WWE Power Rankings: The 25 Greatest Superstars of the '90s
The 1990s was a decade of huge transition in WWE history. The fans witnessed the end of The Golden Era followed by many highs and lows and the emergence of the new generation.
In the early '90s, the old guard slowly vanished to let the place to the rising stars. In the middle of the decade, some big names came and left. Then, it ended with the new icons of the Attitude Era.
A lot of historical and unforgettable events were staged for the fans. To have so many memories engraved in our heads, even after 10, 15 or 20 years, means legendary moments and astonishing spectacles given by the artists of the ring. These are the greatest stars of the '90s and they're about to see passing before your eyes.
Obviously, such a list is never perfect and is subject to the writers' bias. We can consider many factors to rank wrestlers in this or that list. As you will see, I ranked them mostly according to their impact on WWE in the '90s; I also considered their accomplishments, their drawing power and their contributions, regardless of what they did in the 1980s and in the 2000s.
So, with no more introduction, let's roll back in a decade that changed the face of pro wrestling forever.
IRS never actually reached main event status, but for five years he was an important draw in the mid-card division. No one likes taxmen and, because of that, he portrayed one of the most hated heels in WWE history.
His most notable feuds were against Bret Hart and The Undertaker, who benefited greatly from their work with him.
IRS biggest accomplishments came when he teamed up with Ted DiBiase to form the duo known as Money Inc. They won the Tag Team Championship three times and they dominated the division for almost one year.
From 1995 to 1999, The Bizarre One roamed in the WWE rings with his unique style. As one of the greatest mind games masters ever, he used to creep out his opponents with his weird mannerisms.
He was a good in-ring performer, but he mostly made his mark with his sick promos and various vignettes.
In four years, he became a three-time Intercontinental Champion and he had notable feuds against The Undertaker and Razor Ramon.
23. Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn debuted with WWE in 1993 in the tag team division along with his kayfabe brother Bart. The duo known as The Smoking Gunns had some success, winning the Tag Team Titles on three occasions. After nearly four years together, the team broke up and Gunn became Rockabilly for a short while.
In 1997, Billy Gunn and Jesse James joined forces together to become The New Age Outlaws. They won five Tag Team Championships and they were a part of the second version of DX.
Then known as Mr. Ass, Gunn became a singles competitor in 1999 and he won that year's King Of The Ring Tournament but it didn't launch his career to the higher level.
22. Mr. Perfect
Mr. Perfect was one of those wrestlers who deserved way more from the WWF than what he got. He was World Championship material without a doubt, but for some reason, he was stuck in the mid-card.
In the early '90s, he became one of the greatest Intercontinental Champion ever. With two memorable reigns, for a total of 406 days with the Title, he proved to be one of the best technical wrestlers in the business.
After a back injury, he retired as wrestler in 1993. He then became a manager and color commentator for some time. He tried some comebacks in the ring, but he only wrestled a couple of matches until he left the company in 1996.
21. Ken Shamrock
In 1997, Ken Shamrock introduced the ankle lock and the mixed martial art style in WWE. As a submission holds specialist and with his UFC background, he quickly became a top draw.
At WrestleMania XIV, he won the match for the Intercontinental Title against Rocky Maivia, but the decision was reversed when he refused to release the ankle lock after the bell.
After his bitter loss at WrestleMania, he became the 1998 King Of The Ring and he was destined to the main event status. However, he only won the Intercontinental and the Tag Team Championships before going back to UFC in 1999.
20. Alundra Blayze
The only woman on that list is Alundra Blayze who became the most popular female wrestler in the mid-1990s. She was such a big star in WWE that they could not find her any serious competition, except once, under the name of Bull Nakano.
However, the women's division could not rely on only two wrestlers and, due to the lack of competition, she decided to jump ship to WCW in December 1995. She was then in the middle of her third reign as Women's Champion and she brought the belt to throw it in a trash can on a televised show.
The shock of her departure from WWE caused another deactivation of the Women's Championship, as well as the whole division, until 1998.
19. The British Bulldog
The British Bulldog, who initially made his mark in the tag team division in the '80s, was on a roll until he screwed himself. He won the Intercontinental Title against Bret Hart in a legendary match at Summerslam 1992 but he was released a few months later because he imported human growth hormone.
He came back in 1994, but he was no longer destined for singles success despite his huge popularity. With his famous running powerslam and his hanging vertical suplex, he was still going nowhere until he turned heel. He then teamed up with Owen Hart to hold the Tag Team Championship for 245 days and he was a part of the "new" Hart Foundation.
He was also a two-time European and Hardcore Champion. But the strongman would never win any major title.
18. Owen Hart
Owen Hart will always be remembered as Bret Hart's young brother by many, but he was more than just the "other guy's brother". He had amazing in-ring abilities, with a unique combination of high-flying and technical skills. He was also great on the mic and he was an outstanding heel who played with the crowds very well.
The 1994 King of the Ring won the Intercontinental Championship twice and he was a four-time Tag Team Champion.
He was certainly World Championship material but only Vince McMahon knows if he was to become a future WWF Champion one day if the tragic event of 1999 didn't happen.
17. Randy Savage
As a member of the "old guard", Randy Savage had his best days with the WWE behind him, but he still had gas in the tank.
In 1992, he won the WWF Championship against Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII and he held the Title for 149 days.
Until he left the WWE in 1994, Savage offered the fans many vintage moments, such as his wedding at SummerSlam 1991 and the cobra bite he suffered when he was feuding with Jake Roberts.
16. Ric Flair
For 18 months, the already legendary Ric Flair graced the WWE rings with his presence. When he joined in 1991, he quickly became the biggest heel of the time, claiming he was the "real" World Champion and feuding indirectly with Hulk Hogan.
In 1992, he won the Royal Rumble and, as result, he became the new WWF Champion after the belt was vacated. He then had a memorable feud with Randy Savage against whom he lost the Title at WrestleMania VIII. Then, in September the same year, he exacted revenge and he defeated Savage to regain the Title.
If his prime years were behind him, Flair was still a top draw and he had a considerable impact during his short stint with the company in the early '90s.
During his two runs with the WWF, he always got a spot in the main event picture mostly as a monster heel.
In 1991-92, he especially feuded with Hulk Hogan after a heel turn. Sid didn't do much in that time, but he often participated in high profile matches.
When he came back in 1995, he became a two-time WWF Champion and he was first introduced as Shawn Michaels' bodyguard. Sid left the company in 1997, a few months after his loss against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 13.
14. Ultimate Warrior
In April 1990, at WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan passed the torch to The Ultimate Warrior who became the WWF Champion for his first and only time.
His reign as the Champion lasted an impressive 293 days and he became the face of the WWF. However, the honeymoon didn't last long and backstage issues between him and Vince McMahon put a stop to The Ultimate Warrior's presence on the top of the mountain.
He was at the peak of his popularity and he continued to get astonishing pops from the crowd despite he was relegated out of the WWF Championship picture. He had an intense feud against The Undertaker for several months in 1992, but he was eventually fired. He came back in 1996, for a few months run only since he and McMahon could not find a way to put aside their differences.
In October 1997, Kane made one of the most shocking debuts in pro-wrestling history during the the first ever Hell In A Cell Match. After tearing off the cell's door, Kane attacked The Undertaker who was left unconscious after a Tombstone piledriver. Michaels capitalized and went for the three-count.
Despite he was one of the most dominating forces in WWE history, Kane only managed to win the Tag Team Title on three occasions and to have a lame one-day reign as the WWF Champion.
If his list of accomplishments in the '90s is modest, Kane was involved in many important storylines. With his twisted personality and his physical dominance, he was an essential wild card of the Attitude Era.
12. Hulk Hogan
After the boom of the '80s, Hulk Hogan had his best years behind when the '90s started.
He was far from being a has been, as his accomplishments were still impressive in the new decade. As a proof, he won the 1990 and 1991 Royal Rumble matches.
Hogan also won the WWF Championship three times until he left in 1993, but only for a total of 319 days (which is little compared to his first reign of consecutive 1474 days).
11. Lex Luger
Lex Luger was a top draw during his run with the WWE. In 1993, the WWE needed a top powerhouse after Hulk Hogan left and, on the 4th of July, he became the new great American hero.
After he body slammed the 600-pound Yokozuna at a special event, held on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, the fans quickly forgot his heel debut as The Narcissist. In no time, the "Luger-Mania" ran over the country in the "Lex-Express" Touring bus. He had the American flag designed on everything surrounding him, from his trunks to his bus.
For some reason and despite his uncommon popularity, he never won the WWF Championship and the best he could do was to become the 1994 Royal Rumble co-winner.
10. Razor Ramon
Razor Ramon was one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions ever. With four reigns, he had the gold around his waist for an impressive total of 438 days.
He definitely had the potential to become a WWF Champion and he was one of the biggest draws from 1992 to 1996. He had the charisma, the in-ring abilities and the mic skills to be a great World Champion but, for some reason, he never made it to the top.
With his unique style, Ramon was a complete wrestler who had many classic moments, including the famous ladder match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X.
9. Triple H
Triple H started to make a name for himself in the '90s by becoming a two-time Intercontinental Champion and by winning two European Titles.
He had a slow rise to the top if we compare to Steve Austin, but his push was slown due to the Madison Square Garden Incident. However, despite his depush, he managed to become the 1997 King Of The Ring.
He wasn't a main event player until he won his first two WWF Championships in 1999. However, with DX, he was one of the main players in the Monday Night Wars and his list of accomplishment was still better than many others.
Yokozuna was a top villain in the '90s and he generated heat like only few others with his sumo anti-American gimmick.
From 1992 to 1998, his weight range was between 525 and 700 pounds. With his unreal weight and his 6'4" height, he squashed countless wrestlers and sent many to the hospital, including Hulk Hogan who eventually left for WCW.
The two-time WWF Champion won the 1993 Royal Rumble and won the Tag Team Titles twice. He feuded against all the big names of the time, including The Undertaker, Bret Hart and Lex Luger.
In 1994-95, there was no wrestler as dominating as Diesel. In less then 8 months, he won the three different Titles available, becoming the third Triple Crown Champion.
After winning the WWF Championship in an eight-second squash match over Bob Backlund on Nov. 26, 1994, he defended his Title at WrestleMania XI against HBK. His reign lasted almost one year and he retained against against all comers, including Sycho Sid and King Mabel.
The Diesel engine, that rolled over the WWE from his modest debut as Shawn Michaels bodyguard in 1993 until he left in 1996, accomplished more in three years than many others in then years.
6. Mick Foley
The King Of Hardcore debuted in 1996 as Mankind and he quickly became The Undertaker's first real nemesis with his unique brawling style and capacity to endure pain.
With his other gimmicks, Cactus Jack and Dude Love, Foley was a pillar of the Attitude Era and he managed to win four Tag Team Titles before becoming a three-time WWF Champion in 1998-99.
Then, in 1999, before going on the sideline for four years in 2000, he added four more Tag Team Championship reigns to his list of accomplishments. However, beyond his Championships, Foley has put his body on the line for the sake of entertainment like no others.
5. The Rock
The man who carried the WWE into the new millennium didn't have a stellar rise to the top in the '90s with his modest debut as Rocky Maivia in 1996, but he became the best talker in WWE when he ended his wrestling career in 2005.
He didn't have the honor to win the King Of The Ring Tournament or the Royal Rumble, but he won his first title only three months after he debuted. However, he was not very over with the fans and he had to come through a major gimmick transformation, becoming The Rock in May 1997 and joining the Nation Of Domination.
He truly emerged in 1998 when he started to work the crowds with his until then hidden mic skills and when he left the Nation to join The Corporation. He then won his first WWF Championship in November 1998 and he had two more Title reigns in 1999. At the end of the decade, a new icon was born and the rest is history.
4. Shawn Michaels
"The Main Event", "The Showstopper" and "Mr. WrestleMania". All those nicknames come from the '90s after nearly 10 years of hard work with the WWE. Beyond his three WWF Championship reigns in the '90s, Michaels made history with countless iconic moments.
After a solid run in the tag team division with Marty Jannetty, he became a singles competitor, but not before throwing his former partner through a window with a Super Kick in 1991.
With his new Heartbreak Kid gimmick, Michaels climbed the ladder to the top with three Intercontinental Title reigns and two Royal Rumble victories. Then, in 1996, after an historical Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII he won his first WWF Championship against Bret Hart.
3. The Undertaker
If The Undertaker was not always the center of attention, he was without a doubt the glue that kept the WWE together for the whole '90s.
He was not always in the main event, but his sole presence in the ring always made high profile matches. Despite his legendary dominance in the ring, he ended the decade with only three WWE Championships.
The Phenom didn't need the spotlight or many Title reigns to build his legacy.
After all, just to defeat Hulk Hogan in 1991 after only one year with the company is enough to make a name for himself. And, when we think about all the obstacles put on his path, it's no wonder why The Deadman is a legend.
2. Bret Hart
As one of the greatest technical wrestlers in pro-wrestling history, Bret Hart represented the new guard after Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior spent their last glorious moments with the WWE.
Following the breakup of the Hart Foundation and his two Tag Team Championships with Jim Neidhart, Bret Hart was designated to carry the company on his shoulders in a time of darkness following the end of the Golden Age Era.
In only six years, from 1991 to 1997, he became a five-time WWE Champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, the 1994 Royal Rumble co-winner and the only two-time King Of The Ring (1991 and 1993).
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Steve Austin was more than the face of the WWE; he was literally the electro-shock the company needed. He was the leader of the mythic Attitude Era and he contributed like no other to help Vince McMahon to save the company from bankruptcy and to eventually win the Monday Night Wars.
Stone Cold was to the '90s what Hogan was to the '80s. He didn't do all the work by himself, but he was the perfect leader and he was like a god for the fans.
The beer drinking Texas Rattlesnake, also known as the Toughest S.O.B. In WWE history managed to become an icon in only five years. Among other accomplishments in the '90s, he won the WWF Championship four times, the Royal Rumble on two occasions and he became the 1996 King Of The Ring.
Now, let's get ready to invade the comment section with your opinion about the order and about who made the list.
Did I miss anyone? Who has no business on the list? Do you agree or disagree with the order?