After much deliberation, I have attempted to put together my all time Fave 5, with Booker T sadly just missing out on the accolade. Yeah there is a picture of Chris Jericho above this post, but it is impossible for me to name one favourite, or to order them at all. I’ve just selected the five who I know I couldn’t leave out, and in no particular order. In terms of all time, I’m really just talking about the 23 years I’ve been alive, and more specifically the fifteen years I’ve been watching wrestling. Most of these guys are of course kings of the famed Attitude Era, with a more recent star who I just couldn’t overlook. I’ve made this post in the hope that some of you guys would please leave your lists, and make comments in general. I’d love to hear what you think about my selections! I’ll probably be pulling my hair out wishing I’d included someone else tomorrow, but that’s the nature of these things. I’m gonna try and stand by my choices, but it’s so, so difficult when there are so many amazing characters to remember and acknowledge. Here goes…
First up is the man known simply as ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin – arguably the biggest and best badass in the history of the business. This man catapulted to the top during the late nineties, and will be forever engrained in the biggest company in wrestling. The face of a generation, the patriarch of an era, probably the toughest SOB there ever was. I’m sure Austin would be on most people’s list, but there is a reason why things are sometimes predictable like that. The man faced them all, and beat them all.
Despite suffering serious injury problems in his early WWF career, he persevered and became the biggest money maker pro wrestling had ever seen. He played one of (if not THE) pivotal role in the resurgence and lasting legacy of the now WWE. With the guidance of those behind the scenes, he put a huge part of himself into a character which was embraced like no other, and survives in the minds of most wrestling fans today. A man who didn’t care for authority, and didn’t follow rules. A man who would punch out his boss at any given opportunity. The man who gave energy and vibrancy to a dying company, and brought unimaginable enthusiasm out of an audience. That’s the bottom line. Sorry, I had to do it.
Another one of my all time favourite superstars has got to be The Rock. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m not the biggest fan of him during his modern angles, but I can’t just erase a whole era of brilliance. Growing up he was completely and utterly my favourite wrestler. I see the way kids react to John Cena at live shows, and that is exactly what I was like. I vividly remember waking my mum up to shout about the fact that The Rock had been screwed out of the title. I remember when Stone Cold came and helped him win the belt at Backlash 2000 and not being able to sleep out of excitement and joy. Almost all of these memories are from Sunday nights (a school night) – I didn’t get Sky or cable or anything so the only wrestling I caught was WCW on Channel 5 (only occasionally because I wasn’t a big fan of it) and WWF’s Sunday Night Heat which was an hourly free show, and the PPV each month. Back then, for some strange reason we used to get every PPV for free on terrestrial TV, I think it was Channel 4. Those were the days.
I followed my hero Rocky straight through to my teens. I remember how outraged I was to hear that stadium full of morons boo the obvious face, and root so heavily for the heel and despicable (both in character, and in real life) Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 18. I also remember loving him when he turned heel again in 2003 and particularly his feud and match with Goldberg at Backlash. By this point, I understood that wrestling wasn’t real. It’s almost like I learned, as The Great One turned. I despised him through his corporate phase, so I must have become enlightened to have been so into his Rock Concerts. For better or worse, in spite of the hands of time, The Rock will forever be one of the very best of all time. That’s a fact, Jack.
And WHERE are my WWE ice cream bars?! One of my selections which may be doubted by some, is that of the master of the pipe-bomb, CM Punk. Unlike my other picks, he wasn’t a staple of the Attitude Era, and probably spent more years wrestling outside of the WWE before he got there, than he has since he arrived. Nonetheless, he has already become one of the most memorable stars of the last 20 years. He held the WWE Championship for 434 days, a record breaking feat which has been unprecedented since Hulk Hogan’s reign which ended in 1988. He has been involved in some of the most memorable feuds, and especially memorable matches of the last half a decade.
From his time in backyard wrestling, through ring of honor and the rebirth of ECW, Punk was a forever shining light. An amazing technician, a genius with the microphone, it was always clear that the Straight Edge Superstar was going to be something huge. The matches he has produced with the likes of The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, The Rock and John Cena will be remembered for a long time to come. He has reached that upper echelon in the business, and it couldn’t have happened to a more fitting performer. He goes against the grain, stands by his beliefs and principles and dedicates himself to his craft like a true professional in the ring. He isn’t even close to the end of his career, and he’s already the best in the world.
Now this may be going back on what I just said, but who could forget this man? He is the best in the world at what he does! Chris Jericho. Incase you haven’t noticed I have an extreme tendency to use as many catchphrases from pro wrestling in my writing as I possibly can. Just think of it as my version of the Mick Foley cheap pop, and find it endearing, please. Now this man was probably first on my list.
As an all round performer, he has the ability to capture the imagination and captivate a crowd with ease. I once saw his band Fozzy play in Birmingham on a UK tour, at age fifteen. On the way in, I was given a pass for Over 18 (great job bouncers) meaning I could stay behind for the after party and could purchase drinks at the bar. Sadly though (being fifteen), I had to get home on the bus after the show, and there was no way I could get away with staying in Birmingham until 3am and finding a way home. I missed out on meeting my hero, but I did get within about ten yards of him, and that’s pretty awesome.
Y2J has been one of the highlights of the WWE throughout my life, and I can’t express to you how much I respect the guy. I read his book ‘A Lions Tale’ a few years back and it blew my mind. It made me love him even more. The man travelled the world and wrestling tours in Japan, Mexico, Germany, Canada and of course the United States. He has one of the most influential and diverse styles the wrestling world has seen. His ring psychology and understanding of what makes a good wrestling match are second to none. He simply cannot be overlooked in any analysis of American wrestling. His story is probably my favourite, and the one I find most inspirational. Much like my final pick, he makes me believe that anyone can become a pro wrestler, if they want it enough.
Last but not least on my Fave 5 is the hardcore legend Mick Foley. In his own words, the man who pulled the sock out of his tights. He has three additional faces, to that of his own. That should tell you that he is not to be messed with. The guy was backdropped onto explosives, slammed on beds of nails and pins, and wrapped in blood drenched barbed wire. Travelling the world, wrestling icons like Terry Funk, he came known for his uncanny ability to withstand inhuman levels of pain. This made him famous. His own intelligence and his own brilliant performances are the reason he still has enduring fame and adoration, and I expect that to go on for sometime.
This year Mrs. Foley’s baby boy will be joining the hallowed halls of the WWE Hall Of Fame, alongside legendary names Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, probably the best diva of all time Trish Stratus and world famous business tycoon and TV personality Donald Trump. Some think that Foley will be overshadowed. They must be crazy. With the ceremony being held in Madison Square Garden (the venue for so many great Foley matches, and the place he used to go to watch wrestling as a child, and most importantly his home) – I don’t see that being an issue.
He has produced some of the most ever-lasting memories and moments in wrestling history. The pure entertainment he provided with The Rock on a regular basis. His Hell In A Cell match with The Undertaker at King Of The Ring ’98. His street fight with Triple H at Royal Rumble 2000. His absolutely phenomonal and possibly career definijng match against Edge at Wrestlemania 22, at the age of 40. There are too many instances to recall. I’ve already rambled on for over 1650 words, if you’re still reading this, you’re a trooper. There isn’t enough space in the worldpress for me to fill bigging up Mick Foley. I’ll leave you with this in his honour: Have a nice day.
PLEASE get in touch and let me know your top five, or any comments about my post. Most importantly, I’m starting a Q&A series about pro wrestling for YouTube (See Grapple Fanatics Page) and I would really appreciate some questions about the business. If you’re wondering anything, or you just want to have a discussion about something, I really hope you will leave a comment. Thanks for all the support!