70s guys - even though my explorations are not yet complete, I have a good sense all of these guys will make it based on what I've seen and what I like
Dory Funk Jr - in too many good to great matches to ignore, makes up for ostensible lack of charisma with superb counter wrestling, solid psychology, occasionally intricate limb work, and more bombs than you might imagine, probably a top 40 finish
Jack Brisco - sort of guy who comes along only once in a generation, not even seen a quarter of the stuff yet but clearly one of the best workers in the world in his day, complete wrestler, probable top 20 finish. Prototype for every prominent NWA-type babyface of the 80s, but arguably more talented than any of them.
Harley Race - will definitely rank, question is how high. Lots more to go, sometimes I love him, but he has a lot of habits I find frustrating.
Billy Robinson - brilliant worker, among the best mat wrestlers of all time, but also mixes in high artillery offense and bumps with the best of them. Want to see everything I can, but should finish top half.
Giant Baba - like Dory, in too many good to great matches to ignore, unique wrestler and contender for "smartest" worker ever. Have loved some of his 70s singles matches with Race. Top half finish for sure.
The Sheik - I seem to like him more than 99% of other people. Performances in those Funks tags are world class, and I dug the hell out of the Steamboat match from All Japan. Quite a bit of 70s Sheik out there to explore. I should be able to find room for him -- possibly I'll be his only vote, who knows.
NWA /WCW guys
Ric Flair - nuff said, will be #1 or #2 when all is said and done.
Arn Anderson - lock top 30. Love the guy.
Lex Luger - will almost certainly rank because I have really loved him 87-91 and I already know I like him more than most in the rest of the 90s.
Tully Blanchard - another lock. Hurt a little bit by longevity, but more great singles matches to his name than Arn. Might seek out some more pre-Crockett stuff from South West, there is quite a bit out there.
Ron Garvin - will definitely rank, but how high I'm not sure yet. Love the Flair matches. Will seek out his stuff for Poffo in time. And need to see his Memphis stuff.
Wahoo McDaniel - I love hard-hitting wrestlers. I want to rank Wahoo and he'll probably be in the 80-100 range. Would like to see more of him in the 70s. I also love Flair name-checking him in every promo ever.
Ole Anderson - As with Wahoo, love his stiffness and surliness. Tremendous promo, arguably top 5 of all-time. Wish there was more 70s Ole available. Probable 80-100 guy.
Ricky Steamboat - I'm higher on him than a lot of people. Everything a babyface should be. Think he's a victim of people trying to be trendy. I've watched the Flair trilogy in recent memory and they remain phenomenal. Great tagging with Youngblood with a fantastic performance at MSG against shitty Bulldog Brower. Great at selling, stiff strikes, good execution on his bombs -- possibly let down occasionally by some boring matwork, disappointing in Japan. Likely top 20 for me though, I like him that much.
Bobby Eaton - Tremendous worker and star on any variant of the Midnights, never quite puts it together as a singles, but he's so good in so many matches that I don't care. Want him to place as high as possible. Love his offensive bombs, but great at punching, selling, timing and basically everything. His performance in the match against Bill Watts and Stagger Lee is something else.
Ricky Morton - Lower on him than a lot of people because I want more to a guy than just ability to bump and sell, but he'll definitely rank somewhere.
Barry Windham - Likely in 80-100 range, I'm lower on him than most, but he's too good not to place somewhere. LOVE his float over suplex.
Ivan Koloff - Carried that Russians team and did a superb job of transitioning to working a different style in his later years. Genuinely very good in the squashes and stuff I saw from early 80s GCW, one of Bruno's better opponents in the 70s. I want to see more of what is available from Florida and elsewhere -- and there is some on tape which I have here. Underrated as a worker I think and should rank.
Rick Rude - Rude in 92 is one of my all-time favourite guys and I will have to find a place for him somewhere, even if I think he sucked before 89 and his peak was pretty short. I couldn't love Rude with the short hair and mustache in WCW more if I tried. Possibly only Jesse Ventura loved him more.
Vader - hard not to love his brutality, need to see more of him in NJPW, a lot of great performances, likely top 40.
Eddie Guerrero - I haven't talked about the late 90s much, but I thought Eddie was fantastic in WCW and really liked him right till the very end even after he bulked up. A lot of superb matches. I remember thinking the Rey feud over the son and all that was great, just compelling TV and one of the last great things I can recall before I called time on watching modern WWE. I need to revisit him a bit to make a call on where he'll finish.
Chris Benoit - I think he had too many good performances not to rank somewhere, even if I was always lower on him than most of the rest of the internet. I always preferred Eddie because he had better charisma, crowd control, and psychology, but Benoit was a suplex machine, and I love me some suplexes.
Ted DiBiase - my personal favourite wrestler from when I was a kid and think he's good at basically everything: selling, bumping, offense, punching and brawling, controlling a crowd, controlling the pace of a match, timing, just superb. Complete all-rounder. His peak is in Mid-South but his early career as a firey babyface is underrated, and I still have a soft spot for the Million Dollar Man that everyone knows about. I include 1988 in his peak. Will place as high as I can justify, which likely means top 25.
Dick Murdoch - just to appease Will. No really, I have really liked the Mid-South stuff of Murdoch's I've seen, and especially like him as a heel. I wasn't that enamored with his later work in WCW. Have seen bits and bobs from St. Louis and elsewhere in the 70s. Need to see more of him in New Japan. Thought his matches in AJPW in 1980 were a bit exhibtion-y and boring. He will rank though for sure.
Butch Reed - probably will be in 90-100 range but I think he looks fantastic circa 83-4, and really liked some of the Doom matches in 1990. I like POWER wrestlers and Reed both looked the part and did some sweet offense, while having better psychology than your typical Steiner brother.
Andre - will find space for him. Too good at what he did for too long to ignore. Great timing, and great at working "as a giant". Not as high as Matt D on his late 80s heel stuff, but he was better than the Scott Keiths made out too. I can't understand how some people think Bam Bam Bigelow was a better worker than Andre.
Bob Backlund - I know I said he wouldn't make the 100, but thinking about it, he almost certainly will despite all my many reservations. Too many good to great matches to ignore. One of the most frustrating wrestlers ever for me. Arguably the best piledriver in the business.
Hulk Hogan - don't know how he can't rank, one of the best ever babyfaces at generating sympathy from a heat segment, crowd control is excellent, connection with crowds off the charts. Performances in AWA and New Japan add to the legend. Really great circa 84-5, but can still turn it on when he wants to after that. Don't understand how he won't be making so many people's lists.
Bruno Sammartino - in terms of connecting with a crowd, he has no peer. Tremendous fire, a unique rough and tumble style, can work the mat on occasion, one of the best comebacks the business has ever seen, and like Hogan one of the very best at generating sympathy. I think both Bruno and Hogan are better "working babyfaces" than, say, Dusty Rhodes, who relied so much on his promos and / or getting bloodied. I genuinely prefer them both to Backlund too. Wrestling is not just about headlocks, it's also about crowd control.
Randy Savage - should finish pretty high, best working champion they had for 20+ years. Charisma off the charts. More great matches than anyone in that promotion for a long time. Good at many many things and consistently excellent for his entire run up to 92-3. Also has some good stuff in WCW. Need to see him in Memphis and ICW.
Bret Hart - people probably think I'm down on Bret but I'm not, but I just think his advocates vastly overrate him and that it's absurd to think of him as a #1 contender. But he was one of the very best during his time on top, notwithstanding criticisms of his house show performances. He'll be on my list somewhere, Shawn Michaels likely won't be.
Steve Austin - I don't really have a rep as someone who likes the Attitude Era, but Austin had too many great performances to ignore, and I'm not exactly in a hurry to revisit. But he'll be on my list somewhere too.
Kurt Angle - I like suplexes and I thought Angle was legimately great before he lost his hair and started wearing a gum shield. Couldn't care less about his TNA run, and much, much preferred him as the goofy "Three Is" "It's True" heel, but he was too good at doing suplexes for me to leave off my 100. PWO probably goes too far in it's anti-Angle sentiment, even if it is "true" that he became very go go go. Need to revisit a bit to decide where he'll fall.
80s AJPW guys
Terry Funk - could really be listed anywhere, but here seems right. Top 5 most likely. Has been impossible to ignore while investigating Dory Jr too, legitimately great.
Stan Hansen - outside shot at #1 depending on just how great the 90s stuff is. Love his stiffness.
Jumbo Tsuruta - only real contender for Flair's #1 spot right now, but time is running out. A lot riding on performances in 90-1 for him. Really love him, seemingly more than most.
Generico Tenryu - need to see more of him in the 90s. In the 80s, I didn't like him as a face and thought he was the clear 4th best guy in a lot of the high-end tags. Only really comes into his own circa 88-89, when he becomes the moody ass-kicking leader of Revolution. Potential top 10 depending on what else there is in the 90s. Based on 80s though, more like top 30.
Yoshiaki Yatsu - tremendous offensive wrestler who worked his arse off bumping and selling at 100-miles an hour in so many of those mid-80s tags. We have been seeing him in 1981 as a youngster working WWF for Titans recently, and he is one of the better workers on that roster. Need to see him in New Japan. Seemingly falls off a cliff in 90, but we have a whole decade of stuff before that.
Nick Bockwinkel - top 10 most likely. Complete wrestler. Possibly the most complete wrestler ever.
Jerry Blackwell - I really like him bouncing off those cages. Will try to find space in the 80-100 range, which is going to be my home for a lot of guys I have generally warm feelings about.
Rick Martel - phenomenal babyface, think he's been great in 80-81 WWF, and a lot of good performances in the AWA. One of the very best comebacks in the business. Great sense of fire and energy in everything he does. Will potentially finish above Ricky Steamboat. The embodiment of everything I think a babyface should be. Jack Brisco will do well to finish above Martel -- even if Brisco fathered the style that Martel mastered. He was pretty sexy too.
Bobby Heenan - need to watch more of him in the 70s, but really great bumper and bleeder. Good shot at being my benchmark #100.
Sgt. Slaughter - could have listed him for Crockett or WWF, doesn't really matter, the guy was really excellent from 1980 to 1985 and I think his WWF run in 1991 is underrated for how much he worked his arse off. Short peak, but a lot of great performances and a very solid "greatest hits" package of great matches everywhere he worked. Only thing is, I thought his matches with Hansen were a wee bit disappointing. Heat was off-the-charts during his heel run in early 80s WWF.
Mr Saito - love the guy whether stooging in the AWA vs. Hogan / tagging with Fuji, dropping massive bombs as an asskicker, or working an amateur mat-based style. Saito could do it all.
Kerry Von Erich - great babyface involved in a lot of good to great matches and I've not even watched him in Texas.
Michael Hayes - if I can find room for him, I will. Great at crowd control. Off-the-charts charisma. Underrated worker. Good punch. Consummate cowardly heel when he wants to be. Singles run in 89 WCW undersold.
Lou Thesz - need to watch more of that Chicago stuff, but Thesz was masterful in that Verne match, and his character work a legit surprise to me.
Areas for further investigation:
Buddy Rose - too much has been pimped to ignore, was great tagging with Somers in AWA.
80s NJPW - the key name here is Fujinami to me. He has been great from 80-1. But am also eager to see Choshu and co before jumping.
90s AJPW - doing the podcast with Steven, and am more excited about it than anything else right now. Just knowing what I like and from what I've seen already, you might as well reserve three spots in my top 10 and a fourth spot somewhere in my top 20 right now. I don't want to say that none of them have a shot at #1, but they are going to have to do a hell of a lot to finish ahead of Flair or Jumbo at this point.
00s Japan - the main priority is Akiyama who is a total blind spot for me. Don't think I've ever seen a match of his. I may take a cursory glance at modern New Japan too, but it is not high priority.
Puerto Rico - dipped my toe in watching Dory Jr, and need to see those pimped Colon and Invader matches, and anything involving Hansen or Terry Funk
Memphis - need to finish off 80s set. Dundee will certainly rank, as will Lawler, even though I'm not nearly as high on him as a lot of people are. I want more than punches, great timing and selling most of the time.
Lucha - continue to struggle to get into it, and it may well never be my thing. Will get back to 80s Lucha set at some point. Trios matches continue to bewilder me. The matwork leaves me cold. The wilder brawls have been the best and easiest things to get into. I don't want to write Lucha off though, too many people whose opinions I respect think too highly of it.
WoS - it's been the start of the new academic year, so been a bit pressed for time, but this is high priority and next on the "to do" list. I appreciate the work OJ puts into this.
Modern WWE - I will look at Bryan, Punk, Rey, and Cena, and take a look at what Regal has been up to. I have a strong "style bias" against modern WWE main event style, and continue to basically hate the presentation, even though it is not as bad as it used to be.
"Indie shit" - in particular AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. Low Ki is actually growing on me. I have a strong "style bias" against the presentational aspects of 00s Indie, but the work has actually surprised me in how good it has been in terms of psychology and matwork. It has admittedly made me re-evaluate some of my preconceptions of the style.
Joshi - will watch the stuff Loss recommends. Can see a couple of them making my list.
ECW - very low priority, but will likely want to check out some 2 Cold Scorpio, because I like his WCW stuff, and want to revisit some of the Terry Funk stuff.