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The 30 best WWE wrestlers of all time

Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, two of the best WWE wrestlers of all time
The 30 best WWE wrestlers of all time obviously include Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, but who came out top on our list? Pic credit: WWE

When it comes to figuring out who the best WWE wrestlers of all time are, there is a lot more to look at than just their abilities to pull off cool moves.

Being a great professional wrestler means doing it all in the ring. This isn’t just about all the WWE titles a wrestler happens to win over his career. It means delivering great matches, doing the right things psychologically as a face or heel, and delivering great promos to sell the stories to the fans.

The WWE has been in existence since 1963 when the CWC withdrew from the NWA and morphed into the WWWF. That soon became the WWF in 1979 and then the WWE, which it has been known as since 2002.

Over that time, thousands of men and women have wrestled in the WWE, so breaking that down to just the 30 best of all-time was hard.

With that said, this list is only considering the wrestlers’ careers in the WWE (so wrestlers from the NWA, ECW, WCW, and the territories were not considered unless they played a major role in the WWE as well — and only their WWE accomplishments were taken into consideration).

Without any further ado, here are the 30 best WWE wrestlers of all-time.

30. Jeff Hardy

Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy, whose wrestling career began at the age of 17 in 1994. Pic credit: WWE

In November 2018, Jeff Hardy celebrated 20 years in the WWE, although that was just his start as a major player with the Hardy Boyz. Hardy actually worked as a jobber starting in 1994 at the age of 17.

From 1998-2002, the Hardy Boyz revolutionized tag team wrestling while feuding with The Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian. With his brother Matt Hardy, he held the tag team titles in the WWE eight times.

However, Jeff went on to even bigger heights as a singles star and one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

He won the WWE Championship once and the WWE World Championship twice, as well as enjoying reigns as the European Champion, United States Champion, Hardcore Champion, Light Heavyweight Champion, and four reigns as the Intercontinental Champion.

29. Pedro Morales

Pedro Morales
Pedro Morales, who was a big name in the ’70s and ’80s. Pic credit: WWE

Pedro Morales is not a name that kids today hear often when talking about professional wrestling or the best WWE wrestlers of all time. However, he was hugely successful in the ’70s and ’80s and helped prove that a Latin American wrestler could be a huge star in the WWE.

His biggest accomplishment was proving that the Intercontinental Championship was very important in the company.

He won the title originally from Ken Patera in 1980 and held it for 194 days before losing it to the Magnificent Muraco before winning it back and holding it for another 425 days.

That is the longest anyone has ever held the title, which was hugely important in the era before Hulk Hogan arrived. This also came after he held the WWE world title for almost three years in the early ’70s.

28. Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has a “love him or hate him” relationship with fans . Pic credit: WWE

Roman Reigns has not been around long enough to really warrant too high of a spot on a list like this. He is someone who has enough detractors that his position — no matter how high or low — will cause complaints.

However, like him or not, Reigns has become a huge star in the WWE and it was not through favoritism but through hard work. He isn’t the best promo man when fed forced scripts but he is good when speaking from the heart.

He also routinely turned in good matches with a variety of stars. Along the way, he won three WWE world titles and one Universal Championship. He was also an Intercontinental Champion, United States Champion and tag team champion (with Seth Rollins).

Reigns is currently out of action, as he is battling leukemia, but if he returns he has a chance of climbing up the list of the best WWE wrestlers of all time as his career goes on.

27. Eddie Guerrero

Eddie Geurrero
Eddie Guerrero was one of the most popular heels ever in the WWE. Pic credit: WWE

The late Eddie Guerrero was from a great wrestling family but his success surpassed his brothers, uncles and nephews. While Mondo, Hector and Chavo Guerrero were all successful — mostly in the southern states — Eddie took the Guerrero name nationwide and developed into one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

After a successful career in the territories and in WCW, Eddie made his way to the WWE and broke through to become one of the most popular heels to ever wrestle in the company.

His motto was to lie, cheat and steal, and he used that mantra to win a lot of titles along the way. Guerrero was a former WWE Champion, United States Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, two-time European Champion, and four-time WWE tag team champion.

It could have been so much more as well if he had not died at the young age of 38. Eddie Guerrero was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

26. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts

Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a master at telling a story in the ring. Pic credit: WWE

Jake “The Snake” Roberts is possibly the greatest villain in the history of the WWE, and he is also one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time from a ring psychology standpoint.

What that means is that, while he may not have the move set of someone like an AJ Styles or Daniel Bryan, Jake could tell a story in the ring that fans bought into and believed.

It speaks wonders that Roberts never held one single title in the WWE but is still a WWE Hall of Fame superstar.

He was brilliant at cutting promos and could tell a story in the ring like no one else. His feuds with Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Andre the Giant are legendary. Plus, don’t forget, Stone Cold Steve Austin was born after he battled Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

25. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase

'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase
Ted DiBiase had the talent to pull off being the Million Dollar Man. Pic credit: WWE

Before he came to the WWE, Ted DiBiase was a rough, no-nonsense wrestler who could compete with anyone. He was as close to a shoo-in for a future NWA world title but he chose to leave for the WWE.

When he got there, DiBiase got a cartoon gimmick but he was so talented — both in the ring and on the microphone — that he was able to make it work as the Million Dollar Man.

Like Jake Roberts, DiBiase was one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time without needing to hold a title in the WWE. He was in the storyline where he paid Andre the Giant to beat Hulk Hogan and give him the title, which eventually introduced the Million Dollar title.

As DiBiase said in later interviews, that fake title made him a bigger star than holding the WWE title would have. He did add on three tag team title reigns before retiring, though.

24. Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar has been a controversial figure but still holds his place as one of the best ever wrestlers in the WWE. Pic credit: WWE

The legacy of Brock Lesnar has taken a hit in recent years thanks to him being a part-time wrestler who is holding the biggest title on Monday Night Raw. However, despite those complaints, he still will go down in history as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

Lesnar was one of the most dominant wrestlers in the company since he made his debut in 2002. He went on to leave the company and win the biggest title in the UFC before returning and proving he hadn’t lost a step.

Along the way, Lesnar has held the WWE world title four times and the Universal Championship twice. In both of his major stints in the WWE, Lesnar was the most dominant star there.

He may not be someone who can talk or sell his matches with words, but when he gets in the ring, it is impossible to see anyone legitimately beating the man.

23. CM Punk

CM Punk in the WWE
CM Punk was the all-round package, and wasn’t shy of saying it. Pic credit: WWE

When anyone asked him, CM Punk would tell them that he was not only the best WWE wrestler of all time but the best wrestler period. For a number of years, he even proved it.

Punk forced his way up the card, from the ranks of ECW to part of a faction to the world champion. He not only held the WWE title, but he had a title reign longer than anyone in the WWE since Hulk Hogan was on top in the ’80s.

By the time that CM Punk quit, he had held the world title three times and the WWE title twice. He beat John Cena almost every time the two men wrestled. He was also the ECW champ, the world tag team champion and the Intercontinental Champion.

Add in two Money in the Bank wins, and it was clear that no one was better in the ring. On the microphone, no one could touch him either and he did something only The Rock could before — he beat people in the ring and with his words.

22. Bob Backlund

Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund was one of the best technical wrestlers of all time. Pic credit: WWE

Before Hulk Hogan started ruling the WWE, it was Bob Backlund who was the biggest man in the company. After Bruno Sammartino stepped down, Backlund was easily the best WWE wrestler of the time.

He wasn’t flashy and he changed the WWE from a company that rested on the back of a larger-than-life muscle man into one that was controlled by one of the best technical wrestlers of all time.

He held the WWE tag titles once with former WWE world champion Pedro Morales and was a two-time WWE champion. His first reign lasted for 1,470 days and at just over four years, it was the second longest of all-time.

His second title reign came in 1994 when he returned and beat Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the title. That lasted a total of three days. Backlund was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

21. AJ Styles

AJ Styles
AJ Styles has proved himself time and time again. Pic credit: WWE

AJ Styles has only been in the WWE for almost three years, but in that short time he has already shown himself to be one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time, proving his long-time fans right.

Before AJ Styles signed with the WWE, he was part of TNA Impact Wrestling for 10 years and was the best wrestler to ever compete in that company. He was in New Japan after that and proved there that he was one of the best in the entire world.

Since entering the WWE, AJ Styles has held the United States title twice and the WWE Championship twice. He regularly turns in Match of the Year contenders and has proven to be a better promo man than anyone thought he could be.

His two title reigns as world champion have been for a total of 511 days — more than CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Kurt Angle.

20. Edge

Edge in the WWE
Edge has been incredibly successful in the WWE. Pic credit: WWE

It is really amazing to look back and see how much success Edge had in the WWE since he had to retire early due to neck injuries. The Rated-R superstar started out as a tag team wrestler in The Brood with Christian.

Soon, Edge & Christian became one of the best tag teams in the WWE along with the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz. The two men won the tag titles seven times. Over his entire career, Edge won 15 tag team titles with different partners.

However, he went on to be a hugely successful singles star. He was a seven-time WWE World Champion and a four-time WWE Champion. He was a former United States Champion, five-time Intercontinental Champion, won the King of the Ring and Royal Rumble, and won the 2005 Money in the Bank.

No one could touch Edge when it came to his role as a heel. He retired in 2011, one night after he won in a world title defense at WrestleMania — one of the few that left on top, going home as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time

19. Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan holding two title belts in the WWE
Daniel Bryan beat the odds and the indies to become one of the biggest wrestlers in the WWE. Pic credit: WWE

No one really gave Daniel Bryan much of a chance to make it in the WWE, much less end up as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time. He was the best wrestler in the indies for years — trained by Shawn Michaels and William Regal and a major Ring of Honor star.

However, he came to the WWE and was put into a competition on NXT where he was mentored by The Miz. He then was thrown into Nexus and fired for doing what he could to help put them over. He was re-hired and put into the mid-card, where most felt he would languish.

Bryan would not let that happen. He was a villain who won the world title in a Money in the Bank cash in and then lost it in seconds to Sheamus at WrestleMania. He was thrown into a comedy tag team with Kane after that. Through it all, the fans fell in love with Bryan.

It all paid off at WrestleMania XXX where he beat both Triple H in a qualifying match and then Batista to become the world champion. Sadly, injuries derailed his career but after a forced retirement, Bryan was able to return and won the world title once again.

His career is far from over, but Bryan is a four-time WWE Champion and one-time WWE world champion, a former Intercontinental Champion, tag team champion, United States champion and a Money in the Bank winner.

18. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat in the WWE
Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat never won a belt but he’s still one of the greatest. Pic credit: WWE

If there is one person in the history of the WWE that showcases what a true babyface looks like it is Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

While he was never a world champion in the WWE, he goes down as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time due to his work as both a face and a technical superstar.

Steamboat was a man who knew how to tell a story in the ring and get the fans on his side every time. It was his work as a babyface in peril that helped prove how heinous men like Macho Man Randy Savage and Jake The Snake Roberts really were.

Steamboat had bigger success out of the WWE, where he was a former WCW world champion. However, he was great in the WWE as well, easily the second-biggest good guy after only Hulk Hogan and a mainstay in the hunt for the Intercontinental title, which he held on one occasion.

17. Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle started as an Olympic gold medalist and made his mark on pro wrestling too
Kurt Angle is an Olympic gold medalist turned pro wrestler. Pic credit: WWE

Kurt Angle came into the WWE with almost more cred than any wrestler in history. He was a gold medal winner from the 1996 Summer Olympics — and he won that medal with a broken neck.

Coming in with that kind of success in wrestling assured that he was an instant star upon his arrival and it didn’t take him long to morph into one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

He debuted in the WWE in 1999, won his first titles in 2000 and was the WWE world champion by October of that year — one of the greatest WWE rookie years in the history of the sport. It was also just the start.

Angle had amazing feuds with Brock Lesnar, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H before leaving the company in 2006. He finally returned in 2017 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Over his WWE career, Angle held the WWE Championship four times, WWE Championship once and WCW title once after the WWE purchased their rival. He was also a former U.S. champion, the European champion, Hardcore champion, Intercontinental champion and also held the tag titles once.

16. Randy Orton

Randy Orton shows off his belt and his huge personality
Randy Orton comes from a long line of great wrestlers. Pic credit: WWE

Randy Orton is one of the greatest third-generation stars in WWE history. His father was Cowboy Bob Orton, the man best known as the bodyguard for Rowdy Roddy Piper and Randy eclipsed everything his dad did in spades.

Orton was the youngest professional wrestler to ever win a world title in the WWE at the age of 24. He was an instant star, paired up with Triple H, Batista and Ric Flair as Evolution before splitting off from them for a short-lived babyface run.

While he had success as a face and a heel, Randy Orton became one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time through his work as a heel. He has been one of the best bad guys in the WWE for almost two decades and many consider him to be the prototype for what a wrestler should look like in the ring.

Very few men have held more world titles than Orton, who has won 13 over his career (four world titles and nine WWE titles). He is also a former two-time tag team champion (with Edge and Bray Wyatt), and has held the United States and Intercontinental title one time each. He has won the Royal Rumble twice and the Money in the Bank match as well.

15. Mick Foley

Mick Foley holding a championship belt in the WWE
Mick Foley is a master of reinvention. Pic credit: WWE

Mick Foley was nothing like anyone in the WWE when he made his debut there in 1996. While there were men in the past that lived up to his hardcore style, when Foley debuted as Mankind, he was one of a kind and ended up as a monster star for the company.

What makes Foley unique is that he kept reinventing himself. He was the monster Mankind and feuded with Undertaker — a feud that ended with his legendary fall from the top of the Hell in a Cell structure. He became Cactus Jack, a hardcore legend that was the same persona he portrayed before coming to the WWE.

He was the comical Dude Love, a homage to his childhood persona when he dreamed of being a wrestler. He wrestled under his own name of Mick Foley — a legend in the sport.

He was an authority figure and a company figurehead. Mick did it all and will always be known as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

In the WWE, Mick Foley held the WWE Championship three times, the Hardcore title once and was an eight-time tag team champion with names like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Terry Funk, Kane (twice), The Rock (three times) and Al Snow. He entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

14. Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho entertains the WWE crowd
Chris Jericho has always been a fun wrestler to watch. Pic credit: WWE

When Chris Jericho made his debut in the WWE in 1999, it went down as one of the best debuts in the history of the WWE. The Millenium clock ticked down and then Jericho showed up, interrupting a promo by The Rock, and he was an instant star.

Jericho set the world on fire with his promos and his fun wrestling style. He proved himself when he beat Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night to become the first unified WWE world champion.

He proved himself to be one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time when he kept reinventing himself. He never remained constant, kept changing his personas and attitude and had amazing matches with everyone — the highlight being his feud with Shawn Michaels.

Over his career in the WWE, Chris Jericho held six world titles (one WWE, three world and two WCW titles), the Hardcore and European titles, two United States title reigns, seven tag title reigns (with Edge, Big Show, Chris Benoit, The Rock. Christian and Edge), and a record-setting nine Intercontinental title reigns.

13. Triple H

Triple H sits on a throne with his championship belt and crown
Triple H was a great wrestler before he married the bosses’ daughter. Pic credit: WWE

Triple H was a huge star in the WWE ring and an even bigger star backstage. To start off with, Triple H had to work his way up the ranks — starting as a mid-card talent known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley before becoming Triple H as a part of DX and then finally marrying the boss’ daughter in real-life to move into his executive role with the company.

Even without his role as an executive, he was one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time due to his impressive body of in-ring work. Owing much of his style to old-school wrestlers like Ric Flair, Triple H turned in solid to great matches and built up an impressive list of titles.

He has held 14 world titles over his career, third best behind only John Cena and Ric Flair. He has been a five-time Intercontinental champion, three-time tag team champion and two-time European champion. He won two Royal Rumbles and the King of the Ring.

However, his biggest role came backstage where he has nurtured NXT into one of the most exciting wrestling shows in the entire industry and hopefully will one day take over the booking on the main shows as well.

12. Rowdy Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper on the microphone flanked by the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff
Without Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan may not have been as popular. Pic credit: WWE

Arguably, the greatest heel in professional wrestling history is Rowdy Roddy Piper. No one got fans riled up more than Piper over his WWE career. For a hero to be successful, he has to have a great villain to battle and without Roddy Piper, there might never have been a Hulk Hogan — at least not at the level Hogan reached.

Piper is a unique wrestler who never needed a title in order to be considered successful. He was undefeated through most of his WWE career — the only losses he took being disqualifications, count outs and no-contests, but never taking a clean pin.

Even when Piper fought Hogan, the matches ended up inconclusive with Piper never knocking off Hogan and Hogan never pinning Piper. Instead, they played around on the microphone and were the perfect adversaries in the WWE.

It seems almost amazing that Roddy Piper only won one singles title in his entire WWE career — the Intercontinental title in 1992 after he had turned face. His only other title came years after his best days were over in 2006 in a tag title victory with Ric Flair.

Despite that, Roddy Piper is not only one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time, but one of the best villains in the history of the industry. He entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

11. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage

Macho Man Randy Savage put on a great WWE show
Macho Man Randy Savage was one of the most exciting wrestlers of the 80s. Pic credit: WWE

Hulk Hogan might have been the most popular wrestler in the WWE in the ’80s but there wasn’t anyone more exciting than Macho Man Randy Savage. When Savage and Hogan went one-on-one, it was the biggest angle in wrestling without competition.

Savage made his debut in the WWE in 1985 after making his name in the Memphis territory and shocked the wrestling world when he introduced Miss Elizabeth as his manager.

The two then shared a combustible relationship that finally resulted in a reunion and marriage that actually was one of the best angles in WWE history at the time.

Much like Piper, Savage never needed a title to remain on top of the wrestling world. He was a two time WWE world champion and many fans cheered him even when he split with Hulk Hogan during a major heel turn. He was also a former Intercontinental champion and brought out the best in the Ultimate Warrior.

Randy Savage left the WWE on bad terms but was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame posthumously in 2015.

10. Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes
Andre the Giant was larger than life in many ways. Pic credit: WWE

Andre the Giant was not a great wrestler but he was the biggest and best attraction in WWE history. Standing seven feet tall and over 500 pounds, he was, for years, the man that wrestling companies would bring in to squash the villains they had built up.

Fans loved the giant superstar and while he did little but lumber around the ring, club opponents to the mat and then apply his big bearhug to win, he was still someone that got people excited.

Even when he could barely move anymore, he had fans excited to see Hulk Hogan bodyslam him at WrestleMania III. There wasn’t a bigger personality in the sport of professional wrestling than Andre the Giant and since storylines are what is important, he remains one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time.

He did all this and only won two titles — besting Hulk Hogan for the world title and then winning a tag title with Haku toward the end of his career. Andre was the first man to ever receive an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

9. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

The Rock builds up the WWE crowd
We can smell what The Rock is cookin’! Pic credit: WWE

If this was a list of the most famous wrestlers of all-time or the men who really transcended the sport of professional wrestling, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might top the list. There is no name in wrestling that has risen to the top of the entertainment world higher than The Rock.

Johnson is a third generation star, the grandson of High Chief Peter Maivia and the son of Rocky Johnson. While he took a bit to catch on (Die Rocky Die was the original chant for him while he was a good guy), when he turned heel, he was an immediate star.

The arrogance of The Rock — whether as a good guy or a bad guy — was electric and he was bigger than the WWE. He was also one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time due to his list of accomplishments.

The Rock won 10 world titles (eight WWE titles and two world titles), two Intercontinental titles, and five tag team titles (three with Mick Foley, one with Undertaker and one with Chris Jericho). He also won the 2000 Royal Rumble.

Since leaving the WWE, Dwayne Johnson became one of the most successful actors in Hollywood — proving that he was always bigger than the WWE.

8. Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino posing with his title belt
Bruno Sammartino sold out many venues where he wrestled. Pic credit: WWE

Bruno Sammartino will always go down as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time — even if his matches don’t measure up to what today’s WWE fans are used to.

He sold out Madison Square Garden every time he wrestled there. He was such a huge star that the WWE thought fans might actually try to attack anyone who beat him in the ring. He was the biggest name in professional wrestling history when he was the WWE champion.

He only held the WWE title twice but he held it longer cumulatively than any other wrestler in history. His first title reign lasted for 2,803 days (that is over seven years). His second reign lasted for 1,237 days (over three years).

Through six title reigns, Hulk Hogan only held the belt for about six years — four years less than Bruno’s two title reigns.

Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 — although he should have been one of the first along with Andre the Giant. No one was better than Bruno.

7. Nature Boy Ric Flair

Ric Flair's style was just as over the top as his WWE persona
Ric Flair won a world title 16 times. Pic credit: WWE

This ranking is about the best WWE wrestlers of all time. If it was about the best in wrestling regardless of where they competed at, Nature Boy Ric Flair might top the list above all others.

Despite that, he is still top 10 in WWE history and deserves every accolade he has received. He is tied with John Cena for the most world titles in the history of the industry. However, only two of his 16 world title reigns came in the WWE.

Flair won the Royal Rumble in 1992 to win the vacant world title and then won the belt from Macho Man Randy Savage later that year. He has also held the Intercontinental title once and the tag team titles three times (twice with Batista and once with Roddy Piper).

Ric Flair holds the distinction as being the only two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee — on his own in 2008 and as part of the Four Horsemen in 2012.

Ric Flair will always be considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and remains one of the most iconic in WWE history.

6. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart is carried by fellow wrestlers as he shows off his title belt
Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart comes from a wrestling dynasty. Pic credit: WWE

His nickname was The Best There Is, The Best There Was and the Best There Ever Will Be and Bret “The Hitman” Hart proved that throughout his entire professional wrestling career.

Hart was trained by his father Stu Hart and when the WWE bought his dad’s Stampede Wrestling, he joined the WWE with his relatives Jim Neidhart, Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith. At that time, the Hart Foundation was born and Hart started his rise to the top.

He started off as a tag team wrestler with Jim Neidhart. The two men won the WWE tag team titles twice. He moved on to a singles career and became the Intercontinental champion — a title he held twice over his career.

After a decade of larger than life superstars holding the WWE world title, Bret Hart changed things when he got the chance to hold the title and proved that the world champion could be more than a cartoon character. Hart held the title five times over his career.

Bret Hart left the WWE on bad terms and his career ended after a severe concussion in a match with Bill Goldberg. Hart reconciled with the WWE years later and entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

5. ‘Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels worships his title belt in the middle of the WWE ring
Small but mighty, Shawn Michaels is one of the Top 5 WWE wrestlers. Pic credit: WWE

Along with Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels proved that smaller, athletic and exciting wrestlers could carry the WWE as the top title holders. Then, throughout his 22-year career, Michaels proved to be the best WWE wrestler of all time when it came to his in-ring work.

Michaels started out as a tag team wrestler in the Rockers before turning on his partner and setting out on a solo career. He started out in the Intercontinental title scene — a belt he held three times over his career.

Then, like Hart, he got a chance for the top title in the company. When Shawn Michaels won the WWE title from Bret Hart at WrestleMania, the WWE labeled it the boyhood dream come true and it remains one of the best moments in WWE history.

Michaels backstage politics played a part in his downgrade in the eyes of fans for years. However, when Michaels returned from retirement in 2002 (back injuries forced an early retirement), he was better than ever and proved to everyone how great HBK really was.

By the time he retired the second time, Michaels had held the world title four times, the tag team titles six times and the European Championship once. He also won the Royal Rumble twice and wrestled in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year 11 times.

Shawn Michaels was the big game wrestler and might be the most exciting wrestler to ever step into a WWE ring. He entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

4. John Cena

John Cena working the WWE crowd
John Cena has been the face of the WWE for longer than anyone before him. Pic credit: WWE

With the exception of Nature Boy Ric Flair, no one has won more world championships in professional wrestling than John Cena. The difference is that Cena won all his titles while wrestling in the WWE.

Like him or hate him, John Cena has been the face of the WWE for longer than anyone before him. He debuted in the promotion in 2002 after a short stint in developmental and immediately made his mark, taking Kurt Angle to the limit.

Cena was then given a goofy gimmick as a rapper but he made it work and developed a large fan base along the way. By the time he beat JBL for his first world title, Cena was the biggest star in the company.

The WWE has been the only place he wrestled and he won a ton of titles along the way — elevating every belt he held to mean more than it did before he won it. He won 16 world titles (three world and 13 WWE titles), the tag belts four times (with Batista, Shawn Michaels, Miz and David Otunga), and the United States title five times.

He won the Money in the Bank in 2012 and the Royal Rumble twice (2008 and 2013). He still wrestles as a part-time star but also is making his mark in Hollywood.

John Cena will one day enter the WWE Hall of Fame and will go down in history as one of the best WWE wrestlers of all time when he finally retires.

3. The Undertaker

The Undertaker takes wrestling to a spooky level
The Undertaker has been creeping out WWE fans since 1990. Pic credit: WWE

Possibly the number one attraction in the history of the WWE is The Undertaker. It is rare that a wrestler debuts with a gimmick and it is so successful that it lasts an entire career. It is even rarer when that career lasts 28 years and counting.

When Undertaker debuted in the WWE in 1990, he was a zombie-like mortician and made an immediate impact when he made his television debut at the 1990 Survivor Series. That was the start of something special.

Undertaker was earmarked for greatness, beating Hulk Hogan early in his career and starting in 1991 with what became known as The Streak — an undefeated streak at WrestleMania events that lasted for many years. His only losses at WrestleMania were to Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns and his record at the event is 24-2.

He morphed into The Deadman, often accompanied by Druids to the ring for his major matches. He helped launch new specialty matches, including casket matches, buried alive matches and the ominous Hell in a Cell match — a match that had one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history when he threw Mick Foley off the roof of the cell.

He started his own faction with the Ministry of Darkness. Later, he started to talk more and rode a motorcycle to the ring. He became a huge backstage leader that everyone looked up to and respected. He went back to the Dead Man role and was still wrestling this year.

Undertaker is a seven-time world champion (three world and four WWE) and a seven-time tag team champion (with Kane three times, Steve Austin, Big Show twice and The Rock). The only undercard title he ever held was the Hardcore title once. He also won the Royal Rumble in 2007.

Undertaker rarely if ever breaks character but when he retires expect him to be a first-year WWE Hall of Fame inductee. He remains easily the most respected WWE superstar in the history of the industry.

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin took on The Rock in the WWE
Stone Cold Steve Austin was controversial but one of the best. Pic credit: WWE

The most profitable period of WWE history and the time where more people were watching wrestling than ever before was the Attitude Era. That era was started when Stone Cold Steve Austin challenged authority and started feuding with Vince McMahon.

What is crazy is that Austin did not have a long career in the WWE.

Austin debuted in 1995 as The Ringmaster. Soon, he was able to grow out of that when he won the King of the Ring and started using the tagline “Austin 3:16.” He became Stone Cold and then after a bloody match with Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Austin became the most popular wrestler the WWE had ever seen.

Eight years later, in 2003, Stone Cold Steve Austin announced his retirement from professional wrestling due to injuries that could have permanently left him disabled if he continued to take bumps. Eight years and Austin was still the biggest draw in professional wrestling history.

Stone Cold was a six-time world champion by the time he retired. He also held the Intercontinental title twice and the world tag team titles four times (with Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Undertaker and Triple H). He was the King of the Ring winner in 1996 and won the Royal Rumble three times (1997, 1998, 2001).

Steve Austin entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.

1. Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan waves the American flag in the WWE ring
Hulk Hogan had a huge part in making the WWE what it is today, Pic credit: WWE

While Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest draw in wrestling history, it was Hulk Hogan that put the WWE on the map. Hogan turned the WWE from a “rasslin” company into a legitimate entertainment empire.

Hogan made his first appearance in the WWE in 1979 but when he returned in 1983 he set the world on fire. Hogan quickly won the WWE world title from the Iron Sheik and Hulkamania was born.

While some fans complained that Hogan held the title too long and held down too many other stars, no one can deny the popularity of Hulkamania during the ’80s.

He was responsible for WrestleMania becoming a major event and his match with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III set attendance records with over 90,000 people stacked into the Silverdome to watch the match.

Hulk Hogan had feuds with Rowdy Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Sgt. Slaughter and The Ultimate Warrior that the entire world was watching. Hulk Hogan helped make the WWE.

By the time he retired, Hulk Hogan had held the world title six times. He was a world tag team champion as well with Edge. Hogan reinvented himself in WCW. Even if this is just about the WWE, Hogan still outshines almost everyone in the history of the industry.

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