The 40 Biggest Headcases in Professional Wrestling History

David LevinSenior Writer IIApril 25, 2013

The 40 Biggest Headcases in Professional Wrestling History

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    It's not Halloween, but add these wrestling characters to the season and you could have one hell of a party.

    It takes a lot to be a professional wrestler or someone who is a major part of the business. With ego and entertainment being such important parts of selling the product, sometimes the lines of character and reality are confused.

    In these cases, many of the characters lived their lives in this reality, becoming larger-than-life promotions of themselves when they were in the public and private eye.

    Some still do til this day.

    Here are the biggest headcases in professional wrestling.

Lou Albano

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    The man with the rubber bands and the goofy-looking cartoonish face was such a great character in the WWF. Albano may not have been the best wrestler to ever lace up some boots, but he sure as hell got it right as a manager of over 20 tag teams and singles wrestlers.

    Albano was perfect for the new era of the WWF and helped to bring in the Rock 'n' Wrestling era with Hulk Hogan and Cyndi Lauper. And he was a fixture on MTV in her "Girls Wanna Have Fun" video.

    We all miss Capt. Lou.

Bob Backlund

2 of 40

    He was one of the WWF's constant successes in the 1970s and 1980s, having held the WWF title for the second-longest reign of all time.

    And when he lost the title to the Iron Sheik, he basically got lost in oblivion.

    He was brought back as a crazed wrestler who was mentally unstable. It was a slap in the face for the amateur star as far as I am concerned.

    Backlund was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.

Ultimate Warrior

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    Here is a guy who lives his character and changed his name legally to Warrior in 1993.

    Talk about having a high opinion of himself.

    Jim Helwig gained popularity for being part of the Blade Runners with Sting in Bill Watts' UWF outfit and later in WCCW as the Dingo Warrior.

    It wasn't until he went to the WWF and beat Hulk Hogan that he became a true star.

Eric Bischoff

4 of 40

    He wrote "Controversy Creates Cash."

    He was right. The man who started out as a wrestling hand in the AWA and moved up the chain in the company and then in WCW.

    If there was anyone who dreamed big in wrestling besides Vince McMahon, it was Eric Bischoff. And in the end, even with his innovation, Bischoff helped to doom WCW and partially sunk TNA.

Rick Rude

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    The most underrated wrestler of all time.

    Rude was an international star, went to school in Robbinsdale, Minnesota and was a freak in terms of his body.

    He was the one men hated to look at and the one women longed to be with. And in the end, Rude achieved fame and fortune in both the WWF and WCW.

    Why he was never given a chance to hold the WWF title is beyond me, and why he was not given more of a title run at any one time in either organization is a mystery.

    I would have loved to have seen him and Sting battle over the WCW title.

Adrian Street

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    One of the most unique wrestlers to ever get in the ring. He was a Welsh wrestler and author known for his flamboyant, androgynous wrestling persona, brought to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Street was often accompanied to the ring by his longtime manager Miss Linda, and the two worked primarily as villains.

    Street was a fixture in Florida, and as "The Exotic One" his signature move in the ring was to kiss opponents to escape being pinned down and to put makeup on his opponents when they were disabled.

Jake Roberts

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    When he was in the NWA and a tag team partner of Barry Windham, he was an up-and-coming star. He got to Florida and got involved in Kevin Sullivan's cult.

    His demons were real. 

    He traveled to Georgia to battle Ronnie Garvin and then traveled to the WWF.

    Vince McMahon gave him a snake and paraded him in the ring, making him a star.

Sid Vicious

8 of 40

    Sid Eudy is a six-time world champion: a two-time WWF champion, two-time WCW World Heavyweight champion and a two-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight champion. He is also a one-time WCW United States Heavyweight champion.

    A nice resume for a guy who always seemed to be a little unbalanced.

    Vicious has been a champion in both WCW and the WWF. His commitment to wrestling has been questioned before, but when he was on his game, he was as intense as any wrestler ever.

Austin Aries

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    He is one of the best performers in wrestling today and maybe one of the most sinister of this decade. 

    Austin Aries is a great mix of talent and ego TNA cannot afford to let go. The smug, stylish, egocentric wrestler should be a champion.

    Does he get another chance? Hopefully. His association with Bobby Roode is awesome and his dip into the tag team division is epic.

    Aries definitely rocks the casbah.

Mae Young

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    I won't spend a lot of time on this, but if you are a contemporary of The Fabulous Moolah and one of the better female wrestlers of her generation, you get mad props.

    But as she got older and continued to remain a sideshow of the WWF in years past, Mae Young was involved in some of the more comical and awful skits in wrestling history.

    Her program with Mark Henry and her being pregnant was deplorable. 

    The WWE has used her in ways that just make me shake my head.

Daniel Bryan

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    He is one of the more entertaining wrestlers in the WWE.

    Whether a face or heel, his chats of "No" or "Yes" get the crowds going. And his recent success with Kane is one of the bright spots of the WWE.

    Bryan can wrestle with the best of the business and show a style that wows the crowd. He is also one of the more respected wrestlers there are today.

ODB and Eric Young

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    Talk about dysfunctional relationships. ODB should be leading the Knockouts division but is now a referee. 

    She "married" the crazy Eric Young last year in one of the most bizarre marriages we have ever seen. 

    Young is one of the better mat wrestlers in TNA and the business. But his zany antics are a turnoff.

    The fact that he and ODB hold the Knockouts tag titles is a joke.

    Need we say more.

Sherri Martel

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    In her wrestling days, Martel was easily one of the best of all time. In her managerial days, Martel was great and a bit off the beaten path.

    Martel's managerial career included time with Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage in the WWF and of course, Harlem Heat in WCW.

    Her style was outlandish and her makeup was scary. But Martel was in a class of her own.

    At one time, she was even in a romantic program with Col. Robert Parker.

Raven

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    Scott Levy started out in Jerry Lawler's outfit in Memphis, moved to WCW as Scotty Flamingo, became a fixture in ECW and then again in WCW and TNA. 

    There is nothing obvious about Raven, other than his odd grunge look and his persona. The leader of The Flock and a constant curiosity of the fans, his rants or his chain-promos were legendary.

    Raven was one of a kind, fighting with the likes of Sandman in ECW, where their battles were epic.

Scott Steiner

15 of 40

    Boys and girls, here is what happens when you play with steroids.

    For all his great success in WCW and then in TNA, Steiner is a glowing reason why there are issues with steroids and enhancement in professional wrestling.

    When he came to WCW, he was a great athletic god with a body to match. He could do things at 275 pounds that were just amazing.

    Now, he is out of the business and a sad case of failure.

Mickie James

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    Her infatuation with Trish Stratus certainly puts her on this list.

    James may be one of the more underrated female wrestlers of any generation, but she also has become a fixture in the women's wrestling scene.

    Whether in TNA or the WWE, James has shown she can be a champion and carry the women's division with ease.

    But we all remember her for chasing Stratus around in a stalking-like program that was so freaking hot.

Mick Foley/Mankind/Cactus Jack

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    Whatever the character has been, Mick Foley has delivered. 

    A WWE champion, hardcore legend and one of the more popular wrestlers in WWE history, Foley achieved everything he wanted and then some.

    Even when he appears on Raw, it is a curiosity as to whether he will get in the ring again. Foley was never a true "wrestler" so to speak, but more of an entertainer and one who would not have been a success had it not been for Vince McMahon.

Bruiser Brody

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    I loved Bruiser Brody.

    A wrestler who was popular in Texas, Florida and the Orient. 

    He was one of the true independents who walked to the beat of his own drum and worked where he wanted to work. He would light the night up with battles with Stan Hansen or Ric Flair or in Puerto Rico.

    Brody would never have been a world champion because of his carefree style.

Luna Vachon

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    She could actually weave a great interview—better than some men.

    The raspy voice and her hair style was only part of the character that belonged in a Halloween movie.

    The menacing power in the ring made even men grimace. And when she did a promo, she made us all shake in terror.

    Vachon had two greats in Paul and Maurice Vachon to learn from. They were just as scary and unadjusted.

The Wild Samoans

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    Two of the most menacing faces in professional wrestling. 

    The great thing about them was Afa and Sika could beat on their opponents and then beat on themselves. They were a truly scary team in the WWF who used their "wild" island gimmick perfectly.

    Using Capt. Lou Albano as their sounding board was brilliant.

Terry Funk

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    In the 1970s and 1980s Terry Funk was one of the greatest "wrestlers" of the NWA and is a former World champion.

    To add years to his career, Funk became an extreme wrestler and lost part of the "wrestling" angle that made him great. While it led to a very long career, you could say Funk became a sideshow of sorts.

    Whether it was performing in ECW, the Orient or the WWF, Funk would put his life and limb on the line for the business.

    In my opinion, he sold out.

Austin Idol

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    He was a decent regional performer in Jerry Lawler's Memphis outfit.

    What makes him a little odd, besides his bleached white hair, huge arms and Lothario attitude is he thinks Hulk Hogan stole his gimmick.

    Before there was Hulkamania, there was "Idol Mania."

    Last time I checked, Hulk Hogan was a world champion many times over in his career. Idol never got out of the mid south area.

Nikita Koloff

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    Scott Simpson was a body builder in Minnesota who was spotted and brought into wrestling with the likes of the Road Warriors. He was big, intimidating and could scare you with his look.

    As Nikita Koloff, he was a fearsome tag team mate of his "uncle" Ivan Koloff. And he was also a great opponent for Magnum TA and Ric Flair.

    As a face, he was beloved, but was not as dominant. Some say he sold out. And because he loved his character so much, he changed his name legally to Koloff. 

    An American becoming a Russian, SERIOUSLY?

Abyss/Joseph Park

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    Oh, the brainchild of TNA and a direct addition to the roster as a counter for Kane in the WWE.

    Abyss was the psycho guy everyone loved as a face or heel. As his alter ego Joseph Park, it is a slippery slope.

    Whatever the characterization, Abyss is the one we want to see inflicting pain on the masses.

Paul Heyman

25 of 40

    I'll bet you thought I forgot about him, didn't you?

    Heyman is the greatest manager of our generation and the sly fox who thought he could get away with everything. He is every bit Bobby Heenan mixed with some Jim Cornette and Paul Ellering to boot.

    Heyman's "Dangerous Alliance" in WCW was perfect for the masses and his affiliation with Big Show and Brock Lesnar in the WWE was great for the company. 

    Now, his affiliation with Lesnar and CM Punk shows how he can work with stars who have complete opposite personalities. And in the process, he can still look and act like he owns the joint.

Kevin Sullivan

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    He might be the most sadistic wrestler of the 1980s. Sullivan was a great performer in Florida where he was undersized but could handle men much larger than him.

    He feuded with Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham and Mike Graham on a regular basis and turned to his sadistic side to show a "different" side of wrestling.

    His cult following, which included the Purple Haze, Jake Roberts and his uber-hot wife Nancy, was a fixture in Gordon Solie's weekly routine.

    Make no mistake, this man was truly vicious.

CM Punk

27 of 40

    There are not many wrestlers who are as Jekyll and Hyde as Philip Jack Brooks, but we sure love to see him talk and wrestle.

    Punk is a rare breed of wrestler who tells a story in each of his matches. All his moves are smooth and calculated. Each match is perfectly tuned.

    Tito Santana was one of those wrestlers who was said to never have had a bad match. Punk could also be one of those types of wrestlers.

Brian Pillman

28 of 40

    Just when he was reaching his height of greatness, he was taken away from us.

    Brian Pillman burst on the scene in WCW with bug hair, great skills and a body that women screamed over. And he was decent as a singles and tag team performer. He and "Stunning" Steve Austin formed the Hollywood Blonds and were tag team champions.

    Pillman went to the WWF and feuded with Goldust over Marlena, which showed his sadistic side—which also showed his pure talent. 

    Pillman would have been a world champion had he not passed away. I am sure of that.

Goldust

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    Dustin Rhodes may be the most confused wrestler of this generation. He may have had more talent than anyone to put on a pair of boots in the late 1990s, but he sure allowed his demons with his father to skew his career.

    As "Dustin Rhodes" he was a good, solid wrestler who toiled in WCW, but he was nothing fantastic. His conflicts with his father Dusty Rhodes led to some dramatic changes in character, including one of the best gimmicks of all time in Goldust.

    While in the WWF, there were few wrestlers who lived the part and out on such a dramatic scene. While he never held a title, the character was such a huge draw. Goldust was a top draw wherever he went.

    Rhodes has tried his hand at other gimmicks as well, like "Black Reign" in TNA, that were less successful.

George the Animal Steele

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    One of the more beloved wrestlers in the later stages of his career, Steele would tear apart ring buckles and eat the stuffing and babble through interviews.

    When he was in his prime, Steele was an eloquent speaker and cut great promos, but that all changed once Vince McMahon took over for his father.

    Steele also had a memorable feud with Randy Savage, where he had an eye for the lovely Miss Elizabeth.

Chris Jericho

31 of 40

    Has there ever (And I mean EVER) been a wrestler like Jericho in the history of the business?

    Jericho has had his "mental moments" in both WCW and the WWE, causing him to look like a man without a country or on an island. Maybe it has something to do with his time away from the ring and on the road with his band Fozzy.

    Whatever the cause, Jericho is one of those wrestlers who always has us guessing which direction he is going, which makes for good fodder on Bleacher Report.

AJ Lee

32 of 40

    While we look at the male wrestlers in this business as the dominant forces, AJ Lee all by herself created a buzz in 2012 that took the WWE by storm. The fact it centered around sex appeal and crazy-girl antics was the perfect storm to have fans tune in each week to RAW.

    Lee had a "relationship" with five men over the course of one year. There are words for that which I cannot use in this slideshow, but it was the perfect blend to counter male testosterone and make her point clear.

    Just don't call her crazy.

Gorgeous George

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    This is how you become an instant success overnight and become the must-see wrestler of your era.

    George Wagner was not particularly physically imposing by professional wrestling standards, nor was he an exceptionally gifted athlete. But in 1941, Wagner became "Gorgeous" George, who was the flamboyant and exaggerated effeminate wrestler with the attitude to match.

    The world of wrestling changed when Wagner was introduced as Gorgeous George.

Randy Orton

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    He hears voices in his head. Isn't that enough?

    Orton is a better villain than he is a face. But when the switch flips and he goes into "Viper" mode, everyone look out.

    Orton could have been the face of this company and could have owned it. He has gotten better and is not as robotic and works well with others (Sheamus).

    At some point, we will see the "turn heard round the wrestling scene."

    And it will come as no surprise.

Bret Hart

35 of 40

    I have never seen someone in this business create such a stir once he left the ring.

    Bret Hart has managed to do that.

    From his comments on the WWE and everything in between, one of my generation's greatest wrestlers has gone wrong. Actually, it started with Owen's death in 1999.

    Hart appears on Raw every once in a while, but he is older, more pissed off and seems to not care about the business anymore. In this case, he has forgotten what he has done for the business and seems to only want to be remembered what he does to the business.

Ric Flair

36 of 40

    Even to this day, his shtick is one of the best we have seen in the business.

    No one could get the fans riled up like "The Nature Boy."

    The look, the attitude, the confidence, the women. It was all Ric Flair. He lived his character and still does to some point, to this day.

    While the business has tried to create other characters with current wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage and Bret Hart, there is no one who can compare to the 16-time world champion.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan

37 of 40

    WE knew it really was all about Hogan when he started his Hulkamania craze in the WWF. But as he got older and the belt kept coming back to him, the ego was bigger than the character he portrayed.

    Then a stroke of genius happened when he jumped ship to WCW. Hogan became a heel. The world was turned on its ear and we saw one of the greatest heel characters in professional wrestling. It was the swerve heard around the world.

    And it helped save WCW for a brief period of time.

Rowdy Roddy Piper

38 of 40

    Hot Rod was a great performer in the ring, having many battles with Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair in the NWA. While he was great on the mic as well and could treat a yarn a mile long, he took his act to Stamford and became an even bigger star.

    Piper always came off as the unstable wrestler who loved to cause controversy. He proved that year after year. He also may have been the most mentally strong of any character in the WWWF and waxes profound every once in a while with a new version of Piper's Pit.

    Brilliant.

Macho Man Randy Savage

39 of 40

    I say it over and over. Savage was the greatest performer the WWF had ever seen. And in his height of popularity, he was coming undone at the hinges. 

    Savage and his wife Elizabeth were the darlings of the wrestling world, but it did not come without controversy. Savage was a perfectionist and a control freak, as told by both Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan in their autobiographies.

    Savage gave great interviews, proved to have tremendous feuds with Rick Steamboat and The Ultimate Warrior and was a legend. But deep inside, he could not get away from his personal side that affected him in the business.

Mr. McMahon

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    The one and only. Who else could be at the top of this list.

    Vince McMahon started out in his father's business and became one of the most iconic wrestling characters in history. Who else would own a wrestling promotion (besides actual wrestlers) and get in the ring with his employees.

    The move was dynamite and helped McMahon become the greatest influence on the business ever.