“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.
69. Kevin Owens
Total Points: 3,087
Total Ballots: 78
Average Rank: 61.4
High Vote: 13
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Kevin Owens has only been with the company for about three years, so longevity was a limiting factor. He’s also been a heel his whole run, though his character has evolved over that time, from challenging John Cena and bullying Sami Zayn to alliances with Triple H, Chris Jericho and, now, Zayn. Owens is known for his interactions with fans and opponents, often carrying on conversations with either or both, and your mileage on these nuances may vary.
Jump Up Moments: He turned on Sami Zayn to jump start a unique and hot feud in NXT upon his debut. Owens feuded with John Cena over the US Championship while KO was still NXT Champion. He won the IC title and feuded with Dean Ambrose, having a good Last Man Standing Match at Royal Rumble 2016. Owens won the Universal Championship, and formed an alliance with his best friend Chris Jericho leading to some entertaining moments, segments and promos, including the Festival of Friendship.
Promos/Character: Owens is a good talker and adds to his character and feuds with his promos and segments. He can be serious or cut smart-ass promos, and voter reaction was mixed on the comedy. His work with Jericho created top-notch segments,and Owens has evolved his character over time.
Workrate: Owens had strong matches with Sami Zayn at Payback and Battleground 2016, and the Royal Rumble Last Man Standing match with Ambrose is really good too. He has good power moves and thus matches up well with smaller wrestlers like Zayn. He moves well for a wrestler his size and can also have wild brawls like his matches with Ambrose.
Staff Thoughts: During his relatively short stint with the company, Owens has been involved in a lot of prominent feuds, matches and angles. His angle with Zayn on NXT was different than what NXT had done before. His feuds with Cena, Zayn and Ambrose and his alliance with Jericho all had highlight moments sprinkled throughout. His current run with Zayn as top heels isn’t lighting the world on fire and has been panned by many, but the two have a history of good stuff, so that could potentially turn around. Owens is a somewhat polarizing worker and character, but when he’s on, he provides strong matches and angles that resonated with voters.
From the Voters: “His stuff with Cena, Zayn & Jericho have carried a lot of the last 2 years of WWE programming. High quality feuds coupled with high quality promos, high quality matches, and tons of memorable moments. US champ, IC champ, and the Raw champ for 5 months. Longevity will be his enemy, but in 2 years, I have more “favorite moments” from his career than I’ve gotten from Orton in 15 years.” – James Proffitt, May 31, 2017
“At under two years into his WWE run, he carries himself with the presence of somebody who has been a top star for a decade. Classic matches with John Cena check off that box. Was a legit Universal champion. Can work, can talk, can do it all. He won’t hit my top 30 or so because he hasn’t been around long enough, but he comfortably makes the list; in a few years I wager he’d rank even higher.” – Ben Morse, May 31, 2017
“Yeah I think he is in for me. He’s always been involved in something high profile either on NXT or on the Main Roster. Excellent on the Mic and good in the Ring. Not bad for a guy only two years in to this point.” – Jay Hinchey, May 31, 2017
68. Charlotte Flair
Total Points: 3,340
Total Ballots: 81
Average Rank: 59.8
High Vote: 18
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Longevity works against Charlotte, as she’s only been with thee company about four years. During this time, she’s been both a top babyface and heel. Charlotte carries herself like a star every time she comes to the ring, which has added a lot to the key moments in the Women’s Revolution.
Jump Up Moments: She defeated Natalya in the finals of the tournament for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover. Charlotte would go on to have very good matches defending the NXT Women’s title at Takeover Fatal 4-Way, Takeover R Evolution and Rival, as well as matches against Sasha Banks on NXT TV. She came up to the main roster as part of the Stephanie McMahon’s Women’s Revolution (™ probably) winning the Divas Championship from Nikki Bella and successfully defending it against Paige through the end of 2015.The Divas Championship transitioned to the Women’s Championship during her reign and she had a three-way match for the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32 that is one of the best women’s matches in Mania history. Competed in the first women’s Hell in a Cell match, defeating Sasha at Hell in a Cell 2016. That was also the first time a women’s match main evented a WWE PPV. Charlotte defeated Sasha in overtime of their 30-minute Ironwoman match at Roadblock: End of the Line. She is the only woman ever to hold the NXT Women’s, Divas, Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships.
Promos/Character: Charlotte stands out as a promo above most of her competitors in the women’s division. She plays a good character, especially as a heel, and carries herself with a presence that makes you believe she’s a star. As a result she’s been involved in a majority of the biggest moments of the women’s revolution to show off that starpower. Her fellow Horsewomen shined with her on NXT, but Charlotte has had the most success on the main roster and it’s not particularly close.
Workrate: Charlotte’s one of the most athletic wrestlers, male or female, in the company and it shows in her matches. She had very good battles with the other Horsewomen at Takeovers, including multi-woman matches and tags, as well as singles matches with Sasha. Her tussles with Sasha on the main roster are among the best women’s matches the company has ever put on. The three-way match at WrestleMania 32 is probably the best women’s Mania match in history and she was a huge part of it.
Staff Thoughts: Charlotte’s the face of both the women’s division and the women’s revolution. She’s the most well-rounded of the female performers, having the promos and character work down in addition to the workrate. She’s been involved in so many seminal moments in women’s wrestling with the Hell in a Cell matcha, the NXT work and the WrestleMania 32 match, and there’s huge opportunities to make more memorable moments in the future with Asuka and Ronda Rousey joining the ranks. With what she’s shown so far, there’s little doubt The Queen will continue to be a huge part of the WWE women’s division.
From the Voters: “She belongs. She’s been the best women’s performer since she debuted on the main roster, with multiple **** matches, the best promo in the division until Bliss recently, a rare modern day heel who actually embraced heat, and also has a backlog of great stuff in NXT.” – Greg Phillips, May 29, 20117
“I think she may be the best overall package in a women’s wrestler ever. The only 4 Horsewoman to continue her success on the main roster.” – Aaron George, May 29, 2017
“She’s going to be the highest ranked woman on my list. The standout on the main roster in the women’s revolution era, and better than Trish, Lita, or any other women from previous eras. In a couple of years, she could easily climb into the top ten overall–but longevity isn’t on her side quite yet.” – Jeff Walker, June 22, 2017
67. Pedro Morales
Total Points: 3,423
Total Ballots: 72
Average Rank: 53.5
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Robert Silva
Nuance: Pedro Morales’ original run lasted just over four years, supplemented with two other stints in the 1980s of two years each, so his total of eight years checks the longevity box. Morales played a babyface for the duration of his WWF run, though he did work in singles and tags. His tag runs include winning tag team gold with Bob Backlund at the Showdown in Shea in 1980 and teaming with Gorilla Monsoon early in his career and Tito Santana at the end.
Jump Up Moments: Morales was the first Triple Crown winner for the WWF, meaning he held the WWWF Heavyweight Title, the Intercontinental Title and the WWWF Tag Team titles (he also held the United States Title giving him all the titles of his era). He defeated Ivan Koloff for the WWWF Title and held it for 1,027 days holding down the fort as the babyface champion between Bruno Sammartino’s two title runs. He main evented the 1972 Showdown at Shea where he and Sammartino wrestled 75 minutes to a draw when the city’s curfew entered into effect. That bout was called the “Match of the Century.” After losing the WWWF title to Stan Stasiak, he defeated Ken Patera for the IC Title in 1980, feuding with Sgt. Slaughter, Killer Khan, Stan Hansen, Greg Valentine and others, before dropping the title to Don Muraco in June 1981.
Promos/Character: Pedro could cut promos in English and Spanish, so your ability to understand both languages probably determines your thoughts on his promos. But he was a tremendously popular ethnic babyface, showing fire in promos, segments and matches. His charisma was through the roof and his popularity and importance to the company during his time on top can’t be overstated.
Workrate: Morales showed great babyface fire during his comebacks, which always elicited a crowd response. Other than that…well, the matches tended to be long and, sometimes, slow with an abundance of restholds. During his peak time, he still got those great reactions. However, he also made multiple comebacks to diminished returns and his run in to the mid-to-late 1980s had some real stinker matches.
Staff Thoughts: Pedro’s charisma, fire and importance to the company are all at the top of the charts. He was a top-drawing ethnic babyface and is still the longest reigning Latino champion for the company. He had strong jump-up moments with matches against Bruno in a very rare babyface vs. babyface encounter, as well as a long championship reign between Bruno’s two reigns. Morales was the first Triple Crown winner (and if you want to call him the first Grand Slam winner for his US Championship, go ahead.) He was never best in-ring worker, but he knew how to fire up the crowd. As Napoleon Dynamite said: “Vote For Pedro”. And many voters did just that.
From the Voters: “He was the first WWF Triple Crown champ, back when that really meant something. Filled the role of ethnic babyface champ well between Bruno’s 2 title reigns. Feuds with Valentine and Muraco for the IC title, while not workrate classics, were hot and the fans were always solidly behind him. Was a legitimately important part of the WWF spanning 2 decades. I’ve never been a fan, but I can’t deny he deserves to be in the 100.” – Tim Tetreault, June 2, 2017
“I love Pedro, the same way I love Michael Hayes and Choshu. Such an awesome babyface. Hell, I might include Ivan Putski in this group but he falls just short. Pedro is Top half on my list but not Top 20.” – Good Ol’ Will, June 1, 2017
“He has some dreck in 86 and 87, but was champ for nearly 3 years, and ic champ twice. HoF, too i believe. He is in.” – Will Olson, June 1, 2017
66. Trish Stratus
Total Points: 3,533
Total Ballots: 88
Average Rank: 60.9
High Vote: 10
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Stacey O’Loughlin
Nuance: Trish Stratus was with the company for six years and worked as both a heel and a babyface. She worked primarily in singles or multi-woman matches, though she did show flexibility by working a number of stipulation bouts (often ridiculous) and againsts wrestlers of a variety of skill levels. Trish showed the ability to give a nuanced character performance too, particularly in the angle with Chris Jericho and Christian.
Jump Up Moments: Her match with Mickie James at WrestleMania 22 was very good and the best at WrestleMania until the recent women’s performers broke onto the scene. She held up her end of the fued, behaving as one would assume you would behave had a former friend turn lesbian stalker. Her performance in the Chris Jericho angle, turning on him and joining Christian at WrestleMania XX was very memorable and well executed. Trish famously wore white (lingerie) because, as she pointed, Lita could not wear white during her wedding to Kane. Hache mache! Trish main evented Raw, losing the Women’s Championship to Lita. Stratus had memorable feuds with Jazz and Victoria and is a record seven-time Women’s Champion (and a one-time Hardcore Champion, for those that care.)
Promos/Character: The Chris Jericho/Christian $1 (Canadian) bet angle saw some of the best acting on WWE TV of the era and Trish more than delivered in her role. And while that still isn’t winning any Oscars, but she was better than what we were getting at the time. She then freshened up her character by becoming Hot Evil Trish joining with Christian. During her heel time she did really strong mic work, particularly tearing down Lita at every opportunity. Overall, Trish played a good, believable character, which was a far cry from most of the wooden delivery of the Diva-search-winning, Playboy-aspiring women of the era she often had to work with.
Workrate: Opinions vary on Trish’s workrate, with some voters feeling she had many legitimately good matches despite time constraints and green opponents, while others feel like her movements were awkward and she was merely the best of a bad women’s division. Most everyone agrees that Stratus showed tremendous improvement in the ring during her time with the company, and she could’ve easily coasted on her looks as so many women did after her. The WrestleMania match with Mickie James, as well as her matches with Jazz, Victoria and Lita are all ones to track down. She also shockingly had an entertaining match with Stephanie McMahon at No Way Out 2001, as part of the “bark like a dog” angle that we will not speak of.
Staff Thoughts: Trish Stratus stands out from the other women of her era and that would come later because of her character work. She was able to convey a believable character in a wide variety of situations from breaking up forced weddings with demonic monsters to being the base in a love triangle and settling a $1 (Canadian) bet. All in a day’s work for Trish. She was also clearly in the top-tier of women of her generation and none really approached her level of matches for many years. The combination of character, promo and workrate is what led to her delivering the Stratusfaction to our voters, landing her on the list. You can hear Good Ol’ Will, Stacey and Glenn talk her on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “The biggest female star WWE ever produced without putting her on the cover of Playboy. Great as a babyface, greater as a heel. Improved as a worker and a promo through hard work over the course of half a decade. Went from T&A–literally and figuratively–to a legend. Put it together in-ring with Lita, Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria, and Mickie James. Top 50.” – Ben Morse, June 9, 2017
“I enjoy Trish’s promos especially as a heel. Trolling Lita was some great shit. The whole Christian alliance was great. Definitely loses luster on the stick as a babyface. She may be the best non-female manager promo of all time. Im not going to go back and watch her matches. She gets in based on influence, importance and my general recollection that she was good and I enjoyed her heel work as a character and on the mic.” – Martin Boulevard, November 15, 2017
“Perhaps the best female in WWE history. Improved by leaps and bounds by late 2001/2002 in Ring and a 7 time Women’s Champion. Always brought the Stratusfaction and is a lock for me.” – Jay Hinchey, June 3, 2017
65. Iron Sheik
Total Points: 3,573
Total Ballots: 82
Average Rank: 57.4
High Vote: 14
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: El Groino
Nuance: The Iron Sheik was a key component of the WWF for a three-plus-year stint from 1983-1987, plus some earlier work as the Great Hossein Arab as a challenger to Bob Backlund and later as Col. Mustafa. He played the foreign heel gimmick every step of the way, but did perform in both singles and a tag team with Nikolai Volkoff. The character was a pretty clear-cut foreign heel with little nuance, but that doesn’t mean the character wasn’t extremely effective.
Jump Up Moments:The feud with Sgt. Slaughter in 1984 is one of the top feuds the company ever did and resulted in a number of great matches, including an all-time great Boot Camp match at MSG. Sheik is also likely the most famous and important transitional champion of all-time winning the title from Backlund when Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel and losing the title to an up-and-comer name Hulk Hogan. As Hossein Arab he was a strong challenger to Backlund in 1979. His heel tag team with Nikolai Volkoff was an important part of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era and shockingly won the Tag Team Titles from the U.S. Express at the first WrestleMania.
Promos/Character: Iran #1! U.S.A. Hock-too! Need we say more? Well, we will anyway. Sheiky baby was a one-note foreign heel for much of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era, but he played that role quite well. He also provided credibility due to his legit toughness as a former Olympic-level wrestler and coach and bodyguard for the Shah. That legit toughness was an important part of his character facing Slaughter and Backlund. He slightly reinvented himself as Col. Mustafa, for whatever that’s worth. If we count his Twitter promos, Sheiky baby may be an all-time great promo, he’s definitely the real and if you don’t believe that he will make you humble.
Workrate: Sheik has a solid resume, including the bunch of great matches with Slaughter and Backlund. Many voters were willing to put Sheik in based on the feud with Slaughter alone. The Boot Camp match is one of the all-time great brawls and the early bouts with Backlund are very good as well. His work deteriorated as his body expanded after the Slaughter feud, and the Volkoff team has some rough matches to watch as a result but there were still sparks of greatness in his work even at that point.
Staff Thoughts: The Iron Sheik checks every box, from historical significance of transitioning the belt to Hulk Hogan to workrate with the bloody Slaughter feud. The “Foreign Legion” was a top tag team of their time and their win at the first WrestleMania was a shocking moment. Sheik and Volkoff were good foreign heels and memorable characters from the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era. Plus, he won the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X7 over such stiff competition as the Gobbledy Gooker. What more could you want from a wrestler that the Iron Sheik didn’t deliver? Luckily our voters agreed, so no one needs to have their back broken or be humbled in the old country way.
From the Voters: “Sheiky was actually an underappreciated wrestler as he had the ability to suplex a guy and submit him. He had crowd heat up the wazoo and his promos with Gene Mean were always entertaining. A key figure in the rock n wrestling era that drew me in. YES for me.” – Chris Jordan, May 30, 2017
“Top 💯 for sure. One of my top three heels in the WWE of all time. He was legitimately hated by fans everywhere and being a former WWE champion doesn’t hurt either. His rivalry with Sgt Slaughter I believe was his best but he stood out and was a truly unique character.” – Eric Boyd, May 30, 2017
“The Iron Sheik was the perfect heel for a time when the WWF had to transition out of the dingy halls (even the darkened MSG) and into the TV-ready mainstream. He was a tremendous heel who knew how to get a crowd so rabid for his defeat that it made that defeat on January 23, 1984 that much more important. That on top of the fact he is one of the best workers of the past 40 years. A legitimate tough guy who protected the Shah of Iran and was an Olympic coach, The Iron Sheik knew how to move the needle anywhere around the world and Vince Jr. bottled up that aggression into a three year run (1983-1986) of great feuds, memorable matches and even better entertaining promos.” – Scott Criscuolo, May 31, 2017
64. Seth Rollins
Total Points: 3,695
Total Ballots: 86
Average Rank: 58
High Vote: 16
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Dave Musgrave
Nuance: Seth Rollins has five years of longevity with the company for this project (he was in FCW when it was rebranded to NXT, so his time in NXT counts, time in FCW does not.) He has played both a heel and a face, though his singles heel work was criticized by some voters who felt Rollins wrestled like a babyface despite his role. He also has singles, tags and six-man tags showing some flexibility.
Jump Up Moments: Rollins was the first NXT champion. He debuted with The Shield and his first PPV match was a classic against Team Hell No and Ryback, and he continued to have really strong six-man matches along with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. The Shield vs. Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014 is a fantastic match and The Shield had memorable bouts against Evolution at Extreme Rules and Payback 2014. Rollins won tag team gold with Roman Reigns and the two had a great match with Goldust and Cody Rhodes at Battleground 2013. He turned on his Shield teammates joining the Authority and winning Money in the Bank 2014. Challenged for the WWE World title against Brock Lesnar and John Cena in a great match at Royal Rumble 2015. He had a memorable cash-in during the main event of WrestleMania 31, pinning Reigns to win the WWE World title. Rollins defeated John Cena in a winner take all match at SummerSlam 2015 to win the US championship and won his second title at Money in the Bank 2016 before losing it when Dean Ambrose cashed in his MITB briefcase. Rollins defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 33 and then reunited with Dean Ambrose winning tag team gold and feuding with The soon-to-be-named Bar, and eventually having a Shield reunion with Reigns, as well.
Promos/Character: Rollins cut solid promos in the Shield, but faltered as a singles star as both a heel and a face. He was likely horribly miscast as a heel teaming with The Authority, but he did little to make himself hated, and many voters criticize him for wrestling like a babyface in that role. Rollins’ character has also been hurt somewhat, because he’s always defined by who he’s associated with, whether it be The Shield or The Authority.
Workrate: As we’ve mentioned, many voters have criticized Rollins’ work, specifically doing too many highspots as a heel. At the same time, Rollins has been a part of a huge number of good to great matches. The previously mentioned Shield six-man bouts are great and his tag runs with both Reigns and Rollins produced some really good matches with Cody and Goldust and The Bar. The three-way match with Cena and Lesnar is another super match. However, none of those are singles matches. Rollins’ initial singles run was defined by his feud against Dean Ambrose and he two had one of the better lumberjack matches ever (for whatever that’s worth) at SummerSlam 2014, a falls count anywhere match on Raw and a Hell in a Cell match.
Staff Thoughts: Rollins is another divisive wrestler on our list, with some voters loving him and others really hating him. While many criticize, Rollins has been involved in an incredible amount of really good matches, with the Shield and tag work and theRumble 2015 three-way being generally praised. Mileage seems to vary on much of his 2015 run, though if you are a fan of the Ambrose feud, Rollins likely scored high on your ballot. As it is, he did enough to rate with voters to make the list comfortably.
From the Voters: “Probably makes my list on the Shield run alone. He’s had some really good matches here and there, but his top card run from 2015-onward has been incredibly disappointing as both an in-ring competitor and heel/face. Not all of it was his fault, almost everyone in the ‘E is the victim of bad booking to some extent. But he has no sense of psychology, he’s not a very good mic worker, and his run as champ drew viewership off a cliff.” – Greg Rossbach, July 7, 2017
“He might make the back end of my list based on the Shield work, but having one of the worst long-term main event runs in company history may keep him off. I definitely have Reigns and Ambrose ahead of him.” – Adam Russell, August 1, 2017
“I was going to say yes but his heel run in the authority was pretty bad. Austins podcast where he admitted he didn’t get the character was pretty spot on. I’d say in the 70s.” – Mike Eller, May 30, 2017
Total Points: 3,889
Total Ballots: 85
Average Rank: 55.2
High Vote: 10
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Ash
Nuance: Kane scores his biggest points in this category, primarily through longevity as he’s been with the company since 1995, so he has over 20 years of mostly uninterrupted time with WWF. This longevity has worked against him with some voters who are tired of the Kane act. He’s been a heel, then a face, and a face and a heel… you get the idea. Kane actually has some good tag team work and probably doesn’t get enough credit for his teams with Daniel Byan, X-Pac and Hurricane. He was also part of the Brothers of Destruction, tagging regularly with the Undertaker because blood is thicker than formaldehyde and fires that may or may not have killed your parents. Sometimes.
Jump Up Moments: That’s gotta be Kane! Who could forget Kane’s debut, ripping the door off the cage at the first Hell in a Cell match and tombstoning Undertaker. That would be the best match Kane was involved in, but he was certainly an interesting and intimidating character in WWE for some time afterwards. It was surprising that he got a one-day title reign in 1998 though he had quite an advantage in a first blood match, since he had no exposed skin. Kane did strong character work in his team with X-Pac and played a convincing monster heel shortly after unmasking and setting JR on fire. Naturally, you associate Kane with weddings, as his wedding with Lita featured Trish in lingerie, and he notably interrupted Edge and Lita’s wedding in the name of…Jesus Christ! His work in Team Hell No was very good, providing a really fun moment in group therapy and led to some of his best matches in the company.
Promos/Character: Kane’s a good promo, getting his points across with a cock of the head and audibly from the time he first lifted the voice box to his once charred vocal chords. He seems to have made a nice recovery, as he talks perfectly fine now (and during the Authority angle, sometimes far too much). He’s played the Kane character as convincingly as anyone could have played that character. Now, books have been written about the twists and turns of that character, of which many, many, many have been absolute garbage. Kane always seemed to be a believable monster, and that’s not even taking into account Fake Diesel and Isaac Yankem. Of course, your mileage may vary there.
Workrate: Kane’s best work usually comes as a base for smaller wrestlers to bounce off of in mutti-man or team ladder matches. He was good in the TLC tag team match on Raw in 2002 and in the first Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 21. Kane played a good hot tag, teaming with smaller wrestlers in tag teams throughout his run. He also had memorably (and shockingly) good matches with Albert. All that said, Kane has had looooong stretches of nothing but dreadful matches during his career. His tag team work with Undertaker has been nothing but uninteresting and anytime the Brothers of Destruction get together, their opponents are in trouble. Meaning they’re going to look bad in crappy matches.
Staff Thoughts: Your thoughts on Kane likely come down to how much do you weigh the crap compared to the memorable moments in his career. Because he’s got plenty of both. If you want to remember Kane for Katie Vick, electrocuting Shane McMahon’s testicles and Corporate Kane, he may not be making your list. If you want to weigh his longevity and remember him ripping off the door of the Cell, winning the tag team TLC by himself or his work in Team Hell No, he probably will make your list. And Kane’s got plenty of grey area in between. To hear the case for Kane, JT and Aaron cover it in this Making the Cut and Good Ol’ Will and crew make the case against in this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “I’m much more inclined to forgive his lack of high end matches for a WWE-only list when he’s such a strong out of the ring performer. He’s the quintessential role player for WWE and has done everything they’ve asked him to do – heel or face, evil or comedic, monster or corporate suit, single or tags, talking or working. Plenty of highlights and enough good matches over the years to placate me. Gets a bad rap sometimes.” – Stacey O’Loughlin, May 31, 2017
“No shot. He has probably been on TV more than anyone in the last 20 years without once single classic match to his name. TWENTY FREAKING YEARS!!! More chances than anyone. He does have several WMOTYs and horrible feuds to his name. Like right above HHH on the list.” – Good Ol’ Will From Texas, May 31, 2017
“Team Hell No, the team with Hurricane, the team with X-Pac, the team with Big Show, the Brothers of Destruction team – all of my favorite stuff from him was his tag-team work. I dislike almost every single feud he ever had but I really like all 5 of the teams listed above. Not great at feuding with people, but just fantastic as a personality contrast to play off of people.” – James Proffitt, September 27, 2017
62. Pat Patterson
Total Points: 3,938
Total Ballots: 81
Average Rank: 52.4
High Vote: 11
Low Vote: 96
High Voter: Chris; ElliottPWO
Nuance: Pat Patterson had a five-year run with the company from 1979 to 1984. He worked as both a heel and then turned babyface when the Grand Wizard attempted to sell his contract to Capt. Lou Albano. Links to footage of his turn are included on the Facebook page and are worth a watch.
Jump Up Moments: He won the North American Championship from a young babyface Ted DiBiase in 1979 in a good match and was the first Intercontinental Champion, winning that vaunted tournament in Rio de Janeiro in a series of grueling matches. The story went that as the North American champion, Patterson unified the title with the South American title. He held the title for 233 days before dropping it to Ken Patera. Patterson also challenged Bob Backlund for the WWF title with the 7/30/79 and 9/24/79 bouts being particularly touted by voters. As a babyface, Patterson had a heated, memorable feud with Sgt. Slaughter over the Cobra Clutch Challenge that resulted in a red hot Bootcamp Match at MSG in May 1981.
Promos/Character: Patterson did great work in his babyface turn and when he accepted Sgt. Slaughter’s Cobra Clutch Challenge. He had less promo time as a heel when he was aligned with the Grand Wizard.
Workrate: Everything Patterson did in the ring was really, really good. He could have technical matches with Backlund and wild brawls with Slaughter. His matches with DiBiase and Patera were fun and really well worked too. The Slaughter match at MSG in May won the WON match of the year for 1981. He’s a Titans of Wrestling darling, and for good reason, as Patterson always brought the goods. You can hear more about Patterson on this FYC podcast.
Staff Thoughts: Many voters learned more about Patterson through this project and came to love his in-ring work. Plenty of others were already familiar with Patterson and his famous feuds with Slaughter and Backlund and his five-year company run. Patterson is also known as one of the Stooges from the Attitude Era, which is hit or miss, but Pat certainly played his part with gusto. If you’re still not familiar with his work, by all means check out the links in the Facebook group and the match suggestions in the quotes below and check out how Patterson brings the intensity to his matches.
From the Voters: “Pat has to be in, right? He headlined MSG with BOB more than 3 times, right? Nobody else had that. Plus, being first intercontinental heavyweight champion was important to the tv, at the time. He had memorable feuds with many guys, and went into the HoF. Pat to me is a no doubter.” – Will Olson, June 1, 2017
“I need to see more of his great stuff. I’m sure I’ll lose any and all cool points when I admit I’m not nuts about his work in the famous Slaughter bloodbath. I love the layout of the match, which I’m sure is all him, but the actual match left me a little cold. Objectively I can admit it’s good, but I just don’t love it. Which Backlund matches are recommended?” – Greg Phillips, June 2, 2017
“7/30/79 MSG is great, one of Backlund’s best title defenses. 9/24/79 cage at MSG is very good.” – Kelly Nelson, June 2, 2017
Total Points: 4,021
Total Ballots: 101
Average Rank: 61.2
High Vote: 25
Low Vote: 97
High Voter: Chris Jordan
Nuance: Yokozuna had a relatively short WWF run from 1992-1996. He did show great flexibility during this time performing as a heel and babyface and as a singles star and in a tag team with Owen Hart. Yokozuna had an aura and a presence, partly because of his immense size, but also because he was able to carry himself like an unstoppable monster and a star. That made it all the more impressive when the babyface challenger would eventually slay the monster.
Jump Up Moments: Yokozuna won the 1993 Royal Rumble eliminating Randy Savage at the end. He went on to crush Bret Hart like a grape at WresteMania IX to win his first WWF Title, which lasted mere minutes until he was overcome by the power of Hulkamania. Yokozuna went on to avenge this loss, squashing Hogan at King of the Ring 1993, sending him scurrying to Thunder in Paradise. He went on a monster heel run before Bret Hart was able to slay the monster at WrestleMania X. He was Owen Hart’s mystery partner for WrestleMania XI, winning the Tag Team Titles from the Smoking Gunns. Yokozuna would then leave Camp Cornette, turning babyface in the process, to feud with Vader before being gone from the company.
Promos/Character: Yoko didn’t even speak English until his babyface turn, instead relying on Mr. Fuji, and especially Jim Cornette, to do his talking for him. Instead Yokozuna stood in the background and looked intimidating, which he did very well. He carried himself like the unbeatable monster that he was, which was a big part of his feuds with underdog babyfaces like Bret Hart.
Workrate: It was incredible how well Yokozuna moved for a man of his size during his prime run. He had solid matches with Bret Hart and the SummerSlam match with Lex Luger is also solid until the crappy ending. Speaking of solid until the crappy ending, the Undertaker casket match from Royal Rumble isn’t too bad until the overbooking nonsense kicks in (which, admittedly, that’s some overbooking horseshit there). Yoko’s work also continued to slide as his weight ballooned further. Moving well for a man his size became harder and harder as that weight crept near 700 lbs. Yokozuna got a bad rap as a worker at times, and he was better than remembered, but your thoughts on it probably boil down to what you value in the ring.
Staff Thoughts: Yokozuna was one of the top stars of the New Generation and was the first long-term heel champion. Perhaps both of those are damning with faint praise, but Yoko’s portrayal of an unbeatable monster was part of getting Bret Hart over as the conquering hero babyface. He was better than many remember in the ring, and an unforgettable character for the time. Him dropping the leg on Hulk Hogan at KOTR ‘93 was a huge moment as well.
From the Voters: “He moved around quicker at 500 lbs than I do at 230 lbs. I fell in love with him as soon as he debuted in late ’92. A mainstay of the New Generation. Tremendous bumper for a man of his size. Great facial expressions, plus a former WWE champion and Royal Rumble winner.” – Jason Greenhous, June 3, 2017
“Potential top 50 guy for me. Totally got how to play a monster just right, knew when to look weak, before cutting off a face comeback with a perfectly timed superkick or throat jab. Offence often looked devastating, his suplexes, legdrops and the Bansai all looked brutal.” – David Clare, June 4, 2017
“I liken him to a lesser version of Blackwell. Great weeble-wobble selling. He knew how to make leaving his feet matter. The matches with Bret are great and some of Bret’s best babyface work. It is a short but effective run and he makes the cut because I am a sucker for monster heels.” – Martin Boulevard, November 15, 2017
60. Kevin Nash
Total Points: 4,063
Total Ballots: 98
Average Rank: 59.5
High Vote: 16
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Chris Jordan
Nuance: Kevin Nash’s first run as Diesel lasted just under three years and included time as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard and his returns never lasted long, so his longevity doesn’t score particularly well. Diesel played both a heel and a babyface, with his cool heel character getting over much better than his hand-slapping babyface gimmick did. In addition to the winning the WWF Title and IC strap, he teamed with Shawn Michaels winning the Tag Team Titles on two occasions as well. Big Daddy Cool had undeniable charisma and could hold up a gloved hand better than anyone.
Jump Up Moments: Diesel’s run in the 1994 Royal Rumble got the crowd on his side and anything that remotely mirrors it is now referred to as the “Diesel push.” He won every title in the company in 1994, and held the WWF Championship for just under a year. He defended the title at WrestleMania XI against Shawn Michaels and after losing the belt, Diesel snapped and turned heel, showing an edge his babyface character desperately could have used. He had a good feud with the Undertaker culminating in a match at WrestleMania XII and wrapped up with a memorable brawl against Shawn Michaels in April 1996. And of course, Nash tearing his quad in 2002 is memorable as well in its own special way. Capping things off is his mega pop for his surprise entry in the 2011 Royal Rumble match.
Promos/Character: Diesel played a good silent bodyguard to Shawn Michaels, and when finally given the opportunity to cut promos, he was very effective. He had good charisma, connecting with the crowd and telling them the WWF runs on “Diesel Power.” However, Diesel was a good character when he was allowed to have an edge and be somewhat of a tweener, but his white meat babyface character got extremely lame by mid 1995.
Workrate: Diesel is not generally considered a good worker, unless he’s given a prominent match with a good dance partner. But when he is, he’s capable of having great matches like his Royal Rumble 1995 and Survivor Series 1995 matches with Bret Hart and his war with Shawn Michaels at Good Friends, Better Enemies in 1996. His match against Undertaker at WrestleMania XII was Undertaker’s first good Mania match. On the flip side, his title run in 1995 featured tons of shit matches with the likes of Mabel and Sid, and his 2003 run with Triple H sucked as well. Really, any Kevin Nash returns sucked.
Staff Thoughts: Diesel’s title run was a flop and he doesn’t have a long list of great matches. His returns have all been bad, from the NWO and torn-quad era to him powerbombing CM Punk to derail the Summer of Punk. All that said, Diesel was an incredibly important character in the WWF New Generation Era. He did have notable runs with the WWF championship, as well as Tag Team Titles and the IC Title. And the matches with Hart and Michaels were great. Plus without Diesel, we never get The Rock cutting that promo on him. Toot! Toot!
From the Voters: “His Survivor Series ’95 match with Bret Hart is a classic. He has mutliple other great matches with Bret and Shawn. Probably the worst long lasting WWE Champion of all time. But he should get credit for doing the first blurred lines characters after Survivor Series 95 and started doing the quasi-shoot promos. The Undertaker match at Wrestlemania XII was the first good Undertaker match in forever. He makes the list firmly in the back half.” – Martin Boulevard, November 19, 2017
“A hundred spots is a lot, so he makes it, but I can think of a lot of better workers from different eras that were better. He got pushed and made the best of those pushes, but McMahon screaming “AWW YEAH” every time his corny porn music came on was a bit much. This tells me his run was not organic.” – Jeffrey Thomas, May 31, 2017
“Absolutely he makes my list. Not a great worker by most accounts, but had great matches with Bret and Shawn, plus a sneaky classic with Taker at Mania 12. Off the charts charisma and top notch mic skills. Redefined the idea of the big man who could have a character beyond just being a giant.” – Ben Morse, May 31, 2017
59. John Bradshaw Layfield
Total Points: 4,076
Total Ballots: 99
Average Rank: 59.8
High Vote: 19
Low Vote: 93
High Voter: Brad Faulk
Nuance: Longevity definitely works in his favor, as JBL was with the company from 1995 through 2009 as an active competitor, with a short break in the middle as SmackDown commentator. He gets full credit for flexibility playing a number of different characters, both heel and face and had roles in multiple tag teams in addition to a strong singles run.
Jump Up Moments: Bradshaw had numerous memorable and entertaining backstage skits and in ring brawls with the APA, along with Ron Simmons. DAMN! But he really took off when he became the JBL character and began feuding with Eddie Guerrero, winning the WWE Title in the process. JBL would hold the title for 280 days, losing it to John Cena at WrestleMania 21, before having a great rematch with Cena at Judgment Day 2005. JBL won the US Title from Chris Benoit at WrestleMania 22 and opened WrestleMania XXIV with a Belfast Brawl against Finlay.
Promos/Character: The JBL character cut great promos, which helped him generate heat as WWE Champion. The character was hated by fans, partly because he was viewed as beneath his babyface challengers and kept his title through nefarious means, partly because his push came out of nowhere and partly because of his great work on the stick. He developed the JBL character over time, creating his Cabinet to assist him in retaining the title. He also did good character work as part of the APA, and showed the ability to reinvent himself, going from Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw to an Acolyte to the APA and then JBL.
Workrate: JBL was a pretty inconsistent worker, generally below the main event standards of the day. However, when he hit, he really hit, with an impressive list of great matches, including the matches against Guerrero at Judgment Day and Great American Bash 2004. His “I Quit” match with Cena at Judgment Day 2005 is a classic bloody war and the bout with Finlay at WrestleMania is a fun weapons match brawl.
Staff Thoughts: He’s got excellent longevity and flexibility. His APA Bradshaw and JBL characters are both memorable and he showed great versatility. JBL was really good on the mic, which added a lot of heat to his title run. JBL wasn’t normally considered a great worker, and he did have some stinkers during that title reign against Undertaker, Batista and others. But he also had a surprising amount of brawls that make you say “Damn, that was a great match.” He was an 18-time Hardcore Champion, a three-time Tag Team Champion, an IC Champion, a US Champion and a WWE Champion. Between that resume, his character work and top-end matches, it’s easy to see why voters put JBL in the top 100.
From the Voters: “I’m probably in the minority here but I always enjoyed JBL. Was never the best in the ring but his promo skill especially during his title run helped make up for it a little. I adore the Eddie/JBL feud, every match in the rivalry was good to great. Seek out those matches if you haven’t seen them in a while. Real good chance he makes my list.” – Matt Souza, May 30, 2017
“Always have enjoyed Bradshaw either in the APA or later as JBL. He really made the JBL character work in 2004 and helped carry Smackdown during that period. Some excellent Matches with Eddie Guerrero at Judgment Day and Great American Bash plus the Cage Match on Smackdown. Has some of the best Heel promos too including the two at both ECW One Night Stand PPVs. Some classic rants on the ECW faithful.” – Jay Hinchey, May 31, 2017
“JBL is a guy who I think will benefit from a fair ranking system. I am not a fan of his really at all, but I am pretty confident that when I sit down and rate people on a numbers scale, he WILL wind up on my list due to having higher highs than many, longevity, and quite honestly, his lows aren’t as low as people want to think they are.” – Jordan Duncan, May 31, 2017
Total Points: 4,185
Total Ballots: 95
Average Rank: 57
High Vote: 14
Low Vote: 99
High Voter: Microstatistics
Nuance: Cesaro’s had a solid five years with the company. He’s shown flexibility as a part of three really strong tag teams and a very strong singles run in 2013. You could argue he is one of the best and worst versatile tag workers in WWE history. Cesaro has worked as a babyface and a heel up and down the card.
Jump Up Moments: He won the US Championship, his only singles title to date, shortly after he debuted, leading to him having a run of great matches in 2013. Cesaro is a five-time tag team champion (which ties the record for most reigns), winning gold with Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd and Sheamus. He had a great feud with Sami Zayn in NXT. His US Open Challenge matches with John Cena in June-July 2015 were instant classics. Winning the inaugural Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX was probably his high point, and looked to be the start of something big, but it wasn’t meant to be. Cesaro is currently doing tremendous tag-team work with Sheamus as The Bar.
Promos/Character: Mic work is probably Cesaro’s weakness, though he hasn’t been given tons of opportunities on the mic. He’s been through a number of characters, including being a Real American and later a Paul Heyman Guy. The WWE seems determined to make him a heel and give him a manager, though the fans have shown support anytime Cesaro has worked as a babyface. His partnership with Heyman in particular looked promising but turned out to do Cesaro no favors at all.
Workrate: Cesaro is a great and consistent worker, so you almost always get good stuff from the Swiss Superman. He had wonderful matches with Sami Zayn in NXT, including a two-out-of-three falls match on the August 21, 2013 episode and at the first Takeover. His matches on Raw with John Cena in June and July 2015 were fantastic. He’s a great tag worker, with his work with Sheamus resulting in very good matches with The Shield and The Hardy Boyz.
Staff Thoughts: Cesaro’s great and may be the most underutilized guy in the company during his stay there. He’s constantly in good matches and always finds a way to get over with the crowd. He’s never been pushed to any great degree and has primarily been involved in tag teams, so that’s where the bulk of his resume lies. Still, he’s had great matches with Cena, Zayn and others in addition to the tag team work with The Bar, The Real Americans and his unit with Tyson Kidd. Voters keep hoping for a bigger push and role for The King of Swing, but for now he gets in on the strength of his workrate.
From the Voters: “I’m almost definitely ranking him. Equally adept at singles or tag and seamlessly made three separate makeshift teams into well oiled units. Elite singles wrestler when the chains are off.” – Jeremy Ray, May 28, 2017
“Lock. I love his style of wrestling with the feats of strength and stiff uppercuts; as well as the swing. He is a great base wrestler, and can also be a ring general. Always manages to rise above shitty booking.” – Michael Schoen, May 29, 2017
Not sure if he’ll make the top 50, but his ring work alone earns him a spot. One of the best TV workers in recent memory and one half of not one, not two, but THREE very good tag teams.” – Greg Rossbach, July 16, 2017
57. Mark Henry
Total Points: 4,238
Total Ballots: 92
Average Rank: 54.9
High Vote: 13
Low Vote: 100
High Voter: Good Ol’ Will from Texas
Nuance: Mark Henry debuted in 1996 and had a 20-plus-year career with WWE. His last match was the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, but we’ve heard this retirement business from Henry before, so maybe Sexual Chocolate still has more left in the tank. He’s had singles runs and tag team stints with D’Lo Brown and MVP. Henry has played a heel and a babyface and has changed and evolved his character multiple times, showing great flexibility. At Henry’s best he carries himself like a star and has a presence adding to his allure.
Jump Up Moments: When you think of Mark Henry’s high points you think of his Hall of Pain run in 2011 and his fake retirement speech ending with him giving John Cena the World’s Strongest Slam in 2013. The Hall of Pain run featured him having great matches with Big Show, Sheamus and others and him injuring Show, Kane, Vladamir Kozlov and Great Khali to induct them into the Hall. He then won the World Heavyweight Title from Randy Orton at Night of Champions 2011 and was also ECW Champion and European Champion.
Promos/Character: Henry showed his promo chops during his fake retirement ceremony when he was returning from a number of injuries and had teased retirement on social media. He proceeded to interrupt John Cena and gave one of the most emotional and powerful promos of the last decade, before declaring it all a ruse and giving Cena the World’s Strongest Slam. In an era where most promos run together this one stood out as memorable. Henry’s also played a number of different characters in his long career, from a sex addict to the killer monster heel. He was given a lot of absolute dogshit in his early career, and while he didn’t necessarily make it good, he stuck with it to give us the good stuff at the back of his career.
Workrate: Has there been a wrestler with more of a mixed bag when it comes to match quality than Mark Henry? His first few years were pretty dreadful as part of the Nation of Domination and later as Sexual Chocolate. Exactly when he got awesome is a matter of great debate, but there’s no doubt he did get awesome. He had a good run on Raw in 2003 and then in ECW but his greatest hits came during the Hall of Pain run in 2011. Check out the Big Show match from MITB, the Sheamus match from SummerSlam and Randy Orton matches from Night of Champions and Hell in a Cell. More match recommendations can be found in the Facebook thread. Henry does a fantastic job using his size and immense strength to his advantage in his matches, and if you like hard-hitting slugfests, Henry post-2011 is your guy.
Staff Thoughts: If there’s a wrestler with a wider gap between his highs and lows than Henry, we can’t think of it. If you told us in 1999 that we’d been marking out over a Mark Henry vs. Big Show match in 2011 we’d have called you crazy. And to think of Henry as a top 100 wrestler of all-time? Even crazier. But his late career resurgence has been remarkable and he’s nothing less than a fantastic power wrestler from at least 2011 on (and it doesn’t happen overnight as there are signs of really good stuff as early as 2003). Martin Boulevard wrote about the late career resurgence here. Despite being paired with Mae Young giving birth to a hand and being a sex addict, Sexual Chocolate rebounded with the great matches in 2011 and the retirement angle promo that led to another damn good match with Cena at MITB 2013. Hear Good Ol’ Will express his undying love for Mark Henry on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Hall of Pain locks it up. Been revisiting old matches… he had some great performances in bad matches or matches with shit booking. Right now, I love Mark Henry so much that I have him in my Top 20.” – Good Ol’ Will From Texas, May 31, 2017
“He has longevity and a few good runs (Hall of Pain, Sexual Chocolate, Fake-Retirement) on his side. The injuries may be the deciding factors if he ends up on the bubble and/or involved in any kind of tie-breaker.” – Andy Atherton, June 1, 2017
“Top 25 for sure. Think people forget how surprisingly athletic he is for that size. His movement is incredible, though he’s showing his age s bit now. But he’s still a guy you can use to get a monster over because he can take bigger bumps than other large guys. He was first good in 2003, had probably a 10yr run of good/great matches. Hall of Pain was just the icing on the cake for me.” – David Clare, June 2, 2017
56. Rick Martel
Total Points: 4,333
Total Ballots: 90
Average Rank: 52.9
High Vote: 9
Low Vote: 98
High Voter: Scott Herrin
Nuance: Rick Martel spent about 11 years with the WWF between his run in the early 1980s and his return from 1986 to 1995. He played both a great fiery babyface and a vintage arrogant heel and had notable singles runs and tag runs with three different partners.
Jump Up Moments: Martel is a three-time tag team champion, twice with Tony Garea and once with Tito Santana as Strike Force. His tag team run with Garea included feuds with the Wild Samoans and really good matches against the Moondogs and Fuji & Saito. Upon his return to the company in 1986, he formed the Can-Am Connection with Tom Zenk and the team was just getting rolling in a hot feud with The Islanders when Zenk left the company. He then recruited Tito Santana to join him in his battle with the Islanders, forming a team that Strikes… with Force. Wonder what they’ll call the team? Anyway, Strike Force had great matches with The Islanders and many other teams of the day, winning the Tag Team Titles from the Hart Foundation before losing to Demolition. Martel famously walked out on Santana at WrestleMania V and took on the heel Model character, which would remain with him until his final days. As the Model he had a notable feud with Jake Roberts, blinding him with Arrogance and competing in a fun blindfold match at WrestleMania VII. He would also challenge Shawn Michaels for the IC title at SummerSlam 1992 in a solid battle… unless you were Sherri Martel who couldn’t fathom punches to the face for either of the pretty/sexy boys.
Promos/Character: Martel wasn’t a great promo, doing most of his talking in the ring as a babyface, and relying heavily on character as a heel. But he should get credit for playing both the white meat babyface tag team specialist and completely reinventing himself as the heel Model. The Model wasn’t the best character the company ever did, but Martel played it with gusto, with his atomizer full of Arrogance and his button confirming that Yes, He is a Model.
Workrate: He was pretty elite as a babyface tag team worker. He and Garea had great matches with the Moondogs and especially Fuji & Saito. For example, check out the title change on Oct. 13, 1981 where Martel takes salt to the eye and sells it like he’s blind (foreshadowing to the blindfold match? Probably not). The feud with the Islanders was great, both with the Can-Ams and Strike Force, where the angle really took off. Martel was a very consistent worker, so every tag team match is likely to be good, even if tag teams weren’t given the spotlight to have all-time memorable moments on the big stage. His turn as the Model saw him scale back his working style, so he should get credit for changing his work as a heel. He didn’t have many great matches as the Model however, as the scaled back approach just wasn’t as exciting as his fired up babyface work. Still, the Michaels match at SummerSlam is fun and his blindfold match with Roberts is certainly unique and features tons of wonderful crowd interactions.
Staff Thoughts: Martel was an elite babyface tag team worker having success with three different partners. He had great matches and feuds with each team and won tag team gold three times. In addition to that he may be the greatest “house of fire” tag man in the business. Then he completely reinvented himself as the Model, turning himself into one of the more memorable characters of the Federation Years. Sure it was a bit cartoony, but everything was in that era, and Martel did his damnedest to get it over. It’s too bad we didn’t get an IC title run or a babyface singles run, but what Martel did give us is plenty of great tag team action with a spritz of Arrogance on the side. The guys talk about Martel’s case on this FYC podcast.
From the Voters: “Great as a babyface and heel during his time in the company. Great as singles and tag wrestler, but more so in tags. Early 80s run with Garea produced great stuff against Moondogs and Fuji and Saito. Run with Zenk and then Tito produced a boatload of awesome matches in 87-88 against a myriad of teams. I loved heel Model but the great matches do dry up as he totally changed his in ring style and was more about chickenshitting his way through matches. Feud with Roberts was awesome and I consider the blindfold match to be a minor masterpiece. Love, love Ricky Martel.” – Kelly Nelson, June 2, 2017
“The only thing missing for Martel was a long babyface singles run. I’d put him up there with Santana and Steamboat for classic face style. Could’ve easily been IC champ. Also think a feud with heel Savage would’ve been amazing. Checks off all the boxes in the 100 but I can’t rank him as high as I’d like without that one great face run we all know he had in him.” – Tim Tetreault, June 2, 2017
“One of the most underrated talents EVER. I wish we could have had a big Bret/Martel feud for the belt in early ’93.” – Jason Greenhouse, June 3, 20117
55. Rob Van Dam
Total Points: 4,355
Total Ballots: 92
Average Rank: 53.7
High Vote: 17
Low Vote: 89
High Voter: El Groino
Nuance: Rob Van Dam had a seven year run with the company between his initial stint from 2001 to 2007 and his return in 2013-14. While he was technically a heel with the Alliance upon his debut, he was getting cheered almost immediately and remained a babyface for the rest of his time with the company. RVD had strong singles runs and also notable tag teams with Rey Mysterio, Kane and Booker T. RVD always stood out as being different because he was different, from his look to his laid-back persona to his unique in-ring style.
Jump Up Moments: RVD peaked with the company right from the start, becoming a huge star during the InVasion and winning the Hardcore Championship from Jeff Hardy in July 2001. Fans were rabid for RVD during this time, leading to him challenging for the WWF Championship in a three-way against Steve Austin and Kurt Angle at No Mercy 2001. After the InVasion angle, RVD would be a regular contender for the Intercontinental title having a series of good matches with Eddie Guerrero over the belt in 2002. RVD would be involved in another hot angle with the relaunch of ECW, where he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship in a wild main event at One Night Stand 2006. As a result, for a brief time, he was both the WWE and ECW champion. In between his “highs” (pun very much intended) he won four Hardcore Titles, six IC Titles, a European title and three Tag Team Titles.
Promos/Character: Rob… Van… Dam! How many of you just pointed to yourself? Yeah me too. That was pretty much it for RVD’s promos though, as it wasn’t a strength of his, at least not for the formula of the time. He did, however, stand out as a completely unique character, both in the ring and out. His laid back style was a stark contrast to the over-acting intensity some wrestlers exhibited at the time. He had a unique look with his air-brushed singlet and pony tail and conveyed confidence bordering on cockiness while being able to back it all up in the ring.
Workrate: Van Dam was a mixed bag in the ring. He was innovative and exciting but sloppy and inconsistent. However, he was never boring. His unique offense made him immensely popular upon his debut in 2001, and he would always get a pop for Rolling Thunder, Van Daminator, Van Terminator and Five-Star Frog Splash. His selling could be a bit sporadic at times, but he always sold the impact that his offensive moves had on him which was a nice touch. His standout matches include the three-way with Austin and Angle at No Mercy 2001, the garbage matches with Jeff Hardy earlier that summer, the 2002 feud with Eddie Guerrero and his match with John Cena at One Night Stand 2006, which had unreal crowd heat.
Staff Thoughts: How high could he have placed if the WWF would’ve just given him the ball to run with when he was white-hot in 2001? We’ll never know, but eating the pin at No Mercy and then getting saddled with the Triple H feud in 2002 shunted him right down to the mid-card. We glossed over his mid-card run, but he was a fixture in the IC Title picture, where he could be counted on to have good matches and stay over to a certain level. He might’ve been a bottom of the list consideration just for mid-card and tag team work, but gets boosted by his two hot main event runs. The second, of course, being the ECW run when he was WWE and ECW champion at the same time. The match with Cena had nuclear heat and RVD was on fire again… until getting derailed by his own… habits. The company was finally ready to push RVD, albeit five years too late, and he confirmed their worst fears, causing the push to be derailed. Still, those two hot periods are better than most wrestlers get, which is why nobody gets higher than Rob Van Dam! Well, except for the others higher on the list, but that’s neither here nor there. You can hear JT and Aaron talk about RVD on this Making the Cut and Good Ol’ Will and crew on this FYC.
From the Voters: “Back half kinda guy, but he has to make my list. He was legitimately my favorite wrestler in late 2001. Has classic matches against Eddie, Jeff Hardy, Benoit and Jericho, and some really good ones against Alberto, Christian, Angle, Orton, Cena and Edge. Was WWE and ECW champ simultaneously, which was certainly a major jump-up moment, and had a memorable promo with Triple H in 2002. Plus One Night Stand, so he’s on my list.” – Greg Phillips, June 2, 2017
“It’s easy to forget the WWE set up ECW reboot for him and that was YEARS after the peak of his popularity. I’m actually not a big fan, but he’s up their with Jeff Hardy, Rey and Michaels as the most influential WWE talents of the last 25 years. If HHH hadn’t targeted him for assassination who knows what he could have done.” -Dylan Hales, June 3, 2017
“I really have to include RVD on the list. He was so entertaining. Tag team and singles multiple time champion. His ladder matches were phenomenal and a couple opponents that stick out major to me are John Cena and Chris Jericho. He would be in the lower half but definitely on my list.” – Eric Boyd, June 5, 2017