Taking a Beating: The Top Ten Sellers in WWE History
Greetings fellow wrestling fanatics,
Today I am taking a look at an aspect of professional wrestling that some, if not many people do not realize the importance of. Selling a beating!
I don't necessarily mean the hardcore or sophisticated wrestling fans like most of you here on Bleacher Report, but the more casual or younger fans of the world.
They fail to see how relevant and important it is to make your opponent look as indestructible as possible.
To me, there are really two ways of "selling" in a match. One way is to take massive, stunt-like bumps, either from high altitudes like the tops of ladders or steel cages, or to take big hits from deadly weapons like ladders, chairs, chains and sledgehammers.
The second way, and to me the more difficult way, is to just look like you are realistically taking a beating.
You make your opponent look like he is absolutely destroying you, and everything he is doing is having an enormous effect on your body.
I decided to compile a list of my top ten sellers in WWE history. Obviously this is my opinion, and I base it solely on what I know, and that is the WWF/WWE, from the years of 1986 through the present.
So if Lou Thesz, Buddy Rogers and Gorgeous George were absolute brilliant sellers, I apologize for leaving them off my list as I have zero evidence to base it on.
I truly feel selling is a very important ingredient to make a good match great, and to make a great wrestler even greater.
Please feel free to comment and let me know who you think does the best job of selling a match. Here we go...
Of course, as is the case with many lists, there were some tough decisions to make and certain wrestlers I had to leave off to keep the list at ten.
I felt it appropriate to start off this list with an as underrated superstar as you can find.
Christian made a name for himself back in the early 2000's with the first-ever TLC matches.
Some of the bumps he took in those matches were incredible, taking falls from massive heights through tables as well as out to the hard ringside floor.
Even in regular wrestling matches, Christian is always flying through the air and taking very hard falls, always making his opponents look good and giving 100 percent to all of his matches.
Essential beating: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs match, Summer Slam 2000.
9. Ted DiBiase
The "Million Dollar Man" was one of the first major heels I knew in wrestling. He and Roddy Piper were the meanest guys in the business when I first became interested back in the mid 1980s.
He was great at working a crowd, and he knew exactly what the fans wanted. He would antagonize and belittle the audience and his opponents to the point where all we wanted was to see him get his butt kicked.
And when match time came, that's what he gave us. Nobody took a backflip liked DiBiase. I can see him now, sailing through the air and coming down like a ton of bricks right on his back.
He would fly off the ropes and bounce around the ring, always begging his opponent for mercy, and it was so satisfying to watch.
Essential beating: vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Wrestlemania IV
8. Kurt Angle
When you can make John Cena look like a solid technical wrestler, you're doing something right.
Few wrestlers could take a beating as well as they could dish one out. Not only was Angle a great technician, but he was also a great seller.
Everytime he would miss that moonsault, he would come down straight on his face, even when he came off the top of the steel cage on Smackdown.
When bigger guys like Triple H or John Cena would clothesline him over the top ropes, (ex: the end of the 2002 Royal Rumble) he would take the blow full on, twisting his body into a pretzel as he flew out to the floor.
There was also that completely upside down 360 degree backflip he would do flying out of the ring when he would charge an opponent and miss.
His athleticism was unmatched, and he made every one of his opponents look like Hall of Fame wrestlers.
Essential beating: vs. John Cena, Smackdown 2002 (Cena's debut)
What can be said about this man? He has been part of some of the biggest moments in WWE history, and I truly feel he is a pioneer.
Edge always looks as if he has been through a war. His matches are always fast paced and physical, and he has taken some of the most infamous bumps we have ever seen.
Being crushed by Jeff Hardy while laying on a ladder at Wrestlemania 23, being thrown through the ring into a pit of fire by The Undertaker at SummerSlam, and being FU'd through a stack of tables by John Cena from atop a ladder at Unforgiven are just a few.
There isn't anything this man wouldn't do to make his opponent look good or to make a match memorable.
Essential beating: vs. John Cena, TLC, Unforgiven 2006
6. Bret Hart
The "Excellence of Execution" moniker works both ways I feel. He was the WWE champ, but he was also a champ at taking a beating.
He was such a physical wrestler, and always took the best of what his opponent had to dish out.
He had such amazing battles with the likes of Yokozuna, Undertaker, Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michaels.
Wrestlers like Yoko, Diesel, Davey Boy Smith, and his brother Owen never looked as good as when they were facing Bret.
I can remember a match very early on in X-Pac's career when he was still The 1-2-3 Kid, Bret made him look like a 10-year veteran in the ring that night.
Bret Hart clearly elevated the ability of all of his opponents.
Essential beating: vs. Shawn Michaels, Iron Man Match, WM12
5. Ric Flair
The Nature Boy! I really wanted to put him at No. 1, but I missed a lot of his early career, as well as most of prime as he was competing in the NWA.
Who in the entire history of professional wrestling has shed more blood than this man? Who has put over more young wrestlers? Nobody.
He would sell backflips and being thrown from the top rope better than anyone in history. And who didn't love that nosedive to the canvas he would take after taking a beating.
He could sell a young up-and-coming athlete like they were the second coming of Bret Hart. Countless times his matches would end with him lying in a pool of his own blood.
At 60 years old, he was competing in his first ladder matches at Wrestlemania and Raw, not holding anything back. He truly was "The Man."
Essential beating: vs. Edge, ladder match, Monday Night Raw
4. Jeff Hardy
I think Jeff Hardy took selling a beating to a whole new level. I've never seen someone take the violent falls that he does, from mind-boggling heights.
Very few wrestlers have taken the punishment that Jeff has taken in his career, match in and match out.
He hasn't necessarily put many young wrestlers over, but he does a great job of selling an absolute beating, especially when it comes to wrestling the top tier guys like Edge, Triple H, and The Undertaker.
Jeff has been involved in more ladder matches than anyone else in WWE history, but even his regular wrestling matches always have a hardcore feeling to them.
He has clearly given up his body for the sport of professional wrestling.
Essential beating: vs. The Undertaker, ladder match, Raw 2002
3. Chris Benoit
Please feel free to skip immediately to the next slide if you are offended by this entry.
I am sorry, but I cannot ignore Benoit's impact when discussing wrestling history.
To me, he was probably the most intense performer of all time. He went 100 percent to the maximum all out in every one of his matches.
He took every blow and move like no one else, enduring tremendous punishment every time he entered the ring.
He made everyone look great in a wrestling ring.
Essential beating: vs. Triple H, Vengeance 2004
2. Mick Foley
Okay, this one is kind of obvious. I mean, taking a beating is what this man is known for. Mick Foley was in a league of his own.
All I really have to do is mention the words "Hell in a Cell", and immediately visions of Mick flailing through the air at the hands of The Undertaker is what should come to mind.
Their King of the Ring match in 1998 is legendary, as he took maybe the two most influential bumps in the history of the business.
It went way beyond that match.
No one has taken chair shots to the head like Foley has.
No one has been thrown into steel steps, full force, knees-first like Foley has.
No one has been slammed onto thousands of thumb tacks time after time, like Foley has.
He is after all, the hardcore legend.
Each one his matches were sure to involve Mick making you say "Oh My God" at least once at some point for the physical torture he would endure.
The man made his living taking a beating...
Essential beatings: vs. Undertaker, Hell in a Cell match, KotR, 1998
vs. The Rock, I Quit match, Royal Rumble 1999.
1. Shawn Michaels
This brings us to No. 1. How many ways can a man be No. 1? When you're talking about The Heartbreak Kid, countless times.
No one in history has been more innovative in finding ways to take a beating.
His 1994 ladder match vs. Razor Ramon was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. The ladder had never been used as a weapon like that.
His 1997 Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker was the first of its kind. His fall from the top of the cell was completely insane and one of the biggest bumps ever taken, until Foley took it to another level the following year.
Whether he's taking backflips over the top rope, being thrown from the top of a cage, bleeding like a stuck pig, or just flopping around the ring making his opponent look 100 times better than he really is, HBK brings poetry to taking a beating like no one else.
Whether in steel cages, elimination chambers, iron man matches or royal rumbles, Shawn always brings his A game and elevates everyone else around him. He is the greatest of all time.
He has been making average men look great for 20 years now, winning match of the year awards for bouts against the likes of Diesel, John Cena, Marty Janetty and even Vince McMahon.
Just another list Shawn Michaels tops...
Essential beatings: vs. Undertaker, Hell in a Cell Badd Blood 1997
vs. Triple H, Last Man Standing, Royal Rumble 04
Thank you for reading, and please feel free to agree or disagree with anything that I said.