Get to know the Ringside Apostles. Why X-actly do we love wrestling so GodHatesGeeksDamn much? Because of who we grew up watching and who we continue to follow, of course.
Over the next couple of weeks, every member of the squared circle church will give the lowdown on their Top 5 Favorite Wrestlers–who? who? who?–why, of course, alongside a noteable tag-team and a slew of almosts.
Who you got?
1. Brian Pillman (“Loose Cannon”; WCW/ECW/NJPW/WWE) – The former high-“Flyin'” Cincinatti Bengal made one of the greatest angle shifts in wrestling: flamboyant Hollywood Blonde to unpredictable menace. Pillman was also one of the faces of the esteemed “Attitude Era”, even becoming former partner Steve Austin‘s bitter rival (“Pillman’s got a gun!”), while whole-Hart-edly brewing more controvery (Shotgun Saturday Night; “XXX-Files”) until he passed nearly 20-years ago.
2. Sting (NWA/WCW/TNA/WWE) – Much like Pillman above, “The Man Called” Sting took his early-90s beachboy persona — always connected with Lex Luger and Ric Flair — to darker measures with Crow Sting, which culminated a rivalry with “Hollywood” Hogan and the nWo that would secure his legend with World Championship Wrestling forever. His first 5-years with TNA (including a longtime fued with Jeff Jarrett) was also that company’s highest point, which only makes us wonder the impact he’d have in WWE had he arrived sooner.
3. Chris Jericho (“Y2J”; ECW/NJPW/WCW/WWE) – A certifiable rock star both in (“Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rolla”) and out of the ring (Fozzy lead singer), Jericho has a list of accomplishments second to none: voted greatest Intercontinental Champ of all time (9 times!); first ever Undisputed WWE Champion (beat The Rock & Stone Cold in the same night!); and Kevin Owens best friend. Hey, whattya know Jericho; “you just made the The List!”
4. Edge (“Rated R Superstar”; WWE) – Another Canadian, eh? I take it most of our Top 5’s are going to be full of Tim Hortons regs. But how many Canucks have 62 titles between them, like my #3 & #4? In addition to being a great champion, tag-team champion (with Christian, The Brood, Rated-RKO), geekcentric TV actor (The Flash, Viking), and an even better promo guy (lord, that Vickie Guerrero stuff!), Edge was also one of the most extreme wrestlers in the fed. His #TLC game was Money in the Bank.
5. Curt Hennig (“Mr. Perfect”; AWA/WWE/WCW/TNA) – A childhood favorite, just as much for his “perfect” promos with legendary sports athletes (i.e. his buddy Wade Boggs) as his wild in-ring bumps and “Perfect-Plexes”, Hennig was also a wrestler who connected the legendary Four Horsemen to the nWo. To me, also the greatest (check that, most perfect) I.C. champ of all time–when titles were judged on reigns and not how many times you won and lost them.
Fav Tag Team: The Road Warriors (“Legion of Doom”; AWA/AJPW/NWA/WCW/WWE/NJPW) – “Ohhhwwwww.. what a RUSHHHH!!!” There’s no doubt that Hawk and Animal were the meanest, most bad-ass tag-team ever to grace the squared-circle. Clad in black and red, spiked shoulder pads and mean face paint, these guys didn’t need tables; just adrenaline and a reason to kick you in the mouth. Also, that Doomsday Device is my fav tag finisher of all time.
Honorable Mention: Owen Hart, Raven, Randy Orton, A.J. Styles, The Undertaker, Bobby Roode, The Great Muta, Jushin Liger, Chris Benoit, Steve Austin, Del Wilkes, Sasha Banks, Jeff Jarrett, Sycho Sid.
1. Bret Hart (“The Hitman”; WWE/WCW) – “The Excellence of Execution” was also “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” The most scientific WWE champion of all time. Despite all his monikers, Hart has been my favorite wrestler ever since I was a little kid. Many of my favorite wrestlers had their best match against Bret. In fact, a pair of my favorite all-time WWE matches? WrestleMania 12 against Shawn Michaels and WrestleMania 13 against Austin. Also.. The cool shades. The dope leather jackets. Hell, Hart’s the only man that made me think of wearing pink.
2. Steve Austin (“Stone Cold”; WCCW/WCW/WWE) – “The Rattlesnake” single-handedly made my junior-high years so awesome. This beer-swiging, finger-gesturing anti-hero redneck became a symbol of defiance in my lifetime. He’s part of two of my all-time favorite feuds: him vs Hart (the feud that got me into wrestling), and, of course, him vs. Vince McMahon — must see TV. His records in terms of merchandise sales and box office buy rates still have not been touched since his 2003 retirement.
3. Ric Flair (“Nature Boy”; AWA/NWA/WCW/WWE/TNA) – This “limousine ridin’, jet flyin, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ ‘n dealin'” son of a gun–not to mention 16-time World Heavyweight Champion–is arguably the greatest professional wrestler to ever live. The man has done it all and has wrestled everybody of note in the last 40-years. While he outlasted the vast majority of his contemporaries, I (more importantly) always thought his robes were straight fire.
4. Randy Savage (“Macho Man”; WWE/WCW/TNA) – Hands down, the most original professional wrestler to ever live. The voice. The crazy mannerisms. And let’s not forget the robes and the jackets with the fringe and all the different colors. Dude was crazy flamboyant and just plain crazy in a lot of ways. Often imitated never duplicated. Plus, the Top Rope Flying Elbow is my all-time favorite finisher.
5. The Ultimate Warrior (WCCW/WWE/WCW) – Hands down, the most amazing entrance in WWE history: running down the aisle with the tassels and pounding rock music. The face paint. The tasseled arms. The overall physique. This guy was intensity, personified. His moveset was extraordinarily simple and he was known to have a bit of an attitude problem. But, this dude had charisma on top of charisma.
Fav Tag Team: The Hart Foundation (WWE) – No–not the 90s faction; rather, the original 2-man tag-team consisting of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart. To me, the perfect combination of speed and skill and power and intensity. “The Anvil” and “The Hitman” complimented each other so well. Of course, their finisher is always my favorite for a tag team, too: the Hart Attack.
Honorable Mention: The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Sting, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Dallas Page, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Andre the Giant.
1. Samoa Joe (“The Samoan Submission Machine”; ROH/TNA/NXT) – When he was brought into ROH for a one night deal, Joe turned it into one of the greatest title runs that helped define Ring of Honor — with feuds against A.J. Styles, CM Punk, Homicide, Bryan Danielson, and Kenta Kobashi. Joe left ROH to go to TNA, undefeated in 18-months, and redefined the X Division, further proving the main event star. Again, Joe turned a part-time gig with NXT into a full-time deal with feuds against Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura, where he is currently the NXT champion.
2. Dusty Rhodes (“The American Dream”; NWA/JCP/WCW/WWE) – The voice. The elbow. The promos. The man has charisma oozing out of his pores. The “Son of a Plumber” inspired millions to reach out, touch his hand and go for your dreams. Through hard times and polkadots — nobody worked harder.
3. Roddy Piper (“Rowdy”; NWA/WCW/WWE) – “The Hotrod” himself. Piper’s Pit. Mr. T. Hogan. Snuka. When he’s good, he’s bad, and when he’s bad, he’s better. Never holding the big prize, Piper was always at the top of the card. Leaving to conquer Hollywood — Roddy became a cultural icon in two genres of entertainment thanks to They Live and Hell Comes To Frogtown.
4. Kazuchiki Okada (“The Rainmaker”; NJPW/TNA/ROH) – Four time IWGP Champion. Even when he loses, he wins. Hell, a horrendous year-long run in TNA couldn’t hurt Okada. Beating gaijin invaders and fellow Japanese stars like Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto and wrestling superstars A.J. Styles and Kenny Omega.
5. Mike Awesome (ECW/WCW/WWE) – The mountain that moved like a cruiserweight, tearing down the house with the likes of Taz and Masato Tanaka! It has been said that Awesome is the inspiration behind Joey Styles‘ “Oh my God!!” catchphrase when Mike almost killed JT Smith–nearly breaking him in half. With the ECW title in toe, Awesome left with major heat when he jumped ship to WCW for a huge payday and lackluster gimmick. At least his final match with Tanaka stole the first One Night Stand PPV that cemented the legacy of The Awesome Bomb.
Fav Tag Team: Motor City Machine Guns (TNA/NJPW/ROH) – Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley formed MCMG in 2006 in TNA, feuding with Team 3D and Beer Money. In ROH they worked with The Briscos, Age of the Fall (Seth Rollins), Aries & Bryan Danielson, Kevin Owens and Cesaro (under other names of course). Holding their own across the pond in Japan against the likes of the Young Bucks, MCMG have recently reunited.
Honorable Mention: Randy Savage, Jay Lethal, William Regal, Bam Bam Bigelow, Dallas Paige, Shelton Benjamin, Pentagon Jr. (Dark), Raven, Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles, Mr. Perfect, Ultimo Dragon, Ethan Carter III.