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Column: Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore



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Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore

 

Mount Rushmore is a national memorial in South Dakota featuring the four most iconic U.S. presidents. So, who should be on wrestling’s version of this historic landmark? There are only four spots which makes almost any exclusion controversial. Personal preference, athletic skill, unforgettable moments, and overall impact on the industry serve as any reasonable criteria for such a subjective topic.

 

Captivating, larger than life characters often overshadow the sound mat technicians of the squared circle. However, the golden age of our industry speaks to names like Lewis, Hackenschmidt, and Gotch whose legitimate wrestling prowess ultimately paved the way for the sports modern day incarnation.

 

We all love wrestling for different reasons. Some prefer the bell to bell action, others favor soap opera aspect and then you have those who crave everything this business has to offer. It’s through these lenses that we determine who the best of the best are. I think it’s only right to do this into two categories.  The industry’s Mount Rushmore along with my own personal one.

 

 

- Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore

 

Hulk Hogan: This one’s a given. Hulk Hogan is synonymous with professional wrestling. No other wrestler has drawn more money or had more legendary nights. He will always get flak for his lack of mat prowess but his body of work resonates beyond the confines of our industry.

 

Stone Cold Steve Austin: Austin 3:16 brought the industry to heights it had never been before. Even those who mocked wrestling’s cheesy prearranged shenanigans were captivated by this beer drinking kingpin. Austin was the catalyst for the biggest boom period in wrestling history, The Attitude Era. Without it, today’s WWE would be a very different place.

 

Andre the Giant: Whether you’re talking about The Princess Bride or that fateful night inside the Pontiac Silverdome, André René Roussimoff was an attraction that transcended sports, movies, and pop culture. His influence is still felt today with the popular Obey clothing that has even trickled its way into the ‘Yes Movement.’

 

Lou Thesz: The former six time world heavyweight champion bridges the gap between what wrestling was and what wrestling is today. Thesz was the biggest name of his time and arguably considered the greatest of all time. Not only did he have a lasting impact on American wrestling, but his influence in Japan left an indelible impression. If move for move, hold for hold, technical and realistic wrestling tickles your fancy, you need to say Thank you, Mr. Thesz!

 

 

- Personal Mount Rushmore

 

Hulk Hogan: The Hulkster got me into wrestling. As a child, I bled red and yellow, a Hulkamaniac through and through. I cheered like it was New Year’s Eve when he won the title back from Randy Savage, I cried for what seemed like the end of an era when he lost to the Ultimate Warrior, and he is the reason why I became a fan of WCW.

 

Bret “Hitman” Hart: The Hitman is responsible for my interest transitioning from the “What’cha gonna do” theatrics to the actual wrestling in the ring. Hart’s matches where my Kryptonite towards those would often make that mundane “Wrestling is fake” comment because he brought a legitimacy and style that would make even the harshest critics stumble for words. Bret Hart was also why I decided to go to wrestling school and become a wrestler.

 

Undertaker: I was always in awe of the giants of the squared circle, and none captivated me more than the dead man. The Undertaker was a dark force for good which spoke volumes to me because most big men were heels. His character represented the be-all end-all of ass whippings a wrestler would receive if they crossed his path. Plus, the fact that he could go in the ring was an added bonus.

 

Jushin “Thunder” Liger: This may seem like an odd choice but it was this Power Ranger esque Cruiserweight that broadened my wrestling horizons. The big two were no longer the only games in town. Puroresu spoke to me with its more legitimate looking version of my favorite pastime. Jushin Liger is still one of the few wrestlers I mark out for as to me, his in ring ability coupled with his theatrical presence represents everything I love about this business.

 

Now I want to hear from the Gerweck.net readers. What does your Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore look like? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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16 Responses

  1. Meh says:

    Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore

    Bruno Sammartino (His brawling, power moves, and personal charisma helped him become the most popular American wrestler in the 1960s through the mid 1980s. )
    Ric Flair (one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time with a professional career that spans 40+ years)
    Hulk Hogan (Hulkamania and nWo, enough said)
    Stone Cold Steve Austin (Attitude Era, enough said)

  2. Josh Dionio says:

    No Gorgeous George Wagner makes me sad. Without him, Hogan and Flair would not be around.

  3. Scott II says:

    Yes, Hogan is a given.

    Andre should be a given

    Stone Cold should be a given.

    But if you are talking about ALL of wrestling, not just here in the states…

    Antonio Inoki would be by #4

  4. MC Live says:

    Mount Rushmores are so subjective. How can you ever leave “This Guy” or “That Guy” off. The categories are too broad. You could do a Mount Rushmore of “Who drew the most Money”, have a completely different one on “who was the most popular” and a completely different one on “Who changed the business the most” so on and so on.

    If it was just a “Wrestling Mount Rushmore” I think the choices would have to be the biggest names in pro wrestling. Who do people know and associate most with pro wrestling. To me, I think it would look like Hogan, Austin, Rock, and Cena. The Four Guys who can legitimately claim to be the face of the WWE. And if you’re the face of the WWE, you’re the face of pro wrestling. Say what you want about them, but those four are unarguably the biggest stars in all of pro wrestling history.

    As for my own personal Mount Rushmore of people that have inspired me, I’d say:
    1) Rey Mysterio- he was the first wrestler I ever saw and he has done some amazing incredible things people have never seen before and will never see again.
    2) Bret Hart- I can’t put into words just how much respect I have for Bret Hart and his work. He was so good it was insane. Even his worst match came off as good. He might be the best pure technician in pro wrestling history.
    3) CM Punk- His mic work is great, his ring work is great, all his knowledge and ability for pro wrestling is great. He helped me decide to be straight edge, and from the moment I first saw him I knew he was something special.
    4) Eddie Guerrero- Maybe the best pure entertainer in WWE history. When Eddie was on screen, it was pure magic every time. I was 8 years old when he won the WWE Championship and I had only been watching for about 2 months. I loved Latino Heat when he would Lie, Cheat, and Steal, and everything he did was just so good and captivating.

    And there’s so many more. Bruno, Taker, Michaels, Flair, Angle, Jericho, Piper, Savage, so on son on. They all are deserving of a spot on a Mount Rushmore. It just all depends on who’s judging from what criteria.

  5. RJ ACE says:

    Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Vince McMahon, and Stone Cold Steve Austin

    *Hulk Hogan – Brought wrestling to the mainstream and is undoubtably the most famous wrestler of all time.

    *Ric Flair – Flair wasn’t the mainstream attraction that Hogan was, but he is probably the most legendary in ring performer of all time. He’s feuded with virtually every top name over a 25 year period and stood the test of time. Possibly the greatest promo of all time as well.

    *Vince McMahon – McMahon may have destroyed the territory system and turned wrestling into sports entertainment spectacle, but he is unquestionably the greatest visionary in the history of the business and the most successful promoter of all time.

    *Stone Cold Steve Austin – He may not have had the longevity of Hogan or Flair, but Austin was white hot for a few years and took wrestling into a stratusphere never before imagined. He led WWF to a victory over it’s last and biggest threat, WCW and set numerous attendance, PPV, and merchandise selling records. His feud with Vince McMahon is probaby the greatest of all time and it helped WWF become a public company off of it’s overwhelming popularity.

  6. cas says:

    thesz
    Hogan
    HBK
    Cena

    i think they all define a generation. I can handle the critics on cena, but when you think 2005-until he’s the guy.

  7. cas says:

    if I had my own personal rushmore

    HBK
    Pillman
    Y2J
    Edge

    those guys are pure gold in my book

  8. kidsampson says:

    I agree with RJ ACE. If limited to in-ring performers, I would replace Vince McMahon with either Undertaker or HBK.

  9. Josh Dionio says:

    To list my Wrestling Mt. Rushmores since 1 isn’t enough, I’d put up an old school one first and put Gorgeous George Wagner, Vince McMahon Sr., Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne.

    For the 70s, Nick Bockwinkle, Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, and Ric Flair.

    80s, Hogan, Andre, Piper, and Savage.

    90s, Austin, Goldberg, Vince McMahon, Sting

  10. TheBlackDiamondKliffHanger says:

    @RJAce – my son’s name is RJ, so I automatically consider you my internet brother, even though i must vehemently disagree with your “Vince destroyed the territories” line. I grew up in the 70s/80s and territory wrestling was fun beyond words. However, in the free market/ free enterprise capitalist system, Vince simply outfoxed, outworked, and outperformed his competitors, so good thaey actually sped up their own demise by not adapting to a changing market….their own.

    @Meh =My Own Mt Rushmore =

    Bruno Sammartino
    Hulk Hogan
    Andre The Giant
    Steve Austin

  11. TheBlackDiamondKliffHanger says:

    @RJAce, @Meh

    My PERSONAL Rushmore
    Hulk Hogan
    Bruno Sammartino
    Brian Pillman
    Steve Austin

    When they came on (and RIC FLAIR as well, although WCW killed so much of his NWA credibility)…i was HOOKED too my screen……….

    Hooked, I tell ya…HOOKED!

  12. LOL says:

    Shockmaster, Bastion Booger, Barry Horowitz, Great Khali.

    Thread = DONE.

  13. RJ ACE says:

    @BlackDiamond – I agree wholeheartedly about McMahon. I wasn’t criticizing him, it’s a business and he did what he had to do to become the driving force in pro wrestling and the most successful promoter of all time. There are downsides however to the territory system being abolished and I made that comment more so because McMahon’s vision of pro wrestling isn’t what most agree with. Regardless though, you can’t argue with his success. He took over the wrestling world.

  14. Atlee Greene says:

    Thank all for reading the column.

    @Josh Dionio: Gorgeous George was one of the names I kept wrestling with for the overall category. I also liked your idea of ranking them by decade.

    @MC Live: I miss Eddie Guerrerro

    @Meh: Bruno Smmartino was another name I wrestled with for the overall category. When he was on top, people didn’t say they were watching wrestling. They said they were going to watch Bruno.

    @cas: Cena will most likely be on the overall mount rushmore when it is all said and done. I kept him off the list because he is still in his run on top.

  15. My picks are Frank Gotch, Gorgeous George, El Santo and the “Father of Puroresu” Rikidozan.

  16. TheBlackDiamondKliffHanger says:

    @RJAce…i feel you

    @LOL…You Win! Your post made my morning!

    My Mount RASH-myer…

    Phantasio
    Abe Schwartz
    Judy Bagwell
    The Ding Dongs

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