The world is full of great wrestlers. Many of the all time greats have been American, but Fiji, Estonia and New Zealand have produced their own Hall of Famers.
While some countries had little competition like Ghana, others had countless legends to choose from, as was the case with Japan.
One issue I encountered while compiling this list was how to define where someone was from. Someone like Kane, though being born in Spain (his father was in the military) is generally considered to be American.
Eddie Guerrero, though Mexican by heritage, was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. So I’d certainly place him in the discussion of greatest Mexican-American wrestlers of all time. But I didn’t consider him for best Mexican wrestler.
Cases like Batista who have parents from other countries, but have lived here their whole lives were not considered for best wrestler from that country.
I didn't even touch Samoa despite all of the greats that have Samoan heritage. The Rock, Samoa Joe and Umaga are all as American as there are Samoan.
Factoring in their ring skills, mic presence and influence on wrestling, here are the best wrestlers from around the world.
The moment when Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan stared each other down before their main event match at WrestleMania III is burned onto the brains of wrestling fans.
One of the most famous wrestlers even today, Andre not only helped propel Hogan's career, but helped launched a new era in wrestling.
The very first member of the WWE Hall of Fame wasn't just a guy who happened to be amazingly big. He was also a great performer. Andre was involved in two Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Matches of the Year.
Many men will come and go between those ropes, but Andre is one who we will never forget.
Wisely going with a ring name far easier to pronounce than his real name, Mongolia's Dolgorsürengiin Serjbüdee’s wrestling career has been brief, but promising.
Blue Wolf wrestled primarily for New Japan Pro Wrestling utilizing his robust power and stinging lariats, but hasn’t competed since 2006.
The talented Mr. Wolf hasn't accomplished all that much, but there is little completion to represent his country on this list.
The Italian Superman, Bruno Sammartino was the face of the then WWWF for much of the '60s and '70s. He is known for holding the WWWF Championship for an unbelievable 2803 days.
Born in Pizzoferrato, Italy, he moved to Pittsburgh when he was 15 where he eventually took up weightlifting and bodybuilding.
The fact that he managed to stay healthy during his incomparable championship reign while wrestling five or six nights a week is amazing. Equally impressive was his ability to maintain such a high level of popularity for that long.
Involved with five PWI Matches of the Year against wrestlers like Stan Hansen and Billy Graham, Sammartino also wrestled a litany of legends including Nikolai Volkoff, Ken Patera, Ernie Ladd, and Baron Von Raschke.
Generally regarded as one of the greatest wrestling champions in history, Sammartino refused to be inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame because he is ashamed of the direction his beloved sport has taken.
You were expecting maybe the Bushwhackers?
Before Luke and Butch were waving their arms around in the WWF, Pat O'Connor wrestled at a Hall of Fame level for both the NWA and AWA.
During the '50s and '60s, O'Connor won numerous championships including the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
His career is highlighted by matches with Harley Race, Bruno Sammartino, and Buddy Rogers. An accomplished amateur wrestler as well, O’Connor easily earns the right to represent New Zealand here.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Garica, the Bushwhackers
A member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, Szabo was a top draw between the '30s and '50s.
Winning various regional NWA titles, Szabo was an extremely powerful wrestler whose signature moves included the Winglong Suplex and a giant swing.
Szabo is a former tag teammate of both Bobo Brazil and Killer Kowalski. He is easily the best wrestler Hungary has ever produced.
A champion boxer, politician and Finnish gladiator, Helme was a powerhouse in various arenas.
Coming to the ring to the Finnish national anthem and sporting a hairstyle reminiscent of Road Warrior Animal, Helme had a fleeting run with the WWF in the early '90s.
After bouts with the likes of Marty Jannetty, Lex Luger and Scott Hall, Helme went on to an even briefer MMA career before embarking on a political career filled with controversy.
The list of Finnish wrestlers is neither long nor illustrious so even though his shot at the big time passed by in a blink of an eye, Helme remains the best Finland has to offer.
I don't think I’ll ever understand the decision to make an African wrestler adopt a Jamaican gimmick.
Kofi Kingston is a rising star. His recent pairing with Evan Bourne is brilliant, allowing WWE fans to see two of their best high-flyers at the same time.
Thus far he's had some excellent matches with Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho. I’m looking forward to seeing him mature as a performer and hopefully transition into a less blasé gimmick.
Early in the 20th century, one rivalry ruled wrestling, Gotch vs Hackenschmidt.
They battled in the 1911 to a record crowd. Georg Hackenschmidt was a pioneer in weightlifting but also in wrestling as he is credited with creating the bear hug.
Estonia at the time was part of the Russian Empire and he was given the nickname, "The Russian Lion."
At a time when wrestling had little to do with show, the powerful Estonian had to be convinced to let his matches go on a little longer for entertainment sake.
One of the first superstars and world champions, Hackenschmidt was a huge star. He is now a member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and deservedly so.
The Original Sheik was from Lansing, Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri on the other hand was from Iran.
The Iron Sheik was one of the greatest heels in wrestling history. Often teaming with Nikolai Volkoff, he played the anti-American card to draw heat.
His run in the then WWF was relatively brief. During his time he held the WWF World Championship before losing it to Hulk Hogan. He also won the World Tag Team titles at the first WrestleMania.
His gimmick made one of the most iconic and hated personas in wrestling, but he was also an underrated grappler.
Bob Backlund, Tito Santana, Tony Atlas and Sting all battled the accomplished amateur wrestler. The Iron Sheik has no doubt etched his name on wrestling’s history.
Honorable Mention: Shawn Daivari
Many credit Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka with bringing high-flying wrestling to the WWF.
In the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 1982 Match of the Year, Snuka leaped off the top of a steel cage in a championship bout with Bob Backlund. Mick Foley credits watching this moment as a key motivation to become a wrestler.
Snuka during his Hall of Fame career was ECW's first Heavyweight Champion, teamed with Terry Gordy, Paul Orndorff and Ray Stevens, and had a memorable feud with Rowdy Roddy Piper.
He also has the dubious distinction of being The Undertaker’s first victim during his 19-0 WrestleMania streak.
As one of the best high-flying wrestling of his day, Snuka consistently entertained wherever and whoever he wrestled.
A rising star, Castagnoli wrestled for Ring of Honor in the U.S. and for Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. WWE fans should soon him on the big stage as he is now signed with McMahon's company.
He's a big, powerful man with great body control. His Ricola Bomb finishing move not only looks great, but has one of the best names.
Calling himself a European uppercut master, Castagnoli has battled the likes of Necro Butcher, Colt Cabana and Daniel Bryan.
We may soon be calling him the Roger Federer of wrestling.
Honorable Mention: Marco Jaggi
When Volkoff was born, Croatia was still a part of Yugoslavia. There was a rift between the USSR and Yugoslavia, the two entities having a complicated and messy relationship.
The WWF figured that most American wrestling fans would have a hard time understanding that history and decided to stick Volkoff in a fur hat and a red jacket adorned with a hammer and sickle.
As a Soviet heel, often teaming with the Iron Sheik, he used his Soviet persona to draw heat. He was one of the most recognizable figures in the WWF during the '80s.
Early in his career, he had many well-attended bouts against the legendary Bruno Sammartino.
Volkoff was one of the most hated heels in wrestling history, a respected performer and a WWE Hall of Famer.
Honorable Mention: Victor Jovica
In the current era of women's wrestling, Aksana fits right in. It's not that she's terrible in the ring, but her looks far outweigh her skills.
She is a stronger, less Barbie doll version of Kelly Kelly.
Paired with pro, Goldust, Raudonienė was a part of the third season of NXT and now appears on Smackdown.
The former bodybuilder and fitness model has a lot to learn about wrestling, but Lituania is not a wrestling factory. So even if she doesn’t evolve and grow, she can still claim to the best Lithuanian wrestler.
In a career that spanned three decades, Pedro Morales became the first ever WWE Triple Crown winner and one of the most popular faces of his day.
He was awarded the PWI Wrestler of the Year award in 1972.
In matches against men like Bruno Sammartino, Larry Hennig, Freddie Blassie, and Killer Kowalski, he used his grappling skills and powerful build to put on great show after great show.
Morales found himself in the midst of the first Golden Age of Wrestling and then in 2005, the WWE Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: Amazing Red, Carly Colon, Carlos Colon, Primo
Though he had stints with TNA, WCW and WWF, Konnan is best known for his work in Mexico. He consistently sold out arenas there during the early '90s.
During this time, he and Jake Roberts feuded and Konnan appeared on Mexican soap operas and TV shows.
A poor decision had him go with a cyborg gimmick known as Max Moon during his one year with WWF.
His time with WCW was for more fruitful as he was a member of nWo Wolfpac and had matches with Chris Jericho, Scott Steiner and others.
He was also the leader of the Filthy Animals stable that included Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Konnan had a hand in bringing several Mexican wrestlers to WCW.
Though he had a good career stateside, his popularity is nothing compared to what it is in Mexico where some call him the Mexican Hulk Hogan.
The master of the foreign object, Mikel Scicluna, often used a roll of coins in his fist to gain an advantage over his opponent
A sometimes main eventer in the '60s, he challenged Sammartino for his title several times, but never won. His most famous match was one with Gorilla Monsoon where after the Baron had left the ring, Monsoon and Muhammad Ali got into it.
The Baron played a fantastic heel, the ultimate cheater and enraged fans like few have done before.
The big man is by far the best wrestler the Isle of Malta has produced.
The powerhouse British Bulldog wrestled in main events for both WWF and WCW.
While his longtime tag team partner and cousin, Dynamite Kid was an excellent wrestler himself, Smith had the more impressive career.
Fans will never forget his two spectacular matches with Bret Hart, at SummerSlam 1992 and In Your House 5 in 1995. He also great matches with Diesel and Shawn Michaels, not to mention all the battles he had in the Golden Age of tag teams with Dynamite Kid.
Popular here in the U.S., Smith was beloved in his home country. Perhaps down the line Wade Barrett will take over this spot, but as it stands, the Bulldog remains on top.
Honorable Mention: William Regal, Wade Barrett, Dynamite Kid
The 2010 King of the Ring winner skyrocketed to main event status soon after debuting with WWE. The Celtic Warrior proved he belonged there.
He’s already been in some entertaining matches with Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston and Shelton Benjamin. Since turning face, he's been gaining popularity.
Bono former's bodyguard has been making Ireland proud.
His career having just begun, we can expect a lot more chest-pounding and kicks to the jaw.
You could argue that Adrian Street's flamboyant "Exotic One" gimmick was innovative. Others might say that it made a mockery of homosexuality and is just as offensive a gimmick as Tony Atlas playing Saba Simba.
Regardless of the make-up and kissing of opponents, Street was a good wrestler, holding several NWA regional titles.
His gimmick defines his career far more than his in-ring ability. He inspired Dusty Rhodes' Goldust persona and now designs wrestling gear.
In a few years Mason Ryan may surpass him as the greatest Welsh wrestler, but as of yet hasn't gotten fully rolling.
Honorable Mention: Mason Ryan, Rob Terry
Roddy Piper, despite his kilts and bagpipes, is Canadian.
That leaves the door open for the Chosen One. In his short time with WWE, McIntyre has displayed incredible potential. The rising star has inexplicably dropped out of the spotlight recently.
An uncanny talent, the former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, is sure to have a bright future given of course that he gets a deserved push.
He is much too ring savvy, athletic and strong to be sitting on the sidelines.
Great Britain's last winner is Northern Ireland’s Finlay.
The brawler from Belfast might be more remembered for his often goofy storylines with Hornswoggle, but he had a solid career with WCW in the late '90s before that.
Some of his most memorable feuds were with Booker T, Lashley and Steven Reagal.
No one will confuse him with Daniel Bryan or Mr. Perfect in terms of wrestling skill, but he put on some entertaining fights over the years.
Wrestling as a modern day Viking for much of his career, Ib Solvang Hansen worked for the International Wrestling Alliance, NWA and various other promotions.
One of his most famous feuds was with Mexican legend, Mil Mascaras during the '70s.
The 300 pounder also had main event matches against Jack Brisco and the Sheik.
After ditching his Eric the Red gimmick to become Eric the Animal, he hung an animal bone in the corner of the ring. The heel that he was, he often managed to use it as a weapon when the referee’s back was turned.
His career was cut short by a car accident in 1978.
In the Dominican Republic, Jack Veneno is the man.
The main star for many years on Lucha Libre Internacional, Veneno was extremely popular in his home country and has in recent years tried to transition into politics with mixed results.
Veneno's claim to fame is that he once pinned Ric Flair for the NWA Championship.
Would the Dominican crowd have rioted had their folk hero lost? Flair seems to think they would have. His defeat was never recognized by the NWA, and so Veneno’s reign ended that night.
No, not him! I do not enjoy making Mr. Khali the best of anything, but find it hard not to crown him the best Indian wrestler.
Deserving or not, Khali has been thrust into the WWE spotlight again and again. And though he does have a bounty of flaws in the ring, a big part of wrestling is spectacle and his physique alone is a valuable spectacle.
While he'll never be technically proficient, Khali does what he can with that unwieldy body and from time to time has a surprisingly decent match.
Honorable Mention: Sonjay Dutt
The headbutting specialist is not from Moscow as he was billed, but from Ukraine.
A veteran of Smackdown, Raw and ECW, Kozlov only held one championship, his WWE Tag Team Championship with Santino Marella.
He received a brief shot at top in 2008, wrestling Triple H and Edge at Survivor Series for the WWE Championship. Beyond that, Kozlov had some pay-per-view matches against Matt Hardy and Christian.
His time with WWE was short-lived and he was unceremoniously released this year.
During the 1890s, one of the world's strongest men toured the U.S. and Europe as the Terrible Turk.
He infamously carried $5,000 worth of gold in a money belt around his waist for many years. Described as a modern Hercules or a wild beast, Ismail would dominate his opponents and rarely lost.
At 6'2'', 250 lbs. he certainly wouldn’t stand out in today’s wrestling world, but at that time was considered monstrous.
The vicious competitor went on to win the American Heavyweight Championship in 1898.
Tragically he drowned in the Atlantic, after falling overboard and being dragged down by his heavy money belt.
Das Wunderkind was a WCW mainstay during the late '90s. He had great cruiserweight battles with Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and Brian Pillman.
Known for his techno entrance music and off-putting dance moves, Wright was awarded Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year award in 1995.
Always underappreciated, Wright’s career fizzled out, in part because of injury, right before WCW folded. After retiring, he started a wrestling school with the fabulous name, The Wright Stuff, in Nürnberg.
Honorable Mention: Ulf Herman
Al Costello of the Fabulous Kangaroos edges out his partner, Roy Hellerman.
The first man to be known as "Man of a Thousand Holds" wrestled in South Africa, Malaysia and the U.S. As the Kangaroos, he and Hellerman worked an Australian gimmick complete with boomerangs.
Playing despised heels, the Kangaroos nearly incited riots in American arenas.
Why Costello gets the nod here instead of his longtime partner is because as Hellerman returned to Australia in '65 while Costello remained in the U.S. and made a name for himself in Georgia Championship Wrestling and various NWA promotions.
He went on to win tag titles with Louie Tillet, Karl Von Brauner and Ray St. Clair, among others. He rarely wrestled as a singles wrestler.
Eventually he and Hefferman reunited and have been inducted as a team to the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: Greg Bownds, Nathan Jones, Roy Hellerman
The man known as the Golden Greek began his career in Europe, and gained popularity in Australia before making a name for himself in the then WWWF.
He was a three time tag team champion with WWWF and had matches against the promotion’s biggest stars of the time such as Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valentine, and the Sheik.
His match in 1975 vs. Bruno Sammartino was awarded the PWI Match of the Year.
He main-evented many matches either teaming with or battling Sammartino. Playing either a heel or a face, Labrakis always captivated his audiences.
Trained by Killer Kowalski, the Underground King wrestles for various independent promotions.
Recently he’s competed in dark matches for TNA. So far his claim to fame is defeating Christopher Daniels.
A high-flyer with a lot of power, Brown performs various moonsaults and a shooting star press. He is generally thought to have tons of potential and could be getting a call to do what he does best full time for either TNA or WWE.
Honorable Mention: Dory Dixon, Ann Marie Crooks
Often referred to as the Father of Japanese Pro Wrestling, Rikidozan was the biggest wrestling star in a country that was not his own. He hid his Korean heritage to avoid the anti-Korean discrimination prevalent at the time in Japan.
Throughout the '50s and '60s, Rikidozan had many classic battles with men like Lou Thesz, Masahiko Kimura and Freddie Blassie. Gladly he abandoned his sumo career and found his true calling, chopping people across the chest, and piledriving his way to legendary status.
In addition to his success in the ring, Rikidozan left his mark on the wrestling world by training future legends Kintaro Ohki, Antonio Inoki, and Giant Baba.
A member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, Kintaro Ohki wrestled for over twenty years in both Japan and Korea.
As a young man he snuck into Japan in order to get trained by Rikidozan.
His career includes some bloody battles with the Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher as well as a NWA International Heavyweight Championship reign that lasted for nearly a decade.
His 1974 match with Antonio Inoki and his 1975 match against Giant Baba are two highlights of a long, storied career.
Honorable Mention : Lee Wang Pyo
The former Nexus member stood out right away because of that gorgeous 450 splash he performs.
He's an extremely agile and talented performer with many great years ahead of him.
As either a member of a stable, tag team or all by his lonesome, Gabriel has wowed audiences with his kicks, speed and smoothness in the ring.
He's already been ranked as high as #61 in PWI’s Top 500 wrestlers.
Gabriel has spent more time in the spotlight and in the majors than other South African by far, and he’s just getting started.
Honorable Mention: Tornado, Shawn and Steve Cohen
Many consider Antonino Rocca to be the first high-flying wrestler. During his career, especially during his prime in the '40s and '50s, he was one of the most beloved wrestlers in the game.
Having both an Italian and South American background, he appealed to audiences who had mostly seen men who did not attempt the hurricanranas and dropkicks that Rocca did.
The perennial main eventer wowed crowds with his then novel, Argentine Backbreacker. He was an amazing athlete that wrestled before the rise of Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino.
The Bull of the Pampas is a member of several wrestling Hall of Fames and one of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots.
Honorable Mention: Martin Karadagian, Miguel Perez, Juan Kachmanian
Many a wrestler has been billed as being from Russia like Ivan Koloff (actually from Montreal) and his "nephew" Nikita Koloff who is actually from Minnesota.
Mikhail Ivanov is the best real Russian.
A mainstay on the independent scene over the last ten years, Ivanov has won titles with Coastal Championship Wrestling, New England Championship Wrestling and Future of Wrestling.
Though he's never hit the big time, Ivanov has had a steady career.
Honorable Mention: Aleksander Chekov
A former Olympic wrestler, Karl Gotch's style was very similar to that of Lou Thesz who he lost the Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title to in 1964.
While he struggled to get a push in the U.S. he did enjoy a long, fruitful career in Japan. Japanese fans dubbed him "The God of Wrestling."
Gotch is said to have innovated the German suplex and is credited with shaping the puroresu style.
His most famous matches were those against Japanese legend Antonio Inoki. This Hall of Famer and Holocaust survivor is easily the best Belgium has to offer.
Honorable Mention: Salvatore Bellmo
Kafu the Brazilian Beast signed with WWE and wrestled in FCW but was released in 2009. Still, he is a huge man with a lot of potential.
He'll definitely need to add to his move set, as he is basically a chopping, slamming machine right now. He’s got the needed strength and size for the business and hopefully the training he received from Daniel Bryan will rub off.
In his short career, he's faced off against the Sandman, Savio Vega and Raven.
Giant Silva is a close second for best Brazilian wrestler. He's had similar achievements thus far, but is 16 years older than Kafu who may still get a shot with WWE.
Honorable Mention: Giant Silva
In a career that spanned the '30s, '40s and '50s, Abe Coleman was known as Hebrew Hercules and Jewish Tarzan.
He never quite climbed out of mid-card status which might be attributed to the anti-semitism that was prevalent during that era.
Still, he airplane spun his far share of opponents in his prolific career.
It's believed that Coleman invented the dropkick. What would wrestling look like without that innovation? Regardless, Abe Coleman is easily the best Polish wrestler of all time.
Blending agility and surprising power, Tonga Fifita wrestled mainly as Haku in WWF and as Meng in WCW. He is probably best remembered for teaming with Andre the Giant and winning the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1989. His career included matches with Harley Race, Dino Bravo, Sting and Goldberg.
Fifita consistently delivered one of the best knife-edged chops in wrestling.
Reportedly one of the most feared men backstage, stories float around about Fifita ripping out a guy’s eye during a fight. You try telling him he’s not the greatest Tongan wrestler of all time.
Over the years Canada has produced some of wrestling's greatest superstars.
Had Jericho's career ended four or five years ago, I would undoubtedly gone with Bret Hart. Hart was the face of the post-Hogan WWF.
He could make anybody look good in the ring. Some of my favorite matches of all time are his bouts with Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect and Steve Austin.
But Jericho elevated his game in recent years to an incredible level. Not only did he get better with age in the ring, but his promos continued to be refined and improved.
I may take some heat for crowning Jericho the best wrestler from Canada over the great Bret Hart, but I am banking that Y2J is not done. If he does in fact add a few more years and a few more classic matches to his resume then in the end, I may be proven right.
Honorable Mention: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Roddy Piper, Edge, Christian
With the rich history of wrestling in Mexico, choosing one man to call the best is a difficult task.
Some men were insanely famous, like El Santo and Blue Demon. They become movie stars despite wearing wrestling masks.
In choosing Alberto Del Rio's uncle, Mil Mascaras as the best Mexico has to offer, I'm by no means diminishing the accomplishments of the other Mexican greats.
He was bigger and stronger than many of his competitors in Mexico, but still agile enough to perform moves like the suicide dive.
I believe he deserves the number one spot in large part because of his popularity and success around the world.
Mil Mascaras wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling for much of the '70s. He introduced the high-flying Lucha Libre style moves of his home country to the Japanese audience.
His time in the U.S. includes brief runs with American companies like WWF, where he feuded with Superstar Billy Graham, and WCW, where he fought Cactus Jack.
Honorable Mention: El Canek, El Hijo del Santo, El Santo, Blue Demon
Some of the greatest wrestlers of all time hail from Japan. With all the legendary Japanese men and women who ever have laced up a pair of wrestling boots, it’s extremely difficult to choose one to call the best, but I’d go with Kenta Kobashi.
Kobashi is an awe-inspiring blend of power, speed, agility and in-ring presence. His matches are captivating, and he is the type of wrestler who generally has great chemistry with anyone he faces.
Kobashi has been involved in seven PWI Matches of the Year (mostly against Misawa) and an astounding 24 Wrestling Observer Newsletter five-star matches.
He's also innovated some creative, dangerous moves including the Black Crush, the Orange Crush (a vertical suplex powerbomb) and the double underhook DDT.
His suplexes and moonsaults are some of the best ever witnessed by wrestling fans. Whether wrestling for All Japan or NOAH, he's always been a huge draw and one of the biggest stars Japan has ever seen.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Inoki, Jumbo Tsruta, Mitsuharu Misawa, Genichiro Tenryu, and many more.