Brock Lesnar's performance at Extreme Rules last Sunday proved that he still has what it takes to put on a great match. But how could he not? Without a doubt, Brock Lesnar is not only one of the the top entertainers in the WWE, but also one of the company's top athletes.
However, Lesnar is not alone in this category. Over the years multiple great athletes have joined the WWE's roster. What follows is a list of the 15 greatest all-around athletes in WWE history.
World Heavyweight Champion; ECW Champion; European Champion; 1995 Pan American Games silver medalist; Three-time high school state weightlifting champion; first place in 2002 Arnold Strongman Classic.
Qualifications: Mark Henry may not look like your average athlete, but there is a reason why they call him the world's strongest man. According to a Sport's Illustrated article:
By the time Mark finished high school he was a three-time state champion with state records in the squat (832 pounds), bench press (525) and deadlift (815).
If that's not an impressive athletic feat, then clearly you are hard to impress.
Intercontinental Champion; WWE Tag Team Champion; United States Champion; 122–10 win-loss high school wrestling record; Sixth in the Big Ten Wrestling Championship.
Qualifications: Throughout his eight-year career with the WWE (2002-2010), Shelton Benjamin solidified his presence as one of the most athletic men on the company's roster. Need proof? Check the video in this slide.
WWE Champion; World Heavyweight Champion; WCW Champion; Intercontinental Champion; European Champion; Hardcore Champion; World Tag Team Champion; ECW TV Champion; WCW TV Champion; WCW Cruiserweight Champion; Unified Tag Team Champion; CRMW Heavyweight Championship; CRMW North American Tag Team Championship; NWA World Middleweight Championship; Dancing with the Stars competitor;
Qualifications: Even at 41, Chris Jericho remains one of the most athletic competitors on the WWE's roster. His return to the world's largest wrestling promotion this past January saw the Winnipeg native boasting a prime physique, while his matches at WrestleMania 28 and Extreme Rules with CM Punk have been great examples of the raw athleticism this man possesses. But what else could you expect from the "Man of 1004 holds?"
WWE Championship; Intercontinental Champion; World Tag Team Champion; Royal Rumble winner (2000); WCW Champion; Part of the University of Miami's 1991 national championship team; Played for the Calgary Stampeders in the the Canadian Football League.
Qualifications: The Rock's in-ring abilities may not be on par with his charisma and his mic skills, but make no mistake about it, this recently turned 40-year-old is among the most athletic superstars to ever be part of the WWE roster. His pre-WWE athletic career is highlighted with multiple football accolades, while in turn his WWE career is marked with several great moments (as evidence, I have included an almost two-hour long video of his top 25 matches).
Weight: 220 lbs.
Career Highlights: NWA International Tag Team Championship, JWA All Asia Tag Team Championship, NWF Heavyweight Championship; IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NWA North American Tag Team Championship, WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship;NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship; NWA World Tag Team Championship; NWA North American Tag Team Championship; NWA United National Championship; NWA World Tag Team Championship; WWF Heavyweight Championship; WWWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship; UWA World Heavyweight Championship;Member of the All-Brazil track and field championships.
Qualifications: In 1976, Antonio Inoki was presented with the opportunity to fight Muhammad Ali. The fight would be a wrestler vs. boxer match to be held in Japan's famed Budokan Hall. Originally the bout was intended to be a work, but Inoki was not satisfied. He wanted his match against Ali to be a shoot. Ali got scared and although his camp insisted that the rules be drastically changed in his favor, he only threw six punches during the entire fight. For many, this would be the most embarrassing moment of Ali's career and evidence of Inoki's true athleticism.
Weight: 234 lbs
World Tag Team Champion; Intercontinental Champion; WWE Champion; King of the Ring; Royal Rumble winner; United States Champion; WCW Tag Team Champion; WCW Champion; WWE Hall of Fame Inductee (2006); Raw General Manager; Collegiate Champion at Mount Royal College; WCW United States Heavyweight Championship; WCW World Heavyweight Championship; WCW World Tag Team Championship; WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship.
Qualifications: Bret Hart's nickname "The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Ever Will Be" may seem like an exaggeration, but for many the "Hitman's" displays of athleticism in the the ring validate this claim as even to this day his work remains innovative.
Weight: 265 lbs
Career Highlights: GPW Tag Team Championship; NWA International Tag Team Championship; NWA United States Heavyweight Championship; WWF International Tag Team Championship;WWWF United States Tag Team Championship; WWWF World Heavyweight Championship;
Qualifications: In an age where World Championships in the WWE are treated like hot potatoes, it seems almost unfathomable that from 1963 to 1971, Bruno Sammartino exclusively held the title for a record of seven years, eight months and one day. And while this fact may speak mostly to his charisma as an entertainer, Sammartino's ability to defend the title in classic matches for almost a decade certainly makes him one of the top athletes to ever be part of the WWE.
WWE Champion; World Heavyweight Champion; ECW Champion; World Tag Team Champion; Intercontinental Champion; Raw commentator; IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship; IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship; IWC Heavyweight Championship; MAW Heavyweight Championship; NWA Cyberspace Tag Team Championship; NWA Revolution Heavyweight Championship; OVW Heavyweight Championship; OVW Southern Tag Team Championship; OVW Television Championship; ROH Tag Team Championship; ROH World Championship; SDW Northern States Television Championship; SPCW Northern States Light Heavyweight Championship;
Qualifications: Over the past year, CM Punk has become one of the hottest names in sports entertainment. His infamous pipe bombs have allowed him to gather a huge following, but where Punk truly shines is in the ring. While many of the top athletes on this list have an amateur wrestling background, CM Punk's distinct style of wrestling is influenced by his Muay Thai training—a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques (wikipedia).
Weight: 220 lbs.
United States Tag Team Champion; International Heavyweight Champion; several regional NWA Championships; WWE announcer in the late 1970s; WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1995;
Qualifications: Maybe it's the black and white footage, the trunk-shorts that Antonino Rocca and Don Leo Jonathan are wearing or the boxing ring ropes, but after watching the video it's easy to see why people used to think that wrestling was a legitimate sport. Even as a modern wrestling fan, it is hard to tell whether this match between Rocca and Don Leo is a work or a shoot. In the match, Rocca's raw athleticism allows him to put on a great show and dominate his opponent.
Whatever happened to the good old days?
Weight: 240 lbs.
Career Highlights: Canadian Cup Championship Winner (1990); Collegiate/High School Pennsylvania State Wrestling Champion (1987); Clarion University Freshman of the Year (1988); Espoir Runner-up (1989); International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles; FILA Junior World Freestyle Champion (1988); FILA World Championships gold medal in freestyle wrestling (100 kg) (1995); National Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame (Class of 2001); National Collegiate Athletic Association; NCAA Division I All-American (1990–1992); NCAA Division I Champion (1990, 1992); NCAA Division I Runner-up (1991); Olympic Games; Summer Olympics gold medal in freestyle wrestling (heavyweight) (1996); USA Wrestling USA Junior Freestyle Champion (1987); USA Senior Freestyle Champion (1995, 1996); USA Wrestling Hall of Fame (Class of 2001); Yasar Dogu Tournament Runner-up (1989); IWGP Heavyweight Championship; PPW Heavyweight Championship; TNA World Heavyweight Championship; TNA World Tag Team Championship; TNA X Division Championship; King of the Mountain (2007, 2009); WCW United States Championship; WCW Championship; World Heavyweight Championship; WWF/E Championship; WWF European Championship; WWF Hardcore Championship; WWF Intercontinental Championship; WWE Tag Team Championship; King of the Ring (2000).
Qualifications: Kurt Angle's list of accomplishments not only displays his athletic endeavors as a professional wrestler, but also his illustrious career as an amateur wrestler. As an Olympic athlete and gold medal winner, Angle without a doubt merits a spot on this list.
Weight: 225 lbs.
Career Highlights: AWA World Heavyweight Championship; AWA World Heavyweight Championship; TWWA World Heavyweight Championship; NWA International Heavyweight Championship; NWA World Heavyweight Championship; NWA Southern Tag Team Championship; NWA World Heavyweight Championship; NWA World Heavyweight Championship; UWA World Heavyweight Championship; WWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Qualifications: For over a decade, Lou Thesz dominate the wrestling scene. His possession of the NWA Championship for 10 years, three months and nine days, along with his credited invention of wrestling techniques such as the German suplex, the Lou Thesz press, the STF and the original powerbomb, not only makes Lou Thesz one the greatest wrestlers of the 20th century, but also one of the century's greatest athletes.
Intercontinental Champion; ECW Champion; WWE Tag Team Champion; WWFX Heavyweight Championship.
Qualifications: John Morrison may not have the same wrestling accolades that other men on this list have, but what Morrison does have is amazing agility. "The Prince of Parkour" has again and again proved that what he may lack in mic skills he certainly makes up for with great athletic skills.
WCW World Champion; World Tag Team Champion; WCW World Tag Team Champion; WCW United States Tag Team Champion; Defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL), Canadian Football League (CFL) and United States Football League (USFL).
Qualifications: As a former football player, Ron Simmons was not only one of the most explosive men in sports entertainment, he was also one of the most athletic. Damn!
Royal Rumble winner (2011); Raw Money in the Bank winner (2011); WWE Champion; 9-5 MMA record; World Junior Championships third place (1997); Central American and Caribbean Games first place (three times); Pan American Games placed; CMLL World Heavyweight Championship.
Qualifications: Alberto Del Rio's current gimmick with the WWE may have become stale, but without a doubt the "Mexican Aristocrat" still remains one of the company's top athletes. His training in mixed martial arts combined with his amateur wrestling background can be witnessed in Del Rio's finishing move, the Cross Arm Breaker.
Thanks for reading!