Featuring the most Perfect Man that stepped foot in the squared circle and the man with the deadliest kicks in wrestling!
*Wrestling Skills/Abilities - This is a huge part of the judging here, of course it's just common sense really. A wrestler must do his job well at wrestling in his appropriate/preferred style or role. Whether as a technician,brawler,highflyer,etc.
*Accolades/Accomplishments - The more prestige championship belts they have won, the better! We're also taking a look on other accomplishments such as yearly awards from PWI,inductions in Hall of Fames,and the like.
*Charisma - Whether as a babyface or a heel, the wrestler should be able to get the crowd riled up and get them to watch in the match. I included "mic skills" under this category.
*Drawing Ability - One of the biggest jobs of a pro wrestler is filling up the seats and have as much as eyeballs to watch your show on TV. Selling out arenas & PPV's,drawing thousands of people to tune in, it's all part of the judging!
*Longevity - As long as a wrestler had a career for over at least 10 years will be included here.
*Overall Impact - These includes their legacy in the business and impact as a whole to their countries or even to the entire world! Becoming a "household name" if you will.
Also please take note that I'm solely judging them as WRESTLERS and not as members of our society. Hope that is well and clear.
Another thing I wanna point is that this list is 100% MY OWN OPINION, I know a lot of you will disagree with the rankings but hey, we all got our own opinions on who's who should be in a certain spot so if you like, then tell me in the comments below about your own thoughts & opinions!
Death: July 11,2005
Weight: 290 lbs
Don't be fooled by the physique of this man, as Shinya Hashimoto may not look like it but he is one of the toughest SOB's in Puroresu history, mixing his style of wrestling with his judo & karate skills!
Hashimoto trained to be a pro wrestler in the NJPW Dojo led by Antonio Inoki. He made his debut on September 1984 winning against Tatsusoshi Goto, Hashimoto would also wrestle in other countries as well such as in USA,Canada,and Puerto Rico to hone his skills more.
Upon his return to NJPW in 1988, Hashimoto came back with force as he quickly rose up the ladder to become one of the top contenders for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship! He participated in a tournament for said title in NJPW's first show in the Tokyo Dome in April 1989 where he was a finalist but loss to Vader.
On September in the same year, Hashimoto formed a tag-team with Masa Saito to defeat Riki Choshu & Takayuki Iizuka for the IWGP Tag-Team Championships! The two would hold onto the belts for a year before dropping it to Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh, whom Hashimoto formed "The Three Muskeeteers" with in Puerto Rico!
The Three Muskeeteers cemented their status in NJPW during the G1 Climax, surpassing legends like Inoki,Choshu,& Fujinami. Hashimoto would join another tournament this time for the NWA World Tag-Team Championships with Hiroshi Hase, but they loss in the semifinals against the team of Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.
Then in 1993 Hashimoto hit the big time by becoming IWGP Heavyweight Champion for the first time, ending Great Muta's legendary 400 day reign! He would hold onto the belt for 7 months before getting defeated by Tatsumi Fujinami, he would re-gain the belt back quickly though just a month later.
Hashimoto would lose the belt to Mutoh again after a 367 day reign before getting the belt back for the third and final time in 1996 beating Nobuhiko Takada. Hashimoto's third reign was his most dominant and to this day still holds the record for longest reign for the IWGP Heavyweight Title which lasted for 489 days!
He successfully defended the title against big time challengers such as Great Muta,Riki Choshu,Satoshi Kojima and even gaijin superstars like Ric Flair! After a long dominant reign, Hashimoto finally dropped the belt to Kensuke Sasaki in 1997.
We fast forward in 2001 where Shinya Hashimoto founded his own promotion: Pro Wrestling Zero-One. There he would become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion by winning the vacant belt in a triple threat match between him,Steve Corino,and Gary Steele. But just 84 days later he would drop the belt to Dan Severn after a dubious referee did a quick count on him! Where's the justice dammit?!
But Hashimoto's championship glory didn't end there yet as in 2003 he defeated his old rival Great Muta once again to become Triple Crown Champion and held the belt for 143 days before vacating it. This would make him the second man to held the IWGP,NWA,and Triple Crown Championships, the first one being Muta!
Unfortunately just two years later in 2005 Hashimoto suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away unexpectedly, he was only 40 years old. After his death multiple promotions in Japan such as NJPW held tribute shows for him.
Hashimoto's legacy would never be forgotten though, as he was such a great wrestler with his unique style of ass kicking but at the same time can be an all-around wrestler too!
Fun Fact: He had 3 children, his son Daichi Hashimoto is following his father's footsteps in the squared circle and began wrestling since 2011. Daichi currently wrestles for Big Japan Pro Wrestling.
Dory Funk Jr.
Birthday: February 3,1941
Weight: 240 lbs
While Terry gets more the mainstream attention between the two Funk Brothers, I think Dory Funk Jr. deserves just as much credit for being one of the all time greats both as a wrestler and trainer!
Both trained by his father: Dory Funk Sr. and the legendary Lou Thesz, Dory is already destined for greatness since the beginning! He started out at his father's promotion in Amarillo and have fought big names then such as Harley Race and Bull Curry.
He also wrestled in other territories including Japan to improve his skills, and starting at the mid to late 60's Dory was already at the main event scene in the NWA. In 1969 he was the one who ended Gene Kiniski's 1,131 day reign as NWA World Champion and would held onto the belt for the next four and a half years!
Dory is the 5th longest reigning NWA World Champion and has successfully defended the title from multiple wrestlers all over the world including Dusty Rhodes,Antonio Inoki,Dick the Bruiser,Mil Mascaras,Ernie Ladd,Bob Orton,Thunderbolt Patterson,Jack Brisco,Dick Murdoch,and Pak Song. But 1,563 days later he would drop the belt to Harley Race in 1973.
Besides the World Title though, Dory has also won a plethora of other championships in many territories of the NWA winning Heavyweight titles in Texas,Florida,Los Angeles,Georgia,and Western States. He also wrestled in the WWF, but the only notable thing to talk about was his participation in the Royal Rumble 1996 and a short tag-team run with Terry but other than that, nothing really memorable happened in his run for the McMahons.
While he did had a great career in his home country of USA, I think most fans remember Dory for his even better career in Japan! Whether as a singles or tag-team competitor, Dory Funk has dominated the Puroresu scene mainly in AJPW having a lot of classic matches with many Japanese & foreign wrestlers alike! To this day he is still considered as one of the most successful "gaijin wrestlers" in Puro history.
Funk also wrestled in other territories such as in the CWA and WWC where he won the main event championships for both promotions. But besides being a wrestler, he is also well known for being a trainer since 1999 when he started out his own training school/promotion: Funking Controversy. Some of the notable graduates from said school were: The Hardy Boyz,Lita,Edge & Christian,and Rhyno.
Him along with his brother Terry were inducted into the WWE HOF in 2009, he has also been inducted into other wrestling Hall of Fames. Also believe it or not, to this day at the age of 75 he still wrestles whether on Japan or in his promotion! Sure he is already way past his prime at this point but you still gotta admire the dedication and passion Dory Funk has for this business.
Whether as a wrestler or a trainer, Dory Funk Jr. has cemented his career in pro wrestling as one of the all time greats and a respectable person both in and out of the ring!
Fun Fact: Him and Terry are the only brothers who held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship!
Weight: 227 lbs
If America has Ricky Steamboat as their Dragon then Japan has Tatsumi Fujinami!
Tatsumi Fujinami started off his career at Rikidozan's Japanese Wrestling Association at 17 years old, but when the company folded he joined Antonio Inoki's NJPW. Him along with Inoki,Osamu Kido,and Kotetsu Yamamoto are considered the "founding fathers" of NJPW.
In his early years Fujinami served as an opponent for upcoming rookies. Some of the most notable rookies he has fought then were Gran Hamada,Yoshiaki Fujiwara,and Mr. Pogo. Fujinami also participated in the first Karl Gotch Cup, what would later be re-branded as the "Young Lions Cup."
During the 70's he went overseas to hone his skills. He wrestled at UWA in Mexico (where he won the company's Heavyweight title) and Jim Crockett Promotions, it wasn't until in the WWWF where he started to really make a name for himself! In his time with the WWWF he managed to become the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Champion twice, he also brought the title to Japan and establishing the title as the premier junior heavyweight championship at the time.
He has two of the longest reigns with the WWF Junior Heavyweight Title but besides that he also won the short lived WWF International Heavyweight Championship, he is the final man to hold the belt and had the longest reign as well with 819 days. During 1988 Fujinami continued on a roll with his championship accomplishment as in August 5 of that year he won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship after being vacated by Inoki!
Fujinami would vacate the title himself as his match with Riki Choshu for said title resulted in a no contest but just 28 days later he would become IWGP Champion again and held it for 285 days before vacating it once more but this time thanks to injury. In 1990 he would make a comeback and taking the title he never loss by beating Choshu for the championship but just a month later would drop the belt to Vader.
But Vader himself would have a short reign as well as 46 days later, Fujinami would re-gain the belt and become champion once more for 306 days, during this reign Fujinami made history by defeating Ric Flair for both the IWGP and NWA World Championships making him the only wrestler to hold those two belts at the same time! He only had a short reign with the NWA Title before dropping it back to Flair but it is still one of the most iconic moments in both of their careers!
Anyways it was Riki Choshu once again who ended Fujinami's 4th reign as IWGP Champion. Besides the IWGP and NWA Titles though, Fujinami had a lot of other championship reigns in his historic career as well including the IWGP Tag-Team Championships (5x),PNW Heavyweight Championship,CWA International Championship,and NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship (2x.)
In 2006 after being with the NJPW for 36 years, he left the company and started out his own promotion which still runs to this day: Dradition-Pro Wrestling. Besides being a great wrestler though, Fujinami is also an innovator as he is credited for inventing the "Dragon Suplex" and "Dragon Sleeper Hold" maneuvers.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 and now at the age of 62 still actively wrestles at his promotion and the rest of the indie circuit in Japan, for a man his age he is still pretty great in the ring!
Fun Fact: His son Leona Fujinami is also a wrestler currently wrestling for Dradition,WRESTLE-1,and KAIENTAI Dojo.
Birthday: August 3,1924
Death: July 28,2007
Weight: 245 lbs
How great was Karl Gotch you ask? Well he was known as "The God of Wrestling" when he used to wrestle in Japan so I guess that's enough for you to know on how great of a wrestler he was!
Before turning into a pro wrestler, Gotch excelled in amateur wrestling and even went into the Olympics at one point! He then trained in the Snake Pit, a training school led by catch wrestler Billy Riley and became a pro wrestler from then on.
He first wrestled throughout Europe as "Karl Krauser" and won the German and European Heavyweight Championships in the 1950's. In the 60's he went to the USA and won the Ohio Heavyweight Championship, he held it for a year before dropping it to Lou Thesz.
Although not too long from that Gotch was involved into a backstage altercation with then NWA World Champion: Buddy Rogers in which the latter was injured thus alienating Gotch from a lot of American promoters, he began working in Japan afterwards.
Due to his unique style of wrestling Karl Gotch became a huge attraction in Japan and became one of the most successful "gaijins" in Puroresu history! He headlined the first ever NJPW show defeating Antonio Inoki. He also went back to Europe defeating Spiros Arion for the IWA Heavyweight Championship and in the 70's made his return to America wrestling for WWWF.
Gotch along with his partner: Rene Goulet captured the WWWF World Tag-Team Championships from the team of Tarzan Tyler & Luke Graham, they would only held the belt for a short time though as they got defeated by Baron Mikel Scicluna & King Curtis Iaukea in 1972.
In his final years in the ring Gotch continued to wrestle in Japan. His last match was against one of his students: Yoshiaki Fujiwara defeating him with his signature German Suplex! When he retired in the ring, he continued as a booker and trainer for NJPW. Some of his notable students were Satoru Sayama,Hiro Matsuda,and Barry Darsow aka Demolition Smash.
Gotch's shoot style of wrestling had a big impact on the Japanese wrestling scene which to this day we still see his influence on a lot of NJPW and AJPW matches. He was also an innovator as he invented one of the most well known moves in pro wrestling that being the: German Suplex.
Even though he never held a major World Title, Gotch managed to become one of the most influential wrestlers in his 3 decade career. He passed away in July 2007 at the age of 82.
Fun Fact: He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Tokyo Sports newspaper in 2007.
"Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig
Death: February 10,2003
Weight: 257 lbs
"Nobody is perfect" they say, well the late great Curt Hennig might disagree with you on that one!
Hennig started off his career in the 80's after being trained by his father: Larry "The Axe" Hennig and Verne Gagne. He started out his rookie years in Verne Gagne's AWA, the promotion which made his father a star. He also wrestled in the WWF as a jobber in the early 80's and had a short tag-team run with fellow 2nd generation wrestler: Eddie Gilbert.
Upon Hennig's return to AWA in 1984 he became one of the top stars of the company. He had a great tag-team run with Scott Hall, becoming AWA World Tag-Team Champions by defeating the team of Jimmy Garvin & Steven Regal! He continued a solo career afterwards and managed to defeat Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World Championship after Bockwinkel's 307th day reign as champion!
He was also involved in a father & son duo rivalry when him and Larry feuded with Verne & Greg Gagne. Hennig would also be a part of The Diamond Exchange stable led by DDP (before his wrestling career took off) along with AWA Women's Champion: Madusa and Col. DeBeers.
Hennig loss the AWA World Title to Jerry Lawler in May 9,1988 and along with multiple AWA wrestlers, moved to the WWF in the late 80's in promise of better salaries. When Hennig returned to the WWF in 1988, the Mr. Perfect persona was born!
Mr. Perfect was undefeated for over a year beating notable mid-carders like The Blue Blazer and Jimmy Snuka. He would also later have "The Genius" Lanny Poffo as his manager. In 1989 Perfect began feuding with then WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan for said belt but Hennig wasn't able to hold a grasp of the World Title!
He would however become the Intercontinental Champion and to this day is considered as one of the best to held said belt. Perfect, now being managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan won the Intercontinental Championship after being vacated by The Ultimate Warrior. He had a short feud with "The Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich for the IC Title which at one point, Kerry even defeated Hennig for the belt.
But it was only short lived for Kerry as just a few months later Perfect would get hold of the belt back and had a much more longer and significant title reign with the belt. His next feud and possibly one of the best feuds both men ever had was against Bret Hart.
In 1991 we saw one of the greatest SummerSlam matches in history when Curt Hennig & Bret Hart fought each other for the Intercontinental Championship, which The Hitman ended up winning! Starting from the 90's until the 2000's Hennig had an upside down career, he went to WCW in 1997 and was even a part of the nWo.
Hennig had a short run with the WWF once again in 2002 and was even a surprise entrant for the Royal Rumble that year! The final promotion he wrestled for was in TNA during the company's humble beginnings when they were still a part of the NWA.
Mr. Perfect was a great wrestler indeed but most notably in my opinion was and still is the best seller in wrestling history! He's good at making "cartoonish" moves from Hogan & Warrior look legitimate, I know Dolph Ziggler is a great seller in this modern era but he can never top what Mr. Perfect used to do!
Also aside from the AWA World Title, Hennig wasn't able to held another World Championship. It would've been interesting what he could've done as WWF or even WCW Champion. In February 10,2003 Hennig sadly passed away.
He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Both his children: Joe & Amy Hennig are continuing their father's legacy in wrestling. Joe currently wrestles in WWE as "Curtis Axel" and even held the IC Title himself while Amy wrestles in the indies being managed by his grandfather.
Fun Fact: It was rumored that Curt Hennig was supposed to have been given the gimmick of "The Red Rooster" but it was given to Terry Taylor instead and he got the Mr. Perfect gimmick. He surely dodged a bullet there!
Weight: 231 lbs
Next up we got the man that has the greatest kicks in the world of wrestling, it's none other than "Dangerous K" Toshiaki Kawada!
Kawada kicked off his wrestling career in 1982 after being trained by two legendary Puro wrestlers: Genichiro Tenryu & Giant Baba. But it wasn't until in the late 80's when he started to rise as a superstar in the Japanese wrestling scene.
He had a great tag-team career mainly with Akira Taue where they were known as "Holy Demon Army" and together have won the AJPW World Tag-Team Championships a record of 6 times! Kawada also had 2 reigns with the tag belts with Misawa and 1 with Taiyo Kea.
Kawada also held the All-Asia Tag-Team Championship three times with Samson Fuyuki. Besides having a great tag-team career though, he also had a great singles run. When Pro Wrestling NOAH was starting to rise and NJPW still at the top, AJPW seemed to be declining but Kawada was there and became the "ace" if you will of AJPW!
He was able to become a 5 time Triple Crown Champion in AJPW, with his last reign being his longest at 529 days! He successfully defeated the likes of Shinya Hashimoto,Genichiro Tenryu,Kensuke Sasaki,Don Frye,and even Mick Foley for the most prestigious title in AJPW history! He dropped the belt to Satoshi Kojima who would have a long reign of his own as well.
Starting from 2005 and onwards Kawada continued to wrestle in Japan as a freelancer. He would become the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion in 2009 beating Masato Tanaka.
While he didn't have the most decorated career unlike some of his other colleagues, Toshiaki Kawada is still considered as one of the all time greats in Puroresu history! His kicks were one of a kind and his stiff style of wrestling has brought him a total of 19 5-Star Matches from Dave Meltzer!
His battle with Kenta Kobashi in January 1995 is considered as the "greatest 1 hour match" in wrestling history! He also had a lot of other memorable matches with the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa and Jun Akiyama.
It was definitely a sin that I forgot to include him in last year's Top 100!
Fun Fact: He has appeared in 12 wrestling video games such as the Fire Pro Wrestling series and different AJPW games.
From: Knox City,Texas
Weight: 321 lbs
Sorry JBL but I think the most badass cowboy in wrestling history is none other than Stan "The Lariat" Hansen!
Stan Hansen was trained to become a pro wrestler by his fellow Texans: The Funks. The first major promotion he wrestled for was the WWWF in the early 70's. I think most fans remember his run there when he broke Bruno Sammartino's neck while wrestling for the WWWF Championship!
After Sammartino has recovered, he got his payback at Hansen which culminated their feud at Madison Square Garden. Speaking of MSG, Hansen also had a short feud with Bob Backlund later on and they had many bouts at said arena for the WWWF Championship as well!
In the mid 80's Hansen also wrestled in the AWA even becoming the AWA World Champion by ending Rick Martel's 595 day reign. He loss the belt to Nick Bockwinkel after an 182 day reign.
While he did have a decent career in his home country, I think most people remember Stan Hansen for his work at Japan and being recognized as one of the greatest gaijins of all time!
He wrestled for NJPW but most of his memorable work were from his time in AJPW. In his singles run Hansen had a decorated career by becoming a 4x Triple Crown Champion and 4x PWF Heavyweight Champion in AJPW beating notable legends like Giant Baba,Genichiro Tenryu,Jumbo Tsuruta,and Toshiaki Kawada for said titles.
His singles run wasn't the only note worthy thing though as he had a great tag-team run in AJPW becoming an 8x AJPW World Tag-Team Champion with different partners over the years such as Tenryu,Terry Gordy,Dan Spivey,Ted DiBiase,and Gary Albright.
But my personal favorite tag-team run of Hansen was with his good friend Bruiser Brody! Hansen & Brody were probably the toughest combination put together in wrestling besides Haku & Andre! Thanks to their stiff style of wrestling, they were a force to be reckoned with and were a dominant tag-team but surprisingly, never won any tag-team belts together!
In the early 90's Hansen also wrestled in WCW for a short period of time. He had a feud with Lex Luger for the NWA US Heavyweight Championship which Hansen won ending Luger's record 523 day reign as champion! Hansen also participated in WCW-AJPW collaboration wrestling events.
On his final years in the ring Hansen mainly feuded with Mitsuharu Misawa for the Triple Crown Championship. When his lower back problems started to worsen he decided to retire in pro wrestling altogether. His final singles match was against Genichiro Tenryu and his final match overall was in a 6 man tag-team match, he loss both contests.
Stan Hansen was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. Despite being a nice person, Stan Hansen is not a man you wanna mess with as he is one of the few legit badasses in wrestling! As Paul Heyman said, he wasn't afraid of The Boogeyman or any "creppy crawlies" but was indeed afraid of Stan Hansen!
Fun Fact: Hansen is almost blind throughout his wrestling career which is why he mainly wrestled stiff because he never knows if his opponents are being stiff to himself!
Birthday: January 23,1938
Death: January 31,1999
Weight: 298 lbs
Up next we got one of the most iconic people in all of Japan's history and helped revolutionzed Puroresu to what it is today: Shoehei "Giant" Baba!
In 1960 Baba went to Rikidozan's dojo to train in pro wrestling along with fellow student Antonio Inoki! The two trained under Rikidozan and were arguably the two most successful students of the Father of Puroresu!
Baba first wrestled in his mentor's promotion: Japan Wrestling Association (JWA) and had a tag-team run with Inoki where they were known as B-I Cannon. Their duo became a dominant tag-team in the early 60's and managed to become 4x NWA International Tag-Team Champions!
That was actually a belt Baba won a record 12 times! Other than Inoki he also won it with Jumbo Tsuruta,Michiaki Yoshimura,and Seiji Sakaguchi. Also in the early 60's Baba challenged NWA World Champion: Buddy Rogers and WWWF Champion: Bruno Sammartino for said belts but was unsuccessful.
When Rikidozan passed away, him and Inoki ran their own promotions with Baba creating "All Japan Pro Wrestling." AJPW as we all know is one of the greatest Japanese promotions of all time and even at one point was considered as the No. 1 promotion all over the world!
Before the Triple Crown Championship, AJPW's first major title belt was the PWF Heavyweight Championship, of course the inaugural champion was Giant Baba. He won the belt a total of four times, having dominant reigns in each of those championship runs!
Baba also made history once again by becoming the first Japanese wrestler to become NWA World Heavyweight Champion! He won the belt three times but never really had an impactful reign, in fact the longest he managed to hold the belt was a week. This was because he could mainly just defend the title in Japan.
In terms of feuds Baba had a lot through the years from Andre the Giant to Harley Race. But perhaps his greatest rival in my opinion was against Stan Hansen! What's ironic is that he even had a dominant tag-team run with Hansen in the latter part of his career.
Baba began phasing out during the 80's and had next generation guys like Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu take over the main event scene in AJPW, it wasn't long too before guys like Misawa,Kobashi,and Kawada were taking over the main event picture as well! He really knew how to build young talent.
Also a lot of people might criticize Baba for his wrestling ability but most of those people probably never saw his matches during his prime! Baba can go with a lot of great technicians even for a man his size, just look up his matches against Bruno and Jack Brisco. True that in his final years, he can barely wrestle but in his prime Baba was a technical genius believe it or not!
Despite his age was catching up to him Baba continued to wrestle until he was 60 years old. His last match was in 1998 where he won a 6 Man Tag-Team match with Mitsuo Momota (Rikidozan's son) and Rusher Kimura. He passed away in January 1999 after a tough battle with cancer.
Giant Baba may not be a big name outside of his country, but in Japan he was a cultural icon! Him and Antonio Inoki changed the game forever, and his legacy and contributions will never be forgotten.
Fun Fact: Baba ranked 93rd in the Top 100 Historical Persons in Japan list that was aired in Nippon TV, the same network where AJPW aired!
Death: November 14,2015
From: St. Louis,Missouri
Weight: 240 lbs
If Verne Gagne was the "Superman" of AWA then Nick Bockwinkel was his "Lex Luthor."
Nick Bockwinkel was a 2nd Generation wrestler, his father Warren Bockwinkel wrestled in the 60's until the 50's and even had a tag-team run with his son Nick during his early years in wrestling!
Besides his father, Nick was also trained by Lou Thesz so he did really learned from the best. In fact his debut match when he was 16 back in 1954 was against Lou Thesz!
He got in the main event scene during his run with Georgia Championship Wrestling transitioning from a clean cut babyface to a villainous heel and often challenging Dory Funk Jr. for his NWA World Title. Dory even said that his matches with Nick Bockwinkel for the title were some of the best title defenses of his career!
In 1970 though is where Nick went to Verne Gagne's AWA and became one of the biggest names of the promotion's history! During his run in the AWA, Nick also started out cutting a lot of memorable promos. His style was different from most wrestlers during his time, instead of the "shouty" type of promos, he was very articulate and had a lot of realistic promos.
He was managed by Bobby Heenan in the majority of his run in the AWA. He captured his first AWA World Championship in 1975 ending Verne Gagne's legendary seven year reign with the belt! He would have 3 more reigns with the AWA World Title and had dominant reigns each! Besides Verne, he also feuded with the likes of Jumbo Tsuruta,Jerry Lawler,Billy Robinson,Stan Hansen,Otto Wanz,and even Hulk Hogan for the title!
One of the biggest matches of his career was in January 16,1986 when Nick Bockwinkel (AWA World Champion) took on NWA World Champion: Ric Flair in a bout that ended in a double count out! Besides in the USA, Nick also had a lot of memorable bouts in Japan,Europe,and Canada! A great journeyman if you will.
Besides the AWA World Championship, Nick also held many different titles such as being a 3x AWA World Tag-Team Champion with "Crippler" Ray Stevens,AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion,and a few other belts in various territories of the NWA. His final match was in 1993 against one of his old rivals: Dory Funk Jr. in WCW resulting in a time limit draw.
He may not have been the "flashiest" wrestler in the ring but Nick Bockwinkel was one of the all time greatest technicians that ever lived in wrestling! Former World Champions such as Ric Flair & Bob Backlund have nothing but praises for Bockwinkel and his mastery of psychology in the ring. He was an integral part of the success of the AWA and had a great four decade run in the business.
Nick Bockwinkel was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, unfortunately the wrestling world loss a great legend in November 14,2015 when he passed away.
Fun Fact: While undergoing training to become a pro wrestler, Nick Bockwinkel was first a driver to wrestler: Yukon Eric.
Weight: 241 lbs
From one great technical wrestler to another, we got Mr. Bob Backlund!
Before delving in to the crazy world of pro wrestling, Backlund was first an accomplished amateur wrestling and even becoming the NCAA Champion at one point! He was trained in becoming a pro wrestler by Eddie Sharkey and started off his career in the AWA,Georgia Championship Wrestling,and many other territories of the NWA.
Backlund's major success though and probably the biggest highlight of his career when he joined WWWF in 1977. He was already an over babyface at this point and just a year later in 1978 he won the WWWF Championship from "Superstar" Billy Graham and kicked off his long legendary reign!
He managed to defeat wrestlers such as Mr. Fuji,George Steele,and Ken Patera to successfully defend his title. His first major title defense ocurred in Japan defeating Antonio Inoki. He also defeated "Superstar" Billy Graham in their re-match on a steel cage in Madison Square Garden!
Backlund also had a lot of other high profile matches, the biggest one perhaps was his clash with Harley Race in a rare "WWWF vs NWA" match where both championships were on the line. Neither loss their titles though as it ended in a 60 minute time limit draw. Backlund also engaged in scientific matches with AWA World Champion: Nick Bockwinkel,NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion: Don Muraco,and NWA International Champion: Billy Robinson.
Later on he also had matches with NWA Champion: Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes. Besides in singles competition, Backlund also suceeded in the tag-team division. He won the WWWF World Tag-Team Championships with "High Chief" Peter Maivia against The Yukon Lumberjacks. Later on though Maivia would turn on Backlund and the two would start off a feud which culminated in a steel cage match in MSG. Backlund also later on won the WWF Tag-Team Championships again, this time with Pedro Morales.
He also had a tag-team run with Antonio Inoki, even winning the "1980 MSG Tag-Team League Tournament" last defeating the team of Hulk Hogan & Stan Hansen. Speaking of Hogan, Backlund had a lot of clashes with a young Hulkster. Backlund continued his run as the WWF Champion until in 1983 after a long 2,135 day reign he was defeated by The Iron Sheik who would just weeks later lose the title to Hulk Hogan.
When Bruno decided to lay low in wrestling, it was Backlund who took over the top babyface spot, and now his era was over and Hulk Hogan is now the poster boy for the WWF. He continued to wrestle in various territories most notably back in the AWA after his championship success in the WWF.
He made his return in the WWF in 1992 but this time as a heel with a gimmick we mostly know him for today as a crazy over the top old school wrestler who wants to teach the "new generation" of wrestlers a lesson! Backlund managed to held the WWF Championship once again in 1994 defeating Bret Hart but 3 days later loss the belt to Diesel!
Backlund continued to wrestle sporadically in the WWF throughout his career, in 2000 he made a surprise return in the Royal Rumble and in 2012 took on Heath Slater in the build up to the 1000th episode of RAW. A lot of people might not know this but he also had a short run on 2007 in TNA but nothing memorable really came out of it.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 and is now playing the role of a manager/mentor to Darren Young.
I really don't think Mr. Backlund gets a lot of credit he deserves. Yes, he wasn't the best on the mic but in my opinion during his heel run in the 90's he had some decent promos for sure. Also the man is a true clean cut guy because he never took steroids once in his whole life and remains a healthy and fit lifestyle to this day!
Fun Fact: Bob Backlund is the second longest reigning WW Champion only behind Bruno Sammartino! Ironically, he also has one of the shortest reigns with only 3 days!
If you missed the previous countdowns, check out the links below:
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100 to 90
Thanks For Reading.