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A Top 5 Thread

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Now this is a thread I made a couple of weeks ago on a certain other forum where, predictably, it sank without a trace. I thought it might get a different response here...


It's always interesting to see what other people's views are on wrestling issues so I thought it would be good to have some sort of reference thread to see where everyone is coming from.


The idea for this thread is pretty simple. There are a number of categories for which you should rate your top 5 wrestlers along with a few reasons. The purpose is twofold: 1. to see who the board generally rate as being the best people in those categories, 2. so, in the future, myself and others and go back and check on this thread to see who a certain poster rated in all the categories -- it will give a general impression of who people rate and do not rate.


I'm going to rate wrestlers in a few different categories which are each fundamental to what it takes to be a successful wrestler.


So here goes:


Heat/ Working the Crowd


This is a pretty major part of wrestling both in terms of ring psychology and getting over. For a face, it's the ability to get big pops, for a heel, it's the ability to make them boo loudly for you. I think some people -- Sid, Shawn Michaels, HHH, and John Cena spring to mind -- struggle in this category because they have frequently been booed as faces or cheered as heels throughout their careers (that's the *wrong* reaction). I think it's a dying art to be honest.


1. Hulk Hogan -- difficult to argue with that no? His posing as the all-American face, his despicable cowardliness as the heel. I don't think anyone ever did it better.


2. Ted DiBiase -- I don't care what anyone says, but name another heel who could get 100% heat from any crowd without any cheers or anything. He made VIRGIL receive some of the loudest pops in wrestling history -- Virgil's subsequent career should show you where the credit lies. Everything DiBiase does in the ring is designed to make people hate him. Perfection from that point of view.


3. Ravishing Rick Rude -- well what can you say? The gyrating hips, the "rude" trunks, the posing, the kisses: this is what working a crowd is all about.


4. Roddy Piper -- whether face or heel, Piper was a master at this sort of thing. He could really rile a crowd up during a match.


5. The Iron Sheik -- watch the Sheik in any match. He's always taunting the crowd, posing while the opponent is on the mat. He really knew how to work the crowd.



Acting/ Mic Work


I'm talking promos here. The other side to getting over is building a character and ripping on your opponent. This skill is arguably as important as actual wrestling skills.


1. The Rock -- in particular his AWESOME promos when being interviewed by The Coach or Kevin Kelly. I think The Rock actually transcended wrestling with those amazing rants.


2. Ric Flair -- we've all seen the mid-80s rants while he was with the horsemen, it's the stuff of legend. Flair is a god when it comes to brutally putting down opponents with trash-talk. And some classic one-liners.


3. Stone Cold Steve Austin -- another master. Not just 3:16 but almost every promo he cut afterwards. The first time he did "What?!", for example was an excellent promo.


4. Mick Foley -- underrated I think, Mick could do anything from twisted, psychotic to every day family man. Some of that stuff in the mid-90s was pretty out there for WWF.


5. Ted DiBiase -- you might think I'm overrating him, but I don't think I ever saw Ted deliver a bad promo, his laugh was infectious, when he said he was going to buy something or someone you believed him. Number 6 would probably be Arn Anderson by the way, then HBK.


Technical ability


Technical wrestling is one facet of what it takes to be a great worker. Smarks and internet fans have a habit of privileging this skill over all the others, probably because they love watching great matches. But there is much more to being a great wrestler than work-rate.


1. Ricky Steamboat -- every. damn. move. is just so crisp and clean with Steamboat. He makes everything done to him look like it HURTS and every move he does is just text book. An amazing talent.


2. Kurt Angle -- I love Angle. I already know a PPV match is going to be at least a *** with him involved, if not a ****. He can do anything: high-flying, mat wrestling and submissions, technical maneuvers.


3. Chris Benoit -- say what you want, the man could work. He was a suplex machine. Pity he was not a lot else.


4. Bret Hart -- not as good as he's made out to be, but still pretty damn good. Always wrestled pretty much the SAME match, but he did it extremely well.


5. Mr. Perfect -- I love watching Hennig's overselling of every move. Slap him in the face and he'll jump over the top rope. He was a great wrestler and the Perfect-plex is one of the best finishing moves ever. Number 6 would be Randy Savage.




This is distinct from both technical ability and working the crowd -- it's about telling a certain story in the ring, about selling the idea that a guy is psyching out his opponent whether by taunting, working on a specific body part, or other means.


1. Ric Flair -- from the "wooo", the classic hand-shake hair trick, the flair-flop, the bailing the ring to break momentum and so on, the beg-off and low-blow: I don't think anyone does ring-psychology better than Naitch.


2. Macho Man Randy Savage -- he does a lot of pointing and taunting. But everything about Savage is a direct challenge to the other guy -- that's what being "macho" is all about. Watch his Wrestlemania 5 match with Hogan, that's psychology.



3. Stone Cold Steve Austin -- Austin was terrific at this. The trash-talking, the two middle fingers, the multiple punches to the head, all awesome ring psychology..


4. HHH -- this is one thing Trips does very well. If you factor in his ring entrance and everything he makes for an intimidating opponent.


5. The Undertaker -- no matter which era we're talking about, this is a guy whose entire gimmick is about instilling fear into his opponent


Big Men


There will always be giants and monsters in wrestling -- due to their unique nature, you can't judge them by the same criteria as everyone else, they have their own category. I'm talking about 400lb+ guys here.


1. Big Van Vader -- what other 450lber do you know that can do a moonsault? I think he's severely underrated on the whole. He was genuinely scary, seemed like an insurmountable threat to faces or heels as required, and could work the mic too.


2. Andre the Giant -- he was immobile by the end but his sheer size and gregarious nature made him an instant draw. His work as a heel towards the end with Bobby Heenan is underrated too, despite him being the biggest drawing heel of all time.


3. Yokozuna -- he was grotesquely fat by the end, but when he first entered the WWF he was quite agile for such a big man and you really believed his squash matches against people like Virgil could have been legit.


4. The Big Show -- has never been what he could and perhaps should have been. I'm not sure why, maybe he's never had the right angles, but I tend to see Big Show's career in terms of disappointment.


5. Earthquake -- I think John Tenta is underappreciated. As Earthquake he represented a legitimate upper mid-card threat to people like Hogan. Remember HE'S NOT A FISH, HE'S A MAN!


So there are mine; a big ask I know, but let me see yours!




I realise since writing this that there are in fact two types of "psychology", there's the thing I was on about, which is about psyching out the opponent and "mind games" and then there's what there's "ring psychology" which is about working on a specific body part and telling a story.


I'd probably rate that a bit differently, as follows:


1. Arn Anderson

2. Barry Windham

3. Bret Hart

4. Dean Malenko

5. Greg Valentine


I think there's a distinct difference between the sort of psychology these guys excel at (storytelling in a match) and the psyche-out stuff that Flair, Macho and HHH do well.

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