To kick things off for me on the new A1-Wrestling.com blog, I’m going to ask a simple question, but one worthy of discussion and/or debate: Who’s in your Top 5 of all time?
This isn’t stricly about work rate, or who won the most matches, but who did/do you like the most? Who did you enjoy watching the most? Whose promo did you like? I guess, more appropriately this should be considered a Favorite Top 5. Who entertains YOU and makes/made you tune in?
1. Hulk Hogan
In the 80’s Hulkamania was runnin’ wild, and being in the 5-8 year old range from 80-83, Hulk Hogan was the guy that every kid took in as their hero, the ultimate good guy, the guy to right every wrong and defeat evil at every turn.
While Hogan was never regarded as a great *wrestler* (although he did show glimpses of skills that he never brought to the mainstream), he was a decent promo, and most importantly, knew the ebbs and flows of a wrestling match and knew how to draw a lot of drama and “big time feel” out of a match.
Hogan is also part of a select few at his level (The Rock is another) that – while not having the greatest moveset or workrate – just instinctively know how to engage a crowd, keep them entertained and invested in what happens in the ring, and can connect with the crowd on a plane just so far out of reach of others that it’s crazy.
You put all this together and it had me just chomping at the bit until we get the big three punches of doom, the big boot, and the leg drop.
His heel turn in 1996 and the formation of the nWo was the biggest thing ever to happen in professional wrestling, and “Hollywood” Hogan was an awesome display of Hogan’s ability to move from beloved babyface to an amazing job as sneaky heel.
Hulkamania 4 Life, brother.
2. The Rock
My number 1 and 2 should really be a 1a and 1b, with #3 in the list being #2.
The Great One is one of those guys, like Hogan, that exists on an entirely different level when it comes to engaging and entertaining a wrestling crowd. His mic skills and natural charisma are off the charts; Rock has provided us with many classic moments running down his opponents, and introduced several catch phrases used by millions (and millions!) of people each and every day.
While Rock is never recognized as one of the greatest wrestlers, you have to give the guy credit where it’s due – he worked his butt off to try and improve each and every night, constantly adding moves to his repetoire and improve that in-ring experience.
It’s ok, though, Rock. We’ll forgive you for that awful Sharpshooter.
But near the end of his full-time run in WWE, you could tell that The Rock we had then was leagues different from the Rock we were first introduced to.
If you take everything the Rock brings together in one package; off the hook charisma, top-notch promo skills, a solid moveset and willingness to improve with that phenomenal natural athletic ability, I think a solid case can be made for Rock as one of the all-time greats.
3. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
Bret was very much the “Excellence of Execution” as he claimed night in and night out. He was precision in the ring, and with his technical abilities emerged as a new breed of wrestler following the steroid era of the 80’s and 90’s where big huge men like Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and others were favored for top spots because of their size and strength.
Bret was a machine in the ring, methodically dissecting his opponents with a directed attack on his opponents’ back, looking to set up for his devastating version of the Sharpshooter (sorry, Rock).
He could chain wrestle, attack, counter, and transition extremely smoothly. He was like a ninja; using precise strikes to stun an opponent before executing a perfect grapple hold to set up for the finish. Bret also had an awesome ability to sell, to really show himself as being in peril, to make his opponent’s attack look great and effective – watching him get beat on really had you thinking he is getting the crap kicked out of him and he was in trouble.
While he wasn’t a great promo, his intensity carried his words well, and on the whole, Bret was super entertaining each and every time you saw him.
4. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Savage was like the anti-Bret Hart. Where Bret had mediocre mic skills, Savage was a charismatic phenom on the stick. Where Bret was slow and methodical, Savage was quick, explosive, and moved like a cat in the ring. Where Bret would out-wrestle you to death, Savage would hit you with snapping jabs and stunning elbows before moving in for the kill. Where Bret would rarely go to the top rope, Savage made his living going to the top, utilizing perhaps one of the most celebrated moves in wrestling history, the top rope flying elbow, or “Savage elbow drop”.
Savage’s ability to sell was ridiculous, and really made his opponent’s offense look effective. He was in such good shape that he seemed like he could wrestle for hours – while up against (mostly) much bigger opponents, Monsoon would often make the comment that “the longer this match goes, the more advantage has to go to the Macho Man!”
Savage was part of my favorite all-time storyline, the Hogan/Savage/Elizabeth triangle that resulted in Savage turning heel. The world lost Randy too soon, but he’ll always be a part the elite in my book.
5. “Deadman” Untertaker
Watching The Undertaker, even as a teenager brought out this mysterious, mystical, other-worldly experience when he was in the ring. Taking punishment and beating after beating, watching Undertaker being seemingly knocked out cold, only to magically sit up and keep fighting was just something magical to behold.
Promotional segments with Undertaker just standing in the background and letting his manager, Paul Bearer do all the talking before offering just a slow, methodical, mysterious “Rest… In… Peace” added to the mythology and the intrigue, and for all the reasons contrary to the first three people in this list, this mystique and the man’s size just made him something to behold, a man to watch, something you just couldn’t take your eyes off.
Who’s YOUR Top 5 Faves?