Don’t judge me, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love for the WWE which dates back to when it was still called the WWF. While there have been times where I have gone years without watching the product, I’m always drawn to the spectacle of the shows that they put on and the superstars that they create. With WrestleMania being less than a month away, why not do a list of the top 10 WWE superstars of all-time? For any disagreements with the list, you can send your hate mail to the email listed above or you can tweet me @MFerremi14.
10. Kurt Angle
The 1996 Olympic gold medalist came to the WWE in 1999 and was a natural in the ring right away. He became WWE champion less than a year after making his debut. Angle went on to hold the title three more times in his WWE career before leaving the company for TNA in 2006. I would reccommend watching his WrestleMania XXI match with Shawn Michaels, which shows how great Angle is. You can currently catch Angle back in the WWE on Monday Night Raw as he is the current General Manager after being inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. It’s true, it’s damn true! (FYI: The last sentence is his signature catchphrase)
9. Macho Man Randy Savage
“Ooo yeah!” Savage was known for his iconic deep and raspy voice that perfectly allowed him to display his charisma on the microphone. With his then-wife Miss Elizabeth at his side, he was the second biggest wrestling star of the 1980s behind only Hulk Hogan. Savage had his colorful ring attire that made him stand out from the bunch. What wrestling fan hasn’t tried to impersonate the Macho Man; I’m guilty as charged.
8. John Cena
“The Face that Runs the Place.” The 16-time world champion has undoubtedly been the biggest superstar in the WWE since his debut in 2002. While the 40-year-old Cena has been transitioning into acting in recent years, he is still a big-time draw for the WWE. While some have knocked him for being too stale at times, you cannot doubt his longevity, as he has main-evented five WrestleMania’s along with winning two Royal Rumble matches in his career. Perhaps Cena has more magic left in him.
7. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
“The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.” This describes Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who is undoubtedly the greatest Canadian superstar in WWE history. Hart is considered one of, if not the greatest, in-ring performer in wrestling history. Hart held the WWE Championship five times during his WWE career as he held the title for a combined 654 days during the 1990s. Hart main-evented WrestleMania three times which included a classic 60-minute iron man match at WrestleMania 12 against Shawn Michaels. How many other wrestlers in history were able to wrestle for a full hour straight like Bret Hart did?
6. Triple H
“The Game” debuted in the WWE in 1995 as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but it wasn’t until 1997 when he formed D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels that Triple H’s career took off. D-X wasn’t afraid to do anything and that was certainly understood by the fans. With Michaels retiring in 1998, Triple H took off as a singles competitor from there, winning the world championship 14 times. One of my favorite wrestling moments ever was watching Triple H return from a long injury absence in January 2002 at Madison Square Garden and listening to the ovation he got from the crowd. Triple H is currently the Executive Vice President of Talent in the WWE and the creator of the WWE developmental brand NXT. After all these years, the cerebral assassin still makes some appearances in the ring including this year’s WrestleMania.
5. The Rock
He is the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, and rightfully so. When it comes to charisma on the microphone, with his delivery and signature catchphrases, nobody matches “The People’s Champion.” The third-generation superstar debuted in 1996, but he didn’t shine until 1998 when he won his first WWE Championship. With Stone Cold Steve Austin on the shelf due to an injury in 1999, Rocky became the face of the company as he brought mainstream exposure to the WWE during his run which included hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live in 2000. Rocky would probably be higher on this list if he didn’t make the full transition to acting by 2003. The Rock came back in 2011 as the surprise host of WrestleMania 27. This led to the highly anticipated WrestleMania 28 match against John Cena. It is no surprise that today, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, which all started with his incredible 1999-2003 run in the WWE.
4. The Undertaker
While I praised the longevity of John Cena earlier on in the list, nothing matches that of “The Deadman.” Debuting as the Undertaker at Survivor Series in 1990, he has maintained the gimmick of a deadman for over 25 years. He holds an impressive WrestleMania streak that was 21-0 until it was broken by Brock Lesnar in 2014. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon said that The Undertaker is his favorite WWE superstar of all-time. That’s high praise from the boss.
3. Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster was the man who put wrestling into the mainstream in the United States. Hogan was the biggest wrestling star of the 1980s, and was at the forefront of the early days of WrestleMania, as he main-evented seven of the first eight WrestleMania’s. Who could forget Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III in 1987?
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This beer drinking anti-hero was the man who launched the popularity of the WWE in the late 1990s to the moon. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the WWE was consistently getting beat in the ratings by their rival wrestling promotion WCW. Austin’s on-screen rivalry with Vince McMahon, which started in late 1997, propelled the WWE to never look back and become the top wrestling promotion in the world. And that’s the bottom line, ’cause Stone Cold said so.
1. Shawn Michaels
The Showstopper, Mr. WrestleMania. What else can be said about “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels? Starting as a tag team wrestler with The Rockers in 1988, Michaels was always known for his in-ring abilities. Michaels became a singles wrestler in 1991and took off from there. In his WWE career, Michaels held the world championship four times while also winning the Royal Rumble twice (1995-96). He retired in 1998 after sustaining a back injury but then returned in 2002 and put together more masterpieces until 2010, when he finally ended his career at WrestleMania 26 after another incredible match against the Undertaker.