WWE Mark Madness 2013 (Greatest of All Time): Cena, Hogan and the Field of 64

Alfred KonuwaFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2013

WWE Mark Madness 2013 (Greatest of All Time): Cena, Hogan and the Field of 64

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    It's Selection Sunday and Mark Madness has returned in its evolved, Hall of Fame form.  Wrestling's finest including John Cena, The Rock, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair will be included in a field of 64 all-time greats to be dwindled down to the single greatest wrestler of all time. 

    This year's bracket will span across a wide range of eras, territories and international promotions.  Each timeless slice of pro wrestling utopia is represented in a fight for ultimate prestige. 

    The criteria used to select and seed each wrestler are as follows:

    Star Power:  Was the superstar a perennial headliner whose namesake sold out arenas?  What was this superstar's crossover value into mainstream entertainment?  What was their impact in big shows like WrestleMania? 

    Championships and Accomplishments:  How many championships did they win?  How long did they hold on to these championships?  Did their championship accolades translate to multiple promotions?

    Workrate:  How good are/were they in the ring?  Were they master ring technicians who could have a great match with the proverbial broom?  Is their resume filled with wrestling classics, or did they just get by on intangibles?  

    Career Impact:  What type of effect did their career have on future wrestlers, concepts, standards, etc? 

    Voting is now open!  First-round voting will last until 12 a.m. ET, 9 p.m. PT on Monday, March 18! 
    Register and VOTE!

1. Hulk Hogan

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    Seed: No. 1 (First overall)

    Babe Ruth.  Michael Jordan.  Tiger Woods.  Hulk Hogan.  If pro wrestling were to construct a Mount Rushmore, it would be a three-rock debate since Hogan's face would be a lock to appear.

    Love him or hate him (and his polarizing presence on the Internet will make for some dangerous waters in this tournament), Hulk Hogan put the WWF on his back for almost a decade during their first golden age of the '80s.

    Hogan spent almost 1,500 total days as WWE/WWF champion, and an additional 469 days as WCW champion.  He also has back-to-back Royal Rumble wins to boot. 

    And that's just his domestic resume

    The 2013 Mark Madness bracket is Hogan's world.  Everybody else is just living in it.

    For now. 

2. Ric Flair

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    Seed: No. 1 (Second overall)

    If Hulk Hogan is the Babe Ruth of professional wrestling, Ric Flair is the Hank Aaron.  Few wrestlers, if any, are celebrated by pro wrestling aficionados and casual fans as unanimously as Flair.  His strong mic skills, adept in-ring psychology and knack for storytelling made for a long and illustrious career. 

    This leader of the legendary Four Horsemen is known for being a 16-time (actually, it's 24) world heavyweight champion during a 40-year career.  No other wrestler has ever had as much of an impact on the NWA, WCW and WWE as Ric Flair.   

3. Steve Austin

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    Seed: No. 1 (Third overall) 

    The biggest star of the WWE's best era, Stone Cold Steve Austin transcended a generation of fervent pro wrestling fans. Austin's unprecedented rise in the late '90s led to broken merchandise records and broke the back of WCW during the Monday Night Wars.

    Austin will always be known as the bionic redneck in black trunks who terrorized his boss.  But he is a well-traveled, great hand who blew through WCCW, ECW and WCW before setting the WWE on fire. 

    A member of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, Austin captured six world championships in the WWE.  He is also the only WWE superstar to win three Royal Rumble matches. 

4. Shawn Michaels

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    Seed: No. 1 (Fourth overall)

    IGN.com rated Shawn Michaels the greatest wrestler of all time.  As did the WWE in a controversial list released in 2010.  The GOAT field of 64 wasn't so kind to the man who re-wrote wrestling. 

    Nobody's in-ring accolades can compare with Shawn Michaels in the WWE, however, his star power doesn't compare with that of a Steve Austin or a Hulk Hogan. 

    Fair or not, Michaels' run as champion in the mid to late 90's coincided with low ratings and a period where WCW threatened to put the WWE out of business. 

    Michaels' four WWE world title reigns don't sound impressive, neither does his 6-11 record at WrestleMania.  But the Heartbreak Kid stands alone as the single greatest performer in WrestleMania history, earning the nickname Mr. WrestleMania. 

5. The Rock

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    Seed: No. 2 (Fifth overall)

    Not only is The Rock one of the most successful superstars to compete in the WWE, he is also the biggest mainstream star ever to compete regularly for the WWE. 

    After a wildly productive eight-year career, The eight-time WWE champion left for Hollywood, where he has gone on to gross over three billion dollars as an A-list movie star. 

    The Rock returned to the WWE in 2011 after an eight-year absence and did not miss a step.  The Rock and John Cena broke box office records at WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012, as the event became the highest-grossing pay-per-view in pro wrestling history. 

6. Lou Thesz

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    Seed: No. 2 (Sixth overall)

    Lou Thesz is in a class of his own as a great professional wrestler.  The former NWA star was known for an innovative in-ring style and is credited with moves such as the powerbomb, German suplex, STF and most famously, the Lou Thesz press. 

    The National Wrestling Alliance represents a rich wrestling heritage, so it's that much more prestigious that nobody in history held the NWA World Championship for more combined days than Thesz. 

    3,749 days to be exact. 

7. Macho Man Randy Savage

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    Seed: No. 2 (Seventh overall)

    The late Randy Savage was Scottie Pippen to Hulk Hogan's Michael Jordan.  He was quite possibly the only superstar of the '80s boom period who could rival the star power of Hulk Hogan. 

    Savage became a transcendent figure in pop culture, and a household name, through a flamboyant wardrobe and a memorable marketing campaign with Slim Jim. 

    Savage's incomparable in-ring style led to dazzling contests against the likes of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Hulk Hogan himself, who he faced at WrestleMania V.

    A former six-time world champion, Savage reigned as WWE champion for over one year from 1988 to 1989. 

8. Bruno Sammartino

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    Seed: No. 2 (Eighth overall)

    The original WWE workhorse, Bruno Sammartino carried WWWF in the '60s and '70s.  He still remains the longest-reigning champion in WWE history, with an unprecedented reign of over 2,800 days. 

    In total, Bruno held the WWWF Championship for over 11 years, and sold out the famed Madison Square Garden on 187 different occasions.

    Sammartino walks among immortals in pro wrestling lore, and nobody is more deserving of his long-overdue induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. 

9. John Cena

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    Seed: No. 3 (Ninth overall)

    John Cena currently personifies the spirit, passion and commitment of the WWE.  Currently enjoying his very own era, John Cena has been the lifeblood of the WWE's business for over a decade. 

    Cena's legacy will always be tied to his polarizing nature and the audible detractors who follow him to every arena. 

    However, no superstar today, and few in history, have ever worked harder or done more for WWE's all-around business on their own accord. 

    Once criticized as a muscle-bound hoss with limited wrestling ability, Cena continues to shatter that myth with classic matches against the likes of CM Punk and Shawn Michaels on his resume. 

    With 12 world titles to his name and still in his prime, Ric Flair's once-untouchable record of 16 world championships is John Cena's if he wants it. 

10. Bret Hart

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    Seed: No. 3 (10th overall)

    Bret Hart is in the discussion as the pound-for-pound greatest technical wrestler ever.  The Canadian hero was one of the first exceptions to the rule as a smaller world champion, during the post-Hogan years, as the WWE opted to push talent with more of an in-ring pedigree than brawn. 

    Trained in the vaunted Hart dungeon, Bret Hart was a student of the game.  And while his legacy will always be sullied by the infamous Montreal Screwjob, some may choose to remember the fact that Hart never injured anybody in all his years as an active competitor. 

11. The Undertaker

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    Seed: No. 3 (11th overall)

    The Undertaker is among the last of the kayfabe workers, with a gimmick that is still protected and has withstood the test of time despite all of its on-paper inequities. 

    Both in and out of the ring, The Undertaker is universally respected and was always able to conquer the puzzling task of reinventing himself. 

    The Undertaker's legacy will never revolve around championship reigns.  Despite his seven world title wins, he never truly needed them to get over. 

    Instead, the Undertaker will be immortalized by being the only individual go 20-0 at WrestleMania

12. Triple H

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    Seed: No. 3 (12th overall)

    Triple H's career path will never be without controversy, but what is indisputable is his standing as a living legend (sorry, Bret). 

    Winning 13 world championships, no other superstar is a more decorated world champion. 

    Triple H was a dominant figure during the Attitude Era, quickly ditching his well-to-do garbs and gimmick for a more hard-edged persona closer to his real-life identity. 

    Triple H's 11 consecutive WrestleMania appearances is second only to the esteemed Bret Hart.  He continues his Hall of Fame career behind the desk, where he has already had a positive effect by being instrumental in convincing Bruno Sammartino to finally accept a WWE Hall of Fame induction.  

13. Bob Backlund

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    Seed: No. 4 (13th overall)

    Bob Backlund may be one of the more underrated pro wrestlers of his time.  One of the elite true athletes to ever compete inside the squared circle, Backlund is one of the longest-reigning WWWF/WWF champions of all time, holding the title for over 2,000 days from 1979 to 1983. 

    Backlund accomplished the rare feat of winning the WWE Championship in two different eras, capturing the title for a third time in 1992 (although this reign is only recognized as his second in WWE history).

14. Kurt Angle

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    Seed: No. 4 (14th overall)

    Kurt Angle is a pro wrestling promoter's dream come true.  From the look to the conditioning to the athleticism, few wrestlers embodied the depiction of a total package the way Angle did. 

    Along with being the only Olympic gold medalist in pro wrestling history, Kurt Angle won six world championships with the WWE and five world championships in TNA.  In fact, he once held all of TNA's championships simultaneously during one stretch. 

15. Gorgeous George

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    Seed: 4 (15th overall)

    Many credit Gorgeous George Wagner as being the godfather of professional wrestling.  As the innovator of the flamboyant heel, Wagner served as an inspiration for the likes of Ric Flair and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

    Wagner was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

    If there ever were a charisma wing, it would be named in his honor. 

16. Buddy Rogers

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    Seed: No. 4 (16th overall)

    Serving as the blueprint for Ric Flair, Buddy Rogers was the original Nature Boy. 

    A heel who bleached his hair blond and wore flamboyant garments, Rogers is the only man on the planet who can lay claim to being the first-ever WWE champion. 

17. Chris Jericho

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    Seed: No. 5 (17th overall)

    Chris Jericho's well-rounded repertoire crafted the former WCW cruiserweight into a bona fide legend.  Constantly evolving his character, Jericho has gone from a whiny heel to a rock star to a paranoid sociopath similar to Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.

    The decorated star has a unique arsenal of championships—from cruiserweight to television titles to world titles.  And while Buddy Rogers may have been the first WWE champion, Chris Jericho was the first-ever undisputed WWE champion. 

18. Sting

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    Seed: No. 5 (18th overall)

    Arguably the biggest star to never compete for the WWE, although some may argue that he's overrated. Sting's ageless face-paint gimmick has contributed to a career that spans almost 28 years. 

    Sting's position as a top star was solidified following a monumental rivalry with Ric Flair.  He recreated himself as a darker, Crow-like version of himself during the heyday of WCW, and he currently competes in TNA, where he was the company's first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. 

    Always one of the better babyfaces of his era(s), Sting was voted the most popular wrestler by Pro Wrestling Illustrated a record four times.  He shares this record with John Cena. 

19. Jack Brisco

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    Seed: No. 5 (19th overall)

    Jack Brisco (right) was the precursor to talent like Kurt Angle.  Brisco parlayed a strong amateur wrestling background into a legendary professional wrestling career where he was widely recognized as one of the greatest champions of the 20th century.

    Cut from the same cloth as a Kurt Angle or a Bob Backlund, few competitors were better athletes than Jack Brisco, whose physical style made him a giant in multiple NWA territories. 

    A WWE Hall of Fame inductee in 2008, Jack Brisco was a two-time NWA World heavyweight champion while competing for All Japan Pro wrestling and won a myriad of NWA championships throughout his career. 

20. Harley Race

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    Seed: No. 5 (20th overall)

    Harley Race was one of the NWA's true gems.  Though he was a former WWE King of The Ring, Race made a name for himself during the territory era. 

    Race captured multiple NWA championships during the '70s, including the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.  The lineage of the WWE United States Championship dates back to the NWA era, where Race reigned as its first champion in 1975.

21. Jerry Lawler

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    Seed: No. 6 (21st overall)

    There's a reason he was nicknamed The King.  Before delivering one-liners behind an announce table every Monday night, Lawler was a god amongst men in the white-hot Memphis wrestling territory.

    Ric Flair fancies himself a 16-time world champion, which is great.  Also great is Lawler's 168 career championships. 

    His iconic feud with Andy Kaufman gave the world a glimpse into what pro wrestling would one day become:  Sports entertainment.  

    Lawler is known by pro wrestling fans both old and new.  And his ability to stay relevant in any era is one that should be appreciated. 

22. Edge

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    Seed: No. 6 (22nd overall)

    Edge grew up and thrived under the WWE umbrella.  He earned a moniker of being "the ultimate opportunist" by his using of the WWE Money in the Bank briefcase to capture world championships on two different occasions. 

    In total, and in addition to a legendary tag team run alongside Christian, Edge has held 11 world championships.  His seven World Heavyweight Championship wins is a WWE record. 

    Edge battled countless injuries throughout his career, including a serious neck injury that eventually forced him to retire.  Still, Edge carried the SmackDown brand as one of the top heels after being vaulted into the main event following a scandalous relationship with Amy "Lita" Dumas. 

23. CM Punk

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    Seed: No. 6 (23rd overall)

    CM Punk evolved his "best in the world" tagline into a lifestyle.  Two Money in the Bank wins.  A six-time world champion in the WWE, including the longest WWE Championship reign of the modern era.  A giant in the independent wrestling circuit.

    The scary part is he's not even close to being done yet.

    Punk always wore his heart on his sleeve.  His permanent rise to the top of the WWE came following a worked-shoot promo where he aired real-life grievances on WWE TV.  His subsequent WWE Championship win over John Cena in his hometown of Chicago was the stuff goosebumps are made of. 

    Punk currently clocks in as a No. 6 seed, but only because his career is still an unfinished work of art.  Ten years from now, this work of art will have been a masterpiece. 

24. Roddy Piper

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    Seed: No. 6 (24th overall)

    A one-of-a-kind talent with otherworldly promo ability, Roddy Piper was a pillar of the Rock 'n' Wrestling era of the 1980s. 

    Piper never won a major championship for WWE or WCW, not in spite of his talents, but because of them.

    Hot Rod was able to make storylines and characters matter without the promotional tool of a belt to enhance their importance. 

    A man who spoke first and asked questions later, Roddy Piper is one of a small handful of pro wrestlers who became a household name. 

25. Andre the Giant

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    Seed: No. 7 (25th overall)

    The original giant, Andre the Giant was the WWE's greatest attraction.  Unlike The Big Show, who competes on a regular basis for the WWE, Andre was protected by limited dates, making his matches more special and awe-inspiring. 

    Andre's star power transcended into movies, where he famously played Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

    It's not befitting of the former WWE champion's legacy that one of his most important contributions to the WWE was getting slammed by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. 

    But in doing so, he carved out the very history that made Hulk Hogan immortal. 

26. El Santo

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    Seed: No. 7 (26th overall)

    El Santo was the perfect name for this luchador turned cult icon.  His presence in lucha libre folklore is divine, untouchable and unprecedented. 

    As a wrestler for NWA-affiliated lucha libre promotions, El Santo became a legend to the point where his mask is now an relic of infinite celebrity. 

    Following a successful and decorated wrestling career, El Santo starred in several dozen movies throughout the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s. 

    In Mexico, he was as close to a real-life superhero as one gets. 

27. Dusty Rhodes

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    Seed: No. 7 (27th overall)

    Dusty Rhodes re-defined what it was to be a world championship-caliber pro wrestler.  He looked more like the plumber that his father was than a pro wrestler.  But he used his very average physique to his advantage, identifying with the common man and setting the world ablaze with impassioned interviews. 

    Rhodes' jolly build misled many individuals in regard to his conditioning.  But he routinely wrestled physically demanding classics against Ric Flair. 

    After winning various heavyweight championships on the NWA circuit, Rhodes took his act to the WWE, where he was still able to get over despite wearing bright yellow polka dots

    Name a pro wrestling Hall of Fame and Rhodes is probably in it.  To this mound of wrestling royalty, life is but a dream. 

28. Terry Funk

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    Seed: No. 7 (28th overall)

    Terry Funk will go down as one of the forefathers of hardcore wrestling, but also as a wrestling stalwart.  Currently in six prestigious Halls of Fame (and Dave Meltzer's), Terry Funk's career longevity and dedication to pleasing a crowd are what made him famous. 

    A three-time world champion, and holder of over 25 championships, Funk found success in just about every promotion he set foot in, whether it be ECW, WCW, WWE or NWA. 

29. Mil Mascaras

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    Seed: No. 8 (29th overall)

    Mil Mascaras was a trailblazer for lucha libre wrestling as it has come to be known today.  He was lucha libre's high-flying version of Hulk Hogan. The over-sized luchador gained immense popularity with high-profile heavyweight feuds opposite Ernie Ladd, Superstar Billy Graham and The Destroyer. 

    Mascaras is widely credited with evolving the lucha libre style into a high-flying art, wowing spectators with stunts that defied his own size. 

    The 2012 WWE Hall of Famer also starred in over 20 films while acting as an ambassador to his country, cementing himself as one of Mexico's most recognizable stars. 

30. Jushin Liger

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    Seed: No. 8 (30th overall)

    Jushin Liger is one of Japan's greatest exports.  Liger has taken his one-man traveling circus worldwide, becoming a widely-respected masked wrestler. 

    Winning a handful of junior heavyweight championships in his travels, Jushin "Thunder" Liger is a pound-for-pound great. 

31. Ricky Steamboat

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    Seed: No. 8 (31st overall)

    Some remember him from his timeless classic against Randy Savage at WrestleMania III.  Others know him from his pivotal feud with Ric Flair, where the two waged war in WCW.  All should have positive memories about him. 

    Ricky Steamboat infused high-flying with technical wrestling and had the panache to make the most basic wrestling moves look better than some finishers. 

    Of course this man of over 20 championships was known as The Dragon.  His intensity couldn't be just that, it had to be comparable to something fervent, bright and mystical. 

32. The Great Muta

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    Seed: No. 8 (32nd overall)

    One has to be pretty darn good to live up to such a promising name, but The Great Muta was better than just good. 

    With immense success in the NWA and across Japan, where he won heavyweight championships in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling, The Great Muta is the gold standard in Japanese wrestling. 

    Great Muta is known as one of the innovators of the Asian mist being spit into the face of unsuspecting opponents.  The gimmick is still used throughout many promotions to this day.  

33. Mick Foley

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    Seed: No. 9 (33rd overall)

    Mick Foley never seemed content with any one gimmick, but he always performed each character at a high level, doing so with a carefree, and at-times playful attitude. 

    Foley became an unlikely top star during the dawn of the Attitude Era, defeating The Rock for the WWE Championship in one of the most famous world championship matches in WWE history. 

    Making his hay as a hardcore legend in multiple promotions and against multiple foes, nobody will ever forget the night he fell 16 feet from atop a cell through a table. 

    And kept wrestling. 

34. Eddie Guerrero

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    Seed: No. 9 (34th overall)

    Eddie Guerrero mixed an infectious charisma with a high-flying, technical workrate.  Guerrero's brand of personality was few and far between among wrestlers with similar skill sets who relied on stunts to get them over. 

    Guerrero's ability to instantly connect with legions of fans defined him.  Once a top cruiserweight in WCW, Guerrero furthered his career in the WWE, where he became a WWE champion.

35. Curt Hennig

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    Seed: No. 9 (35th overall)

    Curt Hennig shined in the AWA as one of their most talented workers and was a one-time world champion.  A guy with the uncanny ability to make anybody look good in the ring, Curt Hennig was a tactician and a pro's pro. 

    As the territories began to dry up, Hennig took his craft up north to the WWE/F, where he became Mr. Perfect. 

    Although devoid of any world titles during his time there, Mr. Perfect became one of the company's premier heels.  Hennig is considered one of the WWE's greatest Intercontinental champions in an era when that championship was still prestigious. 

36. Chris Benoit

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    Seed: No. 9 (36th overall)

    Nobody can deny the technical wrestling prowess of Chris Benoit, nicknamed The Wolverine because of his relentless in-ring style. 

    Standing at 5'11", Benoit wrestled a 6'6" game with a polished wrestling move set, punctuated by a flying headbutt. 

    A former world champion with the WWE, Benoit's career accolades rank him among the all-time great Canadian wrestlers, as well as one of wrestling's best overall workers. 

37. Nick Bockwinkel

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    Seed: No. 10 (37th overall)

    Nick Bockwinkel's exclusivity amongst the hodgepodge of characters in the AWA and other wrestling syndicates was executed through the use of a myriad of methodologies. 

    Bockwinkel's refined in-ring style was complimented by well-spoken, eloquent promos that were a precursor to Chris Jericho's successful heel character of 2008. 

    The former four-time AWA heavyweight champion certainly falls under the underrated category.  The fact that his Wikipedia page doesn't have a picture should be a federal offense, yet Bockwinkel was rightfully inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. 

38. Verne Gagne

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    Seed: No. 10 (38th overall)

    The father of the American Wrestling Association that housed talents such as Curt Hennig, Nick Bockwinkel and Ravishing Rick Rude, Verne Gagne is the 16-time world champion casual fans don't know about. 

    Gagne is a respected wrestling mind whose in-ring career and post-wrestling accolades cannot be overstated.  He wrestled.  He won (a lot).  He booked. 

    Any prestige associated with the famed AWA was more than likely attributable to Verne Gagne. 

39. Randy Orton

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    Seed: No. 10 (39th overall)

    Perhaps the best testament to Randy Orton's overwhelming talent was the WWE's commitment to their troubled young star early in his career. 

    Orton has produced a mini-almanac of fireable offenses, yet he survived them all due to potential that exploded into a staggering career. 

    The jury is still out on Orton's legacy, but should he keep his head on straight, there will be room for him at the figurative table of wresting deities. 

40. The Big Show

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    Seed: No. 10 (40th overall)

    Is he the hardest-working giant of all time?  The most athletic?  Has there ever been any big man asked to do more?  Is he a beneficiary of different times?  Or a victim of ancient history and the ghosts of Andre the Giant?  Is he the greatest giant of all time? 

    The numbers say he should be. 

41. The Iron Sheik

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    Seed: No. 11 (41st overall)

    The Iron Sheik was a prototypical heel.  He was a heel, so he didn't like very many people.  He was a foreigner wrestling in Madison Square Garden on many occasions, so he really didn't like very many people.  And he basically just didn't like very many people.  

    Sheik was made famous by being the man who finally unseated Bob Backlund's near-four-year run as WWF champion.  That, and he could do this.

42. Bill Goldberg

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    Seed: No. 11 (42nd overall)

    He was the last of the mega stars WCW had to offer, and in many ways, the only megastar they created during the Monday Night Wars.  Carrying WCW on his back for much of the latter stages of those wars, Goldberg was booked to win his first 173 matches.

    Simple, yet effective, Bill Goldberg was to WCW what The Ultimate Warrior should have been to the WWE.  But like the Warrior, his meteoric rise would eventually see a stiff ceiling. 

43. Jake Roberts

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    Seed: No. 11 (43rd overall)

    Not one to get caught up in pretty little championship belts and accolades, Jake "The Snake" Roberts did all his talking—well—on the mic. 

    And when he wasn't moving mountains with his interviews, he was wrestling meaningful matches, introducing a whole new brand of psychology to the game.

    And when he got tired of doing that, he let Damien, his fateful slithery companion, do the talking. 

44. Rick Rude

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    Seed: No. 11 (44th overall)

    Muscle flexer.  Neck breaker.  Hip thruster. 

    Ravishing Rick Rude was God's gift to heels.  Rude will always be remembered for a not-so-subtle sexually charged gimmick, where he portrayed a womanizing agitator. 

    But the master villain cut his teeth in territories across Florida and Texas, including WCCW, where he captured the NWA American Heavyweight Championship. 

    Rude was rough around the edges to some degree with a hard-hitting, physical workrate.  Rude still showed off a particular amount of agility and finesse that was fitting of a historically impressive physique.

45. Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase

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    Seed: No. 12 (45th overall)

    Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers voted Ted DiBiase the most hated man in wrestling in 1982.  Believe it or not, that was before he donned shiny blazers and a self-aggrandizing championship. 

    DiBiase would go on to sign with the WWF, becoming The Million Dollar Man.  The greatest ode to this heel persona?  He never turned babyface in the WWE for being "too good" at being a heel. 

    Always reviled by WWE fans, DiBiase played a cut-throat bad guy who acquired what he wanted through wealth.

    A peak moment of DiBiase's character came when he attempted to purchase the WWE championship from Andre the Giant.  

    Before his million-dollar run, DiBiase showed flashes of brilliance in territories across Georgia and Japan, where he raked in the championships. 

46. Brock Lesnar

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    Seed: No. 12 (46th overall)

    The sight of Brock Lesnar would make any wrestling promoter salivate, including Vince McMahon, who signed the vanilla gorilla in 2000. 

    Lesnar then took the fast track to becoming a top star, running through the WWE roster before defeating The Rock at SummerSlam in 2002.

    The groundwork had been laid for Lesnar to fulfill Paul Heyman's destiny as the next big thing.  Then he quit, pressured by a lifestyle brought on by his unwanted celebrity

    Lesnar has since returned to the WWE on a part-time basis as one of the company's biggest draws.

47. Freddie Blassie

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    Seed: No. 12 (47th overall)

    The WWE may not officially recognize founding fathers, but Freddie Blassie was one of them.  The expert heel feuded with top stars in Japan, Georgia and the WWWF, where he opposed Bruno Sammartino.

    Blassie's career as a manager was just as effective as his in-ring career, with the timeless competitor coining the term "pencil-necked geeks."  

48. Mitsuharu Misawa

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    Seed: No. 12 (48th overall)

    The legendary wrestler and former president of All Japan Pro Wrestling, Mitsuharu Misawa is as good as it gets when it comes to Japanese wrestling.  That assertion includes some stiff competition.

    Once portraying Tiger Mask II, Misawa was reminiscent of a more well-polished Dusty Rhodes.  He was a wrestler who made up for an average physique with an incredible, intense workrate. 

    Misawa tragically died in the ring after taking a botched German suplex. 

49. Arn Anderson

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    Seed: No. 13 (49th overall)

    As a long-time enforcer for Ric Flair, it's no wonder Arn Anderson can be safely considered the greatest sidekick of all time. 

    An original member of the Four Horsemen, Anderson's precision technical wrestling and innovative offense made him a gem in the ring. 

    Whether it was tagging alongside fellow Horseman Tully Blanchard or doing Ric Flair's dirty work, the legacy of arguably the greatest wrestler of all time is diminished without Arn Anderson. 

50. Batista

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    Seed: No. 13 (50th overall)

    He was the model of intensity and power.  Batista was a bit of a project upon debuting in the WWE as Reverend D-Von's menacing Deacon

    But after a little fine-tuning under the watchful eyes of Evolution members Ric Flair and Triple H, Batista blossomed into a top star. 

    Batista arrived at WrestleMania 21, where he became the second in a string of four consecutive wrestlers to go over Triple H at the WWE's biggest show. 

    His best work came toward the end of his run as he played a disillusioned heel, eventually winning the WWE Championship for a second time before dropping it to John Cena at WrestleMania XXVI. 

51. Daniel Bryan

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    Seed: No. 13 (51st overall)

    A dangerous No. 13 seed if there ever was one, Daniel Bryan's Internet following should bolster his chances of making a Cinderella run. 

    Bryan may have only won one world championship in the WWE, but his independent wrestling career may have been the best ever, with the former American Dragon taking his unique submission wrestling skill set worldwide. 

52. Kenta Kobashi

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    Seed: No. 13 (52nd overall)

    Don't ask Dave Meltzer what he thinks about Kenta Kobashi, because he'd probably never shut up about him.

    A top star of the Japanese wrestling scene, Kobashi's supreme workrate resulted in routine classic matches in the mid- to late '90s and a handful in the 2000s. 

    Kenta Kobashi may not be the greatest Japanese wrestler of all time, but he is in the discussion as one of the greats of his time. 

53. Dory Funk Jr.

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    Seed: No. 14 (53rd overall)

    This Texas technician, not Dean Malenko, is credited with inventing the Texas Cloverleaf.  Dory Jr. had a strong foundation in both singles (former four-year NWA heavyweight champion) and tag team (former multiple-time tag team champion with Terry Funk) wrestling. 

    It was Funk's more traditional wrestling style that made him unique from his brother Terry, and helped add value to the legendary Funk name in pro wrestling. 

54. Strangler Lewis

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    Seed: No. 14 (54th overall)

    Widely credited with the invention of the sleeper hold, Ed "Strangler" Lewis was considered to be among the greatest wrestlers ever by high-ranking peers such as Lou Thesz. 

    Strangler Lewis helped innovate pro wrestling with a brawling style one would expect from someone nicknamed "strangler."

55. Booker T

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    Seed: No. 14 (55th overall)

    Booker T broke through many glass ceilings from his days in WCW, where he won the Atlanta-based company's world championship five times, to the WWE where he added to his legacy by winning the World Heavyweight Championship.

    There may be very little argument that Booker T is the greatest, or at least the most decorated, African-American wrestler of all time. 

    But with no WWE Championships to his name, he also serves as a reminder of how far many African-American wrestlers still have to go. 

56. Rey Mysterio

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    Seed: No. 14 (56th overall)

    Rey Mysterio is undoubtedly the greatest luchador that many domestic fans have seen.  Mysterio has done more on bigger stages of professional wrestling that most, if not all, of his peers. 

    He also overachieved, considering limitations in size and craft, as a diminutive cruiserweight who won both the WWE and World championship titles. 

57. Jimmy Snuka

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    Seed: No. 15 (57th overall) 

    Did Jimmy Snuka's career peak after a heart-stopping cage dive on Don Muraco? 

    Perhaps.  But it was one of just a handful of moments that changed sports entertainment.  Hyperbole be damned. 

58. Frank Gotch

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    Seed: No. 15 (58th overall)

    Remember that discussion about forefathers of pro wrestling?  Frank Gotch is one of them, too.  His contribution to getting professional wrestling over in mainstream society is as important as anybody's. 

    Gotch was a catch wrestler and a shoot fighter whose world championship reign of the 1900s lasted nearly five years.

59. Superstar Billy Graham

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    Seed: No. 15 (59th overall)

    Billy Graham revolutionized the pro wrestler as he is known today.  The original superstar, icons like Hulk Hogan and Jesse "The Body" Ventura were heavily influenced by his larger-than-life character. 

60. Jeff Hardy

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    Seed: No. 15 (60th overall)

    Jeff Hardy's quiet charisma produced a brand of popularity rarely seen in the WWE.  After paying his dues as an enhancement talent, and through a great tag team run alongside brother Matt, Hardy caught fire in 2008. 

    But as has been his career asterisk, health and wellness violations always seemed to curb his potential. 

    Still a former WWE, World heavyweight and TNA world champion, Jeff Hardy's body of work is elite even if tainted with a flavor of what could have been. 

61. Kevin Nash

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    Seed: No. 16 (61st overall)

    Kevin Nash found mainstream success as the WWE's Diesel.  There, he was the longest-reigning WWE champion of the '90s, holding the strap for close to a full year. 

    Diesel made a monumental pit stop in WCW, where he helped turn the tides in WCW's favor by heading up the NWO alongside Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan. 

    Nash went on to win five WCW championships before WCW went out of business in 2001. 

62. The Ultimate Warrior

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    Seed: No. 16 (62nd overall)

    Given how hot The Ultimate Warrior was once upon a blue moon, some may be outraged by his low seeding. 

    But the lack of longevity, and presence of Hulk Hogan always making him 1-A at best, put a damper on his greatness tag. 

    The Ultimate Warrior saw limited success, simultaneously holding both the Intercontinental and WWE Championship, which was a first.  It all came crashing down after multiple firings, and The Ultimate Warrior never got it back. 

63. A.J. Styles

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    Seed: No. 16 (63rd overall)

    A.J. Styles is the lifeblood of TNA, and there is little argument that he is their greatest performer. 

    Styles has done things in a wrestling ring that will be revered and recreated for decades to come, earning him the nickname The Phenomenal One. 

    Secondary as the promotion may be, it is still a national promotion.  And A.J. Styles' championship accolades within it over a long period of time make him great. 

64. The Fabulous Moolah

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    Seed: No. 16 (64th overall)

    Pro wrestling is undoubtedly a boys' club.  But when somebody holds a single championship for 10 years as The Fabulous Moolah did, there's room at the big boys' table for them whether they be a man, woman or child. 

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