7 Most Underappreciated WWE Superstars of All Time
On the periphery of WWE's limelight stands the underappreciated and underrated.
These are the Superstars whose talented was not often enough utilized by WWE or recognized by the majority of fans. Their talent lay quietly in obscurity; their names named not uttered enough in the discussion of the all-time greats.
A few grapplers from the United Kingdom, a man known as king and a tag team comprised of premier performers fill this list. In several years, we may look back and have to add Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro.
Considering their level of talent compared to the hype they generally receive, their accolades in contrast to their acumen, here are the seven most underappreciated WWE superstars of all time.
A long list of names comes to mind when discussing WWE's most underappreciated.
A big man with a high-flyer's athleticism, Bam Bam Bigelow was a potential main-eventer whose biggest WrestleMania match was against an NFL player. His work against Bret Hart, as well as tenure in Japan, show off his potential.
Haku was a tough, compact intimidator.
He rarely gets the credit he deserves as a compelling and talented in-ring performer.
In addition, Owen Hart, Taka Michinoku and Steve Blackman showed greatness during their WWE runs, but are rarely talked about as being among WWE's most talented.
7. The Brain Busters
Both Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were underappreciated and undervalued throughout their WWE runs.
Despite being excellent talkers and crisp and convincing wrestlers, the Brain Busters found themselves overshadowed in a tag division that included Demolition, the British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation and the Rockers.
Anderson and Blanchard didn't have a flashy gimmick like the other tag teams of their time, so other groups went on to be the stars of the '80s and early '90s. It was often during matches against the Brain Busters that those teams looked the best, while Anderson and Blanchard employed the classic tag team strategy of playing the heels.
This is a team that should be studied by newcomers on how to get a reaction out of an audience and how to tell a story in the ring, yet they only won the WWE tag title once and are too infrequently mentioned on lists of the greatest teams.
6. Gorilla Monsoon
When fans speak of great big men and excellent heels, Gorilla Monsoon should be one of the first names to be discussed, but time and his second career blur the success of his past.
He was no technical wizard by any stretch, but he worked the crowd like few others could.
Having Hornswoggle as his manager in WWE didn't help fans take Finlay seriously. Those who followed his work in Ireland and other parts of Europe know him as one of the most talented technical wrestlers ever.
WWE focused on his brawling skills and placed him in matches where his wrestling acumen was hard to use, such as working against Great Khali or the Boogeyman.
He was just as impressive as a bruiser as he was a mat wrestler, but his WWE run saw him earn little share of the spotlight. It's hard then to blame fans for forgetting him when running a list of great in-ring talents.
4. Curtis Iaukea
A monster from Hawaii should have ruled WWE in the '60s and '70s.
Instead, "King" Curtis Iaukea is a one-time tag champ and an oft-forgotten name. A man capable of chilling the audience with a promo like this one or smashing on foes with his powerful build should have been one of the company's top heels.
He resurfaced after retirement as a manager for men like Kamala. He was just as enthralling in this role, but similarly underappreciated and underused like he was during his in-ring career.
Not taking advantage of Iaukea's talents has him appear on lists like this one, rather than on a list of WWE's greatest villains, where he belongs.
3. William Regal
Few men have made technical wrestling as moving a piece of theater as William Regal.
His matches teemed with great counters, smooth transitions and a torturing, violent style. It's no surprise that WWE has Regal working with NXT prospects and transferring some of his vast knowledge.
Regal isn't just a mat wrestler though, he was an entertainer. His facial expressions are among the best in the business. He can be funny or intense, charming or devious.
As talented as Regal is, his story should be one of extreme fan loyalty and world championships, not a tale of underappreciation.
2. Dynamite Kid
Watching his classics against Tiger Mask in Japan, one has to wonder why WWE didn't find a way to make better use of Dynamite Kid.
The master of mat wrestling, he blended high-flying, submissions and intensity, similar to that of today's Daniel Bryan. WWE used him mostly as a tag team specialist, wrestling alongside Davey Boy Smith.
Smith earned more of the spotlight as a singles star, earning a reign as Intercontinental champ and a main-event slot at SummerSlam 1992. Dynamite was nearly as powerful as Smith and far more fluid and technically sound.
His WWE career is too much of a footnote for the company when considering his immense talents.
1. Dean Malenko
Zach Linder and James Worthman of WWE.com wrote, "Dean Malenko is so universally considered to be underrated that he teeters on the realm of overrated."
It's a strange statement that rings true. Malenko is often applauded by purist fans and insiders, but never got the recognition he deserved while wrestling for WWE.
He came to the company following successful stints in ECW and WCW. With WCW, he won several championships and was a consistent part of weekly programming, delivering classic match after classic match. In WWE, he made far less of an impact.
It wasn't as if his talented had evaded him or that his suplexes were any less perfect, and he wasn't any less of a dazzling mat worker, either. It was more that bigger men and flashier stars got pushed ahead of him.
Malenko's ring resume remains a collective masterpiece that isn't in the prominent place of the gallery that it deserves.