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Reactions to the List: 25-11


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#581 cpst

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Posted 06 June 2016 - 04:01 PM

It has been funny listening to podcasters suggesting certain picks are "controversial" when most people don't care that much about other people's picks and other voters have been genuinely controversial, probably inadvertently. It seems like the list will offer next steps and the ballots will offer perspective.

I'm still not through all of the GWE podcasts, but I've generally enjoyed the podcasts just presenting lists as a record of personal experiences with wrestling more than those that are overly self-conscious and constantly bring up 'controversial' picks, the 'narrative', etc.



#582 funkdoc

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Posted 06 June 2016 - 04:45 PM

it's hard not to see that stuff after this forum spent days freaking out over the possibility of HHH & Sting making the 100, and Kurt Angle actually making the 100



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Posted 08 June 2016 - 06:28 PM

21. William Regal

 

Nice guy, amiable and approachable on social media, dedicated to his craft, but there's no way he should have finished this far ahead of his forefathers. How can Regal be No.21, Marty Jones not make the top 100 and Pete Roberts languish in the 400s? Regal's case is based around his early WCW work, a handful of New Japan bouts and his latter day WWE & NXT work, but there's a big, self-inflicted chunk missing from what should have been prime years. Not only is his output patchy, but his best stuff (whatever you deem it to be -- vs. Larry, the Arn match, the Christian and Hero stuff) isn't in the same stratosphere as the rest of the top 20. Regal was a great artisan whose output was a honest reflection of his life as a wrestler. He wasn't a 5 star, MOTYC type. He wasn't a huge star. He wasn't even that naturally talented. In another time and place, he might have been a plumber or an electrician or maybe a bricklayer. Jobs where you do your apprenticeship and learn a trade. That was the approach he took to wrestling. He learned his craft and worked hard for everything he got. Keenly observant, he developed an in-ring persona, added depth and detail to it, incorporated humour, and entertained people, which is the name of the game. There's no doubt about Regal's merits -- his acting and selling, the detail work, the wrestling skill he acquired. The question is how to you weigh that up against guys who were better wrestlers, bigger stars or in better matches? How do you measure Regal's character work with say, Jim Breaks, other than exposure? Regal seems to be the guy who went the furthest on fan favouritedom/favouriteship. Maybe on another day I'd see that as a victory. Maybe I'm influenced by the fact the last Regal match I saw (against Mutoh) illustrated how quality Regal performances are diamonds in the rough rather than well worn classics. Usually, I'd find that cool, but 21? Higher than Marty Jones and Pete Roberts, that's where I'm hung up.

 

 

 

20. Tatsumi Fujinami

 

Here's an example of how people can change: in 2006, I don't think there was a wrestler I thought was less cool than Tatsumi Fujinami. A decade later and there are a collection of Fujinami matches that I'd now deem "impossibly cool" -- the Ryuma Go series, the Teranishi fight, the Rocco match, the 2006 Nishimura MUGA bout -- and that's not including his more famous and critically acclaimed stuff. The epitome of an excellent wrestler. Polished all-round skills. One of the original Japanese globetrotters. Could work big or small both literally (heavyweight & lightweight) and figuratively (epic & intimate), and above all, cool. Very cool. Glad to see him get his recognition.  



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Posted 17 July 2016 - 11:50 PM

19. Arn Anderson

 

There's no doubt in my mind that Arn Anderson during his early 90s peak was an A-list performer. He had smarts, charisma and talent and could cover the full range from hate-filled brawls to comic bumping and stooging often within the same match. His absolute peak was from 1991-1992, and IMO he was the co-MVP for 1992 alongside Ricky Steamboat. The standard knock on Arn is that his singles work isn't impressive enough for him to rank highly on a list like this, but he has an interesting body of singles work that more than complements his brilliance in tags. My argument against Arn would be that his peak was extremely short. Most would argue that he was no less than good throughout his entire run, but I don't believe he was a great worker in the 80s and I think he faded toward the end. What that leaves us with is a stellar run from '91 to '94 or so, and even that peters out in '93-94 due to scratchy booking and less opportunities. Length of peak wouldn't ordinarily bother me, but it was repeatedly held against other workers in this project, particularly Joshi workers and to a lesser extent lucha workers and workers with footage issues. If we're holding everyone to the same standards then 19 is questionable for Arn even if he was a master performer. Talent alone, sure. Overall greatness? Jury's still out for me. 



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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:08 PM

18. "Macho Man" Randy Savage

 

Randy Savage is a guy I could go either way on -- either the total package or totally overrated. It depends on what I'm watching. If I sat down and immersed myself in 80s WWF wrestling then I could see myself being enthralled by Savage, but if I'm watching 1950s footage of technicians like Thesz, Gagne or Goelz then Savage just wasn't that kind of worker. Savage was a childhood favourite of mine so I get his appeal. He did an extraordinary job of crafting a wrestling persona. Most workers would give their left nut to create a persona as memorable as the "Macho Man." It may have been heavily controlled, heavily manipulated and heavily scripted, but the end result was that he was able to stand out from the pack and that was no small feat in the Saturday morning cartoon world he inhabited. Hell, he even excelled at soap opera with Randy and Liz being a super-couple to rival Patch and Kayla or any daytime couple you care to name. Crucially, he was a worker who had classic feuds. Some of them were as good in the ring as they were out of them (Santana, Steamboat) and some of them were probably better out of the ring than they were in it (Hogan, Flair, Roberts.) He had his share of excellent matches too even if he was one of the early pioneers of the self-conscious epic. Everyone knows that the Titan working environment prevented him from having the same kind of matches that the guys in the territories did (at least on a nightly basis.) Whether he was capable of night-to-night greatness is highly debatable given his intense pre-match scripting, but really the knock on Savage is the way he slid into self-parody. There reached a point where everything he did was cliched, second rate and a pastiche of what he'd done in his earlier, more creative days. From the promos to the in-ring stories it got lazier and lazier. Savage at his worst would give a promo that was no better than a Slim Jim ad and work a match where his brightest idea was to sell his knee for the millionth time. There was a lot of good and bad that came with Savage but he certainly left his mark. I don't think he belongs in the top 20 but then again he was a guy who created plenty of emotional investment in folks and there's probably a justification in that mix of passion and nostalgia. 



#586 Memphis Mark

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 04:15 PM

 Interesting list . However , Lou Thesz is the greatest pro wrestler of all time . Really it is not even close. 



#587 Grimmas

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 05:55 PM

 Interesting list . However , Lou Thesz is the greatest pro wrestler of all time . Really it is not even close. 

What is your criteria? 

This was based on watching footage to see who was the best wrestler (mostly judged on in ring). How is Thesz easily that?



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Posted 12 August 2016 - 04:00 PM

17 - Bret "Hitman" Hart

 

Another childhood favourite. In fact, he's probably the wrestler most responsible for my fandom. For a long time I had a VHS recording of Royal Rumble '91 that I'd made off the telly, which I later found out was the last pay-per-view to air in New Zealand before they took wrestling off TV. That was the last wrestling I saw up until around 1994 when my mates and I decided to rent some wrestling tapes from the local video store for a bit of a laugh. I remember checking out the covers and thinking "Holy shit, the dude from the Hart Foundation is the champion!" What was meant as a nostalgia kick turned into a habit and it was largely because of Bret. For a few years in the 90s he was pretty much a hero to me. I've told this story many times, but after rediscovering wrestling in 1994 my rekindled interest in it was nearly killed by the annus horribilis that was 1995. The pivotal moment for me in what's been a near lifelong fandom was Bret winning the title at Survivor Series '95. I don't think I've marked for a moment like that in all my life. I mean I waited 24 years to see New Zealand win a Rugby World Cup again and rugby means more to me than wrestling, but still I marked harder for Bret's victory. Everyone knows that Bret is a mark for himself, but at that time I believed in all of it too. I was gutted when Montreal happened the same way people are gutted when their favourite player is traded or leaves in free agency. Then his life began unraveling and the cracks began appearing in the "Bret Hart" persona, but I won't go into that. As a wrestler I think there was a period where he was legitimately great (circa '94-95.) Looking back on his matches now is a bit like re-listening to the music I was into at the time. I can't help but feel that I've moved on and that my tastes have matured, but it's not really fair to underrate the guy because he's old hat. I do think that he's one of the more predictable workers in the top 50. He clearly had his preferred way of working. He overdid injury selling, which I'm not fond of, and his matches were strangely paced at times. The house show/TV match criticisms are legend, and I think in general he could be a bit boring at times. But he was a guy who was committed to his craft, paid attention to detail and was honest (at least that's the way he came across.) I'll always contend that his best stuff was the stuff he least preferred doing (working against other top guys instead of carrying less talented guys & working the heel gimmick), and he's a guy I never need to see again due to the years I spent watching him, but in the end fond memories stop me from ragging on him going this high.



#589 gordi

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 01:03 AM

Bret served a similar role in my life.

 

I hit a peak period of my pro wrestling fandom in the mid-80s, when I was dating a young woman whose parents had immigrated from England. She, of course, loved the British Bulldogs. I (being a native of Western Canada) loved the Hart Foundation. Her brothers were into the NWA. The young woman and I dated for seven years, and we watched a lot of pro wrestling together. At one point, we moved to a smaller town so I could finish my degree. At that point, we didn't have cable and so it was hard to keep up with pro wrestling, and so my fandom waned. I missed Bret's IC Title run, and like you I was very surprised to find out that my old favourite had become one of the top guys in the company. 

 

In my case it was catching WM 13 - by complete fluke - while I was living in the Czech Republic. That Submission Match! Bret, the local guy! Stunning Steve, but now (like me) he had a shaved head and goatee! I was hooked again, but I could only follow wrestling on the slow dial-up internet until I returned to Canada early in the new century. 

 

Pretty interesting that we have that history with Bret in common! 



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Posted 14 August 2016 - 03:50 AM

16 - Nick Bockwinkel

 

I'm kind of half sold on Bockwinkel. There's a lot of Bockwinkel I like -- the series against Hennig, the All Japan match against Robinson, the feud with Lawler and his performance against Jumbo in Hawaii spring to mind -- but there's also been Bockwinkel that I've found boring and predictable so I'm not sold on him being a master performer. I like the potential of him being a master worker so he's a guy I'll continue to chip away at, but I haven't managed to be hooked by his heel work yet and in particular his partnership with Heenan hasn't done much for me. I keep getting this nagging feeling that they're doing stuff I've seen done better elsewhere. Another feeling I have is that while he has swagger and verve as a heel he doesn't have the flamboyance that set the Buddy Rogers and Ric Flairs apart from the pack. 

 

 

15 - Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

 

I've seen plenty of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat from every stage of his career, and I've enjoyed plenty of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat from every stage of his career, but I can't really say that I love Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. I think where the disconnect ultimately lies with his offense. I don't really have a problem with his over-the-top selling, the family man persona, or any of the other cornball aspects of his persona folks might dredge up; it's his offense that puts me off. I know some people argued during the poll that he was a great offensive worker, and argued for the artistry of his arm drag and what not, but his lack of mat skills, corny strikes and limited arsenal has always bugged me. To his credit he made his act work. People thought his mat work was good, he threw a decent chop and he got a lot of mileage out of simple moves. He also excelled at making fiery comebacks. I'm not denying his talent or begrudging his placement on the list. I just don't love him.

 

 

14 - Vader

 

Speaking of guys I don't love... The problem with Vader (imo) is that the only time when he's really good is when he's legitimately beating the shit out of people (or practically beating the shit out of people.)  When he works a softer style it's cookie-cutter, choreographed big man stuff that takes a huge amount of setting up and payoffs that stick out in the horizon like neon light. I like Vader in principle. I love watching Vader on shitty German handhelds beating the shit out of Otto Wanz. In a parallel universe I can imagine Vader matches where that was all he ever did, but he choreographed his shit in WCW, WWF, New Japan and All Japan. And I don't care how many people like it, he couldn't work shoot style to save his life. I get why people love him so much (in every environment he worked), but to me his biggest strength was pummeling folks in the corner which is why the German rounds system worked better than his telegraphed moonsault spots. Vader coming out of the gate looking for the KO was the big man at his very best. 



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Posted 15 August 2016 - 05:16 PM

13 - Genichiro Tenryu

 

I feel like I wrote a lot about Tenryu in his nominee thread so I'll just repost that:

 

I kind of want to put Tenryu to bed as there's other guys I want to watch, so here are some general thoughts on the man:
 
He reminds me a lot of Negro Navarro in the sense that he got better as he got older. In none of the Misioneros footage we have from the 80s or early 90s does Navarro look as good as the worker he molded himself into during the mid-00s, and the same is true for Tenryu prior to 1989. I'd put his peak at around 1989 to 1996, and I still think it's a crying shame that after the New Japan feud wound down in '94 there was that gap period where he did bugger all until the UWF-i feud began. 1994 and '95 seems like a significant chunk of his prime that was wasted. Nevertheless, he was an excellent worker during that period. His execution issues weren't nearly as bad as I thought. When he did have issues they tended to be clangers, but once I'd watched enough of his matches I tended to ignore some of the general sloppiness surrounding his work and appreciate other aspects of his work like his amazing selling. As mentioned above, the biggest revelation for me was how good he was at selling. I knew about his facials and his nonchalant heel attitude, but the nuanced selling was something I didn't expect. Selling could probably be broken down into various categories if people cared to take the time, but one of the major ones is selling pain, and outside of Mayumi Ozaki I'm struggling to think of anyone who sold pain in a more realistic manner than Tenryu. He was fantastic at grimacing and favouring a body part. When he stayed down hurt it looked like a sports broadcast. Such fine, nuanced work. 
 
If I have one criticism of him outside of giving too much of the bout to his opponent and working from underneath too much (regardless of how good he was at selling), it's that his performances were often better than his matches, and I think that's a huge problem when comparing him to his peers who were, more often than not, the driving force behind their matches. I think he worked intentionally smaller matches than the epics that were in vogue during the mid-90s, but how much of it was a deliberate point of difference is impossible to say. The end result is that while I think he was a fantastic worker, and one of the best sellers ever, there's only a handful of matches that I'd consider the cream of the crop. You mileage will vary on that, however. Offsetting that to an extent is the fact he participated in two of the all-time great in-ring feuds -- Jumbo vs. Tenryu and Tenryu vs. Hashimoto. To me the chemistry in those feuds was better than in rivalries such as Kawada vs. Misawa and Misawa vs. Kobashi even if the matches weren't. 
 
I'd probably put Tenryu in the second tier of Japanese workers, but I'd be comfortable putting him there. In many ways he was an overachiever who had an in-ring career that was better than it had a right to be. I don't think he was the most naturally talented athlete to grace a pro-wrestling ring even if had been a rikishi, and he got better because of smarts and not really by improving his technique as such. I'm not sure if others will agree, but the more he aged the more he seemed to work like Terry Funk with the punches and some of the selling tics. Anyway, an interesting candidate and one I'm sure will do very well.


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Posted 15 August 2016 - 05:47 PM

12 - Eddie Guerrero

 

I expected Eddie to fall further than this since there wasn't much critical attention paid to him between 2006 and 2016 but I guess it's a testament to how popular he was with fans that he remains one of their all-time favourite wrestlers. There are differing opinions on how good Eddie was before his 1997 heel turn where it all came together character-wise, I'm not a huge fan of his early tecnico stuff in Mexico, but I imagine if you grew up watching the Ciudad Juarez territory that you might have been into his as a rising young babyface. His Los Gringos run has some bright spots (particularly the trios match where Eddie turns on Santo) but is mostly overrated, especially the tag matches with Santo and Octagon. There were people who swore by his New Japan work and for a long time his 1996 BoSJ bout with Benoit was held up as an example of juniors wrestling "done right." People also enjoyed his early babyface work in WCW. But for me it all came together in that 1997 heel run, which was the catalyst for his artistic peak from 2004-05. Eddie was phenomenal in those years, though the toll it took on his body was devastating. Eddie took a while to adjust to the WWE. He wasn't a front runner for best worker in the company during the Smackdown Six era, but from that group of workers only Mysterio rivaled the creative peak that Eddie achieved in its wake. The biggest compliment I can pay Guerrero from that run is that it was very similar to Austin, Rock and Foley from the Attitude era in that it didn't matter whether they played heel or face, their charisma transcended either role. Eddie was the same. Hugely charismatic. The total it took on him is a dark shadow on all this praise but his ring work deserves to be remembered. 



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Posted 12 October 2016 - 07:20 PM

11. Jumbo Tsuruta

 

At this point, I find pretty much everything about Jumbo boring. To me, the criticism of Jumbo is just as boring as the exuberant praise. The wrinkle here is that a wrestler usually becomes boring after they've been dissected to death (think Ric Flair or Bret Hart), but in Jumbo's case the discourse usually boils down to whether he was lazy or not. And the praise for him is often just a walk through of the various stages of his career. It's not really anyone's fault since we don't have access to the type of info that would fuel a truly engaging and enlightening debate on Jumbo's worth, but it does make the discussion pretty limited for a guy who's essentially a top 10 pick. 






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