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December 27, 2010

Top 50 wrestling stars countdown: Nos. 41-50

50. CHRIS JERICHO – The first undisputed world champion since the 1950s was one of the industry’s top stars of the past decade.

49. RANDY ORTON – The youngest world champion in WWE history is among the biggest stars of the post-Attitude era.

48. GOLDBERG – His time in the spotlight was short, but Goldberg was a key player during wrestling’s boom period in the late ’90s. Even now, more than six years after his last match, fans still speculate as to whether he will make a comeback.

47. KURT ANGLE – He was one of the top stars in WWE from 1999 to 2006 before departing for TNA. While Angle hasn’t had a huge impact on buy rates and TV ratings in TNA, his mere presence there adds legitimacy to the company.

46. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR – Regardless of what you may think of his wrestling ability, there’s no denying that he was one of the most memorable and talked-about wrestlers of the late ’80s and ’90s.

45. JIMMY SNUKA – A revolutionary high flyer who was perhaps the industry’s most popular wrestler for a couple years before Hulkamania exploded, his leaps off the top of a steel cage at Madison Square Garden in the ’80s have become iconic.

44. JERRY LAWLER – One of the most successful stars of the territory days, “The King” was a legend for two decades in Memphis, where his popularity transcended wrestling.

43. MAD DOG VACHON – One of wrestling’s most vicious villains won the AWA world title twice in the ’60s and remained a top star there into the early ’80s.

42. EDOUARD CARPENTIER – Combining innovative high-flying moves with solid mat wrestling skills, Carpentier was one of wrestling’s top draws in the ’50s and ’60s.

41. MICK FOLEY – He brought hardcore wrestling to the mainstream and became one of the most famous wrestlers in the industry during the boom period of the late ’90s. Foley went on to become a best-selling author.

I will count down the top 50 wrestling stars of all time every day through Friday.

To view a photo gallery of the countdown, click here.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 3:32 PM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Top 50 wrestling stars of all time


Tough to criticize untill we see the whole 50 but I think Angle and possibly Jericho could of been a little higher.

Can't wait for the rest of the list.

Is there someplace where I can go to see the 50 that WWE picked w/o buying the DVD.

Thanks for the column

I would have Warrior,Goldberg,and Angle in my top 20,maybe evan Jericho

I would be surprised to see Sheamus in your top 50. Can we guess who #1 is....your boy...Shawn Michaels??

are u out of your f'n mind i expected to see a correct list for once and for all and you ranked chris jericho,kurt angle,and randy orton lower than mad dog vachon,jerry lawler,and warrior.i may be a little biased towards the current generation of wrestlers but its still bull****!oh its true its DAMN true!

RESPONSE FROM KE: A little biased? You think? sorry to disappoint you, but pro wrestling didn't begin in 1996.

Bloop 91 -

Just enter 'WWE Top 50 DVD review' in your search engine and you'll get all you need.

I hope my namesake makes the list although he probably won't. For all of you that read this blog, the fact that Edouard Carpentier made the list is what will consider this list to be legitimate. Many of you won't agree and we've already seen kids complaining but if we see wrestlers like Carpentier and Vachon on the list then the list has great possibilities, even if it just Kevin's opinion. I fully expect to see Gotch somewhere along with a Funk and Brisco.

Jeez, only the first ten and already there's major problems. Jericho behind Goldberg? Angle behind Warrior? Say it ain't so. I suppose your reasoning is that the latters were bigger stars at their heights then the formers, but in these cases I just can't agree. Both, ultimately, were failures at the main even level despite being gift-wrapped their pushes. Jericho and Angle, meanwhile, brought unique attributes to the ring an leave behind real, tangible legacies.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I agree that ultimately Goldberg and Warrior were failures at the main event level. That's why they're not ranked higher. But they did make a big impact at the time and there's a reason that fans still to talk about them to this day. As for Jericho and Angle, as much as we all like them and enjoy their work, the truth is that neither one was a huge draw on top.

I must admit I was ready to question your sanity. As I skimmed the list and saw the "gold" in Goldberg, I thought it said Golddust at first.

It's an interesting start. The fact that we have Orton, Angle, and Jericho at the end really is telling for how talented the top 40 will be.

I hate to admit it, but Ultimate Warrior belongs here based on your criteria of length of time as a main eventer. Somehow, he stayed on top for a rather long time.

I am looking forward to seeing the relative positions of Hulk Hogan and Superstar Billy Graham seeing as you are using influence upon other wrestlers as a criteria.

And Johnny, I expect to see at least one Funk and Brisco as well. Jack Brisco was my favorite wrestler growing up.

Kevin, I usually agree with you, but I am EXTREMELY unclear on Angle's and Jericho's placements (not just on this list, but on WWE's, as well).

Just a note, you most DEFINITELY are gonna get some HBK-hateration. Let that not deter you from being totally honest about your rankings. We saw this dynamic with your WM rankings. Wherever you place him, let it be your truthful opinion, not because you are succuumbing to some utterly confused fans. If anything, enlighten them ;)

I think where Eck rated Goldberg and Warrior are fine... They weren't really that over for a long period of time to rank them higher. they had a few good years and that was it. Hopefully a Japanese star or two will make this list.

Bob I am looking forward to seeing where Superstar Billy Graham lands as well ! He was clearly very influential even if his name is not as well known as those of some who he influenced.

I feel like Lawler maybe could have gone higher based on his very prominent feud with Andy Kaufman... that brought pro wrestling to new & strange places. Other than that I like what I'm seeing... good choices and good reasoning.

I think maybe Hulk and Stone Cold will be the top 2...

While I realize that "sports entertainers" don't really "win" world championships,(the promoter "assigns" them the belt), a sports entertainer should have at least been a world champion of a major promotion before he's rated over multiple-time champions. Case in point: Jimmy Snuka. How is an "undisputed" champion (Chris Jericho), rated below a guy who was never a World Champion like Snuka. Perhaps you can do a better job of explaining why you thought one was better than the other. Otherwise, anybody can list 50 great "wrestlers."

RESPONSE FROM KE: I thought I explained it pretty well. Some guys were big draws without the belt, and some guys who had the belt were not big draws. In 1982-1983, Snuka was perhaps the No. 1 babyface in the business, and he didn't need a belt. Jericho, even as the undisputed champion, was never "over" to that degree. The majority of the guys in the top 50 were world champions, but there are others like Snuka who were not.

I'm going to assume you missed the post from Monday where I listed the criteria. Here is one aspect of it, which is relevant to your question.

• Success as a main event performer. That, of course, is measured in different ways, depending on the era. In the territorial days, it was all about putting butts in seats. Nowadays, pay-per-view buy rates, TV ratings and merchandise sales are the measuring sticks. Also, wrestlers who were on top when the wrestling industry was hot received more credit than those who were on top when the industry was not as popular. Being a world champion carried weight in the rankings, but it was not a prerequisite.

People who diss Snuka obviously weren't watching in the early '80's. Believe it or not, there was professional wrestling before Hulk Hogan.

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was easily the biggest draw of his time. No one made a bigger impression, with his flying leaps from the top rope (or higher).

I'm going to assume that Bob Backlund is on this list higher up, since he was truly the best wrestler of that generation, but even he couldn't get a crowd excited the way Snuka could.

If anything, I was a bit disappointed not to see Snuka higher ranked. But thanks, Kevin, for keeping that great era in mind.

HBK himself didn't draw a lot as a champion. As a matter of fact, he is one of those wrestlers who probably drew the least, maybe after Psycho Sid. Lets see where you put HBK in your list. Since you're putting so much attention on who draws the most!!! I think Hogan and Austin should be no.1 and no.2 in your list.

Let me make myself clear. I don't have any problems with you putting HBK on no.1. He is one of the greatest ever. Just don't say Jericho is no.50 because he was never 'over' or he never drew.

Hi ya Eck
I hope to see Chris Benoit in there if this is truly a list of the top wrestlers. Despite what he did the man was a techical machine and had great success in his day....

Does this mean Chris Benoit is ranked above the likes of Jericho, Angle and Goldberg or does he not make the cut?

RESPONSE FROM KE: Have to wait and see.


At first look I thought you were way off with the rankings of Jericho and Angle. But after reading your reasons, I have to agree that as much as I enjoy their work, they "did not put asses in seats" on a consistant basis. Can't wait to see the rest of the list.

If this list is based on drawing power, guys like Nash, HHH, and HBK shouldn't be in the top half. They brought poor buyrates and ratings..Nash was also part of WCW's demise.

I've never popped for HBK. His look was extremely feminine, mike skills sucked, and he didn't draw---its a fact that he was "on top" during one of lamest era's in wrestling. I don't get how HBK could even get consideration to be in the top. My fondest memory was when he stepped aside and let Y2J, Austin, and the Rock run the show (wrestling's boom time).

He was the best at the business's politics---right next to HHH who married the boss's daughter. I'm so glad he retired. I'd brather see Flair anyday in his 80's giging and cutting promos then HBK making a comeback in his 50's.

Case in point: I was watching a pre-game show on NFL network, and Ric Flair was on the sidelines. He was taking pictures with mobs of people on the sidelines and the whole TV crew popped huge for Flair---Rich Eisen, Deon, Much, and Marshall Faulk all chanting WOOOOO!!!. I wonder if they would even recognise HBK? And, would any football player care to get a picture taken with Michaels. Answer is an easy NO!!!!

HBK= Politics

I would add this to your response to Joe. The title is different today than it used to be. Sammartino, Morales, Backlund, and Hogan practically held the title for all of the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. There really wasn't much opportunity for others to hold titles.

Kevin: Tough to compare wrestlers from one era to wrestlers in another era. And it might even be unfair. Why not do three lists - one each for the Golden Age (Gorgeous George, Lou Thesz), a second for the Bruno era (60s-mid 80s) and a third for the Hogan/Rock/Austin era (mid 80s-present)? How do you compare Bruno's ability to draw fans to the arenas to Austin's ability to draw television ratings. Its a thankless task and probably not useful.

Where's the Missing Link?!?!?

To the best of my understanding, this list is not based on the best champions ever; it's based on the best superstars ever. No superstar is totally strong in every area. For example, though Austin was incredibly popular, he wasn't splendidly talented (not bad, but not superb, either). The same can be said for Hogan. As well, though Shelton Benjamin, Benoit, or Bret were incredibly talented, athletically, none oozed with charisma. If you hold Shawn Michaels to the standard that he must be superb in every area, then you must hold every superstar to that standard. You don't seem to be doing that, and that's simply unfair. And this argument about Shawn being a poor draw is ludicrous. He was no Hogan or Rock or Austin, but he is stronger in other areas; as well, Dave Meltzer composed a list last year that showed that Shawn is the ninth biggest draw in wrestling history. You must consider how many wrestlers have ever wrestled - over thousands. Shawn is in the top ten of biggest draws in the history of the business - just look at the Royal Rumble '97. Since when has a RR had 60,000 people? Or look at WM 2007 (80,000). Shawn's strengths (athleticism, charisma, storytelling, match quality, promos, innovation, legacy, and creation of the Attitude Era) FAR outweigh any limitations he might have had, including being the number 9 biggest draw in wrestling history. Don't be a hater; fair is fair.

How in any deity's name would Goldberg ever be better than Orton or Jericho?

Goldberg was a one-trick pony who had to have squash matches to look good. He was a sloppy worker, terrible on the mic and completely undeserving of anything he ever got. Seriously.

Jericho is one of the all time best wrestlers and could make Greenberg look lightyears better than the Bill could himself.

Orton may not be the new Austin that they're trying to make him (complete with the new pose before/after matches.) But he is also a much better worker than Goldberg on his worst day.

Jericho should be in the top 10. Definitely all around better than Goldberg or Ultimate Warrior.

Dear Wrestling Fans,

These guys are a bunch of steroid loaded pansies. Just look at the picture - see steroids.

Put them up against some real men or even real women and they will collapse like a bunch of broccoli.

Little Sisters of the Poor - TAKE'UM!!!

Did I get your dander up wrestling fan? Just kidding – Happy New Year.

Well, HBK was the reason why WCW had so much success. Everyone in WCW overshadowed HBK, and if it wasn't for Stone Cold, the WWE might have went out of business. Don't forget, wrestling boom really took off after MIchaels left. So much for longevity.

Sweetie, that lame response to people miffed how Michaels could be ahead of Bruno, Andre, Austin, Hogan, and Flair is that he had one big payday? How many paydays did these guys have? And still have...It's rhetorical, so I'll answer.

Hogan got Bubba and the Nasty Boys a payday.

Michaels can barely get Daniel Bryan through the door.

Anybody that says HBK is #1 is a mark. Saddest part is that your marking out to a bonified politician (ass kisser).

Ballz mahoney, it is so cheap to call someone a mark without defending your own position. You and I clearly have opposing positions. You see Shawn as the reason WCW was in business. I see Shawn as the reason WWF did not die. In other words, if Shawn wasn't the champion at the time, I doubt there'd be a WWF. As a staunch WCW/Sting fan, I was totally dedicated to Nitro and would only watch WWF when Shawn was on. When he was done wrestling or talking, I clicked back to WCW; he was the only portion of WWF that I actually watched. At the time, WCW had an all-around better product, and WWF's only gem (IMO), was Shawn Michaels. He was simply spectacular. So clearly, we are looking at this situation from two opposite lens.
What on earth are you talking about a payday? Let me say this in defense of my position...Shawn Michaels changed the ENTIRE direction of the business. He has more memorable matches than anybody, and in wrestling, everything leads to and boils down to the quality of the match. He is the most influential wrestler of this entire generation. Consider all of the wrestlers who say that they got into this business because of him. This is only a small portion of my reason for why he is the greatest. Defend your thoughts rather than calling someone a mark...or find out why they are a fan.

Kevin, it is totally your list and totally your criteria. Since this is a subjective rather than an objective medium for the most part, there are going to be people disagreeing. However, you really should put Jericho much higher. The man was carrying the WWE for the last two or three years, so while he isn't probably a huge draw, he worked to make others the draws that they are.

Hi Kevin,
Happy New Year! On #42 I think you meant combining, instead of combing. Thanks for the blog. It's terrific, as always.

Where the hell are Jim Londos and Strangler Lewis?

RESPONSE FROM KE: This paragraph was part of the original post that announced the countdown was beginning.

"I also need to clarify my definition of “all time,” which is not meant to be taken literally. Although wrestling has spanned centuries, pro wrestling began to flourish as a unique form of entertainment during the early days of television, so I used that era (roughly 60 years ago) as a starting point."

awesome 1. miz the miz will regain the championship from orton AND IN TOP 50 RATINGS 1. IS MIZ AWESOME

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.

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