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The best vs the greatest


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@Factotum raised the point of Cena being WWE Mount Rushmore-worthy in a post and it got me thinking.

Many people will talk about th GOAT in many different sports, but how could anyone really be considered amongst the greatest? For me, being the best at something doesn't automatically make you the greatest and so whilst I'm sure this has been discussed at length many times, I thought it would be interesting to see who you would put on your WWE Mount Rushmore if it was purely the greatest WWE superstars, and how this might change if it was the best 4 superstars.

What metrics do you use to determine who's the greates and who's the best? For me, the greatest are those that define the WWE, that achieved and contributed the most in terms of writing its history. The best are those that are simply that - the best at pro wrestling. That then raises the question of what makes the best pro wrestler. In ring ability? The best on the mic? The best at portraying a believable character?

The Best

Bret Hart
In my opinion the best in-ring performer ever, Bret will forever be my favourite. As a kid I was always fully behind him and as I got older, I started to appreciate just how good he was once the bell rang. Could have a decent match with pretty much anyone. More decent on the mic that he’s probably given credit for and bought believable intensity when it was needed.

Shawn Michaels
I watched an old match on YouTube recently against Ted DiBiase when he was still a Rocker and it was clear he was destined for great things. The Barber Shop Window is the standout moment from my WWF childhood, but even as an 11-year-old, I could tell he was the better half of the team and would run with the ball. Long career, brilliant matches, and he genuinely had “it” which made you want to watch him perform.

Kurt Angle
If anyone could be classed as being “born to do it”, it was Kurt. Transitioned from Olympic wrestling with ease and very quickly shot his way to the top of the card with his brilliant ability and character. When I’d gotten stick at work for liking the “oily men in pants”, I would always show them a Kurt Angle match, and more often than not the ribbing would stop. Hilariously funny or deadly serious, Kurt could do it all.

Eddie Guerrero
Whether portraying a babyface or a heel, the fans couldn’t help to get behind him and he could seemingly have great matches with opponents of any size. He was the stand out performer for me during a great period on Smackdown, defying the odds somewhat given he was considered quite small at the time and an ex-WCW guy. Eddie had it all and was just a joy to watch in whatever he’d been given.

The Greatest

Hulk Hogan
My mum knows who Hulk Hogan is, my nan knows who Hulk Hogan is, the guy next door who’s never seen wrestling knows who Hulk Hogan is. He’s Hulk Hogan for goodness sake – without doubt the greatest wrestler ever who helped define an industry.

The Rock
A man who has truly transcended not only wrestling but Hollywood also. My in-laws know him as the guy who’s movies they really enjoy but I still know him as the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. I’ve seen The Rock live a few times, and nobody has ever managed to captivate an audience with their presence like him. He helped define a generation and was the one character that drew me back in when I picked WWE back up again in 1998.

Stone Cold
The most important wrestler of the Attitude Era, cementing his place as not only a serious headliner but the face of an industry during its hottest ever mainstream period.

John Cena
I actually find it hard to include Cena here, as it feels anyone must have a bit of a legacy before they can reach those heights. But the truth is, his career spanned longer than many that might otherwise be considered the greatest and he was on top throughout. Cena just felt like the real deal at every show I saw live and had some absolutely incredible matches and rivalries. The truth is, nobody has replaced Cena and I doubt anyone ever will.

Who've you got?

Edited by scratchdj
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I don't think you'd get much variation on what you've picked for Greatest there - unless you're going back to the pre-Hogan era in which case Bruno Sammartino is a contender. But which of the four do you replace him with? Of the four there, maybe Austin or Rock. Bruno's got commonality with Hogan and Cena in that he was the top star for an extended period of time, whereas Austin's boom period (let's call it WM14 until Rikishi running him over) was less than two years, and because of Austin, Rock only really got to be the top star for the year Austin was gone. Both massively important but in the grand scheme of things, I think Bruno's run as champion lasted longer than either of their full-time WWE careers!

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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Bruno's an odd one in that he was at the head of the ship when they were still largely a regional company, if an extremely successful one.

It sounds bizarre to imagine a WWE "Mount Rushmore" without Sammartino on it, but realistically how much of a draw was he outside of New York, Philadelphia and Toronto? By the same token, though, can he really be judged against any other metric but by the environment he was working in at the time?

If we're keeping to WWE, then Stone Cold and Hogan are the dead certs. Austin's run was short-lived, but he was the biggest star they've ever had by so many metrics. Hogan's the close second, but arguably more significant in terms of cultural cachet. 

Most of the stuff that makes The Rock the biggest star to ever come out of wrestling is what he did after wrestling - one of the highest paid actors in the world, a massive star, and an absolute household name, but all of that comes after he retires as a full-time wrestler. But since then he's come back, and had two of the highest drawing matches ever. So that post-wrestling success becomes inexorably linked with his wrestling career. But do we include Brock Lesnar's UFC record as part of the consideration toward his success in WWE? Do we preclude "Dwayne Johnson" from our discussion of The Rock, in which case he'd be the one to swap out for Bruno, IMO.

John Cena's an odd one, though maybe just because of my relationship to wrestling by the time he became a top star. He's had the longest stint as the company figurehead of anyone we're talking about, but still doesn't really feel like The Guy in the sense of Hogan or Austin. To people younger than us, he probably does. History will likely look at him as one of the most important stars ever, though he never presided over any particular boom period, nor could I sum up his career with a handful of iconic moments the way you can Hogan or Austin.

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6 hours ago, BomberPat said:

Bruno's an odd one in that he was at the head of the ship when they were still largely a regional company, if an extremely successful one.

It sounds bizarre to imagine a WWE "Mount Rushmore" without Sammartino on it, but realistically how much of a draw was he outside of New York, Philadelphia and Toronto? By the same token, though, can he really be judged against any other metric but by the environment he was working in at the time?

I think you almost have to split WWF/WWE history between pre and post expansion tbh. To those who he attracted sell out crowds to MSG and the Boston Garden etc month after month, then of course he's right up there. 

But to a large portion of the fanbase outside of the north east he was probably a guy they read about in magazines and had a short run in the mid 80's when well past it. 

Totally agree re: The Rock. To me he never felt quite on the level of Austin, although was a credible enough challenger to headline 3 WMs against him (they wouldn't have set those matches otherwise would they?)

While I have no doubt that he could have gone on to carry the company through the 2000s and would have done a fine job of it, his (totally justified) decision to leave for Hollywood  at basically the same time as Austin left the company in a bit of a rut. Can't help thinking there's a bit of revisionist thinking to the Rock and taking his subsequent stardom into account, but his full-time wrestling career amounted to what, six years total?

With Cena I'll always be biased I'm afraid. While I think he comes across as a great guy and did as much as he could, he will always be a poster guy for the "Hmmm, the WWF isn't as good as it used to be" era.

Edited by garynysmon
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