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The Baltimore Sun’s Top 50 Wrestling Stars

The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Eck has written a list of the Top 50 wrestling stars on his blog, Ring Posts. While the list can be debated, it seems to be more comprehensive compared to WWE’s list officially released in December for their DVD, Top 50 Superstars of All Time.

The Baltimore Sun’s Top 50 Wrestling Stars are as follows:

  1. Hulk Hogan � The biggest star in the history of the industry and an iconic figure in pop culture, the 12-time world champion�s name has become synonymous with pro wrestling.
  2. Lou Thesz
  3. Bruno Sammartino
  4. Ric Flair � The words �world champion� and �Ric Flair� have been synonymous ever since he won the first of his 16 world titles in 1981. �The Nature Boy� is perhaps the industry�s most complete performer when it comes to combining showmanship, microphone skills and in-ring ability. Flair, who still mixes it up in the ring on occasion, has wrestled in five decades.
  5. Andre the Giant � Billed at 7 feet 4 and anywhere from 400 to 500 pounds, he truly was a larger than life figure and one of the most famous wrestlers and top gate attractions of all time.
  6. Gorgeous George
  7. Buddy Rogers
  8. Steve Austin
  9. The Rock � Only a handful of wrestlers in the history of the industry have achieved as much mainstream recognition as The Rock. Although his wrestling career lasted just eight years, �the most electrifying man in sports entertainment� left an indelible mark and was a key figure in the wrestling boom that began in the late �90s.
  10. Vern Gagne
  11. Antonino Rocca
  12. Shawn Michaels � Perhaps the best all-around performer in the history of the business, his high-flying style and bump-taking ability influenced a generation of wrestlers.
  13. The Undertaker
  14. Dusty Rhodes
  15. Roddy Piper
  16. Fred Blassie
  17. Dory Funk Jr.
  18. Jack Brisco
  19. Randy Savage � The colorful and intense �Macho Man� was one of the most recognizable performers of the �80s and �90s. He worked memorable programs on the big stage with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, and his WrestleMania III match against Ricky Steamboat is considered by many to be the greatest in the history of the marquee event.
  20. Triple H
  21. Superstar Billy Graham
  22. Ray Stevens
  23. The Sheik
  24. Johnny Valentine
  25. Gene Kiniski
  26. Bret Hart � One of the industry�s biggest stars as a singles competitor in the �90s, he also formed one of the all-time great tag teams with Jim Neidhart as The Hart Foundation. Hart participated in perhaps the most famous and controversial match of all time � the Montreal Screwjob � in 1997.
  27. Terry Funk
  28. Bobo Brazil
  29. Harley Race
  30. John Cena � Love him or hate him, almost every fan is passionate about him. The industry�s biggest star over the past five years and one of the top stars of the past decade, he also has become somewhat of a crossover celebrity.
  31. Pat O’Connor
  32. Nick Bockwinkel
  33. Sting � The biggest star of the past 20-plus years to never work for WWE, he was the franchise player in the NWA/WCW from 1988 to 2000. In recent years, the 25-year veteran has been one of the top guys in TNA.
  34. Dick The Bruiser
  35. The Crusher
  36. Ricky Steamboat
  37. Bob Backland
  38. Killer Kowalski
  39. Fritz Von Erich
  40. Mil Mascaras
  41. Mick Foley
  42. Edouard Carpentier
  43. Mad Dog Vachon
  44. Jerry Lawler
  45. Jimmy Snuka
  46. The Ultimate Warrior � Regardless of what you may think of his wrestling ability, there�s no denying that he was one of the most memorable and talked-about wrestlers of the late �80s and �90s.
  47. Kurt Angle � He was one of the top stars in WWE from 1999 to 2006 before departing for TNA. While Angle hasn�t had a huge impact on buy rates and TV ratings in TNA, his mere presence there adds legitimacy to the company.
  48. Goldberg
  49. Randy Orton
  50. Chris Jericho

Below is the criteria Mr. Eck used for the list:

� Success as a main event performer. That, of course, is measured in different ways, depending on the era. In the territorial days, it was all about putting butts in seats. Nowadays, pay-per-view buy rates, TV ratings and merchandise sales are the measuring sticks. Also, wrestlers who were on top when the wrestling industry was hot received more credit than those who were on top when the industry was not as popular. Being a world champion carried weight in the rankings, but it was not a prerequisite.
� Longevity and impact. The longer a wrestler headlined, the higher he�ll be on the list. However, wrestlers who had fewer years on top but still made a huge impact also were recognized for their achievements. Wrestlers who are still active were judged by what they have accomplished to this point.
� Influence. Wrestlers who broke new ground and influenced those who came after them were given �extra credit.� The same goes for wrestlers who transcended the business and became crossover celebrities.


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