The People’s Champion, the Great One, the Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment—do ya smell what we’re cooking, Jabroni?
Debuting first as Rocky Maivia during WWF’s Survivor Series, The Rock with his 17 championships more than fulfilled his family destiny as a third-generation wrestler. And if you think you know the smackdown—it doesn’t matter what you think! Just ask main rival and the brunt of The Rock’s beatdowns Stone Cold Steve Austin. Raise that right eyebrow to the man who put the ‘tude in the Attitude Era and had nearly as many catch phrases as titles.
It didn’t matter if they hid in the shadows or stood in plain sight, the trench coat-donning Deadman was coming for them, armed with five little words: You will rest in peace.
From the onset, the Undertaker eyed toppling wrestling’s ranks. Hulk Hogan to Triple H, the wrath of the crypt keeper sealed destinies, zipped body bags, and led to eight world championships. But still nothing compares to the Undertaker’s streak: 21 straight wins at WWE’s The Show of Shows. It’s a feat you can utter but not fully comprehend, just like the legendary wrestler himself.
Ain’t this one a stunner? Put those fists in the air for the coldest of cold, the blue-collar demigod, the man responsible for ushering in the Attitude Era, only the greatest era in wrestling.
From his 1990 start, Stone Cold Steve Austin took little time making the squared circle his personal playground. And when the Texas Rattlesnake had tired of the toys announcers called his rivals, when shattering glass got old, when his belt collection notched 19, the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame inductee was unanimously crowned the single biggest draw in wrestling by fellow greats like Ric Flair and promoters like head honcho/adversary Vince McMahon.
Stand clear of this Showstopper—lest you’re looking to get your heart broken, your shine stolen, and end up on the wrong side of some Sweet Chin Music.
From legendary takedowns of longtime rival Bret the Hitman Hart to an enduring alliance with Triple H, the initially polarizing Shawn Michaels became a fan favorite for his utter disregard of authority and mythic theatrics. And if you want to talk titles, you name ‘em, the Heartbreak Kid won ‘em: Royal Rumble Champion, WWF Champion, World Heavyweight Champion. Pay homage to one of the biggest thorns in Vince McMahon’s side, to the WWE Hall of Famer and to arguably the greatest showman ever to enter a ring.
Nearly as prophetic as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard united to form a ring-ruling quartet that shifted the axis of the wrestling world forever—and, to think, the brotherhood originated from a single, spontaneous interview in early 1986.
Over the 15-year reign of the greatest stable in wrestling’s history, several stars rotated in and out of the lineup, starting with Lex Luger subbing in as Ole Anderson exited. But it would take two years after the Horsemen’s inception for the group to reach their power apex. With Barry Windham and JJ Dillon joining original members Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, the horsemen, riding as a quintet, scored every major NWA title in 1988. And if you’re wondering what the stable is all about, take it from founding member Arn Anderson: “Being a Horseman isn’t something you put on in the morning and take off at night. It’s a state of mind. It’s excelling to the best of your ability. It’s four individuals thinking singularly, acting collectively.” Pay homage to the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame inductees.
Behold the robed glory of that limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’, dealin’, stylin’ & profilin’ son of a gun, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. And we’re here to tell you: Whether you like it or not, learn to love it because Ric Flair is the best thing going—woooooooo!
Setting the showmanship standard for more than 40 years in the NWA, WCW, WWE, and WWF, Flair’s rank as one of the greatest wrestlers comes not just from unrivaled theatrics and unforgettable catchphrases, but—count ‘em—31 major championships, including a monster 16 World Titles. Advertising that, “To be the man, you have to beat the man,” Flair never shied away from feuding with the greats, from Ricky Steamboat to Harley Race, from Dusty Rhodes to Sting, from “Macho Man” Randy Savage to Edge. Pay homage to THE man, the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer, and to the terror of his figure-four leglock and knife-edge chop. Because diamonds are forever and so is Ric Flair. Woooooooo!
A year after WrestleMania III, which announced “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s arrival as the wrestler to fear, Savage came into WrestleMania IV set on scoring his first world championship. A 14-man single elimination bout on March 29, 1988 stood in his way and would settle the score for who was the Undisputed WWF Champion.
The aligning of Hogan and Savage as the Mega Powers months before WrestleMania IV had been taking the WWF by storm, and with Hogan disqualified in his head-to-head quarterfinal showdown against Andre, the Giant, all depended on Savage to rep the allegiance for the ages. Savage would prevail over One Man Gang in the semifinals, but the brutal spar all but zapped Savage and his chances of taking the title in the final against Ted DiBiase. With Savage standing deliriously in the grips of DiBiase’s million dollar dream, Hogan stepped in and helped his partner out, delivering a steel chair to DiBiase’s back while the referee was distracted. Reenergized by the escape, Macho Man Randy Savage took to the turnbuckles and launched his signature flying elbow drop to seal his first world championship. Pay homage.
Big hair, bigger muscles, and the biggest moves. With his signature neon arm tassels, face paint, and unforgettable histrionics, the Ultimate Warrior established himself as wrestling’s ultimate draw in an era stuffed with superstars.
After whetting his title appetite in 1988 with the Intercontinental Champion crown, the man from Parts Unknown used every ounce of his 6’2” 280-pounds to pin Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania VI to become the first simultaneous Intercontinental Champion and Heavyweight Champion. Pay homage to the ringmaster who delivered dismantling atomic drops, gorilla press slams, suplexes and his signature Big Splash finisher to the “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and the Undertaker among countless others.
Can ya handle some sweet chin music? The villain-bad-boy-turned-fan-favorite, who started in the tag team the Rockers with Marty Jannetty, made his name in wrestling when he changed it to the Heartbreak Kid. Winning nearly every title and event in existence, he became a four-time world champion, three-time WWF Champion and former World Heavyweight Champion.
While Shawn Michaels has left the building—in terms of his wrestling career—the WWE Hall of Famer will forever be remembered as the entertainer’s entertainer, which earned him the title of “The Icon,” “The Showstopper” and “The Main Event.” Pay homage to Mr. HBK and all his bravado, commanding cockiness and smooth one-liners.
From the top of the turnbuckle comes a flying elbow drop that puts an end to the conversation of best finishing move. The (MACHO) man, the myth, the legend, Randy Savage got his PhD in igniting the ring and keeping audiences in a chokehold of disbelief.
Sure, with his meticulous execution, Macho Man could wreck wrestlers with any move in the book, an atomic drop, vertical suplex, sleeper, piledriver, hair-pull hangman, jumping knee drop—how much time ya got? But his signature, the thing of beauty that sang from the rafters, hypnotized audiences and terrorized arch nemeses was the one-and-only flying elbow drop. Whenever Macho Man climbed those ropes, unrest seized us, our stomachs collectively contracted and breathing became audible. And then, time and again, Randy Savage was crowned king of the ring. Ooooh Yeah!
In an era dominated by two of wrestling’s most towering personas—Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair—“Macho Man” Randy Savage refused to take a back seat, refused to settle as the trimming to two superstars. Behind enthralling theatrics, technical expertise, and a gruff voice as thundering as his arena antics, the Columbus-born Savage became the megastar, the main event.
For more than a decade in the mid 1980s through the 90s, Randy Savage reigned atop wrestling, beginning with arguably the greatest wrestling match ever: WrestleMania III. From his ally-enemy relationship with Hogan to his feuds with Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Diamond Dallas Page among others, Savage enlivened and shifted the dynamics of the WWF, WCW, and WWE, all while racking up six world championship titles. Pump up that “Pomp and Circumstance,” and pay homage to the fan-favorite, to a résumé rife with championships—20 to be exact—and to the G.O.A.T. The cream always rises to the top.
"He's American made He's got the red, white and blue runnin' through his veins He was born and raised in the U.S. of A. He's got to be inspected, he's U.S. grade If you mess with the flag, it's like a slap in his face He's got the stars and stripes runnin' through his veins He was born and raised the American way He wears the heart of country on his sleeve He'll fight for your freedom if you really believe He’s American made!"
Hailing from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Jake “The Snake” Roberts slithered onto the wrestling scene in the 1970s and instantly began a reign of psychological and physical torture so vicious and unrelenting rivals headed for the hills—but, “The Snake,” ever keen to the scent of their trail, always followed.
With the help of his pet python Damien, fan-favorite Jake “The Snake” Roberts used uncanny mind games to prey on opponents before luring them into the ring and taking them down with the constricting force only a 6’6”, 250-pound serpent of a man could deliver. And when presented with the opportunity to fully unleash the extent of his reptilian menace, he took full advantage of his crippling DDT finishing move—just ask Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, André the Giant, or Earthquake. Pay homage to the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, and remember one thing: The snake will always bite back.