|The Rock and Me. Or is it?
Since it's 10/10/10, I thought I'd be real original and do a Top 10 list. Clever, right? Anyway, this is a list of my Top 10 favorite wrestlers of all time. Not the best, just my favorites.
1. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair: I've documented it before, but Ric Flair is in my opinion the greatest wrestler to ever step inside the square circle. Those who've never watched his matches from the early to mid 80's, I highly recommend you do. His promos were some of the most memorable from my childhood. He was the guy you loved to hate. Of course I witnessed his "last match" at Wrestlemania 24. Watching him wrestle today just isn't like it used to be though.
2. The Rock: In the late 1990's, the WWF needed a superstar. Man did they get one. The Rock started off as a goodie two shoe baby face "Rocky Maivia." That act didn't last long, and the ultra cool Rock persona kicked in. He was entertaining to watch and helped lead the WWF to victory over WCW in the Monday Night Wars. His time in the company was brief, but effective.
3. Kerry Von Erich: Some of the first wrestling I remember watching was the old World Class Championship Wrestling. The Von Erichs were the stars of the show. The baby face brothers who fought the evil comers like the Fabulous Freebirds, Gino Hernandez, and Chris Adams. It always seemed like their friends were turning on them though. Chris Adams, Iceman King Parsons, and Brian Adidas immediately come to mind. As a kid I looked up to Kerry. He was as his nickname suggested, a Modern Day Warrior. Of course, I was thrilled when he moved to the WWF and played on an even bigger stage, or ring. I read recently that Vince McMahon had original planned for Kerry to have Bret Hart's role in the WWF, but Kerry's personal demons put an end to that. I don't know if that's all true or not, but I certainly wish that story would have had a happier ending. I am glad to say that I was on hand when Kerry and his brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
4. Chris Jericho: I never really carried for the babyface Chris Jericho in WCW. He was like plain vanilla icecream in my view. But when he turned heel, he became much more entertaining. His promos were slick and he worked great in the ring. After reading his first book, I came to respect Y2J even more. He also had one of the greatest debuts in WWE history. The countdown and interrupting the Rock was classic. The two worked well together with the verbal sparing and the battles they had in the ring. Classic stuff. I was sad to see him leave back in 2005, but understood he needed a break. I rejoiced when he came back and thought the development of his new "character" was outstanding. Even though he was the heel out there, he was speaking the truth. Awesome.
5. Chris Benoit: I'm working on a full length blog about Chris in the coming days. Right now, I'm going to make my comments brief. What he did at the end of his life was horrendous. But what he did in his career can not and should not be ignored. He's probably the only guy on this list who didn't work the mic well, but inside that ring he was one of the best. More comments on that coming soon.
6. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin: Once upon a time, SCSA would have been higher on my list. But there was that incident back in 2002 or 2003 when Austin took his ball and went home. I know there was a lot of circumstances that lead up to Austin's leaving, but as a fan I felt a bit cheated. I had always been a fan of Austin's, even back in his "Stunning" Steve days of WCCW. He seemed like a natural heel. Cool and cocky. Then, shaving his head and donning the black tights and bad ass attitude made him a star. Stone Cold, whether a face or a heel was always entertaining to watch. He really started the way for the attitude era of WWF I believe. There was always an air of unpredictability when Austin was around. The beer baths, the damage to Mr. McMahon's vehicles, and the fight with Mike Tyson all come to mind instantly.
7. The Honky Tonk Man: I can't explain why, but HTM is in fact on this list. He was one of those guys people loved to hate. Or maybe they just hated him. For those who don't remember, when he was first brought into the WWF, he was a face, and was supposed to be there to help Hulk Hogan. This was sometime in 1986. Well, the fans didn't buy into his Elvis impersonating gimmick and quickly booed him. I remember him coming on to Superstars each week, asking the fans to stop and cheer for him. Eventually he snapped and hired "Col." Jimmy Hart to be his manager. It worked. Shortly after that, he became the Intercontinental champion. Not only was he the champ, but the longest reigning, ever. A record he still holds some 23 years later.
8. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper: The whole "Rock 'n Wrestling" connection would not have worked without the genius of Roddy Piper. I've read several times that Hulk Hogan takes a lot of the credit for the surge in wrestling popularity back in the 1980's. He deserves credit, some of it. Not all of it though. You can be the greatest hero of all time, but without the right nemesis, you're nothing. Piper and his antics drove the fans crazy. Kicking Cyndi Lauper. Smashing the Grammy on Lou Albano's head. Cracking the coconut on Superfly Snuka's skull. All heinous acts and all things that I love about Hot Rod. Then there's his work on Piper's Pit. The man was a genius on the mic. He made you want to hate him even more. But like all good heel's, eventually they turn them face because the fans start to dig the act. Piper was great and I still go back and watch the Pit from time to time. That stuff is timeless.
9. The Miz: I debated if I should put the Miz on this list or not, since he is so new to wrestling. But his character has developed quickly and really grown on me. His work on the mic is outstanding and he's improving in the ring. I've talked about the Miz before and my meeting with him earlier this year. He's ultra cool and truly is awesome. I think that's another reason I've added him to the list so early in his career. He's definitely destined for greatness. This is only the tip of the iceberg for him. His future is bright.
10. The British Bulldogs: I know technically I'm naming 11 wrestlers here, but it's my list and I'll do what I want. Ha ha. My favorite tag team of all time was the Bulldogs. Their work inside the ring was amazing. Dynamite Kid was a head of his time with some of the stuff he was doing. He's the guy Chris Benoit modeled himself after. And of course Davey Boy was the powerhouse of the team. Sadly, when the Bulldogs left the WWF and went back to Stampede they split them up. Davey Boy enjoyed a great singles career before his death in 2002. Dynamite is confined to a wheelchair now after all the years of wear and tear on his body. But when they were peaking in 1985 and 1986, they were among the greatest tag teams of all time. I wished they would have been around when the Road Warriors and Steiner Brothers ventured to the WWF.
This is just a list of wrestlers. I don't feel I can post it without mentioning my all time favorite manager, Bobby 'the Brain' Heenan. I had the chance to meet him back in 1999 when he was with WCW. He was just a funny in person as is his on camera. He took some hellacious bumps as a manager when his guys were feuding with Hulk Hogan, the Big Bossman, and Andre the Giant. So Brain, here's to you too.