Top 15 High Flyers in History

Will J BakerCorrespondent IIIMay 17, 2011

Top 15 High Flyers in History

0 of 16

    Sin Cara has caused a storm in the WWE with his electrifying style and high-flying offense.

    It reminds everyone of a time where the WWE had a Cruiserweight Division that it could be proud of and Hornswoggle was blissfully absent from professional wrestling.

    These wrestlers of a lower weight class would go out every night and have top-class wrestling matches that would have the fans on the edge of their seats.

    There were some cruiserweights that managed to cut it in the main event and were able to achieve success in the heavyweight division.

    Those are the men that will be remembered throughout the annals of wrestling history but without their humble beginnings in the Cruiserweight Division, they would not have achieved as much.

    However this list is not confined only to those that wrestled in the Cruiserweight Division but those whose styles reflected the high-risk, high-reward daring of the luchadors.

    .

Honorable Mentions

1 of 16

    • Evan Bourne

     

    • Billy Kidman

     

    • Ultimo Dragon

     

    • Sabu

     

    • Tajiri

     

    • Sin Cara/Mistico

     

    • Juventud Guerrera

     

    • Matt Hardy

     

    • Chavo Guerrero Jr.

     

    • Bryan Danielson

15. Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka

2 of 16

    Arguably the original Cruiserweight, Snuka revolutionized the Steel Cage match and set the tone for the ladder matches and cell matches that were to come.

    His Madison Square Garden moment came when he flew through the air during a match with Bob Backlund.

    For Mick Foley, who was a child spectator that day, it inspired him in his dream to become a professional wrestling.

    Snuka was also well known for his top-rope finishing move, the Snuka Splash, which was unheard of at the time.

    The WWE Hall of Famer was also one of the first performers that the crowd turned face due to his athletic style and unmissable matches. 

14. CM Punk

3 of 16

    CM Punk is a two time Money in the Bank ladder match winner and a three time World Heavyweight Champion with the WWE.

    But he made his name as a gravity-defying, awe-inspiring wrestler with Ring of Honor and TNA and was a star on the independent scene.

    Punk has cited Shawn Michaels as a huge influence and even now he demonstrates his wrestling background in the slower landscape of the WWE.

    Punk has constantly shown himself to be a show-stealer and his series of matches with Rey Mysterio last year were a masterclass in Cruiserweight wrestling.

13. Jeff Hardy

4 of 16

    Jeff Hardy has made a living out of jumping from great heights.

    Titantrons, ladders, stages and ramps; Hardy has used them all as means to an end.

    The part he played in revolutionizing the tag team divison was crucial and he started to jump off ladders on a regular basis.

    This has led to so many jaw-dropping moments with his TLC match with CM Punk in 2009 and the triple threat tag team match at WrestleMania X-67 being perfect examples.

    His finishing move, the Swanton Bomb, is synonymous with risk taking in wrestling.

    Hardy was also a hit in the Light Heavyweight Division before being elevated to main event status where he would eventually become a three time World Champion with the WWE. 

12. AJ Styles

5 of 16

    AJ Styles is widely known as the man who built TNA from the ground up and it was his initial work in the X Division that first put TNA on the map.

    His matches with Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe earned TNA a much wider audience and he has since gone on to become a multiple time World Champion.

    Styles' diverse and exotic moveset has Japanese and British influences and his use of the 450 Splash makes Justin Gabriel look slow and cautious.

    Hugely popular with the TNA fans, AJ can thank his wrestling style for the ease with which he was able to get over.

11. Rob Van Dam

6 of 16

    ECW's only serious main event player with Vince McMahon's company, RVD was a wrestler that always had the support of the fans.

    His in-ring style was unique and he was also influenced by the Japanese style.

    RVD had many moves that made fans gasp including the Five Star Splash, Rolling Thunder and a series of martial arts kicks.

    When Van Dam won the WWE Championship at One Night Stand, one of the loudest crowd reactions in wrestling history ensued.

    RVD went against the common perception of Vince's idea of a champion.

    He was never in brilliant shape and he did not have the height advantage but he was a Cruiserweight that has since gone on to enjoy a main event position in TNA.

10. Dean Malenko

7 of 16

    The "Ice Man", the "Man of 1000 Holds", Dean Malenko was not your average Cruiserweight.

    Instead of using a top-rope approach, Malenko used his technical prowess and mat-wrestling skills that used a combination of suplexes and slams.

    Combined with the luchadors of the WCW Cruiserweight Division, this style produced some five star matches.

    Dean Malenko was also a member of the celebrated Four Horsemen and was considered by many to be the most technically gifted professional wrestler of all time.

9. Jushin Liger

8 of 16

    Jushin Liger is one of the men who can claim to have had a huge impact on revolutionizing this style of wrestling.

    His career has spanned three decades and he is also one of the greatest Japanese performers of all time.

    Liger has also wrestled in America with TNA and Canada with UWA Hardcore Wrestling and has competed with some of the best Cruiserweights in history.

    His series of matches with Chris Jericho during Y2J's time in Japan has gone down in Japanese wrestling folklore.

    Liger is still going strong at the age of 47

8. Owen Hart

9 of 16

    Owen Hart was often overshadowed by the success of his brother but those who remember Owen's performances in Stampede Wrestling would not hesitate to describe him as the most talented of the Hart kids.

    He could do things in the ring that you could miss in the blink of an eye and had natural talent on a par with Shawn Michaels.

    Owen's incredible talent never failed to produce memorable matches and moments.

7. Chris Benoit

10 of 16

    Hugely influenced by the Dynamite Kid and with a wrestling background based on his experiences in Japan and Mexico, Benoit was a tremendous performer.

    Whatever his personal problems, it cannot be denied that Benoit was one of the greatest technical wrestles in history.

    Combined with his top-rope tendencies which included the reckless yet awe-inspiring Diving Headbutt, Benoit will be rememberedas a great wrestler.

    A World Heavyweight Champion and a main event star with the WWE, he can trace his success back to his early days in the WCW Cruiserweight Division.

6. Dynamite Kid

11 of 16

    Stampede Wrestling's finest export, the Dynamite Kid's personal problems and excessive drug use meant that he never fulfilled his true potential in the wrestling business.

    However, he is still widely considered the greatest British wrestler of all time and even now he is welcomed as a hero in Japan.

    The Japanese fans never forget top talent and his series of matches with Fujinami is legendary and will never be forgotten by true wrestling fans.

    Although knee injuries cut his career tragically short, Bret Hart still regards him as his greatest ever opponent.

5. Chris Jericho

12 of 16

    One of the most charismatic and natural promo men in history, Jericho is the ultimate entertainer and has the rare ability to make the fans care what he is talking about.

    Jericho enjoyed his early success with the WWE off the back of his wrestling style that had been developed and enhanced in Mexico, Japan and WCW.

    His in-ring work slowed down in his new role as a heel but Y2J proved he can still go when he faced off against Evan Bourne in a series of matches in 2010.

    Jericho is one of the most successful Cruiserweights of all time as he is a six time World Champion and a future Hall of Famer.

4. Fujinami/Tigermask

13 of 16

    A Rey Mysterio before Rey Mysterio, Fujinami is another who can claim to have had a major influence over this style of wrestling.

    The matches that he had with the Dynamite Kid are considered some of the best matches in wrestling history.

    His athleticism and ability in the ring often defied belied and made the crowd gasp in awe.

    He was trained by the great Antonio Inoki and is widely considered to be the best raw talent ever to be produced by the "Home of Professional Wrestling" in the Far East.

3. Shawn Michaels

14 of 16

    The Heartbreak Kid, the Showstopper, the Headliner, the Main Event, the Icon..Mr Wrestlemania!

    Arguably the greatest in-ring performer in the history of professional wrestling, HBK never forgot his background as a high flyer as evidenced by his epic moonsault in his last match against the Undertaker.

    Before Michaels became a multiple time WWE Champion and first ballot Hall of Famer, he helped to revolutionize the tag team division in the AWA and the WWF as one half of the Rockers with Marty Jannetty.

    Exciting and innovative double team moves were their trademark and Michaels was earmarked as a big star even then.

    He then famously went on to have a five star match with a ladder while Razor Ramon looked on at WrestleMania X.

    This paved the way for the triple threat tag team matches that were to come.

    Michaels was an extremely successful competitor and he never forgot his wrestling roots which allowed him to steal the show on countless occasions.

2. Rey Mysterio

15 of 16

    Rey Mysterio is a small man in a world of giants!

    This has earned him the moniker of the "Ultimate Underdog" and he has constantly defied the odds to become a two time World Heavyweight Champion.

    Lacking the charisma of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, Mysterio elevated himself to the main event on sheer wrestling talent alone.

    He represents the Mexican tradition of masked luchadors and has promoted that style of Lucha Libre wrestling and turned it into mainstream entertainment.

    He has also paved the way for the likes of Sin Cara, Evan Bourne, Daniel Bryan and Tyson Kidd to fulfill their dreams in the WWE.

    Rey Mysterio is a superhero, a role model and without a doubt, one of the greatest Cruiserweight that ever lived.

1. Eddie Guerrero

16 of 16

    Eddie Guerrero had a unique ability to make people feel good when they watched wrestling and was a hugely popular figure.

    Loved by the fans and well-respected by the rest of the locker room, Guerrero had paid his dues throughout the wrestling world and had bundles of raw wrestling talent.

    Guerrero was also instrumental in the rise of Smackdown where he had great matches with the likes of Benoit, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle and the Undertaker.

    Eddie also used the frog splash as his finishing move and the sight of him flying through the air will not soon be forgotten.