Recently, it has come popular to try and rank to top 10 wrestlers in WWE history based off of various scales, ranking systems, etc. There are dozens of ways to determine who had the best run in their WWE career, including time on top, mic skills, mat skills, title reigns, Wrestlemania headlining matches, etc. For me, if I were using my own scale, I would rank on 5 categories:
1) Ownership of Character – because at the end of the day, you have to be a great character to make it in the industry.
2) Storytelling ability – once your character is established, you must be able to tell the story, work with other characters, and complete the ultimate ending of a storyline.
3) In-ring ability – that story must be told and executed in the ring.
4) Mic skills – If you have it, you have it. If you don’t you need a mouth piece. If you don’t have either, you aren’t going to be great.
5) Value to WWE – Do you sell PPV’s, merchandise, and ultimate capture the PR the WWE is looking for.
For this article, I am going to use the Mitchamore Scale, thought up by Blake Mitchamore (@BlakeAaron73)…
His scale took in to account the following…
1. Longevity- How long was there run on the top?
2. In Ring Ability
3. Mic-Work – How good were they with the stick in their hands.
4. Mainstream appeal – Were they just big in the wrestling world or did they break out to the mainstream?
5. Flexibility- Could they reinvent themselves? Did they have multiple runs on top or were they the same exact character throughout their career?
6. Wrestlemania- How many Wrestlemania were they in one of the main event matches on the card?
* Tie Breaker- I used Wrestlemania main events as the tie breaker.
Using this ranking system, here is the way I ranked a short list of superstars. Once they were out of contention, I cut them. Those stars included Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Kane, Edge, Batista, Mick Foley, Warrior, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar (due to longevity alone). I didn’t feel CM Punk deserved to be considered.
Hulk Hogan – 9,5,9,8,7,10 = 48… Yes, he was terrible at #2, average is a compliment. Remember, this is WWE, not WCW – so #5 shows no real change (he wasn’t a heel during his main WWE run).
Bret Hart – 8,9,7,6,7,7 = 43… Bret really never crossed over in to the “mainstream” media. He was shaky on the mic in my opinion.
Steve Austin – 9,7,8,7,8,9 = 48… Austin was good in the ring, not great. He can’t be a 9 or 10 on the mic because that is for the best, he wasn’t the “best”.
Undertaker – 8,7,6,5,8,10 = 44… Taker’s career has been extended in the last 5-7 years by fighting a limited schedule. I wouldn’t say he was ever “mainstream”. He is however, one of two that I rank at the top of the Wrestlemania scale, 21 … and 1.
The Rock – 9,8,10,10,8,9 = 54… Longevity might be a bit too polite, but even if I drop it 1, that puts him at 53 overall. He worked the mic like no other and, he crossed over like no other. For the overrating he may have gotten from me in longevity, he was underscored in flexibility (should be 9). Heel/face, it doesn’t matter!
Shawn Michaels – 10,9,8,7,8,10 = 52… HBK was a lifer, he was almost perfect in ring – until his back caught up. He was sneaky good on the mic and, well, he is Mr. Wrestlemania!
Triple H – 9,8,8,7,8,8 = 48… Sorry Blake, Triple H isn’t #1. Is is very good though. He wasn’t a lifer, but he is locked in for life now. He’s technical in ring and better than good on the mic. Mainstream – no. He was flexible in character and lost 3 times to Undertaker at Wrestlemania!
John Cena – 10,7,8,8,7,9 = 49… He’s a lifer, in-ring, well… and he’s held the company above water the past decade.
Randy Orton – 8,8,7,8,8,8 = 47… Randy Orton just gets it done. If it weren’t for John Cena, Orton’s legacy would be something much greater. Orton and Cena could have been Rock and Austin part 2, but it wasn’t.
Chris Jericho – 7,8,8,7,7,8 = 45… Y2J was under-appreciated, both in WCW and WWE. Vince saw his potential, which is why he was the first undisputed WWE Champion. That said, he had a shorter run, left and came back as a part timer. He was I.C. champ 750 times, tag partner with 50 guys, and he had the red carpet debut with the Rock. I find it hard to rank him above Undertaker, which is why I think this scale and system needs adjusted.
All that said, here are my top ten according to the Mitchamore Scale.
10. Bret Hart (43)
9. Undertaker (44)
8. Chris Jericho (45)
7. Randy Orton (47)
6. Triple H (lost tiebreaker to Austin based on Mania) (48)
5. Steve Austin (lost tiebreaker to Hogan based on Mania) (48)
4. Hulk Hogan (48)
3. John Cena (49)
2. Shawn Michaels (52)
1. The Rock (54)
NOW, on to the scale I mentioned above –
Bret Hart – 8,7,9,7,7 = 38… He was the Hitman, he owned the character, but he never took it to the next level. He was OK at telling stories, at best. He was damn near perfect in ring, shaky on the mic and ultimately never gave the WWE the ROI they had hoped for.
Undertaker – 9,9,7,7,9 = 41… The reason for the knock down here is when he cut his hair and became a damn biker! He told great stories, was very good for a big man in the ring, could speak when needed – but had Paul Bearer, and he sold millions of Wrestlemania buys, thus of great value.
Chris Jericho – 8,7,8,9,8 = 39… He played too much with his character in my opinion, but made up for it with mic skills. He was a fantastic worker and, like mentioned above, was very transparent. That Rock debut again, didn’t hurt his cause!
Randy Orton – 8,7,8,8,8 = 39… Much of the same as Jericho. Had a chance to be great, but he had John Cena to deal with – stole his thunder. Also, a few suspensions didn’t help his cause.
Triple H – 8,8,8,9,8 = 41… Hunter was very good, just not GREAT in any specific area. He was consistent, and his mic skills in DX gave him a great asset.
Steve Austin – 9,9,8,9,10 = 45… Austin’s character was brilliant and that’s the bottom line! He sold the storyline, was pretty damn good in ring, worked the mic like a champ and his value was top.
Hulk Hogan – 10,9,7,9,10 = 45… So he is tied with Austin, we will break that later. His only flaw was in-ring to me. He didn’t everything else the American way. He headlined the biggest events – Andre, Savage, Warrior, Slaughter. He even came back and work a great one with the Rock (see what I did there?!).
John Cena – 8,8,7,7,10 = 40… Imagine Cena in the Hogan era, what could have been between those two! You could have gotten away with turning Cena heel! That said, Cena is bland to me over time. He really isn’t special in-ring, but his value is second to none, tied with the best.
Shawn Michaels – 9,8,9,8,9 = 43… If it weren’t for injuries, HBK would rank higher. Sorry, but it’s part of the game. He wasn’t durable enough to be on top – but he is still one of the best.
The Rock – 9,9,8,10,10 = 46… Dwayne recreated the way to succeed in the industry. His character was awesome, heel or face. He told a story in the ring and on the mic. His only hitch, to me, was that he was very very good in ring, but others were better, which is why I gave him an 8. His mic skills, yeah. Value, double yeah.
So lets break down this top ten…
10. Bret Hart (38)
9. Randy Orton (39)
8. Chris Jericho (40t)
7. John Cena (40t) – overall value is greater than Jericho
6. Triple H (41t)
5. Undertaker (41t) – this is a judgement on what he DID for the WWE, not what he WILL DO in the future
4. Shawn Michaels (43)
3. Hulk Hogan (45t)
2. Steve Austin (45t) – Hogan created it with Vince, Austin executed it with Vince.
1. The Rock (46)
Now, lets compare my rankings and the Mitchamore scale to come up with an average and comparison.
Wrestler – Mitchamore/Gulish
Bret Hart – 10/10
Randy Savage – 9/NR
Randy Orton – NR/9
Chris Jericho – 8/8
John Cena – 7/7
Steve Austin – 6/2
The Rock – 5/1
Hulk Hogan – 4/3
Shawn Michaels – 3/4
Undertaker – 2/5
Triple H 1/6
The average ranking would appear as follows –
10t – Savage/Orton
9 – Bret Hart
8 – Chris Jericho
7 – John Cena
6 – Steve Austin
5t – Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, HHH
1 – The Rock
Overall, the results are similar. Each wrestler has their value for each ranking. My problem with the Mitchamore scale rating Triple H 1 and Undertaker 2 is the fact that the Undertaker is 3-0 at Wrestlemania vs. Triple H. Our biggest differing of opinion is Steve Austin and The Rock. However, both scales for me show greater value for those two wrestlers.
It’s all a matter of opinion, but the top 10 is a great list and a good place to start. Who would be the WWE Mt. Rushmore? This is just WWE in the past 20 years – imagine if we added WCW, NWA, and all the other territories and great wrestlers. Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, Terry Funk, Sting, Dusty Rhodes.
The interesting thing about the combo scale is the 4-way tie for 2nd/ or 5th. Hogan was Mr. Wrestlemania, Michaels became Mr. Wrestlemania, Undertaker is 21-1 at Wrestlemania and HHH one day will book (w/out Vince) Wrestlemania.
What are your thoughts? Leave comments below or let me know on Twitter @BrianGulish