The 15 Most Athletic Wrestlers in Today's WWE

The Doctor Chris MuellerFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

The 15 Most Athletic Wrestlers in Today's WWE

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    Pro Wrestling has been called many things, but "easy" has never been one of them.

    The roster of men and women who choose to risk their lives every time they get in the ring for our entertainment is made up of some of the world's best athletes.

    WWE superstars have diverse backgrounds in many other sports such as football, basketball, MMA and rugby, but none of them will tell you that wrestling is any easier.

    Wrestlers are all shapes and sizes but they all have to have one thing in common—athleticism beyond compare.

    Let's look at the current roster and run through the top 15 superstars who are the best athletes in the company today. This will not be a list of "Best Bodies" but rather a ranking based on several factors including endurance, career longevity and overall physical ability.

    This list will be ranked based on athleticism and not in-ring skill, so do not be shocked when William Regal is left off the list.

Honorary Number 16. Kofi Kingston

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    Never let it be said that I do not listen to my readers. After hearing the out-poor of support for Kofi Kingston from the readers I have decided to add him in as an honorary number 16.

    Kofi is absolutely one of the most talented performers WWE has and he is an outstanding athlete for so many reasons.

    The original reason he was left off the list is because he tends to go full blast for 10-15 minutes but then he seems to get tired and that made me question his endurance.

    After evaluating that as a reason I decided that anybody who goes at his pace would tire after a while and because of that I have decided to swallow my pride and admit I was wrong.

    Kofi Kingston deserved to be on the list and hopefully this keeps the mobs from forming on my front lawn for the time being.

15. William Regal

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    Who was I trying to kid? Of course William Regal belongs on this list. If I can move half his speed or have half his endurance at the age of 44 I will consider it an accomplishment.

    Regal might not have the most chiseled physique or be able to run the fastest 40-meter dash, but there are few people in the business with the resiliency and fortitude of this man.

    It does not matter if he is wrestling for four minutes or 40, he is on top of his game every time for the whole match.

    Regal's athleticism is in his endurance more than anything else. He can go up against a much younger star like Daniel Bryan and give him a run for his money at the end of a long match. He is able to do that because he has taken such good care of himself over the years.

    Many superstars shorten their careers by taking risks that cause injuries or simply try and go too hard every time they are in the ring.

    A master of the game like Regal knows to pace himself and use his energy in the most efficient way and because of that he deserves a spot on the list of the best athletes in WWE.

    There are people in over 40 countries around the world who will tell you the same thing.

14. Mark Henry

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    The World's Strongest Man did not get that title because Vince McMahon thought it sounded cool. He earned it.

    Mark Henry is so strong that he almost looks like he has run out of room for muscles to grow, but he still remains one of the best athletes.

    Mark Henry can slam dunk a basketball. Show me another 400+ pound man who can do that without being as tall as Big Show. Henry is 6'4" and I know plenty of people that height who cannot dunk a ball.

    Henry may have put on some weight over the years, but he has never kept himself from being able to perform because of it and recent years have seen him get back in significantly better shape.

    Henry is slated to return to WWE at some point after nursing some injuries, and my guess is, the man who makes slamming Big Show look easy will be bent on regaining his World Title.

    Being an Olympian does not give someone automatic inclusion on the list, but it certainly helps.

13. Eve

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    All those hours inside the ring and extra hours she has put in at the Gracie gym have made Eve into one of the most well-rounded athletes on the roster.

    She is strong while remaining feminine and she has proven that she is willing to do things we haven't seen many Divas make the effort to do.

    She is on every press tour, at every charity event, every military visit and she still manages to get in time to train in kickboxing while continuing to progress as a wrestler.

    Eve is nowhere near being the best Diva of all time, but she might end up as the most athletic before her career is over.

    The last time a Diva was as physical and athletic as Eve was probably Lita. Not many others have tried to do a moonsault, let alone do it often.

    Eve is an outstanding talent who oozes charm and charisma when she is on screen, but it is her skill and potential which have made her a success.

    Did I forget to mention that Eve beat a bunch of men and women on Stars Earn Stripes in a series of physical and mental challenges?

    Well, she did.

12. David Otunga

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    If this was a list of the best wrestlers then Otunga would be nowhere near his position at number 12, but this about athleticism and there is no denying how athletic Otunga is.

    He is still somewhat green in the ring and his mic work could use some improvements, but you will never hear a complaint about how Otunga has let himself go.

    He is in the gym constantly to keep up his bodybuilder's physique and he has incorporated it into his gimmick by posing before and during his matches to show off all his muscles.

    Otunga has the potential to be a huge star in the future, but right now he can rest easy knowing he is at least one of the better bodies on the roster. And if we know anything about Vince McMahon, we know he likes his men to be big and muscular.

    That sounded strange after reading it out loud, but the point stands. Otunga is the ideal athlete, he just needs to become the ideal wrestler and his career will start moving forward again.

    Maybe Johnny Ace can return and get him back on camera as his assistant some time down the line.

11. Ryback

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    If there is one thing you can bet on with Ryback it is that everyone has an opinion on him.

    Some people love him, as evidenced by the loud chants he gets from the crowd, and some could do without him, as evidenced by the chants for Goldberg during his matches.

    Regardless of his skill or your personal opinion of the man there is no denying that Ryback is one hell of an athlete and belongs on this list.

    He is almost unrealistically jacked and he has shown that putting two full grown men up for his finisher is a walk in the park for him.

    He proved a lot of people wrong by maintaining his pace throughout the entire WWE title match at Survivor Series, proving his cardio is right up there with his strength.

    Ryback will be tested more in the coming months and we will really see what he can do once he starts having longer singles matches.

10. Brock Lesnar

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    Brock Lesnar has proven his athletic ability in pro wrestling, amateur wrestling and MMA, and quite frankly he could have ended up higher on the list if not for factors outside his control.

    Lesnar suffered from bouts of diverticulitis that not only nearly cost him his life, but also caused him to lose a bit of his step.

    Lesnar returned to UFC against all odds following his health scare and ended up taking back his title, but in the matches following his second UFC title win we would see just how this disease really affected him.

    Being down for as long as he was could not have helped with his conditioning and endurance and his physique also suffered a bit because of it.

    Whenever someone with the muscle mass Lesnar has takes an extended break, some of that muscle turns to fat and they have to work even harder to burn it off again.

    Lesnar is still a world-class athlete despite the life-threatening illness that cost him months of his career, millions of potential dollars and probably his UFC career in general.

    Had this list been made in 2004 Lesnar would have topped it without question.

9. Sin Cara

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    Being able to fly around the ring the way Sin Cara can is nowhere near easy and requires a lot of athletic ability.

    When Sin Cara was wrestling in Mexico as Mistico his athletic ability was a lot more apparent.

    The matches he had were more exciting due to the nature of the sport in Mexico, and the number of botches he has had since joining WWE do nothing to take away from his actual physical skills.

    Cara will never be the biggest, but he will almost always be the fastest guy in any match.

    It is unfortunate that WWE has not embraced cruiserweights the way WCW and ECW did when they were still in business, otherwise we could see what this guy is really capable of.

8. Alberto Del Rio

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    JBL has mentioned numerous times since returning to the commentary table that Alberto Del Rio had the ability to go to the Olympics. It's not just another line to put a superstar over.

    Del Rio is legitimately one of the best athletes WWE has on the roster. It is a combination of different things that put him on this list.

    Del Rio is not only very stiff in his matches, but he is also quick as a hiccup and able to perform an enziguri kick from anywhere to anyone at any time.

    The mixture of MMA moves into Del Rio's wrestling allows him to be more versatile than someone without the same experience he has, but it is his athleticism that allows him to do so.

    The Mexican aristocrat is capable of so many things in the ring and anyone who doubts he belongs on this list needs to re-evaluate what it means to be an athlete.

7. Randy Orton

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    What can be said about Randy Orton that has not been said thousands of times before?

    He is a great athlete and one of WWE's most talented performers. You do not get to that place by sitting and eating chocolate and fried chicken.

    Orton has an enviable athleticism that allows him to perform at a high level every time he comes through the curtain.

    Few wrestlers in the industry can make things look as fluid as Orton can and one reason he is able to look so smooth is because he keeps himself in tip-top shape.

    The best standing dropkick in the business is not something Orton developed by skirting his exercises.

    I have a feeling some might argue with me about the dropkick remark. Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles are certainly candidates for that title as well.

    Also, the combination of chocolate and fried chicken is not recommended.

6. Cody Rhodes

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    The son of Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Dustin Runnels has shown himself to be the family's best athlete in his career in WWE.

    Cody is a prime example of genetics not determining what you have to look like, and he is proof that a consistent effort pays off.

    Rhodes has a well-built physique for someone who falls on the smaller side of the WWE roster, but he makes up for any shortcomings he may have in other areas. Cody can fly from the top rope if he wants, but he favors more of a grounded style while still occasionally going to the top to deliver a high-impact move.

    Dusty was a chunky guy his whole career and Dustin went from being to skinny to fat and back again. Cody makes both guys look like slackers in the athletics department.

    Cody has always looked like a star athlete and he has only gotten more defined and talented since his debut.

5. Antonio Cesaro

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    Anybody who can essentially dead lift Brodus Clay into the Neutralizer deserves good placement on this list. And that's just one reason Antonio Cesaro is number five.

    Cesaro is one of the most talented wrestlers on the roster and his power and athleticism only serve to increase his potential as a future star.

    When Cesaro first showed up in WWE nobody was thinking he would be the next powerhouse. He is not as big as guys like Ryback, Cena or even Mason Ryan.

    Boy, did he prove anyone who doubted his strength wrong.

    Cesaro hitting the Neutralizer on Clay is not the only reason he is on this list. He has an incredible physique and anyone familiar with his time in ROH knows his conditioning is right up there with the best.

    Antonio Cesaro is a World Champion waiting to happen, but he is already a top-level athlete and that will help him reach the top of WWE almost as much as his in-ring ability will.

4. The Rock

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    Rocky is part of WWE due to his upcoming title shot and so naturally he belongs on this list towards the top.

    The Rock is in the best shape of his life these days and that is due in part to him not abusing himself in the wrestling business for 20 years.

    By leaving when he did, Dwayne Johnson ensured he would be able to keep his body healthy for a much greater amount of time than the average wrestler.

    His return at Survivor Series 2011 and WrestleMania 28 showed how he has not taken it easy for a single day since last wrestling and part of that is because he is a naturally gifted athlete.

    Rock comes from a long line of wrestling royalty and his time in Florida playing college football helped him become the athlete he would need to be to become the biggest name in wrestling.

    On a personal note: I struggled with where to put Rock on this list. I would have put him higher but after thinking about it I realized that we do not get to see enough of what Rock is made of these days to really compare him against full-time guys like Cena and Ziggler.

3. John Cena

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    John Cena's power and almost superhuman ability to heal himself are testaments to what an incredible athlete he is.

    The strength of the Cenation leader is well documented in highlight videos going back to his original debut, but Cena does not get enough credit for the other ways he is athletic.

    Cena regularly goes to the top rope for his signature leg drop/fameasser and he is as quick on his feet as anyone else who is even close to his size physically.

    If anyone has doubts about the endurance this man possesses, then go back and watch the incredible 60-minute match between Cena and Shawn Michaels from Raw.

    HBK put Cena through his paces that night and Cena came out of the match with a lot more respect from me personally.

    Being able to keep up with Shawn Michaels in an hour-long match is an athletic accomplishment in and of itself, but making the match as great as this one was speaks to what incredible athletes both men are.

2. Sheamus

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    It might shock some people to see Sheamus above John Cena on this list, but it is a well-deserved placement.

    The Irish brawler is not just another wrestler with a chiseled physique—he is a top-flight athlete in every sense of the word.

    His endurance is ridiculous and he can keep pace with the quickest superstars while also being able to lift Big Show up every time he tries.

    That is no easy accomplishment for anyone, regardless of strength.

    Sheamus has had long matches with guys like Daniel Bryan, slug-fests with guys like Randy Orton and Wade Barrett and power matches with Big Show and Mark Henry.

    When it comes right down to it, the list of things Sheamus cannot do in the ring is shorter than Hornswoggle.

    If being in the gym all the time is what keeps Sheamus from seeing any sun and tanning his milk-white skin, then it might be worth it if the end result is what we have in Sheamus.

1. Dolph Ziggler

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    Dolph Ziggler has every gift an athlete can be given and he has used them in the most effective ways possible.

    His physique is not what put him at the top of the list. His overall athleticism did and he would have ended up at the top of the list if he was a chubby guy doing the exact same things he is doing now.

    Ziggler is as versatile as they come and being in as good of shape as he is helps make that possible.

    You don't set records for wins in wrestling at your college by sitting in your dorm and playing X-Box. You do it by being Dolph freakin' Ziggler.

    Ziggler is powerful, fast as lightning and able to put his body through more abuse than the average person would imagine possible.

    Being the strongest does not matter to Ziggler because he is concerned with being the best, and being the best athlete goes a long way to reaching that goal.

    The debate over who has the best physique in WWE is subjective, but always expect Ziggler to be among the names listed.

    After all, wrestling is only like the fifth-best thing he does.

Honorable Mentions

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    This was one of the harder lists I have ever had to put together because everyone who is signed by WWE is a great athlete. They wouldn't be there if they weren't.

    Obviously there are people left off the list who might seem like better choices than others, but there are more factors than build or overall strength counted.

    Some of the other superstars who were in the running to be in the top 15 were Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Rey Mysterio, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Titus O'Neil, Kofi, Daniel Bryan and Undertaker.

    There are bound to be people who feel some of the other WWE superstars were left out when they could have been included, so please feel free to share your thoughts on who the best athletes in WWE are.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.