Before we get started, allow me to get this out of the way real quick: David Arquette is probably the worst in-worker to become a world champion in professional wrestling history. Vince Russo ranks up there as well. In the following list, we will take a look at five of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history to reach world champion-level success. I don’t consider Arquette or Russo to be among the biggest stars in the history of wrestling, so that is why they will not be making the cut. The Great Khali is god-awful in the ring and is a former world champion as well, but I don’t consider him to be one of the biggest stars in wrestling history either. Do we understand the formula? A big star who has reached the pinnacle of the profession, but absolutely blows from bell-to-bell. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s see who made the cut. I present to you the five worst champion-level wrestlers in history.
#5. Hulk Hogan
The guy knows how to have a classic match. His WrestleMania VI clash with The Ultimate Warrior, who we’ll be talking about later, surprised many. Still, if you examine the match with your “worker” glasses on you’ll notice that it wasn’t exactly a catch-as-catch-can classic by any means. It was a great match though in the sense that the crowd was totally invested. A lot of that had to do with the promotional build-up to the match and the characters involved. The same can be said for Hogan vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X8. A Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat classic it wasn’t. But the response from the fans was about as passionate as things get. Hogan can have great matches when everything falls into place, but you can’t put just anybody in the ring with him and expect a great match. As far as his star-power is concerned, Hogan is one of, if not the biggest star in the history of the sport. Hulk Hogan comes in at number five.
#4. Andre The Giant
Andre The Giant is one of the biggest and most recognizable stars in professional wrestling history. In his prime as a young wrestler he would come off of the top-rope, he could throw a pretty impressive dropkick and was a lot more agile than he became later in his career. Most will remember the run Andre The Giant had in WWE in the 1980s, but prior to that he was actually a pretty solid in-ring worker. His most famous years, however, saw a number of rest-holds killing the majority of the time in his matches. It was almost a sure thing that there would be a few bear-hugs, nerve-grip holds and the ever-popular butt-smash in the corner spot. So again, Andre wasn’t the best in-ring technician, but he was a huge star — literally — and could elicit a great reaction from the crowd from bell-to-bell when matched with the right guy.
#3. Kevin Nash
Outside of a few matches with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, better known to WWE-exclusive fans as “Diesel” rarely had a match above a two-star rating. He was one of the first workers to be labeled as a guy with “five moves of doom,” long before that torch was passed to John Cena. However, Nash was a big ingredient in the pro wrestling explosion of the late 1990s. His move to WCW, which led to the formation of the nWo, was arguably the jumping-off point of the Monday Night Wars, which ultimately led to WWE’s “Attitude Era.” WWE was forced to switch gears and change the way they do business, and Nash, along with Scott Hall, were two key players at the root of all of these changes. Kevin Nash earns the bronze medal as one of the biggest stars who sucked in the ring.
Bill Goldberg was a phenomenon. His rise to the top in WCW was rare in that he was the only true breakout performers during the Monday Night Wars that didn’t jump-ship from WWE. WCW had guys like Sting and Diamond Dallas Page as well, but both were already in WCW and especially in the case of Sting, had already reached a high level of success in the promotion. Goldberg, however, was “the” guy during what was arguably WCW’s hottest period. Furthermore, he was one of the main reasons WCW was so hot at one point. His undefeated streak became a thing of legend, but as you’ll hear explained by the guys in charge of WCW at the time, such as Kevin Sullivan, it was done by design. Goldberg couldn’t give you a good match and his career took off to the point that it was too late to cool his jets. WCW had to find a way to keep pushing Goldberg without exposing his lack of in-ring ability, so the company decided to run with the undefeated streak and have him simply squash his opponents in under five minutes. It worked for a while, but like all good things, it eventually came to an end. After losing to Kevin Nash at Starrcade, turning heel and taking time off due to injury, Goldberg had cooled off. When WCW folded and Goldberg eventually ended up in WWE, his lack of in-ring ability was badly exposed. His match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMana XX was one of the worst matches in the history of the annual spectacular. The silver medal belongs to “Da Man,” Bill Goldberg.
#1. The Ultimate Warrior
There are a lot of similarities between The Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg. Both had “the look,” both couldn’t cut a great promo and both were used in a similar fashion in the ring. Their matches were kept short, and for a reason. It was well understood that neither could get it done from bell-to-bell without a lot of bells and whistles, so they would generally squash an opponent to avoid being exposed. The entrances for both guys were similar as well in that the presentation was cool for its time, but once the bell rang the “show was over.” Warrior would sprint down to the ring like a mad-man, shake the hell out of the ropes …and then the bell would ring. Once the match began, Warrior would hit a few clotheslines, a couple of big shoulder-blocks and then hit his finisher and get the hell out of there while the fans were still high from the overall presentation. It worked for its time. So well that at WrestleMania VI when Hogan was still near his prime, Vince McMahon made the call to have Hogan “pass the torch” to Warrior. The idea was The Ultimate Warrior would carry McMahon’s promotion into the new millennium. That didn’t exactly happen. In addition to being a garbage in-ring worker, Warrior was difficult to do business with. He would “hold up” McMahon on a number of occasions, refusing to go to the ring if he wasn’t given a certain amount of money that wasn’t part of his agreement. While Warrior wasn’t the best worker inside the squared circle, and while his WWE run in general didn’t last long, for a time he was at the tip-top of the industry. The gold medal for the biggest stars who sucked in the ring goes to the man from “Parts Unknown.”
Who are the biggest stars that sucked in the ring in your opinion? Leave your feedback and post your own lists in the “Comments” section below.
NOTE: The above item is an eWrestlingNews.com opinionated editorial, and should not be confused as a factual news item. Readers can contact the author of the above editorial, Matt Boone, via Twitter @MBoone420 or by posting your immediate feedback in the “Comments” section below.