Even as many would readily agree that wrestling is more of acting than a professional sport, there is no denying the fact that it has been one of the biggest facets of the entertainment industry. Although it was sometime in the 19th century that wrestling started gaining recognition as a professional sport, it has for as long as anyone could remember, always been a part of society. Being a form of athletic combat that also revolves around theatrical performance, it is only natural that wrestling is as entertaining as it is rigorous and dangerous. While its theatrical nature has been besmirching its seriousness, the best wrestlers have been able to attain high status in society for their accomplishments in the profession.
Here is a compilation of the best wrestlers with details of their achievements and how they attained the excellence that earned them a place in history as the best wrestlers of all time.
10 Greatest Wrestlers of All Time
1. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Popularly referred to as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson‘s wrestling career began in 1996 against the wishes of his family, which is surprising because he comes from a family that boasts of several wrestlers. The Rock’s first moniker in the ring was a portmanteau of his father and grandfather’s names – Rocky Maivia. He is the first third-generation wrestler in the WWF as his father and grandfather were once professional wrestlers on the platform. He has been a world champion ten times, and for all his fights for the WWF, he emerged as champion eight times.
The Rock has a career that spanned over thirteen years and after his hiatus in 2009, he returned for some fights between the years 2011 and 2013. He earned so much fame, recognition, and awards from wrestling, to the extent that he was dubbed ‘the biggest star in the business’ by Hulk Hogan, another very successful professional wrestler. Without a doubt, The Rock is one of the best wrestlers one would ever get to meet. The status of his career in wrestling is regarded as semi-retired as he currently spends most of his time working as an actor and producer.
2. Triple H
Paul Michael Levesque, whose stage name is Triple H, an abbreviation of a much longer stage name – Hunter Hearst Helmsley, is an American wrestler known across the globe as one of the most famous figures in the profession. He is further considered one of the best wrestlers, and it is hardly a surprise that new generation wrestlers have emulated his fighting style.
Levesque’s pro wrestling career began in 1992 at the age of 23, however, his journey to the top started a long time before that, at the age of 14. He has since become a fan favorite thanks to his iconic finishing moves, pedigree and facebuster, that is regarded as one of the greatest finishing since the beginning of wrestling as a professional sport.
Just like Dwayne Johnson, Triple H also has a career in acting. He has won over 25 championship games, which include nine WWF championships and the King of Ring championship. He was also a part of the iconic tag team, D-Generation X. Even though he rarely fights now, he is very much a part of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
3. John Cena
It would be ridiculous to leave out John Cena‘s name in any discourse about accomplished wrestlers. His fame as a wrestler will surely live long after his death. If not for anything, for his catchphrase – “You Can’t See Me” – which has become the subject of numerous memes and jokes on social media.
Cena, who is one of the few wrestlers who use their real names on stage, began his career in 1999 in California. His wrestling persona took a drastic turn after his debut in ’99, from his regular Joe presentation to that of a white rapper, which earned him the nickname ‘Doctor of Thuganomics’ and he sometimes rapped before his games. He doubles as an actor while leading a career in wrestling, and has dabbled into music; producing an album named after his catchphrase.
John Cena and The Rock had a feud that lasted for 3 years and was the reason why the latter came out of retirement. After their feud ended, the two became friends and helped each other in matches to defeat their opponents. Cena’s greatness as a wrestler is pretty obvious when you consider his record of 16 wins of the world championship title, and a total of 24 championships.
4. Randy Savage
It was Randy Savage’s mother that named him Macho Man. He had a wrestling career that lasted 32 years, one of the longest in the history of Wrestling from 1973 to 2005 – 6 years before his death. Before he became a wrestler, Savage had a career as a baseball player but he moved on to wrestling during the offseason of 1973, committed to it full time, and went pro in 1985.
Savage has to his name to 29 wins, including two world heavyweight championships among many other titles. He is mostly remembered for his entrance music which was a composition by Sir. Edward Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance. Savage died from a heart attack he suffered while at the wheel of his vehicle at the age of 58. He is remembered as one of the best wrestlers with his legacy of flamboyance that he brought to every fight.
5. Hulk Hogan
You simply can not count the best wrestlers in the world and leave out the legendary Hulk Hogan, whose birth name is Terry Gene Bollea. The American, who is is credited for starting the use of entrance music in the sport, became a pro after the Briscoe brothers dropped by the gym he trained. His big break in wrestling came when he signed to the WWF in 1979. He also had a stint on the Japanese wrestling circuit, where he was nicknamed Ichiban, a name that means number one.
Hogan‘s career in wrestling lasted for three decades. He won the title of world champion twelve times, and the Royal Rumble event two times in a row, among other awards.
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This man is one of the best wrestlers in the history of wrestling, as he singlehandedly gave birth to an era that turned around the image of the wrestling corporation. He did so by presenting to viewers the persona of a rude, obnoxious drunk who did not care about the authorities.
Wrestling became a professional career for him in 1991. Until his retirement, he was able to bag 19 championships, which includes the Royal Rumble, a title he won on three separate occasions. In all the time he spent wrestling, he was regarded as a technical wrestler, but an injury to his neck changed all of that. His fights became much less technical as he took on the form of a brawler. Stone Cold retired from wrestling in 2003 but he still has a contract with the WWE.
7. The Undertaker
Known for his death-themed approach to wrestling, with the eerie music that announces his entrance, The Undertaker inspired fear in the hearts of fans and colleagues as a wrestler. He is indisputably regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The wrestler, whose birth name is Mark William Calaway, can boast of four WWF championships, three world heavyweight championships, and many other titles that sum up to 17 championships. As of 2019, The Undertaker, who made his debut in wrestling in 1984, still wrestles and does not look to be calling quits any time soon.
Born Adam Joseph Copeland, the Canadian wrestler was a favorite in the American wrestling circuit, being one of the few wrestlers that could brag about having more than 30 titles to his name. His signature moves were the spear, the edgecution, and the edgecator. Now a retired professional wrestler, Edge has thrived as an actor. If you check the records, you will find that he is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2012. This goes to show that he deserves a spot among the best wrestlers of all time.
9. Randy Orton
Like The Rock, Randy Orton is a third generation wrestler. Because of his family’s involvement in wrestling, he decided to toe the line, making his debut in the profession in 2000 at the age of 20. At the age of 24, he won the world championship title and became the youngest wrestler to ever achieve that feat. Since then, he has racked up eight more titles.
The thing that stands out about Orton the most in his career is how much success he has achieved at such a relatively young age. Like Edge, he had his major move, RKO – Randal Keith Orton named after him. The move is a variation of the cutter that includes a jump, however, it was banned by the WWE as it is a very dangerous move. Even those who are not fans of wrestling could tell that Randy is among the best wrestlers.
10. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels, also known as the Heartbreak Kid, was a professional wrestler who did not fit the bill of a regular wrestler. He doesn’t have that menacing and fearsome look that wrestlers are very popular for. This, however, did not affect his efficiency as a pro wrestler. He was part of the tag team D-Generation X and wrestled from 1988 to 1998 when he took a hiatus from the sport. He returned in 2002 and before ultimately retiring in 2010.
Shawn, like every other person on this list, has held numerous wrestling titles and is definitely one of the best wrestlers that the world has ever seen.