Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of The Modern Era: #3 – Hulk Hogan
by Kace Evers on February 4, 2009

While Hulk Hogan nowadays is known as that guy from Hogan Knows Best or that host fella from American Gladiators (in their current form) or even as the father of not-so-safe driver, Nick Hogan or not-so-great singer, Brooke Hogan…he will always be synonymous with Professional Wrestling…for better or worse.

3. HULK HOGAN

Real NameTerry Bollea
AliasesSterling Golden; Super Destroyer; Terry “The Hulk” Boulder; Hulk Machine; Hollywood Hogan; Hollywood Hulk Hogan; Mr. America
HometownTampa, FL (billed from Venice Beach, CA)
Debuted1977
Titles HeldWWF/WWE Heavyweight (6x); WCW World Heavyweight (6x); IWGP Heavyweight; WWE Tag Team (w/ Edge); NWA Southeastern Heavyweight (3x)
Other accomplishmentsRoyal Rumble Winner (2x); WWE Hall Of Fame; various television and film appearances as well as music albums in Japan and U.S.

Note: The following is done mainly from a kayfabe point of view…which is fitting for a character that only worked in kayfabe form. Hulk Hogan was a larger than life persona and as such, shall get a larger than life article. Enjoy!

It was a moment that could have prevented history from occuring as it did.

SNAP!

Terry Bollea wanted to be a professional wrestler. He attended the same High School as Dick Slater and Mike Graham. Slater and Graham did not know him, but he knew them. He wanted to be them. He wanted to be a pro wrestler. Inspired by Superstar Billy Graham, Terry saw himself as someone who could one day show that same charisma and entertain the wrestling fans. During shows in Tampa, he would be there, greeting his schoolmate, Mike as, “Mr. Graham.” He was determined. He wanted to entertain. He would play bass guitar in a local rock band, because he loved playing to the crowd. But it was Wrestling that called to him. Finally, Terry got his shot. Hiro Matsuda was charged with the task of breaking him in. Hiro decided to simply break him first. Less than a minute into Hiro’s first lesson to Terry would bring us to the moment of truth, before anyone realized the impact.

SNAP!

“So you want to be a wrestler?” asked the Japanese trainer. Terry’s leg was now broken and it was that period of time where he had to decide if being a professional wrestler would be worth the price. He could have said no. He could have written off wrestling then and there, opting possibly for a career in rock music as a bassist or simply a roadie or sound tech. In that moment of decision, there could have been no Hulk Hogan. No Hulk Hogan! No Hulkamania. No Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling Cartoon or movies. No Tiny Lister as Zeus. Possibly no WrestleMania or a strong enough push for expansion throughout the United States. Everything would have been different from how it is now, for better or worse.

In the following year, Terry would be debuting as a professional wrestler, because he said, “yes.” He was Sterling Golden and for a brief time, under the mask of the Super Destroyer. From Florida to Tennessee and Alabama, Terry was beginning to hone his craft, eventually settling on the name of Terry Boulder. After appearing side-by-side with Lou Ferrigno of TV’s, The Incredible Hulk and discovering himself to be even bigger, he became Terry “The Hulk” Boulder.

In the Deep South, Terry Boulder was a physical force and his bearhug could make many an opponent submit. He teamed up with Ed Leslie, who would become (for that time), Ed Boulder. For less than a minute, Terry thought he had won the NWA World Heavyweight title from Harley Race, but the decision would be overturned, leaving Terry to be labeled as, “uncrowned Champion.” It was the first, but not the last time that he would find himself cheated out of a World title. Terry however was able to hoist up the Southeastern Heavyweight title, after defeating Ox Baker. As was the times, Terry would soon find himself moving from the Deep South to a much bigger target, the Northeast. Specifically, the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

The World Wide Wrestling Federation of the 1970s was high on cultural backgrounds, with different cultures represented from Bruno Sammartino for the Italian fans to Peter Maivia for the Samoans. Pedro Morales for the Latino community and of course, the WWWF Heavyweight Champion at the time of Terry’s arrival, Bob Backlund, representing the rest of Mainstream America. WWWF Owner, Vincent J. McMahon decided for Terry to have a name that appealed more to the Irish audience, with Terry “The Hulk” Boulder being rechristened as Hulk Hogan.

“Classy” Freddie Blassie took Hogan under his managerial wing and in his Madison Square Garden debut, Hogan defeated a young Ted DiBiase. There would be no love lost between the two as the memories of that loss to Hogan would stay in the back of Ted’s mind for years. Hogan feuded with Tony Atlas over who was stronger. He also had a memorable feud with Andre The Giant, back when the feud was Upper Midcard level instead of Main Event. Hogan’s run in the WWWF was brief however, as he would eventually find himself in Japan.

In Japan, the crowd took to the golden musclebound behemoth from the States, nicknaming him, “Ichiban,” as in, “Number One.” The Hulk Hogan of Japan was different from the Hulk Hogan in the States in that he was able to hone the more technical skills aspect of his repetoire, varying slightly from his more showmanship attitude back in his native country. “Ichiban” Hulk Hogan would be pitted against many of Wrestling’s best at the time, from Tatsumi Fujinami to Dusty Rhodes (the latter of which would wind up being more of a dream match by the late 1980s stateside). When not in Japan, Hogan was now playing to the Midwestern audience of the American Wrestling Association, headed by Verne Gagne and Stanley Blackburn. Not that it was supposed to be that way…

Upon leaving the WWWF, McMahon had wanted Hogan to wrestle for NWA promoter, Jim Crockett. Hogan had another option in mind that did not involve Wrestling, but a notable cameo in the film, Rocky III. VJ McMahon was less than thrilled and Hogan, fearing that he would never work New York City again after filming and promotion was done, wound up in the AWA. In the WWWF, Hogan had not endeared himself to the fans. His early run in the AWA was no different, but that would change upon Hogan splitting from his manager of the time, Johnny Valiant. The fans approved of this change in attitude and cheered him on as he took on various bad guys in the league. Hogan would do what was considered the unthinkable during this time, bodyslamming the mammoth Crusher Blackwell. Moving up the ranks, Hogan’s momentum carried him to a series of matches against the AWA World Heavyweight Champion, Nick Bockwinkel. Nick and his manager, Bobby Heenan would grow to dislike Hogan, Bobby very much so. The Hulkster, having all the momentum one could possibly have and in a league that was on the verge of breaking into a new era of Wrestling was just one obstacle away from cementing the start of a legendary run. That obstacle, being World Champion. It turns out however that the men of power in the AWA were uncomfortable with a man seen mainly as a power wrestler/brawler being their top guy and scoring several victories over Bockwinkel for the Championship, every win was almost immediately reversed. It was a frustration Hogan knew well from his days in the Southeast, but this time it was more intense. This time, he had what felt like a world of fans on his side, the only ones against him being the puppet masters in the board room. The anger towards wrestling authority, which would manifest 13 years later is a flame that ignited with Championship wins erased in the AWA. Frustrated, Hogan focused more on his Japanese schedule.

Back in Japan, the International Wrestling Grand Prix Heavyweight Championship Tournament was being held and Hulk Hogan was part of it. Scoring a rare Knockout victory over the much respected Antonio Inoki for that first Championship, Hogan’s legend was able to be cemented…in Japan at least. But it was 1983 and Wrestling was beginning to change with the times. Back in the Northeastern United States, the World Wide Wrestling Federation had become the World Wrestling Federation. Vincent J. McMahon was no longer in charge, selling the league to his son, Vincent K. McMahon, or simply Vince. And the younger Vince wanted Hogan back in his territory. In late 1983, still frustrated that having a fanbase was not enough to be the top man, Hogan returned to the now WWF…and back with manager Freddie Blassie, though only briefly for fate would soon intervene.

In late 1983, Freddie Blassie was also the manager of the much hated Iron Shiek. A private conversation with Bob Backlund would change Hogan back to the side of the fans. Just as quickly as he was reunited with Blassie, it was over and now Hogan was siding with the former WWF Heavyweight Champion. Making a surprise appearance, Hogan helped the very popular Backlund fight off Captain Lou Albano and the Wild Samoans. In January, 1984, Backlund was scheduled for a rematch against the Iron Shiek in an effort to win back the WWF Title. The injuries that Backlund had suffered however were too much, forcing him to eventually leave the WWF. A replacement was needed and Hulk Hogan was called upon for the chance of a lifetime. That night at Madison Square Garden, Hulkamania…having been in its embroynic stage since his time in the AWA was now truly born having defeated Iron Shiek in front of an excited audience. Andre The Giant, Rocky Johnson and others would celebrate with Hogan upon his Championship win and unlike before against Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel, this belt would not be going back to Iron Shiek on a reverse decision.

From there, everything fell into place. Hulk Hogan, who had already been courting the mainstream was now bringing with him the World Wrestling Federation and Vince McMahon. Each needed one another to succeed and with the WWF expanding and the NWA territories and AWA falling apart without Hogan, the power was now in Stamford, the WWF’s headquarters. Hulk Hogan would become synonymous with WrestleMania, teaming up with actor and former bodyguard Mr. T to defeat Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff at the first WrestleMania. At WrestleMania 2, Hogan defeated the giant King Kong Bundy in a cage match.

WrestleMania III in 1987 would be the event that would place the WWF firmly on top of the Wrestling World once and for all and in its Main Event, it was Hogan defeating Andre The Giant, a match pitting two of the top names in recent wrestling history against each other. WrestleMania III would garner the largest audience in Wrestling History until 1995 and is still credited as the largest in the United States and North America. Andre, whose attitude had changed for the worse by that point would not be deterred in getting vengeance. Saturday Night’s Main Event was a popular occasional fill-in for Saturday Night Live on NBC and Hulk Hogan was the star of the show. In the much anticipated match in Early 1988 between Hogan and Andre, a special Friday Night prime time slot was set. And then…controversy and for Hogan, an old familiar pain of losing a Championship on the account of an official. His shoulders to the mat, he raised one of them up before the 3 count. But the 3 was counted anyway and with that, Andre was WWF Champion in front of a stunned audience. As it turned out, Dave Hebner, the scheduled referee for that match had been replaced by his brother Earl. Earl Hebner, on the take due to a lack of integrity, would screw Hogan out of his belt. For Earl Hebner, it would not be the last time he would intentionally screw someone out of the WWF Heavyweight title.

But that’s another story altogether.

To make matters worse, Andre would sell the belt to Ted DiBiase, now nicknamed, “The Million Dollar Man.” For Andre, it was about beating and humiliating his foe. For Ted, it meant a strange measure of revenge for a loss at Madison Square Garden all the those years before. For Hulk however, it was war. At WrestleMania IV, the title was held up by WWF President Jack Tunney. Hogan and Andre would battle each other in the tournament, but neither of them scoring the win. It would come down to Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage that night in Atlantic City, but Hogan…showing that he still had the potential to be a bad guy when the situation called for it, would blast a chair to Ted’s back with the referee never noticing. From there, Randy would score the pinfall and the title, celebrating his Championship with Hogan at his side. The Megapowers were born.

Things were going well enough until stress and paranoia on Randy’s part got the better of him. Combined with circumstance, the two would split and Hogan, who was popular with the fans no matter what, gained the fan’s side of the argument, incensing the, “Macho Man,” and leading to a battle over the WWF Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania V. It was at the same venue as the previous year’s event and whereas in 1988, Hogan was helping Randy win the title, now in 1989 he was taking it from him. With the Championship back with Hogan, all was well for the most part. A feud with Randy and with Tiny “Zeus” Lister, whom Hogan had a tedious working relationship with in their movie together, No Holds Barred and being able to team up with Brutus Beefcake, the former Ed Boulder. Being able to beat the bad guys was one thing, but Hogan discovered that his weakness was combating fellow good guys, especially someone who was considered a hero. An ultimate hero. An Ultimate Warrior.

WrestleMania VI in Toronto, it was Hogan’s World title versus Ultimate Warrior’s Intercontinental title. Warrior won and in a rarity in North America, Hogan would not only lose the title, but would do so without controversy. The spotlight was now on Warrior and Hogan was free to focus on his other love at that point, movies. Maybe it was the distraction of Hollywood, CA that led to Hogan being unable to defend himself from an attack by the massive wrestler known as Earthquake. Being Earthquake Splashed on the set of the Brother Love Show, Hogan’s career was feared as finished. Hulk had other plans, coming back and still proving to be a force. In late 1990 though, Hogan was starting to find himself bewildered by the actions of another man on the WWF roster. A man whose popularity once rivaled Hogan’s, but not anymore and certainly not now.

His name was Sgt. Slaughter and the former U.S. Marine was siding with Saddam Hussein in the Desert Shield and Desert Storm conflict. This angered many, including Hogan. Slaughter seemed unphased, especially after defeating the Ultimate Warrior to win the WWF World title. The mutual resentment between the two would lead to a match for the belt at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles. That night, Hogan won his third World title and would proceed to feud with Slaughter throughout much of 1991. Upon defeating Slaughter and his minions for good, Slaughter would eventually see the error of his ways and, “get his country back.” For Hogan, though a new menace had arrived for him to deal with and it was for something many wrestling fans had wanted for years.

In a word…

“Wooo!!!”

Ric Flair arrived in the World Wrestling Federation in 1991 with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt in tow. The NWA did not agree with that and stripped him of the Championship. It did not stop Flair from still declaring himself, “The Real World’s Champion.” It seemed the natural progression would be for Hogan and Flair to battle at WrestleMania VIII, but the Hollywood bug was beginning to bite Hogan in a bad way. Finding dealing with a new breed of wrestler like The Undertaker did not help, either. Losing the Championship to the Undertaker, only to win it back days later in controversial fashion, the WWF and Hogan both seemed to be heading into a tailspin, especially after Ric Flair wound up with the WWF Championship after winning the 1992 Royal Rumble. For now, though Hogan Vs. Flair would have to wait. For Hulk’s departure match, he would take on Sid Justice, winning by Disqualification. But Hulk would be back. Why? Because Wrestling was his identity. It was part of his makeup. It was in his blood now.

In 1993, Hogan was back, this time looking to win the WWF World Tag Team Championship with his fellow Boulder, Brutus Beefcake. At WrestleMania IX, they tried, but a disqualification dashed their hopes of defeating Money Inc., a team comprised of Ted DiBiase and the former Mike Rotundo, Irwin R. Schyster. Fate would once again intervene as later that afternoon, Yokozuna would defeat Bret Hart in controversial fashion to win the World title. Hogan arrived to protest, leading Yokozuna’s manager, Mr. Fuji to issue an on the spot challenge to Hogan. Encouraged by Bret to take the match, Hogan entered the ring and moments later, Hogan was Champion for a fifth time.

Then strange things happened.

Hulk Hogan took the WWF Heavyweight Championship and toured Japan with it, including a big win over the Great Muta in Tokyo. His Japanese exploits were doing nothing for him back in the States or with Vince McMahon. And for Vince, things were beginning to be stressful enough with steroid accusations and a pending trial. And thus a plan was hatched against Hogan upon his return in June at WWF King Of The Ring. Hogan defended the title against Yokozuna, but had problems with the Samoan Sumo Machine. Just when things were beginning to finally sway in his direction, a disguised cameraman flashed fire to Hogan’s face, temporarily blinding him. A legdrop from Yokozuna and Hogan’s time in the WWF was over. Almost immediately afterwards, Shawn Michaels, in a backstage interview introduced his new bodyguard, Diesel. It was forshadowing to the Nth degree…even if the WWF did not necessarily recognize it at the time.

Now persona non grata in Stamford, Hogan focused on other projects. But now it was 1994 and once again, Wrestling was calling to him. Things were beginning to change in Wrestling that year. The World Wrestling Federation had something of a new identity on its hands. Ric Flair was back in World Championship Wrestling and after a down year in 1993, appeared to be hitting a stride. Even the independent scene was starting to have something of a shakeup with upstart Eastern Championship Wrestling discarding the National Wrestling Alliance in favor of going Extreme. Not wanting to be left behind in the changing tide, Hogan signed with WCW and in his debut, was given the world on a silver platter by its leader, Eric Bischoff. In Hulk Hogan’s first match, he defeated Ric Flair for the WCW World title and immediately, a Civil War among the fans began. The Pro-Hogan side, comprised mainly of Hogan’s fans from his WWF days and the Anti-Hogan side, comprised mainly of WCW fans, many of which were unhappy with Hogan getting the World title right away. It would lead to mixed reactions in the arena throughout the rest of 1994, all of 1995 and build to a crescendo in 1996.

In WCW, Hogan tried to be the good guy. He fought against Kevin Sullivan and his evil forces. He had Sting put him over as an overall swell guy. Many of the WCW fans however just were not ready to embrace the identity of everything WCW fans were against at that point, which was Vince McMahon’s vision. Hulk Hogan was that living, breathing vision and he was now in WCW. The fans resented him, many of them forgetting that Hogan knew how to be a bad guy if that is what they wanted. And what the fans wanted, they would get. For the New World Order had now arrived, allowing Hogan vent out his angst against wrestling management from over the years at the beginning.

Perhaps Hogan thought back to that fateful conversation with Bob Backlund in 1983…then saw what had become of Mr. Backlund himself in 1996. Hogan was not about to ally himself with an evil manager this time, instead teaming up with two of the hottest commodities in Wrestling at that point, Kevin “Diesel” Nash and Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall, forming the NWO. Hall and Nash were back in WCW with vengeance in mind, looking to pay the league back for its treatment of Vinnie Vegas and the Diamond Studd. Hulk was WCW World Champion during much of that time between 1996 and 1998, as he and the NWO ran roughshod over everyone, causing many to join them in order to escape further punishment. He helped drive Sting to the point of insanity and after his controversial loss to Sting at Starrcade 1997, his deep rooted resentment for authority shot into overdrive. The overdrive however wound up having an effect on the rest of his group, leading to a split between NWO factions. Hulk Hogan…now Hollywood Hogan had NWO Hollywood while fellow charter member of the NWO, Kevin Nash was part of NWO Wolfpac. Scott Hall was stuck in the middle, eventually siding with Hogan. Throughout all of the turmoil, Hogan found himself distracted from the approaching new force in WCW, a man named Bill Goldberg.

One night in Atlanta, Hogan lost his WCW World title to Goldberg after falling victim to the Spear/Jackhammer combo like so many others before him. Just as before in 1993 after losing to Yokozuna and 1983 after the controversies of the Bockwinkel matches, Hogan eventually decided to take a step back, falling out of the limelight and temporarily retiring. After teasing a Presidential run, he would return once again, taking part in one of the infamous moments in Wrestling history in January 1999. Scott Keith labeled it the, “Fingerpoke Of Doom.” Apparently during Hogan’s time off, he was able to patch up differences with Kevin Nash. Nash, having defeated Goldberg recently at Starrcade 1998 in controversial fashion, would literally lay down for Hollywood, giving Hogan the WCW World Championship again and causing fans to grow angry. The anger this time no longer consisted of wanting to see Hogan get his, but this time the anger of the fans hit where it hurt more…by changing the channel to WCW Monday Nitro’s rival, WWF Raw Is War, where a man who was an early casualty to the influx of Hogan’s influence in 1994, Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley had just won the WWF Championship. WCW never recovered and after a series of strange events, which included Hogan once again embracing the fans, the organization was now the Titanic. The culmination to the strange and sad shape of WCW was at the annual Bash At The Beach, the same event where in 1994 Hogan had debuted and in 1996, had Hogan forming the New World Order. In 2000, it was not about construction, but destruction. Jeff Jarrett laid down for Hollywood Hulk Hogan at the order of Vince Russo, WCW’s Creative Head at the time, allowing for Hogan to once again win the WCW World title, or so he thought. Hogan had a bitter rivalry with Jarrett at that point, but Jarrett’s actions perplexed him, especially with Jarrett leaving without a word spoken immediately after the farce of a match. Leaving with what turned out be just a copy of the WCW belt, it was announced that Hogan was not the actual Champion by Vince Russo. With Russo’s verbal damage done, Hogan left WCW, never to return. In March 2001, WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation. Hulk Hogan at the time probably could not have cared less.

He briefly had a group called the XWF, but that went nowhere and with Vince McMahon looking to inject a poison into the WWF in Early 2002, if only to smite the recently returned Ric Flair, Hogan found himself back in the WWF for the first time since the fireball incident in 1993. This time, though he was Hollywood Hulk Hogan and he was part of the NWO with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Things quickly deteriorated though after his loss to The Rock at WrestleMania X8. Once again embracing the fans, who refused to boo him, Hogan fought against the NWO briefly and then focused on wanting to be Heavyweight Champion once again. In the battle of Triple H’s, Hollywood Hulk Hogan would defeat Hunter Hearst Helmsley (officially, “Triple H”) for the WWF Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, but would soon lose it to old nemesis The Undertaker. Despite the brief title reign, it proved to be a sweet moment of time for Hogan, who just six years earlier had been character assassinated by the WWF in the Billionare Ted’s Rasslin’ Warroom skits.

At around this time, the World Wrestling Federation changed its identity to World Wrestling Entertainment and it was split into two brands, Raw and SmackDown. Hogan would eventually become part of SmackDown, winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with Edge, after defeating Billy Gunn (known in 2008 as Kip James) and Chuck Palumbo. It was Hogan’s first Tag title reign, but would also be relatively brief as he and Edge would lose the Championship to the team of Lance Storm and Christian (now Christian Cage). Wanting to get back into the Heavyweight title picture again, he ran into a juggernaut named Brock Lesnar. Given Hogan’s history, it was somewhat ironic that after losing to Yokozuna’s legdrop in 1993, he would fall victim to his first finisher as a wrestler, the Bearhug to Lesnar. Hogan would take time off to heal and when he returned, he found himself embroiled in a feud with Vince McMahon. Just before Hogan debuted in WCW in 1994, he had testified against McMahon in the Steroid Trial against him. McMahon’s resentment of this eventually boiled over after years of holding it in and now it was a battle of icons to see who could lay claim for the success of Sports Entertainment at WrestleMania XIX. Hogan would be victorious in what would be to date, his final WrestleMania match. McMahon forced Hogan out of action afterwards, leading to Hogan disguising himself as the masked, Mr. America. Hogan had worn masks before, including some matches as Hulk Machine back in his initial Hulkamania run in the mid-1980s, then part of a running joke on the masked Machines name. His time as Mr. America was also something of a joke, inspiring Midnight Rider flashbacks for some fans and strange shenanigans on SmackDown between the disguised Hogan and McMahon. McMahon however would have the last laugh, discovering video evidence of Hogan unmasking himself to the fans with a wink and firing him.

Hulk Hogan decided to go to the one place he knew he could always get away from the sometimes ridiculous American wrestling scene. Japan. After defeating former NWO ally, Masahiro Chono in a friendly, but competitive match, Hogan mentioned in a postmatch press conference something that he had hinted at here and there since his departure from WWE and that was wanting to be NWA World Heayvweight Champion. Former WCW adversary and current NWA Champ, Jeff Jarrett wound up paying Hogan an unexpected visit, bashing him over the head with a guitar and challenging him to show up in Total Nonstop Action, where the NWA World belt called home at the time.

Hogan never showed up. It is possible that the anger Jarrett carried towards Hogan from 2000 was too much to deal with. Or maybe the details just could not be worked out. For TNA fans, some of which were old WCW fans who had refused to go along with the, “InVasion,” of 2001 it was a sense of satisfaction. Given that, it is quite possible that Hogan once again gave the fans what they wanted and for TNA fans…it was simply not showing up.

Since then, Hogan has appeared sporadically in the Wrestling World, mainly in WWE. Even in his post-prime state, he was able to post victories over Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton. He saved Eugene Dinsmore from an attack by Muhamad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari at WrestleMania 21. He was even inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. His most recent appearance in WWE was at the Raw 15th Anniversary event in December 2007 when he fought off the Great Khali from attacking the dimunitive Hornswoggle. There was also his match against Paul Wight in Memphis which was an independent production.

While Hulk Hogan nowadays is known as that guy from Hogan Knows Best or that host fella from American Gladiators (in their current form), or the host of Celebrity Championship Wrestling or even as the father of not-so-safe driver, Nick Hogan or not-so-great singer, Brooke Hogan…he will always be synonymous with Professional Wrestling…for better or worse. For his accomplishments and overall impact on Professional Wrestling, Hulk Hogan is #3 on Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 of the Modern Era.

And to think…it could have all been different with a snap.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.



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Kace Evers

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  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    Number three? THREE?

    Numbers two and one better be damned convincing…

  • Tom Cocozza

    Hulk Hogan is number three? Really? Between Benoit being number five (a great wrestler who couldn’t cut a promo doesn’t belong in top ten) and Hogan not being in the top two (where he undoubtedly to anyone else not crafting this list belongs), this countdown really lost most of it’s legitimacy.

  • MW

    2 will be Austin, 1 will be Flair. So obvious. Oh, and Benoit had no business being a) number 5 b) above Bret Hart.

  • Joe Nassar

    I hate to be that guy, but I agree. The list is sullied. In NO way is Austin bigger or more important to wrestling than Hogan. (I am going out on a limb to understand that he’ll be 2 and Flair 1). I thought way back when this list started, no doubt Flair and Hogan are 1 and 2. Yeah, Hogan doesn’t have the in ring ability of anyone else in the top 10, but he’s so much more to wrestling than a German suplex.

    Agreed on Benoit. I mean, I knew he’d be Top 15, but as much as I loved him in the ring, the guy never had it all. It’s insane to put him ahead of Bret Hart, given that their in ring talents were on par but Bret had much more charisma. And I have no idea how he’s as far ahead of Randy Savage as he is.

    That being said, it is a list of opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt. Overall a great job, but Hogan at 3 is a joke.

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    Kace, just so you know these comments you’re seeing have nothing to do with what you wrote, and it’s a shame that your piece is being overshadowed by whatever criteria decided its ranking. And really you gotta finish “Invasion 1986″ dude, don’t leave us hanging! ;-)

    It really seems as though “overall contribution to the business” was really under-sold as a deciding factor in the rankings here, otherwise Hulk Hogan would have been number one, where he belongs. Instead he’s ranked literally one spot ahead of a guy who was so incensed at discovering just how far he was out of his opponent’s league in SummerSlam 2005, he bounced around the ring like a jackass and then pitched a fit into the mic the next night on RAW.

    I’m nowhere near the Hulkamaniac I was when I was a kid – mainly because Hogan’s time spent in WCW, especially after STARRCADE ’97 left a bad taste in my mouth – but he more than earned his due. The man slammed Andre. When Vince thought he found his next cash cow in the Ultimate Warrior, Hogan put him over. When he went up against the Rock in WrestleMania 18, Hogan put him over, even when the fan reaction made it clear that the crowd wanted him to win. Then almost fifteen years later, when Vince thought he found his next cash cow in Brock Lesnar, Hogan put him over. And on top of all that, he totally outgamed both Helmsley AND Michaels.

  • Aaron Glazer

    Does the list say the “100 Most Important Wrestlers Ever” and I somehow missed it? Hogan has importance and drawing power. That’s fantastic from a business standpoint. What if I view it more as a performance art? Hogan then essentially had one or two great performances he repeated ad nauseum to appeal to nostalgia. Benoit had hundreds of all time classic performances. Hogan is the Stephen King of wrestlers. He sells more than anyone and is quite solid, but his ticks as a performer have long since been overexposed and been repeating for decades. I’m having difficulty thinking of a contemporary author to compare Benoit to (mostly because I have Joyce on the brain from a different analogy), but imagine a far superior author in terms of skill to King who never drew quite the audiences but was beloved by critics and, in time, reached a level of huge mainstream success second only to that of those the most commercially successul ever…. let’s say Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Would anyone suggest King is higher on a list of top authors than Marquez? Good for business is obviously great, but to suggest that is the only criteria for establishing who is at the top of their field is borderline ridiculous… unless of course you’re suggesting the manufactured long-term success (mostly through careful marketing) of Justin Timberlake makes him a superior musician to Hendrix.

  • CB

    For Hogan to not be #1 is for Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit not to be #1 in Songs of the 1990s countdowns. Sure, there may have been better songs, but none made more of an impact.

    As much as I marked out for Rock-Austin, notice that The Rock’s most memorable match of all-time is, well, Rock-HOGAN <– To me, that is exactly the difference between being great and being the GREASTEST.

  • CB

    Typo: GREASTEST = GREATEST. (Obviously)

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    “…but his ticks as a performer have long since been overexposed and been repeating for decades.”

    A valid point Aaron, however I think that’s a matter of knowing your audience. Hogan did nothing different than any of the other uber-successful wrestlers that came after him – heck, he may very well have built the model for the Flair Flops, Flying Forearm/Kip-ups and Pendulum Backbreaker/Middle Rope Elbows that we all identify some of our favorite wrestlers with.

    But at the same time, you have to allow that Hogan knew how to switch it up when he needed to. He knew what worked in the States wouldn’t work in Japan. When he goes up against a Stan Hansen or a Great Muta, he gives a little more. As physically taxing a occupation as being a professional wrestler is, I call that being smart on top of everything else.

  • Aaron Glazer

    So the pop band who releases the same song over and over again is okay because its hard to be creative and find new sounds. Long Live Nickleback.

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    Much as I enjoy a good Nickleback potshot, I don’t think there’s a parallel here. There’s a world of difference between writing and recording music successfully, and putting together a choreographed athletic display, and doing it repeatedly over decades without doing serious immediate or long-term harm to yourself of your partner(s), all while managing not to bore the audience.

  • Tom Cocozza

    I just want to echo the sentiments of Greg Manuel, Kace, the negative comments here have nothing to do with the article itself, which is well written.

    Aaron, I’m a Stephen King fan, and I wouldn’t put him in the line with great authors (though I think he’s looked down upon more than he should be because of his genre), but putting Hogan up at three is putting him in the same category as the greats, you can’t have it both ways there.

    The title of the piece is Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era, and without Hogan, there would be no Modern Era. Obviously the man couldn’t “go” in the ring as well as most of the other people on this list, but does it really matter? These people are wrestlers, not only athletes. It’s about more than matches that make a wrestler great.
    Really, putting Hogan at number three is just odd, given the arguments. Either he belongs in the top two, or he doesn’t belong on the top ten at all.

  • s1rweeze

    I thought that “Top” indicated a balance of what makes a pro wrestler great – influence, drawing power, technical skill, athletic ability, skill on the mic, etc. The best balance of all of those I believe is Austin, with Flair and Hogan not far behind. So I don’t think this list is “sullied” by any means, although Benoit at 5 is pretty ridiculous.

  • Ivan Rushfield

    Heavy.

    See, if this were up to me, Ricky Steamboat would be number one, but I’m not so silly so as to think that he’s truly the most important wrestler of the past, say, 40 years.

    Hogan made wrestling huge in the 80s, and was still a draw throughout the 90s, but at that point it was obvious how much he was just hanging on. The switch from Hulk to “Hollywood” is still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, as anything that can get fans to cover a ring with garbage in sheer HATRED of a character deserves a ton of attention.

    It’s interesting that Mr. Cocozza says that without Hogan, there would be no Modern Era. I suppose that’s true, but without Austin, Undertaker or The Rock, wouldn’t that era have just continued to spiral downward as it was once Hogan’s act had worn thin? And didn’t Flair define and inspire nearly every future generation of amazing performers, both in the ring and on the mic? Far as I’m concerned, Flair always had it all, while Hulk’s lack of ring ability always kept him down just a bit.

    That being said, I agree with s1rweeze, as “Top 100″ wrestlers should count for more than just influence, and that technical skill and athletic ability need to be taken into account. Wasn’t it Jim Cornette who said “Wrestling fans tune into wrestling to watch wrestlers wrestle”?

  • WhyTheHell

    I have no clue why people are going nuts cause Hogans not 1? Its not top draws in wrestling history and if it was then Hogan would still be number 2. Cause Austin made more money for vince. Austin did something Hogan could and he shut down WCW, even Hogan in his heyday couldnt do that…. Argue all you want if Austin never existed then we still have monday Nitro………. This list is beat Wrestlers of the modern Era, now im assuming there meaning everything from ring work, to selling, to lasting importance. Now Hogans is clearly on this list for popularity and selling power… Beniot is ranked so high purley on wrestling abilty…. so what i dont understand is everyone is ok cause Hogan is marked on here so high for just his selling power and Benoit is marked so high on here purley for his Perfromence and wrestling abilty )and the name on the game people is wrestling unless we forgot) So both men were marked cause they did one of the other very well and some consider them the 2 best at what they both did best….. I mean if it was up to me i wouldnt put Hogan so high on the list cause Hogans run was sort of a embarrsement when i think back but its not me and i certainly understand Why the Hulkster is number 3…… And i have no problem with Steve Austin and Ric Flair Being ranked higher than him…. Cause lets faced it Austin outdrew him, Was 30 times the wrestler he was, Coudl do anything good and was amazing on the mic, he changed the face of wrestling, He was involved in wrestlings greatest moments and proved he is maybe the greatest all around wrestler ever, wasnt lacking in anything…… and Flair being above hogan i have no problem with, Flair had great matches when no one else was having great matches out there, He worked with cr@p and made it watchable, he inspired most of the people on this list to get in this industry, he was a great draw and was the single reason NWA and WCW was alive. He had a huge impact on this bussiness from in the back to in front of the camera. So complaning cause Hogan is 1 or to spots from where you like him to be and he is and argueably he belongs there is just nit picking

  • WhyTheHell

    SORRY ALOT OF ERRORS ON LAST POST CORRECTED SOME ON THIS POST

    I have no clue why people are going nuts cause Hogans not 1? Its not top draws in wrestling history, and if it was then Hogan would still be number 2. Cause Austin made more money for vince then Hogan did. Austin did something Hogan couldnt and that is shut down WCW…. even Hogan in his heyday couldnt do that…. Argue all you want if Austin never existed then we would still have monday Nitro……… This list is the best Wrestlers of the modern Era, now im assuming there meaning everything from ring work, to selling, to lasting importance…. Hogans is clearly on this list for popularity and selling power… Beniot is ranked so high on this list purley on wrestling abilty…. So what i dont understand is everyone is ok cause Hogan is marked on here so high for just his selling power and complain cause Benoit is marked so high on here purley for his Perfromence and wrestling abilty (and the name on the game people is wrestling unless we forgot) So both men were marked cause they did one of the other very well and some consider them the 2 best at what they both did best….. I mean if it was up to me i wouldnt put Hogan so high on the list cause Hogans run was sort of a embarrsement when i think back but its not me and i certainly understand Why the Hulkster is number 3…… And i have no problem with Steve Austin and Ric Flair Being ranked higher than him…. Cause lets faced it Austin outdrew him, Was 30 times the wrestler he was, Coudl do anything good and was amazing on the mic, he changed the face of wrestling, He was involved in wrestlings greatest moments and proved he is maybe the greatest all around wrestler ever, wasnt lacking in anything…… and Flair being above hogan i have no problem with, Flair had great matches when no one else was having great matches out there, He worked with cr@p and made it watchable, he inspired most of the people on this list to get in this industry, he was a great draw and was the single reason NWA and WCW was alive. He had a huge impact on this bussiness from in the back to in front of the camera. So complaning cause Hogan is 1 or 2 spots from where you like him to be and he is and argueably he belongs there is just nit picking

  • http://myspace.com/kaceevers Kace Evers

    Thanks for the compliments, guys. :)

    As for the ranking, eh…I’m fine with it. I think the argument for him being 1 or 2 is valid, but it’s fair to say that the same holds true for him being anywhere in the Top 5.

    I’ve always figured that no matter how the rankings play out, having it spark a nice discussion about who should be where is always good and so far, I’d have say that’s been a good accomplishment with this list.

  • Joe Nassar

    The discussions are why these lists are so much fun! To echo other comments, great job on the article.

  • Tom Cocozza

    True enough, Kace. This discussion was interesting, and helped get me through most of work-day to boot. Thanks to all.

  • Michael Crow

    Definately Kace, lots of fun to read considering most of the readers have a pretty good idea of Hogan’s history.

    Like I said in the Michaels article, I thought Hogan deserved #1…but when you get this high on any list, the differences aren’t as strong as, say…29 through 34, where you can make a strong argument for moving spots. By just calling the list “Top of Modern Era”, the orignal crew (which has a LOT of missing members, by the way… http://pulsewrestling.com/2007/07/02/67094/ ) made sure not to have any criteria to hurt them later on. The only rule was they were only counting career achievements past 1980 and North American acheievements only. Outside of that, it was up to them to decide where someone deserved to rank.

    Do I honestly feel Austin is a better “pro wrestler” than Hogan? Depends on the definition, since that word has changed so dramatically in the last 20, now 30 years. Hogan in his time WAS wrestling: huge muscle, larger attitude, the quintessential superhero in a world of villains. But by the time Austin took over, he was very much one of the villains Hogan would have wared with…and yet the crowd loved him for it. Austin is the anti-Hogan: not so much muscle, doesn’t kiss-ass, and willing to let the other guy beat him once in a while because in Austin’s era, superheros aren’t real.

    And don’t even get me started on Flair, who was an amazing mixture of these two ideas, with about 90% being Austin.

  • CB

    Was Mr. McMahon on this list anywhere? Just curious :-)

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    Man…Bendis WISHES he could put this kind of crack in the Internet!

  • Mark Allen

    “Was Mr. McMahon on this list anywhere? Just curious :-)”

    True story…big discussion on whether he should’ve been #100 or not, but we figured we would have caused a sh!tstorm from the onset with that pick.

  • CB

    Honestly, when you talk about Top Heels of the past 12 years, isn’t Mr. McMahon right up there? I think for that alone he should have been on here somewhere.

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  • http://wrestling.insidepulse.com Iain Burnside

    If the list was considering Top Heels? Or Top Promoters? Or Top Guilty-Pleasure Commentators? Sure. But for Top Wrestlers? No way.

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    I wanna touch on Michael Crow‘s recentmost comment because it underlines exactly why Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair should be #1 and #2, respectively.

    What basically set the WWF and the NWA (and later WCW) apart from one another, is that the WWF always was at its most exciting when their World Champion was a face, and the NWA was at its most exciting when thier World Champion was a heel.

    Why? Because the WWF would promote a guy that the fans actually wanted not only to cheer, but a guy who they wanted to see win and keep on winning – the man who best exemplified this before Hogan was Bruno Sammartino, hands down. Meanwhile the NWA would promote a guy that the fans would want to see beaten within an inch of his life. I think there’s a North/South, psychological-residue at work there that probably dates back to the Civil War, but it’s just a hunch, I could be wrong. My girlfriend’s the one with the Master’s in that area, I’m just a writer.

    So here’s the thing…Ric Flair was tailor-made for the NWA of the ’80s because he was so good at making fans hate him. We wanted to see that loud-mouthed, limousine-riding, lear jet-flying, I’m-better-than-you jerkass get knocked off his pedestal and we wanted anybody to do it. Dusty Rhodes, Ronnie Garvin, Ricky Steamboat…heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lex Luger made the NWA more money by constantly coming up short than Sting or anyone else did by beating him. But Ric Flair was SO good at getting us to hate him, the fans couldn’t help but recognize and respect his skill. It’s special, but only #2 special. Because isn’t that why we loved Randy Savage so much? Isn’t that why we loved Curt Hennig so much that we couldn’t help but eventually cheer him? Don’t we actually smile nowadays, when we think about Rick Rude’s pre-match ritual of calling us all fat slobs? But make no mistake – NOBODY was better at pulling out that sweet, sweet hatred than Ric Flair.

    Now…compare that to whatever that intangible is that kept Hulk Hogan hot all during that same time. He not only was a face, but he captured the fans’ imaginations. I’m not the only one here who used to put on plastic shopping bags over his chest as a child so he could pretend to rip them off, am I? More to the point, the fans wanted to see Hogan win. No matter who was on the other side of the ring, the fans wanted Hogan to triumph. We wanted him to get the win so badly, we didn’t care if he punched out everybody and their mother, whether they were actually doing something evil at the time. To paraphrase Mighty Mouse, he was settling things the AMERICAN WAY: with his fists!

    In these modern times, if there is anything we can say for sure, it’s this: it’s so easy to hate. It’s real easy to be cynical. But to actively WANT to get behind someone and stay behind them for a prolonged period of time? That’s something REAL special.

  • Brad Curran

    “Man…Bendis WISHES he could put this kind of crack in the Internet!”

    Excellent reference. If we can get some more absurd outrage, it could be like the wrestling equivalent of Fanboy Rampage around here.

  • Brad Curran

    Also; I wasn’t around for any of the list generating, so I find the debate as interesting as the readers do. I can live with this, mainly because Austin was part of the era that cemented my fandom and Flair is the guy I consider to be the all time “total package” (although Shawn’s close). Also, at this point in the list, there’s very little seperating one place from another, surely.

  • s1rweeze

    “In these modern times, if there is anything we can say for sure, it’s this: it’s so easy to hate. It’s real easy to be cynical. But to actively WANT to get behind someone and stay behind them for a prolonged period of time? That’s something REAL special.”

    This is a big reason why I think Austin should get the #1 spot, because there is no way he will ever get booed the rest of his days. It was cool to boo Hogan for a good part of the early to mid 90s, but it was never cool to boo Austin, and it never will be. Now THAT’S something.

  • the wombat

    Hulk Hogan is the most important wrestler in history, and for that reason should probably be #1. i’m a major Flair fan, but truth be told, if Flair had never wrestled again after the plane crash, wrestling as a whole would likely not have suffered very much. someone could have fit into Flair’s role; no one could have replaced Hogan. Austin is amazing, a combination of Hogan the performer and Flair the worker, but his ride at the top was WAY too short compared to the other two.

    methinks the voters were likely concerned about showing their markishness if they would have voted Hogan #1. i mean, deep down inside, both they (and we) have to admit right now we’d rather be watching Hogan-Warrior than Austin-HHH or Flair-Rhodes :) old “smarts” just want to brush under the carpet how berserk they went for those old Hogan matches. a Hogan punch was as effective as a Benoit German Suplex at getting over the match; Hogan needn’t be blamed for that.

    as for the Stephen King analogy, it’s not that Stephen King isn’t a great writer, nor that he’s even much worse that Gabriel García Márquez, it’s just that since he’s an uber-successful genre writer literary critics don’t want to flaunt their markdom, so they have to be smarts and vote Gabriel Garcia Flair ahead of the Kingster.

  • kromadas

    I think part of Hogan being number three is the fact that he indeed brought wrestling to new heights, his tired gimmick and refusal to put over certain performers also brought the wrestling business to some all time lows.

    While Austin and Flair are certainly guilty in some cases, neither one of their primadonna acts affected the industry the way Hogan did.

    In my opinion number three is the perfect place for him.

  • K.C.

    After the Benoit fiasco at Number 5, I am glad to at least see that the top 3 is right. It HAD to be Hogan, Austin and Flair. I would’ve had no problem with any of those three being Number 1.

    So kudos for finishing off the list on the right track. Benoit at Number 5 still is a head scratcher. He was NEVER a bigger star than most of the people behind him. He and Samoa Joe were the two that were rated way too high in this deal. I would’ve had UT and HHH higher myself.

  • http://pulsewrestling.com/author/vinnytruncellito/ Vinny Truncellito

    Come on now, Wombat. Are you actually saying that any fan who’d prefer to watch more athletic, better technicians then Hulk Hogan simply MUST be a smart hiding his “markishness”, ashamed to pine away for legdrops, finger-wagging, and weak looking punches?

    I’m a 25-plus year wrestling fan (and most of that time was WWF-exclusive) and I am quite comfortable stating that Hogan matches for the most part are extremely boring from the perspective of in-ring quality, storytelling, and action/excitement/pace. I’d rather watch grass grow than take another look at Hogan/Warrior!

    Sure as a kid I was a Hulkamaniac. TONS of people were; but when I grew up my tastes evolved. However, watching severa other famous performers from that era (Savage, Flair, Rude, Hennig, etc.) is still entertaining to me now, while Hogan does nothing for me in any era.

    That’s because no matter how many kids owned teddy bears wearing red and yellow “Hulk Rules” t-shirts, the guy was never a good wrestler. He was a great entertainer, salesman, personality and showman, but a poor in-ring technician.

  • http://pulsewrestling.com/author/vinnytruncellito/ Vinny Truncellito

    EDIT: Make that “several”, not “severa”, and Steamboat should have been in the parenthesis with Savage, Flair, and the others. Sorry – long day.

  • the wombat

    “He was a great entertainer, salesman, personality and showman”

    i.e. all things that make a great professional wrestler.

    I’m not saying “any fan who’d…”, but I am saying that it’s a definite “smark” tendency to downplay Hogan and prop up Flair despite the fact that Hogan is far and away the most important wrestler of at least the modern era (and thereby the “top” wrestler in my opinion). A website might lose their cred for ranking Hogan too highly. I have no problem with the -mark part of my fandom; for example, I am unashamed to admit that I’ve seen more entertaining Kevin Nash matches than Lance Storm matches :)

  • Alexander_Had

    A couple of points to contribute to this very entertaining discussion: first, regarding the Austin-Hogan debate, people seem to assume that impact is just another term for drawing power or simply the amount of money a wrestler made for their company. However the fact that -to pick up on the musical analogies popular here- Mariah Carey has probably sold more singles than the Beatles shows how a pro-Austin argument made on that basis is flawed. One has to take into account the state of the industry at the time if one wants to make a credible evaluation of any wrestler’s impact-it’s more than just tickets sold and PPV buyrates. (And, no, I’m not comparing Austin to Mariah Carey-just illustrating a point).
    Then we have the literary analogies: while I usually agree with Aaron the Marquez/Benoit analogy left me puzzled. Marquez im addition to being one the most critically acclaimed writers of the late 20th century is also hugely popular and commercially successful (not unlike say, Flair or Michaels). Benoit never enjoyed that degree of success, therefore the analogy is misleading. Granted, he became world champion at Wrestlemania-a huge accomplishment in its own right. But, that title run aside, he was a perrenial upper-midcarder therefore, in my opinion, he should be nowhere near the top-10 regardless of how amazing his wrestling skills might have been. Back to the musical analogy, I love a band like the Pixies or Sonic Youth (that would be Benoit) much more than Nirvana but I’m not expecting to see either of them in a top-10 that would include Madonna (Hogan-obviously) and Nirvana (Flair/Austin/Michaels etc). And, frankly, my inner geeky alternative music mark would be just a little disappointed if they were….

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    s1rweeze: “This is a big reason why I think Austin should get the #1 spot, because there is no way he will ever get booed the rest of his days. It was cool to boo Hogan for a good part of the early to mid 90s, but it was never cool to boo Austin, and it never will be. Now THAT’S something.”

    On the contrary…the business and the American cultural climate changed quite a bit from Hogan’s time to Austin’s. While both men served the same role as The WWF Star That You Wanted to Cheer to Victory, Hogan was a hero; Austin was an anti-hero who had come during a period when people simply didn’t believe in heroes. Fans wanted Hogan to stand tall against the villain. Fans wanted Austin to stomp anyone who got in his way into the ground. The Austin love came from that same primal, basic place that the Savage, Hennig, Rude and Flair love comes from.

    Or, think of it this way: what was the difference between Hogan’s and Austin’s post-match celebrations? Hogan would pose, throw thumbs up to the crowds, point to the sky as though to give thanks to God. Austin would throw back beers and Stunner anybody else in the ring with him.

    kromadas: “I think part of Hogan being number three is the fact that he indeed brought wrestling to new heights, his tired gimmick and refusal to put over certain performers also brought the wrestling business to some all time lows.”

    He certainly played a huge part in WCW’s downfall, but had Time Warner still had an interest in WCW by the turn of the century, or if Ted Turner were still in charge in any major capacity, the promotion certainly could have survived Hogan’s stank attitude back in those days.

    “While Austin and Flair are certainly guilty in some cases, neither one of their primadonna acts affected the industry the way Hogan did.”

    I don’t think backstage attitude was much of a factor in the ranking decisions. Either that, or it wasn’t consistently applied. Otherwise, how do you explain why Shawn Michaels made the top five, let alone ranked ahead of Bret Hart? In all his career (that we know of), Bret only refused to put over one man, on one occasion: Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series ’96. And yet he is raked over the coals for it; for “not doing what was right for the business.”

    Never mind the notion that a guy like Bret – who grew up with the concept burned into his skull that, if you don’t do good business, you could very well go hungry at night or have to go to school in the dead of Canadian winter in shorts – would NEED to be taught about what’s good or what’s right for the business. One time, and we burn him repeatedly for it.

    Now, let’s take Shawn. During his original time as a singles star, Shawn refused to put over Bret, he refused to put over Shane Douglas, he refused to put over Vader – he would’ve refused to put over Austin if the Undertaker hadn’t put a stop to it. (Or so the legend goes…)

    And in 2003, when Shawn could’ve done the right thing for the business and put over Shelton Benjamin, he didn’t do it then, either. Remember Eric Bischoff’s Gold Rush tournament on RAW? That was a tournament designed specifically to get Edge over. Meanwhile, Shelton Benjamin, fresh from being separated from Charlie Haas and traded from Smackdown, was on fire. He beat Triple H twice, he was the Intercontinental Champion…momentum was clearly on his side. What purpose does it serve for Shawn Michaels to win a match in a tournament he wasn’t even going to win, when a victory over a guy with Shawn Michaels’ cache would’ve done BIG things for Shelton? Born-again, my ass.

    My point being, If backstage attitude were a ranking factor (and I think it’s a valid one), it would’ve made a lot of changes to this list, but I still think Hogan would’ve deserved #1.

  • CB

    Here’s a GREAT point that gets lost in this particular discussion that someone made earlier: The Rock, Jericho, Foley, Bret Hart, and even Michaels (since 2002, at least, which is now 7 years without the WWE title or the Big Gold Belt, FYI) have done more to put other guys over than the likes of Austin and Hogan. Flair did put Triple H over big-time, and Flair’s influence is more resonant with the wrestlers themselves than Hogan’s. I could live with Flair #1, Hogan #2, Austin #3, I just think the order was slightly off.

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  • Josh

    “Finding dealing with a new breed of wrestler like The Undertaker did not help, either. ”

    Proofread next time, hack.

  • kromadas

    Greg

    I don’t think Michaels affected as many people over as long of a period of time (and certainly Hogan has it over him doing it in two companies). Plus, while Michaels is 100% guilty of it he had two things over Hogan; 1- continued popularity 2- He could perform in the ring and bring the paying fans what they wanted to see.

    That being said, I think Michaels attitude did hurt his ranking on this list in the long run. The only reason he listed above Bret was because of his career longevity over and the and the continued quality in his matches to this day.

  • http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/ Greg Manuel

    kromadas – Michaels’ attitude can’t have had any bearing on his ranking, because if there’s anything that the majority of the commenters here can agree upon, it’s that the Top 3 of the Modern Era are Hogan, Flair and Austin. If his attitude were a factor, Shawn Michaels would have placed much lower; and there’s no way he makes the top three, because he didn’t blaze any trails.

    Austin blazed a trail. Flair blazed a trail. Hogan blazed a trail. IMO, Hogan blazed THE trail, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. The Rock did what Vince McMahon has been itching to do since the ’80s; use pro wrestling to transcend pro wrestling into “legitimate” entertainment. And he placed, what – #7?

    So let’s never mind his attitude, then. What trails did Shawn Michaels blaze? He isn’t even the first “little-guy” champion; Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund and Bret all pre-date him. He’s not even the first “underdog” champion; Bret came before him on that front. Heck, Bret reminded people in the post-Hogan explosion and the post-Warrior attempt at recapturing the Hogan explosion, that you CAN have a “little-guy”/”underdog” champion and still see an entertaining match.

    So tell me…besides the fact that he’s still on TV and can still work…so what? You just made a case for the Undertaker being #4. What’s left?

    Crap – gotta grab my bus…to be continued, my man! :-)

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