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The FGB crew has been working hard for the last month, putting together a list of the top 25 greatest wrestlers of the WrestleMania era. The WrestleMania era started in 1985 with the original WrestleMania and now in two weeks, the Rock and John Cena will main event the 28th version of WrestleMania.
Here’s how we determined who the best wrestlers of the era were:
– The WrestleMania era started in 1985 and is still ongoing. Basically, any wrestler who wrestled within the last 28 years was open to being on the list.
– This is not simply a WWE list. The WrestleMania era doesn’t mean only WWE wrestlers. Because WrestleMania kicked off a new direction for pro wrestling, it affected every organization going forward. Everyone who made our list at one point worked in WWE, but their career didn’t have to be defined by WWE in order to be ranked.
– We decided that wrestlers who spent most of their career in Mexico and Japan weren’t going to be considered because our cumulative knowledge is best in US wrestling. However, wrestlers who spent some time in the US were open to be selection.
– There were six of us who voted and all six of us are fans in different ways. Alan has a wide-range of tastes in wrestling, while my wrestling fandom includes mostly WWE and NWA/WCW going back to 1984. Jason, Alan, Duan, and Big D are all in their mid-20s or younger, while Don and I are older. Thus, our lists were wildly different at times. While Hulk Hogan may have been number 1 or 2 on the list of more casual and older fans, because his legacy has been on a downward spiral since 1996, he wasn’t ranked as highly on our list. But someone like Curt Hennig, who shaped the vision of what great pro wrestling was to some of us, was ranked higher.
For every post, you’ll see an overview of the wrestler and why they made an impact. And you’ll get our opinion on what the defining match of the era was for that specific wrestler.
To give you an idea of the breadth of our list, these were the 10 best who missed the cut:
35. Samoa Joe
34. Barry Windham
33. Arn Anderson
32. John Cena
30. Stan Hansen
29. Dean Malenko
28. William Regal
27. CM Punk
We’ll begin posting our list tomorrow, starting with number 25, written by none other than Big D from the Superfriends Universe.
It was a good time for WWE. They were winning the Monday Night Wars. The product was in the midst of its largest pop culture influence since the mid 80s. Wrestlemania 2000 was supposed to be huge. It was going to be an event of epic propotions. They scheduled “Wrestlemania All Day Long” on PPV which was a look back at the first 15 Wrestlemanias. And then someone made a left turn at Albuquerque.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was out with a neck injury. It was only a year before when Austin and the Rock looked like the future of the company. It was only two years before when Austin took the torch from Shawn Michaels and looked destined to become the biggest star of all time. And now, he was hurt, missing the biggest show of the year.
Early in 2000, Mankind and Triple H were tearing up arenas and making for some intriguing TV. Late in 1999, Triple H beat the Big Show for the championship and was without a contender. Mick Foley, fresh off his success of putting out the most successful wrestling autobiography in history, decided that he had one last run in him. Triple H started making fun of Foley’s success as an author, and played your basic a-hole heel perfectly. When Foley, as Mankind, decided that he’d had enough, he simply changed t-shirts and transformed into Cactus Jack. Triple H sold it as if he’d seen a ghost. Cactus Jack was back. He had two great matches with Triple H and at No Way Out, retired after losing a Hell In A Cell match.