Mick's Top 20
****** This blog post was originally published on WrestlingForum.com in response to a topic "Your all time top twenty favs" (sp). I chose to include this in my reboot of my pro wrestling/MMA blog as a window in my pro wrestling fandom, to show some of the things I enjoy most about this weird and wonderful form of entertainment. ******
This is going to be super hard. I started watching in 1998 so there's going to be a few older names that I respect and like, but I haven't seen enough of their career to put them in a top 20 favourites list. For example, respect the hell out of Ric Flair, but haven't seen enough of his matches in his heyday to include him. Same with Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. What I have seen of them, though, is bloody awesome, which is why those names are my honourable mentions. 1. Chris Jericho Bumped up due to his late career resurgence (from #2 to #1). His ability to get truly anything over is remarkable, and even with a dad bod, he's showing in New Japan that he can turn it on and be up there with the best in the world today. 2. Brock Lesnar He doesn't always put the shifts in these days, but when he does, it's clear why he's such a special attraction. From Survivor Series '16 to Survivor Series '17, he put in more work than he had in recent years, especially with Goldberg and AJ Styles. But my fandom of him really started in his first WWE run. I was and still am in awe of 2002-2004 Brock, the speed and ease that he "got" pro wrestling was insane. 3. Shawn Michaels The first wrestler I ever saw. Amazing athlete, amazing storyteller. His ability to evoke emotion was second to none. He had a Hall of Fame worthy career when it ended early in 1998. Then he came back in 2002 for a second career which was even better than the first. Greatest Of All Time. His match with Taker at WM25 is still my favourite ever. 4. AJ Styles The year was 2005. I found a cheap DVD called "The Best of AJ Styles". I gave it a go even though I didn't know much about TNA outside the occasional mention on a wrestling site. Never got into TNA but was captivated by Styles, and kept tabs on him over the next decade. He came to WWE as a more mature and well-rounded performer and has churned out a variety of exceptional performances. I sincerely hope his body holds up for another 5 years or so. 5. The Undertaker Mad respect for his long and varied career. He's held on too long, but for history's sake, he's the greatest spectacle and presence in WWE history. There will never be anything in WWE ever again like his Wrestlemania streak. And for match quality, they weren't all great over 30 years, but his reinvention of his wrestling style in the mid 2000s gave us several classics. 6. Rey Mysterio First saw him when he debuted in WWE, instantly captivated by him. Such a colourful character, doing things I had never seen before. Later, I saw his match with Eddie Guerrero from Halloween Havoc 97 on a DVD, and it was my favourite match for a long time, and still sits comfortably at the top of my list. Why WWE won't give him the schedule he wants is beyond me. He looked as good as ever in this year's Rumble. If we get 6 Rey Mysterio matches in a year in WWE, but he stays as healthy as he was in the Rumble, I feel like that would be the best case scenario for everyone involved. 7. Eddie Guerrero One of those wrestlers that fully understood all aspects of wrestling. His "workrate" was up there with anyone's, but he had the personality and charisma to make you love him or hate him. Gone way too soon, but I'd still put Eddie's best work against the resume of anyone I listed above him. RIP Eddie. 8. The Rock The man is a mega-star. You wouldn't have known it in the early days of Rocky Maivia, but once he flipped that switch and was able to be himself... it was electrifying- pun intended. His range to be funny one minute and deadly serious and intense the next... once in a lifetime performer. He gave us one of the only Hogan matches I've enjoyed, due to his ability to make his big matches feel like major events. Glad we got him back for the run with Cena and Punk too. 9. Stone Cold His passion was off the charts. He lived, breathed, sweat and bled pro wrestling. So many dynamite promos, segments, matches and moments. His blue collar persona was such a great foil for Vince. His match with Dude Love is one of my favourite things from the Attitude Era (Over The Edge '98). 10. Mick Foley When you think of wrestlers that really gave their body to the industry, Foley is one of the first names to come to mind. Of course, he's most famous for the HIAC (and 8 year old me lost his mind seeing it), but I loved his Rumble match with Triple H more. And have a lot of appreciation for what he did to get Orton and Edge over as main event stars. 11. Kurt Angle Like Lesnar, Angle just "got" pro wrestling instantly. He could play any role, goofy, serious, underdog, killer, patriot, whatever WWE needed, he could do. So many classic matches. So many moments that will go down in history. Angle was and still is to me, the fucking man. 12. CM Punk I was immediately drawn to him in watching the new ECW. Most of it sucked, but hey, we got Punk. Unique look, great wrestling style, and as we all know, he could talk like nobody else. One of my biggest regrets as a fan is that we never got to see Austin vs. Punk. They had a little interview/face-off to promote WWE '12 that was so intense, I was convinced they were going all in with a Wrestlemania feud. CM Punk carried WWE's ECW, was the only thing that kept me watching partly in 2009, dragged me back to WWE with the Pipebomb and MITB match with Cena, and was the last person to get a great match out of Undertaker. 13. Daniel Bryan I was immediately drawn to him in watching the original NXT. Most of it sucked, but hey, we got Bryan. He wasn't a great character or promo in starting out in WWE (he looked like he was on the verge of laughing every time he was asked to cut a promo) but he made up for that with his wrestling ability, intensity and being really damn good at playing the underdog. So glad that, like his trainer HBK, he's getting a second chance to do the thing. 14. Jeff Hardy Yeah, I know, he's a spot monkey, blah blah. Still exciting as hell to watch, responsible for some of the biggest moments of all time. Was great in TLC with the Hardyz and all that, but I loved seeing him succeed as a solo guy. The first time I got Austar (Foxtel) and got to start watching Raw and SD weekly, Jeff Hardy made his return to Raw in 2006, and started having killer matches with the likes of Johnny Nitro and Umaga. Then the feud with Orton with the massive Swanton. Later, he won the WWE Title. He was the perfect opponent for a heel CM Punk. And I was lucky enough to see him return to WWE live at Wrestlemania 33. LOST MY SHIT. 15. Seth Rollins Already put together a damn near HOF worthy resume (well, considering Rikishi's in...). Maybe my favourite of the "new" guys (since I've been watching AJ for years and Bryan's been around a bit longer). Part of my favourite triple threat match with Lesnar and Cena, all the Shield stuff, the amazing MITB cash-in, and especially everything he's done this year, from the gauntlet match on. 16. Rob Van Dam Always thought he was the epitome of cool. Just laid-back and chilled. I appreciate him more as an adult... didn't really understand the drug references as a kid. Loved his innovative style for the time and how he performed in hardcore matches. Invasion 2001 blew my mind! 17. Kenny Omega Obviously a more recent pick, but his matches with Okada took me from "yeah, I'll check out NJPW at Wrestle Kingdom" to subbing to NJPW World. He's fantastic. Glad WWE is acknowledging him. Just hope when the signing comes, they use him right. 18. Will Ospreay This guy has gotten serious criticism for being too spotty, not selling etc. I feel like he's gotten much better at selling and telling a story over the last year or so. Crazy athletic, and manages to get me on the edge of my seat every match he's in. 19. Johnny Gargano He is THE BEST today at garnering sympathy. People that don't think a pure babyface could work in today's WWE, bullshit, look at Johnny Wrestling. The story writing has been great, but to pull it off with this level of success, you need to be a special talent. All the snowflakes, and all the awesomeness. 20. Tyler Breeze There were many choices for this final spot, and ultimately just had to remind myself that it's not necessarily the "best" wrestlers in this list, it's my favourites, and I've always had a soft spot for Prince Pretty. He's absolutely fantastic, and I hate that he's been wasted in such a low spot when he should be out there killing it in the IC title scene. Here's a guy that started as a directionless jobber in NXT, and worked his ass off, completely reinvented himself and had some killer matches on the yellow brand. Then he gets relegated to jobber purgatory over backstage politic bullshit. More Honourable Mentions: Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Edge, Christian, Triple H, Kane (pre 2010), Mustafa Ali, Neville, Shelton Benjamin, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt. ...Still probably missed a ton of great ones. Still, comfortable with this being my FAVOURITES list. It's as subjective as anything could be.
Until next time, take care,