The Countdown of the most influential wrestlers begins with # 10

10th  Verne Gagne- Gagne not only wrestled each night for AWA but he ran the shows, booked the matches, and owned the company. In the early days of TV, AWA flourished and was one of the premiere wrestling organizations in the country. Gange’s résumé’ also includes being a world class trainer. He is credited with training and tutoring Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Harley Race. Not only did Gagne entertain masses of people during his era as a wrestler but he trained future wrestlers to entertain fans for years to come.

9th Bruno Sammartino- Please look at the record books, Bruno Sammartino had a title reign that lasted over seven years. Not seven months, seven years. And if you add both of his title reigns together you would get a grand total of 11 years that Bruno had the world championship around his waist. He was the work horse for the World Wide Wrestling Federation that Vince Sr. ran. For years Bruno was the foundation that kept the WWWF thriving, a federation that would eventually become the most powerful and dominating wrestling promotion of all time.

8th Shawn Micheals-The Heartbreak kid entered the business of pro wrestling when he was by far the smallest wrestler on the card. And by ignoring the fact that he was too small to make an impact on pro wrestling, ironically he became one of the most influential wrestlers of all time. Michaels knew he was too small and did everything in his power to make up for it. He was precise with every move he executed, he would take any bump and he was innovative. One of his most innovative moments came during Wrestlmania 10 when the Heartbreak kid along with Scott Hall made the ladder match what it is today.

7th Ed “The Strangler” Lewis- The Strangler was the most revered wrestler in the 1920’s. He was the most prolific champion that the NWA had at the time and revolutionized how a pro wrestling show was performed. Promoters used Lewis in the first ever storylines and fueds in pro wrestling, and the Strangler was amazing. He generated emotions from the crowd and the fans loved him. He also trained Lou Thesz and was noted as the biggest influence in Thesz’s career. Lewis was a seven time world champion whose career spanned over four decades.

6th Lou Thesz- Even though current fans may not be familiar with Lou Thesz but they are most likely familiar with his inventions. The powerbomb, the German suplex, Thesz press, and stf were all creations from Thesz.  On top of Thesz being an innovator, he held the prestigious NWA World for over 10 years over six different title reigns.

5th Stone Cold- It’s a proven fact that no one has raised more hell or made more money than Stone Cold Steve Austin. His biggest impact came during the ratings war between WWE and WCW. WWE was getting beat bad and Vince McMahon knew he had to do something. And that is when he put his full faith in Stone Cold Steve Austin. The rattlesnake was able to do anything and the attitude era was born. Austin was the single biggest reason why the WWE prevailed over WCW. People tuned into WWE so they could see what crazy stunt, promo, or storyline Austin was going to do next.

4th Frank Gotch- During his era, Frank Gotch dominated. At the turn of the century wrestling became a new entertainment and Gotch was the main attraction. Many say that Gotch is the father of pro wrestling and the pioneer that helped lay the foundation of the historic NWA. His matches were real and lasted up to two hours. Gotch came over from Germany and made wrestling famous here in the States

3rd Ric Flair-In a lot of ways Ric Flair reminds me of Hulk Hogan, they both were successful over three to four decades no matter what  promotion they were in. Despite being a better wrestler than Hogan he wasn’t marketed as heavily as the Hulkster. Despite not getting as much attention as Hogan, Flair set the record for the most world championship title reigns. Flair was so good for so long. He was a top star for multiple generations and he did it with style. The Nature Boy is also credited with reinventing the promo.

2nd Gorgeous George- In the early days of pro wrestling, wrestlers were just tough, muscle bound brawlers with no gimmicks or personality, then came Gorgeous George with his colorful robes, curled hair and a butler to escort him to the ring. George created the first modern day heel. People during this era were appalled by his behavior and they hated his guts.  TV was a new invention during this time and Gorgeous George was one of it’s first stars. People would tune in just to boo  the most hated man in America, Gorgeous George. He is also credited with having the first entrance music of all time. George came up with some incredible ideas that are still used in pro wrestling today.

1st Hulk Hogan- What Hulk Hogan has done over his career is truly mind boggling. In the 70’s he was a top star in Japan and was the main attraction in Vern Gange’s AWA promotion. Vince McMahon caught wind of the Hulkster’s success and wanted him to be the face of the WWE when Vince brought his company to national TV. Hogan signed on with the WWE and changed the business for ever. Not only did Vince and Hulk dominate in the states but thanks to Hogan, WWE became a global juggernaut. He made Wrestlemania what is today as he wrestled in eight of the first nine Wrestlemania main events. After leading Hulkamania for years in the WWE, he jumped ship to World Championship Wrestling. There in WCW he created one of the most well known factions in all wrestling history, the New World Order. WCW went head to head with WWE in a ratings war and thanks to Hogan, WCW won that battle for over a year. If that wasn’t enough Hogan came back to the WWE and had memorable matches with the Rock at WM 18 and Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam.

09/25/2012 03:56

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