October 19, 2021

Atletifo Sports

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Top 10 Greatest Wrestlers in the History of the WWE

The WWE has made it’s name as the biggest name in professional wrestling. They claim it’s sports entertainment, but it’s professional wrestling. In their 68 year history, WWE have produced some of the best wrestlers of all time, showcasing incredible talent on their shows.

The best WWE wrestlers of all time is a contentious subject. Out of the thousands of wrestlers to have worked for the WWE, to pick only a handful to make the list of the best ones is difficult. To find just 10 wrestlers to be the best in WWE ever is an impossible task, and one you may disagree with.

But that’s okay. Because we all have different opinions, and I’m not claiming ours to be gospel. And if you do have any comments on this article, comment down below or tweet us at @Atletifo.

The Vince McMahon Effect

Plus, the booking of a talent makes all the difference. Rey Mysterio is one of the greatest performers in the history of wrestling. He revolutionised lucha libra in the United States, and became a multiple time world champion despite his diminutive stature.

However, Vince McMahon does not see him as a main event star. In his mind, Rey Mysterio cannot compete with the likes of John Cena or the Undertaker. He is too small to be the hulking behemoth that Vince McMahon wants on his shows.

So is he one of the most influential wrestlers of all time? Absolutely. Is he on the list of best WWE Wrestlers of all time? No. Because the men on this list are so iconic and integral to the history of WWE, that there is simply no room for him.

The same goes for someone like Ric Flair. He is undisputedly one of, if not THE, greatest of all time. But in WWE? He had a short run in the 1990s, winning one world title, before returning in the mid 2000s, in his 50s. His prime years were spent touring the world with the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship, or being The Man in WCW. He is not in the best WWE Wrestlers of all time, because he was the best wrestlers everywhere else in the world.

Best WWE Wrestlers

Now of course this list is subjective, and is just how I feel. The stars are chosen on star power, in ring skills, charisma, influence on the WWE, and how they are perceived by the fans. Some on this list you might not think are the best wrestlers in the world. Someone like Hulk Hogan may not be considered a supreme in ring talent. But as WWE wrestler? There can be no-one more crucial to the success of WWE than the Hulkster.

Now, after all that, here is the Top 10 best WWE wrestlers of all time!

Honorary Mentions

Brock Lesnar – The man who ended the Undertaker’s streak has never left the main event since his debut in 2002. He has shown a keen understanding for the business and an incredible in ring ability.

Mick Foley – The Hardcore Legend showed his range in WWE with three distinct character, all of which he played at the same time. When someone get Dude Love, Mankind and Cactus Jack into the main event, he must be a legend.

Roddy Piper – One of the great heels and a star of the 1980s. As well as being incredible on the mic, Piper also starred in a number of movies including the cult classic “They Live”

Vince McMahon – While by no means the best in ring, there may be no greater character in WWE than Mr McMahon. He also had some great matches despite not being a wrestler, against Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin to name a few.

Top 10 Best WWE Wrestlers of all time

10. Randy Orton

The number 10 spot of the best WWE wrestlers of all time was one of the hardest. There were a few superstars who could have been the inaugural entry.

Kane, the brother of the Undertaker and 25 year veteran of WWE, had a tough time missing off this list. As a multiple time world champion who has changed his gimmick more times than ever thought possible seemed a shoe-in for this list.

However, you cannot overlook Randy Orton. He has the third most world championship victories in the history of WWE. His 14 titles, split between the WWE and World Heavyweight belt, tie him with Triple H, and just behind John Cena and Ric Flair, with 16 a piece.

14 Time World Champion

Orton has been a star in WWE for over 15 years, wrestling regularly for over 20. He became the youngest World Champion in WWE history at Summerslam 2004. He beat Chris Benoit in an excellent match to win the World Heavyweight championship, the first of his incredible career. You can read more about that match at Randy Orton’s Best Matches.

Since that day “The Viper” has gone from strength to strength. He has won every title available in WWE, becoming the 18th Grand Slam Champion in WWE history.

He has always been a person for Vince McMahon to rely on. When times looked tough, he was always a dependable star to put in the main events, to help guide the ship. Despite attitude issues early on, he has become a locker room leader and someone for the young talent to look up to.

Randy Orton has shown himself to be one of the best heels in WWE history. Nobody can get the crowd to hate them as well as “The Viper” can. Whether it was in his team with Edge as “Rated-RKO”, as Triple H’s pet project in Evolution or The Authority, or as the benevolent WWE Champion in his run in 2007, nobody can be hated as much as Randy Orton.

He is currently doing some of his best week, teaming with Matt Riddle as “RK-Bro”, enjoying a tag title run and some very entertaining matches.

Orton has earned his spot on this list with his longevity, consistency and flawless in-ring ability. He even went mainstream a few years ago, with his famous “RKO Outta Nowhere” meme going viral. He is known all over the world as one of the top WWE stars of all time, and that is why he is number 10 on this list.

9. Bret Hart

You don’t get to be called “The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be” without being a pretty good wrestler.

When it came to in-ring ability, Bret Hart wasn’t a pretty good wrestler. He was one of the greatest of all time. Watching Bret in the ring wasn’t like watching other wrestlers. It wasn’t this fake, choreographed, phoney looking wrestling like others at the time. He was Hulking up or whatever the fuck you call what the Ultimate Warrior was doing.

Bret Hart was REAL. He didn’t do pro-wrestling, he was an athlete. He made it look real, and his style still holds up more than anybody else’s even today.

Bret “The Hitman” Hart has gone down as one of the greatest in WWE history. When the WWE was hit with the steroid scandal in the early 1990s, Vince McMahon decided he should showcase the smaller, more work-rate heavy talent. This gave the likes of Bret Hart, his brother Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels a chance to showcase themselves.

Bret would enter in a legendary feud with Shawn Michaels both on TV and behind the scenes. They would have some incredible matches, like their 60 minute iron man match at Wrestlemania 12. He would also main event Wrestlemania 9 and 10, as well as winning the Royal Rumble in 1994.

The Montreal Screwjob

Bret and Shawn’s feud would come to a head at the 1996 edition of Survivor Series. Bret Hart walked in to the event as WWE Champion, intent on retaining the WWE title. However, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon had other ideas.

Bret was set to leave WWE for WCW a month after Survivor Series, and Vince saw it as the last chance to get the title off Bret. After Medusa had thrown the WWE Women’s title into a bin on WCW Monday Nitro, tensions between the companies were high.

Thus became one of the most important moments in WWE history. Vince McMahon screwed Bret Hart out of the belt, giving Shawn Michaels the win without Bret’s know how. For a man that prided himself on his work looking real, this got too real for the Hitman. He left for WCW after that match, and looked likely never to return. This became known as the Montreal Screwjob. (Although it was not the first. You can read about the Original Montreal Screwjob here)

However, Bret would return to WWE in 2010, having his final ever wrestling matches. He faced Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 26, and even beat the Miz for the United States Championship. He had his last ever match at Summerslam 2010, beating team Nexus in a 12 man elimination tag match.

Bret has since been inducted into the WWE Hall of fame, and even appeared on AEW TV. He has been cited by many WWE superstars, such as former WWE Tag Team Champions the Revival, as the greatest of all time. However, he has earned the number 9 spot on the list of greatest WWE wrestlers of all time, despite being the best there is, the best there. was and the best there ever will be.

8. Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino is one of the most important figures in the early years of the WWE. Then known as the WWWF, it was a local company, only running shows in it’s local area of New York.

To appease the multicultural New York fans, they needed a multicultural champion. Step up the Italian-America hero, Bruno Sammartino. The Italian immigrant had a torrid time getting to the US, which included a time hiding the Swiss Alps from the evil Nazi soldiers.

When he did make it to the US and to the WWE, the strong Italian man became one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time. Bruno Sammartino held the WWE Championship twice, with a total reign of 11 years. This included an 8 year reign, which is still the longest in WWE history.

As a hero to the people of New York, he regularly sold out arena’s with his title defences. The fans were so on his side, so sure of their hero that when he finally lost the belt after 8 years, they didn’t know what to do.

Bruno Sammartino loses the title

On January 18, 1971, WWE held an event at Madison Square Garden, their usual stomping ground. Bruno Sammartino defended his WWE title against Ivan Koloff, an evil wrestler from the Soviet Union.

Bruno had held the title for 8 years at this point. Fans knew that he wouldn’t lose the belt. They had started to think he never would. Who could possibly beat their hero for his title belt?

However, after a five minute match, Koloff leapt from the top rope and on top of Bruno. The ref counted to three, and Ivan Koloff was the new WWE Champion.

The arena was silent. Fans were stunned. They had no idea how to react. The impossible had happened. Fans who were there have likened it to when Brock Lesnar ended the Undertaker’s streak. The reaction from the fans just highlights how great Bruno Sammartino really was, and that places him at number 8 on the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

7. Triple H

Some people could put this man top of their lists of best WWE wrestlers of all time. His influence in WWE has been clear from the moment he set foot in the company.

Even as a youngster starting out as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Triple H always had one eye on a backstage role. Along with his friends Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac, Triple H always had considerable influence backstage and a keen eye for working behind the scenes.

He has become a 14 time world champion in WWE, tied with Randy Orton for third of all time. He was one of the biggest stars in the Attitude Era, and became a household name by himself and with his teammates in D-Generation X. The legendary team which reeked havoc in WWE and were rightly inducted into the WWE Hall of fame in 2019.

Triple H has proved himself to absolutely one of the greatest of all time. His runs with DX, Evolution, the Authority and as a solo star were all exceptional. He has had blow away matches with a wide variety of opponents. These include Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Kurt Angle and even Ronda Rousey. Triple H could work with anyone and to an incredible standard.

While he is primarily known for being one of the best heels of all time, he can also work as a face. His run after coming back from injury in 2007 was one of his best, when he battled the likes of Edge and Randy Orton for the WWE Title.

He was a main event talent for 15 years, in which he became one of the most famous wrestlers of all time. After his legendary 14 world titles, he became a WWE executive behind the scenes. First he was just the head of talent relations, but he soon pivoted into creating one of the best wrestling products of the past 20 years.

Triple H returns from injury to one of the biggest pops of all time

NXT

Triple H was the architect behind the incredible NXT show. He turned WWE development from merely a small show where talent could learn, to a huge touring product that toured around the world.

He ushered in a new style of wrestling in WWE, allowing wrestlers who never would have been allowed in WWE to showcase themselves in WWE.

Triple H helped make stars now currently on top of WWE. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor to name but a few have become world champions in WWE, and are now the stars of WWE.

Even without his contribution to NXT, his in ring career already makes Triple H one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

Triple H also boasts some of the greatest music in the history of WWE. His entrance backed with the gravely tones of Lemmy and Motorhead made his entrances must see.

6. Shawn Michaels

“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels has been named by many, including Ric Flair, as the greatest wrestler of all time. In ring, at the time he came up, nobody fought with the speed and intensity that Shawn Michaels fought with.

Shawn Michaels was an incredible talent, who along with Bret Hart, reinvented what fans expected from a WWE main event. They took the WWE main event away from the immobile, seven foot tall giants, and let the smaller guys with incredible wrestling ability to become the stars of the show.

He became a multi time world champion and was the focal point of the show, feuding with Bret Hart and as part of the famous stable D-Generations X. He was incredible as both a heel and a face, being the best in ring worker, some say, in WWE history.

Shawn Michaels retired in 1998 due to back injuries, and it looked like his story ended there.

However, he returned in 2002, having found Jesus, and had an even better run than his first. He won the World Heavyweight Championship once, and competed for the WWE Championship multiple times. The most famous one was his feud with John Cena, which main evented Wrestlemania 23. They also had an hour long match on Monday Night Raw, which was one of John Cena’s best matches ever.

His finest bouts were also his last. He faced the Undertaker twice at Wrestlemania, at the 25th and 26th edition of the show. The first has been voted the best Wrestlemania match of all time by multiple sources, whilst the second was great but didn’t match up to the first. The second match was also with his career on the line, and he was retired by the Undertaker in a match that sent him out on top.

He would come back for a match in Saudi Arabia which everyone wishes they could forget.

5. John Cena

John Cena is currently one of the biggest names in wrestling. Due to his unprecedented run at the top and foray into Hollywood, fans around the world all know the name John Cena.

However, his worldly fame does not take away from how good of a wrestler John Cena has been for WWE.

John Cena is a 16 time world champion. It is the joint most of any wrestler in WWE history, tied with Ric Flair. He has had a number of high profile rivalries in his time, most notably with Randy Orton, Edge and CM Punk.

He first found fame with his rapper character, The Doctor of Thuganomics, in which he wowed fans with his rapping ability. The peak of that character was a United States Championship victory over the Big Show at Wrestlemania XX.

He then pivoted to his army-like character, even starring in the WWE produced movie The Marine. (Despite this, questions have been asked: was John Cena in the military?). He then went on his best run, being the WWE Champion multiple times including a near year long run with the belt. He was stripped of the belt in October 2007 due to injury, returning at the Royal Rumble and winning the titular match. It was the first of his 2 rumble wins, the other coming in 2013.

He has been known for his dedication to his character. Despite some fans becoming bored of his character, he has never compromised his morals and remained a hero to the young children watching. He has also got the record of the most Make-A-Wish wishes granted, with over 600 ill children being visited by John Cena.

4. The Rock

If his run in WWE was longer, the Rock could have been top of this list. However, his original full time run was a little over 6 years, yet the Rock still managed to become number four on this list of best WWE wrestlers of all time.

His debut did not go as well as one would hope, and fans soon started to chant “Die Rocky Die”, despite the preppy Rocky Maivia being a face. However, he soon joined the Nation of Domination, and began to develop the The Rock character.

As he found his footing, the Rock became the man in WWE alongside Steve Austin. His feud with Stone Cold, with lasted through three Wrestlemania main events, helped launch the WWE to it’s most popular time in the companies history. The Rock himself became one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, with some of the most iconic catchphrases for fans to chant along to.

He would later go on to become one of the most popular actors in the world. Despite his incredible popularity, he came back to WWE in 2012 for a series of matches. A double bout at consecutive Wrestlemania’s against John Cena gave WWE their highest buy rates ever. He also had bout with CM Punk, The Miz and R-Truth, winning the WWE title off CM Punk at Royal Rumble 2013.

Roman Reigns vs The Rock looks set to be scheduled for a match sooner rather than later, and could be the last stand of the legendary Rock in a WWE ring.

3. Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan could stake his claim to be number one on this list. It really was a toss up between the top three on this list.

He is perhaps the most famous wrestler in American history, Hulk Hogan is an icon of the sport. Wrestling in America prior to the rise of Hogan was a local affair. Fans watched their local promotion, and cheered for local stars. It was the way that Bruno Sammartino became a star in New York, but it was the way of a bygone era. The territory era ended and began the era of Hulkamania.

In the 1980s, wrestling was Hulk Hogan. Fans wanted to see Hulk Hogan. They didn’t want 30 minute work rate matches, flying spots and flippy shit. The fans didn’t want those vanilla midgets, brother.

They wanted the Hulkster to call you Brother, Hulk Up, eat his vitamins and leg drop some fat man dressed like this months evil country of the month. The people ate that shit up. And Hogan had the charisma, and talent, to make the fans not only want to watch it, to watch it in droves while cheering for Hulk Hogan.

Wrestlemania

Hogan starred in some of the biggest events in the history of WWE. Without him, Wrestlemania 1 would never have happened. He teamed with his Rocky III co-star in a tag team match in the main event, one of the 8 wrestlemanias he would main event. He won in the biggest main event in WWE history, his match against Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3. The image of him lifting Andre the Giant has remained one of the most everlasting images in WWE history.

Hulk Hogan’s legendary status does not come from his in ring abilty. He was not known as the most technical wrestler in the world. But one thing he could do was connect with the crowd. He had crowds eating out the palm of his hand, saying prayers and eating vitamins as they willed the Hulkster to victory every night.

Maybe nobody in wrestling has connected to the crowd the way Hulk Hoga has, and that is why he’s number 3 on the list the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

2. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

This man should be number one. He is the biggest draw in the history of the wrestling business in North America. However, you will understand why not when you see who gets named the best wrestling of all time in WWE.

Rejected by WCW in his prime, Austin moved to WWE with a chip on his shoulder. First he was saddled with an awful “Ringmaster” gimmick, but after winning the King of the Ring in 1996, he became one of the biggest babyfaces in WWE history.

He feuded with the evil Mr McMahon after the Montreal Screw job, which became the biggest money drawing feud of all time. His trio of matches with the Rock at Wrestlemania are some of the best moments in WWE history.

Steve Austin manage to encapsulate the feeling the working man in America at the time felt. The disdain for your boss is a universal feeling, and he captured that and showed the working man that he could succeeded at what he wanted. In a way, he was the Hulk Hogan for the late nineties, but instead of eating your vitamins, it was downing your beer and doing whatever the hell you wanted.

Austin retired in 2002, due to injuries sustained in his career. His run at the top was short, but so great that he can only be described one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time. Without Austin, WWE does not survive WCW, and would go out of business. Vince owes Austin his company, but I’m sure the millions he made as the Texas Rattlesnake will do him just fine.

1. The Undertaker

Number one on the list of best WWE wrestlers of all time has to be the Undertaker.

The Undertaker had a career that spanned over 30 years in WWE, as the mysterious Zombie wizard mortician character that only he could have made work. No-one would have thought that the gimmick would last, and especially nobody thought he’d be considered the greatest of all time 30 years later.

But, here we are.

The Undertaker became the best WWE wrestler of all time through a combination of things.

His in-ring ability, which he developed over the years, showed him as one of the best wrestlers in the world. For a man of nearly seven foot tall, he could move at lightning speed with agility of a man half his size. He could work with anybody on the roster, even pulling an okay match against the Great Khali.

He showed in his Wrestlemania matches against Shawn Michaels and Triple H that even when he was touching 50, he could still work at the highest level. I would even go so far to argue that he hit his peak in ring ability in the mid 2000s.

The Undertaker is a multiple time world champions, most notably with his World Heavyweight Championship runs in the mid 2000s. His victory at the 2007 Royal Rumble earned him a title shot at Wrestlemania 23, which he made full use of by defeating Batista for the aforementioned belt. He would go on to trade the belt with Edge over the next 18 months in one of the best feuds in Smackdown history.

He was also a pivotal character in the Attitude Era. His feud with his brother Kane added a brand new element of storytelling to WWE. The supernatural brothers battling it out added an element of soap opera and horror to the wrestling show. The horror element has been attempted to be copied following that, but has never come close to the Brothers of Destruction battling it at at Wrestlemania 14.

The Streak

Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Streak alone puts him as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time. At it’s peak, he had 21 wins and 0 losses at WWE’s biggest event, Wrestlemania.

He claimed scalps along the way, defeating legends like Ric Flair, Triple H, Jake Roberts and Kevin Nash on his way to Wrestlemania God-status. It remains one of the most iconic and impressive streaks in wrestling, and will never be broken by anybody in the future. That is how impressive the achievement is.

The streak came to an end at Wrestlemania 30. Brock Lesnar was the man who beat the streak, pinning the Undertaker with 3 F-5s to end the legendary streak of the Deadman.

Fans thought the Phenom was done. However, he came back to have more legendary matches, until his final match against AJ Styles. He fought Brock Lesnar twice, including an incredible Hell in a Cell match. He finally had a fans WWE dream match against John Cena at Wrestlemania 34.

The Undertaker has inspired so many fans and wrestlers alike. When he announced his retirement on his WWE Documentary “Last Ride”, the outpouring of messages from wrestlers was incredible. Sharing memories of the Deadman and saying how much they loved him since childhood was overwhelming.

There will never be any wrestler like the Undertaker. To have his ability, longevity and staying power in the main event is unheard of. He is, without doubt, the greatest WWE wrestler of all time.