WWW Editorials

This List is Full of Wrestlers – My Attempt at the GWE

The idea of doing a list of the hundred greatest anything is daunting to me. I love ranking things and the process and the arguments, but when push comes to shove, I always find it hard to actually come to a conclusion. I put so much effort in to thinking about the list critically that I can’t ever make final decisions. Paralysis by analysis, as it were.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the GWE project run by the kind and good folks at Pro Wrestling Only. I know our own Bill Thompson recently posted his list here (which I encourage you to look at for comparison’s sake) and the fellows at WDKW just finished up a podcast on this very same subject. In fact, I was on there other attempt to talk about GWE a few months ago. If for some reason this whole thing has slipped through the cracks for you, GWE stands for Greatest Wrestler Ever and it is a list of your choices for the top one hundred wrestlers of all time. It’s important to note that this is supposed to be purely from an in ring standpoint, otherwise it becomes hard to compare different countries and eras. In order for a wrestler to be eligible, they had to be nominated on the PWO message board, so everyone is working off of the same list. I feel as though I should say that as the process went on, basically any wrestler that you can make even a slight case for has a discussion thread and an official nomination. Dolph Ziggler was nominated. Almost everyone that was nominated was at least talked about briefly.

I think one of the interesting things about the whole process was what the list meant to different people. For some, this list was almost purely a response to the 2006 Smark’s Choice list, and thus was essentially a snap shot of how the tastes have changed and what discoveries have been made over the past decade. For others, this list should be essentially the Sight on Sound poll but for wrestlers, and should represent the consensus of a community. Because of that, methodology and process became a pretty large and sometimes heated discussion. Some people seemed to go almost completely on feeling and their experience with what they’ve watched. Others felt the need to establish scoring systems and strict criteria in order to be as objective as possible.

The turning point for me was when I decided that I couldn’t ever be completely objective. Wrestling watching, like any critical look at art, is inherently subjective. We bring our own biases to the table, our own preconceived notions. Just like an Art History teacher can admire Picasso and find other artists better or more interesting without diminishing him, I had to come to terms with the fact that my lists should and would be a reflection of me as a fan. I would be doing the process a disservice if I put people on it that I didn’t actively think were great even if that went against common knowledge.

Before we dive in to the list itself, I wanted to talk a little bit about my particular process. I first watched an absolute ton of wrestling, although with almost no organization whatsoever. The taima room with Elliott, Si Oem, and Matt D was invaluable. We were in there almost nightly watching random applicable matches and commenting on them. It was like a giant constantly evolving mixtape of wrestling greatness. When not in there, I tried to watch recommended matches, or watch representative chunks for a particular wrestler in one sitting. Obviously I can’t watch everything, but I feel like I actively filled in some blind spots and was able to revisit people that I wasn’t initially considering. After binging on footage, I started making really broad lists of essentially anyone I felt even had a shot. I think I started with about 185 people or so. Anyone I had watched footage of, anyone I had nominated, anyone that I couldn’t dismiss out of hand. Once I had that list, I started grouping them in completely arbitrary categories. These were sort of time periods and sort of regions. I went through a few drafts, but the final categories ended up being Lucha, Puro, US Indy Wrestling, Joshi, World of Sport, Territory Workers, and Modern WWF/WWE Workers. Once the categories were finalized, I ranked each category completely, and then played whippet. So the number one overall selection was just a comparison of the number one for each category. The number two overall was the remaining number ones and one number two, and so on. I stopped once I hit 99, and then I put a personal choice as the last pick.

I promise I’ll actually post my list in a second, and you’ve probably skipped past all this anyway, but I wanted to point out the things I think will be noteworthy about my list. I think I will be in a minority of having a lot of luchadores, and three luchadores in my top ten. I think I will be in the distinct minority of having a number of wrestlers on my list that are considered “garbage” or “deathmatch” workers. The style doesn’t bother me morally and I feel like those that do it well can be very compelling in their own right and should be rewarded for that. I was surprised how high a few people ended up, especially CM Punk. I never considered him to be a super worker or someone I sought out after the fact, but in hindsight I have enjoyed large portions of his career, and I think has some matches that have aged better than a lot of his peers. I could talk forever but you just want to see it, so without further ado:

100) Survival Tobita

99) Brazo de Oro

98) Sami Callihan

97) Kevin Von Erich

96) Tony Anthony

95) Les Kellet

94) Mitsuhiro Matsunaga

93) Negro Navarro

92) Low Ki

91) Rollerball Rocco

90) Brazo de Oro

89) Big Show

88) La Fiera

87) Sami Zayn

86) Cassandro

85) Wahoo McDaniel

84) Yuki Ishikawa

83) Mocho Cota

82) Combat Toyoda

81) II Cold Scorpio

80) Takeshi Morishima

79) Black Terry

78) Steve Grey

77) Tracy Smothers

76) Dump Matsumoto

75) Homicide

74) Finlay

73) Pirata Morgan

72) Volk Han

71) Tommy Rich

70) Chris Hero

69) Carlos Colon

68) Jun Akiyama

67) Bret Hart

66) Vader

65) Mark Henry

64) Terry Rudge

63) Villano III

62) Jon Cortez

61) Jaguar Yokota

60) Emilio Charles Jr

59) Megumi Kudo

58) Hiroshi Hase

57) Rick Rude

56) Harley Race

55) Akira Taue

54) Ricky Steamboat

53) Atlantis

52) Andre the Giant

51) Tarzan Goto

50) Bull Nakano

49) Sangre Chicana

48) Rick Martel

47) Virus

46) Dustin Rhodes

45) William Regal

44) Ricky Morton

43) Samoa Joe

42) Marty Jones

41) Bobby Eaton

40) Mayumi Ozaki

39) Shawn Michaels

38) Billy Robinson

37) Eddie Guerrero

36) Solar

35) Dynamite Kansai

34) Blue Panther

33) Shinya Hashimoto

32) Necro Butcher

31) Jumbo Tsuruta

30) Johnny Saint

29) John Cena

28) Tatsumi Fujinami

27) Chigusa Nagayo

26) Super Porky

25) Kenta Kobashi

24) Manami Toyota

23) Arn Anderson

22) Steve Williams

21) El Dandy

20) Jerry Lawler

19) Toshiaki Kawada

18) Atsushi Onita

17) Jim Breaks

16) Rey Misterio

15) Jushin Thunder Lyger

14) Aja Kong

13) CM Punk

12) Akira Hokuto

11) Genichiro Tenryu

10) El Satanico

9) Nick Bockwinkel

8) Buddy Rose

7) Mitsuharu Misawa

6) Ric Flair

5) El Hijo del Santo

4) Stan Hansen

3) Daniel Bryan

2) Terry Funk

1) Negro Casas

That’s it! I’m done. Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am on Twitter or on the forums. I’m sure you disagree with me, it’s just a matter of how badly! I’m genuinely interested.


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