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.
Last night, I was live at the WWE Hall of Fame, and it was a very cool event. I was at the Hall of Fame last year too and I think I expected too much. They cut the time of the presenters and the inductees and it just seemed rushed.
But for whatever reason, this year, it didn’t feel that way.
If you want the quick and dirty, you can check out the Fight Game Blog Twitter feed. I tweeted live updates there last night. Or, you can search via the #wwehalloffame hash tag, which you’ll see all of my updates in as well.
You can also check out
photos from the event on our Facebook page. Become a fan and you’ll see photos from WrestleMania XXVI today go through your news feed.
I have a few more thoughts in reflection.
– Pat Patterson made a joke that the Mad Dog would always come over his house when Mad Dog and his wife would get in arguments and Pat said after a while, Mad Dog was ruining his rep. Most of the crowd didn’t get that one. I thought it was one of the best jokes of the night.
– Mad Dog Vachon and The Destroyer stumbled over their words a bit and lost their thought as well. I hope that doesn’t mean Vince McMahon and company don’t want to bring back old legends. Part of what made last night great is the scope of the wrestlers. From The Destroyer, to Stan Hansen, to Gorgeous George, to Roddy Piper, to Ted DiBiase, to Wendi Richter, to Antonio Inoki, the feeling all night was “wrestling history” and it was a cool feeling.
– Roddy Piper started strong, but I think he just started making things up. I was impressed with Richter though. She was very classy and seemed to really get what the night was about.
Today I thought Iâ€™d share some of the late Mitsuharu Misawaâ€™s legendary moments in pro wrestling. I know that a lot of North American readers who read FGB might not be that familiar with Mitsuharu Misawaâ€™s body of work, so this is a good chance to catch up on some of the legendâ€™s great matches and moments. (My apologies to Alan for doing your gimmick lately.)
This first clip is from 1990 during a big tag team match on All Japan Pro Wrestling TV from Budokan Hall. Yoshiaki Yatsu and Samson Fuyuki battled Toshiaki Kawada and Tiger Mask II (aka Misawa). This was the infamous match where Misawa actually unmasked himself (something almost unheard of at the time) during the match. Normally when a masked wrestler unmasks, it is the beginning of the end of that worker (see Mexico). However in this case, this was the rebirth of a career, as unmasking himself was the first step in Misawa becoming the torchbearer for AJPW. After this match he challenged Jumbo Tsuruta to a match.
Yoshiaki Yatsu and Samson Fuyuki vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Tiger Mask II
On June 8th, 1990, Misawa battled Jumbo Tsuruta in Budokan Hall in what would be, to this day, the most legendary encounter of his career. Tsuruta found out mere moments before the opening bell that he would be dropping a fall to Misawa, something that didnâ€™t quite happen very often. You see, in that era, the tippy-top guys never lost. You didnâ€™t see the champions get jobbed out to punks like Randy Orton does on WWE PPVs. Tsuruta losing at Budokan was a big deal as he symbolically passed the torch to the man who would carry All Japan for the rest of the decade and turn the entire company around. Dave Meltzer gave this match 5 Stars and described the atmosphere as being like no other show he’d ever attended. Continue reading
Stan Hansen is an interesting fellow. Considered by many to be one of the best overall workers in the history of the business. His runs in Texas, the AWA, a short sting in WCW, and big runs New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling have made him legendary.
Known to have influenced such workers as Barry Windham and John “Bradshaw” Layfield (both of which incorporated the “Lariat” into their arsenal of moves), Hansen seems to be a forgotten legend to most casual fans. I can’t blame them too much though; he was before their time.
He knew how to sell, he knew how to put together a main event caliber match, and he knew how to make everything he did look real. His punches looked like they would knock your head off, and at times they did. It was a well-known fact that Hansen was blind. I mean, not Helen Keller blind, but he couldn’t see very well. So when he’d throw out his arm for a looping right hand or a Lariat, he swung it as hard as could and made sure it connected. He would rather have knocked somebody unconscious and protected the business than have missed completely and made it look fake. This subsequently led to Hansen accidentally knocking Vader’s eye out of it’s socket in a match in Japan.
Well haven’t done one of these in a while so I figured I should step up. Some random thoughts on old stuff I’ve watched recently.
ALL JAPAN 1993
Kobashi & Misawa vs. Hansen & BIG BOSS MAN (?)
Boss Man in All Japan!!! Weirdness, but greatness. He immediately gets the crowd into him by busting out a bunch of crazy athletic stuff with Kobashi. Yes Big Boss Man doing a bunch of crazy athletic stuff. IT RULED~! Misawa tries his hand with the former Midnight Express bodyguard and gets met with a sweet backbreaker. All his signature stuff like the slide to the outside into the uppercut and the windup punch gets met with a load of OOOHâ€™s and AHHHHâ€™s. Stan Hansen, not to be outdone, goes nuts on Kobashi, DDTâ€™ing him on the floor, throwing a chair at his face and then hitting the sickest kneedrop youâ€™ve ever seen (with knee pad rolled down I might add). Both gaijin then win my heart forever by taking turns droppinâ€™ PHAT ASS ELBOWS. Finish came with Boss Man making the crucial mistake of going for a top rope splash and getting a moonsault from Kobashi and Frog Splash from Misawa for the Uno-Dos-Tres.
IWA Japan 1995 2nd Anniversary
So I havenâ€™t seen much mid 90â€™s garbage wrestling from Japan in my time, but upon being directed to a bunch of stuff from someone who knows good wrestling, I decided to check it out. What I got was the greasiest, sleaziest, most scummy pro wrestling Iâ€™ve ever seen. AND IT WAS AWWWWESOME!
Cactus Jack vs. Tarzan Goto
Cactus was so the fucking man here. He cut a promo at the end, slapping himself and screaming and such and it was gold. So much heinousness in this match – bottle breaking, bottle STABBING, a giant flip bump from the top to the floor, etc. etc. I liked that Tarzan Goto guy too and man was that lad over. I’d only ever heard his name before, but never seen him. They did a bunch of hot nearfalls which I really wasnâ€™t expecting including one from the ugliest/greatest brainbuster Iâ€™ve ever laid my eyes on. Goto won with DDPâ€™s old pancake move onto a chair.
(No Rope Barbed Wire, Barbed Wire Boards & Thumbtacks Death Match)
Kenji Takano vs. Shoji Nakamaki
I donâ€™t know which guy is which so Iâ€™ll just go with â€œlittle guyâ€ and â€œbig guyâ€. The little guy was insane and WILLING to die for his cause. The big guy was more than happy to help him out by killing the hell out of him. Thereâ€™s a fine line for me between cool deathmatch stuff and grotesque, â€œI donâ€™t wanna watch thatâ€ deathmatch stuff. These guys went right up to said line but never crossed it which made it very enjoyable. Everything meant something within the context of the match (even the face first thumbtack bump). Big guy won with a big guy knee drop.