WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
My Favourite Superstars of All Time
Written by Darryl Craven
I was 10 years old watching TV like any other day. We were lucky enough back in 1991 to have Sky TV, something not everyone had at the time like it is nowadays. I remember watching some crappy cartoon on a Sunday afternoon when the adverts came on promoting “The greatest show on Earth”. I wasn’t really a wrestling fan, I hadn’t taken a great deal of notice of it to be honest but for some reason this grabbed my attention and I still to this day I have no idea why.
Wrestlemania VII was the start of this 20 year love affair with wrestling. I had never watched a minute before that day, nothing had prepared me, I had no idea who was who or what everyone was doing but that day I was a fan and have been ever since.
I was immediately taken in with the natural charisma of the recently deceased Macho Man which won me over instantly, and even though I had no emotional attachment to the guy I was sad he lost and sad he was retiring. Hogan was every kids favourite back then, before we got smart to the business, which is another column for another day, so him winning the title was awesome to that 10 year old me. LOD with their shoulder pads and face paint coupled up with Hawks signature catchphrase, which actually confused me at the time. See, not being a fan I got confused over the “Oh what a rush” catchphrase being incorporated into the entrance music. I didn’t know of catchphrases etc at the time so thought it was quite cool that he had just said it in his promo and it was then in the entrance music as well and remember wondering how they had done that so quickly.
Over the last twenty years I have seen many different superstars come and go. I have loved some, hated others and a large selection I was indifferent to, mainly in the years between 1993 and 1996 and the period between 2004 and 2008 when the company had a surge of talent who were neither here nor there. Instantly forgettable characters such as Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, Well Dunn and a whole host of Wrestlecrap such as Bastion Booger, Mantaur, The Berzerker and Ludvig Borga from the 90’s. The 2000’s provided plenty of dull, generic wastes of air time too. Rob Conway, Renee Dupree, Kid Kash, The Bashams, Simon Dean along with crap like Snitksy and Henderich. I stopped watching about this time too due to the poor level of midcard talent and just kept tabs on the goings on through the internet.
These days it has improved, the midcarders are beginning to show personality as in the case of Zack Ryder, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus and Swagger. All of these guys have got what it takes to make it and all that is missing is direction now.
All of this led me to think about my favourites though. Those guys and girls who made me keep tuning back in, and those that made me come back in mid 2008 after a three year hiatus.
These won’t be in depth career summaries, for those visit the OWW profile pages for all the information you need.
20. Mr Perfect
Titles and Accomplishments: AWA World Title (1), AWA World Tag Title (1), WCW US Title (1), WCW Tag Title (1), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Hall of Fame (2007)
In my opinion Mr Perfect, Curt Hennig, was the best wrestler never to win the World Title. He had everything a wrestler could have. His ring name was so appropriate right down from the simplest of mannerisms such as spitting the gum and batting it away (something I still do by the way) to his promo work and of course the level of skill shown in the ring.
Watching Perfect in action was like watching a wrestling masterpiece. His feud with Bret Hart whilst being so injured he required back surgery was classic, you would never have known he was hurting, every move being executed flawlessly.
If he was around today I have absolutely no doubts he would have been a multi time world champion and deservedly is regarded as one of the finest wrestlers that ever stepped foot inside a ring.
19. Jake The Snake Roberts
Titles and Accomplishments: NWA National TV Title (1), WCCW World TV Title (1)
Jake Roberts was the absolute master at mind games, his promos were fantastic, his mannerisms were threatening and his whole persona felt dangerous. The innovator of the DDT has had his problems and unfortunately this seems to be what people remember him for the most which is a damn shame.
His feuds with The Undertaker and Randy Savage were excellent brining in a whole new level of sinister to the WWE. As a child he genuinely scared me, more than Taker or any of the giants and it was all down to the excellent portrayal of his character.
When I think of Jake Roberts I don’t think of the drug and alcohol problems that have plagued him for the past 20 odd years, I like to remember the show, the performance he put on week after week that used to enthral me so much as a child.
18. Triple H
Titles and Accomplishments: WWE Title (8), World Heavyweight Title (5), WWE IC Title (5), WWE Tag Title (3), WWE European Title (2), King of the Ring (1997), Royal Rumble (2002)
It is easy to label Triple H as a blatant self promoter and there is a lot of truth in that. What cannot be argued however is that the man has been damn entertaining and excellent in the ring over the years. As a co-founding member of D-X and Evolution Hunter has led two of the most successful stables of all time, making stars out of Randy Orton and Batista in the process.
Match wise he has had some 5 star classics, the type that need to be shown to a new generation of fans just to show how good he was and how a match should go. Even now at 41 years of age he can still go as shown at Wrestlemania XXVII against The Undertaker in what so far as the match of the year.
Unfortunately the self booking and politicking overshadow how good he has been over the last 15 years, and that is a damn shame. When you take out all of those elements you can then really appreciate that he really lived up to his nickname, he is The Game and he has shown us over the years how to play it!
17. Mick Foley (Please note this is for Mick not Mankind, Cactus Jack or Dude Love)
Titles and Accomplishments: TNA Legend Title (1), TNA World Heavyweight Title (1)
Mick Foley is one of the true good guys in this world of pro wrestling we all follow and love. I have nothing but absolute, 100% unequivocal respect for the man. Foley is a giver and a true kind hearted spirit who has done lots of work for charity including the recent 10 for RAINN campaign. Mick has helped raise over $120,000 for victims of sexual assault as of June 2011. This is the side of the business that people often forget about; Mick has used his public image to raise money for those in need of it.
On screen Foley couldn’t have been more different than any of his characters which is genius in itself. Here is a man with 4 different characters to his persona. And that’s the thing you see, when watching who do you see? Do you see Mick Foley being Mankind, being Cactus Jack or Dude Love? I know I dont, I see Mankind, I see Dude Love and Cactus. That is how good a performer he truly is, to make a viewer forget that under that costume is just goofy old Mick Foley.
I am really hoping Foley comes back to WWE before he calls it a day, not as a performer, the Raw GM would be awesome. Maybe as a manager seeing as though WWE seems to be bringing them back to our screens. I don’t know how likely this would be but it would sure make things more interesting.
16. Owen Hart
Titles and Accomplishments: Stampede – British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title (1), International Tag Team Title (1), North American Heavyweight Title (2), Stampede Hall of Fame, USWA Unified World Heavyweight Title (1), WWE European Title (1), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Tag Title (4), King of the Ring (1994)
Owen Hart was one of the best performers to never be crowned WWE Champion. In this day and age Owen would have held multiple World titles as WWE shifted to more athletic guys over the big powerful standard muscle bound guys back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Owen carved a career so well for himself that he managed to avoid being in the shadow of his big brother Bret, he stood out on his own based on his outstanding talent in the ring. I loved Owens character of the underdog, the guy who was in Bret’s shadow. Their Wrestlemania X match was a 5 star classic as was the cage match at SummerSlam in 1994, a pure wrestling masterpiece on both occasions.
Sunday May 23rd 1999, I remember all too well, the night he died. I was watching the PPV live and it was at a time when people were beginning to smarten up to the business. I sat at the edge of my chair with my hands to my mouth in utter shock. It was a stupid stunt, and there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it which I am not going to go into here.
The next night on Raw was special; it was the first time a show had been a tribute to just one superstar, but deservedly so. I still have it on VHS somewhere at my granddads house. I might just pop it in and watch it one more time and remember, and celebrate, a truly awesome man inside and outside of the ring.
15. Hulk Hogan
Titles And Accomplishments: NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Title (3), WCW World Title (6), WWE Title (6), WWE Tag Title (1), Royal Rumble (1990, 1991), WWE Hall of Fame
This might be a bit of a shock to everyone reading this as Hogan is often thought of to be the most overrated performer in the history of the business. The fact is that pro wrestling wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for Hogan. Yes he has a grand total of about 5 moves and his finisher is pretty poor by today’s standards and yes he won’t just step out of the lime light. But, his contribution to the world of pro wrestling cannot be dismissed.
When Hogan broke into the WWF in the mid 80’s, he was the larger than life character that was needed to spread the appeal to a wider audience. Kids and adults alike loved him and paid thousands and thousands for tickets and merchandise to see the Hulkster.
When he jumped ship to WCW he began a revolution with the NWO and put WCW firmly on the map trouncing the WWE in the ratings week after week for nearly 2 years straight. Without Hogan do you really think that would have happened? I am not so sure.
Only Stone Cold Steve Austin is a bigger draw when it comes to merchandise, wherever you looked into a crowd in the mid 80’s and early 90’s there was a sea of yellow and red throughout arenas worldwide.
Yes he is well past his prime now and needs to step back, stay out of the ring and be less involved with the creative aspect in TNA because his booking decisions over the years have been terrible. But in a less involved, less hands on capacity Hogan could offer a lot to TNA, just don’t put him on camera week after week.
We, the fans have a lot to thank Hogan for, his legacy is unquestioned, his impact (no pun intended) cannot be disregarded.
14. Bret Hart
Titles and Accomplishments: Stampede – NWA International Tag Title (4), British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title (3), Stampede North American Haeavyweight Title (6), Stampede Hall of Fame, WCW US Title (4), WCW World Title (2), WCW Tag Title (1), WWE Title (5), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Tag Title (2), WWE US Title (1), King of the Ring (1991, 1993), Royal Rumble (1994), WWE Hall of Fame (2006)
It is a big shame that the Hitman’s career seems to be defined by two moments; The Montreal Screwjob and the infamous kick to the head from Goldberg which effectively ended his amazing career. I don’t want to think of Bret Harts legacy as being tarnished like it has by those two incidents in what was memorable for all the right reasons, in the ring.
Throughout his career Bret captured pretty much every title that was available and also captured the hearts of the fans across the world. Highly revered in his homeland of Canada, Bret’s following is just as frantic over here in Europe, especially in the UK and Germany. It is not surprising.
In ring he was the ultimate technician and could match up well with anyone put in there with him. I recently watched the Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Bret Hart: The Best There Was, The Best There Is and The Best There Ever Will Be DVD’s and the battles with Austin were epically good.
Two matches that fans of wrestling need to watch if they haven’t are the Survivor Series 1996 and Wrestlemania 13 battles against Stone Cold. The latter of the two is still in my mind one of the best ever. Find this match somewhere and watch it, if you have never seen it then you are worse off for never having done so, that match right there has it all.
His return to WWE in 2010 was something nobody, and I mean not a single person, ever expected. It really was a special moment in wrestling history for the fans that were there in 1997 and 1999 when his brother Owen tragically died. Hell would freeze over he said if he was ever to step foot inside a WWE ring again, well it must have done on January 4th 2010. I am happy though, it softened Montreal for a lot of people, not everyone and maybe not Bret as much as people think it has but at least it wont define his legacy as it could have done.
13. British Bulldog
Titles and Accomplishments: Stampede – British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title (1), International Tag Title (2), North American Heavyweight Title (2), World Mid Heavyweight Title (1) Stampede Hall of Fame, WWE European Title (2), WWE IC Title (1), WWE Hardcore Title (1), WWE Tag Title (2)
As a kid Davey Boy was my favourite, being English it was the natural thing to do, to cheer on the guy who came from 50 miles away from me. I always loved the combination of power and technique he showed when in the ring. Never the most gifted on the mic but he could cut a decent enough promo when needed.
I think his best work was in the mid 80’s as part of the Brtitsh Bulldogs with The Dynamite Kid and had a steady career throughout. After a bit of a lull in the mid 90’s he came back to prominence when he was teamed up with Owen Hart and his time with the Hart Foundation, the perfect blend of style and power.
One of the greatest Intercontinental Title matches ever was held here in England, at Wembley in 1992 between The Bulldog and Bret Hart. It was a 5 star classic and brought the house down when Davey got the win. I will always remember that night, as I cheered for my hero in my home country, it made me proud.
12. Kurt Angle
Titles and Accomplishments: WWE Title (4), World Heavyweight Title (1), WWE IC Title (1), WWE European Title (1), WWE Hardcore Title (1), WWE Tag Title (1), WCW Heavyweight Title (1), WCW US Title (1), TNA Heavyweight Title (4), TNA Tag Title (1), TNA X Division Title (1), King of the Ring (2000), King of the Mountain (2007, 2009)
For a guy who didnt get into professional wrestling until 1998 Kurt Angle has managed to establish himself as one of the best to ever set foot inside a ring. Being more of a WWE guy than TNA I really wish he was still there, competing at the highest level. That is not meant as a dig to TNA its really not, but the standard is much higher in WWE.
Angle had great comedic timing as the straight guy to someone’s funny man, some of the stuff with Edge was classic.
Legitimately a hard man, Angle commanded respect in the ring, if anyone took liberties they knew they were in danger of being locked into a hold they weren’t going to get out of. This exact situation occurred but the wrong way round when Tough Enough contestant Daniel Puder locked Angle in a kimura. Before Angle could tap, which he would have had to as he was not going to get out of it, the ref ended it quickly by making out Angle was pinning Puder. Angle obviously wasn’t very happy about it.
This being said, Kurt Angle has been awesome since he decided to switch from amateur to pro wrestling. One of the best to step inside a ring in the last 20 years.
11. Booker T
Titles and Accomplishments: TNA Legends Title (1), TNA Tag Title (1), WCW US Heavyweight Title (1), WCW World Title (5), WCW Tag Title (11), WCW TV Title (6), WWE World Heavyweight Title (1), WWE Tag Title (3), WWE IC Title (1), WWE US Title (3), WWE Hardcore Title (2), King of the Ring (2006)
One of the most underated performers in my opinion. For such a big man he could really fly when he wanted to. Just look at the Houston Hangover for the perfect example of this. Booker had style and charisma and was just that little bit crazy which made the fans love him. Has added a much needed air of authenticity to the Tough Enough line up this year because what he says means something.
One of the funniest and well remembered faux-pas in the history of wrestling occurred during a promo in WCW in the mid 90’s came when Booker let slip the……..you know what just have a look for yourself.
Like a true fan I marked out big time this past January when during the royal rumble we got that familiar catchphrase and out strode Book to the ring. I was a bit disappointed he only lasted a minute or so but the next Friday on SmackDown! made up for it when he was brought out to join the announce team. Yeah sometimes he goes on a little bit and doesn’t always make total sense but i like what he does say and he brings a passion to the desk we haven’t always seen in recent years.
Titles and Accomplishments: TNA NWA World Title (2), ECW Title (2), World Heavyweight Title (1), WWE IC Title (3), WWE Tag Title (9), WWE European Title (1), WWE Hardcore Title (1), WWE Light Heavyweight Title (1),
Very much like Edge, Christian has had some of the most dangerous matches in the WWE. I had failed to realise just how much he had put his body through over the years. He always went out and tried his absolute hardest to put on a show for the fans, for the audience at home and rarely was it that he failed to deliver.
In recent times it seems that he is finally getting that main even push he richly deserves, one that didn’t look likely in coming to be completely honest. It seemed he was always the lesser star from the Edge and Christian team from the late 90’s in to 2000 and to some extent that has proved to be true. However, the fans knew he had “it” and now the WWE has given him the chance to actually prove it over the last couple of months he has shown them that all along he was and is amongst the best. Put it this way after the match on SmackDown! where he lost the belt and the match at Over the Limit in May, Randy Orton has never looked so good.
Titles and Accomplishments: World Heavyweight Title (7), WWE Title (4), WWE IC Title (5), WCW US Title (1), WWE Tag Title (14), King of the Ring (2001), Money in the Bank (2005, 2007), Royal Rumble (2010)
I wrote a lengthy piece on Edge when he announced his untimely retirement back in April and since then I have bought the Edge: Decade of Decadence DVD. You know being a wrestling fan for twenty years and seeing thousands upon thousands of matches they all seem to start blurring into one another after a while and you tend to forget how good, just how good something really was.
Edge had that something about him that you could just tell was special. Whether it being as part of a tag team with Christian, which by the way is one of the top 3 tag teams of all time or on his own as a singles performer he just had the ability to work an audience. The infamous live sex show with Lita was that close to the knuckle I was squirming in my seat at the possibility it might actually happen.
He was just compulsive viewing, as well as being talented in the ring, like most of the people on this list his promo work was excellent too. Whether working as a heel or a face he could get the live crowds heated up and they really gave a crap whether he won or lost.
It was a big loss to WWE when the neck injuries sustained throughout his career called short his time as an active competitor. It is up to him now whether or not he wants to take on some other role in the WWE, he would definitely make a perfect candidate for the anonymous RAW GM.
8. Chris Jericho
Titles and Accomplishments: NWA Middleweight Title (1), ECW Television Title (1), WCW Cruiserweight Title (4), WCW TV Title (1), WWE Undisputed Title (1), World Heavyweight Title (3), WCW Title (2), WWE IC Title (9), WWE Tag Title (5), WWE European Title (1), WWE Hardcore Title
As a student of the Hart Dungeon it is no surprise Chris Jericho is one of the best to step inside a ring. A short stay in ECW helped sprinboard his career to a flourishing WCW where he was a major part in the cruiserweight divisions success. Feeling like he would never get to the top he jumped ship in 1999 to WWE where he had become when of the all time greats. The ovation upon his debut with the company was incredible I don’t know if i have heard anything like it before or since, even more so than the return of The Rock earlier this year.
Jericho forged a path with his excellent in ring work and promo’s, he was natural at both it seemed and became the WWE’s first ever Undisputed title. That didn’t happen by accident. The company missed him when he took a short hiatus between 2005 and 2007 and he quickly established himself as one of the best on the roster upon his return. His feud with Michaels was excellent and was one of the matches of the year in the No Mercy 2008 ladder match.
His ring style has changed quite a lot over the years from high flyer to technical tactician but his character and charisma is ever improving. His style has now become the template for heels to follow, you know the ones I mean, suit wearing calculated heels are all the norm now but it was Jericho who innovated it.
Hopefully we will see him back in the WWE before the end of the year, they need him more than he needs them at the moment, let’s just hope it is sooner rather than later.
7. Macho Man Randy Savage
Titles and Accomplishments: AWA Heavyweight Title (2), CWA Heavyweight Title (1), NWA Mid-Heavy Title (3), ICW World Title (3), USWA Heavyweight Title (1), WCW Title (4), WWE Title (2), WWE IC Title (1), King of the Ring (1987)
The late great Macho Man Randy Savage is one of the main reasons I am a fan today. Like I said in the intro to this piece Wrestlemania VII was the moment I became a fan. The match between Savage and The Ultimate Warrior was one of the standouts on the card that night, Macho actually managed to get a good match out of the Warrior. I felt genuine sadness when he “retired” that night and he instantly became one of my favourites.
I remember the snake incident on Superstars incident like it was yesterday, it scared the living hell out of me! This was in an era when wrestling was aimed at younger viewers, not dissimilar to how it is today so to see something like this was big news. If you have never seen it, check it out. Looking back on it now it is one of the most awesome things I have ever seen in the WWE.
The pure flamboyance and charisma of the man made him compulsive viewing, Savage was an inspiration to many of today’s current performers, Jay Lethal and CM Punk openly gave tribute to the Macho Man last week when news of his death broke.
People will always remember him for his amazing ring work but he was just as excellent with a microphone in his hand. Second only to The Rock in my opinion when cutting a promo. His Slim Jim commercial is legendary, his gravel voice, the excitement in his movement, when the shades came off. It all made for what would be some of the greatest promo delivery of all time.
RIP Macho Man, you will be remembered forever as a legend.
Titles and Accomplishments: USWA World Title (1), WWE Title (1), World Heavyweight Title (1), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Tag Title (11), WWE Hardcore Title (1), Money in the Bank (2010)
From his debut at Badd Blood in 1997 I have been a huge fan of Kane. Yes the man has had some of the worst ever feuds in the WWE but it never stopped me following him with close attention. I will tell you what I liked, I liked the fact that upon his debut he showed all of the mannerisms and characteristics of what The Undertaker used to be and I liked it. The sit up, the silent but deadly gimmick, the monster who couldn’t be stopped. For such a big man he couldn’t half move around the ring. This is where he and Taker are out on their own as far as big men go. Andre and Big Show could work but they couldn’t move the way these guys could, you didn’t see them on the top rope like Kane.
Last year he got his long overdue title run, a proper one not like the one in 1998 where he held it for a grand total of 24 hours. I was so pleased he got the recognition for 15 years of loyal work. Booked into the worst angles and feuds in living memory but never complained, always got on with whatever was put in front of him.
The choke-slam is one of my favourite finishers ever and he is the master executioner of it. His punches are probably the best I have ever seen inside the ring too and everything he does looks and sounds powerful. I don’t think there is much left in the tank these days and retirement is probably going to come in the next couple of years but I always have been and always will be a Kane-a-nite.
5. The Rock
Titles and Accomplishments: USWA Tag Title (2), WWE World Heavyweight Title (2), WWE Title (7), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Tag Title (5), Royal Rumble (2000),
What can you say about The Rock which hasn’t already been said? Pure charisma hid the fact he wasn’t the greatest performer to ever step into the ring. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying he wasn’t great just not one of the greatest.
His ability to draw a crowd, to have them in the palm of his hand is unrivalled. The absolute, undisputed king of the promo, no one could match never mind surpass The Rocks ability on the microphone. Some of the best one liners, some of the best backstage skits and some of the greatest comedy have all involved The Rock. If you don’t believe me check this out
I feel im taking away from the fact here that The Rock had some great feuds in his 8 year career. The Wrestlemania series between himself and Stone Cold over WrestleMania’s XV, X-Seven and XIX are excellent, especially Wrestlemania X-Seven. The build up, the promo work and the match itself are amongst my favourite memories of being a fan of this business.
His return to Raw in 2011 was spine tingling. As soon as that music hit i got goose-bumps, a 30 year old man getting goose-bumps and giddy as shit…..at wrestling!?!? I watched with awe as Rock delivered a killer promo, just like he had never been away and it was simply awesome. It made me so nostalgic for the amazing times they were to be a fan in the late 90s and early 2000’s. And that is what The Rock is all about, grabbing the viewer and making them listen to every……single…..word!
4 Mankind (Note this is Mankind and not Mick Foley, Cactus Jack or Dude Love)
Titles and Accomplishments: WWE Title (3), WWE Hardcore Title (1), WWE Tag Title (5),
I absolutely loved the original incarnation of the Mankind character. The creepy music, the twisted mind, the dwelling in the boiler room. I have never ever seen a man so willing to put his body through so much pain to entertain the fans.
The infamous double fall from the Hell in the Cell at King of the Ring in 1998 is something people still talk about 13 years on. I remember watching that and literally jumping out of my seat in shock. When I showed it to my non wrestling fan friends even they were impressed. Take a look for yourselves, even now it sends shivers through me.
The Royal Rumble “I quit” match with The Rock was memorable, but was it for the wrong reasons? 14 unprotected chair shots to the head!!! Just think about that for one second……Insane!!! Check it out around the 8 minute mark.
It wasn’t even like Rock was taking it easy with the chair either, most of them were full blooded swings. If you have seen Beyond The Mat, and if you haven’t I do urge you to go now and find it somewhere, you can clearly see the effect it had on him. It was quite scary to watch that footage actually, especially coupled with the images of his wife and children who were sat at ringside cringing and crying with each shot, I think that was the day he realised he couldn’t go through that kind of violence much more.
When Mankind won his first WWE title in 1999, when Raw was still a taped show, Tony Schiavone, lead commentator at WCW revealed the match result live on Monday Nitro which was going head to head with Raw. As a result the ratings showed that a lot of viewer’s immediately switched channels and from that moment on WCW never recovered and eventually went out of business.
I think WCW was on its way down by that point anyway but for the fans love of Foley showing through in such dramatic fashion fans switched in their thousands to watch a man who so deserved, capture his first WWE title, it says it all really.
3. The Undertaker
Titles and Accomplishments: USWA World Unified Title (1), WCWA Texas Heavyweight Title (1), WWE Title (4), WWE World Heavyweight Title (3), WWE Tag Title (6), WCW Tag Title (1), WWE Hardcore Title (1), Royal Rumble (2007), Wrestlemania Undefeated Streak (19-0)
Whatever nickname the undertaker has had over the past 20 years, and he has had a lot, be it The Deadman, The Phenom, Big Evil, Booger Red (WTF Jim Ross?), Taker has been simply outstanding. His agility belies the fact he is nearly 7 feet tall and 300 pounds. Able to work a match with big and small opponents with equal success has been key to the career of this future hall of famer.
Matches with Kane, Big Show and Brock Lesnar have proved his ability and strength where as matches with the likes of Steve Austin and his legendary encounters with Shawn Michaels have proved his is as technically gifted in the ring as someone 100 pounds lighter and a foot shorter.
He made the Hell in the Cell famous and two of them are amongst my favourite ever. The one against Shawn Michaels at Badd Blood in 1997 and the infamous match at King of the Ring in 1998 where he sent Mick Foley off the top to the floor.
I was never a massive fan of the American Bad Ass gimmick that debuted in 2000, I was always more a deadman fan, I loved the supernatural side of it, the entrance, and the individual character traits. The gimmick really shouldn’t be 20 years old now, on paper it had a two year life span and this is all down to the ability of Mark Calaway, to make you believe in that character, to make viewers connect.
I don’t know how much longer he has got in the ring, if we ever see him at all again, but no doubt about it The Undertaker will go down as one of the best ever.
2. Shawn Michaels
Titles and Accomplishments: AWA Tag Title (2), NWA Tag Title (1), AWA Southern Tag Title (1), WWE Title (3), WWE World Heavyweight Champion (1), WWE IC Title (3), WWE Tag Title (6), WWE European Title (1), Royal Rumble (2), WWE Hall of Fame (2011)
The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstopper, The Main Event, Mr Wrestlemania. Not just clever nicknames, its just plain and simple Fact!
Im not going to go into the controversy surrounding the Montreal Screwjob, this is not a career bio, this is just me showing appreciation for one of the greatest wrestlers who I have ever seen.
When Shawn Michaels retired last year he left a list of accomplishments that are impressive to behold. PWI Match of the Year in 93, 94, 95, 96, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 2010. Wrestling Observer Match of the year 94, 08, 09, 10.
His ability in the ring is probably right up there at the top. Performance wise he never ever missed a beat, even after being out of the ring for over 4 years between 98 and 2002. If he had been performing in that time then the lists above would probably have had a couple more match of the years added to them as well.
It didn’t matter who was stood at the opposite side of the ring, HBK could have a 5 star match with anyone on the roster. The first ever Hell in a Cell match vs The Undertaker in 1997 is still in my top ten matches of all time, it had everything a fan could ask for. Michaels and Taker had great chemistry whenever they faced each other, Wrestlemania 25 and 26 were phenomenal matches.
5 star matches against Razor Ramon, Bret Hart and The Undertaker in the 90’s. Going up against Angle, Jericho and Benoit all proved to be match of year contenders in the mid 2000’s. In a career that spanned 26 years it was his athleticism, charisma and showmanship that made Shawn Michaels compulsory viewing for fans of professional wrestling.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Titles & Accomplishments: WCW Tag Titles (1), WCW U.S Title (2), WCW TV Title (2), NWA Tag Title (1), WWE Title (6), WWE IC Title (2), WWE Tag Title (4), King of The Ring (1996), Royal Rumble (3), WWE Hall of Fame (2009).
Stone Cold Steve Austin is probably the biggest name in the history of professional wrestling. I know that is a big statement when guys like Hogan, Sammartino, Buddy Rogers and Ric Flair have had such a significant impact on the business.
After winning King of the Ring in 1996 the most famous catchphrase in wrestling history was born (LINK THIS) and a legacy which is unmatched had begun.
Memorable feuds with Bret Hart, Owen Hart, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon, Triple H and Kurt Angle between 1996 and 2003 were incredible. Two matches from these feuds are considered amongst the best ever. Wrestlemania 13 against The Hitman and Wrestlemania X-Seven with The Rock were both epically good but also very different matches to each other.
Mania 13 proved the turning point, that moment when the world realised that this man was a star. I remember watching that match live and being completely captivated by every moment, the bumps, the blade job, the non submission finish while the blood streamed down Stone Colds face. A 10/10 match and a double turn, Austin to face and Bret to heel. What more could you ask for in 22 minutes?
In a huge twist of irony after being told by Eric Bischoff, while being fired by WCW, that he just wasn’t marketable enough Stone Cold Steve Austin merchandise became the best selling of all time with 2.3 million units of the Austin 3:16 shirt being sold as of April 2011, and yes, it is still selling now 8 years after his official retirement proving his popularity is long lasting amongst the WWE fans.
It has been great to see him on Tough Enough this year too; he brings that air of legitimacy to the whole show. No offence meant to Al Snow but who do you think garners more respect in and out of the ring? Exactly!