John Cena sucks. Let’s establish that. I don’t understand why most of today’s wrestling fans love him. Back in my days (90’s to early 2000’s), he will definitely be dismissed as trash by the fans. I admit, I liked Cena back before he became a WWE icon. He has this mean charismatic smartass rapping tongue and entertaining antics as a white hip-hop. Now, I can no longer find him charismatic nor entertaining. I say it again – and if you were already a fan during the Attitude era, you will agree with me – John Cena sucks.
In this list are the top ten wrestlers that I found most entertaining and charismatic – two factors to determine the quality of a wrestler. Professional wrestlers are not only tough athletes but good actors and can sell their characters very well. Actually, I find that those that are good actors are rewarded more in this business than the athletic ones (since if it’s the other way around, Billy Kidman should have had several world titles during his career). I am not saying that athleticism in wrestling is unimportant, but I think being able to make your character’s personality more interesting is more important than athleticism. It doesn’t matter if a wrestler is a babyface (good guy) or a heel (bad guy). Fans appreciate creativity or good characterization when they see it, regardless of being a good or bad guy. Besides, in wrestling, the characters and storylines are dynamic and ever changing. A wrestler might be a babyface in this storyline, and then a heel on the next, and then back to babyface. And so on with the cycle. Some wrestlers are better off as babyfaces, some wrestlers are better off as heels, and some are good either way.
By the way, before starting, I want to make this clear, this top 10 should not be interpreted as who is the top 10 greatest according to my opinion. This list means my top 10 favorite performers (though the top 1 of this list is also who is, in my opinion, the greatest of all time in the history of wrestling).
10.) MICK FOLEY
He was given the nickname the Hardcore Legend because of his trademark toughness. In his career, he had endured an unbelievable amount of painful stunts just to make the matches he is in – especially the hardcore and no-holds-barred matches – more compelling and badass. Together with the Rock, they had formed the second most entertaining duo (I will mention later which I think is the first) in wrestling: the Rock N’ Sock Connection. He was known to characterize three personalities: Mankind (the most famous and fun), Dude Love, and Cactus Jack (the most hardcore). At one Royal Rumble, though Mick Foley lost, all three personalities had participated! His signature move is the Mandible Claw, in which he put a sock on his hand and grabs his opponent’s jaw.
9.) STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
The Texas Rattlesnake was the ultimate anti-authority figure in the WWE. He answered to no one. He was badass and uncompromising. He was a primary reason why the 90’s was known as the Attitude era – which had put more grit into the WWE. Just looking at his signatures – from his Stunner, to his beer drinking, to his gesture of raising his middle fingers – you can determine how much of a rebel he is.
8.) THE HURRICANE
This is no joke. I really liked the Hurricane. Yes, he’s mostly used for comic relief, but his ridiculous antics and mannerisms as a superhero in the wrestling world really cracked me up. I actually find it sad that he had not much success as a competitor. His most funny (and best) moment was during his short but memorable feud with the Rock (where the Rock made fun of him and called him “the Hamburglar”).
Not the Kane now, but the legendary masked Kane of the past. Prior to removing his mask, Kane was the most terrifying star in WWE. Terrifying in the sense that his mask added to the mystique of mystery about him. There is a reason he is nicknamed the Big Red Machine, as he was like an unstoppable mechanical force of destruction.
I have to add someone with Filipino blood on this list. Batista was just an enforcer-type of wrestler before he was catapulted to superstar status when he became a world champion. I think he was made to be so to replace Goldberg as being the “Animal”. But I find Batista better than Goldberg. He’s classier (but still retaining the savageness of being the “Animal”), more charismatic, grittier, better with the mic (an important and invaluable skill in the trade), and does not seem to exaggerate as Goldberg does with the “Animal” characterization.
5.) THE UNDERTAKER
He had also donned a “Hell’s Angel biker”-type of character, but he is more famous as the eerie, scary Deadman. With his “back from the grave”-persona with Underworld powers as the theatrics of his character, he is the most intimidating wrestler in the WWE. But more than theatrics, he is also among the most formidable and skillful wrestlers in the ring. He can even tightrope on the top rope, something impressive for a seven-footer like the Undertaker.
4.) TRIPLE H
I cheered against Hunter Hearst-Helmsley when he was feuding with my favorite wrestler (see number 1). But though I cheered against him, I respect him as a wrestler and performer. He is one of the greatest ever in the business, and at his best when he is a heel. He and Shawn Michaels form the most entertaining duo in wrestling with D-X. And he was also the leader of one of the best heel groups ever, Evolution. The best moment of Triple H was during his tagteam match with Stone Cold against Christ Jericho and Chris Benoit. Somewhere in the match, Triple H’s left quadriceps muscle burst and rolled up his leg. A famous orthopedic surgeon would describe it as as if someone had shot off a gun inside the muscle. Triple H surpassed the limit of human tolerance for pain, as he continued to finish the match, even enduring a Walls of Jericho along the way. That epic performance showed Triple H’s heart and dedication for his trade, earning him the respect of everyone.
3.) SHAWN MICHAELS
HBK or the Heartbreak Kid is one of the most dedicated and skilled performers in the WWE. His finishing move, the Sweet Chin Music, is one of my favorites. No complicated hype but still cool. Sometimes he deliver it after some build-up or flair, but it is at its best when it comes out of nowhere, knocking his opponent unconscious. In a way, the Sweet Chin Music reflects its wielder; unpredictable, fundamental, effective, sexy, and striking. As an icon, HBK is one of the most beloved ever.
2.) RANDY ORTON
My most favorite wrestler in the post-Attitude era, Randy Orton would fit well during that Attitude era (unlike Cena). I had seen great potential in him when he was being built up by Evolution to be “the future.” And then he became the Legend Killer (targeting legendary figures), became the youngest world champion, and, now, he’s one of the top superstars in the WWE and consistent champion or contender. Most of the time, he’s a heel, but even during those times, with that smirk and arrogance in him, he was lovable. These days, he is the Viper (though I kind of like his arrogant Legend Killer persona more), cunning, uncontrolled, and deadly. Just like a Viper, his signature RKO finisher can strike unexpectedly. It is so entertaining to watch those RKOs coming out of nowhere. My dream match is between him and the number one in this list.
1.) THE ROCK
The People’s Champ. The Brahma Bull. He was captivating, entertaining, and electrifying. He was blessed with a witty and charismatic tongue, his promos delivered with unique flamboyance and humor, and he had coined plenty of trademark catchphrases. He was that great with the mic that I remember that there was a time, that even though he was the heel and talked trash against the audience, they still cheered for him! He was not that breathtaking in terms of ring athleticism but his collection of delightful antics, behavior, mannerisms, facial expressions, and body languages made his ring performances special. He was also passionate with wrestling, and it is demonstrated by how much effort he put in performing, by the creativity he shows, not only in building up his character, but also making his opponent’s character look good, making the story more interesting. I don’t need to elaborate more how much a great performer he is since you already know that he is now a Hollywood actor (proving my point). The Rock is the best.
That’s why it’ll probably drive me mad if the writers require the Rock to lose against, ugh, Cena in Wrestlemania 28.