Quantifying the accomplishments of pro wrestlers is a difficult task and can lead to endless debate. Are winning championships as important as headlining events? Or is it about charisma, longevity, or if you helped increase the sport’s popularity?
But no matter who you think the best ever are or who you credit the WWE’s popularity to, it’s clear that wrestling isn’t going away anytime soon. Online sportsbooks now even offer betting lines for its major PPVs, and for those that are familiar with the sport’s storylines, checking out one of the many online sportsbook sites can be a good way to make watching wrestling even more entertaining.
Betting on the biggest stars is usually pretty safe money, like those in our list below of the WWE’s most legendary wrestlers.
From his wrestling technicality, to his larger than life personality, to his longevity in the industry both in and out of the ring, it’s hard to accurately describe Shawn Michael’s impact on the WWE and pro wrestling as a whole. Save for a mini-retirement, Mr. Showstopper wrestled continuously for the WWF/E from 1988 to 2010, four times holding the title of World Champion.
Among his many other claims to fame are winning the Royal Rumble twice, being the first wrestler to win the WWF Grand Slam, eleven-times being involved in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year, and being co-founder and original leader of arguably the most popular and successful stable of all-time, D-Generation X.
Although he may not have had the flashiest moves, no wrestler in the world has remained as iconic for as long as Hulk Hogan has. What the man credited with bringing pro wrestling into the mainstream conscious in the 1980’s did within the ring is matched by few other wrestlers.
A six-time WWF/E and six time WCW champions, The Hulkster has shown he has the diversity to be able to play both the role of beloved superman or that of hated villain. So powerful his pull in the industry, he had complete creative control over his storylines (within the WCW). And no matter if he was a face or a heel, the crowd was always extra-engaged when he was in the ring.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
According to WWE CEO Vince McMahon himself, no star in WWF/E history was bigger than Stone Cold Steve Austin. After being fired from the WCW and a brief stint in the ECW, Stone Cold (then known as The Ringmaster) would kick off the WWF’s hyper-successful Attitude Era by winning the 1996 King of the Ring. A line from his victory speech (“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ***!”) would go on to become the best-selling wrestling shirt of all time.
Austin blurred the line between face and heel, becoming the sort of popular anti-hero wrestling had been missing. Beyond the anti-establishment personality, Stone Cold was a great technical wrestler and held 19 championships during his career.
Similar to Hogan, The Rock transcended wrestling and brought a wider audience to the WWE than perhaps ever before. With Stone Cold as his foil, The Rock’s charismatic personality electrified audiences the way few wrestlers ever have, before or since.
Just one of three wrestlers to headline the main event at WrestleMania in three different decades, The Rock’s larger-than-life personality and catchphrases were so influential that the federation created its own branded show ‘WWE SmackDown’ off one of them. Even Hogan and John Cena have labeled him the biggest star in the industry’s history, and his successful wrestling career allowed him to launch into acting and become the highest paid movie star in the world.
For what The Rock had in panache, and Hogan had in catchphrases, The Undertaker has had in consistency. His streak of 20 unbeaten matches at WrestleMania has been described as one of the greatest feats in all of sports, and you’d be hard pressed to name a wrestler that is widely respected and accomplished as him.
In spite of his size, ‘Taker could move with the best of them and his gimmick is a timeless one that never went stale. An eight-time world champion, Undertaker is WWE’s longest-tenured wrestler (having signed on in 1990) and the only star to win the Royal Rumble having been the first competitor to enter the ring.