You may not agree that the wrestlers I comment on below are legends for whatever reason as different people will have different views on what a “legend” is, but the first few I’m commenting on below all have one thing in common – they’ve all been in the business for years and if you ask someone to name say 5 wrestlers past or present, at least 2-3 of their choices will come from the list below.
Hogan is probably the most famous wrestler of all time, not because he’s the best wrestler of all time but because of superb marketing by Vince McMahon in the mid 80’s onwards. No other wrestler has had the marketing exposure he’s had, from replica models and replica shirts to his own TV cartoon show. If you ask anyone, young or old to name 5 wrestlers his name is guaranteed to come up.
In terms of wrestling ability he was ok, he’s not the best wrestler by a long way but to be able to wrestle in all the huge matches he’s done over the years you’ve got to have something about you. In quite a few of his matches, especially the more recent ones his opponents have carried him and he has taken the credit for the match when his opponent should have been recognised for their contribution. Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 2005 is an example as well as the Rock at Wrestlemania.
As far as Terry Bollea the person is concerned I don’t like him. He’s selfish and always has to get his own way and has Vince McMahon wrapped around his little finger – if Hogan wants it, in the end he’ll get it.
A classic example of this is from Wrestlemania 9. Hogan was due to tag with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to take on Money Inc, The Million $ Man Ted DiBiase and IRS for the tag team titles. The main event on the card was Bret Hart vs Yokozuna for the Heavyweight title which Bret was supposed to win. On the day of the show Hogan said that if he didn’t walk out of Wrestlemania 9 with the Heavyweight title he wouldn’t show up for his tag match, therefore Hart had to lose to Yokozuna after Mr Fuji threw salt in his eyes where upon Hogan would run to the ring to protest, Yokozuna would challenge Hogan to a match and drop the belt to him. Yokozuna still hold the record for the shortest Heavyweight title reign of 128 seconds.
You can’t deny though that Hogan has played a huge part in making wrestling what it is today and fully deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I just hope that he will retire for good in the not to distant future as he’s really struggling through matches now and I’d prefer to remember him as he was back in the 90’s.
Bret “The Hitman” Hart
As you probably know I consider Bret Hart to be the best wrestler of all time. For pure wrestling ability the only other wrestlers I consider come anywhere close to his pure wrestling skill are Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Owen Hart. He’s known as “The Excellence of Execution” and with very good reason.
A lot of the best matches of all time involve him, Bret vs Shawn Michaels in an Ironman match at Wrestlemania, Bret vs Benoit at the Kansas Arena in a tribute match to Owen Hart, Bret vs Owen at Wrestlemania 10, Bret vs Steve Austin at Wrestlemania and Bret vs The British Bulldog at Summerslam 92, a match I was extremely fortunate to witness live and in my opinion this is the greatest wrestling match of all time. How many other PPV’s have had an Intercontinental Title match as the main event?
Bret Hart’s first major match in the WWE was at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986 when he competed in the Battle Royal that involved not only WWF superstars but American Football stars as well such as William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Hart and Andre The Giant were the last 2 in at the end and, unsurprisingly, Andre gorilla pressed Hart over the top rope onto Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart for the win. He teamed up with Neidhart as the “Hart Foundation”, capturing the tag team titles before embarking on a solo career sometime in late 1991 – early 1992.
At Wrestlemania 8 he won his first singles title, beating Rowdy Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental title in yet another classic match before dropping it to The Mountie. This was however to set him up to become the WWF Champion, and later on in 1992 he beat Ric Flair in Saskhataewn (sp) in Canada for his first title run. Hart had a 5 year run at being one of the top superstars in the WWF, battling with Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin until the famous screw job at Survivor Series 1997 which was his last match for the WWF.
He left for WCW where he had further singles success until a match with Goldberg where he was kicked on the back of the head and suffered brain damage which ended his wrestling career. A few years later he fell off his bike and hit his head, suffering a stroke which took him a year to recover from. Now back to health, he still does personal appearances and may even appear at the next Wrestlemania where he is due to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Quite simply, Bret Hart is the best wrestler of all time.
Andre The Giant
Andre Rouissmof was the first wrestling superstar of the modern age and is, in my opinion, the reason wrestling is around like it is today. OK Hogan played a part but in the early 80’s Andre was wrestling itself and people watched it simply because of him. Standing 7’4 and weighing around 500 lbs, he was undefeated in something like 15 years before Hogan defeated him in the mid 80’s.
He battled with Hogan in the mid 80’s and his finest hour came at Wrestlemania 3 when in front of over 93,000 fans he fought Hogan for the WWF title. This whole event was hyped up on this one match and it was a huge success. Andre lost but this has to be one of the best matches of all time and what you have to realise is Andre was very ill at this time.
In the year before Wrestlemania 3 Andre’s body was literally collapsing in on itself from his sheer size and he had to have back surgery to stop his spine from breaking. Bear in mind at Wrestlemania 3 Hogan slammed him into the mat before the legdrop and the pin and this move itself could have paralysed or even killed him.
After Wrestlemania 3 Andre and Hogan had a rematch and Andre won the title, however he then sold it to The Million $ Man Ted DiBiase and the title was vacated leading to the WWF Title tournament at Wrestlemania 4. His last appearance at a major event was at Wrestlemania 7 when he interfered in the Big Boss Man vs Mr Perfect match.
In 1993 Andre went to France for his fathers funeral and went to sleep in a hotel room that night. He never woke up. His body could cope no longer and he died of heart failure in his sleep aged just 46.
Andre the Giant was not the best wrestler by far. His sheer size meant many moves were off limits to him but that didn’t stop him becoming one of the best superstars of all time in my opinion, and if it were not for him the WWE today would probably just be another small independent organisation.
OK guys/gals you know he has to be in here! Personally I hate the person, both the HHH character and Paul Levesque but he is one hell of an athlete. Marrying the bosses daughter has boosted his career and I believe that if he hadn’t he wouldn’t be a 10 times Champion but I still believe he would have been a multiple Champion none the less.
He started wrestling under the name Terry Ryzing (terrorising – get it!) before being known as Jean-Paul Levesque and then Hunter Hearst Helmsley before coming to be known as HHH. In his early WWF days he battled Owen Hart for the European title before getting a push which he then completely wrecked by being involved in the infamous Madison Square Garden incident, where he broke character and hugged Diesel and Shawn Michaels in the middle of the ring and was held back for a year.
Since then he’s not looked back, winning title after title and there haven’t been too many periods when he’s not held a title or even two at the same time! As a wrestler I thing he’s a good solid all round performer and plays the crowd as good as anyone can whether a heel or face but he’s especially good as a heel. He doesn’t think twice about sacrificing his body for the sport and you can tell he lives and breathes wrestling and always has 100% commitment to his matches.
A few examples of this are when he ripped his thigh muscle clean away from the bone in a tag match with Steve Austin as his partner. He laid at ringside nearly in tears at the pain he was in but still got back in the ring and allowed Chris Jericho to put the Walls of Jericho on him. That injury could have ended his career and as it was he was out for 8 months before returning.
Also in the very first Elimination chamber match RVD jumped from the top rope and hit him in the throat with his knee, partly crushing his windpipe. If you watch the match you can see him rolling round clutching his throat and even passing in and out of consciousness with the referee trying to get him to leave the match and go to the back. He refused and completed the match and was then rushed to hospital where he spent 3 days recovering before going home to fully recover. It was that bad it was comparable to an asthma attack or someone having an allergic reaction to peanuts or a wasp/bee sting and he still carried on to finish the match.
He’s also regularly involved in matches where he’s busted wide open, not from a true blow but where he’s cut himself with a razor blade hidden in the wrapping around his wrists to give the effect of a nasty blow to add to the overall effect of the match. That’s commitment. People like Jericho are too vain to do this, claiming that it’ll spoil their looks, ok HHH isn’t the best looking of people but how many other people as part of their job will go to such lengths to try and strive for perfection?
If he’s to be believed he will retire in 2-3 years and then more than likely will take over from Vince as the boss of WWE. If I were Shane I’d be livid. Like him or not he’s going to be around for a long time to come.
In conclusion I think HHH is one of the best superstars of all time but the methods he’s used to get there are very questionable. I believe he’s had too much influence over his character, a bit like Hulk Hogan, and if he wasn’t the boss’s son in law he wouldn’t have hogged the limelight for so long which has damaged other superstars opportunities.
If ya smelllllllllllllll what the Rock……is…..cooking. Quite simply the best microphone skills ever. No-one comes close, Hogan, Michaels, Austin all trail in his wake. The boring 20 minute promos you get at the start of RAW and Smackdown make me cry when I think of how good the Rock used to be. I never missed one, never.
Now I tend to turn RAW or Smackdown on about 15 minutes into the programme as I know it’s unlikely there’ll be any wrestling, just the same wrestlers spouting out the same rubbish week in week out trying to hype up their next match, which was the same opponent as last time, which was the same opponent as last time………….
There are too many great Rock mic moments to recall. The one that comes off the top of my head was when The Coach interviewed him in Charleston and the Rock made him dance like a complete idiot. Then the Rock made a comment about how he liked to sleep with animals to which The Coach whispered to him “Come on Rocky, it was only once” to which the Rock replied “I was only joking you damn freak!” Absolute classic!
Dwaine Johnson started out as Rocky Maivia and was a member of the Nation of Domination which included wrestlers such as Faarooq, and his first taste of gold was beating HHH for the Intercontinental Title after only a short period of time since his debut, leading to the famous “Rocky sucks” chants.
They didn’t last long as he became one of the most popular superstars of all time. He did try to turn heel but it failed miserably, he’s just one of those wrestlers who can only play a face, rather like HHH can only play a heel to be any good.
As a wrestler he’s a good solid performer who can hide any technical weaknesses with charisma by the bucket load and fancy showboating moves like the People’s Elbow, which let’s face it is a simple elbow drop made legendary by his build up to it. Very few wrestlers can do that.
This is probably going to be a controversial comment but I feel that the Rock is not a better wrestling superstar overall than any of the other wrestlers I’ve commented on here. He lacks commitment. OK Hollywood came calling and he’s doing a great job there but he’s sold out the business that’s given him a break to stardom, turned his back on the fans and turns up when he feels like it, usually when it involves a big pay off.
If it were left to me unless he commits himself to wrestling regularly again for the WWE I’d never have him mentioned again let alone wrestle or even appear at a WWE event, televised or not. He’s simply an ungrateful traitor.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Interesting fact (or not!). “Stone Cold” comes from his first wife who was English. She’d made him a cup of tea one day and he didn’t drink it so she told him to drink it up quickly before it became stone cold.
Another great mic performer and the inventor of some great catchphrases. “And that’s the bottom line, cause Stone Cold says so!” is probably the most famous.
Steve Williams was part of the “Hollywood Blondes” in WCW (look at him back then with long blonde hair, can you believe it’s him?!) and later Steve Austin. He didn’t like the name as it’s the same as the $6 million mans but he stuck with it. After suffering an injury to his neck he was fired by Eric Bischoff as he was going to be out for a while. Very harsh.
He went to the WWF under the name “The Ringmaster” managed by Ted DiBiase and used his Million $ Dream finisher to start off with. DiBiase became disillusioned by the WWF and therefore to write him out of the organisation, Austin competed in a match where if he lost DiBiase was fired from the WWF. Austin of course lost and DiBiase left, leaving Austin on his own and with a change of name and change of finisher the rest, as they say, is history.
His first major feud was with Bret Hart, culminating in an absolute classic series of matches the best of which has to be at Wrestlemania 13 which on one wrestling poll was voted the best Wrestlemania match of all time. He then feuded with Shawn Michaels, again in a series of classic matches which even involved Mike Tyson at one Wrestlemania match.
He then feuded with Vince and Shane, getting screwed out of the “ownership” of the company in a ladder match with a briefcase hanging over the ring against Vince. He’s held virtually every title there is to offer on multiple occasions and his in your face personality created the WWF’s “Attitude” period when they reinvented themselves to be pitched at more adult audiences.
In a match with Owen Hart Owen botched a reverse piledriver and all of Owen’s and Austin’s weight, some 480lbs, crashed down on Austin’s neck, breaking it. This serious injury has put a major dampener on his career since then, no-one can do any sort of move to his head in case it causes further damage and possibly paralysis.
Over the past few years he’s been in and out of trouble both with the police and the WWE. He was given a break from the WWE as his drinking was out of control and he beat up his wife, former WWE superstar Deborah getting a 1 year suspended sentence along with community service for his actions. Whether he will wrestle again is yet to be seen. It’s rumoured one of the main events for next year’s Wrestlemania is Austin vs Hogan but who knows? He’s due to appear at the RAW Homecoming next week so hopefully that will reignite his passion for wrestling and he’ll be back full time in the near future.
In conclusion Austin was a good wrestler but his main strength was his mic work and attitude. These combined made him one of the most popular superstars, both as a heel and as a face, and in my opinion he’s the best superstar there’s ever been who can pull off being both a face and a heel.
Mark Calloway was wrestling as “Mean” Mark Callous on the independent circuit in early 1990 when he was snapped up by the WWF. At Survivor Series 1990 he made his debut as the Undertaker in part of Ted DiBiase’s team and hasn’t looked back since. Just 1 year later he beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF title after tombstoning him on a chair at Survivor Series 1991 that Paul Bearer, his manager, had thrown into the ring.
15 years later he’s still a huge force in the WWE after having battled with virtually every superstar there’s been, Giant Gonzales, Psycho Sid, Steve Austin, Yokozuna and Kane to name just a few that spring to mind. Over the years he’s had to take a break from wrestling for 6 months or so as his hips are not good and will soon force him to retire.
His popularity over the years has been massive. When he first came into the WWE he was a heel, but over the next couple of years or so he became a face and although there was a heel turn a few years back for the vast majority of his career he’s been a face.
I think the reason why he became so popular and has stayed the course is peoples fascination with death. Bringing urns and coffins to the ring, as well as a raven I think it was at Wrestlemania 9 kept peoples interest in him and made his popularity grow. A few years back he came back from yet another break as “The American Badass”, riding around the ring on a motorbike which I only ever saw him crash into the ring barriers once! Soon however people were calling for the old Undertaker back and he became the dead man once again.
As far as the character of the Undertaker is concerned I think it’s one of the best inventions the WWF ever came up with, however I’m not so sure about Mark Calloway the person. He holds a lot of backstage influence and like Hogan and HHH usually gets his way in the end and has things the way he wants them.
A great example of this is when the WCW Invasion angle was going on after Vince had bought WCW. The Undertaker was involved in a stalker angle where someone was stalking Sara, his (very sexy!) wife. In the end it was revealed as Diamond Dallas Page and unsurprisingly the two had a feud. Which Mark Calloway clearly didn’t want. He completely no sold all of DDP’s moves and generally made a mockery out of wrestling as a whole.
DDP was doing moves which should have been sold with at least a grimaced face along with a clutching of the part of the body that the hold was done on. Not Calloway. He just got up as though the move hadn’t hurt him, which let’s face it it didn’t but he wasn’t even playing the old Undertaker where he was seemingly invincible and didn’t feel pain.
In conclusion I feel the Undertaker is a great character invention and Mark Calloway plays him perfectly for most of the time, however there are a few occasions where he pushes things a little too far and because of his backstage influence gets away with it at the cost of other wrestlers who don’t deserve it. DDP for example left the WWF soon after the stalker angle was over.
However I feel that the Undertaker is the best character gimmick of all time, although Mark Calloway could do with being a little less arrogant at times and be fair and help his opponents a little more although he does deserve huge credit and a future hall of fame induction for his outstanding contribution to wrestling.
Simply put in my opinion the best hardcore wrestler ever. The things he’s done to his body, purely for the wrestling fans entertainment is mind blowing. He truly is a legend no question.
I watched his biography on the Biography Channel a while back (in fact I’ve watched it 3 or 4 times) and it’s fascinating. There’s a home video of him jumping off the top of a shed roof onto a mattress practising his wrestling moves which is pure madness but a sure sign of the great stunts he was to perform professionally.
Some of the best (or worst however you view it) are as follows. Facing the Undertaker in a cage match has to be one of the most brutal matches ever. When he was thrown off the top of the cage through the announcers table I was nearly sick, thinking it was an accident rather than a real stunt. It was only half properly executed though as he was supposed to go through on his back but ended up going through on his side and was lucky not to break his arm or shoulder or both.
When he got onto the top of the cage and the Undertaker chokeslamed him, the cage gave way and he plummeted to the ring below. That was definitely not a stunt but the result of shoddy workmanship by the riggers who hadn’t put the cell together properly and it was falling to bits around them. If you watch the match look closely at his nose after he’s hit the ring – the white thing is one of his teeth that was knocked out on impact and ended up going through the roof of his mouth and down his nose. However he still carried on and finished the match.
This match is the only one I’ve seen where Vince and other backstage staff came to the ring not as part of a storyline or run in but out of genuine concern that Mick Foley was going to be killed and wanted the match to be stopped. He refused because of the commitment he has to wrestling and the fans who watch it which makes him one of the best of all time.
The other classic match that sticks out in my head is at the Royal Rumble 2000 when he faced HHH in a street fight for the WWF title in what was another brutal match which HHH won in the end. Mick Foley allowed himself to be back dropped onto a load of tacks (although you can clearly see the padding he’s got on his back to cushion them) and then pedigreed onto them as well which finished him off. When he rolls over you can see them sticking right into his face and arms so he really was pushed right into them and didn’t cushion his fall. Total commitment.
In conclusion Mick Foley is the best hardcore wrestler there has ever been and most probably ever will be. Another certain inductee into the hall of fame and rightly so.
The British Bulldog
Interesting Fact #2 – His real name was David Boy Smith, when his father went to fill in his birth certificate he put his gender in his middle name box!
The British Bulldog was one half of The British Bulldogs along with the Dynamite Kid and had huge tag team success in the 80’s before falling out and splitting up. The official line was that the Dynamite Kid was seriously injured and had to quit wrestling as a result but as far as I’m aware he carried on wrestling on the independent circuit and may still be doing so to this day.
After they split Davey Boy Smith turned to singles wrestling and had good success over the years that followed. His finest hour came at Summerslam 92 when he beat his brother in law Bret Hart at Wembley stadium in front of over 83,000 fans for the Intercontinental Championship, a match which I was fortunate to see live and in my opinion is one of the best of all time.
Over the following few years he had further successes, becoming the first European Champion and gaining a world title shot against Diesel which he unfortunately lost. Than it all went downhill. He got in trouble with the police on the domestic front and became addicted to drugs. All credit to Vince he paid for him to go into rehab and stood by him but it was almost as if the Bulldog didn’t want help and went to rehab to keep his job with the WWF.
In about 1995 I saw him at my local sports centre when he was doing some smaller shows and stood next to him and thought that there is no way he can be as big as he is without steroids. 5”10 and 280 lbs of pure muscle must be impossible to achieve. Unfortunately I was right. About 3 years ago he was playing with his girlfriends kids in Canada when his heart literally exploded from steroid abuse. He was just 39 years old.
The Bulldog had about 20 years as a wrestler and is certainly the best British wrestler there has ever been. If his personal life hadn’t been as turbulent as it was who knows what he could have achieved? He married into the best and most famous wrestling family there has ever been and the possibilities were endless for him. He just didn’t take them.
Asides from these facts the Bulldog was one hell of a wrestler with power moves to make anyone envious. Superplex where he had his opponent vertical for a good 15-20 seconds along with great technical skills, no doubt honed in the Hart family dungeon made him one of the best wrestlers of all time, even if his mic skills and overall personality and charisma didn’t shine through enough. His wrestling ability did all the talking that needed to be done.
The Legion of Doom
Mike Hegstrand and Joe Laurentis made up, in my opinion, the best tag team there has ever been. The first (and as far as I’m aware the only) tag team to hold the tag titles in every major wrestling organisation had millions of followers around the world.
As soon as the music hit “Oooooooooooooooh what a rush” people were up from their seats cheering the arrival of Hawk and Animal with their shoulder accessories and face paint, anticipating yet another great match.
There was something about Hawk and Animal that just clicked, they knew what moves the other was going to do before they even did and flowed effortlessly like any great tag team should.
Their partnership ended in the 90’s but they did make a return to the WWF as The Road Warriors managed by Sunny for a brief period of time before splitting again. The partnership was ended for good in 2003, when Mike Hegstrand moved house with his wife and after a busy day shifting his stuff he went for a lie down to rest for an hour or so. He never woke up. He was killed by a massive heart attack in his sleep aged just 46.
With the state of tag team wrestling in the WWE nowadays I’m often confused as to how it managed to get like it has. Legion of Doom had some great feuds with the likes of The Hart Foundation and Demolition but the tag team division nowadays is usually two singles wrestlers thrown together for a few months before being split up. Legion of Doom lasted decades and were as popular as they’d ever been when they last tagged together.
The partnership of Animal and Heidenreich is a disgrace. When Hawk died LOD should have died as well as they were the one and only Legion of Doom. The reason they’ve been paired is to get Joe Laurentis some exposure ready for when his book comes out in a few months and it stinks. It’s all disrespectful to the memory of Mike Hegstrand.
This aside, LOD were as close to the perfect tag team as you could get and with the state of the tag team division nowadays I very much doubt if any other tag team will come close.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings on only a handful of who I consider to be the best wrestlers ever. Hopefully in the not too distant future I’ll have the time to post my opinions on many more wrestlers and then I plan to write about current wrestlers who I feel could join this list in the future.
You’ve probably noticed only wrestlers who have been in the WWF/WWE and/or WCW are mentioned here, that is simply because these are the 2 organisations I’ve watched regularly for the past 20 years and feel that I am qualified to comment on.
Only recently, really only for the past 2 months or so have I begun to watch other federations on TWC, for example TNA and therefore don’t feel I’m in a position to be able to pass judgement on their wrestlers for at least another year or so yet, however anyone who does want to make comments on wrestlers from other organisations please feel free to do so.
I hope you’ll add your own comments to mine so we can have a healthy debate as to the good and bad points of established or up and coming wrestlers and how we feel they can become great, or continue to be great superstars in the future.
Thanks for reading
Richard aka Smedlos.
EVERYONE is welcome to post on this forum and voice their opinions, and I think there are a few veterans who'd do well to remember that.
Nuff said, rant over. Peace to all and happy posting!
rock on jr
My question is exactly whats in the title...is JBL turning face?
I havent seen this weeks RAW so i dont know if he turned up there and did the worlds most heelest actions or something but judging from the Smackdown last Friday i was actually cheering him when he was chasing after Edge. They get one of RAWs most hated people and get JBL to chase after him...that makes JBL the person to cheer in my opinion.
JBL seems to have detatched himself from Orlando Jordan who is a heel because he is so easily hateable which could also be pointing towards a face turn.
Final thing i noticed was how his music distraction gave Big Show (a face) the win.
I might just be reading it wrong but to me he seems to be becoming more likeable, mainly because he jumped over the barrier and chased Edge which i liked!
What do you think?
Shawn Michaels first came into the WWF as one half of The Rockers tag team, teaming with Marty Jannetty and having their first big match at Wrestlemania 5 where they lost to The Twin Towers (The Big Boss Man and Akeem). They had good success but split in late 1991 / early 1992 when Shawn threw Marty through the window of the barbers shop during an interview with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
They both then became singles wrestlers and Shawn was paired with Sensational Sherri as his manager and he had some great feuds with Bret Hart and then Rick Martell. Their partnership ended when Jannetty came out to the ring to confront Michaels at the start of his match when Sherri would hold a mirror for him to check himself out in before the match started. Jannetty grabbed hold of the mirror and went to hit Shawn over the head with it but Shawn pulled Sherri in front of him and she took the full force of the blow, shattering the mirror in the ring.
This spot and the one where Shawn threw Jannetty through the window genuinely shocked me (OK I was only 12) but even looking at them today still makes me wince.
In late 1992 he won his first singles title after beating the British Bulldog for the Intercontinental title and soon after that he was put into a World Championship title match against Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1992 which he lost after submitting to the Sharpshooter. This would be the first of some classic matches between the two.
After Wrestlemania 9 Shawn faced Jannetty on RAW for the Intercontinental title and lost after Mr Perfect interfered. He did however have a rematch a few weeks later and regained the title with help from Diesel, his new bodyguard.
In late 1993 he was stripped of the title and suspended because he couldn’t / wouldn’t meet his contract obligations. I don’t know if this was part of a storyline to give him a break from wrestling or if it was genuine but he returned at Survivor Series 1993 and faced The Hart’s along with his knights – it was supposed to be Jerry Lawler and his knights but he had personal problems at the time (I think he got into trouble with the law) and Shawn stepped in.
At Wrestlemania 10 he had a classic ladder match with Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental championship which he lost, but his next title reign wasn’t long coming when he won the tag team titles with Diesel from the Headshrinkers the night before Summerslam 94.
After losing the titles Shawn and Diesel split and Diesel won the Heavyweight title from Bob Backlund in just 8 seconds the day after Survivor Series 94. Shawn went on to win the 1995 Royal Rumble after coming in at number 1 and faced Diesel at Wrestlemania 11 for the title, which he lost. The two became friends again and Shawn won the Intercontinental title after defeating Jeff Jarrett a few months later.
At In Your House Shawn and Diesel faced Owen Hart and Yokozuna for the tag team titles. Owen didn’t turn up so the British Bulldog stepped in in his place. At the end of the match Owen turned up and Diesel jacknifed him for the pin and the titles. However the WWF President at the time, the late Gorilla Monsoon stated that for that particular match the British bulldog was seen as the tag team champion and not Owen so the titles were returned to Owen and Yokozuna.
In a real life incident Shawn was attacked at a nightclub in late 1995 and was put out of action and as a result he was stripped of his title as he couldn’t defend it. After returning he entered the 1996 Royal Rumble and won it for the second year in a row after eliminating none other than Diesel.
Owen Hart then started mouthing off at Shawn and said he deserved to face his brother Bret at Wrestlemania 12 for the heavyweight title and not Shawn so the two faced each other with the winner going to Wrestlemania to face Bret.
This saw one of the best entrances ever in my opinion where Shawn flew over the arena crowd and into the ring on a rope which is almost always shown on current day WWE adverts. The sight of him flying over the ring with his outfit sparkling and shimmering as it catches the arena lights never fails to take my breath away every time I see it.
Shawn won the match and went on to face Bret at Wrestlemania 12 in a 60 minute iron man match which in my opinion is the best match he’s ever had. After 60 minutes there were no pinfalls, submissions, count outs or disqualifications and Bret Hart headed up the aisle still the WWF champion. However it was then announced that there would be a sudden death situation and the two carried on the match. Shawn gave Bret some sweet chin music and rolled him up for his first WWF title reign.
The sight of Shawn rolling off Bret after the three count and kneeling in the ring with his hands over his face was pure emotion. No scriptwriters had come up with that it was totally genuine and you could tell how much it meant to him and to do it for the first time on the biggest stage of them all. He was in the business for well over 10 years before he first tasted life at the very top of his profession and he more than deserved it after all he’d done for the business.
Vince McMchon would do well to look back at the old days of the 80’s and 90’s when the only WWF champions were wrestlers who had paid their dues and rose from the very bottom to the very top of their profession. Very few things irritate me more than when wrestlers debut and then less than a year down the line they win the WWE title, Randy Orton, Batista and Brock Lesner all spring to mind. Don’t get me wrong they’re all great wrestlers (sometimes!) but I think that there are far more deserving WWE champions, Christian and Edge are two that spring to mind but they don’t fit into Vince’s 6’6 and 270lbs+ stereotype that only win the WWE title these days.
Anyway back to Shawn. Over the next 18 months he had some great matches defending, losing and then regaining the title at Survivor Series 1997 in what is probably the most controversial match of all time. He faced Bret Hart for the title and this was Bret’s last match before he went to WCW. Vince said he had to drop the title because he was leaving but Bret said that he wanted to win his last match and would then appear for the very last time on RAW the following night to forfeit the title, say his goodbyes and head for WCW.
Vince agreed and the match was scheduled to end with Shawn putting Bret in the sharpshooter, Bret would reverse it by pulling Shawn’s feet from under him and Shawn would submit. Bret really should have not been as naive to think Vince wouldn’t have the last word. As Bret pulled Shawn out of the sharpshooter the bell rang, Shawn’s music hit and he was declared the champion by submission. Shawn and Earl Hebner the referee ran out the back and it became clear that they were all in on the “screwjob”.
In one of the best moments in WWF history Bret spat on Vince who was at ringside and then trashed all the equipment in a fit of unscripted rage before going out the back and laying him and Shane out cold.
Shawn would then become one of the most hated superstars and most of the lockeroom disowned him with Mick Foley and the British Bulldog leaving the WWF for WCW. Owen Hart wanted out as well but by sheer spite Vince kept him and this action would prove fatal as Owen was killed on live TV in May 1999 in a ring entrance that went wrong.
Shawn’s main injury problem is his back and this forced him to “retire” in the late 90’s. I’m not sure if this was a cover or not but around this time he was having personal problems and I know of one occasion when he was sent home after turning up “in a state not fit to wrestle”.
He did the odd TV and even live appearance (such as appearing to say he was not Stone Cold’s stalker which turned out to be Rikishi) before returning to wrestling full time and capturing the WWE title in the first elimination chamber match. More recently he’s been feuding with Kurt Angle having a great 30 minute ironman match with Kurt Angle which ended in a draw.
Although he’s approaching 40 he’s still a great athlete and wrestler and I think as long as his body holds up he’ll continue to wrestle and maybe even have another title reign.
In my opinion he’s one of the greatest wrestlers of all time but his ego can ring riot at times and like Hogan and HHH he has too much influence backstage and I can’t help wondering if he’s held back wrestlers from getting a push to satisfy his own means and opportunities. His actions at Survivor Series 1997 were disgraceful but in his defence I bet Vince forced him into it and if he didn’t go along with the plan that would have been his last match for the WWF/WWE.
The length of this post shows just how much he’s achieved in his 20 odd years in the business and long may it continue. He’s great at playing both a face and a heel and his ability to entertain the crowd is matched by no-one in the business today. Shawn Michaels/HBK/The Showstopper is truly a legend.
Richard Morgan Fliehr is probably the wrestler who has had the most title reigns ever:
This alone probably says all that there is to say about what a great wrestler Ric Flair is. And all this was done even after a plane crash in the 70’s broke his spine!
He’s had so many classic matches it’s hard to choose which is the best but in my opinion his win at the 1992 Royal Rumble to become the WWF champion after entering at number 3 was his greatest. This was back in the days when wrestlers came in every 2 minutes so he wrestled for well over an hour virtually non stop.
If you watch the Rumble there are very few moments when he is sitting down in the corner having a rest and most of the time he’s in the thick of the action. OK the ending was dodgy with Hogan helping him to eliminate Sid but the stamina and skill required to pull of that performance could only have been done by a truly great legend.
He lost the title later on in 1992 to Randy Savage but then beat him a few months later to regain the title before being defeated by Bret Hart in Canada in December 1992. He then headed over to WCW where he held the WCW Heavyweight title on 6 occasions during the next 7 years before returning to WWE and being paired with HHH with whom he has just split with.
Even though he’s now 56 he’s still wrestling in a full time capacity and still takes heavy bumps as well as giving them out. After 35 years in the business his motivation and enthusiasm for wrestling is as strong as it’s ever been and he shows no sign of stopping.
If and when he does retire from wrestling himself I hope he stays in the business to help up and coming stars of the future to strive to become as good as he is. I can’t see him ever walking away from the business and this loyalty along with the pure wrestling skill he has been blessed with and has neutered over the years makes him one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage
My earliest memory of Randy Poffo is at Wrestlemania 4 when he won 4 matches in one night to capture the vacant WWF Heavyweight Title after defeating Ted DiBiase in his final match. He then teamed up with Hulk Hogan to create the tag team partnership of “The Megapowers” before they split in late 1988 / early 1989 over Miss Elizabeth to set up a match between the two at Wrestlemania 5.
In a classic match Hogan beat Savage after kicking out of an elbowdrop from the top rope, “hulking up” and doing the usual three punches to the face followed by the big boot and legdrop.
Savage had another classic match at Wrestlemania 7 in a career ending match with the Ultimate Warrior. The loser had to retire from wrestling for good and Savage lost, however he continued to wrestle after this and I’m not entirely sure how this was put into the storyline but the bottom line is he didn’t retire and continued to wrestle.
He then went into a great feud with Ric Flair, beating him for the title in mid 1992 before losing it to him a few months later after interference from Mr Perfect. Savage was basically playing on a bad leg and Mr Perfect kept trying to injure it further before Flair slapped on the figure 4 and Savage “passed out” through the pain and the referee counted to 3 as his shoulders were down.
At the Royal Rumble 1993 Savage and Yokozuna were the last 2 in the ring and Savage knocked him off his feet for which I believe was the very first time. For some reason he then tried to pin him and Yokozuna kicked out and Savage flew straight over the top rope and onto the floor giving Yokozuna the win.
Savage then had a run as a commentator and in my opinion was quite good at it along with Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Wrestling soon came calling again though as he entered into a feud with Crush which ended with a no hold barred match at Wrestlemania 10 where you had to pin your opponent outside the ring and then they had 30 seconds to get back into the ring or they lost.
Savage took Crush out the back, tied his legs in a pulley system and hoisted him upside down hanging from the ceiling! Crush couldn’t break free and Savage won. As far as I’m aware this was his last big match in the WWF and he headed over to WCW where he teamed up with Hogan again. After Hogan turned on him and formed the nWo the two feuded again before Savage left wrestling and turned to movies with the last movie I saw with him in being Spiderman where he played a wrestler (possibly himself).
Throughout his career Savage went from being a heel to a face to a heel etc and he played them both brilliantly. He was one of the first high flyers and every time he leapt off the top rope for his trademark finisher the flying elbow drop the arena was blinded by camera flashes as the fans got their picture of him in mid air, ready to drop the elbow on his opponent.
Outside his professional career he was married to Miss Elizabeth whom he later divorced and was said to be shattered after she was found dead at Lex Lugers house after mixing alcohol and drugs.
Randy Savage was one of the biggest stars of the 80’s and into the first half of the 90’s and helped to put wrestling on the map. His catchphrase “Oooooh yeah dig it yeah” is known by millions and along with other big stars of the 80’s has helped to create the business as it is today.
The father of Bret and Owen Hart is probably the person who has trained the biggest number of famous wrestlers there has ever been. Bret Hart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm and “Flying” Brian Pillman are just a few of the world famous superstars who have passed through “The Dungeon” where he trained them up to become some of the best wrestlers the business has ever seen.
A champion wrestler himself, he trained people to wrestle the way wrestling should be – technical mat based moves along with standing grapples and a few moves from the ropes where a great knowledge of how to outwit your opponent through a knowledge of a wide variety wrestling moves and holds is the key to putting on a great performance rather than bulking yourself up to 280+lbs and having maybe 8-10 moves that you do every single match.
None of the wrestlers he trained that I mentioned above regularly gave poor substandard matches that we see constantly today and all of them gave us classic matches that will be remembered for years to come. None of them have flashy stupid gimmicks or names to try and mask poor wrestling ability, for example Hogan, because they oozed ability by the bucketload and their wrestling did all the talking that’s needed rather than the same promo week in week out that wrestlers like HHH seem to be so fond of doing.
Vince McMahon probably spends millions every year trying to excite the fans with new pyrotechnics and expensive gimmick matches ($325,000 for the Chamber that’s been used twice) when what he should do is look back to when the WWE was at the height of it’s popularity in the mid 90’s because of one thing – great technical matches between great traditional technical wrestlers giving the fans the thing they pay their money to see – wrestling.
We’ll probably never see another Stu Hart, we’ll probably never see anyone come close. I just hope that some of the wrestlers who have been fortunate to pass through The Dungeon pass on their skills to up and coming wrestlers of the future when they decide to retire in order that Stu’s legacy will live on into the future.
Vince McMahon is credited with making wrestling what it is today with shrewd advertising and marketing in the early – mid 80’s but in order to do that you need the very basic ingredient – the wrestlers themselves. Great wrestlers plus great marketing and hype equals legendary matches that will live on forever in the memory and Stu Hart created this basic ingredient to the very highest of standards.
Summerslam 92 is a great example. Vince took a huge risk bringing his superstars over to London and hoping that over 80,000 fans would turn up to watch them perform, most of them in front of the biggest crowd they have ever performed in front of. Bret Hart and The British Bulldog, two of the wrestlers mentioned earlier, were given the huge task of pulling off the main event – for the Intercontinental title!
Huge hype for the two real life brothers-in-law one of which was wrestling in his home country and both of whom had constantly wrestled each other day and night in the weeks leading up to the match to make sure that they knew each others style right down to a t. 38 minutes of pure wrestling later and The Bulldog emerges victorious.
These days I bet most main eventers just talk to each other for 10 minutes or so before the match and then go and put on a shoddy power display like they do week in week out. That would have never happened with Stu Hart’s wrestlers and the resulting matches are testament to this.
Quite simply Stu Hart has created more legends than most of us have had hot dinners. The biggest one of them physically was probably the British Bulldog at 270lbs but he was that size before he met Stu and the technical skills he performed even at that size after Stu had worked his magic on him show just how good Stu was.
The number of classic matches his wrestlers have put on in the past and the number that they will put on into the future show just what a wrestling legend Stu Hart is.
Everyone was expecting a Michaels vs Undertaker final so I suppose it did have an element of surprise in it. Only problem was it wasn't a nice surprise!
I really like the Big Show and wonder why he is put across and built up to be so dominant, but then whenever it comes to a title match he gets screwed out of it. It really annoys me.
Why bother to build him up to be so strong to then go and waste him away?
Take his return for example. In that lumberjack match he left pretty much the entire roster laying flat, and then when it comes to a title match he never wins. Although i would agree that this helps get other wrestlers over, such as in the Royal Rumble. The person who eliminates Big Show is seen as a strong competitor, same goes with whoever eliminates Viscera etc. but i think they shouldnt keep building him up to then go and make him lose title matches. Thats my thoughts anyways.
Back next week. Yay!
> Dude, i don't want to seem like i'm just picking holes in all your
> posts either, but i'm curious as to why you think Bulldog was better
> than Dynamite Kid?
> Bulldog was a fairly average power wrestler and Dynamite is one of
> the greatest High-Flyers/Mat Technicians of all time. He pretty much
> carried Davey Boy the entire time they were a Tag Team...
Bulldog was quite a good technical wrestler as well, granted not as good as Dynamite probably due to his sheer size but I feel he came over better with the crowd and his power moves were awesome - the vertical suplex where he had his opponent up for a good 10-15 seconds was awsome, OK the opponent played a big part in the move but not many can boast the move in their arsenal.
I'd choose a technical match over a power match anyday, Angle vs Michaels is a far far better match than say Batista vs Lesner (not that we're likely to see that) but Bulldog had both styles, one minute he was on the mat going from technical move to technical move and the next he was gorilla press slamming his opponent to the floor and that's why I consider him to be a better wrestler overall.