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  1. #1

    5 Most Influential People In Wrestling History

    I was wondering what everyone's opinions are on the 5 most influential people in the history of wrestling. Use your own interpretation of influential, but give reasons. My opinions are likely different from anyone else's as I am a wrestling historian but I will explain them. I am very curious to see what people without my background think on this topic.

    1. Toots Mondt. Who? He was involved in wrestling from the age of 15 in 1909 until his death in 1976, a 67 year span. In his early years he trained with some of the legends of the 19th century. He was involved with most of the top wrestlers of the 1920s. He completely changed wrestling. He turned matches from shoots to works, he invented the concept of a wrestling company travelling together and having a set of wrestlers work together to tell a story rather than hire random guys for 1 shot matches. Before him, wrestlers would go to a carnival challenge locals to last 5 minutes for a cash prize, then have a 3 hour shoot match. After him, most of wrestling as we know it today. But that was just the beginning as he was involved with legends like Jim Londos and Lou Thesz. Without him WWE would never have existed (he helped Vince Senior transform Capitol Wrestling to WWWF the forerunner companies of the WWF and WWE). Finally he convinced Vince Sr. to make Bruno Sammartino champion when Vince thought of him as a midcarder, and he turned into possibly the greatest champion in history.

    2. Gorgeous George. Few people are aware of just how important he was to wrestling, and he is unquestionably the most important wrestler outside of wrestling (the Rock's movies not withstanding). He took a barely developed concept of showmanship and perfected it. He brought more female fans into wrestling than anyone ever. Some of his influences: because of him heels began dying their hair blond. Buddy Rogers (and later Ric Flair) would have likely been far less popular without their borrowing a lot of his tricks. He was very talented in the ring and still transformed things so that promos and showmanship dominated. Every heel since him owes their career to him. He was the first to really brag. Athlete's in other sports who show off and have advertising deals owe it all to him. Bragging was considered poor sportsmanship, and things such as the football spikes after a TD probably wouldn't exist without him. He changed music. Although not a musician, he inspired everyone from Liberace to James Brown. Brown claimed most of his stage act was inspired by George's matches. Bob Dylan said he inspired him to pursue music. Probably later gender-bending musicians such as David Bowie and Boy George wouldn't have existed as they did. He met a very young Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) and Ali said he learned most of what he did from him. Without him there would never have been a Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan. He changed pro wrestling, other sports, music, and possibly people's perceptions of what is and isn't acceptable.

    3. Vincent K. McMahon. Vince Jr. is just ridiculously important in history. He changed wrestling from a regional to an international scene, removed most of the technical wrestling, and made storylines dominant. Was responsible for both the 2nd and 3rd largest periods in wrestling's history (the Hulkamania era and the Monday Night Wars, only the early 1950s was bigger). Made and broke dozens of wrestlers careers.

    4. Hulk Hogan. He was the poster boy of Vince's Wrestlemania and going national, and was a major player in the NWO days of WCW. We all know just how incredibly important he is to wrestling history, and the power he has used behind the scenes as well for decades. Love him or hate him, he is definitely influential. In fact, it just shows how amazing the top 3 are that he couldn't finish higher.

    5. This is where things get tougher, there are so many choices to consider, Verne Gagne, Lou Thesz, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, the Rock, but I am going with Rikidozan. Without him there probably wouldn't have been Japanese wrestling as it is today.

    What are your choices?

  2. #2
    Very good list. Hard to argue with any of your top 5. Although I think that there is no way that justice can be brought to this list by limiting it to 5 people. I would make top 10 although I don't think I could actually put an order on them. And these are all my opinions. Feel free to disagree...but you won't change my mind :P

    So in no particular order
    1. Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. -I'm almost 100% positive that I don't have to explain myself on this choice.
    2. Gorgeous George -The first wrestler personality to reach outside the ring and affect pop culture.
    3. Andre the Giant -Lists like these tend to not have Andre....but people also forget that wrestling shows didnt start selling out large arenas until this man started main eventing. He is also the man who Hulk Hogan beat to finally receive immortality status. Hogan was big....his slam on Andre made him HUGE.
    4. Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea -No matter how much you may hate him, you can't help but respect how he brought wrestling to the mainstream. Every child grew up wanting to be Hulk Hogan at some point (at least when I was growing up).
    5. Ric Flair -Ric was the quintessential wrestler. He brought it all together and his mic work was (and to a point still is) unmatched.
    6. Eric Bischoff -Let's look at reality. Even tho every fan hates him, Eric Bischoff fired the first round in the Monday Night Wars and started, what I feel is, the greatest 10 year run that wrestling has ever had. From performances to promos to sheer star power. While he is one of the reasons that WCW failed, I am glad that he took over when he did. The battle between WWF and WCW brought about the most entertaining and joyful parts of my childhood.
    7. Rey Mysterio -Rey brought Lucha Libre to the U.S. There were many before him and there will be many after. But Rey is the one that made it exciting to all of us. He is the reason I started watching WCW. His feuds with Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho are legendary. He changed the whole mentality of cruiserweights not being able to compete and win in the heavyweight division. (I know Shawn Michaels won the belt before him...but cmon...even Shawn is twice the size of Rey)
    8. The Great Muta -I wish I could agree with you on Rikidozan, but to be honest, I have never heard of him. My introduction to Japanese wrestling was The Great Muta. His matches with Sting were incredible. I was never bored when I watched The Great Muta and would always wait in anticipation to see the mist come from him. He was horrible on the mic (at least in the States he is, I don't speak japanese so i have no clue). But he brought a whole new style to include martial arts. His influence has brought over many great Japanese wrestlers who I never tire of watching.
    9. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin -Who would have thought that some beer swilling, foul mouthed, bar fighting redneck would win the adoration of millions. He has surpassed Hulk Hogan in almost every conceivable way in the wrestling industry. He changed how a whole generation thought of authority (trust me. I was in high school at the heart of the attitude era. the changes in our student body were incredible. Noone gave a damn anymore) The sound of glass shattering still brings me back to the days of DTA.
    10. Duane "The Rock" Johnson -Made mic work an absolute must for wrestlers. Could absolutely control the crowds. Even today, more than 4 years after his last match, his catchphrases are used. WWE's secondary program is named after one of those catch phrases. Outside of Austin, name one wrestler who you hear the first second of their intro and you don't go nuts. Only wrestler I think to truly cross over into Hollywood and be a success. I personally think with the right role he could win an Oscar (im just kidding...calm down). He has changed the way that we think that people should be on the mic. He made wreslting OK to be funny. (adult funny...not Bushwacker funny).

    Others that could easily belong on this list include Y2J, Lou Thesz, Stu Hart, Jimmy Hart/Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (take ur pick among the two) and Bruno Sammartino IMO. but the influence of these 10 have completely altered their own way

  3. #3
    Got to be Vince and Hogan. It all elvolved from then on.

    R.I.P. Guys

  4. #4
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    Very commendable list! A refreshing change to see someone with a true depth of knowledge of wrestling history. Big props to you Freder!

  5. #5
    First off I have to tell you how refreshing it is to see another wrestling fan that knows their wrestling history.
    I agree with you on number one as part of the Gold dust trio along with Ed Stranger Lewis and Billy Sandow Toots was the brains behind the trio that invented wrestling as we know it today.
    2. I hate to say it is Vince Jr. Though I hate his influence as I like more sports in my sports entertaiment. I miss wrastlin'
    3. Georgous George the original sports entertainer.
    4. Jack Pfefer he invented the over the top theatre that wrestling has become and he also was the first to let the cat out of the bag that wrestling was a work in the 1930's which earned wrestling the derision it's got from the main stream press ever since. Up till then wrestling was actually covered in major newspapers as a sport.
    5. Ric Flair the last of the great old school wrestlers. Through his great matches and mic skills he fought the good fight against Vince's idea of sports entertainment.
    Last edited by Murphdogg4; 09-25-2010 at 05:28 AM.

  6. #6
    Black Ninja! Rich Cranium's Avatar
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    I would add Gordon Solie to the list. He was the dean of wrestling and paved the way for the modern play by play man.

  7. #7
    Black Ninja Moderator Bodom's Avatar
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    You can't mention Rey bringing Lucha Libre to the States without mentioning Paul Heyman. Heyman was one of the first promoters to see money in Lucha and it was him that gave Rey and all the other their first real big break.
    I'd rather have nothing than have a lie.

  8. #8
    Moderator "The Trinity" Kashdinero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bodom View Post
    You can't mention Rey bringing Lucha Libre to the States without mentioning Paul Heyman. Heyman was one of the first promoters to see money in Lucha and it was him that gave Rey and all the other their first real big break.
    I'm glad someone mentioned heyman! He was the boot that kicked wrestling in the arse and woke it up in the mid 90's.
    In an era of mabels, deisels & hogans Paul.E gave us ravens, dreamers & new jacks! Absolute genius!

    Another name I feel should be added is ted turner. Wrestling kept his tv stations afloat in the early days, and for that he allowed wcw (good or bad) to air for a long time. It was his money that made wcw the mighty colossus it was in the mid to late 90's.

    Rikidozan is the godfather of japanese wrestling no doubt. But the next mention has to go to inoki and baba these two are the reason Japanese wrestling is awesome! Giant babas all japan was one of the greatest promotions (style wise) on the planet. Antonio inoki's new japan WAS the best federation on the planet for a while!

    Of recent times you have to go with Gabe Sapolsky. Under his guidance ROH became the place to be for the best Indy workers. Gabe created a platform for many current TNA & WWE performers to perfect their craft and gain a strong following.

    Lastly TRIPLE H. Wrestling is almost in the palm of his hand!!!

    Obviously not THE top 5 (or 6) most influential but influential nonetheless.

    Thanks for an excellent thread fredder.
    Last edited by Kashdinero; 10-28-2010 at 07:48 AM.
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