As a way to wrap up the GWE project for myself and have some fun, I decided to walk through my GWE viewing experience using the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Year End Awards as a guide. I’ve dropped some awards and added some others because of the differences between projects. Some awards like Tag Team I’ve kept but I’ll use a more GWE context to answer those. I’ve decided to do top 5 for each award plus one honorable mention and I’ll note where each wrestler ranked on my overall list including comments. Since my #1 overall, Terry Funk, would rank in a ton of these categories, I will make a little comment about how Funk relates to each category but won’t officially rank him. So crack a beer and get ready. I went insane.
My GWE WON Awards
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:48 PM
Viewing Process and Gaps
Before diving in, I figured I’d talk a little about the stuff I watched/didn’t watch and the wrestlers I considered/didn’t consider.
I couldn’t possibly list everything I watched, but I made it through every 80s set, the vast majority of major matches on yearbooks, other comps I bought along the way and a ton of other stuff on youtube/dm etc. I tried to focus on filling gaps in territories/promotions I was familiar with and felt I had a decent picture of while re-evaluating wrestlers I was more than familiar with. There were certainly a great deal of wrestlers I learned a lot more about over the course of this project, but pretty much all of them worked in times and places I already knew a great deal about.
My biggest gaps are modern wrestling (Independent and Japanese Especially, the Lucha gap is still massive but not as big as those other 2 and the WWE gap is pretty small, the TNA gap is huge and will never be filled) and European wrestling. To be perfectly up front, I didn’t make a huge effort to fill those gaps for a lot of reasons. There is SO much footage from this time period and so many workers that I felt to properly rate people, I’d have to have a fuller picture of the world in which they worked than was possible given the time restrictions of the project and the fact that I moved to a new city literally right at the beginning of the project. So I decided early to focus on re-evaluating guys I already knew and/or study their peers that I may have overlooked in the past. I’m saving those massive gaps for 2026.
There are really 3 big names on my list from the post 2003 world: Daniel Bryan, John Cena & Rey Mysterio Jr. And I felt comfortable ranking them even though I didn’t rank so many of their peers. Here’s the thing though, I’ve watched a TON of WWE from that time period. I’ve watched literally every Bryan match that made tape in WWE and I ranked him 28th overall on the strength of that run primarily (I’ve seen more indy Bryan than any other wrestler but again not enough to really consider it all). Cena is another guy while I haven’t seen everything, I’ve seen more than enough. And Rey Jr would have made my list on pre-2003 work and I’ve seen enough of him to rank him highly.
So that’s really why there aren’t any indy guys or euro candidates on my list. I didn’t want to just rank Jim Breaks if I didn’t get to Pat Roach or Cortez. And I didn’t want to only deep dive on Aj Styles if I wasn’t going to do the same for Necro Butcher or Jay Lethal or whoever else. It was important to me that I rank wrestlers on the footage I’ve seen and not lean on any sort of reputation picks. And I felt the only way I could rank guys was by having a clear picture of the context in which they worked and I couldn’t get that by cherry picking 5-10 matches each from promotions/years I was wholly unfamiliar with.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:49 PM
Criteria/Putting My List Together
I figured I’d talk a little bit about criteria. I didn’t create a formula or use any math beyond counting to 100 to make my list. I feel you have to take each wrestler on a case-by-case basis because it was really the only way that made sense to me. Every wrestler is different and I think having a standardized system presumes every wrestler has the same opportunity, was asked to play the same roles, and footage availability is uniform across the board. I also think it presumes that all styles are created equal and I don’t agree with that. I tried to be as “fair” as I possibly could but everyone has certain style biases (which I’ll discuss in a bit) that can’t help by seep through. But I really went out of my way to avoid ranking guys simply because I liked them and I was more conservative to my favorites than some guys I really don’t like. For example, I didn’t even put Satanico at #1. Sangre Chicana is maybe my favorite wrestler ever and was in the 2 best matches I’ve ever seen but I couldn’t put him top 20 because I couldn’t justify it. If you gave me the option of watching Tommy Rich & Eddie Gilbert or a Mitsuharu Misawa match, I’m picking Rich & Gilbert 100 times out of 100 but those guys are 60 spots lower than Misawa on my ballot. There are certain places where I probably allowed biases to seep through like rating Hashimoto above everyone from All Japan, but I think Hash is better than all those guys. He was better earlier, better later, wasn’t as prone to excess, etc etc. So, yeah. I tried to be as fair as possible when ranking guys and divorcing my personal feelings. Otherwise my list would be like:
1. Mad Dog Vachon
2. Survival Tobita
3. Ken the Box
4. Alexander Otsuka
5. LA Park
6. Everyone Else.
But I couldn’t turn that ballot in. I spent too much time watching stuff and thinking about stuff to just do a list of my favorite guys.
I think we all used the same basic criteria. The top end of my list, everyone has the same bare-bones case. Pretty much everyone is going to have high-end matches, longevity, peak, versatility, etc. The top part is the easiest part. When you get past the top 35 or 40 it starts to get difficult. Peaks aren’t as high. Longevity cases aren’t as long. You have to start making value judgments because you’re comparing wrestlers from different times and places who are candidates for the list for different reasons. This is where my process came into play.
My process was pretty simple. When it came time to vote I knew I was going to have Terry Funk at 1 and Satanico at 2 and Mad Dog Vachon as my only strictly personal pick at 100. From there I walked through the index of nominees and listed out everyone I was considering. Then I broke that down alphabetically into categories.
Top 20 Contenders (29 candidates)
Has to be top 50 (18 candidates)
Locks for the list but ok if not top 50 (46 candidates)
Could Make the top 100 or Miss it. (80 candidates)
This left me with 175 wrestlers total I was considering. And I went about ranking each category starting with the first name.
So for example I had my list:
The first name on my top 20 contenders list was Aja Kong so I slotted her at 3 and then looked at my next top 20 contender who was Akira Taue. I asked myself “who is better, Kong or Taue?” I thought about it, went with Kong and slotted her at 3 and Taue down to 4. The next name on my list was Akira Hokuto. So I said “ok Kong or Hokuto?” If I thought Kong was better then I’d ask myself “ok Hokuto or Taue?” And so on and so forth. I did this all the way through doing each category separately until I had my list. It took forever but was really fun. After I had a first “final draft” I sat on it for a day before revisiting and making small changes. There was probably a better way to make a list, but it worked for me and it forced me to constantly think about each candidate and revisit cases as I worked my way through.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:50 PM
I wanted to briefly make note of some style biases.
I agree with Dylan’s oft-repeated line that “all styles are not created equal.” I don’t want to create a hierarchy of styles because that is just so pretentious and I’m not the person to do it but I’m gonna do it, kinda!
There are two styles I value above all others and you can probably figure them out if you’ve paid attention to my posting habits:
Lucha Libre and Shoot style. I actually value them for different reasons and I’ll explain why. But first I want to get something out of the way, I don’t value them to the point that if you’re the 8th best shoot stylist that means you’re automatically better than the 2nd best 90s All Japan style worker or that you’re better than the best Modern WWE Wrestler. Where this boils out for me is at the upper echelon. And really my list doesn’t even reflect that because again I tried to be as fair and evenhanded as possible and was more likely to punish my favorites.
I hate to use terms like “harder” and “more difficult” because I feel they suggest a more intimate or hands on if you will, knowledge than I have so I will try to avoid using them. And I really hate to use broad sweeping generalities because there are always going to be exceptions or different viewpoints and I’ll be the first to acknowledge them. But as a fan/viewer/extremely amateur critic/super nerd, I think mastering shoot style or mastering lucha are more impressive accomplishments than mastering any other style. I talked a little bit about this on the podcast I did with Will & Brian when it comes to lucha and I’ve talked a little bit about this in “I don’t get lucha” related conversations.
Mastering Lucha is impressive because it means you’re mastering so much. The best of the best luchadores are great working some of the prettiest segments you’ll ever see in wrestling and some of the grittiest most violent and hate filled segments you’ll ever see. “Lucha” covers a so much ground in terms of what the wrestlers are asked to do given the circumstances of the match they’re working. If I see on a match list Misawa vs Kobashi or Flair vs Steamboat, I know what I’m in for and I know its probably great. But if I see Satanico vs Atlantis or Negro Casas vs El Dandy, it could really be any number of different things. And guys like Satanico, Casas, Dandy and Santo are great all of those things. Someone like Satanico in his career was great as a vicious heel, comedic heel, underdog babyface, badass babyface, veteran ass kicker, brawler, mat wrestler, fast paced mat wrestler, slow building gritty mat wrestler, rudo trios leader, rudo trios background player, tecnico trios leader, tecnico trios background player, technical/title match wrestler, gimmick/hate filled brawl match wrestler, he was great in long epics and short sprints, etc etc etc. I mean, are you fucking kidding? How could I not rank him in the top 2? He “mastered a style” but just saying that doesn’t really get to the heart of what he did. It is astonishing. You could say much of the same for Casas, Dandy, Santo, etc.
Shoot style is the other style I wanted to mention and its funny because lucha is so broad and shoot style is so narrow. The very beat shoot style combines being almost a “throwback” style to the early days of wrestling without rope running and glitz when it was just 2 guys “fighting” while at the same time coming across in context as the most state of the art “advanced” wrestling in the world. You can’t watch something like Dibiase vs Savage and then Yamazaki vs Fujiwara and there is no question who is working on a higher level with a higher degree of difficulty. And that is what it really comes down to with shoot style; degree of difficulty. Shoot style at it’s best manages to take a minimalist approach to “Pro Wrestling” and reach a higher level of the artform than any other style. It is such a limiting style and takes away so many tools other wrestlers have and its goal is so difficult to achieve, that the people who did it best are the most impressive wrestlers to me even though I can’t point to a bunch of different roles and aspects they mastered other than “shootstyle wrestler.” I look at Volk Han and I can really only say “great mat wrestler.” I can’t say great face, great heel, great tag wrestler, great brawler etc etc and I only have 70 matches to show for it (if that). But saying Volk Han was a great mat wrestler isn’t the same as saying Jumbo Tsuruta was a great mat wrestler in the 70s. Yes what Jumbo did was impressive. What Volk was doing is on another universe.
I think Tamura in his absolute best matches was the best wrestler ever. When I rank Tamura #12 overall and have Terry Funk at #1, I feel like I need to kind of explain that further.
Funk is my #1 for a lot of reasons but I feel he was great at everything he was ever asked to do and he was asked to do literally everything. From NWA title match style, to crazy brawls, to death matches to tag matches, to underdog babyface work, to aging beloved babyface work, to ass kicking babyface work, to crazy dangerous heel work, to comedic heel work, etc etc etc. You name it, Terry Funk played that role and was great at it. But at his absolute best at any of those roles, he was never as good as Tamura was from 96-99 (and really maybe as early 94). And that’s not a knock on Terry Funk, he’s my #1! I could say the same about every wrestler ever though. Nobody in history mastered a style they way Kiyoshi Tamura mastered shootstyle. That’s what got him so high on my list. But as I said before, I tried my best to be fair throughout and I felt I couldn’t rank Tamura higher because he simply had so few matches. He wrestled less than 130 matches in his entire career (maybe 120, I forget and don’t want to count again).
I also wanted to point out that the worst lucha matches and the worst shoot style matches are some of the most painful things you’ll ever watch in wrestling which tends to suggest just how difficult the styles are to master.
So I wanted to at least mention my style biases. If someone wants to say “how could you rank El Dandy above Misawa when Misawa has x more great matches and a longer peak etc.” Well what Dandy did was more impressive because to master all the different aspects of lucha that he did means more to me than being the definitive “All Japan 90s Main Event Style Worker.” Same for why Fujiwara ranks above someone like Bockwinkel. Bockwinkel is awesome but I think being a high-end shoot stylist is working on a higher level than being a high end US Territory Champ (forgive me Bock, I’m just trying not to pick on Flair).
As I said before, these aren’t standard across the board conclusions and my list does reflect that. I have more All Japan workers in my top 20 than luchadores even while thinking being a lucha master is more impressive. I tried not to let biases get in the way but at certain points they are unavoidable.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:51 PM
My Top 100
Before getting into the WON Awards, I figured I’d post my full list for people to easily reference it if they want.
- Terry Funk
- El Satanico
- Genichiro Tenryu
- El Hijo del Santo
- Stan Hansen
- Jerry Lawler
- Yoshiaki Fujiwara
- Tatsumi Fujinami
- Ric Flair
- Nick Bockwinkel
- Shinya Hashimoto
- Kiysohi Tamura
- Jushin Liger
- Buddy Rose
- Negro Casas
- Jumbo Tsuruta
- El Dandy
- Toshiaki Kawada
- Rey Mysterio Jr
- Mitsuharu Misawa
- Sangre Chicana
- Akira Hokuto
- Eddy Guerrero
- Ricky Steamboat
- Ricky Morton
- Chigusa Nagayo
- Riki Choshu
- Daniel Bryan
- Aja Kong
- Bull Nakano
- Barry Windham
- Bill Dundee
- Bobby Eaton
- Kenta Kobashi
- Akira Taue
- Volk Han
- Akira Maeda
- Giant Baba
- Steve Regal
- Randy Savage
- Dick Murdoch
- Arn Anderson
- Blue Panther
- Pirata Morgan
- The Destroyer
- Jack Brisco
- Jun Akiyama
- Rick Martel
- Billy Robinson
- Dustin Rhodes
- Greg Valentine
- Andre the Giant
- Alexander Otsuka
- LA Park
- Yuki Ishikawa
- Ron Garvin
- John Cena
- Mick Foley
- Jerry Blackwell
- Yoshiaki Yatsu
- Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
- La Fiera
- Villano III
- Kazuo Yamazaki
- Naoki Sano
- Sgt Slaughter
- Shinobu Kandori
- Perro Aguayo
- Roddy Piper
- Michael Hayes
- Wahoo McDaniel
- Shinjiro Ohtani
- Bret Hart
- Chris Adams
- Curt Hennig
- Eddie Gilbert
- Gran Hamada
- Yoji Anjoh
- Dan Kroffat
- Terry Gordy
- Harley Race
- Tito Santana
- Tommy Rich
- Kerry von Erich
- Espanto Jr
- Atsushi Onita
- Daisuke Ikeda
- Dynamite Kansai
- Yoshihiro Tajiri
- Mocho Cota
- Nobuhiko Takada
- Fuerza Guerrera
- Bobby Heenan
- Ted Dibiase
- Masa Fuchi
- Carl Greco
- Mad Dog Vachon
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:52 PM
Before diving in head first to the awards, I wanted to say like this project overall, these awards are a snapshot for me at this point in time. I dunno how any of this will hold up in a week, month, year, etc. But I 100% wholly welcome comments, criticisms, questions, etc. If there’s something that stands out, please say something because I probably have a lot more to say about it, but I tried to be as brief as possible while being thorough. This was way too long.
LOU THESZ/RIC FLAIR AWARD – This will be a super quick look at my Top 5.
1. Terry Funk (1) – Defines pro-wrestling in a way no one else really could. Fulfills every possible criteria for GWE. We’ll talk about him a little.
2. El Satanico (2) – I’ve said just about everything I could say about Satanico here http://prowrestlingo...nico/?p=5732143
3. Genichiro Tenryu (3) – Tenryu is the best Japanese wrestler ever. He has the longevity, peak, great matches etc needed to be a top contender. Tenryu has a unique ability to make every match seem important even if it is 10 minute match against a mid-carder. This gives Tenryu a treasure trove of entertaining matches against a huge variety of wrestlers to combine with some of the best big matches in history. Feuds with Jumbo, Hashimoto, and Choshu are some of the best ever. Has great matches against basically everyone who mattered in Japan except Rikidozan and Akira Maeda.
4. El Hijo del Santo (4) – Santo is my all time favorite babyface. And while he isn’t the most spectacular flyer ever, I think he is the best at combining grace and violence. Again he has the peak matches and longevity of the other top candidates. Great at brawling and mat wrestling and probably underrated at both to be honest. Criticized as a formula wrestler, which I can see but I think it is the best formula in wrestling and he is always so consistent with nailing everything in his formula, it doesn’t bother me at all.
5. Stan Hansen (5) – The best brawler ever. Another guy I’ve said plenty about in his thread but this is a good starting point http://prowrestlingo...nsen/?p=5624038
Honorable Mention: Jerry Lawler (6) – Lawler is the best US wrestler ever. Again his peak, longevity, versatility, consistency etc compares well with anyone in wrestling history. His feud with Dundee is the best in ring singles feud I’ve ever seen. Great as a face and as a heel. Underrated bumper, tag wrestler and mat wrestler. All time great seller and comebacks. Punches are better than chops. Lawler at 6 was my lowest ranked guy with the best chance of being #1 for me. I wish I could have called it a tie for all of these guys.
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER- Skip because that’s what the whole project is.
BEST BOX OFFICE DRAW – I figured I’d look at where the (probably) biggest stars in my top 100 ranked. It’s hard to say because I don’t really know how to compare Nick Bockwinkel to John Cena as a “star” or “box office draw” but I imagine it would look something like this:
1. Andre the Giant (55) – The biggest (pun intended) worldwide star maybe ever.
2. Giant Baba (39) – Legend in his home town and was also a major star in the US in the 60s.
3. Ric Flair (9) – Blah blah blah
4. The Destroyer (47) – Probably among the first handful of worldwide stars.
5. Astushi Onita (89) – He created a promotion out of thin air, built it around himself and was able to do multiple shows between 30,000 and 50,000 people with no TV working as an independent. That is insane and deserves to be mentioned.
Terry Funk – Wouldn’t rank in the top 5 although he was obviously a major star.
Again, someone could look through my list and tell me differently on this category. Choshu is actually probably a bigger draw than Onita, and considering his run as a booker is responsible for more major success than Onita…but I wanted to give Onita some credit. And Choshu will rank elsewhere.
FEUD OF THE YEAR – For this I’m going to look at the best feuds I watched during this project.
1. Jerry Lawler (6) vs Bill Dundee (32) – Classic matches, angles and promos over 30 years. This is just impossible to top.
2. UWF vs New Japan – In terms of sheer depth and density of great matches, this is the best feud ever. Just great match after great match with some of the most charismatic wrestlers ever performing at a level higher than anyone else in wrestling at the time.
3. El Hijo del Santo (4) vs Negro Casas (15) – It is impossible for these two to have a bad match it seems. They are forever linked and I prefer their matches to Flair/Steamboat so these guys get my 2nd “eternal rivals” spot.
4. Stan Hansen (5) vs Carlos Colon (NR) – There is a youtube link with all of their matches that everyone should watch. There is something like 8 matches in the feud but 7 of them are MOTYCs with the best Cage and Bull Rope matches in history highlighting the series. This is must see.
5. Rock n Roll Express (1) vs Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette (2 & 3) – Whether it was the Eaton/Condrey team or Eaton/Lane, the RnR’s & Midnights literally could not have a bad match with each other. Basically the tag team version of Lawler vs Dundee. An eternal feud consisting of my top 3 tag teams of all time. This had to be mentioned.
Honorable Mention: Genichiro Tenryu (3) vs New Japan – My favorite feud of the 90s from Japan. Japanese inter-promotional feuds are so much fun and this is just glorious. This is a feud full of great singles, tags, and multi man matches, fun small show matches and some of the best big matches ever. I seriously think Hash vs Tenryu 2/94 is one of the best matches of the 90s.
1. Terry Funk vs Jerry Lawler (6)
2. Terry Funk vs Stan Hansen (5)
3. Terry Funk vs Ric Flair (9)
4. Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr (NR) vs Abdullah the Butcher (NR) & The Sheik (NR)
5. Terry Funk vs Sabu (NR)
Really I view the first 4 Terry Funk feuds as candidates for the top 5 of all time and they’re all candidates for my “favorite” feud of all time. Funk vs Sabu isn’t Funk’s 5th best in ring feud but I have a soft spot for it and wanted to mention it.
TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR – Instead of doing a proper top 5 tag team, I wanted to do my top 5 tag team wrestlers (because I already did a top 25 tag team ballot).
1. Ricky Morton (25) – The best babyface tag wrestler ever. Defines tag team wrestling in the way Terry Funk defines all of wrestling.
2. Bobby Eaton (33) – The best heel tag wrestler ever. Isn’t defining in a way that Morton is (its not called playing bobby eaton) but is every bit as good as Morton.
3. Buddy Rose (14) – The only thing keeping him from the spot is that he was a singles wrestler so much of the time. He was as good as the top 2 when it came to tags. Was great working schtick and working serious cut off the ring as a heel.
4. Barry Windham (31) – The chameleon. Could play any role. Heel, face, Ricky Morton, Hot Tag, Big Bumping Heel, Viscious Heel, etc.
5. Yoshiaki Yatsu (63) – The Japanese version of Bobby Eaton. Didn’t have Eaton’s longevity, but was the dynamic offensive tag wrestler of his generation. In a surprising number of great matches over the years considering how rarely he is talked about.
Honorable Mention: Genichiro Tenryu (3) – I loved Tenryu teaming with Jumbo for years, short lived teams with Hansen, Kawada, medium length teams with Hara, teaming with Ishikawa, and random one off teams. He was awesome as a hot tag and kicking the shit out of people building heat.
Terry Funk – Funk was an awesome tag wrestler and an easy top 5 tag wrestler contender. He was terrific as an underdog babyface and as a hot tag or just working the apron keeping the crowd in the match as Dory Jr sucks it up. He was awesome as a babyface or heel in brawls or technical matches.
MOST IMPROVED – I wanted to do “most improved in my eyes.” Guys who ranked way higher than I expected going into the project.
1. Kiyoshi Tamura (12) – Tamura is a guy I liked and would have ranked in the 30s but when I started my Tamura Complete & Accurate project I saw a wrestler who was good from day 1 and had potential to be great and then exceeded every reasonable expectation for that potential. A sheer lack of total matches is the only thing that kept him from my top 5 and honestly 12 still feels low.
2. Daniel Bryan (28) – I didn’t really expect him to be top 30. This is primarily based on his WWE run and early 00s indy stuff as I never got around to watching the prime ROH stuff which could create a really wide swing if I loved or hated it. But the WWE run was spectacular. Some of the best matches ever and just consistent week in week out brilliance.
3. Bill Dundee (32) – Dundee is another guy I always liked in limited viewing, but when I really dove in, I saw a spectacular wrestler. He was great against Lawler as everyone knows, but he was also quite possibly the best TV studio match wrestler ever. He was also a really underrated mat wrestler.
4. Rick Martel (51) – You guys, I had NO idea until the AWA set came out. I just thought of him as a “solid worker” forever. He was a GREAT worker.
5. Jerry Blackwell (62) – See above. Only instead of thinking of him as a solid worker, I don’t think I had ever seen one of his matches. Awesome fat guy wrestler.
Honorable Mention: Akira Maeda (38) – Maeda is someone I always liked because he had that special charisma that made everything he did feel special but I wondered if he was closer to Rock or Hogan than he was Tenryu or Hashimoto. When I watched the UWF vs NJ run and then watched him in UWF1 & 2, I was blown away and convinced he was one of the best ever. Rivalries against Fujiwara, Takada and Super Tiger produced some of the best matches of the 80s.
Terry Funk – Funk was someone I considered a #1 candidate at the start of things and had Hansen as my #1 for the bulk of the project. The more I thought about things though, it just seemed impossible that not just Hansen could rank above Funk but anyone. In addition to having some of the greatest matches ever, Funk probably knows more about working wrestling matches than anyone ever. He’s been great in literally every setting possible.
BEST ON INTERVIEWS - I didn’t take interviews into account at all when making my list but I figured why not…
1. Jerry Lawler (6)
2. Dusty Rhodes (NR)
3. Arn Anderson (43)
4. Ric Flair (9)
5. Bobby Heenan (96)
Honorable Mention: Mick Foley (61)
Terry Funk was definitely one of the best talkers ever. Strong #1 candidate.
MOST CHARISMATIC – Keeping this simple…most charismatic wrestlers I saw when watching footage for GWE
1. Hulk Hogan (NR) - Duh
2. The Rock (NR) –Duh
3. Andre the Giant (55) - Duh
4. LA Park (57) - Duh
5. Riki Choshu (27) – Duh
Honorable Mention: Sangre Chicana (21) – Duh
Terry Funk is definitely one of the most charismatic wrestlers ever. It shines through in his work as a heel or babyface and in the ring and on the mic.
BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER - There’s always been confusion over what this actually means, especially as time wore on and mat work died. Since it definitely wasn’t dead for the purposes of this project, this is looking at mat work.
1. Kiyoshi Tamura (12) – It really couldn’t be anyone else
2. Volk Han (37) – The most exciting mat wrestler ever. Probably the first person to ever have submission based spot fests.
3. Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7) – Not as perfect as Tamura or flashy as Han, but comfortably better than anyone else. Had his own sort of gritty perfection matched with a surprising quirkiness.
4. Nick Bockwinkel (10) – The best US based mat wrestler for the longest time.
5. Buddy Rose (14) –The best US based mat wrestler for not quite as long as Bock but was probably better at his absolute best.
Honorable Mention: The Destroyer (47) – Incredibly entertaining mat wrestler. Shows an incredibly wide variety of knowledge and polish in a few matches.
Terry Funk – He has always been best known and first thought of as a brawler. But the footage we have from the 70s when he is working long matches and exchanging holds, Terry was obviously a fantastic mat wrestler. We don’t have the footage for him to overtake anyone in my top 5, but he was great.
BRUISER BRODY MEMORIAL AWARD – Best Brawlers Ever
1. Stan Hansen (5) – Made a career of being the most realistic and best brawling monster heel ever
2. E Satanico (2) – The best Super LIbre/Apuestas match wrestler ever. Was great in singles and multi man matches as a heel or face over the course of 20 years.
3. Jerry Lawler 6) – The best southern brawler ever
4. Genichiro Tenryu (3) – People may quibble on whether or not Tenryu was actually a brawler but I see no other way to describe him. Similar to Hansen really. In a world where people were dropping each other on their heads, was able to make small chops and kicks look like the most intense shit ever.
5. Sangre Chicana (21) – At his absolute peak, the best brawler ever, we just don’t have enough footage for me to feel good about rating him any higher. Was the star of the two best brawls/matches ever.
Honorable Mention: Atsushi Onita (89) – King of the garbage match has to be mentioned.
Terry Funk – As everyone knows, Funk is a strong contender for best brawler ever. Where he would separate himself from Hansen as a brawler is that Funk was great brawling as a babyface and as a heel and he was great working on top and underneath as both a babyface and a heel in brawls.
BEST FLYING WRESTLER – For me the best flyer is a combination of execution, flashiness, consistency, did it look like it actually hurt, and were the flying moves mixed in well or just thrown into the match because they’re cool spots.
1. El Hijo del Santo (4) – His highspots are my absolute favorite in wrestling history and they are always hit with an unmatched grace AND always end up looking brutal. This might be a controversial choice over Rey Jr, but it is obvious for me.
2. Rey Mysterio Jr (19) – The most spectacular flyer ever. His best spots are the best ever easily. He was incredibly smooth and everything always looked great, but his stuff tended to lack the violence you would get from the best Santo dives.
3. Shinjiro Ohtani (75) – I have always been in love with the springboard offense he does and his dives to the outside are always great too. Another easy pick.
4. Dick Togo (NR) – He has a lot of similar qualities to Ohtani in terms of flying. There are more spectacular guys, but they are both really fucking spectacular and their spots look absolutely devastating.
5. 2 Cold Scorpio (NR) – Scorpio was a last second cut for me and I mean last second. In terms of high flying offense that looks like it is killing guys, Scorpio is the undisputed king. I found him a bit sloppier than the guys above him and some of his stuff felt unnecessary at times while I never had that problem with the guys above him.
Honorable Mention: Sangre Chicana (21) – Gets a nod here because his best topes are the most spectacular, out of control and violent topes I’ve ever seen.
Terry Funk – Not a high flyer but I’ll never forget his plancha from the top to the outside on Snuka during the Funks vs Brody/Snuka match from 12/81. One of the most surprising and spectacular spots ever.
MOST OVERRATED – This is pretty hard actually because there are so many great wrestlers and wrestling fandom is so splintered. Trying to keep this simple…
1. Fit Finlay (NR) – I borderline hate him now. Someone I never want to watch again.
2. Ted Dibiase (97) – I put him on because I felt like I had to. There’s some great stuff sure but so much of his career leaves me flat. He’s the first guy I can remember that felt like he was playing great wrestler instead of being a great wrestler.
3. Terry Gordy (83) – Similar to Dibiase honestly, but I can point to more stuff I like. In some ways I think the worst things about Gordy are probably the things he got praised for in the business. Since he was such a great athletic guy and was such a great bumper, he was able to make smaller babyfaces look awesome. Since he got into the business at such a young age he was probably always praised for those qualities but I do think he ended up going overboard a lot of the times when he was supposed to be the big bad ass kicker of the Freebirds. Gordy was an awesome bumper and on the surface is a real strength for him. But I think it hurt him in some ways too.
4. Vader (34) – Obviously Vader is great and ranking someone one of the 35 best wrestlers ever has to be seen as a compliment. But you see a lot of “borderline top 10” talk surrounding Vader and I think that shit is crazy.
5. Jumbo Tsuruta (16) and all of Post Jumbo All Japan (Various) – Again, Jumbo was a great wrestler, but I don’t see him as a #1 candidate. He was great as a young up and coming wrestler and great as a grumpy veteran. But much of his prime left me flat unless he was getting pushed by forces around him. A lot of his NWA Champ style matches from the 80s were really dull compared to what else was happening in Japan but also in Mexico & the US. As for post Jumbo, All Japan, when I started rewatching stuff I knew I was in trouble when I was rolling my eyes at all the nearfalls in the 6/93 tag. Obviously it got worse from there. There is some stuff from the company I still love, but so much more I never want to watch again.
Honorable Mention: Chris Jericho (NR) – Yuck. For all the people I’ve mentioned negatively above, Jericho is the guy I hate the most. He only gets honorable mention because I didn’t consider him as strongly as the guys above. Just a sloppy worker who constantly tried (and failed) to work above what he was capable of. Short hair veteran Jericho has X-Pac heat on my screen. (I swear to god I wrote this before that piece of shit Mania match against Styles and I didn’t watch the Fast Lane match that is supposedly even worse).
Terry Funk – Not overrated. Best ever. J
MOST UNDERRATED – Again keeping it simple…
1. Buddy Rose (14) – Buddy will be properly rated when/if people actually watch a bunch of his footage. It seems like everyone who actually watches him agrees he was one of the best ever but for whatever reason people are dragging there feet or outright forgetting about him. (Editing note, Buddy Rose ranked 36 overall which I think is great)
2. MS-1 (49) – I originally had yet another thing written about Tamura here, but I decided to change it when I realized MS-1 really belongs here. It is kind of hard to get past looking at MS-1 as the “other guy.” He’s in the best match ever, Chicana’s performance is so incredible it is easy to forget MS-1 is putting on a masterpiece himself. He is at best the 2nd guy in his own famous trios, but if you watch the footage, he looks like he is very bit as good as Satanico and Pirata Morgan. If we had more footages of MS-1 in big singles matches, I have no doubt he would rank really high. Incredible worker.
3. Eddie Gilbert (79) – Hurt by footage in a lot of ways, and injury/drug problems in other ways. But whenever Gilbert was around and functioning, he was fantastic. Great singles or tag wrestler, great in a face or heel. He’s like the opposite of Gordy & Dibiase for me in that he strikes me as one of those guys who just understood wrestling on a fundamental level.
4. Kazuo Yamazaki (67) – Originally I had Maeda in this spot but I switched it out. I love Maeda and think he was at worst one of the 10 best Japanese wrestlers of the 80s (and closer to 5 than to 10), but I wanted to throw Yamazaki some love. Yamazaki was never the best shoot style wrestler but he was always very very good really from late 84 moving forward. Whether it was against Fujiwara, Maeda, Takada, Tamura, Anjoh or pro-style guys like Hashimoto or Koshinaka, you could usually count on a good performance from Yamazaki. He feels like the Kawada to Takada’s Misawa only Yamazaki was more clearly better in my view.
5. All of BattlArts (Various) – Just all of it. Post modern wrestling at its best with Alexander Otsuka (56) being the poster child. Seriously what could possibly be more fun than BattlArts?
Honorable Mention: Kerry Von Erich (87) – I had rough drafts with Kerry in the 50s. He was a great wrestler at his peak. Awesome babyface who had that Choshu/Hashimoto aura about him. My favorite Flair opponent after the obvious Steamboat/Funk.
Terry Funk – Its hard for me to call him underrated because I think he’s the best ever. But I’m at the point where I’m so convinced he’s the best ever that anyone who sees otherwise is underrating him in my view J
PROMOTION OF THE PROJECT – Keeping it simple. Which promotions featured the best wrestling
1. New Japan – As much as I hate the founder, between Fujinami (8), Choshu (27), Hashimoto (11) , Liger (13), UWF guys coming in, Tenryu (3) coming in, awesome foreigners like young Hansen (5)/Andre (55)/Hogan/ (NR) Vader (34) etc. It just feels like it has to be New Japan.
2. CMLL – This just also felt like it had to be CMLL. Consistently great forever with literally every great luchadore working there over the years.
3. Memphis – The Land of Lawler (6) was the perfect US wrestling territory. Could realistically be #1. You got everything you could hope from wrestling out of Memphis.
4. RINGS – Doesn’t rank higher simply because they didn’t last as long or run as many shows as they groups above. But the best RINGS matches are as great as any promotions’ best stuff and I just love the overall presentation of RINGS.
5. All Japan – I put them this low because I wanted to but I feel like I had to put them on. Far more great matches than BattlArts obvious, but BattlArts was fun and All Japan for the large bulk of it is not fun. Guys like Funk, Baba (39), Hansen (5) & Tenryu (3) I love. I love Choshu’s (27) time there & Yatsu (63). Jumbo (16) I love early on and late but I’m pretty indifferent in the middle. Post Jumbo All Japan I hate at this point. The 4 pillars matches was the wrestling I least enjoyed watching during this project.
Honorable Mention: BattlArts – BattlArts is the most fun promotion ever. There was just such a wonderful blend of wrestlers.
Terry Funk – Well, he worked in All Japan, WWF, WCW, Memphis, SMW, ECW, FMW, IWA, WWC, Florida, Georgia, Houston, Germany, Countless indies, and was awesome in all of them. So that is something.
BEST WEEKLY TV SHOW – Didn’t rank
PRO WRESTLING MATCH OF THE YEAR – I’d say these are the 10 best matches I’ve ever seen.
1. Sangre Chicana (21) vs MS-1 (49) Hair vs Hair 9/23/83 – Easy Pick
2. Sangre Chicana (21) vs Perro Aguayo (70) Hair vs Hair 2/28/86 – Easy Pick
3. Akira Hokuto (22) & Shinobu Kandori (71) vs Bull Nakano (30) & Aja Kong (29) 3/27/94 – The most ambitious match ever in terms of drama and storytelling.
4. Kiyoshi Tamura (12) vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (NR oversight) 6/27/98 – The most impressive match ever athletically.
5. Andre the Giant (55) vs Stan Hansen (5) 9/23/81 – The best godizalla vs king kong match possible.
6. The Destroyer (47) vs Giant Baba (39) 3/5/69 – Best example of old school mat work ever.
7. El Satanico (2) vs Gran Cochisse (NR) 9/14/84 – Best lucha title match ever.
8. Stan Hansen (5) vs Kenta Kobashi (35) 7/27/93 – All Japan’s best match.
9. Jerry Lawler (6) vs Bill Dundee (32) Loser Leaves Town 12/30/85 – The best southern brawl ever
10. El Hijo del Santo (4) vs Negro Casas (15) Mask vs Hair 7/18/87 – My favorite Santo/Casas and the best possible apuestas match without Chicana involved.
Honorable Mention: I didn’t want my top 10 to just be a list of Tamura matches so I saved it for here except for the Kohsaka match which had to be separated, but Tamura vs Han Trilogy, Tamura vs Mikhail Ilioukhine 1/98, and Tamura vs Yamamoto 6/99
1. Terry Funk vs Jumbo Tsuruta (16) 6/11/76
2. Terry Funk vs Stan Hansen (5) 4/14/83
3. Terry Funk vs Jerry Lawler (6) Empty Arena Match 4/6/81
4. Terry Funk vs Ric Flair (9) Great American Bash 7/23/89
5. Terry Funk vs Jerry Lawler (6) No DQ 3/23/81
6. Terry Funk vs Stan Hansen (5) 9/11/82
7. Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr (NR) vs Stan Hansen (5) & Terry Gordy (83) 8/31.83
8. Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr (NR) vs Bruiser Bordy (NR) & Jimmy Snuka (NR) 12/13/81
9. Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr (NR) vs Abdullah the Butcher (NR) & The Sheik (NR) Numerous
10. Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr (NR) vs Giant Baba (39) & Jumbo Tsuruta (16) Numerous
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – This is best “young” wrestler more than just pure “rookies.”
1. Kiyoshi Tamura (12) – Showed potential from his first match and kept getting better and better and better. His consistency and the tools he showed as a youngerster were incredible. One of the rare performers in any platform who showed potential to be great from day 1 and grew and grew until he was arguably the best who ever lived.
2. Kenta Kobashi (35) – Unquestionably a great young wrestler. His 93 classic against Hansen is the best “Aging Veteran vs Youngster on the Rise” match in history.
3. Rey Mysterio Jr (19) – Probably the most influential young wrestler ever. Certainly he had the most polished over the top spectacular high spots.
4. Jushin Liger (13) – Like Tamura he was great from day 1.
5. Terry Gordy (83) – I’m down on Gordy in general but it is easy to forget how young he was since he was washed up so early. He was only 18 when he was showing up on Memphis TV in 79. He was an incredible athlete, bumper, and puncher at the absolute minimum by then. The glimpses we have of baby Gordy are why people like me are kinda down on him. We should be talking about him as a #1 candidate.
Honorable Mention: Shawn Michaels (NR) – Michaels didn’t make my list mostly on an oversight. I had planned on ranking him somewhere primarily on his tag team run with considerations also being given to his mid 90s run. But I agree with those that think he was at his best as a tag wrestler.
Terry Funk – We didn’t get to see him as a “young wrestler” but I’m sure he was awesome.
BEST NON-WRESTLER PERFORMER – Honesty I wasn’t focusing much on this but I’ll go with:
1. Jimmy Hart
2. Bobby Heenan
3. Jim Cornette
4. Paul E. Dangerousy
5. Vince McMahon
Honorable Mention: Sherri Martel
BEST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER – This is kind of tough for me because I’ve been watching a ton of foreign wrestling lately, there are some names I don’t know so I’m guaranteed to not know/forget some people. But we’ll go with this:
1. Lance Russell – The perfect announcer
2. Dave Brown – The perfect announcing side kick
3. Bobby Heenan – Could get distracted easily for sure, but I loved listening to him.
4. Late 70s Portland Commentator with the awesome clothes – What is his name he is awesome.
5. Dusty Rhodes – Dusty is like Morgan Freeman. I don’t care what he’s saying, I will listen to it.
Honorable mention goes to the New Japan Lead Commentator who is awesome.
Terry Funk – Actually a pretty solid color commentator even if he spoke too softly at times.
WORST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER –Simply that
1. Jim Ross
2. Jim Ross
3. Jim Ross
4. Jim Ross
5. The Champs Forum people who loudly laugh through matches that have been overdubbed anyway so the crowd reaction is barely audible.
Honorable Mention: Jim Ross
Terry Funk – Had to work with Jim Ross a lot. Poor guy.
BEST MAJOR SHOW – God I have absolutely no idea. I watched so much stuff and I was not keeping track of this at all. So off the top of my head…
1. Weekly Pro at the Tokyo Dome 4/2/95 – This could never ever be topped.
2. WCW Great American Bash 1989 – Still the best PPV ever with Flair (9)/Funk, Steamboat (24)/Luger (NR), Sting (NR)/Muta (NR) & Wargames
3. WCW Spring Stampede 1994 – had 3 great brawls underneath a Flair (9) vs Steamboat (24) match. Ok!
4. WCW SuperBrawl 1992 Pillman (NR) vs Liger (13), Rude (NR) vs Steamboat (24), the Windham (31) & Rhodes (53) Tag, a solid Steiners tag, this was a terrific show
5. AAA/IWC When Worlds Collide 1994: I still think the big tag is great. I always loved Perro (71) vs Konnan (NR), the undercard isn’t bad at all. Tenay gave me the tools I needed to start getting into Lucha.
I wanted to Honorable Mention these two shows:
1. AWA 3/13/83 – Has Hogan (NR)/High Flyers (17 TT) vs Patera (NR) /Ventura (NR) /Heenan (96), Blackwell (62) & Adnan (NR) vs Vachon (100) & Baron (NR) , & Bockwinkel (10) vs Martel (51). The two tag matches are two of the most fun matches of all time and the Bock vs Martel match is a typically excellent main event between those two
2. WWF Survivor Series 87 – This is the first wrestling show I ever remember seeing in full and I loved it then. I still love it. Top to bottom this show is about the most fun I could have watching wrestling.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:53 PM
"CATEGORY B" AWARDS. PICK ONE IN EACH CATEGORY. WINNER CHOSEN ON THE BASIS OF FIRST PLACE VOTES.
Fuck your rules. We’re going to keep going with the top 5. Also, I’ll only pick guys outside of my overall top 15 to try and switch things up a bit to talk about more people.
WORST MAJOR SHOW OF THE YEAR – Abstain
BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER
1. Randy Savage’s (41) Top Rope Elbow Drop – The most graceful and brutal move ever.
2. Bobby Eaton (33) Top Rope Leg Drop – It wasn’t always as graceful and picturesque as Savage’s elbow but was every bit as brutal if not more so.
3. Jake Roberts (NR) DDT – One of the coolest and simplest moves ever. Everyone from the past 30 years does it but you have to give it to Roberts.
4. Perro Aguayo (71) FOOTSTOMPS! – Footstomps are awesome. Perro would just crush guys with it. It isn’t Hashimoto (11) level, but Hash was top 15 and I needed to get some footsomp recognition in here.
5. Jumbo Tsuruta (16) Jumping Knee – I’m a mark for Jumping Knee’s and Jumbo’s was the best ever. He would fucking clobber guys with it.
Honorabe Mention: Jerry Blackwell (62) Fat Man Splash – Blackwell had to have broken some ribs along the way. He just destroyed people.
Terry Funk – The spinning toe-hold is a terrific “pro wrestling move.” His psychotic old man moonsault is interesting. His punches are up there with Lawler’s. His dive from the top rope to the outside on Snuka in the 81 tag league final is one of the great “HOLY SHIT!” moves ever. Terry Funk’s got moves. Funky moves.
MOST DISGUSTING PROMOTIONAL TACTIC - Abstain
WORST TELEVISION SHOW Abstain
WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR Abstain
WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR – I’ll give an answer to this one…
1. Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen – I fucking hated this feud.
WORST PROMOTION I’m trying to keep this about positivity but…
1. The goriest of the death match promotions. There was just no need for some of that stuff.
2. ECW - Too short lived and never as good as all the rest.
3. AAA – Again some great stuff but a lot of bleh.
4. WWF. Some great stuff for sure, but the best WWF wrestlers don’t rank with the best of other promotions.
5. All Japan – Some of the best matches ever developed into a style I couldn’t stand to watch.
BEST BOOKER – I dunno, Jerry Jarrett or Riki Choshu?
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR – Abstain
BEST GIMMICK – Keep it simple Best Gimmicks:
1. LA Park (57) – Dancing Skeleton who bashes people with chairs and has classic bloody brawls? Uh, yes please.
2. Survival Tobita – Guy proclaiming to defend the world against monsters repeatedly getting his ass kicked over and over. Yes please.
3. Sgt. Slaughter (69) as Sgt. Slaughter – Just Perfect.
4. Randy Savage (41) as Randy Savage – Just Perfect
5. Michael Hayes (73) as Freebird Michael Hayes – Just Perfect
Honorable Mention: Kazunari Murakami (NR) – As invader smug prick shooter. Who doesn’t want to punch Murakami in his fucking face?
Terry Funk – He played a lot of roles in his career. World champ, Beloved Underdog Babyface, Retiring Legend, Returning Beloved Legend, Wild Dangerous Brawler who will try and stab you in the eye, Disrespected former champ hell bent on destroying the new champ and reclaiming his place on top, “Middle Aged and Crazy” era heel and babyface. They were all fucking great. “Terry Funk” is probably a gimmick itself and it’s the best thing ever.
WORST GIMMICK – I dunno, this is all about positivity so I haven’t thought about this at all so lets have some fun.
1. HHH (NR) King of Kings
2. Shawn Michaels (NR Oversight I actually intended to rank him near the bottom) King of Kings
3. Jim Ross (NR) King of Kings
4. Ted Dibiase (97) King of Kings
5. BIGLAV (NR) King of Kings
Honorable Mention: Jim Ross as Good ‘ol JR
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:54 PM
NON WON AWARDS – I wanted to add a few different more categories.
NEW FAVORITE WRESTLER – These are all wrestlers I was familiar with before the project started on one level or another but now I absolutely adore them.
1. Alexander Otsuka (56) – The most exciting wrestler ever. Can go from super intense hard fought shoot style mat work to brutal head droppy suplexes to insane dives over the top rope to violent hurricanranas to ridiculously stiff strikes within the blink of an eye. Literally anything is possible at any moment during an Otsuka match. He was able to make a giant swing painful
2. Eddie Gilbert (79) – My favorite mid-card territory worker by far. Could fill any role as he was an excellent heel, babyface, singles wrestler, tag wrestler, manager and talker. Was awesome in angles.
3. Wahoo McDaniel (74) – I could watch Wahoo chop the shit out of people all day long. He has that Tenryu/Choshu/Hashimoto charisma where everything feels more important just because his part of it.
4. Michael Hayes (73) – One of the best heels of all time. Such a blast watching him get his ass kicked by people. Great talker obviously, but an incredibly underrated worker. Was awesome in violent sprints. Was a good bumper for such a weirdly built and unathletic guy. Terrific puncher. All time heat seeker.
5. Rick Martel (51) – Porbably the most underrated babyface of all time. I could absolutely see a case for him to be 15 slots higher.
Honorable Mention: Carl Greco (99) – Fantastic mat worker and striker. One of the two guys I’m most excited to watch a ton of when I go through all of BattlArts.
Terry Funk – I’ve always loved Funk. I’ve always considered him one of the greatest wrestlers ever, but this project made me look at him as the undisputed best wrestler ever.
OLD FAVORITE WRESTLER – These are wrestlers I’ve always thought were great but now I either have a higher opinion of them than ever before, or they are as good as I remember.
1. Steve Regal (40) – Like everyone in our circles I’ve always liked Regal. But I rewatched a ton of Regal for this and saw a guy with some truly great matches who was more than worthy of a high ranking
2. LA Park (57) – He was Monday Night Wars era favorite as a teenager right before I found dvdvr/toa/tape trading and discovered a world in which Park was having long singles matches. Easily one of the best brawlers ever and has been in some all time classic matches. But he’ll always be one of the most entertaining wrestlers ever. This project helped me see just how great he is though.
3. Akira Taue (36) – I am really down on the All Japan style overall and I’m not someone who thinks Taue is the “best” of the pillars. But I am 100% more likely to watch an All Japan match with Taue in the match than not.
4. Yoshiaki Yatsu (63) – I was a huge fan when I first saw the Choshu’s Army Invades All Japan stuff back when BostonIdol made those comps. I was not expecting him to be as good as he was for as long s he was. Fantastic wrestler from 84-89.
5. Roddy Piper (72) – This works on a few levels. He was one of my favorites as a little kid. Back when I started getting tapes, I got a few WWF MSG shows and I remember loving several Piper vs Orndorff matches, some tags from the Piper vs Snuka feud, then I saw stuff like vs Rude, vs Valentine, vs Hogan from Toronto etc. I always loved the Bret match. But I recent years when I discovered the Buddy Rose feud and got to see even more 80s WWF stuff. Fuck yeah Roddy goddamn Piper.
Honorable Mention: Shinjiro Ohtani (75) – Held up the best of all the 90s juniors other than Liger.
Terry Funk – Who the fuck doesn’t love Terry Funk? Liars! That’s who!
MOST CONSISTENT – What wrestlers have been consistently good when I’ve watched them for this project. I’m not picking anyone in my top 15 for this because those guys are all consistent.
1. Rey Mysterio Jr (19) – Seriously did he ever have a bad match?
2. Ricky Morton (25) – If Ricky Morton was involved in a tag match, you were pretty much guaranteed an entertaining tag match
3. Daniel Bryan (28) – Same as Above and this is mostly about his WWE Run
4. Arn Anderson (43) – Another one of those always entertaining guys.
5. Mick Foley (61) – Deserves some recognition because he always worked his ass off.
Honorable Mention: Yoshihiro Tajiri (92) – His run wasn’t as long as the other guys but he had a solid 2 year run where he consistently looked like a great worker every time he showed up.
Terry Funk – Funk was consistently entertaining for…how long has he been wrestling? That long.
HIGHEST PEAK – Who was the best at their absolute best?
1. Sangre Chicana (21) – The absolute star of the two best matches I’ve ever seen.
2. Akira Hokuto (22) – The absolute star of two of the 15 best matches ever.
3. El Dandy (17) – Spectacular worker from late 88-90 where he had some of the best matches ever both brawls and technical matches. This might actually be the most impressive 2 year runs ever.
4. Volk Han (37) – His whole career was his peak because of how polished he was from the start and how few matches he worked in his career.
5. Mocho Cota (93) – Staggeringly great in like 3 matches. Watch those Americo Rocca matches and try not to fall in love wit Cota. It’s impossible.
Honorable Mention: All Japan Crew; Jumbo (16), Kawada (18), Misawa (20), Kobashi (35), Taue (36), Akiyama (51) – Yuck
Terry Funk – Has in incredible “one match” peak with the Empty Arena match (I am in love with that whole thing) and an incredible “several matches” peak when you add stuff like vs Hansen, vs Flair, vs Jumbo. Was great in the late 70s until his 83 “retirement.” Also looking at a broader picture was at the absolute worst an “entertaining” wrestler from 1972-2005? However you want to define “peak” Terry Funk rates well.
BEST ALL AROUND – We covered best technical, brawler, flyer, so lets look at how did everything well.
1. Eddy Guerrero (23) – He had runs where he was an excellent worker (say mid 90s) runs where he was an excellent character (97) but when he put it all together in his last run with WWE, he was about as good as it gets.
2. Barry Windham (31) – I touched on this above when discussing him as a tag worker. But Windham excelled at everything. Great as a heel or face, single or tag worker, excellent bumper, great offense, could work long or short, awesome against big guys or small guys etc etc. Windham could do it all.
3. Bobby Eaton (33) – Similar to the other two but not on their level as a singles worker. Awesome as a stooging or viscious heel. Terrific offense and bumping.
4. Pirata Morgan (45) – Everyone knows him as a spectacular brawler, but he was a terrific mat wrestler as well. Awesome in trios as well as some all time classic singles matches.
5. Alexander Otsuka (56) – Pretty much an ultimate do everything guy. Mat worker, stiff strikes, bombs, flying, brawls, technical matches, singles, tags etc.
Honorable Mention: Naoki Sano (68) – Terrific as a junior and shoot stylist.
Terry Funk – Was great at everything that’s why he’s #1.
BEST SHOOT STYLE WRESTLER – Shoot style is its own sort of beast so I decided to separate it out. So best shoot stylists outside of the top 15:
1. Volk Han (37) – The master. The most exciting, breath taking, awe-inspiring mat wrestler in history.
2. Akira Maeda (38) – He is a good mat wrestler but pales when compared to Han, Tamura (12) and Fujiwara (7). However his charisma made the whole style take off and he was an excellent striker, seller, knew how to pace his matches, and oh yeah, had some of the best matches in the history of wrestling.
3. Yuki Ishikawa (58) – Feels more shooty than his BattlArts brethren Otsuka (56) and Ikeda (90). Excellent mat wrestler who wasn’t as smooth as the best shoot style mat worker, but had a rough around the edges grittiness to it that made him feel like a Japanese William Regal. Looked good as a youngster in PWFG and is still great when he’s popped up in the last 5 years.
4. Kazuo Yamazaki (67) – Great all around shoot style worker. Great mat wrestler and striker. Had some of the best matches of the style. Never felt as great as the absolute top tier of the style, but always looked great.
5. Carl Greco (99) – Like Ishikawa, he feels more shooty than the rest of the BattlArts crew. Looked good as a youngster in PWFG. Was one of the slickest mat wrestlers in the 90s and it is a damn shame he never worked against the RINGS crew. He could have had great matches with Tamura, Han, Yamamoto and Kohsaka.
There are a number of guys I didn’t rate who I could have. Otsuka (58), Sano (68), Anjoh (81), Ikeda (90), and Takada (94). They all either feel way to pro-style to me or their pro-style work had as much to do with why they ranked as their work in shoot style companies. Others like Kohsaka (NR) or Yamamoto (NR) weren’t ranked because of borderline status overall/oversights.
BEST JAPANESE WRESTLER – Who were the best Japanese wrestlers outside of the top 15
1. Jumbo Tsuruta (16) – Great young wrestler and all time great run as a grumpy vet. Hit or miss during his peak but can’t be denied.
2. Toshiaki Kawada (18) – All time great tag wrestler and in some of the best stingles matches ever. The best of the 4 pillars.
3. Mitsuharu Misawa (20) – Maybe the best offensive wrestler ever and maybe the best Ace ever. Some of the best singles and tag matches ever. Can’t be denied even if I hate the style he crafted and it contributed to his death.
4. Akira Hokuto (22) – The star of 2 of the absolute best matches in history. Tremendous selling and offensive wrestler. One of a VERY small handful of wrestlers with the ability to make a match feel like a cinematic event instead of a wrestling match.
5. Chigusa Nagayo (26) – On the short list of best babyface wrestlers ever. Ahead of her time in terms of what she was doing when she was doing it. Great title match wrestler and fantastic in brawls. Awesome late career renaissance in Gaea in the late 90s.
Honorble Mention: Riki Choshu (27) – One of the most charismatic wrestlers ever who made the simplest things exciting. Fantastic tag wrestler.
Terry Funk – Terry had an amazing career in Japan becoming the 2nd gaijin babyface (after Destroyer) and having a run as possibly the best babyface in wrestling history before re-inventing himself as a death match worker in the 90s. His Japanese career is filled with great and memorable matches spread out over 20+years in a variety of different roles.
BEST US WRESTLER - Best US based wrestlers outside the top 15
1. Ricky Steamboat (24) - Maybe the best babyface ever. Great tag and singles match wrestler. Consistently great. In some of the best feuds in matches ever.
2. Ricky Morton (25) – The best US tag wrestler ever and either the best or 2nd best babyface ever.
3. Daniel Bryan (28) – This is based entirely on his indy’s run up till 2003 and his WWE run. On the short list of best babyfaces ever. Consistently good week in and week out. Had some all time classic matches in modern WWE. Incredible tag worker both in the ricky morton role and as one of the most spectacular hot tags ever (even if he was just doing the same shit over and over)
4. Barry Windham (31) – I can keep saying the same shit about Windham. One of the best all around talents ever.
5. Bill Dundee (32) – One of the best brawlers ever, one of the best studio match wrestlers ever, great tag wrestler, one half of the best feud in wrestling history. If Dundee was 8 inches taller he’d have been one of the biggest stars of the 70s/80s.
Honorable Mention: Bobby Eaton (33) – The best heel tag wrestler of all time. Spectacular offensive wrestler.
Terry Funk was awesome in the US and that’s without a shit ton of footage from his prime. Between his Memphis run, WWF Run, WCW 80s run, WCW mid 90s run, ECW, SMW, and various indy’s Terry has been a fantastic wrestler just limiting it to US soil.
BEST LUCHADORE – Best Mexico Based Wrestlers outside of the top 15:
1. El Dandy (17) – One of the best wrestlers ever at his best. Excellent tecnico or rudo. Great brawler, flyer, mat wrestler. All time great feuds and matches with a variety of different people.
2. Sangre Chicana (21) – Star of the 2 best matches ever. At his best maybe the best ever. Held back by lack of footage from his prime.
3. Blue Panther (44) – All time great mat wrestler. Classic matches with Santo Jr (4), Atlantis (46), Solar (NR Oversight), Love Machine (NR undeserving) etc.
4. Pirata Morgan (45) – One of the best all around wrestlers ever. Great brawler, flyer, mat wrestler, utterly spectacular bumper, all time great bleeder, great trios match worker, great bleeder etc. A little too inconsistent compared to some of the luchadores and other wrestlers ahead of him, but when he was on he was one of the best ever.
5. Atlantis (46) – I think Atlantis gets underrated by a lot of folks. I think he’s one of the best babyfaces and high flyers ever. An incredibly graceful worker at his peak. Has developed into one of the best big match workers of his era.
Honorable Mention: MS-1 (49) – One of the most underrated wrestlers ever. Member of the best match ever. Fantastic trios match worker. Awesome heel. Punchable face. My biggest regret on my list was not ranking him in the top 25.
Terry Funk – Never worked in Mexico at least not on tape I’m sure he worked there. But just imagine how great Terry Funk vs Perro Aguayo (71), Sangre Chicana (21), El Hijo del Santo (4), Cien Caras (NR), Satanico (2), etc et etc would be. Imagine Terry Funk trying to stab out Pirata Morgan’s other eye. You KNOW this would be amazing.
BEST WORLD TRAVLER – Who built their case traveling the world? Outside of the top 15.
1. Rey Mysterio Jr (19) – Primarily made his case in the US, but he was excellent in Mexico and Japan. Was able to develop a terrific touring match against Psicosis (NR) and Juventud (NR) that he could work in front of anyone in the world and get over.
2. Eddy Guerrero (23) – Again primarily a US based candidate but he had great matches in Mexico and Japan. When he was primarily a Mexico based wrestler he was able to go to the US and Japan and have great matches. Also took aspects of everywhere he worked and added it to his overall act which helped turn hi into one of the most well rounded wrestlers ever as he was able to work with anyone of any style and had a huge bag of tricks to draw from.
3. Vader (34) – Great example of a “World Traveler” because his Japan runs are as important as his US runs. He wouldn’t rank as high just in the US or just in Japan. But together you get a top 35 wrestler. He was able to create a universal style that allowed him to work with anyone anywhere.
4. Dick Murdoch (42) – Only footage gaps for me keep him from rating higher. Similar to Vader in that he needs both his US and Japan runs to rank high. Great brawler, title match worker. Incredibly versatile.
5. Billy Robinson (52) – Again footage gaps keep him from ranking higher. I mostly think of him from Japan but his US run certainly helps him.
Honorable Mention: Andre the Giant (55) - Duh
Terry Funk – Obviously Funk is the ultimate world traveler.
BEST BABYFACE – Who are the best Babyfaces to rank outside of the top 15? Hey, how about you name some people you haven’t talked a bunch about yet? Cool!
1. Chigusa Nagayo (26) – Has to rank here. Even with everyone included, she’s a strong choice for #1.
2. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (64) – The Japanese Ricky Morton (25) Probably the best working babyface of the 90s. Incredible bumper, great timing on his comebacks, took the biggest ass kickings possible.
3. Rick Martel (51) – Your classic 80s babyface that I had NO idea was so great. Tremendous feuds against Buddy Rose (14) and Nick Bockwinkel (10). Great matches against a host of other wrestlers. Never should have been a heel in a million years if not for America’s weird hatred of Canada, the French and French Canadians.
4. Dustin Rhodes (53) – Awesome babyface tag wrestler and singles wrestler. Great as the young up and comer in WCW and terrific in his most recent tag run in WWE as the veteran babyface trying to guide his dipshit younger brother. Maybe the best babyface tag wrestler after Ricky Morton (25).
5. Kerry von Erich (87) – Kerry is like the perfect 80s babyface if you go away from the Ricky Morton (25) route. Kerry was the quintessential dumb jock high school quarterback babyface. You looked at Kerry Von Erich on screen and he just seemed like he would be nice. He’s like if late 90s Chris Klein was a pro-wrestler.
Honorable Mention: Atsushi Onita (89) – HAS to be mentioned.
Honorable Mention 2: Dusty Rhodes (NR) – FUCK I forgot about Dusty. I should have found a place for him towards the bottom of the list. Dusty ruled.
Terry Funk – Terry Funk was so good as a babyface that he managed to become a sympathetic beloved underdog babyface in Japan whose entire wresting business was created based on Japanese Hero vs Evil American. He had literal cheerleaders in the crowd. Easily one of the 5 best babyfaces ever.
BEST HEEL – Who are the best Heels to rank outside of the top 15? Hey, how about you name some people you haven’t talked a bunch about yet? Cool!
1. Bull Nakano (30) – Spectacular monster heel. Was a great offensive wrestler, bumper, etc. Was great as a badass hench-woman to Dump and great as her own ass kicking woman.
2. Steve Regal (40) – So versatile as a heel. Great as smarmy prick showing ass. Great as a violent scary badass breaking your favorite’s fingers.
3. Randy Savage (41) – When he was a heel at his peak he came across like the most dangerous guy ever. Mostly because PCP is scary.
4. Greg Valentine (54) – The 80s version of Regal and probably should be ranked a little higher. Incredibly viscious wrestler. I watched a match with him and Tito where he hit Tito so hard with an elbow smash it would have made Misawa wince and say “damn Greg that was a little too hard.”
5. Masa Fuchi (98) – Stu Hart’s favorite wrestler I’m sure. Just seemed to take sick pleasure twisting people up in knots. Whenever he was in the ring with Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (64) it was pure brutal magic.
Honorable Mention: Love Machine Art Barr (NR) – HAS to be mentioned.
Terry Funk – Funk was easily one of the best heels ever. His feuds with Lawler (6) and Flair (9) show he can be as dangerous and evil as anyone. Funk was brilliant enough to be able to show vulnerability with his evil without coming across as weak or less of a threat. He would hurt himself to hurt his opponent. That’s the mark of a true madman.
BEST OLD/VETERAN WRESTLER – Who was the best past their prime/old guy wrestler outside of the top 15!
1. Gran Hamada (80) – What was great about Hamada is that he worked a style that is pre-disposed to aging poorly (juniors) and as he got older he seemed to get even smoother and faster with his highspots. He was a freak of nature.
2. Giant Baba (39) – Baba fell off a cliff physically obviously. But he was such a smart worker that he figured out how to hide himself and also figured out things he could add to his work to stay modern without killing himself physically.
3. Riki Choshu (27) – Choshu’s ultra-charisma, basic hard hitting style lent itself to aging well.
4. Wahoo McDaniel (74) – The vast majority of what we have of Wahoo is past his prime/veteran stuff and it is awesome until he just gets too old. He is like the US version of Tenryu (3) /Choshu (27) where his charisma is so incredible he can have a great match just by striking hard and selling.
5. Harley Race (84) – Similar to Wahoo (74) most of what we have is old man/veteran work. But Harley is terrific. He manages to excel in bomb throwing sprints which is a unique but fun twist on old man work.
Honorable Mention: Blue Panther (44) – This could really be any number of luchadores. They age the best.
Terry Funk – Terry is one of the defining “great old man wrestler” and has been for like 25 years.
BIGGEST SURPRISE – Who were the biggest surprises from the GWE viewing experience?
1. Rick Martel (51) – People had been pimping him and I saw a few things and thought he looked really good, but he is a tremendous worker. I don’t think he hit the same highs as Steamboat as a single or tag worker, but as a babyface, Martel is absolutely near that Steamboat/Morton level.
2. Andre the Giant (55) – I loved Andre, everyone loved Andre. I had seen stuff like vs Hansen (5), but I had never watched the Strong Kobayashi (NR) before this project. And holy fuck. I wish we had more prime footage.
3. Kerry von Erich (87) – Kerry is another guy I always liked, but I see him as a legit great worker now. Tremendous babyface and has a bit of that Wahoo (74) /Choshu (27) charisma in his prime.
4. Butch Reed (NR Oversight) – I should have ranked him but I forgot to be honest. Most underrated main event worker of the 80s. Great babyface, great heel. Awesome offensive wrestler. Great in brawls or straight title matches requiring lots of mat work. Great tag worker. Yeah he needed to be on my list. Big oversight.
5. Magnum TA (NR) – He was a very very borderline candidate to make it but realistically didn’t have a shot. I was STUNNED at how polished he was early on though. There are lots of examples of him freezing and not knowing what to do or flubbing a spot, but you just see he would move past that. The way he moved around the ring you could just tell he was going to make it big. He was awesome in brawls and had that special charisma like Kerry.
Honorable Mention: The whole Greg Valentine (54) vs Tito Santana (85) feud. People were not exaggerating about that.
Terry Funk – I wasn’t expecting anyone to surpass Hansen as my #1 overall, but Funk came out on top and I can’t imagine him falling from the top spot.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – Who were the biggest disappointments at the end of the project?
1. The All Japan Crew – I’ve never been lower on these guys. They are great, there is no denying, but I just could not stand watching their big matches. There are some I still love sure (and most of those involve Hansen), but for the most part it is just pulling teeth. I used to think 15+ minutes of nearfalls and headdrops was awesome. Now it feels like the dumbest approach to pro-wrestling possible. People often criticize modern WWE for putting on “self conscious epics” and I feel basically the same way about 4 Pillars Era All Japan. (Editors note, I wrote this section weeks before the All Japan self conscious epics thread started)
2. Fit Finaly (NR) – Finlay reminds me of Jumbo (16). He’s very good as a young worker and excellent as an old angry vet. But in his “prime” I found him to be pretty disappointing more often that not. I watched a lot of his matches for this project but I’d be happy to never watch him again.
3. Terry Gordy (83) – He had all of the tools but it never quite came together like I would have hoped for a consistent run. He should have been a contender for the top 10 if everything worked out right. Just one of the most physically talented wrestlers ever.
4. Emilio Charles Jr (NR) – Just hasn’t hit me yet but I’m going to keep trying.
5. Lack of Lucha Footage from the 80s and before – Obviously this sucks.
Honorable Mention: Hiroshi Tanahashi (NR) vs Kazuchika Okada (NR) Feud – I know I said I wasn’t going to even attempt to watch guys like this for the project, but I ended up stumbling across a DM playlist with all of their matches and figured I’d give it a shot since people were talking a lot about Tanahashi. I gave up about halfway through the first match. Tried several other times with several other matches and I just hated them.
Terry Funk – Lack of footage from Amarillo and NWA Title Run
FAVORITE STYLE OF WRESTLING – What is your favorite style of wrestling at the end of the GWE project?
1. Apuestas/Super Libre – Before CMLL stopped using blood, the most likely match for a MOTYC or all time classic was a wild hate filled lucha brawl. Some of my absolute favorite matches. Nothing beats the hatred in a great lucha brawl.
2. Shoot Style – I was a little worried about getting back into shoot style. I was worried that back in the day I just convinced myself I liked it because tapes were so expensive. When I closed my eyes I saw a lot of Takada (94) laying around in leg locks before brief (but fun) strike exchanges. My concerns were totally misplaced. Guys like Tamura (12), Han (37), and Fujiwara (7) at their best were unmatched. They were masters of the most constrictive style of wrestling but managed to have incredible matches. UWF 1.0 where they are still discovering who they are and the quirky off shoot in BattlArts are quite possibly my favorite promotions.
3. Southern Brawls – Really this is the first cousin of lucha brawls. Something like Dundee (32)/Lawler (6) is very similar to Chicana (21)/MS-1 (49).
4. Japanese Interpromotional – These are some of the most fun matches of all time from UWF vs NJ to Tenryu (3) vs NJ to Liger (13) invading NOAH to the mid 90s Joshi scene to everything involving Choshu (27) in the 80s. These matches always have incredible crowd heat and the workers tend to rise to the occasion.
5. Southern Tag Wrestling – The most basic style/formula of wrestling that practically guarantees a good match. Bad wrestlers can have a good match based on the southern tag formula. Good workers can have a great match.
Honorable Mention: Lucha Title Matches: At their best, this is probably the most beautiful style of wrestling.
Terry Funk – Terry Funk style of wrestling is definitely my favorite style of wrestling because it could be so many different things
WHO MISSED THE CUT? Who are some guys who barely missed the cut or were oversights?
1. Shawn Michaels – I hate large portions of his career and he’s a borderline pick for me, but I had resolved to put him on because the Rockers stuff was all time great tag team work and he has enough singles match performances I think are great that he should have made it.
2. Butch Reed & Devil Masami – These two were penciled in to be in the top 60-70 but their names somehow got erased. I don’t know what happened.
3. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka – Another oversight that should have ranked down towards the bottom of the list. Great shoot style wrestler but doesn’t have as much meat as the top guys
4. Matt Borne – Borne is one of my favorite wrestlers ever and was terrific in a bunch of different roles. I LOVE heel Doink and he had a few excellent matches but he really likes that all time classic he needed to make the list.
5. Rick Rude – I went back and forth on Rude. I think if he had one more year on the level of 1992 he might have grabbed a spot. Just too chinlocky.
6. Dick Togo - I didn’t watch enough of his 2000s singles work to feel good about rating him. I rewatched a bunch of his 90s stuff and he was always the star of those M-Pro multi man matches. He feels like someone who will rank really high in 2026 when I get around to his post M-Pro stuff.
7. Sean Waltman – I considered him but ended up not putting him on. I loved his run as the 123 Kid but he doesn’t do anything for me after that run. I wasn’t as in love with his Lightening Kid indy run as others were.
8. Brian Pillman – Man, Pillman maybe should have made it. He was less spectacular than Waltman but much better all around. Good tag worker, good as a face and heel. I feel like the Liger match is probably his best match but I have never been as crazy about that as most people are. Pillman was great though.
9. Satoru Sayama/Tiger Mask/Super Tiger – There was no way in hell I would have considered him after the New Japan run. But he was a completely different worker in UWF and if he kept working with those guys when they went back to New Japan and then later when they split off again, he would have most likely ranked really high on my list. I considered him for the Super Tiger run, it really was good enough to warrant consideration after the TM run.
10. The Rock – I wanted to slot him in as a favorite in the 99 or 100 slot, but when it got down to it, I just didn’t have room for 2 completely unjustifiable “favorite” picks. His best matches were really great and I genuinely think The Rundown is one of the most entertaining movies ever and I absolutely love his movies no matter how stupid they are.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:55 PM
WHAT IS NEXT? Now that the GWE project is over, what do I Plan on watching next.
1. SMW – I’ve been dragging my feet watching the SMW set. I’ve seen quite a lot of SMW over the years and I am guaranteed to love the entire promotion. I just haven’t gotten around to it. It is the next thing I’ll watch though.
2. Any new 80s Set – These are still the top priority.
3. European Stuff – I have a little bit of footage already but I’ve been waiting for the GWE project to end specifically so I could start watching this. I didn’t want to have to deal with dozens of new wrestlers to try and digest while doing re-watches for the project.
4. Puerto Rico – I wanted to separate this out because the status of a PR 80s set still seems the most up in the air. Which bums me out because it is by far the 80s set I’m most looking forward to. I just adore the little bit that I’ve seen and have been hoping for an 80s set to really start me off.
5. Literally Every BattlArts show ever – I’ve already started picking these up. BattlArts: Complete and Accurate will happen.
So that’s it. If you made it this far, you are truly a scholar and world champion and I’m sorry to have put you through that.
Posted 30 April 2016 - 09:58 PM
Lastly, and most importantly. Thank you to Grimmas for running this project which had to be a TON of work and for putting up with all the countless PM’s (borderline harassment) I sent along the way. You were truly the Vince McMahon to my Johnny Sorrow throughout this project. Two thumbs up! What a blast!
Posted 01 May 2016 - 01:54 AM
Looking forward to reading this. And about 100 pages of reactions to the list (What a week to fall behind...).
Posted 01 May 2016 - 11:45 PM
Thanks for the kind words guys! I had a blast writing this stuff up and participating in the project. I apologize to everyone who attempts to read this all in one sitting. That's why I split up the posts
Since "Fun" was my main objective (Other than writing something specifically about Terry Funk), I hope everyone notes the "Worst Gimmick" category
Posted 02 May 2016 - 07:20 AM
Yeah this was a super fun read.
It actually made me start thinking about my own list in terms of your last few categories like who are my new favourites and surprises and best all round talents, etc. Which is another fun way to sum up the project and what I got out of it.
Posted 02 May 2016 - 07:57 PM
It actually made me start thinking about my own list in terms of your last few categories like who are my new favourites and surprises and best all round talents, etc. Which is another fun way to sum up the project and what I got out of it.
Do it! Who are they?
Posted 03 May 2016 - 02:32 PM
i'd be most interested in asking everyone for their greatest discovery during the project. i noticed a few people saying exactly that about Bockwinkel in other threads, and would expect Casas & Breaks to get mentioned a good bit as well.
Posted 05 May 2016 - 12:34 AM
It actually made me start thinking about my own list in terms of your last few categories like who are my new favourites and surprises and best all round talents, etc. Which is another fun way to sum up the project and what I got out of it.
Do it! Who are they?
Picking and choosing from the categories, mostly your original ones since they're more GWE relevant, and trying to keep it out of my Top 5 or 10, at the very least, unless there's a special reason. Just take it for granted that I love everyone at the top of my ballot in every possible way there is to love a man.
NEW FAVOURITE WRESTLER
1. Toshiaki Kawada - Oops, already broke my rule. But going through 90s AJPW, I quickly discovered that of all of them Kawada is "my guy". I like grumpy Japanese assholes, I like his next level selling, and his matches are my favourite of the period.
2. Akira Taue - He's my second favourite. I push back strongly at the notion that he's not on the same level as the other three, and my biggest regret of my ballot is not having him closer to them, which was an oversight on my part.
3. Rollerball Rocco - This guy blew me away with his rudo-esqe heel schtick and work, and is easily my favourite British guy outside of Breaks.
4. Yoshinari Ogawa - I had no idea this kind of goofy, ridiculous character was running around in AJPW. He's so entertaining and awesome.
OLD FAVOURITE WRESTLER
1. Steve Austin - I've always liked Austin and thought his work was good, but everything I've seen of him in the last couple years has totally held up or been even better than I imagined. I don't know if I'd have put him in my Top 10 at the beginning of the project.
2. Andre the Giant - Ever since I first started in on older wrestling I've been impressed with Andre, both the younger and more mobile version and the older, smarter version. Nothing has changed.
3. Undertaker - I've said my piece. He's never been my favourite wrestler or anything, but I always knew he could go, and after examining him through a GWE lens I've come to appreciate even more how exceptionally talented he is.
4. Fuerza Guerrera - From the very first lucha I watched Fuerza stood out to me as an entertaining guy. After getting into lucha as much as I have, that doesn't even scratch the surface. He's my favourite rudo and my favourite luchador.
1. Arn Anderson - Goes without saying.
2. AJ Styles - Consistently put the effort in and had good matches and good performances for over 14 years now, no matter what he was dragged down into in TNA.
3. Matt Hardy - Super consistent week to week wrestler.
4. Christian - Much the same. I can't remember which podcaster said "When has Christian ever been bad? He hasn't!" But it's true.
1. Brock Lesnar - Pretty self explanatory. He reaches places nobody else can.
2. Akira Hokuto - Again, obvious. Her peak is her entire case, and it's a hell of a case.
3. Manami Toyota - Due to her style, ambition and physical ability, when she knocks it out of the park she TRULY knocks it out of the park.
4. El Samurai - It doesn't seem like he has much meat, but his best matches are the best juniors matches in history and stack up against anyone's.
BEST ALL ROUND WORKER
1. Eddie Guerrero - Yes he's in my Top 5, but there's no other answer to this. He's transcendentally great as a heel and face, and can work a variety of different styles in a variety of different places, all really well.
2. Terry Funk - Pretty much the same, he can hit that high level at extreme opposites of character, and can get over anywhere doing anything.
3. Negro Casas - He's the most exceptionally talented guy to ever come out of lucha, and can do absolutely everything that is ever asked of him.
4. Chris Jericho - Maybe the most versatile and all-round talented performer in WWE history, he can work any spot on the card, heel or face, any style of character, singles or tag teams, any single role they have for him, and can come up with the angles, cut the promos and work the matches to go along with it.
1. Jerry Lawler - Yep.
2. Ricky Morton - Defined an entire babyface role for himself. The perfect babyface tag worker.
3. Sami Zayn - THE sympathetic babyface worker of this generation, can do it in all roles - indies or WWE, singles or tags, spotfests to garbage matches - and has classic matches at the same time.
4. Jeff Hardy - Incredibly charismatic and has an unmatched connection to the crowd, and again, parlays that heat into great matches and memorable spots.
1. Jim Breaks - The best pure heel ever. Nobody is an asshole like he is.
2. Arn Anderson - He's sort of the quintessential heel worker.
3. Tully Blanchard - One of the best characters ever, a pure asshole down to his toes.
4. Mayumi Ozaki - Shoutout to the biatch pulling hair and cheating her ass off in the middle of the whirlwind of moves that is joshi. That appeals to me more than the more obvious monster heeling from Dump, Aja and the like.
Honourable Mention: Eddie in 2005 and Austin in 2001 are the two best short-term heel runs I've ever seen.
BEST OLD MAN WRESTLER
1. Genichiro Tenryu - He may have been born at the age of 45.
2. Negro Casas - He seems to constantly get better with age, and he was always good.
3. William Regal - A strange choice maybe since he's not THAT old, but it's his work as Old Man Regal that sold me on him.
4. Blue Panther - Has some of the best matches of his career, and the entirety of 21st century lucha, as an Old Man in apuestas and shit.
BEST HIGH FLYER
1. El Hijo Del Santo - Simply has some of the most beautiful moves ever. Timeless.
2. Atlantis - I love watching him fly around the ring more than pretty much anyone else.
3. Great Sasuke - I'm a big fan of reckless guys in ninja outfits throwing their bodies around. Sasuke was probably the best at that.
4. Kota Ibushi - Shoutout to the prettiest and most enjoyable high flyer of the current generation.
Obviously excepting Rey.
1. Sheamus - Comes off as super hard hitting and a rugged manly man, which makes him stand out in a sanitized WWE. Can brawl with anyone.
2. Ronnie Garvin - Self explanatory.
3. Shinobu Kandori - The most badass brawler of all the girls, she can make shit feel super dangerous.
4. Pirata Morgan - Probably the guy who can get me into lucha brawls more than anyone else, so he gets credit for that.
Obviously excepting Stan. And Austin.
BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER
1. Volk Han - Someone made the point that his matwork is like highspots. He makes this shit more exciting than anyone else.
2. Kiyoshi Tamura - Much the same, he makes matwork so much more dramatic and dynamic than it has any right to be.
3. The Destroyer - Awesomely entertaining old school matwork, with all of the tricks.
4. Yoshiaki Fujiwara - This is in a different sense than simply "matwork", but more for the way in which he moves around the ring and approaches things from a physical perspective. In the "technical" sense of wrestling (as opposed to the emotional or character-based or flashy stuff) he's fascinating to watch.
Honourable Mention: Soooooo many British guys. If I listed one I'd have to list them all, but British matwork is the best matwork. Watch it all.
1. Jushin Thunder Liger - I've said this many times, but I never "got" Liger forever and would have never imagined 12 months ago that I'd have him as high as #17. One day, it clicked with me and I now "get" him so hard. One of the best aces ever.
2. Owen Hart - Similarly, I was just saying only recently that Owen never resonated with me as a great worker, but then I enjoyed the Shamrock stuff, dove deep and really enjoyed everything he did and started to understand what made him great. Again, never imagined he'd make my top half.
3. Dynamite Kansai - As a joshi novice, the names you hear about are guys like Aja, Toyota, Hokuto, Bull, etc. I had NEVER heard about Dynamite Kansai being a super worker, so when I dove in and started watching these tags and shit she leaped off the page. I truly had no idea.
4. Pat Roach - How in the utter fuck is this guy not talked about ever? British heavyweights get totally shafted and he's the biggest victim because he's fucking awesome and should be spoken about alongside all of the great names: Breaks, Grey, Jones, Saint. Roach is fucking awesome.
1. Harley Race - The boring Flair match turned me off years ago, but I was willing to reconsider for this project. And nope, I still don't get it.
2. El Dandy - Probably has the biggest "hype relative to what I actually see" ratio. BUT with the caveat that most of the Dandy I watched was in the pre-"getting it" period.
3. Jun Akiyama - I ranked him, but I have him WAY below so many other people seem to. I don't see this all-time super worker or a guy who compares to the Pillars at all.
4. Dick Murdoch - Like Harley, I hear the praise and then I watch the matches and...nothing.
I could have listed other guys that I don't really "get" relative to other people like Windham or Choshu, but in all fairness that disappointment pre-dates GWE, to the point where I didn't look at a lot of their stuff for this project, so they don't fit the category.
FAVOURITE STYLE OF WRESTLING
1. AJPW 90s scene - It sounds crazy to some but I was a total novice on this period when this project started. I dove straight into the greatest hits basically parallel to (but independent of) Parv and Grim on the Excite Series. I can find overkill problematic just as much as the next guy so I wasn't sure how exactly I'd take it, but I fucking love this stuff and think it is elite level, top wrestling. This whole project I've had trouble keeping my eyes open when watching basically any wrestling. It literally sends me to sleep and often the thought of watching a long match would drive me to despair. Of all the non-WWE I watched for this project, 90s AJPW was the easiest to watch and the least likely to send me to sleep. This stuff holds up.
2. World of Sport - I've loved British wrestling since I first laid eyes on it, and every match I watch reaffirms that love. I already knew I loved Breaks, but I've got into so many more British guys in the last couple years, particularly the heavyweights, who kind of fly under the radar but who are just as good as the lighter guys. If you're one of those people who still hasn't checked it all out yet, do so immediately.
3. Lucha trios matches - I'm not wild about lucha brawling. I can still find matwork in title matches or maestros matches co operative or unengaging. But I can pretty much watch any lucha trios ever and enjoy it on some level. Whether it's the quality of the tecnico flying, the quality of the rudo stooging, the escalation of the match across the falls, a strong individual matchup...there's something to love. Trios are my gateway into lucha.
Honourable Mentions: I couldn't pick a 4th one out of these, and putting them with the others seems too strong still, so they can all go here. From my watching for this project I have found more enjoyment in watching joshi, shoot style and 90s juniors matches than I ever thought possible.
Obviously this doesn't include WWE.
WHO MISSED THE CUT
If asked today, these guys are my #101-110.
Perro Aguayo Jr. (these two were my last minute cuts to make way for my last minute inclusions)
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users