Thursday, 28 April 2016

Whiskey & Wrestling's Top 100 Greatest Wrestlers Ever

The Greatest Wrestler Ever project on the Pro-Wrestling Only message board is wrapping up over the next few days. After two years of watching a shit ton of footage of a shit ton of wrestlers, 152 people submitted ballots of their top 100 wrestlers ever. 557 wrestlers received votes and over 600 were nominated. This was my list:

1. Stan Hansen
2. Genichiro Tenryu
3. Negro Casas
4. Jerry Lawler
5. Satanico
6. Toshiaki Kawada
7. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
8. Mitsuharu Misawa
9. Shinya Hashimoto
10. Buddy Rose
11. Terry Funk
12. El Dandy
13. Kiyoshi Tamura
14. Nick Bockwinkel
15. Eddie Guerrero
16. Rey Mysterio
17. Tatsumi Fujinami
18. Daisuke Ikeda
19. Yuki Ishikawa
20. El Hijo del Santo
21. Volk Han
22. Kenta Kobashi
23. Ricky Steamboat
24. Daniel Bryan
25. Ric Flair

26. Bill Dundee
27. Jumbo Tsuruta
28. Dick Murdoch
29. Arn Anderson
30. Riki Choshu
31. Akira Taue
32. Randy Savage
33. Barry Windham
34. Bobby Eaton
35. Ricky Morton
36. Virus
37. Blue Panther
38. Rick Martel
39. Sangre Chicana
40. Dustin Rhodes
41. Vader
42. Jushin Liger
43. Dick Togo
44. Pirata Morgan
45. Steve Austin
46. Fuerza Guerrera
47. Naoki Sano
48. William Regal
49. Fit Finlay
50. Jun Akiyama

51. Tito Santana
52. Alexander Otsuka
53. Chris Benoit
54. Butch Reed
55. Shawn Michaels
56. Masa Fuchi
57. Aja Kong
58. Yoji Anjoh
59. Bret Hart
60. LA Park
61. Jerry Estrada
62. Emilio Charles Jr.
63. Greg Valentine
64. John Cena
65. Black Terry
66. Bob Backlund
67. Tommy Rogers
68. Chavo Guerrero Sr.
69. Mariko Yoshida
70. Koko Ware
71. La Fiera
72. Christian
73. Ted DiBiase
74. Yoshihiro Tajiri
75. Hector Guerrero

76. Negro Navarro
77. Samoa Joe
78. Tully Blanchard
79. Mark Henry
80. Andre the Giant
81. Shinobu Kandori
82. Curt Hennig
83. Jerry Blackwell
84. Sgt. Slaughter
85. Atlantis
86. Mocho Cota
87. Masa Saito
88. Rick Rude
89. Jim Duggan
90. Tama
91. Yoshihisa Yamamoto
92. Takeshi Ono
93. Dennis Condrey
94. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
95. Yoshihiro Takayama
96. Michael Hayes
97. Jose Lothario
98. AJ Styles
99. Austin Aries
100. Kazunari Murakami

Naturally I would change some things even though it's been less than a month since I handed that list in, but you know, I had to cut a lot of guys I really, really like in order to whittle it down to 100. It stung like a bastard to leave off Juventud Guerrera and Tommy Rich and Villano III and Kantaro Hoshino and...well there were lots of guys. There are also others, who I certainly wouldn't consider favourites of mine, that I still sort of regret leaving off. I'm not a Nobuhiko Takada fan, but he's been involved in a number of tremendous matches that he clearly wasn't simply capable luggage in. At his worst he can be intolerable, but at his best, with the aura he brings to things like the Hashimoto match from 4/96...I wish I stuck him on there somewhere at the bottom. Same goes for CM Punk. At no point during the project did I ever really, truly consider him. Not a week after the deadline I already reconsidered that, and wondered just why he was never on my radar for this list. It was an oversight on my part, and if I got the chance to do it all over I'd probably have him somewhere between 60 and 80. I could probably come up with more if I thought hard enough about it, but Takada and Punk are the ones I regret omitting. 

I never really had any set criteria for this. Well, my list was based on what the names there did in the ring (it was hard enough at that; fuck trying to add in promos and drawing power and whatever else), but other than that I never had any mathematical formula. I took into account lots of things, but in the end I had to go with my gut for the most part. I did try my best not to make it a list of favourites, or else my top 10 would've featured guys like Butch Reed, Koko Ware, Fuerza Guerrera and Masa Saito. And well, obviously those guys rule, but I don't think I could come up with a proper argument for any of them being legitimate candidates for the top 10 greatest wrestlers ever. Top 100, sure, but not top 10. 

The biggest blind spots I had when it came to finalizing the list were World of Sport and Puerto Rico. I've been a member of PWO since 2008 so it's not like I can use "I was late to the party and never had time" as an excuse for why I never got around to watching a bunch of WoS or Puerto Rico footage. I had plenty of time. The project ran for two years, and I was there for all of it. I just go months at a time without watching or thinking about any wrestling at all (as is evident by the multi-month stretches where this blog gathers nothing but cobwebs), and Arsenal have been absolutely destroying my soul for the past two seasons, but really, I never got around to diving into WoS and Puerto Rico (and a bunch of other individual wrestlers) because I was too lazy to do so. I mean, I wanted to. I reeeally wanted to. But, you know, Andre Benjamin said it best: you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather (I'm sorry, Ms Jackson). 

I'm posting this because I kind of want to talk about everyone there in at least a little detail, while also writing something about a match involving them. I'm not about to turn it into a "100 matches in 100 days" thing because there is no fucking way I'd be able to watch and write about a match every day for ONE HUNDRED days, but even if it takes about five years (even that might be optimistic) I'd still like to make it happen. Hell, maybe if there's a 2026 Greatest Wrestler Ever project I can look back on this and laugh at how stupid I was. 

I might start this tomorrow. I have no idea who I'll do first.