Welcome! This is a remake of one of my list articles on the old site. I’m happy to get it finished today and hope you enjoy it. The introduction below!
10. Vince McMahon
“I don’t give a damn what the fans think cause, quite frankly, I know what the fans want better than they do.”
How does one measure popularity? Ratings? Merchandise? Staying power? Movies & Talk Shows? To have your name known to non-wrestling fans? There’s many factors we need to consider. The names listed are not who I’d consider “the greatest”, or “my fave 10”. Names which did not make the cut include: Sting, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Bruno Sammartino, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and the Legion Of Doom. I didn’t want to make a top 20 as it would’ve been too much to read.
You may ask why I chose Vince McMahon as #10? Have I gone mad? Not exactly, it wasn’t an easy choice. I had Bret Hart at first .. switched to Roddy Piper .. again to Lesnar .. L.O.D made a good case .. I couldn’t make up my mind so I went with the boss. He’s never been a full-time wrestler, but he did work several high-profile matches and won championships. I think he qualifies, however, if in your mind he doesn’t .. replace him with any of the guys listed above.
Much like Steve Jobs with Apple, or Mark Zuckerburg with Facebook, Vince McMahon is the figurehead of WWE. When you think of wrestling, it’s hard to imagine anyone else leading the way. Would we have sports-entertainment without him? Would wrestling be popular to television audiences? He changed the game in so many ways, all the while ruthlessly putting his competition out of business to fuel his empire. (How evil of him!)
What made Mr. McMahon a household name was his work with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Attitude Era. The casual television audience bought right in to the Austin vs. McMahon rivalry, and it’s still regarded as one of the greatest feuds of all time. His transformation from typical play-by-play commentator to the notoriously corrupt boss was nothing short of miraculous. The chemistry between Austin and McMahon cannot be duplicated, no matter how many times WWE tries. He’s the boss you love to hate, and when he steps down he’ll leave the most irreplaceable shoes to fill.
9. The Ultimate Warrior
“Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat …”
For years, the man behind The Ultimate Warrior was criticized by his peers. They felt like he took his character too seriously, and was not someone they could do business with. They felt like he didn’t care about improving in the ring. They didn’t get his philosophy on life, and the fact he lived each day as a warrior. Instead of relying on handouts from WWE, Warrior lived his life as a motivational speaker. He preached about other “legends” on his video channel, informing the fans how these men were not heroes and would struggle to make a living in other lines of work.
Warrior rivaled the popularity of Hulkamania when no one else could. He was the only man to go over on Hogan in a champion vs. champion match, and his promos inspired little warriors to reach for the stars. I think he was ahead of his time, a character which was better understood after WWE and Warrior mended bridges before his passing. Only then were they able to remind the fans how much of an impact The Ultimate Warrior had on the world.
He wasn’t much of a wrestler, but he didn’t need to be to tear the roof off the place … he did that by running to the ring! With other legends such as Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior was one of the biggest names of the 80’s, and you’d heard of him whether you watched wrestling or not.
8. John Cena
“A true champion is not judged by how much he or she is admired, but by how well they can stand at the face of adversity.”
The man you love to react too, John Cena is the first superstar to be so collectively admired and loathed it led to global success. What it boils down too is what you expect of a babyface talent, and it seems Cena fits the role with enough people to sell. It comes down to numbers, and we know Vince is a ruthless, profit-making machine who’ll only do what lines his coffers; and Cena’s been an over-flowing cash cow for 12+ years. Vince still relies on him to sell Wrestlemania. Cena’s worked his movies, talk shows, charity events, almost anything and everything offered to him. Not only that, but he inadvertently gets exposure to a more casual Total Divas/Bellas audience through his girlfriend Nikki Bella.
He might be known as the “polarizing” sixteen-time WWE World Champion, but he’s also the champion of Make-A-Wish having granted more wishes than any other celebrity. And while he appears at all these different projects and events, he shows loyalty to the WWE fans. Either way, unless you’ve had your head stuck in a tree for the last ten years .. you’ve heard of John Cena. Whether it was through a child claiming he’s their hero, or through your brother/friend/co-worker complaining that Cena won AGAIN (!) last night … you know what he’s about. That’s enough to get him here, but he’s got work to do if he wants to leapfrog the next guy.
7. Randy Savage
“I used to hate old-timers who didn’t praise the younger wrestlers, but you’ve got to pass the torch sometime. If you’re old, that torch gets too heavy for you and you can’t carry it, so it won’t do you any good.”
Ohhhh yeah! Do I need to explain? It’s “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He’s the cream of the crop, he’s everything you’re not. When he passed away in 2011 (it’s been that long folks) the outpouring of tributes was so sad to see. He was so fondly remembered despite being out of the business for years. Everything about him was star power: the way he dressed, the way he moved, the way he talked, the company he kept. A larger-than-life character you could never tire of whether he was in a good mood, or a mood fit for a Macho King. He elevated opponents to a level they didn’t think possible through intricate choreography. Essentially, Savage played a huge part in laying the basic foundations for wrestling matches we take for granted in WWE today.