The Top 10 Wrestlers, from Bell to Bell
Top 10 with a twist - Forget mic techniques, stunts and posers, this is a run down of the best wrestlers in the ring from ring bell to ring bell.
Wrestlers that were/are technically proficient and can mix it up with ring psychology whilst presenting matches that had storylines which well reflected emotions the matches were built upon.
Please remember this is not my top 10 favourite wrestlers (though it'll probably end up being close) and my personal experiences date back to the mid to late 80s, so old greats such as Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers won't be making an appearance.
Feel free to slate my choices as much as you like, the more constructive the better...
Hopefully someone will get me to admit that I should have added (insert name here).
10) The Dynamite Kid
Although he only had a short career, many still regard him as the most technically gifted wrestler ever. During the mid-'80s the WWF was full of character wrestlers and actual wrestling ability was deemed less important.
Even so, following a high paced Dynamite Kid match must have been a daunting prospect for most wrestlers who were next up on the event card.
Unfortunately he didn't get to take part in many big WWF matches, being possibly the best technical wrestler only gets you to No. 10.
Career highlight - British Bulldogs Vs The Hart Foundation, Wrestlemania 3.
9) Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat
A well respected wrestler amongst his peers his technical prowess can't be denied. Although a fan favourite, his matches were perhaps more about the technical aspect and less about the story telling (although he did have the occasional gem of a match) which gets him ninth place.
Career Highlight: VS Macho Man Randy Savage, Wrestlemania 3
8) Eddie Guerrero
The late great Eddie Guerrero amalgamated a technical style with Mexican high flying flair. He had great charisma and, unlike some wrestlers, could maintain his charisma throughout a match.
He was also an underated story teller in the ring, his tactic of lying, cheating and stealing to win (although a little gimmicky) made his matches standout, especially on the weekly Smackdown and Raw shows.
His trick to give his opponent a chair and then fall to the ground as ref turned round was a classic, but his matches always retained a good technical approach.
Career Highlight: Vs Rey Mysterio, Halloween Havoc '97
7) Mr. Perfect
Perhaps one of the most underused wrestlers in WWF history, MR Perfect had it all.
Technically gifted, he had great charisma in and out of the ring. As a heel, he had a great sense for ring psychology and was excellent in both a fast paced match but also offered a great change of pace, slowing matches down using cockyness and arrogance.
Unfortunately for him, he peaked (the perfect record era) during a period in the WWF when the best a great technical wrestler could realistically aim for was the intercontinental belt.
Career Highlight: Vs Bret Hart, Summerslam '91
6) Kurt Angle
Being an Olympic gold medallist, Kurt Angle's mat wrestling skill are second to none. His suplexes and German suplexes were always of the highest quality but it was his ability to reverse maneuvers that really set him apart.
Kurt was also blessed with great charisma and was always a good in-ring character as a heel or a face. Intense encounters with the likes of Shane McMahan also showed he could step it up a gear when a match demanded a more fiery edge.
Career Highlight Vs Chris Benoit, Wrestlemania 17
5) Shawn Michaels
The Heart Break Kid started out as a high flyer, and slowly morphed into a main event superstar.
Although his technical skill isn't in the same league as some of the previous mentioned, his ability to tell a story during matches has made his name synomonous with the WWE.
He's been charismatic, underhanded, arrogant, regretful, clean shaven baby-face and heel; effortlessly adding emotion to any match whilst still retaining it's technical base.
Career Highlight: Vs Bret Hart, Wrestlemania 12
4) Chris Benoit
Some people may argue this is a bit high for Chris Benoit, but I'll state my case. Benoit was a no gimmicks, no frills, technical wrestler.
His technical ability is obvious, it's his charisma that some critics may be questioning. The factor that get Benoit so high was his ability to sell. It's an underated quality these days, but Benoit's ability to take punches, falls, slams and sell them to an audience was fantastic.
At the end of a gruelling match he always gave off the appearance of being physically and emotionally drained, an aspect that most wrestlers seem to either forget to do or just haven't mastered.
It was more realistic than the overly flamboyant beatings the likes of Shawn Michaels takes. A dimension that may have made him seem weaker to an average fan but more admired by people who understand the art.
Career Highlight: Vs Bret Hart WCW Mayhem '99
3) Macho Man Randy Savage
During an era of wrestling where main events were dominated by faces with superabilities like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior and cartoon character (usually big) heels such as Andre the giant, King Kong Bundy, Zeus, Earthquake and Sgt Slaughter the technical wrestler was almost always lower down on the card.
This trend went from Wrestlemania One to Seven, the only wrestler who didn't follow the rule was Macho Man, Randy Savage. He didn't call upon the ring ropes or the Hulkamaniacs to win matches, he relied on his technical ability.
He could wrestle at a phenomenal pace and (during his years as a heel) could also slow things down. He even managed a title reign during this cartoon period and undoubtably had the best matches of Wrestlemania 3, 5 and 7.
No one carried the overblown and over rated Ultimate Warrior like Randy Savage did in Wrestlemania 7 and if you want to see emotion, selling and story telling of the highest quality, just give that match a watch (and I repeat, with the Ultimate Warrior as his opponent).
Career Highlight: Vs Ultimate Warrior, Wrestlemania 7
2) Stone Cold Steve Austin
No he's not a technical wrestler, he's a brawler. In fact, he's 'the' brawler. Steve Austin turned brawling into a fine art, but it's his story telling ability and charisma that gets him to No. 2.
No one can create a more explosive match, than on the occasions when Steve Austin faced a bitter rival.
Expert in ring psychology as both a face and a heel, Steve Austin is one of a kind. His ability to create his own originally different atmosphere during his matches was top class and he always had a fantastic ability to let the back story of the match translate into the wrestling.
Career Highlight: Vs Bret Hart, Wrestlemain 13
1) Bret Hart
The Excellence of Execution was just that...Technically sound, Bret Hart had the unrivaled ability to give an audience at great match no matter who he faced. From high-flyers to Sumo wrestlers, Bret had a knack of raising the game of his opponents.
His story telling as a Champion was in a class of it's own, he never made himself out to be an unstoppable force as a wrestler and could always create a feeling that maybe he could lose, maybe this time he won't be able to fight his way back.
It's a bit of a lost art these days as most title matches go through a foreplay period before entering 'main maneuver time' the winner of this finishes as champion despite what had happened in the match before it.
He'd put his title on the line week in and week out and have great little technical matches, but was always able to raise the atmosphere at the main events allowing them to stand out.
Back stories always translated into the wrestling, rivalry matches such as against his brother Owen Hart always generated great heat, but never let you feel secure in the knowledge that Bret was guaranteed to win.
Many wrestlers have finished (or will finish) their career having had their (or at least one of their) greatest match opposite Bret Hart. This list would include, Steve Austin, Mr Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Dynamite Kid, Ricky Steamboat, Rick Flair, Owen Hart, Bam Bam Bigalow, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Demolition, Yokozuna and Chris Benoit.
The match versus The British Bulldog at Summerslam '94 is a masterpiece the likes of which we may never see again.
Career Highlight: Vs British Bulldog, Summerslam '92