Honorable Mentions: Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Ric Flair.
In any top ten list there are guys you wish you could have had but just can’t. My apologies to Mr. Angle, Lesnar, and Flair.
10) The Undertaker
Growing up as a young boy I actually was afraid of the Undertaker’s Dead Man persona. If this was purely about talent or a list of best wrestlers of all time The Phenom would have definitely placed higher on this list. I have become a bigger fan as his streak has reached 20 and I now look forward to his Wrestlemania matches more than I do the event’s other main events.
9) Kevin Nash
I first became a fan of Kevin Nash after his Diesel character turned his back on Shawn Michaels, who I absolutely loathed as the fantastic heel he was. I absolutely hated Nash when he formed the nWo, but became a huge fan of Nash led, red and black of the nWo Wolfpack. His jackknife powerbomb is easily one of my favorite finishers as well.
8) Hulk Hogan
Were it not for Hulkamania I may have never become a wrestling fan. I was a serious Hulk Hogan mark in my youth and started watching WCW following his defection to Ted Turner’s company. I hated the nWo, but now I look back on his work as a heel and smile. It was also awesome to see his return to the red and yellow following Wrestlemania 18.
7) Bret Hart
Bret Hart is another wrestler from my youth that I still rank among my favorite of all time. The Hitman, as we all know, was excellent in the ring. He also was the top face of the WWF following Hogan’s departure and won over the kids, including myself. As I have studied his past matches and feuds I have become an even bigger fan and totally respect everything he has done for the business.
6) CM Punk
Punk is the only wrestler on my list who I didn’t grow up watching, which just shows how great he is, and has been since debuting in ECW. His promos and creativity have added energy to a product that has felt stagnant in the last few years and he is the greatest hope for change in the company. Every week I look forward to see what he will have say, never knowing when the next great “Pipe Bomb” will come. Truly the Best in the World at the moment.
5) Stone Cold Steve Austin
He was one tough sonofabiiitch! We all love Stone Cold, and I do too. When wrestling was at its absolute peak during the Attitude Era Stone Cold was the unquestioned top guy. I was at the perfect age of 13-14 during the hottest run of his feud with Mr. McMahon and I loved every minute of it. Never thought anyone would replace him, but I was wrong. Which brings me to the next wrestler on my list.
4) The Rock
Finally! The most electrifying man in sports and entertainment shows up as my fourth favorite wrestler of all time. This came as a bit of a surprise to myself because if you had asked me a year ago, The Rock probably would have been in my number one position. The Rock was my favorite WWF wrestler during the Attitude Era, even beating out Stone Cold, but his work with CM Punk recently was rather disappointing and I thought that CM Punk got the better of him. This may be an overreaction to the aftertaste of the Royal Rumble victory, but for now, The Great One will have to settle for fourth.
3) Shawn Michaels
I hated HBK. I wanted Bret Hart, Diesel, and anyone else available to knock him out every time he strutted down the aisle to the squared circle. The 10-year-old version of myself would kick my ass for this selection, but Shawn Michaels is easily one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Simply his in-ring-work would probably put him on most lists. He also was able to tell stories better than anyone, draw more heat than anyone, and convey more emotion than anyone. His matches at Wrestlemania are unmatched by any performer. I am just overwhelmed by the quality of his career.
2) Chris Jericho
Y2J, for my money, is the most entertaining wrestler in the history of the business. He has made a career out of doing things in a unique way and has undergone numerous transformations to remain relevant. Even after over a decade in the WWE he still surprises the audience. I think I may have embarrassed myself by marking out like a little girl to Jericho’s return during this year’s Royal Rumble. No regrets; worth it!
I almost didn’t put Goldberg here. It’s popular to kinda bash Goldberg since his less than stellar departure following Wrestlemania 20. But, I had to be true to myself. There was no wrestler I cheered for harder in my life than Bill Goldberg. His dominance and power were intoxicating to middle-schooler Matt in the late 90’s. One of my best memories of my WCW viewing was seeing an undefeated Goldberg taking the belt off of Hollywood Hogan in the Georgia Dome (watch below). Simply an amazing time in wrestling.