The top 50 wrestlers

The top 50 wrestlers – The Fans Speak Out

I just finished reading your April 2002 issue–another fine effort, I might add. As for your “Fabulous Fifty” list of the top 50 wrestlers of the past 50 years, I agree with almost all of your picks, but there is one great wrestler that you should be ashamed of for not including: Kintaro Kanemura. Granted, average wrestling fans probably have no idea who the heck Kanemura is, so let me give you a brief rundown. Kanemura has wrestled for numerous Japanese wrestling federations, including Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, Big Japan Professional Wrestling, and his own federation, simply named W*NG. A well-known fact is that Kanemura lost 50% of his skin in Japanese death matches–I’m not making this up. Now, do you think Steve Austin or the Rock would sacrifice 50% of their skin to the sport the love? It’s very unlikely.

Jacob Gosnell

Via e-mail

Jacob, we limited our list to wrestlers who made an impact in North America, otherwise you can be sure that Kanemura would have been in the mix.

How can any list ranking the all-time greats exclude Jesse “the Body” Ventura? Not only was he one of the first of wrestling’s strongmen, he pioneered the path to today’s showmanship with his zest and flair.

Ron Koretz

Northbrook, Ill.

I am not going to spend a lot of time arguing over how the wrestlers were ranked in your top 50 list (even though Bruno Sammartino should have been No. 1), but I must disagree with the inclusion of Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Lex Luger, and the Ultimate Warrior. These men were wrestling stars, but they surely are not top 50 candidates. You should have instead included: Ernie Ladd (before there was the Rock, there was the Big Cat), Edouard Carpentier (the Flying Frenchmen was a physical and acrobatic marvel), Don Leo Jonathan (who moved around the ring like a lightweight paving the way for the Undertaker), and Wahoo McDaniel (a great wrestler and a great brawler). These four men made a much greater impact than Nash, Luger, Goldberg or the Warrior. They were true superstars.

David Craig

Via e-mall

Regarding your top 50, Hulk Hogan cannot wrestle. However were it not for him, the sport would not be nearly as popular as is today. If it was the character of the wrestlers you judged, not their ability, then I agree with most of the choices. Clearly, though, some much more talented wrestlers were left off in favor of more popular wrestlers.

Via e-mail

Clara, among our many factors for assembling the list were both ring ability and popularity.

I wanted to share my thoughts on your No. 1 wrestler, Hulk Hogan. Although there have been many great wrestlers over the years, and yes, I remember the Kowalskis, Sammartinos, and Brazils, but in the modern era (let’s say starting in 1970) no one wrestler has done more for the sport than Hogan. Reading the article, you pinpointed some of what Hogan had done, but let’s not forget that it was Terry Bollea’s character that brought rock ‘n’ roll to wrestling. And then there are the cartoons, toys, and the persona of invincibility. You made the right choice by making him No. 1 on your list.

That said, I think he is past his prime, as is Ric Flair. Let the newer names pave the way for what is to come in wrestling. Although most of them have been around for a decade or so, the new blood is what’s going to take the sport to a new level, not Hogan. Give these guys their just due. The Rock, Stone Cold–these guys are the money-makers now.

Everett Smith

Via e-mail

Regarding your top 50 list, your first 10 picks were virtually flawless, except, what did Harley Race do to deserve to be No. 9? Based on his place in history, it would seem he should automatically fall somewhere behind Dory Funk Jr. (No. 14) and Jack Brisco (No. 19). And Billy Graham at No. 19? For what, taking the belt off of Bruno Sammartino? That one decision does not offset the rest of what was mostly a ho-hum career. I watched a lot of wrestling in his day and I just loved the guy, but historically speaking, he does not deserve this high a ranking. Both Bret Hart (No. 20) and Sting (No. 21) accomplished far more over a longer period of time.

Nos. 20-29 seem to be your way of saying, “We’ve been fans for a long time. See, look at all these old wrestlers we’re putting over,” but quite frankly, only Terry Funk (No. 26) and maybe Roddy Piper (No. 23) even deserve to be mentioned here. Mil Mascaras at the lowly No. 41 spot is just as shocking as Lex Luger and Jimmy Snuka even being on this list. Also especially shocking is the fact that Chief Jay Strongbow doesn’t appear at all.

George Paul


I believe that Hulk Hogan should not have been ranked No. 1 on your list. Bret Hart, in my mind, is the best there is. He outranks the 19 wrestlers you had before him. Hart has held numerous titles. He never really lost either the WWF or WCW title, dropping them because of injures. It’s truly a shame what the WWF did to him and what WCW did not do for him.

Craige Clark

Grant Park, Ill.

I have been around the wrestling business for almost seven years. I also have a subscription to WRESTLING DIGEST and I love the publication. Regarding your top 50 list, I have but one complaint Goldberg? Are you kidding me? He is by far the most overrated worker ever. I mean, come on, he could only do two moves, and half the time he didn’t even do those right. In my opinion, Goldberg belongs on a list all right–the World’s 50 Worst Wrestlers.

Ashley Ballbreaker

Via e-mail

I agreed with most of your Top 50 list There’s never enough room for everybody. Still, here are some other wrestlers that came to mind as I read your list: Jimmy Lot, Danny Hodges, Dr. X, Dick Murdock, and Cowboy Bill Watts.

Via e-mail

How come Larry Zybysko and Stan Hansen didn’t make your list? And why weren’t any of the four members of the Fabulous Freebirds listed?

On another note, would you please do a story on the WWA based out of Australia? I feel that federation is doing an awesome job. I was lucky in that I ordered both of their pay-per-views, and I am looking forward to the next one.

Via e-mail

You’ll find a story on the WWA (“Going Global”) in this issue starting on page 34.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group