Chronicles of the Underrated: WWE Wrestler

by Mike Monroe on March 5, 2014

in COLUMNS, LISTS, REVIEWS, SPORTS, TV

WWE Match

So you may be asking yourself “Are we really doing this?”  Wrestling’s fake, right?  So how could there possibly be a most underrated professional wrestler?  Like many as a child, I was one day confronted with the world-shattering news that Hulk Hogan wasn’t really beating anyone up.  It wasn’t quite as bad as when I found out that (KIDS STOP READING NOW!  I DON’T WANT YOU HATING ME THE REST OF YOUR LIVES! ) Santa Claus doesn’t really exist, but it was close.  So how can there be a most underrated wrestler in a fake sport that isn’t really even a sport?  I mean, they call it sports entertainment for a reason, after all.

First of all, wrestling isn’t “fake” in so many words.  I wouldn’t suggest walking up to a professional wrestler and telling him his life’s pursuit is fake.  You’d probably become the recipient of a very real beat down.  Professional wrestling is “scripted,” and that’s very different from “fake.”  The wrestlers do very real moves that can have dire consequences if not executed properly.  They even really hit each other a lot of the time, and the hits do hurt, though not as much as they’d hurt if the wrestlers didn’t pull them just enough.  As just one example of how beat-up these guys get over the course of their careers (though this is an extreme case), hardcore legend Mick Foley had eight concussions, broke his ribs five separate times, broke his cheekbone, and had one of his teeth hanging out of his nose after a famous match with the Undertaker.  He fell on top of thumbtacks, was thrown off a fifteen-foot steel cage onto a table, and had various other crazy and painful things done to his body.  As far as the moves themselves go, they’re executed in such a way that they cause minimal permanent damage, and they are meticulously practiced.  Some of the aerial feats and athletic moves rival those of gymnasts, so there’s definitely skill involved and it takes years of training and practice.  It is scripted, though, so the outcome of each match is predetermined as is a lot of what happens during the match.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the criteria that makes a good professional wrestler.  First of all, there’s the physique.  This one should be obvious.  Unless you’re Andy Kaufman, your average person isn’t going to look right wrestling a chiseled, three hundred pound behemoth of a man like Hulk Hogan.  Strength is also necessary in order to do many of the moves in professional wrestling, such as those where you lift your three hundred pound opponent up over your head.  A wrestler spends countless hours lifting weights and working out to develop his physique.  Some great physiques that come to mind are Ravishing Rick Rude (pictured below), Tony Atlas, Triple H, and more recently, Randy Orton.

Rick Rude

Second, there’s in-ring ability.  This encompasses things like knowing different moves and being able to execute them properly without killing yourself or your opponent.  In wrestling, there’s nothing worse or more dangerous than a “botched” move.  Wrestlers are often injured when they botch a move and other times they injure their opponents.  The best technical wrestler ever (meaning he had good in-ring ability) was probably Bret Hart.

Third, there’s the psychology of the match.  This basically involves the wrestler’s ability to get the crowd involved by telling a story with the match.  Ring psychology has to do with keeping the crowd entertained and focused on the proceedings, wondering what the final outcome will be.  Jake “the Snake” Roberts was a master of this.

The fourth criteria we’re going to use is mic skills.  This, obviously, is how good a wrestler is at speaking on the mic and trash talking his opponents.  The Rock, as an example, was so good at this that he was able to make the move to movies and have a successful (at least financially) career as an actor.

Now it’s time to talk about some of the best wrestlers in the business today.  Randy Orton is the champion for a reason, though the fans hate him.  The fans hate him because he’s a “heel.”  This means it’s his job to get the fans to hate him so they’re more likely to root for a “face” like Daniel Bryan or John Cena.  Basically, heels are the bad guys and faces are the good guys, but back to Randy Orton.  Physique?  Check.  Probably the best in the business today.  In-ring ability?  Good, but not as good as Daniel Bryan or CM Punk.  He gets the job done in a slow, methodical manor and has a handful of awesome moves he always executes well.  Psychology?  The fans usually seem to be into his matches.  So I’d say passible.  Mic skills?  Again, passible.  He doesn’t wow people with his words but he doesn’t say stupid stuff or stumble over his words much, either.
Daniel Bryan Yes
Randy Orton’s the WWE Champion.  Some of the other top wrestlers today are Daniel Bryan (pictured above), John Cena, and CM Punk (who it seems has quit the WWE to many fans’ dismay).  Bryan’s in-ring ability and psychology are unmatched in the WWE today if you ask me.  When he becomes champion (not if) for a prolonged amount of time a new legend will be born.  He’s decent enough on the mic, but his physique is definitely his weakness.  He’s short and he looks like a goat.  John Cena isn’t great in the ring, but he’s probably not as bad as some people think, either.  His psychology is very good, his physique is pretty impressive, and his mic skills are very solid.  One of the few current wrestlers (assuming he comes back) who has better mic skills is CM Punk.  His tell-it-like-it-is persona has won over countless fans.  He’s got great in-ring skills.  Often his matches have been considered the best in whichever year they took place.  His psychology is good enough to get the fans involved.  Like Daniel Bryan, his weakness is his physique.  It is true, though, that wrestlers like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have used their smaller physiques to their advantage, developing believable underdog images.  Wrestlers like them have become popular in an era where people are increasingly suspicious of steroid use.

There are also the up-and-comers like Antonio Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Big E Langston, and Roman Reigns.  Most wrestling fans know and talk about their potential so I don’t consider any of them underrated at this point.  So who’s someone who most people, including WWE management seem to have forgotten?  This wrestler has good in ring ability, though he lacks a strong finisher (which may be the main reason he hasn’t been so successful), his psychology is good enough to get crowds involved in most matches, he has the right physique for a WWE wrestler, and his mic skills are so good I’d put them right up there with CM Punk, possibly one day nudging the Rock’s.

Who is this man?  Damien Sandow, the Intellectual Savior of the Masses.  He layeth the smacketh down on crowds with his insults along with the best of them.  He’s one of the best heels in the business.  The guy really knows how to get people, especially wrestling fans, to hate him.  His gimmick is basically that he’s smarter than anyone else and he’s going to save everyone from their stupidity, and then he says “You’re welcome!”  That’s his signature catch phrase he uses after feeding the crowd a steady diet of intellectual insults.  He’s a heel now, but I think he could easily unleash these same insults against a hated heel like Randy Orton, Zeb Colter, or Ryback and suddenly those boos would become cheers and he’d be an awesome face.  This is similar to what happened with the Rock during the late 90’s and early 00’s.

Damien Sandow Mic

As I mentioned before, the main thing Sandow is missing is that killer finishing move.  Hulk Hogan had his leg drop.  Sean Michaels had “Sweet Chin Music.”  Stone Cold Steve Austin had the “Stone Cold Stunner.”  CM Punk has the “GTS” (“Go to Sleep”, which I wouldn’t recommend using on your children when they’re keeping you up at night).  Damien Sandow has used some good moves over time, including the “You’re Welcome” and the “Terminus.”  There’s also the “Elbow of Distain” (“People’s Elbow,” anyone?), but none of these stands out as that knock-down finisher no one could ever get up from.  I think if Sandow finds an effective finisher, he skyrockets to one of the best wrestlers in the business.  He is young, so he’s got time.  However, he’s had some slight pushes that never amounted to much and it’s been a while since he’s been in a top storyline, so it’s possible the big wigs have decided he’s not a main event wrestler.  I just hope they’re saving him for something big in the future, because you can never have too much Damien Sandow, Intellectual Savior of the Masses on your television.
Damien Sandow Thumbs Down
Most Underrated WWE Wrestler = Damien Sandow

And for our list this time, here are the top ten WWE/WWF Wrestlers since 1980 (I was born in 1976 and I only want to pick wrestlers I’ve actually seen)…
Hulk Hogan

  1. Hulk Hogan: WWE Championships: 6 for 2,185 combined days, Physique: he spent several minutes after every match posing and showing it off, so that should say something, In-Ring: not real good to be honest, but his finishing moves were entertaining and he sold everything, Psychology: man, could he get a crowd into a match when he was in his prime, Mic: one of the best of his time, he said some silly stuff but people loved it, brother!
  2. Stone Cold Steve Austin: WWE Championships: 6 for 529 combined days, Physique: he definitely looked like a wrestler, In-Ring: awesome, had some real “stunners” with Bret Hart, Sean Michaels, and the Rock, to name a few, wasn’t as good after his neck injury, Psychology: very good, the fans were really into his matches, Mic: great, had some iconic one-liners
  3. Sean Michaels: WWE Championships: 3 for 396 combined days, Physique: small in stature for a wrestler but had some muscle on him, In-Ring: one of the best, he could do it all, fly high, throw in some holds, brawl, Psychology: again, one of the best, he was the “Showstopper,” after all, Mic: good enough, nothing spectacular
  4. The Rock: WWE Championships: 8 for 367 combined days, Physique: man, he was jacked, In-Ring: good enough, he had some killer moves like the “Rock Bottom” and the “People’s Elbow,” Psychology: he really got the fans into what was happening but had a tendency to over-sell sometimes if you ask me, Mic: best ever, you roody-poo candy ass jabroni!
  5. Ric Flair: WWE Championships: 2 for 118 combined days (most of his championships were outside of the WWE), Physique: in his prime he had a pretty good one, In-Ring: very good if not great, Psychology: possibly the best ring psychologist in the history of professional wrestling (aside from maybe Jake “the Snake” Roberts), Mic: right up there with the Rock, some will want to kill me for not saying he’s the best ever on the mic

Trivia Question: Who’s the best professional wrestler since 1980 never to wrestle in the WWE?

  1. Bret Hart: WWE Championships: 5 for 654 combined days , Physique: pretty good, he could hang with the big guys, In-Ring: the best ever, he could do a range of moves and sell them, Psychology: a true master, he could sell it with the best of them and the crowds bought it, Mic: don’t go there, this guy wasn’t known for his public speaking skills
  2. John Cena: WWE Championships: 11 for 1,191 combined days, Physique: quite a specimen, In-Ring: he’s not great, this definitely isn’t what he’s known for, Psychology: he can get the crowds into his matches with the best of them, Mic: he’s good but not one of the best ever
  3. Randy Savage: WWE Championships: 2 for 520 combined days, Physique: the prototypical wrestler build, In-Ring: one of the best of his time, Psychology: a master of ring psychology, Mic: I didn’t understand what he was talking about most of the time, but he definitely said it with flair and charisma, and he had the perfect wrestler voice
  4. Triple H: WWE Championships: 8 for 539 combined days, Physique: his physique is up there with the best of all time, probably the best on this list at least, In-Ring: he was a great technician, knew how to execute moves with the best of them, Psychology: one of the best of his era, Mic: pretty good, said some funny stuff especially when he was with D-Genration X
  5. The Undertaker: WWE Championships: 4 for 238 combined days, also has a 21-match WrestleMania winning streak to his credit (the longest ever), Physique: the guy was huge, but not as chiseled as some of these other guys, In-Ring: very good, extremely agile for his size, Psychology: one of the best, Mic: he sold the gimmick well, so I’ll say he was good enough on the mic if not spectacular

Others who just missed the cut: Bob Backlund, Andre the Giant, Kurt Angle, the Ultimate Warrior, Mick Foley, CM Punk, Randy Orton

 

Answer to trivia question: Sting

 

And for your viewing enjoyment:

IT’S THE SHOCKMASTER!

Mike Monroe

Michael Monroe was born in Baltimore, MD and has lived there most of his life. He’s a poet and fiction writer whose preferred genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, and he’s always had a thing for Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. His poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, nthposition, the Lyric, Scribble, the Loch Raven Review, Foliate Oak, Primalzine, and various other publications.

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