Our project started many months ago, and for the last two and a half months, we’ve been counting down who we believe are the greatest wrestlers of the WrestleMania era. We talked about how we ranked them in the introduction.
I want to thank Duan, Alan, Big D, Jason, and Cadillac Don for all of their help in putting together the list and writing the short bios. It was a tremendously fun project and I’m happy with the way it turned out.
Here is the final ranking along with a link to every write-up:
1. Steve Austin (Alan)
2. Bret Hart (Duan)
3. Shawn Michaels (Duan)
4. Ric Flair (GG)
5. Randy Savage (Don)
6. Kurt Angle (Big D)
7. Chris Jericho (Don)
8. Eddy Guerrero (Alan)
9. The Rock (GG)
10. Curt Hennig (Duan)
11. Terry Funk (Alan)
12. Chris Benoit (Don)
13. The Undertaker (Duan)
14. Mick Foley (GG)
15. Rey Mysterio (Alan)
16. Hulk Hogan
17. Ricky Steamboat (GG)
18. Bryan Danielson (Jason)
19. Jake Roberts (Big D)
20. Ted DiBiase (Big D)
21. Owen Hart (Jason)
22. Big Van Vader (Alan)
23. Rowdy Roddy Piper (Big D)
24. Triple H (Don)
25. Rick Rude (Big D)
One of the greatest compliments you can say of any performer is that their work is timeless. This is especially the case in a trade as evolving, and at times fickle, as pro wrestling. Curt Hennig, at his best, was timeless – a great worker in an era of great workers.
Hennig understood the makings of a heel. He knew his job was to make whoever he was paired with look great, and he knew sometimes that meant making himself look silly. He knew when to sell, when to back off, when to cower – Hennig just got it. Seeing Mr. Perfect’s name on the card was a guarantee of quality.
While Perfect could bump like a boss and carry inferior opponents to matches few felt they were capable of, it was only when he wrestled guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart that you truly saw the best of him. That was the type of level he was at and it was a level only a select few could match. While injury issues cost him ring time, he transitioned seamlessly between roles of wrestler, manager and commentator – his performance in each case; always perfect. During his entire stint with WWE, he could do no wrong.
When it’s all said and done, what Wrestlemania 23 will be remembered for is a haircut match. This isn’t any random old haircut match. This was a billionaire’s haircut match. Well, at least one of them was a billionaire.
Donald Trump has been affiliated with wrestling in the past. He hosted Wrestlemania IV and V at his Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They were two of the worst Wrestlemania’s ever, but that didn’t stop Vince McMahon from calling Trump’s name some 18 years later. And McMahon needed it.
Wrestlemania is what Vince McMahon and company build to every year. It’s their Super Bowl. It’s always the biggest PPV of the year, and the one in which they pull out all the stops. This year, the stops was Donald Trump. You might wonder why putting Donald Trump on a wrestling show, and one that he won’t even wrestle on, is important. The reason it’s important is because people wanted to pay to see who would get their hair cut between Vince and the Donald. Can you imagine a bald Donald Trump? Everyone wants to see that right? Even though anyone in their right mind would know that Trump would’ve never signed on to a match in which he’d lose his hair, it was built up so well, and it went on to be the main event in the biggest money making event in company history.
Donald Trump is still a big name. Even though his television show, The Apprentice was struggling mightily, he’s a well known public figure. And to get a well known public figure who isn’t a one hit wonder (like Kevin Federline) was a major coup for the WWE. It allowed them to enter the main stream media for a short while. The media picked up on Donald Trump being involved with wrestling and it sparked a little bit of a buzz. The wrestling fans are going to buy Wrestlemania. The goal is to get everyone else to do so.
Tomorrow night, WWE celebrates 21 years of SummerSlam, the “biggest party of the summer” as they’ve been calling recently. There have been 20 SummerSlam Events since 1988. But were all of them really worthy of being called the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best PPV of the year? Absolutely not. So today I’ve decided to take a look and list what I consider the Top 10 Greatest SummerSlam Pay-Per-Views of All Time! So sit back, relax, and enjoy.
10. SummerSlam 1988
So we begin with the very first SummerSlam in 1988, live on PPV from Madison Square Garden in New York. The whole purpose of the creation of this PPV was for the WWE to compete with NWA’s Great American Bash, hoping to convert wrestling fans to save their hard-earned cash and purchase their show at the end of the summer as opposed to the Bash. This soon became the last of the “Big Four” PPVs, alongside Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and of course, Wrestlemania. The main event was a highly-anticipated tag team match between Hulk Hogan and WWF Champion Randy Savage, collectively known as “The Mega Powers” against Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, collectively known as “The Mega Bucks”. Savage won a 16-Man Tournament at Wrestlemania IV, last defeating Dibiase to become champion. Hogan had teased prior to the show that Miss Elizabeth would showcase her “eenie, weenie bikini”, which is creepy in retrospect considering she is no longer with us.
Besides that huge match, the most memorable part of this Pay-Per-View was the Ultimate Warrior defeating the longest reigning WWF Intercontinental Champion in history – The Honky Tonk Man. Honky was scheduled to face Brutus Beefcake, but prior to the match, Beefcake was hospitalized by “The Outlaw” Ron Bass. Honky came out on the show and challenged anybody in the building to take the title and the undefeated Warrior came out and pinned him in thirty seconds to take the title, beginning the monster four year run that he would have in the WWF. Tag Team wrestling was definitely one of WWF’s high-points during this era, as Hart Foundation vs. Demolition was easily the best match on the show, followed slightly by the Rougeaus vs. The Bulldogs.