Despite what oldheads claim, pro-wrestling is probably the best it’s ever been: the current generation of talent has improved on the history of the sport with explosive innovation, and the diverse athletes that are suddenly being welcomed into the scene are offering new stories to tell in this older medium. But to what extent can today’s grapplers compare to the legendary fighters of yore?
For the sake of argument, we’ve collected an idiosyncratic list of the 30 greatest pro-wrestlers of all time. The rubric used for this ranking weights the following six categories relatively evenly: technical ability, championship wins, drawing power, impact on pro-wrestling culture, impact on pop culture writ-large, and best-reviewed matches. The list is not limited by gender, sexuality, nationality, race, or religion — and we’re hoping to be more inclusive than the more typical evaluations of the subject by including entrants from various scenes, countries, and eras. Excluded from this list are wrestlers whose reputations have since been irrevocably tarnished (this includes, for example, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker).
However, we recognize that there’s no real way to create such a list with complete impartiality and a true statistical analysis is purely impossible. To paraphrase The Boulet Brothers: Wrestling is art, and art is subjective. The truth of the matter is that ranking wrestlers is like ranking painters or poets: a lot of it comes down to personal taste.
With that in mind, here’s what we got!