So it begins. The 100 greatest wrestlers of all time starting with 100-91. If you want to take a look at the 50 honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut, please click on the link here. Beyond that, please keep in mind that this list encompasses all of pro wrestling history, I may have missed a couple of people, there are a few deliberate omissions, and this is based on singles stardom, not tag teams. So with that being said, this is 100-91.
100. Big Van Vader
It’s TIME! IT’S TIME! IT’S VADER TIME! While his time in WWE was criminally hampered by backstage politicking on behalf of The Kliq, around the world, Leon White, better known as Big Van Vader was one of the all-time greats. Hitting the height of his career at a time when faster paced work horses like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were being valued over big men, Vader completely changed the game for what it meant to be a big man by, not only featuring a larger than life persona, but featured a move set that was fast paced for a man his size with a look of powerhouse lethality.
Vader will best be remembered for his time in WCW during the early 90’s as well as being one of the famous “gaijin” wrestlers in New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling.
99. Sgt. Slaughter
Not only representing the raw patriotism that WWE was known for, Sgt. Slaughter was one of the first wrestlers to transfer from the pro wrestling ring to the TV show screen when he became a voice actor on the television show GI Joe: All American Hero playing a more fictionalized version of his fictionalized wrestling persona.
Real name, Robert Remus, hs been a WWE man through and through and has been with the company since the late 80’s and early 90’s. He has one WWE Championship under his belt and will be forever associated with what it means to be a true American hero.
Real name Mitsuhiro Momota, Rikidozan was one of the most influential wrestlers in the history of Japanese Puroesu. Dubbed “The Father of Puroresu,” Rikidozan was said to bring the art of pro wrestling from his home country of Korea to Japan in the 1940’s. Without him, New Japan, All Japan, and so forth would not exist. Tragically he was killed by the Yakuza in 1963 at the age of 39.
97. Sean “X-Pac” Waltman
This one might cause a little bit of controversy, but regardless of his late career run and drug problems, Sean Waltman AKA the 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx, and X-Pac revolutionized the industry for leaner, more cruiserweight based wrestlers. He broke through the glass ceiling seeing a small wrestler featured in main event level matches, was the living embodiment of the term “Gen X” with his raunchy and salacious Degeneration X moniker, and his surprise defeat over Scott Hall AKA Razor Ramon is one of the turning points in modern pro wrestling story telling.
On a slightly more infamous note, Sean Waltman is also known for being the inspiration for the term “X-Pac Heat” in which fans will actively boo a character, regardless of alignment, who they feel have become too annoying and outdated to deal with. All things considered, those accolades, whether good or bad, earn X-Pac a slot in the Top 100.
96. Jeff Jarrett
This is going to be another controversial selection, but in truth, modern pro wrestling’s indie circuit would not be the same without Double J Jeff Jarrett. While he was not seen as a main event talent in WWE, causing him to switch sides to WCW during the late 90’s holding Vince McMahon under duress in order to get more money from him in the process, Jarrett took advantage of the atrocious final days of WCW by becoming one of the main stay main eventers alongside Booker T as the promotion’s life slowly dwindled away.
After the end of WCW and the fact that WWE would never hire a man who held them for ransom, Jarrett created Total Nonstop Actiong Wrestling, a promotion that grew in popularity during the mid 2000’s as the top flight indie alternative to WWE. Jarrett, being the owner, did a lot of self booking during that time to put him on top of the mountain. However, his accolades cannot be denied. Jarrett was one of the best wrestlers during the end of WCW, was a strong upper mid card act in WWE, created TNA wrestling, and is now the force behind Global Force Wrestling. Whether you like him or not is irrelevant to the fact that Jeff Jarrett has made his mark on the industry.
95. Orville Brown
Whenever you are the inaugural champion of one of the most prestigious championships in the history of the world… You earn a spot on in the Top 100. Orville Brown was a member of the wrestling committee that started the National Wrestling Alliance. When it was decided that they would crown an inaugural NWA Champion, Brown, being a pro wrestler himself, along with the committee agreed that Orville Brown should be the inaugural NWA Champion.
Brown would hold the title for 501 days through 1948 and 1949 until he lost it to the legendary Lou Thesz who won it in November 27th, 1949
94. The Sandman
I should stress that Sandman is not on this list due to his wrestling prowess. Sandman was actually rather mediocre when it came to in ring talent as well as on the stick as well. However, what cannot be denied is his role in the history of pro wrestling. During the 90’s, ECW became the hardcore alternative to traditional pro wrestling. Lead by great Paul Heyman, ECW became the true wrestling alternative for a counter culture who was already ready to flaunt the system at every turn. Even before Shane Douglas’s infamous trashing the NWA Championship and stating that the true title was the ECW Championship, The Sandman was a mainstay for the Paul Heyman promotion.
Beating himself with a cane, chugging beer before the match, and being an all-around maniac in the ring, there were few wrestlers who represented the pure hardcore counter culture style that Extreme Championship Wrestling became known for. While Sabu was more of an underrated talent willing to go the extra mile and Rob Van Dam was the clear superstar of the future, Sandman was the poster boy for the promotion and the living embodiment of the people who still love ECW to this day.
Glenn Jacobs has been one of the WWE’s most loyal and trusted talent since the mid 90’s. Constantly reinventing himself as well as pushing other people to the top while he remained in the upper card just outside the World Championship.
Debuting first as an insane dentist and later, greatefully, as the younger disfigured brother of the Undertaker, Kane became the perfect force to be reckoned with. He was big, quick moving, and was able to make himself terrifying or endearing dependent upon which role WWE wanted to use him in.
Kane is currently working through his final years with the company before retirement, focusing more on being a certified public accountant as well as assisting the WWE financially.
92. Samoa Joe
Now experiencing a resurgence late in his career with NXT, Samoa Joe has already revolutionized and continues to revolutionize the industry with his fast paced and unique style of offense. Samoa Joe, prior to his time with WWE, was one of the revolutionary factors that put TNA on the map by competing in the X-Division. Labeled as a “no limits” style wrestling, X-Division was a Cruiserweight style of fast paced high offense wrestling without a limit on weight class. Other stars like AJ Styles, Low Ki, Sonjay Dutt, The Amazing Red, Chris Sabin, and Michael Shane made the division one of the most popular attractions of the mid 2000’s. Out of all of them, none displayed the true athleticism and no limits style offense as Samoa Joe.
Joe had the body of a heavyweight and the style of a cruiserweight, using amazing athleticism to dominate the division for the better part of 2005 and 2006. This success followed him to Ring of Honor where the man became the longest reigning champion at 645 days. An amazing feat considering the prestige of the belt. Samoa Joe had earned a spot on this list without ever setting foot in a WWE ring.
91. Pentagon, Jr.
Currently competing in AAA and Lucha Underground and ear marked as the next great wrestling legend of the modern era, Pentagon, Jr. has already earned a spot on this list with a terrifying gimmick as well as great in ring action.
The man has an aura around him that is analogous to The Undertaker, he commands your presence, energizes the crowd, and his catch phrase “CERO MIEDO” which translates to Zero Fear is instantly recognizable and picked up by anyone who enters his presence, regardless of if you speak Spanish or not. The man is a soon to be icon of the business and will continue the rich art of lucha libre for years to come.
Thank you for reading and please come back to see 90-81 coming next week.