I'm sure this has been done before, but after hearing a recent podcast on ESPN where Bill Simmons interviewed Shawn Michaels, I figured I would foray into this topic myself.
If there were a Mount Rushmore of pro wrestling, who would you have on it?
Simmons couldn't come up with a fourth, but his other three were Michaels, Randy Savage, and Jimmy Snuka. So I had to come up with my picks and why I think they deserve a spot.
1. Shawn Michaels
The Showstopper. The Main Event. Mr. Wrestlemania.
This was a no-brainer for me, and I'm sure a lot of others agree with me.
You can probably count on one hand the number of in-ring performers as good or better than HBK. Now that he has retired, it makes me appreciate even more what he did for 20+ years. Literally growing up watching him go from a tag team star to eventual Hall of Famer is something that I won't soon forget.
He was the first guy I can remember that made a "heel" cool, and someone you could root for. Today's wrestlers like Miz, John Morrison, Sheamus, etc. could learn from this (whether they are heel or not) and take themselves to the next level. One thing is for sure, HBK can't be replaced (sorry Cena).
2. Hulk Hogan
My hero growing up in the 80's. He was the Superman of the WWF/WWE (Sorry again Cena). I thought he was unstoppable. Little did I know, he was back then.
As a little kid, I had no idea about backstage politics, and didn't realize Hogan had the clout that he did. While other guys today might try to play the politics game, nobody could do it better than Hogan, but it worked for a hell of a long time.
Politics aside, he made a lot of money for the WWE and WCW, and kept fans enterained for years, including me. There's no way he couldn't be on this list.
3. Ric Flair
Speaking of people who couldn't NOT be on the list.
Nobody could get someone over better than the "Nature Boy."
The great thing about Flair is that his in-ring persona is just who he is in real life. When you saw him flirting with the ladies on TV, you can bet he was doing the same thing after the cameras go off.
Along with Hogan, if you were to ask a random person on the street to name a pro wrestler, Flair's name would come up almost as often. The fact that he's in his 60's and still going is a testament to his greatness. I know he should probably hang it up, but if you feel you can still go, then more power to you.
I'm not sure that anyone in the history of the business can draw as much heat but still can be so loved. Case in point, one time he pointed directly at me at a live show and told me to shut up (because he was the "heel" and I was cheering for him) and I thought that was the greatest thing to happen to me. There's only one thing left to say, I guess: WOOOOO!!!
This one wasn't as easy to choose, but since its my own personal Mt. Rushmore I figured I would go with a guy who has been at the top of his game for almost as long as I've been alive. T
here aren't too many guys that are 6'10" and 300 pounds that can be on top and stay on top for two decades. Not only that, but he has been a great worker for 20 years. Injuries have slowed him down, but even older and slower he works better than most half his size. Plus, he's the "anti-Hogan" in the locker room. Dare I say he's a "sweetheart" backstage? He'll help you out if you ask him (just ask Mr. Kennedy/Anderson) and he won't hesitate to step in to cool down some tempers (just ask Batista). From what I read, he was even the first guy that sent Freddie Prinze, Jr. a congratulations text when his wife had their first child.
Plus, he has a thing for hot blondes. Who can argue with that?
I know I could've gone the Stone Cold route or even someone like Lou Thez, but for my lifetime, these were the guys that could get me excited to watch a wrestling program. And don't think I forgot about Vince McMahon. The business possibly wouldn't still exist today if it weren't for him, but I decided to go the route of the actual performers. Otherwise, he would certainly be on the list.
If you want to check out the podcast, the link is below. Its a little long, but HBK gives a lot of good information about his career.
So who is on everyone else's "Mount Rushmore" of pro wrestling?