a guy who will disfigure his face and live every waking moment in a living hell because of his hair? Sheamus O’Shaunessy Patrick Fitzgerald will do it! Just good Lord keep him out of the sun!
Jump Up Moments: Won the WWE title from John Cena at TLC 2009 after being in the promotion a couple of months. Had the honor of laying down for Triple H at WrestleMania XXVI and then at Extreme Rules beat up The Game so bad he was out for ten months. TEN MONTHS. That’s huge for a guy who was nearly murdered in a car and recovered in a week and a half. Those kicks are stronger than a car! On June 20, 2010 won the WWE title for a second time in a Fatal Four-Way match. Won the 2010 King of the Ring Tournament, beating Kofi Kingston and John Morrison along the way. At TLC 2010 had an excellent ladder match with Morrison. Irish cursed with the King of the Ring title, started 2011 on a bit of a losing streak but eventually won the US title from Daniel Bryan. Turned face by simply saying “I’ll fight him,” in reference to Mark Henry’s open challenge. At SummerSlam 2011 had one of the more satisfying countout losses to Mark Henry. Won the 2012 Royal Rumble, last eliminating a silent Chris Jericho. Beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 28 to win the World Heavyweight title and at Extreme Rules had possibly the best match of his career against Bryan as they battled in a two out of three falls match. Would have a solid, if unspectacular year defending against Alberto Del Rio, Christian and Dolph Ziggler. Sheamus lost the Title at Hell in a Cell against the Big Show in another fun match. Teamed with John Cena and Randy Orton to go down in defeat to the Shield at Elimination Chamber 2013. Sheamus helped legitimize the first Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale at WrestleMania XXX. Helped legitimize himself as he searched the world for his father. Won the 2015 Money in the Bank and cashed in to win the WWE Title at Survivor Series 2015. Had a great best of seven series against Cesaro throughout 2016. When their series ended in a draw, started what could have been a disaster and teamed with Cesaro. It was no disaster though as they became one of the best teams of the last decade having a wonderful Survivor Series 2016 and then defeating the New Day at TLC 2016. With Cesaro was involved in the great tag team ladder match at WrestleMania 33. Again with Cesaro had a tag team Iron Man Match at (sigh) Great Balls of Fire against the Hardys that far exceeded expectations.
Promos/Character: Probably his weakest category, but at times could still cut a strong promo, especially as a heel. There was something great about the scary Irish guy who said little, cried, then beat your ass. As soon as he started calling Del Rio “Berty” the promos became cringe-inducing. His “you look stupid” era was lazy on the writer’s behalf but his character work in his tag run with Cesaro has been tremendous. The slow transition from them hating one another into friends is seldom done right but they nailed it.
Workrate: Sheamus is a great, hard-hitting worker who rarely gets the credit he deserves. His consistency is stunning as he almost always is involved in one of the better matches on the card. He’s excellent on his own, solid in a team and is always a glue guy during multi-man ladder matches or Royal Rumbles. His moves are crisp, stiff and look legit every step of the way. Sheamus has a repertoire of signature spots that work every time he’s out there. Ten Beats of the Bowery, The Irish Curse, the Celtic Cross, the Fella Scream, they all work. The Brogue Kick is a killer finish as well. He’s just a guy that you want to see work every night and are rarely let down by.
Staff Thoughts: Man, if the rumors are true that he’s winding down due to injury the WWE is going to be much, much poorer for it. Sheamus really has done it all over the past decade and has succeeded in nearly every position on the card. Despite there being way to many limes, when you get right down to it, Sheamus more than deserves a place on this list. He also deserves a tan. He’s earned it. FELLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
From the Voters: “I love Sheamus. Awesome TV worker. One of the best in company history. Loads of good to great matches. Great tag & singles worker. Good up & down the card. Great offense, great learned psychology, great selling. At times has had a very entertaining character & at other times a pretty lousy character. His 2012 is one of the better in-ring years ever for a WWE wrestler. Gets lost in the WWE shuffle sometimes which hurts him. He’s on my list. Bottom half somewhere.” – Devon Motivator Hales, June 2, 2017
“Pretty much close your eyes and point to a episode of Smackdown in 2011-2012 and it will have a good sheamus match” – Brian Meyer, June 6, 2017
“Won’t make my list…boring character…can’t work heel or face, promos suck, feel bad Cesaro is stuck with him right now” – Mike Thomas, June 16, 2017
52. Big Boss Man
Total Points: 4,428
Total Ballots: 107
Average Rank: 59.6
High Vote: 20
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Andrew Lacelle
Nuance: Quite frankly, until you’ve taken a trip down to Cobb County Georgia, read the signs and respected the law and order it’s hard to get a grasp on the aura of one Big Boss Man. Hated as a heel, beloved as a face, Ray Traylor was able to pull off both in two very different eras. All while having one of the mosts memorable theme songs off all time and… one of the most boring one-note theme songs of all time! He was a paradox. Virtuous and good when faced with the same corruption that plagues modern police forces, but when pushed, could be the most heinously evil man walking God’s green Earth. His original run was about five years with another two and a half tacked on at the end; so he… did his time… so to speak.
Jump Up Moments: Upon entry into the WWF, Boss Man was quickly inserted into a feud with Hulk Hogan, culminating with that awesome cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Despite being a correctional officer, he allied himself with a known pimp and fraudulent African to form the Twin Towers. Along with Akeem was a catalyst in the breakup of the Mega Powers during The Main Event in February of 1989. The Towers would go on to have a fun match with the Rockers at WrestleMania V, as well as a decent six man teaming with Andre against Demolition at SummerSlam 1989. Left Dusty Rhodes a bloody, beaten mess at the 1989 Survivor Series. Rather than take a bribe, turned face in early 1990 which led to a squishing of Akeem at Mania VI. Became almost the de facto number three face in the company as he helped Hogan battle Earthquake. Towards the end of 1990 got in the best shape of his career, which drew the ire of Rick Rude and the Heenan Family. They mercilessly mocked his mother, so he systematically worked his way through them all. His match with Barbarian at Royal Rumbe ‘91 was a highlight as was his clash with Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania VII. Put the Mountie in jail in the summer of 1991, but in truth the moment is much more remembered for Mountie’s antics. Was a FORCE in the 1992 Royal Rumble, until the bizarre convulsion that led to his elimination. In mid-92 was…ahem… nailed by one of his former inmates. The beatdown was legendary, the inevitable night stick match was not. Before leaving the promotion did a hell of a job putting over Bam Bam Bigelow at the 1993 Royal Rumble. Returned to the company in 1998 as Mr.McMahon’s head of security. Became an important cog in the Corporation, winning the Tag Team Titles with Ken Shamrock as well as the Hardcore Title. Killed a dog and served it to Al Snow in the form of steak. Mind-fucked Big Show into thinking his father had died, and then when the man did die, turned a low-key family mourning into a legendary affair. Mentored Bull Buchanan as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Promos/Character: Boss Man made the most of his southern drawl, and he yelled and screamed about law, order, and justice. He was confident on the mic, articulate and even made you believe, if for the briefest of moments, that he was a legitimate police officer. His promo as Dusty Rhodes is being carried from the ring at Survivor Series 1989 is a picture of a man in full command of his vocal faculties. He also had a way of just making you believe in his virtue as a face. He was a cop for Christ’s sake! Why wouldn’t you be on his side. His turn into most evil man on Earth is spectacular though. In a business that has housed horrible, horrible people, Boss Man stands alone atop Mount Despicable. He reveled in killing that dog. He presumably built that giant megaphone with which he ruined that funeral. No man enjoyed being evil more than Ray Traylor.
Workrate: One of the best big men of all time. By 1991 he was in such great shape that he moved around like a guy a hundred pounds lighter. Despite his size could also work believably from underneath. Check out his selling in his matches against Earthquake and Bam Bam Bigelow for further evidence. Oh and the punches! Oh, the punches. He slowed down considerably in his second run, but was still a welcome addition to the roster and fit nicely into the Hardcore division.
Staff Thoughts: The Big Boss Man was a super-memorable character who improved so much in his first few years. Just think of his first few months. That shirt would get untucked EVERY single time he wrestled. By 1990 that tuck was so strong that we never saw that correctional belly again. Sure he was involved in one of the worst matches of all time and was later literally hanged in the center of the ring, but really, who could have had a match surrounded by those shitting dogs? Certainly not the Junkyard Dog, or the Dog Faced Gremlin, or Road Dogg; no, they’d be shitting along with their compatriots. Boss Man could be counted on to take dog shit and turn it into steak. A stud in the ring, a monster in the graveyard, Ray Traylor was an entertaining son of a bitch, always delivered and the hours spent watching his matches were definitely not HARD TIMES.
From the Voters: “1990-1991 was where he shined. This guy was huge over as a babyface. As he dealt with injuries sure he deteriorated some. But still a great character. And I have a soft spot for the early work he did in his 1998 return. A great way to reinvent a character from the Federation era and make him feel at home in the Attitude era. I feel somewhere in the middle third for him, that 40-65 range.” – David Mann, June 8, 2017
“One of the most agile, entertaining big men ever. Was believable as both heel and babyface. Had some great matches with Hogan. I was convinced he was actually a former prison guard as a kid, even though I recognized him as Big Bubba from Crockett TV.” – Mike Andrews, June 8, 2017
“Had hellacious runs as both heel and face in the late 80s and early 90s. Good matches with the Mega Powers, and a guy who put on really fun squash exhibitions. Got over with a unique character that could have tanked. Physically diminished in his later run, but still had a presence and could deliver a good promo.” – Ben Morse, June 7, 2017
51. Sean Waltman
Total Points: 4,485
Total Ballots: 98
Average Rank: 55.2
High Vote: 26
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Jamie McGleave
Nuance: Sean Waltman had about a three-year run as the 1-2-3 Kid and another four years as X-Pac, so solid longevity with the company. He was a great underdog babyface as the 1-2-3 Kid and played both a heel and babyface as X-Pac. He had a singles run and successful tag teams with multiple partners, including Marty Jannetty, Bob Holly, Kane and others.
Jump Up Moments: The Kid’s victory over Razor Ramon was one of the most memorable moments of the early years of Raw. His tag team with Marty Jannetty was fun and led to a surprising Tag Team Title reign and a very good match with the Quebecers. His match with Bret Hart on the July 11, 1994 Raw was one of the great matches of the early Raws. Kid formed a tag team with Bob Holly, winning the vacant Tag Team Titles in a strong match with Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka at the 1995 Royal Rumble, leading to the Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor angle. Waltman’s return to the company as X-Pac was a huge moment in the Monday Night Wars, as he was one of the first defectors back to the WWF side and he cut a scathing promo on WCW the night after WrestleMania XIV. X-Pac was a huge part of the Attitude Era with D-Generation X and he formed a solid tag team with Kane, before turning on him and feuding with the Big Red Machine. While his star dimmed toward the end of his run, he still churned out real good matches with a variety of new talent.
Promos/Character: X-Pac’s promo when joining the D-X “Army” felt like one of the signals that WWF was turning a page and that the momentum in the Monday Night Wars was shifting back to New York. In other promos, X-Pac was solid, if unspectacular. The 1-2-3 Kid was a great white meat babyface underdog, though the heel Kid left a bit to be desired. X-Pac was a fine character in his initial stages with D-X, but his character grew stale rapidly. This lack of character evolution was likely one of the driving forces in fans turning against him by 2001, leading to the much debated “X-Pac heat” term. At any rate, by the time X-Factor was a thing, fans had tired of the character.
Workrate: Whether he was The Kid or X-Pac, Waltman was one of the best and most consistent workers of his time. Always a great TV worker, Waltman filled the time and even had decent matches in Russo’s Attitude Era Crash TV environment. His match with Bret Hart on Raw is one to track down, the “Clique” tag team match with Razor Ramon against Shawn Michaels and Diesel is another highlight and his tag matches with Jannetty were good as well. As X-Pac, he had solid feuds and matches with Jeff Jarrett, D’Lo Brown, Tajiri and got a decent showing out of Shane McMahon at WrestleMania XV.
Staff Thoughts: Two distinct characters during two very different eras and being one of the best in-ring workers during each of those eras gets Waltman on the list. The upset of Razor and match with Bret on the early Raws, along with the two short tag-team runs and feud with Razor might have gotten Kid on the list. X-Pac was a memorable character and part of one of the most popular factions during one of the hottest periods of all time for the company. That along with his famous promo on his re-debut and solid workrate with everybody he worked with at the time might have gotten X-Pac on alone. Having both the X-Pac and 1-2-3 Kid work is more than enough to overcome X-Factor and their god-awful music and earn a place on the list. Hear what the guys had to say about Waltman on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “He’s in. Great during the New Generation Era. One of, if not the best worker in the company during those years. The X-Pac character sucked, but he was still having good matches up until he left in 02. A few great moments in 93-94 as Dylan mentioned help his case as well. X-Pac got really old even for me as an 8-9 year old kid. Bottom quarter.” – Devon Motivator Hales, June 2, 2017
“Big fan of Xpac and 123 kid. Doesn’t get the credit he deserves for breaking barriers for smaller guys getting a push. The upset win over Razor Ramon was truly shocking. Great angle. He’s in my top 100.” – Troy Brostrom, June 30, 2017
“Easily in. Consistently solid worker week to week. Probably the best wrestler during the god awful 1999. Faint praise? Yes, but at least it’s something. Provided one of the earliest great moments on the flagship show.” – Brian Meyer, June 3, 2017
50. Booker T
Total Points: 4,495
Total Ballots: 98
Average Rank: 55.1
High Vote: 18
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Michael DeDamos
Nuance: Right here you’ve got one of the most successful imports from another promotion right there. Booker succeeded on both sides of the alignment and was great on his own or tagging with some FREAK. There was a period of time where he was legitimately one of the top babyfaces in the promotion; his spinarooni connected with the fans and his inspirational story should have easily culminated with a title win at WrestleMania. Perhaps WrestleMania XIX. Strange that never hhhapened. Six years in the promotion checks the longevity box, and surviving the Alliance scored him some points as well.
Jump Up Moments: Debuted by jumping Steve Austin at the 2001 King of the Ring. The next moth was part of the excellent ten man tag at the Invasion pay per view. Spent the summer of 2001 feuding with the Rock and the winter getting his ass beat in a grocery store by Steve Austin. In the spring of 2002 started a film discussion show with Goldust that sadly wasn’t picked up by any of the major networks. Also went above and beyond the Rock’s performance in the Scorpion King. And I’ve got a sword TOO! Teamed with Goldust for the better part of the year finally winning the World Tag Team Titles at Armageddon 2002. Had the honor of feuding with Triple H at WrestleMania XIX during the time he was arguably the top good guy in the company. On July 7, 2003 Booker defeated Christian to win the Intercontinental Title. It is still unclear if he did this to celebrate the American Thanksgiving, sucka. At the 2003 Survivor Series, the other Mr. T was part of Steve Austin’s team in and excellent Survivor Series style match. On February 16, 2004 Booker tagged with RVD to reform the ALLIANCE and win the World Tag Team Titles. Along with the Dudley Boyz was traded to Smackdown for Triple H. WHAT A DEAL!!! Feuded with John Cena in the summer of 2004 and won the WWE US title in an eight man elimination match. While their chemistry was questionable at times, fought John Cena in a generally well received best of five series. In 2005 fought a best of seven series, this time trying to recapture that old WCW magic with Chris Benoit. WON THE KING OF THE RING TOURNAMENT IN 2006! After the win everything was pure gold. Defeated Rey Mysterio at the Great American Bash 2006 to win the World Heavyweight Title. Had William Regal scream “All Hail King Booker,” for what felt like a half an hour through a commercial break. Returned to a MASSIVE pop at the 2011 Royal Rumble.
Promos/Character: Booker T was a fun promo who could do the serious and the silly. His catchphrases worked great including the whole ‘Now can you dig that…SUCKAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Sadly he never found a coherent way to tell us how many titles he had won. He absolutely thrived as King Booker though. He changed every aspect of his countenance, right down to the look on his face. He was the most benevolent king the Federation had ever seen, as no one, and I mean no one has ever immersed themselves in the royal regalia more than Book. His accent was hilarious and his interactions with the plebeians made for special television every time he was on. All Hail King Booker indeed!
Workrate: Booker was a solid in ring hand whose moves always looked crisp and painful. Surprisingly agile for a man his size he combined a great brawling style with a hint of high flying that few had. Seemed the slow waaaaay down when wrestling as a heel so it’s unsurprising that his better matches are when he’s fighting for the good.
Staff Thoughts: Booker T would probably make this list without King Booker but we’re unsure if he’d be as high. He came in hot, got cooled down, got hot again then coasted for a few years until ambition drove him to the throne. One of the few survivors from the dreadful Invasion, Booker deserves all the credit in the world for finding his own niche in a very crowded company. Whether you wanted a serious feud or just a laugh Booker was your man. TONIGHT!
From the Voters: “I like Booker and always have. He definitely gets in based on a number of memorable moments, storylines and promos, not to mention some fine matches along the way. The reason he won’t rank super high for me is, primarily, that he often found himself in a no man’s land of sorts, in my eyes — as a heel, his promos were sensational but his matches were often dull. As a babyface, his matches were exciting but his promos were dull. He had a natural in-ring babyface charisma that sometimes was at odds with his natural arrogant heel persona. Still, a tremendous character and a good performer, so he’s in.” – Greg Phillips, June 8, 2017
“Maybe the greatest African American wrestler of all time. Great gimmick with King Booker. Low 60’s high 70’s” – Eric Boyd, May 28, 2017
49. Mr. McMahon
Total Points: 4,541
Total Ballots: 73
Average Rank: 39.6
High Vote: 2
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Chad Campbell
Nuance: Vince McMahon straight up is in the conversation for best single performer the company has ever had. He excelled at everything. Play a good guy? He did that surprisingly well. Play a bad guy? Probably the best in the history of the company. Draw the ire of the fans? As recently as January 2018 he turned 20,000 adoring fans from bowing to him to chanting asshole in the span of three sentences. He spearheaded, along with Steve Austin, a complete renaissance of the company in 1998. Without him (as a performer) we may be doing the GWCW 100. Vince, as a general rule, also gets it. He gets what it takes to be an effective heel. He’s always willing to look the fool to get someone over. Unlike the many AUTHORITIES we’ve seen, there’s an unselfishness to Vince that only enhances everything else he brings to the table. It seems strange to use the word unselfish to describe Vince. It’s plausible he’s very selfish. He’s probably been put on TV way more than he should have been. He’s also pissed his pants on TV, had feces dumped on him, shaved his head and been beaten to a bloody pulp more than anyone is company history. He says he wouldn’t ask his employees to do something he wouldn’t and he means it!
Jump Up Moments: Challenged Steve Austin for the WWF title with one hand tied behind his back; a moment that finally turned the tide in the ratings war with WCW. The Night after WrestleMania XIV, kicked off the Austin feud with a hellacious promo and a beating. Got sack whacked during a photo op a couple of weeks later. Took an all time sick chair shot at Unforgiven 1998. His performance at Over The Edge 1998 should go down as the best guest referee spot n company history. Including the arrogant promo he cut off the top of the show with Patterson & Brisco. CAHOOTS! After being assaulted by Steve Austin jumping off a zamboni, got caught flipping off Undertaker and Kane and had his leg broken in a hilarious scene. The hospital bits with the bedpan. All of it. In fact his entire fall of 1998 is the stuff of legend. The corvette, squealing like a pig, it’s all gold. The go home promo for Judgment Day 1998 may be the best heel promo of all time (I WILL FIRE YOUR ASS THIS SUNDAY). At Survivor Series 1998 jumped out of his wheelchair and began to run in a miraculous scene. Won the 1999 Royal Rumble last eliminating Steve Austin. The montages of him training leading up to the match are also all timers. At St Valentine’s Day Massacre was beaten to a bloody, finger waving pulp by Steve Austin. Imagine how many men had to make compromises to watch that show? Because of Vince. Was a reluctant caring father in the spring of 1999. While it was a stupid plot twist “IT’S ME AUSTIN!!!!!” is incredible in its delivery. Won the WWF title from Triple H on an episode of Smackdown in Fall 1999. Fought The Game at Armageddon 1999 in a typically long match. After WrestleMania 2000 joined Triple H and company and cut the “Life Sucks and Then You Die” promo. Did an amazing walk of hurried fear at Judgment Day 2000 and dubbed his balls “grapefruits” a few weeks later. In late 2000 DEMANDED a DIVORRRRCE from Linda McMahon. Fought Shane McMahon at WrestleMania X-7 in an excellent street fight. As the beleaguered owner, he actually made us cheer for him during the Invasion. Was in fine form the night after Survivor Series 2001, firing Paul Heyman, making William Regal kiss his ass and pulling his ear at the sight of Ric Flair. Fought Flair at the 2002 Royal Rumble. At WrestleMania XIX had a classic against Hulk Hogan, which included the best camera shot in television history as he rose from behind the ring, face bloodied, lead pipe in hand. Bled like a sieve in matches with Zack Gowan and Undertaker throughout 2003. Was tremendous in the buildup to his match with Shawn Michaels, playing the proverbial devil to Shawn’s angel. Their match at WrestleMania 22 over-delivered. The next month he would fight GOD! We were also graced with the skit in the church as well as Vince “dancing” to When The Saints Go Marching In. In 2007 drew the biggest WrestleMania to date against Donald Trump of all people. His head shaving is spectacular right down to the screaming. Later that year he would win the ECW championship against Lashley while wearing a doo rag. The match with Bret Hart was an abomination but Vince was golden in the set up. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Vince’s involvement in the 2011 Summer of Punk. The live contract signing was wonderful and his work in the main event of MITB 2011 helped seal the importance of the moment. His match with Punk was also way better than it had any right being.
Promos/Character: The best heel promo in wrestling history. Sold more pay per views through his words than any other man, most of which were matches he wasn’t even in. Vince could nail you with the all time heel promo but also be hilarious when needed. Look at his throat when he’s scared, it bobs up and down with the greatest of ease. Watch him when Mick Foley wins the title for the first time on Raw, no one had that level of commitment to their character. No one talked like him. No one could growl a “YOU’RRRE FAHHHHHHHHHHRED!” like him. No one walked like him either. That strut still brings a smile to our faces. And why in the hell is he stomping his feet so hard on the stairs? He’s the living embodiment of “what’s this guy’s fucking problem?” Quite frankly, an amazing performer through and through on the mic.
Workrate: Certainly not known for his catch as catch can skills, Vince’s matches are almost all universally good, with many bordering on great. He was the most uncoordinated in-ring guy they’ve ever had but he made it work for him. He didn’t take fifty percent of the offense like his son or one hundred percent of the screen like his daughter, he got the crap kicked out of him every time out. If he got the advantage it was either by kicking a guy in the nuts, a ton of guys running in or literally fighting the disabled. He looked great taking a beating because he was an old man literally taking a beating for his company. The fact that almost every match ended with him on stretcher giving the finger only helps his case.
Staff Thoughts: While he finished just this side of 50 there’s no argument that he’s among the top five most important performers the company has ever had. His appearances were appointment TV and his matches always over-delivered. If there was any doubt that Vince shouldn’t be included on a list such as this, we challenge you to go back and watch the fall of 1998 for his promos as well as his WrestleMania encounters. Vincent Kennedy McMahon (damnit) is pro wrestling.
From the Voters: “I’m not going to rank him. Didn’t have enough matches, and I personally feel a little icky ranking him instead of someone who busted his/her ass working for Vince. Not that my list means anything, but it’s a personal deal. I also thought VinceMcMahon: WWF Champion was David Arquette-level bad, but I can’t deny his impact, and I legitimately think he’s one of the greatest on-screen characters in television history.” – Greg Phillips, June 8, 2017
“I think he wrestled enough matches to be considered a part time worker. Add in his character work as a GOAT contender heel and he will be on my list. His matches were generally good -> great too.” – JT Rozzero, June 8, 2017
“The more important heel and character in company history including Piper, Hogan, and Austin. The role the MrMcMahon character played in the boom is wildly understated, but it’s worth noting that his turn and transition into a guy who could actually have his ass kicked is when the WWE really started to right the ship. Like Post-return Brock, his matches were special spectacles even right up to the end (the Punk match from TV rules). Top 3 promo in company history at worse. Drew the biggest buy rate in Mania history against Trump with surrogates. Tough to figure out what to do with him because of the small number of matches, but I’ll consider him for number 1” – Dylan Hales, June 3, 2017
“He’s on my list simply because without him, THERE IS NO LIST.” – Scott Criscuolo, June 7, 2017
48. Chris Benoit
Total Points: 4,554
Total Ballots: 65
Average Rank: 31
High Vote: 7
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Sam Symonds; Eric Vejnovich
Nuance: Chris Benoit spent seven years with the WWF/E, so he has solid longevity. He worked as both a heel and babyface, and had notable tag team runs with Kurt Angle competing for the WWE Tag Team titles as part of the “SmackDown Six,” and won World Tag Team Titles with Chris Jericho and Edge as well.
Jump Up Moments: Benoit won the 2004 Royal Rumble and went on to win the World Heavyweight Title in a triple-threat match against Triple H and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XX, which was heralded at the time. He had very good matches with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle over the Intercontinental Title in 2000-01, and his tag work with the SmackDown Six in 2002 was top-notch. His WWE Championship match against Angle at Royal Rumble 2003 was a classic as well. Benoit was a World Heavyweight Champion, a four-time IC Champion, a three-time US Champion, three-time World Tag Team Champion and one-time WWE Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: Benoit was never a good promo, with that being a notable weakness limiting his potential somewhat. His character was always a no-nonsense wrestler, that did not change significantly whether he was a babyface or a heel.
Workrate: Benoit was one of the most skilled in-ring technicians of all time and his list of high-quality matches is quite long. There are many more very good matches if you would like to rewatch his work.
Staff Thoughts: Nearly the entirety of the Facebook discussion revolved around whether voters were comfortable ranking Benoit based on his final days. Many voters were uncomfortable watching Benoit matches or ranking him, resulting in him appearing on far fewer ballots than others finishing in the same area on the list. Other voters focused completely on the in-ring merits, where his obvious talents drove him up the list, reflected in a higher average ranking. There is no right answer and each voter had to come to determine their own approach. Some voters can separate Benoit’s final actions from his in-ring work, but still, this is no fun to write and we assume no fun to read. We all know some of his memorable matches and fans that are interested can track them down. But we’re not spending any more time talking about Chris Benoit.
From the Voters: “Up to you whether to include him or not. It is a personal choice with no right answer IMO. I will be ranking him and pretty highly. His workrate is excellent to make up for the fairly shoddy promo ability. In the N category he kind of falters on some points such as longevity (7 years isn’t that long for someone that may be in the upper half of my ballot) but works really well on the flexibility criteria.” – Chad Campbell, May 28, 2017
“It’s like being at a party and trying to enjoy the punch, even though you know there’s a turd In the punch bowl. Unfortunately, his actions disqualify him for me.” – Michael Schoen, May 29, 2017
“Still struggling with this. Going strictly on his merits as a performer, he’s as good as I’ve ever seen in the ring. A master of his craft.But his actions also nearly killed my love of wrestling, and wrecked havoc in such a way that I don’t know I can compare it to anything else in the business. I’m really having a tough time deciding what to do here.” – Greg Phillips, June 22, 2017
47. William Regal
Total Points: 4,605
Total Ballots: 97
Average Rank: 53.5
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Microstatistics
Nuance: William Regal was part of the company for a good ten year stretch, supplemented by earlier time as a “Real Man’s Man” and returns for sporadic matches after 2010. Even missing time with injuries and other issues, Regal has longevity with the company. He’s a natural heel, but the times he has played a babyface, crowds have supported him. He’s been primarily a single’s wrestler in WWE, but has had tag team success with Lance Storm, Tajiri and Eugene. Regal is the king of intangibles, doing so many little things to help both his matches and character get over. His facial expressions may be the best in wrestling history.
Jump Up Moments: For someone who is outstanding at so many things, his stand out moments are few and far between. His work as Raw Commissioner and Goodwill Ambassador with Tajiri produced great comedy, and he challenged Chris Jericho for the IC title at WrestleMania X7 during this time. He was the first member of Vince McMahon’s Kiss My Ass Club, which was memorable, we guess. Worked the “Power of the Punch” gimmick during his IC title run in 2002, before joining the Un-Americans and then teaming with Lance Storm, winning tag team gold. Regal’s acting and character work during the Eugene angle was a bright spot in what eventually became a crappy angle. Regal was the town crier and later knighted in King Booker’s Court and had good matches with Chris Benoit and Finlay in 2006. He won the 2008 King of the Ring and appeared to be in line for big things with the gimmick, but a suspension derailed that push. Regal is a five-time Hardcore Champion, a four-time European Champion, a two-time IC Champion and four-time Tag Team Champion, as well as King of the Ring.
Promos/Character: Regal is a fantastic talker and an even better character worker. His facial expressions are incredible, and his work with Tajiri as his assistant was great stuff. He’d later show the acting chops and character evolution to make the Eugene angle good before it jumped the shark and sucked. He was good in King Booker’s Court and the Ruthless Roundtable. He was never afraid to show vulnerability and be made a fool of, which shows up numerous times when he is GM and also notably by being the founding member of the Kiss My Ass Club.
Workrate: Regal is a great worker almost always having good to very good matches in the mid-card. His matches are sprinkled with little touches to make them better for viewers that are paying attention. Regal uses a believable style featuring a lot of holds and stretches, as well as stiff strikes. His work in 2006 with Benoit and Finlay was very good, and his last match with Cesaro on the Dec. 25 NXT 2013 was strong as well. Regal had solid matches with Christian as part of the Ruthless Roundtable during the dying days of ECW in 2010 too.
Staff Thoughts: William Regal is the definition of a wrestler that can do everything well, checking every box for a skilled professional wrestler. He was always in the mid-card and never had any blow-away angles, but did a tremendous job of making whatever he was doing more memorable and significant than it had any right to be. He was great as a character and he was great in the ring. However, he would have long stretches where he disappeared, whether due to injury, suspension or the creative team forgetting he exists, so that works against him to some degree. Still, there’s more than enough there to land Regal prominently on the list. Hear what the guys had to say about Regal on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Amazing when you consider his entire WWE run was basically his second act. Perpetually over, natural heel, but he’s shown he can play babyface just fine as well. Few better at the mechanics of working a match. He’s easily on my list, though never really sniffing the main event despite seeming opportunities to do so could keep him in the back half.” – Ben Morse, June 9, 2017
“Regal is awesome at anything he does. If he was the Corporate Commissioner for Vince, holding the European Title multiple times, feuding with Chris Jericho, a lackey for King Booker, literally kissing Vince’s backside, the RAW GM/2008 King Of The Ring, or the current NXT GM he’s got a spot for me too.” – Jay Hinchey, June 3, 2017
“Incredible pro wrestler, but the problem I have is that he always he had these weird disappearances that seemed to stunt his momentum. He would have a great match and then you wouldnt see him for like six months. I need to do some digging figure out his career arc because I dont understand how someone who was having awesome matches with Benoit in 2006 was then having awesome matches with Christian in 2010, but what happened in between I honestly cant remember. I need to go to cagematch.com. Regal, Christian, Mark Henry are the three wrestlers I need to watch a lot more of.” – Martin Boulevard, November 19, 2017
46. Paul Orndorff
Total Points: 4,690
Total Ballots: 101
Average Rank: 54.6
High Vote: 4
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Andrew Lacelle
Nuance: Paul Orndorff had a solid four-year run with the company in the 1980s and worked as both a heel and a face, having memorable turns going from heel to face and vice versa. He worked primarily as a singles competitor but did have several tag team matches with Roddy Piper and later Hulk Hogan.
Jump Up Moments: Mr. Wonderful was a fixture in the main event scene his entire run with the company. He started as a heel aligned with Roddy Piper as one of the first challengers to Hogan in 1984. Orndorff teamed with Piper to take on Hogan and Mr. T in the main event of the first WrestleMania, where he took the pin after getting accidentally hit with Cowboy Bob Orton’s cast. Orton and Piper blamed Orndorff for the loss, turning on him during the first episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Orndorff would come to the aid of Hogan to fight off Piper and Orton later on the same SNME. Orndorff teamed with Hogan, Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant in his feud with Piper and Orton. He fought Don Muraco to a double countout at WrestleMania 2. Tensions mounted between Mr. Wonderful and the Hulkster with Adrian Adonis stirring the pot, including a notable on-air phone call when the champ big-timed Orndorff being too busy training to answer his call. Orndorff then turned on Hogan after a match with King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd, clotheslining and piledriving the champ. This started a white-hot feud between Hogan and Orndorff resulting in matches at the Big Event in Toronto and a cage match at the January 1987 SNME, both of which saw rabid crowd reactions. Orndorff injured his arm during the Hogan feud, but worked through the injury until the completion of the program, when he took time off and received a babyface reaction upon his return. His last major appearance with the company was at the inaugural Survivor Series teaming with Hogan and others in a loss to Andre the Giant’s team.
Promos/Character: Orndorff’s promo ability is a mixed bag as he always talked with a passion and he was believable as a screaming maniac, but he often mangled his lines horribly and had some questionable content as part of his promos. He was paired with Heenan during his heel run to do his talking for him as he opposed Hogan. The Mr. Wonderful character was memorable with the Mr. #1derful on his tights and a series the great vignettes. One vignette featured him at the gym berating fellow gym goers until one “fat hog” put her hands on Orndorff resulting in a meltdown and demonstration of how to work out to get a perfect body like Mr. Wonderful.
Workrate: Orndorff was one of the top workers of his time, having very good matches with everyone up and down the card. Everything Orndorff did meant something during his matches and his punches and piledriver always looked good. His matches with Roddy Piper and Hogan held a special intensity that drove the crowd into a frenzy, both in support of and in opposition of Mr. Wonderful.
Staff Thoughts: It’s hard to imagine anyone having a hotter character arc than Orndorff, first as the heel in opposition to Hogan, then joining forces with the Hulkster and turning on him again to have an incredibly hot series of matches around the circuit with Hogan. The character work and turn were so well executed and the matches so intense that the Hogan feud was amongst the best business the company had done at that time. His run flamed out quickly, and the hot feud with Hogan happened between WrestleMania 2 and III, so sometimes gets forgotten or overshadowed by the hot WrestleMania III angle. Still, Mr. Wonderful was a huge part of Hulkamania, as both an ally and a top opponent and that stuck with voters. You can hear Good Ol’ Will and the guys talk about Orndorff on this FYC.
From the Voters: “I am in on Mr Wonderful. He had of the more profitable runs with Hogan, and was over with wwf crowds, as both face and heel. And, if his run was not early wwf expansion, he probably wins some gold. He also had memorable feuds with Piper, and others. His longevity is against him, in wwf, however, they have seen fit include him and his glorious moustache in their HoF, so, that should count for something. I say absolutely include, Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff!” – Will Olson, June 1, 2017
“After Orndorff turned face following Wrestlemania I, the reactions for him were red hot. This is a guy they would have slapped the title on….if it wasn’t for Hogan. He and Tito had another pretty good match at the Wrestling Classic. The heel turn on Hogan in ’86 was done to perfection and Orndorff made a ton of money off that run. If it hadn’t been for the neck problems, he would have been a big part of Wrestlemania III. I say YES to Mr #1derful.” – Chris Jordan, June 2, 2017
“A bigger star than a lot of people realize because his major feud with Hulk Hogan took place between WrestleManias and got overshadowed by the Andre heel turn. Red hot as both a heel and a face. Historic value as part of the first Mania main event. Superb piledriver. Makes the cut.” – Ben Morse, June 9, 2017
45. The Miz
Total Points: 4,692
Total Ballots: 100
Average Rank: 54.1
High Vote: 13
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Scott Butler
Nuance: Miz debuted in 2006, so he’s had more than a decade with the company, with almost no injuries or time missed, so he’s got the longevity. He’s worked as a babyface and a heel, but his babyface work was unimpressive and he’s such a natural douche. He’s had successful singles runs and tag runs with John Morrsion, Mizdow, Big Show and R-Truth. Miz is tremendous at the nuances of character work that help him get legit heel heat.
Jump Up Moments: Miz has main evented WrestleMania, though that may be one of his low points, as it was an unimpressive main event due to an injury to Miz and booking of the match focusing more on Rock and John Cena. He had an enjoyable feud and good TLC match with Jerry Lawler on Raw and another title defense at TLC 2010. Still, Miz felt out of place in the main event, but he’s always making his mid-card programs seem more important than they should be. He’s an eight-time IC champion and is a master at creating interest in these programs, with his feud with Dolph Ziggler in 2016 being a good example. He’s had enjoyable tag team runs with Morrison and Big Show. Miz is great on the stick and that’s led to interesting interactions with MVP, Morrison, Daniel Bryan and many others. Miz is a former WWE Champion, an eight-time IC Champion (tied for the most reigns ever,) a two-time US Champion, a four-time WWE Tag Team Champion and a two-time World Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: Promos have always been Miz’s strength and he may be the best talker in the company today. As part of his team with Morrison he co-hosted the Dirt Sheet, getting the team good heat in their feud with D-Generation X and other feuds. His heel character work has helped other wrestlers like Alex O’Reily, Mizdow and the Mizdourage get over when they were going nowhere before working with Miz. His past year plus of work has been one of the highlights of his career, being paired with wife Maryse as the Hollywood “It” couple and forming the Miztourage.
Workrate: In-ring work has been a weakness of the Miz’s during most of his career. However, he’s shown great improvement and is currently doing some of his best in-ring work. His match with Ziggler at No Mercy 2016 with Ziggler’s career on the line feels like an important match and is work with Lawler in 2010 is another highlight. His match at Extreme Rules 2016 against Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is another highlight.
Staff Thoughts: Miz makes the list due to his great mic work, tremendous commitment to getting heel heat when so many try to be “cool heels” and his improvement in the ring. His commitment to being the elitist Hollywood A-Lister helps every feud he’s in and every opponent he faces, leading to more heated matches. He’s been a fixture in the mid-card and tag team scenes for over a decade, which is enough to overcome some rough in-ring work during much of his career. The guys discuss The Miz on this episode of FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Has a good shot at finishing fairly high on my list. Always a good talker, has great longevity, and has a Wrestlemaina main event victory to his credit. Also has turned into one of the more reliable in ring guys in recent years. He was probably the second best in ring worker in the company last year behind Styles. A lot of good TV matches and MOTY canidates with the Ziggler match at No Mercy as well as the four way at Extreme Rules.” – Wade Ferrari, June 3, 2017
“Will make it. I actually think he’s similar to Jericho in that he’s been used all over cards, his lows are really low, but his highs are great. In truth I prefer his highs to Jericho’s. I’ve loved him for the last year, but also loved his heel run in 2011, the initial R-Truth stuff, and the team with Morrison. Underrated tag guy in general. Great promo.” – Dylan Hales, June 3, 2017
“He was actively horrible at points and bordering on great at points. He’s been helped by a spectacular 2016-17. But he was a miserable failure as a babyface, and most of his in-ring work is much more boring than even a non-invested Randy Orton. He probably makes my list on the strength of his last year and a half and some good stuff with Morrison and early in his solo “main eventer” run (pre-Cena feud).” – Greg Phillips, June 20, 2017
44. Matt Hardy
Total Points: 5,020
Total Ballots: 102
Average Rank: 51.8
High Vote: 15
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Stacey O’Loughlin; Boss Rock
Nuance: Matt Hardy had a 12-year run with the company from 1998 to 2010, and has supplemented that with four years of sporadically working as a jobber in the 90s and his current run. He was half of one of the best tag teams in company history and also had significant singles runs. Matt played a babyface most of his career, but has worked heel with the V1 character and when he feuded against his brother in a few instances.
Jump Up Moments: The Hardy Boyz were a huge part of rejuvenating the tag team scene from their ladder match with Edge & Christian at No Mercy 1999. Those two teams, along with the Dudley Boyz, had a hot three-way feud highlighted by ladder and TLC matches at WrestleMania 2000, SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania X7 in tremendous classics. His feud with Edge in 2005 felt different than anything else the company was doing at the time, blending real-life elements to the feud and providing a series of good matches from SummerSlam 2005 through October. The Hardy Boyz reunited having excellent tag bouts with MNM and multi-team matches, including the infamous outing where Joey Mercury’s face blew up. In 2007, Hardy began an extended feud with MVP over the US Championship that is one of the better mid-card feuds in recent company history. The long-running feud featured Hardy costing MVP the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXIV, and Hardy finally winning the US title at Backlash 2008. Matt won the ECW Championship during a championship scramble match at Unforgiven 2008 and then turned heel and feuded with his brother Jeff in 2009, before his release from the company in 2010. The Hardy Boyz returned to the company at WrestleMania 33, winning the Raw Tag Team Titles and having strong matches with Sheamus and Cesaro during the past year. Matt’s a former ECW Champion, Cruiserweight Champion, US Champion, European Champion, Hardcore Champion and nine-time Tag Team Champion with Jeff (eight times) and MVP (once.)
Promos/Character: Matt is not the strongest promo, but he has been able to reinvent himself numerous times by tweaking his character. Team Xtreme (spell check does not like Attitude Era WWF, FYI) was an incredibly popular act, but Matt was able to go in a completely new direction with the V1 character. Between Matt Facts and cutting weight to challenge for the cruiserweight title, this run made us all MF’ers. Later, Matt incorporated real-life issues into his feud with Edge in 2005 making fans wonder if there were shoot elements in the feud. His feud with MVP was one of the better long-term feuds of recent years, and much of that was carried by character work from both performers to extend the feud due to injuries from both guys. Matt’s reinvented himself again as he is becoming “Woken” with a recent feud with Bray Wyatt, with the results being mixed, but with more from the character to come.
Workrate: The Hardy Boyz are among the best teams in company history having good ladder, TLC and tables matches with Edge & Christian and the Dudley Boyz. The match with MNM at Royal Rumble 2007 is on the list of the best non-gimmick tag team matches in company history. The matches with Edge in 2005 were unique from other matches going on at the time and had an element of intensity and reality often lacking. The blow-off match to his feud with MVP at 2008 was a memorable match. Upon the Hardy Boyz return, they’ve had good matches with Sheamus and Cesaro including a 30-minute Ironman match at Great Balls of Fire.
Staff Thoughts: Matt Hardy’s got a really diverse resume of strong moments, both in singles and tag matches. The Hardy Boyz feud with the Dudleys and Edge and Christian was a big part of the late 90s and early 2000s, providing excellent matches to go along with storylines of the time. Matt reinvented himself at V1, which was an entertaining and underutilized character. His feud with Edge was great in 2005, as was his feud with MVP in 2007-08. He as also arguably the best TV worker on and off in the company between 2006 and 2010. He had some misses, usually when he was feuding with Jeff, as the two just didn’t have the chemistry as opponents they have as a team. The recent return has been a lot of fun and resulted in some good matches with The Bar. Matt has shown versatility in reinventing his character, has a history of steering excellent undercard feuds and has great matches from the first Hardy Boyz run to his credit, so he checks every box.
Staff Thoughts: “Probably top 50 for me. Is hurt slightly by the fact that he never was a main event guy as he lacked the IT factor his brother had despite being a better worker mechanically. Still a very versatile guy as he’s someone that’s always been effective no matter what role he’s been put in. In all three of their separate runs together the Hardy Boyz were big contributors to the tag division including this recent one so far. Has also been a great hand as a singles in the midcard both with his version one heel run in 2003 which showed he could be entertaining as a character and also as a workhorse babyface from 05-09.” – Wade Ferrari, May 31, 2017
From the Voters: “I would have him in the Top 100. He was really great as a tag team wrestler and V1 was really fun. While Jeff got a lot of the spotlight from 07-09, Matt was having great matches in the midcard. His feud with MVP was outstanding.” – Mike Eller, June 1, 2017
“Very possible he makes my top 20. Other than Jericho, not sure there’s been someone who’s been able to reinvent himself so many times and still make it work. Truly one of the most versatile wrestlers I’ve ever seen. Helped revitalize tag team wrestling the 2000’s with Jeff. Had an all-time great heel/comedy character with Matt Hardy V.1. Great babyface runs against Edge and MVP, the latter of which is one of the greatest midcard feuds of all-time. While he never reached the levels of his brother or having the same amount of star power, I would argue he was the superior of the two when it comes to the little things.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
43. Big Show
Total Points: 5,519
Total Ballots: 106
Average Rank: 48.9
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 95
High Voter: Corey Pierce
Nuance: Big Show has been with the company since 1999, so nearly a 20-year run, scoring significant points for longevity. He’s had more face and heel turns than anyone, and has had success in both roles. Show can play a monster main event singles star and has also had successful tag teams with Chris Jericho, The Miz, Kane and Undertaker.
Jump Up Moments: Big Show had a memorable debut tearing through the ring at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre throwing Stone Cold Steve Austin through the steel cage door allowing him to defeat Vince McMahon. Show won his first WWF Championship at Survivor Series 1999 taking Austin’s place when he was run over andd later challenged for the WWF title at WrestleMania 2000. He had a strong feud with Brock Lesnar in 2002-03, leading to him winning his second WWE Championship and imploding the ring with a superplex on SmackDown. During his feud with Kurt Angle, he was shot with a tranquilizer dart and “robbed of his dignity” when Angle shaved his head. He won the ECW title from Rob Van Dam. Show had a great feud and one of the best celebrity matches of all time against boxer Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania XXIV. He challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXV. With Chris Jericho, he formed the Jeri-Show tag team, having a strong run with the Tag Team Titles before transitioning to a team with The Miz that also had a success, defending the titles at WrestleMania XXVI. In 2011, Big Show had a stellar feud with Mark Henry where he was one of the inductees into the Hall of Pain, and he followed it up with good feuds with Daniel Bryan and Sheamus in 2012. Big Show won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31. Show is a two-time WWE Champion, a two-time World Champion, an ECW Champion, a three-time Hardcore Champion, a US Champion, IC Champion and an eight-time Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: Show is a good talker and has shown the ability to be a good comedic figure as well as a serious monster challenging main events. He has been around so long he’s gone through many character makeovers and has been shuffled up and down the card at various times.
Workrate: Big Show’s matches have been an incredible mixed bag, with some dreadful matches, particularly in his early years, but some incredible bouts later in his career. His first really good matches came against Brock Lesnar in 2003 in fun power struggles. His matches with Mark Henry at Money in the Bank, Vengeance, Survivor Series and TLC in 2011 are great big man slugfests. That feud transitioned into a series with Daniel Bryan featuring solid matches on SmackDown and a triple-threat cage match at Royal Rumble 2012 that was quite good. His matches with Sheamus in the later part of 2012 at Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and TLC are also very good.
Staff Thoughts: Big Show has been around so long he’s compiled an incredible resume. His early years had some really rough stuff, both in-ring and character work with him being hurt by too many turns and too much moving up and down the card. He did some good work with Lesnar and Angle on SmackDown in 2003, and his matches from 2011-13 against Mark Henry, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan are amazing. His work in the Jeri-Show and ShowMiz teams is also very strong. The feud with Money Mayweather is as good a celebrity match as you’ll find and Show did a fantastic job of making Mayweather into a credible threat despite the huge size difference. He’s got the comedy chops, but plays the monster heel very well. It’s shocking to think how far Show has come from his 1999 debut, and he’s done a fantastic job staying the course to provide late career gold and shoot his way up voters’ lists.
From the Voters: “Absolute lock on the list. Maybe the most infuriating wrestler on the list because he has moments of brilliance. His feud with Mark Henry was epic. Had great matches with Daniel Bryan. I enjoyed his Jericho & Rey tag teams. I loved the Power of the Punch. He also has some complete dogshit feuds that will hurt his overall rating.” – Good Ol’ Will From Texas, June 3, 2017
“The giant character always runs the risk of growing stale. Andre would do a loop in a territory and move on before he destroyed everyone and the novelty wore off. Big Show doesn’t have that luxury in this era. Thus he has to go through countless face/heel turns to stay relatively fresh. He’s done it all; remorseless destroyer, hired muscle, comic relief, bully, anti-bully, grizzled veteran. Yes there’s some crap to wade through and some low points but I feel like it’s impossible not to respect him and his place in the business’ history.” – Jeremy Ray, June 4, 2017
“The further away I get from “Durrrr, any guy over 300lbs sucks. Wrestling’s only suplexes and chain wrestling, duhhhh”, the more I appreciate a guy like Show. Yes, he let himself go a lot of the time. But man after he returned in 08 he really found his grove. And overall he stayed their. Yes, his run in 14-15 as Authority lackey was crap, but I won’t dog him for that too much. It will be interesting for me to see where he lands. Right now a likely Top 50 guy.” – David Mann, June 5, 2017
42. Rick Rude
Total Points: 5,912
Average Rank: 46.8
High Vote: 12
Low Vote: 93
High Voter: Taylor Keahey
Nuance: “Ravishing” Rick Rude had only about a three-year run with the WWF, and played a heel his entire career, with no tag team run. So, longevity and a lack of flexibility hurt Rude. However, he had a number of intangibles that always made his feuds seem important. He had a distinct look with the chiseled abs, trademark mustache, robe and especially the airbrushed tights, which played a part in his feuds.
Jump Up Moments: Rude’s first major feud with the company was with Jake Roberts, after he tried to kiss Rude’s wife during his post-match celebration. Rude famously airbrushed Cheryl Roberts onto his tights, sending Jake into a rage, causing him to charge the ring and strip Rude of those tights. Rude would continue to wear a second pair of tights underneath his regular ones, causing Jake to attack Rude during his SummerSlam 1988 match against the Junkyard Dog. Jake pinned Rude at Survivor Series 1988 to end the feud. The Ravishing One then moved on to feuding with the Ultimate Warrior, winning the IC title at WrestleMania V in a shocking upset. Rude dropped the title back to Warrior in a very good match at SummerSlam 1989 due to interference from Roddy Piper, sparking their feud. Rude and Piper had a heated feud, including a good cage match until Survivor Series 1989 when the Rude Brood defeated Roddy’s Rowdies and Rude and Piper brawled causing both men to be counted out. Rude then challenged Warrior for his WWF title in another good match at SummerSlam 1990. He was then suspended indefinitely by Jack Tunney for making degrading comments about the Big Bossman’s mother. He would return in 1997 as the “insurance policy” for D-Generation X, which allowed him to appear on Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro on the same night.
Promos/Character: “Cut my music! What I’d like to have now…” is for all the voters to recognize that while Rick Rude had basically one promo, it was an awesome promo. His pre and post-match routine of disparaging the crowd before opening his robe and showing the audience what a real man looked like and then kissing a lucky lady after his victory, were guaranteed heat generators. His character work with the routine, his promos, his alliance with Bobby Heenan and his airbrushed tights all helped make Rude an unforgettable character.
Workrate: Rude’s matches were a mixed bag, with a lot of boring matches early on, but the bouts with the Ultimate Warrior were some of the best either guy had to that time. Rude’s feuds were always loaded with heat, making the Roberts and Piper matches better than they otherwise would have been.
Staff Thoughts: “Ravishing” Rick Rude was an unforgettable character during a hot time for the company. He had three hot feuds, which was really the story of his relatively short time with the company. He fit with the Heenan Family like a hand in a glove. Rude’s promos were pretty one-note, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The spiel while he took off his robe to reveal what a real man looked like was pure gold, and he airbrushed another man’s wife on his Ravishing parts, for God’s sake! That set up the hot feud with Jake the Snake. His matches with the Ultimate Warrior were very good and the best in-ring work of Rude’s WWF career, and his feud with Piper featured some intense matches as well. He played his role with D-X too, fitting the part. All of this adds up to all you sweathogs voting the Ravishing One onto the list. You can hear the guys talk about Rude on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Lock him in for me, could be relatively high for me. He did his best in ring work in WCW, but he was no slouch in the WWE. He drug solid stuff out of Warrior and that was no throwaway task. His character was a high point on the undercard when I was a kid. I honestly think they dropped the ball a bit not giving him a world title run, but oh well. Complete talent who’s work holds up.” – Matthew Richards, June 2, 2017
“Aside from being my favorite heel of all time, he was the first guy to get good matches out of the Warrior. Instant heel heat the second he grabbed the mic. His airbrushed ring tights ranks in the top five of best ring attire ever. Dude put another guys wife on his fucking tights! Now that’s HEAT!” – Jason Greenhouse, June 3, 2017
“One great thing about Rude was he, like Jake, had a real knack for making his feuds feel like they really mattered. Just an example – the kickoff of the Piper feud, seen here. So great, and maybe only his third best while in the WWF.” – James Proffitt, July 25, 2017
41. Davey Boy Smith
Total Points: 5,937
Total Ballots: 111
Average Rank: 47.6
High Vote: 6
Low Vote: 82
High Voter: Bret Hart
Nuance: Davey Boy Smith spent about nine years with the company during four different runs, so he has nice longevity. He gets points for flexibility as he had two very good tag team runs with the Dynamite Kid and Owen Hart (and another run with Lex Luger) and a solid upper-mid-card singles career.
Jump Up Moments: The British Bulldogs were one of the best and most influential tag teams of the 1980s WWF, winning the Tag Team Titles from the Dream Team at WrestleMania 2 in a very good match. The Bulldogs had notable feuds with the Islanders, Hart Foundation, Rougeau Brothers and Demolition as well. Smith returned to the company in 1990 taking the British Bulldog name and had a surprisingly fun feud with Warlord, including a good match at WrestleMania VII. His high-point was likely his main event match with Bret Hart over the IC title at SummerSlam 1992. Bulldog had an all-time great bout with Hart and was incredibly popular in his home country at Wembley Stadium. He had a good showing at the 1995 Royal Rumble entering at #2 and surviving until the end when he was eliminated by winner Shawn Michaels. Challenged Bret Hart for the WWF Title in a great match at In Your House 5, and challenged Shawn Michaels in good matches at IYH: Beware of Dog and King of the Ring 1996. Bulldog was the first European Champion, defeating Owen Hart in the finals in one of the best matches in Raw history. Bulldog formed a tag team with Owen Hart winning the WWF Tag Team Titles and had a great match against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels on Raw. He was part of the Hart Foundation in 1997 and part of the great main event at IYH: Canadian Stampede. Davey Boy was a two-time European Champion, a two-time Hardcore Champion, an IC champion and a two-time Tag Team Champion.
Promos/Character: Bulldog was not a good promo because he’s BIZARRE. Never a good talker, he was paired with Jim Cornette and later let other members of the Hart Foundation talk for him. His character never evolved much past being British… and a Bulldog in the ring, I guess. Lack of character depth and promo skills are a definite drawback to Davey Boy’s case.
Workrate: The British Bulldogs had very good matches against the Dream Team, including the big one at WrestleMania 2 giving them the “Nightmare at the Rosemont Horizon” that probably still haunts Valentine to this day, and a series of very good matches with the Hart Foundation, as well. Davey Boy’s match with Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1992 is a classic, though Hart had to carry more than his fair share in that match. His run in 1995-96 carried a mixed bag with good matches against Hart and Michaels and some stinkers against other opponents like Diesel. He’s been involved in two of the best matches in the history of Raw, with the European title finals against Owen Hart and the tag team match with Owen against Michaels and Austin. His match with Michaels at One Night Stand is insane with Davey losing in front of his countrymen after dedicating the match to his dying sister. Bulldog was an important part of the Hart Foundation and the 10-man tag at Canadian Stampede was another classic match on Davey’s resume.
Staff Thoughts: Davey Boy Smith has a very significant spot in WWF history from the innovative matches the British Bulldogs had with the Dream Team to his run with the Hart Foundation in 1997. In between, he had the SummerSlam match at Wembley Stadium and a solid upper-mid-card run that saw him main event several PPVs in 1995-96. His tag team with Owen Hart was very good during a shaky time for the tag team division. And if he doesn’t throw that trashcan giving Stephanie McMahon amnesia, maybe she goes ahead and marries Test and the current WWE looks very different. We have no idea if that would be positive or negative but that’s the last we’ll say of his jeans wearing return in 1999. But overall, Bulldog added tons to the WWF/E and is considered one of the greatest wrestlers to have never been a World Champion, which is more than enough to land him on the list.
From the Voters: “Held up his end of the bargain in some good-to-great matches during different singles pushes, and was part of one of the best teams of one of the best eras for the tag division. Did great work in highlight matches & angles for the Bulldogs, e.g. WrestleMania 2 against the Dream Team.” – Glenn W. Butler, May 28, 2017
“I’m a big supporter of Davey for this project. If you go back and watch the Bulldogs, as others have said, he wasn’t nearly as far behind Dynamite as history has said. In fact, he carried Dynamite the last two years they were together to some shockingly entertaining bouts where Dynamite was severely limited. In his solo run, he was a massively over babyface who was probably third behind Bret and Macho in that department at points. His matches with Bret (the SummerSlam classic and the IYH forgotten gem), Shawn and Owen are classics, and he was able to play a convincing bully heel or an inspirational babyface when the need arose. Also had a great team with Owen. He has a shot at the top 50 for me, maybe higher.” – Greg Phillips, June 20, 2017
“I personally think The Bulldogs are overrated though I like them. Feel kind of the same way about his first big singles run. On the other hand I think his match with Bret in 95 was awesome, and I like him a lot in the heel period in 96 and 97. I actually think he’s underrated historically in terms of impact, how over he was, and as a worker. Not a terribly dynamic character, but I could see a case for him being near the top of the “career mid-carders” portion of the list.” – Dylan Hales, June 7, 2017
40. Roman Reigns
Total Points: 6,126
Total Ballots: 109
Average Rank: 44.8
High Vote: 8
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: James
Nuance: Roman Reigns has been with the main roster a little over four years, and has had tag team runs with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose with The Shield. He was a heel when he debuted with The Shield and has been a babyface since the team turned, even if a portion of the fanbase refuses to acknowledge he is a fan favorite (which is a problem that is not exclusive to Reigns). Roman has a presence about him and carries himself like a star in a way few wrestlers today are able to.
Jump Up Moments: The first PPV match with The Shield was a classic against Team Hell No and Ryback at TLC 2012. The Shield would have great six-man matches with a number of opponents and the match against the Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014 is another classic. Reigns won the WWE Tag Team Titles with Rollins and had a great feud with Cody Rhodes and Goldust, losing the titles at Hell in a Cell 2013. At the 2014 Royal Rumble, Reigns set a record by eliminating 12 wrestlers, winning fan support surviving to the final two before being eliminated by winner Batista. The Shield turned babyface and then dissolved when Rollins turned on Reigns and Ambrose and Reigns challenged for the WWE title during this time. Roman won the 2015 Royal Rumble, though this time the fans were NOT in his corner after Daniel Bryan was eliminated earlier. He defeated Bryan in a very good match at Fastlane 2015 to defend his WrestleMania title shot. Reigns would go on to have an excellent match at WrestleMania 31, challenging Brock Lesnar for the title until Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the gold. Reigns won the WWE World Championship in a tournament winning the finals over Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series 2015, before Sheamus cashed in his MITB briefcase giving Reigns a five-minute reign. He then regained the title in January 2016, but had to defend it in the 2016 Royal Rumble, losing to Triple H before regaining the belt at WrestleMania 32. Roman had an excellent feud with A.J. Styles in 2016, before losing the WWE World Championship to Rollins at MITB 2016. He won the US title from Rusev and feuded with him in late 2016. Reigns defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 in what may, or may not have been Taker’s last match. Roman had a very good feud with Braun Strowman with matches at Payback, Great Balls of Fire and both were part of a four-way match at SummerSlam 2017. He had an excellent match with John Cena at No Mercy and finished the year with a Shield reunion and an IC title win and feud with the Miz.
Promos/Character: Roman has had some atrocious promos, perhaps being the biggest victim of the scripted promo era, having been supplied with awful material like “sufferin’ succotash.” He has improved on the mic, but it’s probably never going to be his strength. His best promo came the night after Wrestlemania 33, soaking in the boos before simply stating “This is my yard now” before leaving the ring. Reigns’ character work isn’t great either, as he rarely shows the vulnerability that endears a top babyface to the fans. He has a great presence and plays a convincing badass, but misses something in connecting to the fanbase.
Workrate: Reigns is a great worker with a list of fantastic matches a mile long. His Shield six-mans and tag team with Rollins yielded top-notch matches against Team Hell No, the Wyatts, Evolution and Cody Rhodes & Goldust. His main event against Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 is a classic. Roman’s matches with A.J. Styles at Payback and Extreme Rules 2016 were outstanding. His feud with Braun Strowman in 2017 is great, producing very good matches at Payback, Great Balls of Fire and SummerSlam. The match between Roman and Cena at No Mercy was another great match.
Staff Thoughts: There may never have been a main event player that the company presumably wants to succeed that has been more mishandled and hurt by bad booking. Fans were solidly behind Reigns at the 2014 Royal Rumble, but the company hurt him tremendously by entering Bryan into the 2015 Rumble only to have Reigns win. Then he goes on to have a great match with Lesnar at WrestleMania, headed to a classic that may earn the fan’s respect, only to have Rollins cash in and have the big win elude Roman. He also could’ve benefitted from a heel turn during this time, in much the same way as the Rock was helped by his heel turn. From this point on, the company insists Reigns MUST be the next big thing regardless of fan sentiments, while at the same time has him lose far too often, but in a way that convinces fans he is being shoved down their throats. Reigns is damn good in the ring and he may be able to overcome awful booking and a character that just doesn’t connect with the fan base on the level WWE so desperately wants him to. He suffers from many of the same challenges Cena faced, showing little vulnerability and shrugging off losses too easily, but Reigns is putting together a list of great matches that may win fans over with time. He’s one of the more divisive wrestlers on the list as his matches and high-profile position says he should be higher on the list, but the lack of connection and shitty booking robs him of a few big time moments and a greater sense of importance. Ultimately, he has a strong enough resume for voters to place him on the list and only time will tell if he can rise up the list in the future to a level his talent would indicate he belongs. You can hear the guys talk about Roman on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Amazingly unselfish, very hard worker, excellent team player. Very few wrestlers in WWE history had as many very good to great matches in their first 4ish years. Major star despite being the most poorly presented alleged top guy in wrestling history. Hard to know where to rank him, but if you compare his first 4 years as a top guy to Bret or Shawns I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude his run is equal or better.” – Dylan Hales, June 2, 2017
“Is probably never going to be what the company wants him to be but has an impressive resume of singles matches and his run in The Shield was great. He’s an easy choice for my list.” – Brian Cullinane, June 2, 2017
“Roman is very tough for me to rank because while I acknowledge all the praise this thread gives him…..I. Just. Don’t. Care. That is essentially my knock on the product as a whole right now, but he’s the poster child of it. Great matches that are fun in the moment, but I ultimately do not care about one way or the other. I don’t care who Roman feuds with or if he wins or loses. MOST of that is his booking, yes-but if we are going to rank guys high like Hogan because he had a long title reign which is booking too, then I have to take his into account. Won’t miss my list, but I genuinely have no clue where he will place. Even if he’s #100 though, he’ll finish higher than Rollins.” – Jordan Duncan, June 2, 2107