By Rob Tonnesen
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. I guess Jim is enjoying my rants and musings because here I am again with another blog posting. The last two times I appeared here was me ranting about the love hate relationship of a certain hockey player, and the defense of Episode One of Star Wars. (Despite me getting my ass handed to me by Josh, I still like Episode One). Here I am this time with a blog about my top ten favorite wrestlers of all time.
HM #1: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels was a fun wrestler who made you really interested in his match by giving you a show. He would want to have the best match on the card and would go out and do it every single night. Shawn had compelling storylines and interesting matches that you would lose yourself in every single time.
HM #2: Triple H
Triple H makes the list not because of anything I liked about him. He makes the honorable mention list because of his longevity and his evolution. His character went from being a blue blood fancy pants, to a rebel, to a corporate jerk, to the best damn thing in the business, to Conan the Barbarian, to the COO and part time Game of Thrones cosplayer. That should be commended.
10. Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund was the heir after Bruno was done with being champion. That’s big shoes to fill. Backlund filled those shoes with ways that Bruno wasn’t a champion. Bruno used force. Backlund used brains. That is how he stayed and remained champion. His promos were not memorable by any stretch of the imagination. He would say things like “I am going to beat him within the rules of the match”. Backlund was the All-American American. He never wanted to turn heel. In fact it wasn’t until 1994 when he did turn heel. It produced some of the most unintentionally funniest promos. Backlund also demanded everyone who wanted his autograph name all 44 United States Presidents. Backlund makes the list for his wrestling ability and hilarious promos both heel and face and makes this top ten list… Bob Backlund Approved.
9. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Snakes… Why’d it have to be snakes? I am afraid of snakes. Who do I have to thank for this? The man who comes in at number 9, Jake Roberts. Jake’s feud with Savage is something that to this day, stays with me. His promo ability is second to none. Talking low and slow is a method in which I use to this day. His wrestling ability is exactly why Backlund made the list. He didn’t out strengthen you, he out smarted you.
8. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Everyone has an entryway into wrestling. I am not in the minority when I tell you that my entryway was WrestleMania III and his match against Randy Savage. That is the first wrestling match I vividly remember watching. I would often watch the match and at home with my dog, we would wrestle. Quick, someone alert the ASPCA and cue a sappy song. She would be Savage and I would be Steamboat. His ability to work despite being a smaller individual was something I would come to admire.
7. CM Punk
I am going to ignore his WWE work and only focus on his independent stuff. I first saw punk in high school at Charity Hall in Bayonne. He would tell everyone how “Straightedge means I’m better than you." It was classic heel. However, he talked people into the match. That is something that is not drawn upon these days. Talking so much about a match and an individual that you care about the outcome. Punk made you pay to see him get his due, or beat down.
6. Owen Hart
Owen was the underdog. Owen was the guy who you wanted to see lose, but if he won wasn’t upset. He also was the one guy that took whatever the WWF gave him and went with. He was a blazer, a new rocker, a hart, and a member of the nation. He had many hats and still shined in all of them. His OWEN 3:16 I will say is the best stuff of his career. He was the one person who should have won the title and never did.
This may come as a bit of a surprise to everyone. His work on the independents as Claudio Castagnoli was work of sheer brilliance. He not only hung as a tag team wrestler as part of the Kings of Wrestling. His singles work was fun to watch. Cesaro has transitioned well so far into life in the WWE. Plus, on a personal level, I got to meet Cesaro mania weekend in New Jersey. I told him my favorite cage match of all time was him vs Brodie Lee (Now Luke Harper). He spent almost a good 10 minutes talking to me about that match with a line of people waiting to take his picture. A legit good dude. Also, you think his swing is cool? Watch this... CESARO UFO.
4. Bret Hart
Why wouldn’t Bret make this list? When Hogan left the company, I found something missing. I ended up in the wilderness searching for someone to cheer for. I found it in Bret. He was the wrestler who legit made wrestling cool again for me. When he turned heel and was anti-American I still cheered for Bret. In fact his match against Undertaker at Summerslam I went and held up a sign that said “Bret, some Americans still believe”. I was disappointed when he left and for a good portion of the mid 90s watched only WCW for Bret and Bret alone.
3. Hulk Hogan
If anyone says they weren’t a Hulk Hogan fan in the late 80s early 90s they are flat out lying to you. Everyone in my age bracket was in the tank for Hogan. He was the red and yellow knight to batman’s dark knight. Getting rid of everyone in sight that made you think he was going to lose to. His pattern was so simple now that looking back on it, I am shocked none of us saw it coming. A new heel would attack him, Hogan would question why, Heel would attack again, Match would be made for next PPV, a big boot and leg drop later, and you’re home free with a payday brother. Hogan was everywhere from my bookbag to my Saturday morning cartoon station.
2. Ric Flair
Well if I am going to put Steamboat and Hogan, I have to include that Nature Boy. If Hogan made wrestling faces cool, Flair made wrestling heels cool. When Flair showed up on TV in WWF, I never heard of him before, but I knew he was important simply by the way he dressed. He looked the part, acted the part, and made everything he did believable. Flair was cool in the way that I wanted to be cool. He was the champion and he made everyone know it. Everyone, say it with me now, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
1. Brock Lesnar
Well by god if Jim’s number one was predictable... then damn it, so is mine. Number one is Brock Lesnar. A guy who you think legit could kill you simply by looking at you. I put Lesnar number one because there were times I got out of wrestling. One time was between mania 18 and 19. Brock vs Rock brought me back in. The way I looked at Lesnar was as I imagine Bruno would have been during his heyday, a dude who wouldn’t lose no matter what. He was just a monster that you want in professional wrestling. Brock was and still is an attraction, someone who you make sure you watch because he made you think his moves were going to hurt someone. When Brock left WWE and eventually wound up in UFC, I watched UFC for Brock. For those of you that watch UFC, notice the heavyweight title has played hot potato since Brock left in 2011. Brock Lesnar makes number one on a personal level. My college roommate got married in 2011 and asked me to be a groomsmen. I actually looked to Brock as motivation. So the way I look now( if you’re friends with my on the book of face look at some of my old pictures from 2008-2010) if because of Brock Lesnar. If you like the way I look now and goddamn I love it, you can thank the beast incarnate BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.