ELOOnline : Best Wrestlers of WrestleMania Era
I decided to put my list of the 30 best wrestlers since WrestleMania debut 30 years ago and changed the industry. WrestleMania is the WWE’s version of the Super Bowl. I decided to just rank the wrestlers that have peformed during the WrestleMania Era so you will not see on the list guys like Bruno Samartino, Nick Bockwinkle, Buddy Rogers, etc. as it would be too tough with the different eras, Wrestling during the WrestleMania era different then it was in the 70s for example. Now I rank the 30 guys based on many factors including, Championships won, In Ring work, Great Matches, great mic work, Impact in Wrestling, Box Office Appeal.
30- Rey Mysterio – Booyaka booyaka! After helping revolutionize the cruiserweight division in WCW along with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio evolved into a fantastic main-eventer who could hold his own with foes outside of his weight class. From Kane to The Big Show, Rey can have an epic match with anyone, having tailored his lucha style in innovative ways meant to take down large opponents. He is currently, on record, the lightest world champion in history, and a colorful, energetic hero that fans of all ages can enjoy. One of the few little men to make the big time.
29- Ted Dibiase ” Million Dollar Man” – The Million Dollar Man was the top heel in the WWF in the late 1980’s and had memorable feuds with most of the babyfaces in the company. Although he never won the “big one,” he did headline WrestleMania IV with the “Macho Man”.
28- Ultimate Warrior – Going into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend is the only man that can say he beat Hulk Hogan in his prime clean at WrestleMania VI to win the WWE Title and was given the ball to be the face of the WWE. Was one of the most popular wrestlers of his time and was a draw despite lack of In ring great matches.
27- Randy Orton- As third-generation “superstar,” Orton became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history when he defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004. From there on out, the incredibly tan and exceedingly talented Orton was launched into phenomenal feuds with Triple H, John Cena and The Undertaker. Orton remains one of the WWE’s top stars today, exuding a cold, calculating persona to accompany the nicknames “The Apex Predator” and “The Viper.” Orton’s “RKO” finisher is extremely popular and is the first move since Steve Austin’s Stunner that can be hit out of nowhere, elicit a huge pop, and end a match.
26- Chris Benoit- Chris Benoit had a fairly successful career in WCW but was only elevated to main event status just as the company was about to fold. In the WWE, Benoit was in a constant struggle to elevate himself to main event status and his World title victory at WrestleMania XX over HHH and Shawn Michaels is arguabably the greatest triple threat match ever for the WWE Title. Benoit also had great match with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 17 among many technical classics.
25- Ricky Steamboat- Steamboat had several great main event matches with the likes of Ric Flair that still stand up today. He was a one-time World Heavyweight Champion. Steamboat remembered as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time and having one of the greatest matches ever with the Macho Man at WrestleMania III. Perhaps the most impressive thing for Steamboat was decades later, Steamboat was one of the highlights of WrestleMania XXV when he had great match versus Chris Jerricho as part of the Jerricho vs WWE Legends match. It was so good that it would lead to a Steamboat vs Jerricho match the following month at the pay per view Backlash.
24- Eddie Guerrero- Eddie Guerrero was a fixture in the WCW Cruiserweight division and eventually became a star in the main event scene on SmackDown. He won the WWE title over Brock Lesnar and followed it by defending the title in a great match against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XX.
23- Jake the Snake Roberts- Jake Roberts was one of the best in ring workers and had many memorable fueds including feuds with Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Ravashing Rick Rude, Andre the Giant and the Undertaker.
22- “Mr Perfect” Curt Henning- Mr. Perfect was the AWA World Champion and he had successful tenures with both WWE and the WCW. Regarded as of one of the greatest WWE Intercontinental Champions of all-time.
21- Dusty Rhodes- Dusty Rhodes had a long and illustrious career with the NWA, WWE, WCW and and deserved his Hall of Fame induction. He was a multiple time World Champion and one of Ric Flair’s greatest ever opponents.
20- Rowdy Rowdy Piper- Piper’s never won the WWF title but he was the top heel in the company at one stage and he had a great run as the babyface Intercontinental Champion. Piper had a great fued with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T which set up the first ever WrestleMania. May be greatest Wrestler ever never to win WWE title.
19- Bill Goldberg- While there may be mixed feelings about Goldberg’s in-ring ability (or his propensity to kick legendary wrestlers in the head, giving them career-ending concussions), the “Goldberg streak” and path to a then-heel Hulk Hogan’s WCW World Title was one of the best storylines and biggest draws in wrestling history. Goldberg was intensity personified; a true intimidator. He wasn’t built for 30-minute clinics, or hour-long draws. He was meant to explode. And explode he did, propelling WCW to the top of the wrestling heap for 84 consecutive weeks. at WWE he won Heavyweight title with long fued with HHH. He beat The Rock in his first WWE match at Backlash. his brief run at WWE ended in the infamous match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX.
18- Brock Lesnar- 19- Brock Lesnar- Brock Lesnar had a unique career , his previous stint in the WWE was nothing short of astonishing. From 2002 to 2004, Lesnar went from heel to face to heel, destroying all in his path in the process. His matches with Undertaker, Big Show and Kurt Angle remain some of the best spectacles to date. Paul Heyman did the talking and Lesnar did the incredible feats of awesome athletics, wiping out everyone from The Rock to Hulk Hogan with the F-5. He left WWE to go to UFC, Won the UFC Title. Now back at WWE part-time had great matches with John Cena, HHH, and CM Punk.
17- Sting – Sting’s long and winding career path has made him a multiple time World Champion in WCW and a big-time player in TNA where he is a former TNA champion and a TNA Hall of Fame. He has never wrestled for WWE which makes him the greatest wrestler to never wrestle at WWE and has not been in a WrestleMania match which is only thing missing on his resume. Reports recently suggest that’s about to change.
16- CM Punk- Longest WWE Champion in the last 25 years. CM Punk a spectacularly talented, straight-edge quipster who had one of the greatest work/shoots promos ever as Punk, feeling marginalized and under-appreciated, made himself relevant, and subsequently valuable to the company, during what was meant to be a farewell speech at the end of June, 2011. Punk’s ring work and mic work are both criminally excellent and fans, and haters, look to his promos for (of all things) clarity and honesty. Punk won WWE title in 2011 Money in Bank versus John Cena in one of the best matches ever. Punk’s abrupt departure from WWE this year clouds what his legacy will be moving forward and perhaps prevents him from moving up on this list in the future.
15- Kurt Angle- Kurt Angle became the most successful star in the WWE from an Olympic, amateur background. He won six world championships with the WWE before playing a big part in the growth of the TNA product.
14- Mick Foley – Foley played a big part in the rise of hardcore wrestling and gimmick matches particularly Hell in a Cell. “Mankind” was a three time WWF Champion, with great fueds against Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H. Won tag belts with Austin and the Rock. Had great fueds with Vader and Sting at WCW. Help put over guys like Randy Orton in his last few years as an active wrestler.
13- Edge- The Rated R Superstar has won more championships than anyone else in WWE history with 11 world title reigns and a record twelve tag title victories. He has been a main event star in the WWE for the majority of his career both as a Tag Team wrestler and singles wrestler. Not many in the history of Wrestling can say that. Edge also has many great gimmick matches including the TLC and Money in the Bank matches.
12- Chris Jericho- Chris Jericho was the first ever Undisputed Champion of the WWE and has had successful runs in Japan and Mexico. He was always popular as his babyface but it was his return run from 2007-10 as the top heel in the WWE that showed Jericho one of the best of all-time. Jericho one of the greatest Cruserweight champions in WCW History, won the most intercontinental titles in WWE history and has won WWE Title and World Heavyweight title many times and if one of the wrestlers that has won every significant title in history.
11- Andre the Giant- Andre the Giant was a megastar and enjoyed a long and successful wrestling career with the WWE. Had one of the most significant matches in the history of the industry with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. Andre was the first ever inducted WWE Hall of Famer and is having this year a Battle Royal match named after him at WrestleMania this year in honor of him. Would be rank higher if you include his dominance in the 1970s.
10- Triple H- Few could argue that Triple H has had a Hall of Fame career with 13 World title victories second only to his idol, Ric Flair. Along with Shawn Michaels, Helmsley helped implement the “Attitude Era” and he then went on to become one of the biggest stars of the period with DX. He has headlined WrestleMania on countless occasions including 16, 18, 20, 22, 25 and became the WWE’s second ever Grand Slam winner behind only Shawn Michaels.
9- John Cena- Cena is a 11-time WWE Champion and, whether you like him or not, he is the name and face of the company right now and has been for the last decade. Only Hulk Hogan in the WWE in the 1980s, Ric Flair in WCW/NWA in the 1980s and 90s and Steve Austin in the “Attitude Era” can state the same claim as the face of the company for a long period of time like Cena is currently with the WWE. He has been involved in WrestleManias WWE Title Matches from WrestleMania 21- 27, as well as WrestleMania 29. In WrestleMania 28 Cena was also in the main event in a non title match against the Rock in one of the best built fueds that went over 1 year in recent memory.
8- Macho Man Randy Savage- Savage was one of the few main-eventers in the 1980’s that combined charisma and personality with an intense in-ring style that produced many a five star match. He was a long-reigning WWF Champion and was voted by the WWE, the “greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time”. Had great run of classic matches at WrestleMania that were arguably the best matches in each Mania starting at III against Ricky Steamboat, IV vs Ted Dibiase to win the WWE Title, V against Hulk Hogan, VI versus Ultimate Warrior, and VII against Ric Flair.
7- Bret Hart- The “Hitman” was a five-time WWF Champion and he was the biggest star in the company for most of the 1990’s with one of the greatest fueds/ rivalries in WWE history with Shawn Michaels.
6- The Undertaker- The Undertaker is the longest serving wrestler currently with the WWE and he has been one of the top-drawing talent for two decades. He is perhaps the only person that can claim to have been a star in the early ’90s, a star in the “Attitude Era” and a star in the “PG era” Known for the ” Streak” at WrestleMania currently 21-0 heading into match with Brock Lesnar.
5- The Rock – The “People’s Champion” One of the most popular superstars ever and is a Main Steam star which help launch his successful movie career. Head line WrestleMania 15,16,17, 18, 19, and again at WrestleMania 28,29. All-time fueds with Steve Austin, HHH, Mick Foley, and most recently John Cena and CM Punk. Won WWE title in 3 different decades (1990s,2000s, 2010s)
4- Shawn Michaels – From revolutionizing the tag team division with the Rockers to revolutionizing the wrestling business with Degeneration-X, Shawn Michaels has done it all. He is a multiple-time World Champion but it was during his second run with the company that he really cemented himself as one of the greats. Even in his 40s, he could have a great match with a broomstick and he will go down as the greatest worker of all time. “Mr WrestleMania” Had many classics in his career up until even the end when his career ended at WrestleMania XXVI in the main event with a loss to the Undertaker.
3- Ric Flair- Ric Flair was the “Man” in professional wrestling with 16 World championship reigns and over 40 years of television exposure. One of if not the greatest Champion which everyone compares to. Also leader of one of greatest factions in the Four Horsemen.
2- Hulk Hogan- “Hulkamania” was a real presence in the 1980s, as millions of children bought into the real-life superhero-like persona of the “Hulkster.” He has drawn more money than anyone in the wrestling business for perhaps the exception of Stonecold Steve Austin and he is the biggest star this industry that took Wrestling to main stream level.
1- StoneCold Steve Austin- Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably the most popular wrestler ever to lace up a pair of boots and his status as a first-ballot Hall of Famer is justified by his many World title reigns and his role in the eventual victory of the WWF in the Monday Night Wars. Main steam star who headline WrestleMania 14, 15, 17, 19. Also was headliner at WrestleMania 20 as a referee in Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar match.
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