I don't want to ruffle a lot of feathers, but in my own damned opinion Ric Flair's matches have not aged that well. His clashes with Steamboat, Funk, etc. are still entertaining to watch, but I just can't them next to some of today's contests and say "Yeah, those are still the greatest matches ever." I do think that Flair is probably the most deserving of the "Greatest Wrestler EVER" tag, I just don't think he is the God that he is portrayed as.
However, give Kurt another four-five years and FEEL THE LOVE.
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I'll mention a few names here... I believe all of these guys have a case for being the greatest wrestler of all-time.
Kurt Angle: In terms of pure wrestling ability combined with charisma, Angle is one of a kind. Can you remember the last bad Angle promo? How about the last time Angle put on a bad match, even against someone who couldn't work as well as he could? He bumps guys like Big Show and Mark Henry to two- or three-star matches, while putting on four- and five-star matches with those who can really work (such as Benoit and Jericho).
Eddie Guerrero: Like Kurt, Eddie has a high degree of charisma. He also puts on consistently entertaining matches, due not only to his exceptional high-flying moves but also his wonderful knowledge of technical wrestling. I personally don't think he's quite as charismatic, nor quite as good a wrestler, as Angle, but I really enjoy watching both men.
Chris Benoit: Chris Benoit's technical skills are unquestioned. He and Angle are perhaps the greatest technical wrestlers of all-time. Benoit's interview skills have been questioned by many, but I happen to like his minimalist approach to interviews. Instead of trying to be funny like Angle or Guerrero do quite frequently, Benoit's character is to be vicious. Benoit's character likes to hurt people. I personally think he does a wonderful job of expressing that character. He'll never crack anyone up on a consistent basis, but his interviews are, at the least, tolerable and at best, exceptional.
Chris Jericho: Chris Jericho is, I daresay, in the top three among WWE Superstars when it comes to charisma (probably the only two more charismatic are Angle and The Rock). He did have a rough time of it for a little while during the early part of the Invasion angle when he was blowing a few spots. Memorably, he did so in a match against Rhyno. A concussion seems to be the likely cause of it. He does suffer the “disadvantage” of being quite a bit smaller than traditional WWE main-eventers, and has been hurt quite a bit by stupid angles. Not to mention that the one time he main-evented WrestleMania (going in as the Undisputed Champion, no less), Jericho's role was shunted back in favor of Lucy the dog, Stephanie McMahon and the shadow of the Rock-Hogan match. WWE has been inconsistent with Jericho's push, which has hurt him quite a bit. But it certainly isn't too late to redeem themselves, as he's still one of the most popular WWE Superstars.
The Rock: The Rock's charisma is perhaps unparalled in the history of the business. He makes you believe in him, not only outside the ring with his promos, but inside the ring with his facial expressions. When The Rock is angry, he radiates that anger through his body movements and expressions. When he's being put in a painful submission hold, he makes you believe that he's in agony. The Rock's wrestling style is very quick as he practically leaps across the ring. He's been criticized for not having very many moves in his moveset, but it's not his fault that he's not Benoit when it comes to technical wrestling. Nevertheless, The Rock is continually innovating, improving, changing (when was the last time you heard the expression “roody-poo”, anyway?) and he remains one of the most entertaining WWE Superstars ever.
Which one is the best? I'm sure everyone will have their own opinion, and who's to say which one is right? My pick, personally, is Kurt Angle, with Benoit and Guerrero very closely behind. But in judging who the best wrestler is, you have to decide which criteria you're going to use, and even then it really depends on your individual taste.
Diversity is something that makes wrestling so great to watch.
“I've been waiting long for one of us to say, ‘Save the darkness, and let it never fade away.’” --a-ha, “The Living Daylights”, theme from The Living Daylights
Two-Time, Two-Time Randomly Selected Weiner of the Day, 5/27/02 and 7/3/02
To me you really cant answer this question fairly. Its like trying to say who the greatest Baseball or Football player, or Boxer. Because Over the years the games have changed so much, its unfair to judge of one era against another. Was Ali better than Tyson in his prime? Is Barry Bonds a better hitter than Ted Williams or Joe Dimaggio? Could Mickey Mantle hit 660 homers against modern pitching? Could Wilt Chamberlain dominate the modern NBA? Its difficult to measure.
For my money Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan are tied for the greatest. First and foremost they have longevity in the wrestling world thats almost unmatched. These guys have been stars in four diffrent decades. Hogan became the sports first megastar. Flair has wrestled everywhere against everyone, always making someone look good. Maybe not as well known as Hogan but amoungst true fans he is a respected master of the craft. I always like to think of Hogan and Flair like Baseball in the 30's and 40's, with Hogan being Major League Baseball with Babe Ruth and the like, with Flair being the Negro league, with lesser known guys like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Now some of you make things thats a little crazy, but hear me out. Baseball historians agree that the Negro League had Players that rivaled the MLB stars in skills. I saw on a Basball documentary that one scout called Josh Gibson the most powerful hitter that hed ever seen, and that had he been allowed in the white leagues we may have never heard of Babe Ruth. The Same was said for Satchel Paige who was a pitcher that was thought to be the equal of Cy Young. But the Negro Leaguers are almost forgotten in history because they werent allowed to play with the white players, and a lot of people dont know how great they were. Kind of like Hogan and Flair. Hogan is more well known, to normal people but to people in the know Flair was just as good, just not a household name.
Theres a part in the movie "Soul of the Game" a 1996 movie about the Negro Leagues where an owner comes to Satch Paige (played by Delroy Lindo) and asks him to pitch a game for a small team that needs a sellout to stay afloat. Satch agrees even though hes already dead tired from pitching the game before agrees. he puts on a great performance and saves the club. the whole town comes out to see him. To me that sounds like Ric Flair in the 80's. Going out of his way to make someones local champion look good.
In closing, I say Hogan and Flair right there together. Both of them, are still on top of the game entertaining fans 20 years after the both became world champions. That is pretty amazing if you think about it.
(edited by rockdotcom_2.0 on 14.10.02 1943) When a chicken in this neighborhood gets angry, it will chase you down...
I think we need clarification: When you say "Greatest Wrestler" do you mean in terms of:
a. Star power and longevity
b. Sheer wrestling talent
c. Charisma (mic skills) and heat
They are hard to separate these days in a lot of respects.
I ask because I can clearly see the Austin-Hogan debate based on star power, et. al. As Justin noted, Hogan was really protected by the very nature of the business during his day and his lack of TV overexposure almost makes it an apples-oranges comparison with Austin.
Sheer wrestling talent would probably go to Flair as he was so awesome that he remained a top star despite Dusty attempting to cut him off at the knees with inane booking. He got a more out of most people who had nothing than anyone I can clearly remember. Arguments could also be made for Benoit as best technical, or Bret Hart and, of course, Angle's current abilites and his still untapped upside are SICK. I think that if pushed properly, Angle has the stuff to be Flair 2Kwhatever. He's that good.
Charisma and heat go to Rock, who while not technically anyone's best has a way of making the crowd care about a fucking bear hug and a gasping breath that just boggles the mind.
If Shawn Michaels wrestled in more popular and lucritave times for WWE, (and had not gotten injured) I think he would have surpassed EVERYONE else easily.
As it is, I'll go with Austin.
"And in front of the entire world, I want to show my little boy that sometimes - just sometimes, you have to FIGHT to be a man." - Michael S. Hickenbottom, the man who does not take part in angles that conflict with his religion, swearing violent revenge on HHH in full view of his two-year-old son. 11:06 PM, EST. 08/05/02. This angle, which has gone from being a "clean" wrestling match to an all-out unsanctioned street fight for bloody revenge is apparently sponsored by the book of Joshua.
I'm going to be a moron and say, personally, my favorite it Macho Man Randy Savage. Sure, he sucked in WCW, but I didn't watch WCW with him in it, so I can't gauge on that. But, for my money, no one's beats the Macho Man. The guy just entertained me. Period. OHHHHH YEAH!
"WHO WRITES THIS CRAP!?" -10/7/02 The night Kane was announced a murderer.
"Pootie Tang? More like Dootie Tang!" -Chris Rock
One word: BUCKEYES! With that being said, BLAM! In your face!
Originally posted by DrOpI think we need clarification: When you say "Greatest Wrestler" do you mean in terms of:
a. Star power and longevity
b. Sheer wrestling talent
c. Charisma (mic skills) and heat
I meant all of them AND 1 more thing:
Professionalism. I dont know if this word exists, but this morer improtant than anything to me. Unlike Hoagn and many other wrestlers, Ric always worked a match properly no matter what. Even if he thought the wrestler did not deserve a push he sold his offense. Flair's strength lay in the fact that by selling his opponents offense his win would garner him more heat. Even now, with his old age, he sells without worrying about his position in the roster unlike others (see: Undertaker). That's the main reason why I respect people like Benoit, Angle, Jericho and Flair. Why did I pick Flair? He was more successfull in his career. In case of Angle however, we'll have to see.
(edited by gansobomber on 14.10.02 2057) The spirit of the Gansobomber lives on ....
Then again, I'll say it's Rick Steamboat. I'm no expert on wrestling history but has anyone ever accused Steamboat of holding anyone down or ever refusing to job? In terms of my own favorite wrestler, it'd have to be Bret Hart. Is he the best technical wrestler ever? Well, of the ones I've seen, it's either him, Benoit, Angle, or Flair. My current favorite is Jericho but I don't know that I could say he's the greatest current wrestler. That would probably be Angle.
Shawn Michaels. I'm probably biased as hell because he was WWF Champ when I first started watching, and he just impressed the hell out of me every time he was on my TV. There was that whole "Kliq" stuff about holding other wrestlers down, but I do believe it was during Shawn's reign that a certain hairy, ugly guy in a brown suit and a mask debuted and had what he later described as the best match of his career against the Heartbreak Kid, AND Shawn also wrestled with a BROKEN F'ING BACK to pass the torch of the WWF to the biggest star ever (debatably). I never got to see Ric Flair in his prime, but I'm sorry, I'm just a mark for HBK.
(edited by NotAWrestler on 15.10.02 0126) "Master! Sir! Did you see my MAD SKILLZ?!?" -Hammer, Xenogears