There is no doubt about it: Today, pro wrestling as we know it has gone down the drain...
This PG Era or whatever it is being called turned off many fans, including myself, many years ago.
But never worry, because we always have the past; for it allows us to relive some of the greatest moments we have ever seen in the wrestling world.
No doubt, people will disagree with this list. Many will want to add other guys, and believe me, it was difficult to pull it off. I can list more, sure, but the fun is trying to narrow it down.
Either way, I welcome that feedback.
But now, I will list the 25 greatest wrestling characters I have ever seen. Enjoy!
(DUE TO A GLITCH IN THE B/R SYSTEM, THE TOTAL READ COUNT FOR THIS ARTICLE WAS ERASED. ORIGINALLY IT HAD BEEN OVER 54,000 READS AS OF MAY 2013)
I had particular trouble keeping these characters off the list, so the least I could do was give them an honorable mention. In no particular order:
Doink the Clown
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Million Dollar Man
"Y2J" Chris Jericho
Obviously, Kane's character exists because of the presence of another. Nevertheless, the way he was presented could not have been done any better. Kane was evil, especially when he first burst onto the scene. Not to mention, he was pretty athletic for a guy his size, which made him even scarier.
What can we say about this guy? He was truly one of the masterminds of what was arguably the biggest stable in wrestling history. He was also the guy truly behind making the WWF the No. 2 company for a while.
Still, there he was on Nitro every week, doing even more than he had to. If you hated the NWO, this was one of the guys, if not the guy you hated most.
This guy represented the kind of attitude that was necessary very early in wrestling. He was a real rule-breaker and was never afraid to try anything. There is a reason deep wrestling fans still talk about Dusty Rhodes; he really was one of a kind.
Honky Tonk is arguably the greatest intercontinental champion of all time. He was a mix of Elvis and a countryman. It worked perfectly. He was one of the guys you loved to hate, and it would not have worked if he didn't become a heel, but of course he did.
Surely, he is the type of character the wrestling world could use today.
"The King" was another character that you loved to hate in his early days. But where he truly became great was as a commentator next to Jim Ross. I admit, Lawler made me crack up all the time. He was brutally honest and was perfect at supporting heel characters.
All hail the King and his love for puppies!
Depending on your age, you remember Scott Hall as an Outsider alongside Nash, or as the Razor in the WWF. I honestly remember him as Scott Hall, but I've seen a lot of old-school Razor stuff, as I have for other guys.
Still, one thing I did notice is that he never really changes his character at all. He just changed his name in WCW and wore an NWO shirt to go along with it. But Hall was great—always entertaining, flashy and one heck of a wrestler in his prime. One more for the bad guys.
Excellence of Execution.
The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be...
"The Hitman" worked the crowd like few have been able to. He actually was a pretty good wrestler even if not all of his matches were the most entertaining. But again, this is about character and people; especially kids truly bought into Bret Hart and his charismatic personality.
A real Olympic champion, Angle went into the pro wrestling business with some real heavy credentials. I would say he came in with big expectations from the WWF at first. He lived up to those expectations in the ring, but also as a character.
Angle was obnoxious, but he was also hilarious when he wanted to be. He got on anyone's nerves and there was a reason people enjoyed watching him suffer.
Reality check people—Piper was one of the best characters ever. He was ruthless and truly one of the more under-appreciated guys in the business. Once you heard the bagpipes, you knew there was going to be trouble. Who really wanted to be on Piper's Pit?
Yeah, a LOT of wrestlers should be thanking this guy for paving the way for their characters. That includes some great ones too. His muscular physique and flamboyant ways caught the attention of many early wrestling fans.
As far as character is concerned, he certainly is one of the best and true pioneers of ultra-built wrestlers.
While the Warrior is actually kind of crazy in real life, I think that is one of the bigger reasons his character worked so well for him. During his prime run in the WWF, he was a guy the company pushed very hard. So much, they allowed him to defeat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania.
The crowd loved him though. He was energetic and colorful. At that time, it worked because of what was going on in the company. So I won't deny the guy pumped me up when he would rush to the ring and shake the ropes.
One of the best heel characters ever in my personal opinion. He was the anti-everything for wrestling fans who loved to cheer for all that was good. Truly, another wrestler who is still under-appreciated today. He was a pioneer as well and I think a guy who set the stage for future heels at whole new level.
While she wasn't the first female to wrestle or even the first women's champion, Chyna changed the game for women in wrestling. Indeed, Chyna was a wonder, and she was an intimidating force. Her character allowed her to not just rely on her physique. She was pushed because she brought attitude in an era where attitude was necessary.
Sting brought hope to a dying WCW side when he returned with his much darker character. He was of course able to take this character and make it the face of the WCW side while they battled the NWO.
Sting would strike terror into the heels, whether it was walking into the ring with a bat or looking down from the top of the arena. Whether you hated WCW or not, you had to appreciate Sting.
Foley was awesome. I truly mean that. He had different characters but of course we always knew it was him. He was more of schizophrenic than anything else and the fans loved it. He was Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.
Regardless of who he decided to dress up as, he was always hardcore, and he was always absolutely insane. The greatest hardcore wrestler ever, and certainly one of the most entertaining personalities ever.
The man behind it all. Well, not really behind—he was up front and center all the time. But he reached new heights when he decided to really involve himself with the wrestling characters and become a character himself. He was just a mean dude.
His feuds should be considered legendary, and the fact that he was often able to make us laugh just proves how smart this man is.
Come on, this guy was incredible. He was one of the best ever to bless the mic. His lines are quoted even today. He was the dirtiest player in the game, yet we didn't mind.
Prime Flair was absolutely top class in the ring, but he was always a true entertainer outside of it as well. Flair will always be the man, WOOOOO!
One of the true greats to ever step foot in the ring, yet his character made us appreciate those mat skills. He was nasty, out of control and unpredictable. His interviews were wild and he was a guy that anyone was able to have fun watching.
The Macho King will never be replaced and he will always be missed. OHHH YEAH!
The Deadman, this is one of the only guys who has always been big time but never worked for another company besides the WWE since 1990. Taker has stuck it out through thick and thin.
While I totally disliked his biker character, his Deadman character is one of the greatest ever. He was a scary dude and he didn't need to say much to prove it. His in-ring skill was almost revolutionary. Standing almost seven-feet tall, he sometimes flew like a cruiserweight. His entrance is probably the most legendary entrance ever, and the day he is done will be the end of an era.
I don't watch wresting anymore, but if I happen to watch one Raw on a random Monday, it will be because Triple H is on. He has been a guy that was able to convert his character radically from his early WWF days and made it work perfectly.
Ever since he joined DX, he has been the same guy, but as time went by, he got a bigger push and deservedly so. He is the cerebral assassin in and out of the ring. People love to boo him just as much as they love to cheer him. His entrance is classic in my book. His ability to make us laugh and then hate him while he beats another dude with a sledge hammer makes him a true great.
HBK is arguably the greatest wrestler ever. They call him the show stopper, but there is more to it than just putting on a great match. He was a playboy; all the ladies dug HBK. He was flashy, never short on words and never cared about right and wrong.
His personality intrigued everyone and there is no doubt that he and the Undertaker were the ones who kept the WWF alive early when WCW started making its major run.
Oh so you think The Rock should be higher? Lower?
IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK!
The most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock brought it. He took you to the SmackDown hotel. He thought everyone was a jabroni. He thought you should take that thing in your hand, shine it up real nice, and...well you get the idea.
The Rock brought entertainment to another level. His character made it all work though. He was a perfect heel and a perfect face. It didn't matter—everyone loved The Rock, and when he spoke, you listened. There is a reason he refers to himself as "The Great One."
The Hulkster was obviously the biggest thing to ever happen to wrestling. It doesn't matter what people say, but without Hulk Hogan, wrestling would not be what it is today. I know many say it, but it's true anyway.
Hulk Hogan ruled like no other. He was the idol for all the kids who watched wrestling. He was ultra strong and preached vitamins and prayers. It might have been corny, but it was captivating, and I watched wrestling because of Hulk Hogan. Even these kids today who watch John Cena are only watching him because Hulk Hogan paved the way. His character set the table for the wrestling business popularity-wise and financially.
"The Rattlesnake" is considered by some to be the greatest WWF champion ever. While many great wrestlers contributed to the "Attitude Era," Austin was the "Attitude Era." He had no morals and in any other era would have been considered the bad guy.
But us fans didn't care, and that is what was so unbelievable about the whole thing. Austin was a bad ass and we loved it.
Thankfully, Vince McMahon was smart enough to push this and it brought the WWF right back to the top with Austin as the face. There will never be another Stone Cold, and the best days of wrestling (Attitude Era) ended when he lost his final match vs. The Rock at WrestleMania.
OK, so some of you may not like this, but hold on just a second. I know that Hogan, the man, was already on this list. But one must realize that Hulk Hogan and Hollywood Hogan are two completely different characters.
Let's face it, without Hogan, the WCW would have stood no chance against the WWF. Hogan's heel turn was legendary. He completely changed everything for himself and wrestling as a whole. He became ruthless, cowardly and cheated his way to victories. He was the exact opposite of what he was before.
But it worked. I mean, it really worked. Hogan is far from being the best in-ring wrestler, but this is why he is the best ever. His radical change in character was nothing short of shocking. I watched WCW because I loved watching Hogan lead his NWO crew. There has never been a guy people loved to hate more than Hollywood Hogan and this allowed him to still be a major factor for wrestling in the 90s.
He went from great American hero to the most hated man in wrestling history...brilliant.