Arthur's Hall of Viking Manliness: Top 10 Wrestlers of All Time

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Arthur's Hall of Viking Manliness: Top 10 Wrestlers of All Time

This article is "The Top 10 Wrestlers Ever". There is one caveat, I believe that professional wrestling became the sport that we know and love in the early 1980s so all the wrestlers will be post 1980. In order to create this list I had to come up with some diagnostic criteria which took some time. What makes a wrestler great? Is it athletic ability in the ring? Or perhaps it is charisma and microphone skills? Or is greatness determined by lasting impact on the sport and cultural influence? I decided that all three are equally important. These criterion exclude one-dimensional characters like Batista or Jake "The Snake" Roberts. There are a ton of guys who were great at one of the three aspects that make up professional wrestling but only the all-time greats could pull off all three.
As you all should know by now, this site is devoted to bringing manliness to the masses. In my opinion, professional wrestling did this in spades in the 80s and 90s. I am no longer a fan of wrestling, it has been taken over by the "Maxim" crowd. What I mean by that is that now instead of two men arguing and questioning each others manhood (very manly) most of the storylines are influenced by plastic tanorexic Barbie dolls. What has happened is that wrestling has become a testosterone enhanced MTV of sorts and there is nothing about that I can approve of. Professional wrestling is at its very best when two juiced up men, one good (face) and one bad (heel), are at each others throats due to some intrigue in the storyline. The best part was that often the feuds that were acted out in the ring were based on real life dislike for one another. Usually this dislike for each other was based on the respective wrestlers status in the promotion or jealously about salaries, etc...real life things that men get pissed off about.

Before I start with the list I will take you through the three things that make a wrestler great. The centerpiece of professional wrestling is the action in the ring. For a wrestler to be truly great he must be able to execute a series of moves that bring the crowd into the match....watching two guys punch and kick each other only creates so much excitement. Make no mistake, professional wrestlers are athletes and the best wrestlers are damn good athletes. So athletic ability is important but so is wrestling style and execution. We have all seen guys who are unable to execute their signature moves with style and grace. To be a great wrestler in the ring a competitor must be able to execute all the standard wrestling moves with speed and accuracy. He must also be able to take a fall. This is a lost art in modern wrestling. Anyone can smash and throw guys around but it takes a true great to be able to take the punishment as well as he dishes it out. So a wrestler must have good athletic ability, skill and attention to detail, and ability to take a fall...but he also needs to be able to excite the crowd in the ring. This is a true art that few have perfected. You know it when you see it but it is hard to quantify. Being able to play to the crowd (in the case of a face) or getting the crowd root passionately against him (for a heel) is critical for a superstar.

Charisma is the most important factor in determining a wrestlers true place in the pantheon of greatness. While in ring skills can be taught and learned, inherent charisma is just a natural thing. No gimmick can create it, no amount of shit talk can fake it...it just comes naturally to those who have it. The way a wrestler looks is also part of this. His physique is part of it but so is his hair, walk, in ring attire...the whole package. The love-hate relationship that fans have with wrestlers is a product of their charismatic skills. Without natural charisma most fans are indifferent.....Kane for example. Yeah, he is big, ugly and dominant but did I ever really care? No. It is easy to confuse charisma with skill on the mic, because most wrestlers who are charismatic are also good mic guys but there have been examples of charismatic wrestlers who could not talk whatsoever. Take Hacksaw Jim Duggan for example..he was loved by many fans but had no skill with the mic. He just had an infectious enthusiasm for what he was doing and everyone could see it.

Skill with the microphone is another important aspect of a wrestler's arsenal. We all remember the promos and pre-match shit talk from the greats...in fact it is my favorite part or wrestling. To have skill on the mic, a wrestler must be able to deliver a message and be funny and menacing at the same time...and don't forget the trademark tagline. Every wrestler needs a certain phrase or yell that lets everyone know that THEY are talking and no one else. A great tagline brands a wrestler into your brain forever. Superstars are often given the chance to improv and talk for a couple minutes at a time. There was nothing better than watching Ric Flair go on a five minute rant about Space Mountain and stylin' and profilin' mixed in with at least ten "WOOOOOs". It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

The lasting impact and influence of a wrestler is the last of the criteria for all-time greatness. To ascertain this I asked myself "Did this guy change the sport or was he just a cleverly created gimmick?". The all-time greats transcend their gimmick or even what promotion they worked for. Part of having a lasting impact is longevity. Being able to be a superstar for a couple of years proves nothing...being a star for decades is the measure of greatness. No single aspect of a wrestler allows them to be stars forever, wrestling skills fade, injuries diminish ability, and time can make a wrestler's persona just seem old and played out. The greats overcome this by reinventing themselves. I also decided to try to assess the impact an individual wrestler had on professional wrestling as a business. Let's face it, we all starting watching wrestling for some reason....most of the time it was because of one or two wrestlers.

Now that greatness is defined, it is time to list the Top 10.

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