Categories
Sports

WWE Hell in a Cell 2022 Preview: Matches and Predictions

WE’RE HEADING BACK INTO THE MOST DEMONIC STRUCTURE IN ALL OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, FOLKS!

Now the WWE Universe has grown quite accustomed to getting annual Hell in a Cell matches in the summertime instead of the fall. And just like last year, this year’s match-themed PPV will transpire in June. The stakes are certainly high since this show is expected to wrap up some major feuds/storylines that have been transpiring since the springtime months. Before WWE goes Ladder Match crazy at July’s Money in the Bank spectacular, the men and women of the immense WWE roster will come to blows at the 2022 Hell in a Cell PPV.

So let’s get into some fun predictions about all the confirmed matches for this year’s June 5 installment of Hell in a Cell.

WWE Hell in a Cell 2022 Predictions
WWE

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Ezekiel vs. Kevin Owens

Preview & Predictions: Confession time, folks – I truly do miss walking with Elias. Say what you want about his wandering guitarist gimmick, but at least it was entertaining as hell watching him crap all over a new set of fans every time WWE came to town. Now he’s been forced to ditch all of that to morph into a slight “Macho Man” look-a-like named Ezekial who swears he’s Elias’ brother. Whatever, bruh…the man is getting the push of his life right now and that tells me he’s going to nab one of those major defining career wins over Kevin Owens here. I wouldn’t be shocked whatsoever if Ezekial ended up getting added to the Money in the Bank Match just to keep his hot streak going.

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/fe9xf64IdWY” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedBianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)</div>
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

Preview & Predictions: “The Empress of Tomorrow” is finally back in the swing of things on Monday Night Raw! And upon her much anticipated comeback, she dealt a heavy blow to Becky Lynch by beating her (with a proper assist from her dangerous Green Mist!) and gained herself a match against the WWE Raw Women’s Champion in the process. But then a week later, Becky forced herself back into the title fray by getting a shocking win over Asuka! Now the stakes have been raised to a much higher degree.

Bianca Belair is a regular highlight of Monday Nights and especially when she’s given the time to do her thing on the PPV stage, so I just know this Triple Threat Match will slap! Now I love me some Asuka and it’d be cool to see her reign with the Raw Women’s Championship again. But I’m more of a realist than an optimist these days. I know Asuka was brought back to give Bianca a valid challenger to overcome in order to add more validity to her title reign.

Asuka’s going to take the pinfall loss here, which will most likely give Becky an excuse to get herself a rematch with the champ since she wasn’t pinned here. It’s only right we get that WrestleMania 38 runback at Money in the Bank in July!

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/jcXQv34BSQg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedCody Rhodes vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins (Hell in a Cell Match)</div>
Cody Rhodes vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins (Hell in a Cell Match)

Preview & Predictions: WWE Feud of the Year right here? I’m of the belief that it’s easily going to take that honor once 2022 comes to a close. Cody Rhodes’ return to WWE has been a smashing success thus far – he’s competed in good to great matches with a myriad of Raw’s top superstars, delivered his usual brand of heartfelt promos, and gotten the crowd back in the palm of his hands (which is a far cry from the fan reaction he garnered during the final days of his AEW run).

Cody’s biggest rival during his second WWE run thus far has been Seth Rollins, who has provided the “American Nightmare” with an amazing in-ring dance partner. So far, Seth has taken two major L’s to Cody in back-to-back PPVs. And to be quite honest with you all, he’s clearly being put back in the ring with Cody here to take yet another big loss. In probably the best match of this amazing feud, Cody will prevail once more on his way to probably being included in the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match in July.

This feud is so reminiscent of Batista and Triple H’s rivalry from 2005 – the conquering hero overcame the dastardly heel three times in a row on PPV. Cody’s clearly in Batista’s position, which is why I’m choosing him as the victor here.

Categories
Popular Culture

Top WWE Trading Cards to Look Out For

Before I jump in to the list of the top WWE trading cards to look out for, let’s get you up to date on the state of the wrestling card market. The 2022 release of WWE Prizm has put a spotlight back on wrestling trading cards.  The iconic stars of the 90s and 2000s have been rebranded into the ever-sought-after Prizm set. This has ushered in both a layer of nostalgia and a desire to hunt the jaw-dropping Gold and Black Prizms, which consistently bring in a pretty penny across all sports.

However, Prizm isn’t the wrestling world’s first grand entrance into the hobby.  Legends like Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan all have rookie cards stemming back to the early 1980s.  The following list highlights a few of the most revered sets for WWE collectors:

There are other noteworthy sets to acknowledge as well, but the aforementioned list offers rookie cards for the game’s most heralded superstars.  Diehard fans of the WWE/WWF have been accumulating these cards for decades now, and now the average cardboard collector is catching on.  CardLadder has reported a 34.7% increase in its wrestling index over the past 90 days.  This comes at a time when many other major sports have been on a downhill slope, so it is exciting to see big sales across the WWE market.

Today, we intend to feature 10 cards in the WWE world that are worthy of a second (or third) glance.  Some may have fetched a high price at auction, while others may be up for grabs as you are reading this article.

Without further ado, here are the top WWE trading cards to look out for:

1. 1982 Wrestling All Stars Series A Ric Flair #27: $900-9,500
CardLadder

If you’re a Rolex-wearing, diamond ring-wearing, wheeling-dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son of a gun, then this card is for you.  

One of wrestling’s biggest personalities, the Nature Boy rose to prominence in the late 70s fighting in the National Wrestling Alliance and later in the WCW.  Flair has since maintained relevance by appearing in many WWE events over the last 2 decades. His trademark slogan, “WOO!”, has become synonymous with American pop culture, and his flashy attire is certainly hard to forget.

The card pictured above brought nearly $9,500 at auction in April, but lower grades can be picked up for far less. This is also Ric Flair’s first appearance on cardboard, which cements it as his true rookie card. Other copies of the 1982 Wrestling All Stars Flair can be purchased here or at major auction houses.

2. 1998 WWF Wrestling Superstarz Autographs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: $1,500-4,000
CardLadder

Arguably the most popular man on Earth, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reached a celebrity status that surpasses any other wrestler on this list.  Therefore, it is only fitting that we showcase one of his more electric appearances on a card.

The 1998 Superstarz Autographs feature phenomenal photography work that transports the viewer back to the late 90s, a time when wrestling reached peak ratings.  This is also the first autograph set for The People’s Champ, and it has proven to be a tough set to grade.  There are currently only 33 PSA-graded copies and only 1 PSA 10 to date.

3. 1982 Wrestling All-Stars Series A #2 Hulk Hogan: $1,000 – $48,000
CardLadder

Another rookie card for a legend, this 1982 Wrestling All-Stars copy features a yellow border and a young Hogan with a sad demeanor. While he has had his fair share of controversy, Hogan has remained one of the most prominent names in the sport for 5 decades.  

The Beckett 9.5 shown above fetched an auction price of nearly $48,000 in 2021.  There are no PSA 10s, so this may just be the best Hulk Hogan card to ever exist (Oh Brother!).  Nevertheless, lower grades can be picked up at a more affordable rate on eBay and other trading platforms.

4. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE John Cena Color Blast #7: $1,800-$7,500
CardLadder

We aren’t sure how a card without anybody on it sold for so much, but here we are.  Jokes aside, Cena has transformed himself from WWE Champion to A-list celebrity in a few short years, even playing the titular character in HBO Max’s Peacemaker.

This card featuring the wrestler/actor/rapper/mogul is our first item from the 2022 Prizm set, which has been one of the hobby’s hottest releases of the year.  The Color Blast is a short-print card that only appears once in every case (12 boxes).  It sold ungraded for $7,500 when the product debuted, but it has since cooled down to the $1,500-$2,000 range.

There are only 3 Color Blasts currently available on eBay, including a BGS 10 copy.  This card accentuates everything remarkable about Prizm, so it will be interesting to see where it goes in the future.

5. 1991 Classic WWF Undertaker #64: $100-$3,000
CardLadder

Another early WWF card of a GOAT,  this card is a diamond in the rough of the junk wax era.  Undertaker has reached almost mythical status in the WWE, all while accumulating a fandom across generations.  

Copies are available at a favorable price, but higher-graded copies have reached new heights in the past year.  An SGC 10 recently closed at $3,000, marking the most expensive card to come out of the 1991 Classic set.

6. 1997 Cardinal WWF Trivia Series Steve Austin: $50-1,000
CardLadder

There may be more impressive “Stone Cold” cards out in the wild, but sometimes simplicity is key. The beer-drinking brawler is sure to be found on most fans’ Top 10 list, and he reached an unprecedented level of fame in the late 90s.  

Austin has cards dating back to 1991, but many still consider this his most recognizable rookie card.  The Cardinal series’ crisp yellow border almost looks like a Polaroid from the golden age of the WWF.  And who better to show on this Polaroid than Stone Cold?

Different graded copies can be found here, and most of the PSA 8s and 9s have remained relatively inexpensive despite the resurgence from the Prizm release.

7. 2014 Topps Chrome Roman Reigns Superfractor 1/1 Auto – $15,000
CardLadder

This is undoubtedly the best card of the dual champ.  The 36-year-old has accumulated a following comparable to the other legendary stars on this list.  He also rose to such an esteemed status at a time when Topps had sole control of the WWE market, so we saw a new influx of the popular Superfractor 1/1s.  

This card sold for $15k in February, and there aren’t other copies you can pick up.  Regardless, other superfractors and low-numbered parallels can be found online, and we will be watching to see if this 2014 rookie 1/1 auto resurfaces in the future.  

8. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE Charlotte Flair Color Blast #2: $600-$2,000
CardLadder

It’s a family business for Charlotte Flair, and her skillset as a fighter mirror that of her father, the Nature Boy.  This card is another case hit from 2022 Prizm, and it has proven to be Flair’s most expensive card in existence.  However, other great female fighters like Sasha Banks have rallied 4-digit prices on eBay, so Charlotte is not the only Color Blast to have on your radar.

Look for Flair’s short print inserts and serial numbered cards here.  New auctions and prices are being realized daily, which is the case for most cards in the 2022 set.

9. 1985 Topps WWF Hulk Hogan #1: $100-$35,000
CardLadder

This isn’t Hogan’s true rookie card, but it certainly has more eye appeal.  1985 marked the first year Topps manufactured WWF cards. The first card in the set is none other than Mr. Hogan, smiling and holding the championship belt. This has historically been one of the top WWE trading cards to look out for. 

CardLadder has verified a PSA 10 sale of $35,000, which is certainly eye-opening.  But a population of only 14 PSA 10s and an iconic photo manufactured by the most storied card company is the perfect mixture for big-money auctions.  You can shop for various grades here, although there probably won’t be any Gem Mint 10s available anytime soon.

10. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Gold Prizm /10 – ????
CardLadder

Our final spot includes one of the more stunning cards you will see today.  We mentioned earlier the power that Prizm Golds have in the hobby and their immense desirability.  This card is no different.

Currently the highest-listed Prizm WWE card on eBay at $74,999, we could definitely see this card cook up a high sale price.  Stars like Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker, John Cena,  and Roman Reigns have all had low-numbered Prizm auctions, but there still hasn’t been a verified public sale of the People’s Champ.  Add a Beckett 9.5 grade into the mix and you have a truly spectacular card.  

The only card that will exceed the gold’s value is the mythical Black Prizm 1/1, which has not surfaced as of early May. However, when it does, it will most certainly become the one of top WWE trading cards to look out for.

If you are more of an AEW fan, make sure to check out my recent article on the Top AEW Cards to Look Out For!

Categories
Sports

The 28 Most Underrated WWE Wrestlers

It’s a regular occurrence whenever the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time get mentioned. But it’s a much rarer affair whenever the conversation is directed to the most underrated WWE wrestlers some fans still look back on with reverence.

Throughout the longstanding legacy of World Wrestling Entertainment, a plentiful offering of uber-talented wrestlers has competed under its wide umbrella. But for one unexplained reason or another, several key members of WWE’s ever-changing roster have been overlooked in comparison to the company’s bigger stars. We’re here to remedy that situation by properly acknowledging those amazing talents that we consider severely underrated.

Hopefully, by the time you finish reading this list, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for each wrestler and do some mandatory viewing of their most impressive in-ring exploits.

Underrated WWE Wrestlers
WWE

1. Ted DiBiase
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1979, 1987-1993, and 1994-1996

Titles Won in WWE: WWE 24/7 Championship (1 time), Million Dollar Championship (2 times), WWF North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time), WWF Tag Team Championship (3 times) with Irwin R. Schyster, and King of the Ring (1988)

The “Million Dollar Man” of WWE not only had one of the greatest gimmicks in all of wrestling, but he also made sure to back up his braggadocious nature with a solid in-ring acumen. Ted DiBiase proved to be the perfect foil for every babyface he caused problems for back in the day and especially did an incredible job in getting Vergil over during their breakup angle. As far as WWE “Golden Era” bad guys go, DiBiase deserves his place among the very best.

2. Owen Hart
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1988-1989, 1991-1999

Titles Won in WWE: WWF European Championship (1 time), WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times), WWF Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Yokozuna (2), The British Bulldog (1), and Jeff Jarrett (1), King of the Ring (1994), and WWF Intercontinental Championship Tournament (1997)

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!” The Hart Family’s quicker and snappier WWE competitor could always be counted on to have a good match with just about everyone he faced. His “New Generation” run produced great matches with his brother Bret Hart, the 1-2-3 Kid, and Shawn Michaels. And during his Attitude Era reign, he continued to prove his worth against the likes of Triple H, Steve Blackman, and Ken Shamrock. Owen would have probably continued having great matches against the newcomers that arrived in 2000 if it wasn’t for his untimely death. RIP, Owen! We’ll always look back on Owen as one of the most celebrated yet still underrated WWE wrestlers to have ever lived.

3. Rick Martel
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1980-1982, 1986-1985

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Tony Garea (2 times) and Tito Santana (1 time)

“The Model” Rick Martel may not be mentioned as much as his “Golden Era” compadres, which is a crying shame. The Canadian import went all the way with his self-centered fashionista gimmick and could be relied upon to look good in the ring at all times. Before he became indulged in pure Arrogance,” Martel wowed audiences as a member of the Strike Force tag team alongside Tito Santana and even competed in the early 80s with Tony Garea as his right-hand man. Martel and his patented Boston Crab need tons more respect.

4. Marty Jannetty
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1988-1994, 1995-1996, 2005-2009

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time) and WWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with the 1-2-3 Kid

Being called the “Marty Jannetty” of a tag team upon splitting up and going solo is one of wrestling’s oldest disses. Which is a shame really when you think about how far the other half of The Rockers could have gone if he had managed to successfully fight off his demons. Even still, Jannetty did fine work during his many runs within WWE. Besides his fast-paced affairs with his former tag team partner Shawn Michaels, Jannetty went balls to the wall when pitted against a bunch of recognizable talents within the “Golden Era” and “New Generation” time periods. He’s popped up on multiple occasions to remind people of just how good he still is and why he’s referred to as one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers of all time.

5. Bam Bam Bigelow
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1987-1988, 1992-1995

Titles Won in WWE: None, sadly…

When the word “intimidating” pops up in the dictionary, a picture of a snarling Bam Bam Bigelow is placed right next to it. And for good reason – Bigelow sparked fear into the hearts of all the young ones who watched him destroy their heroes back in the day. As a babyface, Bam Bam was a real treat thanks to his surprising agility and ability to whip out a cartwheel from time to time. Once he went heel, Bam Bam solidified his status as someone that deserved so much more from WWE when he put on better than expected match with NFL legend Lawrence Taylor. Bam Bam’s one of those slept-on greats that should have gone much farther in WWE.

6. Mr. Perfect
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1981-1983, 1988-1996, 2002

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times)

Curtis Michael Hennig embodied nothing but perfection once he returned to WWE during his second run. His transformation into the one known as Mr. Perfect is the reason why so many wrestling fans remember him so fondly. His gimmick was so easy to hate yet so easy to appreciate in hindsight and his work in the ring captured everyone’s attention. Mr. Perfect’s over-the-top-selling is just the cherry on top for a wrestler that never bored anyone that watched him work. After watching this man’s bouts against Bret Hart, Ric Flair, and Hulk Hogan, you can’t help but feel angry at the fact that Mr. Perfect never claimed the WWF Championship back in the day.

7. Rick Rude
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1987-1990, 1997

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time)

“What I’d like to have right now, is for all you fat, ugly, inner-city sweat hogs to keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show the ladies what a real sexy man looks like…” And after delivering that amazing diatribe, the infinitely handsome “Ravishing” Rick Rude unveiled his body of Adonis to the crowd. The ladies loved it while the guys couldn’t help but hate it. Nevertheless, Rick never provided a dull moment inside and outside the ring. He gave the Ultimate Warrior his best matches at the time and had one of the best Intercontinental Championship runs in WWE history. And those air-brushed tights he always used to wear? Simply ravishing.

8. D’Lo Brown
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1997-2003, 2008-2009

Titles Won in WWE: WWF European Championship (4 times) and WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time)

The head bobbing, Frog Splash…well, splashing, and widely recognized “real deal” of professional wrestling is none other than D’Lo Brown. As one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers the world has ever seen, D’Lo will always be remembered by diehard wrestling fans as a bonafide gem of the Attitude Era. His part as a member of the Nation of Domination was great, his chest-protector gimmick was hilarious, and his in-ring acumen was top-notch. D’Lo’s run with both the Intercontinental and European Championships resulted in slept-on matches with X-Pac, Gangrel, and Val Venis.

9. Shelton Benjamin
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2000-2010, 2017-Present

Titles Won in WWE: WWE 24/7 Championship (3 times), WWE United States Championship (1 time), WWE Intercontinental Championship (3 times), and WWE (Raw) Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Charlie Haas (2) and Cedric Alexander (1)

After getting split up from his tag team partner Charlie Hass, Shelton Benjamin arrived on Raw to little fanfare. But after he pulled away with a shocking win over Triple H in 2004, Shelton’s mega push was off to the races. The former amateur wrestler showcased immense physical ability as he spent the majority of his time on Raw as a singles star that blew everyone’s minds with his high-flying exploits and memorable bouts with Shawn Michaels, John Morrison, Rob Van Dam, etc. Even when he dyed his hair blond and became the “Gold Standard,” Shelton still went out and hand bangers on a nightly basis. His charisma may have been in question by the powers that be, but he’s still a top-tier athlete that should have claimed the WWE Championship at some point early on in his career.

10. William Regal
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1998-1999, 2000-2022

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Hardcore Championship (5 times), WWF/E European Championship (4 times), WWF/E Intercontinental Championship (2 times), World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Lance Storm (2), Eugene (1), and Tajiri (1), and King of the Ring (2008)

One of the best English professional wrestlers of all time just so happens to be one of those underrated WWE wrestlers that entertained in just about every role he was given. As an endearing babyface and a slimy heel, William Regal commandeered the ring at all times and made everyone take notice of his rugged in-ring style. Regal stood out due to his hilarious facial expressions that came through wonderfully during his matches and General Manager days. And whenever the bell rang, Regal was always in fine form as he produced bangers with Edge, Chris Jericho, and Rob Van Dam.

11. Carlito
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2003-2010

Titles Won in WWE: WWE United States Championship (1 time), WWE Intercontinental Championship (1 time), WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Primo, and World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Primo

He spits in the face of people who want to be cool. While his Razor Ramon-esque Carlito Caribbean Cool SmackDown days were decent enough, the shortening of his name and switch to Raw truly turned him into a weekly highlight. The second-generation superstar known as Carlito put in his best work as Intercontinental Champion as he produced bangers with Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, and John Morrison. Carlito’s high-flying theatrics and apple-spitting disrespect cement his place as one of WWE’s best high flyers and the type of guy that would have made for a great top champion on either brand. Seeing how swole he is these days, it’d be great to see him make a play for a steady WWE return or an AEW debut.

12. Tajiri
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2008

Titles Won in WWE: WCW United States Championship (1 time), WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time), WCW/WWF/WWE Cruiserweight Championship (3 times), WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Eddie Guerrero, and World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with William Regal

Not only is Tajiri one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers, but he’s also one of its funniest and highly regarded Japanese talents. After gaining the adoration of the hardcore ECW faithful, Tajiri made his way to WWE and did the exact same with the WWE fanbase. His many highlights include his highly revered battles with the likes of X-Pac, Billy Kidman, Hurricane Helms, and so much more. His partnerships alongside William Regal and Eddie Guerrero exposed his lovable personality and ability to get over with the audience even with a language barrier in place. It was always a pleasure the watch the great Tajiri douse his opponents in green mist, lock them in the Tarantula, and clock them with his Backspring Elbow.

13. Paul London
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2003-2008

Titles Won in WWE: World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Brian Kendrick, WWE Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Billy Kidman (1) and Brian Kendrick (1), and WWE Cruiserweight Championship (1 time)

Paul London can pretty much be referred to as “Mr. Velocity.” And that’s because he always stood out as the best performer on Smackdown’s spinoff show. His Cruiserweight Championship matches were always worth tuning into as Paul gelled well with all the equally talented competitors he did battle with. And as a tag team wrestler, he continued to amaze as his high-flying repertoire matched up best with Billy Kidman and Brian Kendrick. Paul’s Dropsault and Shooting Star Press are poetry in motion that fans miss seeing on WWE TV.

14. Lance Storm
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2005

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time) and WWE/World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Christian (1), William Regal (2), and Chief Morley (1)

“If I could be serious for a moment…” Lance Storm never came to play games ’cause he was all business as soon as his entrance music kicked in. And upon his arrival in WWE back in 2001, the Canadian superstar impressed due to his smoothness and crispness in the ring. Lance’s superkick is one of the very best and it always looked great whenever it landed clean on the likes of Albert, Edge, and Matt Hardy. During the rest of his WWE tenure, he always stuck out as a reliable in-ring gem that could be counted on to match up well with just about everyone. Never mind what “Stone Cold” Steve Austin said about him during that cruel promo segment – Storm is far from boring.

15. Jazz
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2004

Titles Won in WWE: WWF/E Women’s Championship (2 times)

It’s criminal that Jazz only captured the WWF/E Women’s Championship on only two separate occasions! She sticks out as one of those past WWE female talents that Trish Stratus into submission on countless occasions and made her a much better pro wrestler in the process. Jazz’s rough and tumble style presented her as one of the most legit WWE wrestlers on the roster during her run – she brought an air of believability to everything she did as she brutalized every lady that tried to test her. Shout out to Jazz for her unprecedented work during her WWE run – she’ll always stand out as the most underrated WWE wrestlers we’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

16. Molly Holly
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2000-2005

Titles Won in WWE: WWE Women’s Championship (2 times) and WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time)

The former “Miss Madness” of WCW Randy Savage fame arrived in the WWE as one of the most impressive members of the Holly family. Molly Holly deserves way more credit in this day and age – she stood as a highly impressive wrestler that dropped everyone’s jaws at the sight of her Molly Go Round finisher. And once she went heel, she embodied that easily hateable “Karen” energy that made her the perfect foil for Trish Stratus and Victoria. Molly’s one of those unheralded members of WWE’s former Divas roster.

17. Victoria
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2000-2009

Titles Won in WWE: WWE Women’s Championship (2 times)

She STILL ain’t the lady to mess with. Victoria was always a regular highlight of early 2000s Divas wrestling. Her character was that of a woman with a broken psyche that employed an especially brutal moveset to ground her opponents into dust (that Widow’s Peak finisher of hers still gives us chills). Her Hardcore Match with Trish Stratus at the 2002 Survivor Series doesn’t get talked about enough, which is a crime. The rest of Victoria’s WWE tenure saw her continually prove herself to be a valuable asset that could be counted on to entertain at all times.

18. Dean Malenko
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2000-2001

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (2 times)

Dean Malenko isn’t just one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers to have ever strapped on a pair of boots – he just might be one of the most slept-on in-ring technicians of all time. His cold and calculating demeanor always put everyone on notice (his James Bond-esque WWE theme didn’t do him any favors, however). Bur during his short tenure as a WWE competitor, Dean took the reigns of the WWF Light Heavyweight division and proved to be just as good as he was back in WCW. Seek out his Backlash 2000 match with Scotty 2 Hotty and even one of his random bouts with Taka Michinoku & X-Pac for proof of that statement.

19. Hurricane Helms
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2010

Titles Won in WWE: WWE Cruiserweight Championship (2 times), WWF European Championship (1 time), WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time), and World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Kane (1) and Rosey (1)

The Alliance storyline may have been a massive disappointment, but it gave a huge opportunity to some super talented wrestlers that existed long after hat feud dissipated. One of those individuals ended up being “Sugar” Shane Helms, who adopted a Green Lantern-like character known as Hurricane Helms. His early WWE work alongside Lance Storm was solid enough, but it’s his Cruiserweight division work on SmackDown that deserves the most praise. Helms’ matches with Jamie Noble and Tajiri will forever be GOATED! Helms’ short feud with The Rock, his “I CAN CHOKESLAM EVERYBODY!” gimmick was hilarious, and his heroic theme song makes him somebody we always loved watching.

20. Finlay
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2005-2011

Titles Won in WWE: WWE United States Championship (1 time) and Bragging Rights Trophy (2009) – with Team SmackDown (Chris Jericho, Kane, R-Truth, Matt Hardy, David Hart Smith, and Tyson Kidd)

His name is Finlay and he loves to fight. And you just know we always loved watching him engage in that violent act. Finlay’s return to the squared circle in 2005 was marked by some of the hardest-hitting matches in SmackDown history as he got into it with the likes of Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, and Matt Hardy. Even with Hornswoggle by his side, everyone still feared Finlay and took him as a serious threat at all times. Be sure to watch his Belfast Brawl from WrestleMania XXIV to see Finlay in his most “fit” form. Just like William Regal, this brute must be crowned as one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers who’s worthy of respect.

21. Scotty 2 Hotty
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1997-2007

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time), WWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Grand Master Sexay, and WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rikishi

A highly underrated WWE wrestler that had one of the silliest yet most entertaining finishers of the Attitude Era just has to be this celebrated member of Too Cool. Scotty 2 Hotty did great things with Grandmaster Sexay and Rikishi – fans still reenact their post-match dance number to perfection! In the ring, Scotty entertained due to his light heavyweight style and hilarious finishing move “The Worm.” On WWE’s old B-Shows, Scotty could regularly be seen working solid bouts with the likes of equally slept-on wrestlers of his ilk. Scotty seemingly never ages since he still looks the same as he did back in the day, so you can watch him relive all that Too Cool magic on the indie scene.

22. Hercules
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1985-1992

Titles Won in WWE: None, sadly…

The WWF’s “Golden Era” was a smorgasbord of towering brutes that looked like real-life superheroes (and supervillains, of course). One of the more unsung power men of that time period is Hercules Hernandez, who could always be seen with a steel chain wrapped around his massive frame. Not only did he look impressive, but he also managed to be one of the more solid in-ring bodybuilders in Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire. As a singles star, Hercules caught everyone’s eyes as he battled Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, and Haku. Old-school wrestling heads usually bring up his name when it comes to his underrated tag team run with Paul Roma as Power & Glory (their finisher is still one of the very best!).

23. Billy Kidman
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2005

Titles Won in WWE: WCW/WWF/E Cruiserweight Championship (4 times) and WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Paul London

The original master of the Shooting Star Press was one of WCW’s biggest highlights in the Cruiserweight division. And upon his arrival in the WWF during the Invasion storyline, he still did his best to keep everyone’s attention. Billy Kidman’s lowkey WWF/E run sticks out due to his strong matches against X-Pac, Tajiri, and Matt Hardy. His tag team runs with Rey Mysterio and Paul London are also proof of his quality WWF/E tenure. Remember, folks – never try to powerbomb Billy Kidman.

24. Tito Santana
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1979-1980, 1983-1993

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (2 times), WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Ivan Putski (1) and Rick Martel (1), and King of the Ring (1989)

“ARRIBA!” Utter that catchphrase at a wrestling convention and most of the older fans in your vicinity will raise their first in honor of the great Tito Santana. As the first man to ever wrestle and win at a WrestleMania, Tito stuck out as a fan favorite thanks to his agile maneuvers and underdog demeanor. He’s done great work with so many major names, such as Shawn Michaels, Don Muraco, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. And with Rick Martel by his side, Tito did equally memorable work as a member of Strike Force. As one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers of all time, Tito deserves even more adoration for his lengthy wrestling run.

25. Goldust
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1990-1991, 1995-1999, 2001-2003, 2005-2006, 2008-2010, 2013-2019

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Hardcore Championship (9 times), WWF Intercontinental Championship (3 times), WWE Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Cody Rhodes/Stardust, and World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Booker T

Dustin Rhodes shocked the world when he showed up during his second WWF run as the androgynous character known as Goldust. Dustin played the character to perfection and provided a super provocative element to the WWF product at the time that added a bit of pizzaz to it all. Besides his unforgettable gimmick, Goldust proved to be a great wrestler and the sort of personality that could provide tons of hilarity every now & then. His Intercontinental title reigns and his alliance with Booker T. are definite career highlights. Goldust could it all and then some. Remember the name…Goldust.

26. Essa Rios
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1997-2001

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

Ask any avid Attitude Era fan and they’ll bring up a bunch of well-known names. If those same fans happened to watch Sunday Night Heat, Jakked, and Metal, then they probably remember the name Essa Rios as well. And that’s due to the jaw-dropping high-flying excellence he always put on display. Essa held down the Light Heavyweight division during his time in the WWF as he faced Jeff Hardy, Funaki, and Taka Michinoku. Essa even competed against a young Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle while he held the WWF Championship. If you ever want to witness one of the best Moonsault’s of all time, you can look to one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers and Lucha Libre greats in Essa Rios.

27. Taka Michinoku
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 1997-2001

Titles Won in WWE: WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

WWE clearly took inspiration from WCW’s Cruiserweight wrestling craze, which is why it birthed its very own Light Heavyweight division in response. And the shining star of that division was none other than the Japanese gem known as Taka Michinoku. Taka’s high-flying feats and devastating Michinoku Driver provided the early years of the Attitude Era with five-star worthy wrestling feats, which were admittedly rare at the time. You can check out Taka’s WrestleMania XIV match with Aguila to see just how good he was back in the day. And of course, his Kaientai run alongside Funaki was one of the funniest elements of WWF’s Attitude Era tag team division. Is Taka one of the most underrated WWE wrestlers? INDEED!

28. Sean O’Haire
WWE

Years Active in WWE: 2001-2004

Titles Won in WWE: None, sadly…

Man, what could have been! Sean O’Haire is one of those cases of someone that should have main evented a WrestleMania while he was still alive. Not only did he look great from a physical level, but he also came across as better than expected in the ring due to his amalgamation of power-based offense and top-rope maneuvers. Sean’s “Devil’s Advocate” gimmick should have gone a lot further than it did, but we enjoyed it while it lasted. If you want to witness this behemoth’s greatness in action, check out his bout alongside Chuck Palumbo vs. the APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) and watch clips of him pulling off his Widow Maker finisher on everyone.

Categories
Sports

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Preview: Matches and Predictions

We’re heading back to Vegas, baby! All Elite Wrestling’s throwing all of its chips on the table for its next PPV spectacular. Which means now’s the perfect time to deliver my AEW Double or Nothing 2022 predictions.

This year’s installment of the Las Vegas-themed AEW event has three major matches planned that are set to have major ramifications for the company’s summertime run. The AEW World Championship will be up for grabs – “Hangman” Adam Page will defend his prized title against his (arguably) toughest competition to date in the form of CM Punk. Plus the Finals for both the men’s and women’s Owen Hart Cup tournament will take place at this major AEW show. Alongside those bouts will be a strong lineup of bouts that I’m sure will rise to the occasion of everything else on this card.

Before we all tune in to watch this show live on PPV as it emanates from the T-Mobile Arena, allow me to make my AEW Double or Nothing 2022 predictions by previewing every confirmed match for the card.

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Predictions
AEW

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Hookhausen (Hook and Danhausen) vs. Tony Nese and Mark Sterling

Preview & Predictions: I just love a good old odd pairing tag team in wrestling. Al Snow and Steve Blackman and Booker T. and Goldust are just a few of the many weird duos that I’ve come to appreciate through the many years of my wrestling fandom. Now I’m ready to add another quirky tandem to that list – Hookhausen! The phenomenon known as Hook wasn’t too keen on Danhausen at first. But after issues developed between those two and Tony Nese & Mark Sterling, Hook finally decided to befriend the face-painted fellow and provide him with some backup.

Tony’s quick win over Danhausen shocked the hell outta me, I gotta admit! But it made sense in the grand scheme of things to push this story forward and finally get Hook to stand by Danhausen’s side. At Double or Nothing 2022, I foresee Hook canceling out Tony while Danhausen curses Mark to the point where he succumbs to whatever finishing move ‘Hausen has up his sleeve. HOOKHAUSEN FTW!

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/HSHaR0gRZd0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedJade Cargill (c) vs. Anna Jay (AEW TBS Championship)</div>
Jade Cargill (c) vs. Anna Jay (AEW TBS Championship)

Preview & Predictions: Jade Cargill is STILL holding it down as the inaugural AEW TBS Champion! And in the process, she’s gradually improved between the ropes and developed her personality to the point where I actually look forward to hearing her speak (and tell Tony Schiavone to cut the shit). Jade’s next vict…I mean, challenger is The Dark Order’s lone female representative. Anna Jay is pretty solid in her own right, but all her skills won’t be enough to make a dent in the seemingly unbeatable TBS Champion. Jade’s retaining her belt without breaking much of a sweat here, folks!

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/G_knvc04DCQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedJurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) (c) vs. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee vs. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs (Three-Way Tag Team Match for the AEW World Tag Team Championship)</div>
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) (c) vs. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee vs. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs (Three-Way Tag Team Match for the AEW World Tag Team Championship)

Preview & Predictions: Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus really got their work cut out for them here. They’ve gotten past The Lucha Bros., reDRagon, and The Young Bucks, which are all legit squads that have been hangin’ and bangin’ for years. But now, Jurassic Express is getting lined up for another PPV Three-Way Tag Team Match against two makeshift duos. So now the dynamics have changed for this encounter and a wildcard winner in Las Vegas is a real possibility.

I think we’re due for an expected heel turn here, ladies and gentlemen. The slow-burn to a Christian Cage heel turn has been looking more and more likely as time wears on. Jungle Boy’s singles failures must be irking his mentor and making him regret the decision to stay by his and Luchasaurus’ side. I think Cage’s resentment will finally boil over here and cause him to screw over Jurassic Express.

I say all that to say this – WE’RE GETTING NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPS HERE, FOLKS! I’m pulling for a shock win that sees Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs escape with the belts due to Cage’s turncoat behavior.

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/hI_EPKryU8g” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedHouse Of Black (Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews, and Brody King) vs. Death Triangle (Pac, Penta Oscuro, and Rey Fenix)</div>
House Of Black (Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews, and Brody King) vs. Death Triangle (Pac, Penta Oscuro, and Rey Fenix)

Preview & Predictions: At AEW Revolution 2022, The House of Black ended up having one of the best matches of the evening against Pac, Penta Oscuro, and Erick Redbeard. The two members of the Death Triangle came up short without their stablemate in Rey Fenix, however. But now that the newly healed (and angelic!) luchador has returned, we can finally get the match that was previously set for the previous PPV. I’m extremely hyped to watch this go down now that Fenix is stepping into the fray with his insane high-flying repertoire in tow.

I love both sides and I’m placing all my bets on this match taking the runner-up position for Match of the Night. Deep down in my heart, I just know that Buddy Murphy and Fenix will have the biggest crowd-popping move exchanges. This one’s definitely gonna be a doozy! Now that the Death Triangle is fully reformed, I think they’ll pull away with the shocking victory here over their “darker” adversaries.

With both teams at one win apiece, I’m expecting a major tiebreaker to go down at some point to wrap this feud up and put a nice bow on it.

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/EPY5jWT4OcU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedThunder Rosa (c) vs. Serena Deeb (AEW Women’s World Championship)</div>
Thunder Rosa (c) vs. Serena Deeb (AEW Women’s World Championship)

Preview & Predictions: After months and months of tormenting Hikaru Shida, Serena Deeb finally finished her off in a Street Fight that capped off their feud. And with that win came the vaulted #1 contender’s spot for the AEW Women’s World Championship. Deeb is one of those veteran female competitors that’s an understated cornerstone of AEW, so I’m highly pleased to see her get a championship match on PPV. And since it’s against the always-ready Thunder Rosa, I’m expecting this match to deliver.

Now we all know how this one is gonna end up. Miss Rosa’s reign as the top women’s champion in AEW hasn’t even hit second gear yet. Deeb is a worthy challenger to that reign, but it’s clear as day that she’s being put in this position to give Rosa a viable rival to overcome. I think it’s a super-safe bet to go all-in on Rosa here – the face-painted superstar is gonna notch herself a big win here over another one of AEW’s legitimized ladies.

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/GSQmwGSbo_0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedJericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, Daniel Garcia and Jake Hager) vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz and Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley) (Anarchy in the Arena)</div>
Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, Daniel Garcia and Jake Hager) vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz and Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley) (Anarchy in the Arena)

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Preview & Predictions: I was shocked by just how good of a match Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Kingston had at AEW Revolution 2022. And my jaw damn near dropped when Eddie managed to notch a submission win to his W-L record. Ever since he defeated “The Wizard,” Eddie and his boys Santana & Ortiz have been on the receiving end of numerous beatdowns by Jericho and his new stable of fellow “sports entertainers.”

But now the odds are finally even! Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley have chosen to fight alongside Eddie’s crew to engage in a chaotic brawl that I’m sure will be one of the biggest highlights of the night. This one is gonna be pure mayhem – I’m expecting a whole lot of plunder will be involved during this 10-man match’s wild festivities. And once the dust settles, I presume that Eddie, Santana, Ortiz, Danielson, and Moxley will emerge as the battered & bruised victors.

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/FgYKc14cN8A” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hedThe Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)</div>
The Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)

Preview & Predictions: At ROH Supercard of Honor XI, fans everywhere got to witness a dream match in the form of The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys in an insane Ladder War match. And ever since then, I’ve been chomping at the bit to see them come to blows once again. This time, both teams are going to hash out their current issues in a regular old tag team encounter. Even though there won’t be any tables, ladders, and chairs included in this one, I still think The Bucks and The Hardys will be able to produce an enjoyable matchup here.

I think this match will be the first in an ongoing series between the two teams that’ll continue into the summer. Even though both Matt and Jeff Hardy aren’t the young, nimble superstars they used to be, I still think they’ll both rise to the occasion on the big AEW PPV stage. Matt and Nick Jackson’s cockiness will end up costing them in the end here as some sort of mistake will cause them to fall to The Hardys.

The originators are gonna prevail here!

<div class =”code”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/lgNV_-ZG9i4″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>”,”hed”Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. CM Punk (AEW World Championship)</div>
“Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. CM Punk (AEW World Championship)

Preview & Predictions: WOW! Now this is a match that deserves top billing as the main event of this show. Adam Page has been a tear as AEW’s most important champion – every time the belt is on the line, the “Millenial Cowboy” has shown up and shown out against the likes of Bryan Danielson, Lance Archer, Dante Martin, and Adam Cole. While on the other side of the coin, CM Punk has produced some of his finest work to date against Dustin Rhodes, Penta Oscuro, and Dax Harwood. With both men at their current peaks, AEW has chosen to book them in one of its biggest matches of the year.

I’m so conflicted on this one since I love both guys and I’d be perfectly fine with either one leaving with the title around their waist. Page should retain it since it’d be great for him to overcome another major name during his ongoing AEW World Championship reign. But it’d also be great for Punk to claim the title now that he’s shaken off all that ring rust and gotten back to being the “Best in the World.”

I think AEW’s gonna stick it out with Page here, though. The “Hangman” is gonna prevail here with a definitive victory that will raise his stock even more as the current face of the company. I still think it’s a bit too early for Page to drop the belt, which is another reason why I’m predicting his victory here. Punk won’t look bad at all losing here, folks. When the time finally comes for Page to drop the strap, I think it’ll be to someone that everyone despises. You guys know I’m talkin’ about…

Categories
Sports

Elton’s Dream Match Card for AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door

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Is the term “Forbidden Door” one of the most overused phrases in wrestling right now? Yeah.

But I can’t really be too mad at it since it’s the trending term currently attached to one of the most exciting wrestling supercards of all time. All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling have maintained a fruitful relationship for a good while now – NJPW talent such as KENTA, Minoru Suzuki, and Tomohiro Ishii have popped up on AEW shows, while Jon Moxley, Lance Archer, and Eddie Kingston have competed on NJPW Strong and other company-branded shows in the States. But now both companies are coming together to present a cross-branded PPV called AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, which will emanate from Chicago’s United Center on June 26.

Now that that event is a reality, now’s the perfect time to fantasize about the dream matches that I’m hoping to see get booked for the show. With so many marquee stars on both sides of the coin, chances are indeed high for a wrestling card that could possibly be the strongest of the year.

Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

NJPW’s reigning “Rainmaker” has remained at the top of the card since 2012. His development into one of the coolest and most dominant wrestlers within the company led to a huge surge in popularity for New Japan, which is why he’s still being relied on as a top-of-the-card mainstay. As soon as Bryan Danielson joined AEW, I dreamed about the possibility of him getting the chance to also work for AEW and possibly wrestle during an entire G1 Climax tournament.

But with the announcement of this AEW x NJPW event, I’d be totally fine with the “American Dragon” taking on Kazuchika Okada on the PPV stage. Danielson is at the top of his game right now (AGAIN!) and Okada hasn’t lost a step all the while. The technical work that would be at hand during this match would be amazing, I just know it! I can already envision Okada trying to hit his Rainmaker finisher and Danielson countering it right into a LeBell Lock. The crowd pop on that would be insane!

CM Punk vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

CM Punk is seemingly having the time of his life right now. Ever since he made his grand return to the sport he once left behind, Mr. Phil Brooks has worked with anyone and everyone that’s been put in his way. And through it all, Punk has produced bangers with the likes of MJF, Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin, etc. Some would say that he’s reached “Ace” status for AEW these days. NJPW has an ace of its own named Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Tanahashi took New Japan out of the dark ages and pushed it into a golden era that brought the Puroresu-focused wrestling fed back into the limelight. He’s held the IWGP World Championship on multiple occasions and has been entrusted with working with newcomers & veterans alike. And why, you ask? Because Tanahashi is incapable of having a bad match. The same can be said about Punk, which is why I’m dying to see him try his luck against Tanahashi. I know a lot of folks are pining for Punk vs. KENTA in a Battle of the Go to Sleep masters. But I think we should get this dream match between AEW’s ace and NJPW’S ace first.

Miro vs. Shingo Takagi

Where is the “Redeemer?” Oh, how I miss Miro. Once he ditched the “Best Man” gimmick behind, he blossomed into the killer heel everyone wanted him to be in AEW in the first place. His TNT Championship reign is the stuff of legend and I’m highly anticipating his return to the ring (plus I really miss the big guy’s unintentionally hilarious promos where he mentions the latest “activity” he and his wife engaged in). I feel like Tony Khan should ring Miro’s phone ASAP and have him return to TV to start hyping up his AEW x NJPW clash with a fellow powerhouse. And that powerhouse is none other than Shingo Tagaki.

To see Tagaki’s ascension from Dragon Gate to New Japan has been fascinating to watch. Since joining NJPW, he’s opened everyone’s eyes to his immense talent and shown that he can be entrusted with putting the company on his back as its IWGP World Champion. And whenever I’m in the mood to watch someone pull off amazing feats of strength, I can always count on Takagi to give me what I want. I’m definitely trying to watch two big boys go to blows like massive kaiju monsters on this PPV, which is why Miro vs. Takagi must be booked.

I already know I’m gonna wince every time a stiff lariat is thrown and a nasty suplex gets delivered during this encounter!

Adam Page vs. Will Ospreay

“Hangman” Adam Page is another one of those wrestlers that I’ve been following since his earliest days in the business. He went from a lower card mainstay to a reliable mid-card competitor during his strong tenure in ROH, then he graduated into a bonafide main event talent once he stepped through AEW’s doors. His AEW Championship reign has been a joy to watch thus far – Page has proven his worth as a top guy against Bryan Danielson, Lance Archer, and Adam Cole all the while.

For the longest time now, Will Ospreay has been moving around the globe and having bangers with just about everybody. He’s adopted more of a mean streak and a cocky demeanor that paints him as the Connor McGregor of professional wrestling, which has raised his stock even more. Pitting AEW’s biggest babyface against NJPW’s most hated heel sounds like a match made in heaven if you ask me. Page and Ospreay are hybrid athletes that compile different parts of numerous wrestling styles that make their offense stand out.

And for that reason alone, I’d love to see them test their best moves against each other in an in-ring classic that must go 20 minutes or more.

Samoa Joe vs. Tomohiro Ishii

We got another big boy bout right here, folks! And I have a feeling Big E would even tune in to watch this go down. I already got plenty of enjoyment out of Samoa Joe and Minoru Suzuki’s ROH TV Championship battle on AEW Dynamite – both men exceeded the brutality scale by repeatedly chopping the hell out of each other. The crowd seemingly agreed with my assessment of that dream match judging by their audible reaction to all the violent mayhem taking place in front of them.

Now I’m ready to see Tomohiro Ishii pull up on Joe to truly push him past his limits. Ishii is NJPW’s relentless “Pitbull” and has proven to be the epitome of “Strong Style” wrestling. Matching up his approach to in-ring brutality with that of Joe’s sounds like the perfect recipe for the ultimate crowd-pleaser. The chops on this match would be loud, the elbow shots would be stiff, and the suplexes would be bone crunchingly painful. I NEED THIS ONE TO GO DOWN!

Wheeler Yuta vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Now, this match would be the “purest” clash on the entire card if it were put in place. Both Wheeler Yuta and Zack Sabre Jr. utilize a mix of tight submissions, counter holds, focused strikes, etc. in order to grind their opponents into dust. Yuta’s evolved as a performer thanks to his newfound affiliation with the Blackpool Combat Club – his offense now includes even more excruciating holds that have added another dimension to his grappling game.

I’d pay all the money in the world to watch him go hold for hold against Sabre Jr. in a modern-day catch-as-can wrestling match. Suzuki-gun’s limb-twisting stable member is not to be trifled with – he’s made NJPW’s top stars tap out and scream in agony on multiple occasions. I can just picture the crowd going wild as both technicians go back and forth with elbow shots and transition into a submission challenge for the ages!

Rey Fenix vs. Hiromu Takahashi

A high-flying barnburner is essential on any wrestling PPV card, which is why I’m proposing this matchup. If Rey Fenix gets healed up in time to earn himself a match at AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, then I’d love to see him run wild against NJPW’s best junior heavyweight, Hiromu Takahashi. Takahashi has an affinity for Lucha Libre since he’s already had an extended stay down in CMLL and engaged in an amazing rivalry with luchador Ryu Lee.

With Fenix as his dancing partner here, I’m convinced that he and Takahashi would get the crowd on their feet thanks to their fast-paced antics. Not only would this be the best comeback scenario for Fenix, but it would also be an awesome introduction for Takahashi to those who haven’t seen him already.

FTR vs. Guerrillas of Destiny

Tag team greatness is also essential on any wrestling show. FTR have proven to be a dependable unit that can be called upon to produce a great match with just about any team put in front of them. Since coming to AEW, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood have earned tons more respect thanks to their bouts with The Young Bucks, The Lucha Bros., Jurassic Express, etc.

Now that the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) have been excommunicated from the Bullet Club, they’ve adopted the NJPW lion motif once again to make their babyface allegiance clear. FTR has recently adopted a fan-favorite role themselves, so it would be incredible for these two teams to have a battle based on nothing but respect and admiration for each other’s crafts. I’m sure that respect would fly out the window mid-match as both teams rain down blows and double-team maneuvers on each other.

But by the end of it, I’m sure a handshake exchange would cap it all off.

Categories
Sports

The 20 Best Wrestlers That Defined ECW

Hey everyone! It’s The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm.

This month we are going to get extreme as we take a look back at Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW was the rebel company that revolutionized professional wrestling in the 90s. Paul Heyman was the mastermind behind the revolution breaking all the rules and the leader of creating that us against them mentality in his locker room. ECW was the company that gave a lot of popular stars their first big break, allowed established stars a platform to reinvent themselves, introduced fans to different styles of wrestling, and influenced the other two mainstream companies (WWE & WCW) to change in many ways.

Growing up on the WWF and WCW products, I wasn’t very exposed to the ECW product. I did however become aware of the company due to the crossover stuff they did with the WWF in 1996 and 1997. I also would catch it on television those nights I stayed up past 12 AM but it was so non-family-friendly, that I felt like I was breaking the rules just watching it at my young age.

As I got older and was able to find more ECW online and through the magazines, the more fascinated I became with it. That all being said, this list is coming from someone who didn’t religiously watch ECW in his prime but someone who watched it back and grew to appreciate it. This is a list of wrestlers I immediately think of when I reminisce about ECW from my perspective.

I also wanted to share a list of honorable mentions to a handful of wrestlers that either got their first break or made an impact in ECW but I feel defined other companies more than ECW. Superstars such as Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Bam Bam Bigelow, Lance Storm, Tajiri, and Chris Candido. Also a huge shoutout to Paul Heyman, Tod Gordon, and Joey Styles.

Be sure to share this article and debate with your friends. Also, be sure to let me know how you feel about this list on Instagram or Twitter.

20. Justin Credible
Justin Credible

Justin Credible was in ECW from 1997 till its final days. During that time, he became the ECW Tag Team Champion two times with Lance Storm as one half of the Impact Players and one-time ECW World Champion. Although I knew who Aldo Montoya was prior to knowing Justin Credible, I didn’t realize he was the one portraying the WWE character. That being said, my earliest memory of Justin Credible was seeing him ECW. He was truly an impact player (pun intended) for the final years of the company.

19. Super Crazy
Solo Wrestling

A lot of you might remember Super Crazy from his short time in WWE as part of the Mexicools or the ECW One Night Stand shows, but I first remember seeing him in ECW. He was this cruiserweight superstar who had memorable feuds with Tajiri and Little Guido to name a few. He also became a one-time ECW Television Champion during his time there. When I think of Super Crazy, I definitely think of ECW and the Meixcools…but mainly ECW. 

18. Mike Awesome
WWE

Mike Awesome made his name in Japan for FMW after having brief runs in companies in North America. However, after some convincing from ECW superstar and friend Sabu, he decided to give North America a shot coming to work for ECW. He would come through for multiple stints with the company and even continued his feud from Japan with Masato Tanaka in the United States at the promotion. In 1999 he returned to ECW for its final stretch winning the ECW World Title twice with manager Judge Jeff Jones in his corner and the Tag Team Championship once with Raven

17. Jerry Lynn
WWE

Jerry Lynn started wrestling in 1988 making appearances in WWE and having a stint in WCW under a mask as Mr. JL. However, when the name Jerry Lynn comes up I think of ECW and his great matches in that promotion. Especially his legendary matches during his feud with Rob Van Dam. Lynn would even become the ECW World Champion defeating Justin Credible. Although we would continue to see Lynn in WWE, TNA, and ROH once ECW doors closed, it never hit the same level as his run in ECW.

16. 2 Cold Scorpio
Wrestling Observer

I’ll admit that the first time I saw 2 Cold Scorpio, he was Flash Funk. It wasn’t until I get older and discovered his work outside of the WWE that I started to appreciate 2 Cold Scorpio as a worker. If I had only ever known him as Flash Funk I would have been disappointed. Scorpio was a four-time ECW Television Champion and one-time Tag Team Champion with Sandman. He feuded with all the top talent and had some of his best matches in the promotion.

15. The Eliminators
WWE

Perry Saturn and John Kronus were working in Japan when they caught the eye of ECW booker Paul Heyman in 1995. They had lengthy violent rivalries with the Pitbulls, The Gangstas, and The Dudleys. They would become the tag team champions on three occasions during the ECW run. The Eliminators, similar to the rest of the tag teams in ECW were innovative and had a distinct presentation but what made them really stand out was their high impact style and that Total Elimination finisher.

14. FBI (Full Blooded Italians)
Slam Wrestling

The Full Blooded Italians had to be one of my favorite acts in ECW. The FBI started in 1996 when JT Smith started believing he was an Italian after a concussion and aligned with Val Puccio. Eventually, Little Guido joined them and the group would expand more with Tracy Smothers. Tommy Rich, Big Guido, Sal E Graziano and Tony Mamaluke. There would be a handful of other temporary members at times too.

The running gag was that most of them weren’t even Italian but they would act like stereotypical Italian Americans by doing the hand gestures, praising famous Italians, and making not-to-subtle mafia references. The group would win the Tag Team titles twice and cross over to WCW and WWE.

13. Steve Corino
Twitter (@WrestlingIsKing)

The “King of Old School” immediately made his presence felt as soon as he hit the scene in ECW in 1998. He entered the company as a manager who would insult the hardcore wrestlers and even crashed a Limp Bizkit concert. Eventually, he would begin to wrestle and had a memorable Bullrope match against “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes at Living Dangerously. Corino captured the ECW World Championship in November of the year 2000. Although he would have a great run in ROH, it was his time in ECW that put him on the map.

12. bWo (Blue World Order)
WWE

I grew up on WCW and we all pretended to be the nWo on the playground with our friends as children. Therefore when I first came across the Blue World Order on ECW television, I was instantly amused. Stevie Richards and Blue Meanie were members of Raven’s Nest. Along with Nova, they would parody many popular acts.

After a suggestion from Bubba Ray, they began parodying the New World Order. Nova would become “Hollywood Nova,” Meanie would become “Da Blue Guy” and Stevie would become “Big Stevie Cool.” The popular act ran from 1996 to 1998 but made sporadic appearances in the WWE, TNA, and other promotions.

11. Rhyno
Tumblr (shitloadsofwrestling)

Rhyno hit the ECW scene in 1999 as this unstable, violent, aggressive, psychotic powerhouse who thrived in chaos and brutality. Rhyno immediately got into a lengthy feud with Sandman that would continue until ECW closed its doors. He would also become a two-time Television Champion and by early 2000 he won the World Championship.

Rhyno would be the final World Champion and Television Champion before the company folded. Although Rhyno’s time in ECW was short, he really made a name for himself in the final years, which allowed him to find success in both WWE and Impact in the years to follow.

10. New Jack
Nick Nunnally

I want to start this off by saying if you haven’t watched the “Dark Side of the Ring” episode on New Jack, please do. Jack was notorious for his dangerous bumps, shooting in the ring, and his stiff hardcore style of wrestling. New Jack showed up in ECW in 1995 as one half of “The Gangstas” with Mustafa Saed. They would have an unforgettable feud with Public Enemy.

The Gangstas would win the tag team titles on two occasions and Jack had an additional reign with former rival John Kronus. New Jack was unpredictable and became a fan attraction. He also blurred the lines between reality and fiction with a handful of infamous moments such as the Mass Transit Incident.

9. Mikey Whipwreck
Wrestling Examiner

Mikey Whipwreck started off on the ring crew but made his in-ring debut in 1994 as ECW’s ultimate underdog who won the hearts of all the fans and eventually every championship title in the company. Whipwreck won the World Championship once, the Television Championship twice, and the Tag Team Championship 2 times with Cactus Jack and Tajiri.

He was also voted the “Rookie of the Year” by the Wrestling Observer readers in 1994. He would work with names such as Steve Austin, RVD, and Mick Foley (who helped train him) a ton during his run with ECW. Although he had a brief stint in WCW in 1999, most people will always think of ECW when Mikey Whipreck’s name is mentioned and vice versa.

8. The Dudley Brothers
Ring The Damn Bell

The Dudley Brothers were a comedic group that claimed to all be sons of “Big Daddy” Dudley although they all had obvious differences in appearances and race.

This was explained by them all having different mothers due to their father being an unfaithful traveling salesman. The group of brothers consisted of Dudley Dudley, Bick Dick Dudley, Dances with Dudley, and Snot Dudley. Chubby Dudley. Sign Guy Dudley, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, and Spike Dudley. They all had a backstory and unique qualities.

It wasn’t until D-Von joined the brothers that they would become less comedic and more serious. Eventually, the Dudley Brothers became the Dudley Boyz after many of the members left the company. Bubba and D-Von would go on to win the Tag Team Titles a record-setting eight times. They could antagonize the live crowd to the point where it almost started riots and even turned on the runt of the pack Spike Dudley.

Those damn Dudleys though…would you expect anything less?

7. Shane Douglas
WWE

Most wrestling historians and hardcore fans will recall the famous promo where Shane Douglas dropped the NWA Championship claiming the promotion to be dead while proclaiming the ECW Championship as the real important World Championship. To many, this was the beginning of the new ECW. The Franchise reached levels of success in ECW that he didn’t reach in any other promotion.

Douglas was a four-time ECW Champion and two-time ECW Television Champion. He formed two incarnations of the “Triple Threat” faction. Shane had the most combined days as ECW Champion and the longest single reign with the championship too. He really was the Franchise of ECW.

6. Raven
WWE

I first saw Raven in WCW and was instantly intrigued with the character. When getting the chance to go back and watch his run in ECW, it made me appreciate him so much more. Raven capitalized on the popularity of grunge culture at the time creating a persona of a depressed sociopath who was philosophical and intelligent.

They were able to tell so many great stories with the Raven character with Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, and even the members of the Raven’s Nest. He won the ECW World Championship on two occasions and the ECW Tag Team Titles on four occasions with three different partners including one time with his long-time rival Tommy Dreamer.

My mind was blown when I found out that Raven and Johnny Polo were the same person but whatever. “Quote the raven…nevermore.”

5. The Sandman
Wade Keller / PWTorch

Before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was guzzling beers on WWE television, there was the Sandman in ECW. Sandman started off as a surfer with his wife Peaches in his corner but eventually switched up to an edgier character closer to who he really was…this was the Sandman we all grew to love.

Sandman would enter through the crowd to “Metallica” playing, smoking a cigarette, drinking beer, and wielding a Singapore cane. He was involved in many unforgettable storylines and moments such as the infamous cane whipping of Tommy Dreamer. Sandman was a five-time ECW World Champion and a one-time Tag Team Champion. He embodied everything that ECW was all about.

4. Sabu
WWE

Growing up there weren’t many wrestlers on the scene that looked like me with a middle eastern/south Asian appearance and then I saw Sabu. Sabu was this scarred-up wild man related to The Sheik that had no disregard for his own well-being. My first exposure to Sabu were the times he appeared on WCW and that time when he fell off the Monday Night Raw logo when the ECW talent invaded WWE. He had many memorable feuds with Taz, RVD, Shane Douglas, and Terry Funk.

The mad man was a two-time ECW World Champion, a one-time FTW World Champion, a one-time ECW Television Champion, and three-time ECW Tag Team Champion, twice being with RVD and once with Taz. He was notorious for table spots and lived up to his nickname of being the homicidal, genocidal, suicidal, and death-defying maniac. 

3. Taz
Twitter (@WrestlingIsKing)

He entered ECW as the Tazmaniac in 1993. Although he had a fair share of success, everything changed after a bad neck injury. When Taz returned he slowly turned heel with an entirely different look while being more angry and aggressive. He would focus more on mat wrestling and suplexes, thus becoming the “Human Suplex Machine.”

Taz would have a dominant run moving forward staying near the top of the card the entire time. He was a two-time ECW World Champion, two-time Television Champion, three-time Tag Team Champion, and even introduced his FTW Championship. Taz would remain in the industry working in WWE, TNA and now even AEW but nothing compares to his ECW run. Beat him if you can and survive if he lets you.

2. Rob Van Dam
WWE

Rob Van Dam was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. I remember when RVD first started appearing on WWE television being called “Mr. Monday Night” turning on ECW to embrace the WWE. I wanted to know everything about him and it is one of the main reasons I wanted to discover more about this Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion.

RVD had a laid-back personality that you could relate to and an unorthodox high flying style that made you not want to take your eyes off of him. They didn’t call him the “Whole FN Show” for no reason. He had unforgettable matches and rivalries with the likes of Jerry Lynn and Sabu. Van Dam would win the ECW Tag Team Titles twice with Sabu and had the longest reign as the ECW Television Champion. Although Rob Van Dam has succeeded so much in his post ECW career, he always waved the ECW flag.

RVD was influential in the “ECW One Night Stand” events we got in 2005 and 2006. 

1. Tommy Dreamer
Tumblr (shitloadsofwrestling)

Tommy Dreamer may just be the heart and soul of ECW. It didn’t matter what black t-shirt Tommy Dreamer wore in his matches, I always envisioned it saying ECW even if it didn’t. Originally playing a pretty boy gimmick, the fans didn’t really embrace Dreamer. It wasn’t until he endured the pain from the ten lashes he received from Sandman’s Singapore cane that the fans began to root for Dreamer. Tommy would go on to reinvent himself as the “Innovator of Violence” who was someone who reveled in violence and brutality to keep up with the extreme nature of the rest of the maniacs in the locker room.

He would have personal yet memorable rivalries with Sandman, Raven, and The Dudley Boyz. He would stay with ECW till the bitter end but not without becoming the ECW World Champion on one occasion and a three-time ECW Tag Team Champion with three different partners. He was a top guy in the company and the evolution of his character was documented in this promotion.

If any single person defines and represents ECW to me, it would be Tommy Dreamer. 

I hope you all enjoyed this list of wrestlers that defined ECW. Tell me if you disagree and let me know what you think over social media. Ya dig? Oooh Yeah!

Instagram – @thewrestlingclassic

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Categories
Sports

WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2022 Preview: Matches and Predictions

WrestleMania 38 was definitely a wrestling supercard for the ages.

Major celebrities such as Logan Paul and Johnny Knoxville surprisingly had some of the best matches of the two-day event, Cody Rhodes made his triumphant return, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin actually came out of retirement to wrestle a full match, Roman Reigns became a double champion, etc.

And now that the smoke has finally settled, ongoing feuds and brand new ones will take center stage at the next WWE premium event – WrestleMania Backlash. Come May 8, the WWE Universe will converge upon the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island to watch the superstars of Raw and SmackDown come to blows at the first major post-WrestleMania event.

Before the big PPV arrives, let’s get into some match predictions for the big May WWE spectacular.

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Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

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Preview & Predictions: So Bobby Lashley overcame Omos back at WrestleMania 38, which you’d think would impress MVP enough to keep offering the “All Mighty” his continued managerial services. But WWE logic flies in the face of all that – instead, we got Lashley’s former manager ditching him (even though he won on the biggest show of the year) for the big, clumsy oaf he defeated a month prior. I’m guessing since Omos has gotten a manager, he’s being prepped for bigger things later in the summer. This all points to Omos getting the win here, which will bring him and Lashley’s series to 1-1. This second match won’t be the end, folks (unfortunately…).

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Happy Corbin vs. Madcap Moss

Preview & Predictions: Oohf…big oohf, actually. This is the sort of match that belongs on your average episode of SmackDown or Main Event – nothing about this grudge match screams “premium event material.” Madcap Moss’ babyface turn is just whatever and Happy Corbin’s latest shtick still drives me to change the channel every time his horrendous theme music starts blaring. I think WWE’s gonna try and get a lot of mileage out of this feud nobody even asked for, which is why I think Corbin’s gonna try something sneaky and manage to parlay that heelish act into a cheap victory over his former running mate.

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AJ Styles vs. Edge (Damian Priest is Banned From Ringside)

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Preview & Predictions: AJ Styles vs. Edge – Round 2 is official. And to be quite frank, I’m not too thrilled about it. There was just something about their WrestleMania 38 match that was devoid of any true crowd investment, which kept it from reaching that next level. The in-ring action was solid, yet it lacked any feeling and left me disappointed by the end of it. The ending was cool at least as Edge got the gears turning on his new stable by aligning himself with Damian Priest and Spearing Styles out of the sky.

Now for this second go-round, Edge’s new stablemate won’t be at ringside to disrupt the matter at hand. Since that rule’s been put into effect, I’m of the belief that an even more focused “Phenomenal One” will be able to pull away with the big win this time. By putting both these men at 1-1, WWE is clearly setting Edge and AJ up for the ultimate tiebreaker and feud ender at the next PPV. And which show is that, you ask? Hell in a Cell! And you just know they gotta go all out inside WWE’s demonic structure to bring everything to an end.

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Cody Rhodes vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins

Preview & Predictions: The “American Nightmare” has added a ton of star power to Raw since returning to WWE. His stay on the indies and his run in All Elite Wrestling have morphed him into an extremely polished professional wrestler that’s gotten the crowd behind him once again. And at WrestleMania 38, Cody Rhodes shocked the world when he was revealed to be Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent. And as expected, that match had the crowd on its feet.

Since Cody’s big return victory, Seth “Freakin” Rollins has thrown down the gauntlet for a rematch. And I’m pretty excited for this one since the story going in is that Rollins will be more prepared this time around to deal with Cody, of course. And just like their first meeting, I’m guessing this match will be just as good or even better. WWE obviously sees more money in Cody right now and is prepping him for a future top title run, so I see the blonde-haired dynamo going over Rollins once again here.

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Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (“I Quit” Match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

Preview & Predictions: Can we have an honest discussion about Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 38? That match…well, sucked. The horrible build-up to that match didn’t really invest the crowd, which is why the fans in the AT&T Stadium didn’t react all that much to the match as it went down. And to my surprise, Charlotte retained her title after some referee shenanigans took place. That result was pretty deflating since Ronda came back to win the Women’s Royal Rumble’s and ultimately failed to capture the prize she was given because of that battle royal win.

Now those two ladies are running it back at this show in a match that I think would have made way more sense being contested on the WrestleMania stage. So Charlotte and Ronda are going to pull out their submissions to do big damage and ultimately force the other woman to scream “I Quit!” I can totally see these ladies not only using their signature submission holds to do some big damage, but also a bunch of weapons around ringside.

I think this match will mark the moment where Ronda finally overcomes Charlotte with an extremely painful-looking Armbar that makes Charlotte scream and give up in agony.

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Drew McIntyre and RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) vs. The Bloodline (Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, and Jimmy Uso)

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Preview & Predictions: So we’re moving away from the tag team title unification deal now, huh? I’m guessing this change was made due to some sort of unannounced injury that Roman Reigns suffered at WrestleMania 38 while wrestling against Brock Lesnar. That’s pretty easy to see since Roman Reigns hasn’t been booked in a singles match here against Drew McIntyre – with this six-man tag match being set in stone, it gives the “Tribal Chief” less in-ring work to engage in since he’s most likely not 100% at the moment.

So who’s going to walk away from this six-man war as the victors? I’m going to go out on a limb here and choose the babyface squad for this one. It just makes way more sense for McIntyre to get the winning pin over one of the Uso brothers here in order to further solidify his position as the go-to guy as SmackDown’s top babyface and challenger to Reigns’ title reign at Hell in a Cell in June.

And with McIntyre’s victory here, it’ll push RK-Bro up to a better position before their expected tag team title unification bout against The Usos at that same PPV.

Categories
Sports Strength

Elton’s Samoa Joe in AEW Dream Matches

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JOE! JOE! JOE! JOE!

The “Samoan Submission Machine” had everyone’s jaws on the floor and hands on their head when he came out as a last-minute surprise during Ring of Honor’s 15th Supercard of Honor event. And with that appearance, it became abundantly clear that Joe isn’t back in ROH to handle some backstage duties. He’s returned to the company that raised his stock as an active member of the roster. What’s even more exciting about his in-ring return is the fact that he’s also #AllElite! All Elite Wrestling president Tony Khan has also brought Joe in as the latest signee of the thriving wrestling company.

Now that he’s set to choke out some fools and destroy even more souls with his Muscle Buster, I hope he gets to do just that against the following group of equally amazing AEW talent.

1. Brody King
AEW

The House of Black’s cool factor is at an all-time high. Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews have joined forces to fully embrace their dark nature and destroy anyone that chooses to oppose their mission statement. There’s gonna come a point where Samoa Joe crosses paths with this cult-like stable and earns the ire of Brody. And I can’t wait for that moment to finally happen! Joe and Brody are two big boys that know how to move their weight around and use it to crush their unlucky foes. It’s only right that these two get into the ring and shake the very foundation of the arena they just happen to be battling in.

2. Bryan Danielson
AEW

During Samoa Joe’s 645 day reign as the ROH World Champion, he found himself across the ring from the “American Dragon.” And as expected, both men left it all in the ring as they produced a crowd-pleasing match that added to their ongoing legacies (here’s the link to that match if you haven’t seen it already). Now that both wrestlers are making their stay’s in AEW, I’m dying to see them run it back. Bryan Danielson has somehow entered the second prime period of his career and I’m highly convinced that he can create even more memorable in-ring magic with Joe. The slap fest between these two could be extra vicious!

3. Buddy Matthews
AEW

Once Samoa Joe gets done throwing bombs at Brody King, I wanna see him try his luck against one of the most underrated wrestlers on the scene today. Since being released by WWE, Buddy has proven his worth against some strong competition. His bouts with Kazuchika Okada, Malakai Black, and Ren Narita have proven that WWE made a grave mistake in letting him go. I say put Buddy in the ring with Joe so they can provide further proof that they are two of Tony Khan’s best signings. Joe’s penchant for brutality and Buddy’s mix of power & agility could work wonders for their interactions in the squared circle. I wonder if Buddy’s strong enough to get Joe up for a suplex…

4. CM Punk
AEW

I want it. And the rest of the wrestling world wants it. Samoa Joe and CM Punk put on a three-match series back in 2004 that’s still being talked about fondly (here’s the link to the first clash in their trilogy, by the way). I never envisioned a day where both Joe and Punk would end up working for the same wrestling fed, yet here we are. Punk hasn’t lost a step since coming back, so I’m ready to see him have another go at the man that gave him his stiffest competition back in ROH. They may not be able to move at the same pace they had back in the early 200s, but I’m still confident in their ability to give the fans in attendance and those viewing at home another banger.

5. Daniel Garcia
AEW

Daniel Garcia is like the best parts of Bryan Danielson and Low-Ki. He’s super cocky and backs it all up with a grappling game that can grind down anyone, no matter the size. Samoa Joe has always worked great with guys that are smaller than him (his bouts with the likes of Amazing Red, Jay Lethal, and Chris Sabin are proof of that). The brutality that would be on display between these two would be off the charts – I’m talkin’ vicious open-hand slaps, stiff elbow shots, nasty suplexes, etc. Whoever can lock on their signature submission hold first will most certainly walk out as the ultimate victor of this battle.

6. Eddie Kingston
AEW

And here’s another violent barnburner dream match that I’m chomping at the bit to see! Eddie Kingston has proven to be one of AEW’s most surprising success stories. He doesn’t look like your average wrestler and damn sure doesn’t talk like one, which is why he’s appealed so much to everyone that follows him. His no-nonsense attitude and puroresu-inspired moveset have allowed him to put on some in-ring gems with Jon Moxley, CM Punk, and Chris Jericho. Give him and Samoa Joe 15 minutes, Tony Khan! I wanna see these two brutes produce the type of match that would fit in perfectly on a 90s All Japan Pro Wrestling card.

7. Kenny Omega
AEW

I mean, this has to happen at some point! Can you imagine a rejuvenated Samoa Joe locking horns with a freshly healed Kenny Omega? Even when Omega was dealing with a ton of injuries, he was still kicking all the asses during his legendary reign as AEW World Champion. This match is so big that it could take the main event slot at an AEW NYC return show at Arthur Ashe Stadium. I imagine a scenario in which Omega uses his agility and striking prowess to knock Joe off his high perch, plus I can also envision Joe suplexing & kicking the hell out of AEW’s Ace. How many V-Triggers would it take to put Joe down for the count? And would Omega be able to kick out of a Muscle Buster? I hope those questions get answered sooner rather than later.

8. Powerhouse Hobbs
AEW

Powerhouse Hobbs has quickly grown into one of AEW’s future superstars to keep an eye on. Since aligning himself with Team Tazz, he’s adopted some sweet gear and gained even more of a mean streak. The big guy has gotten to work with the likes of Adam Page, CM Punk, and Keith Lee – those matches have helped him gain even more experience and improve in the eyes of the AEW fanbase. By putting him in the ring with Samoa Joe, I’m confident that Hobbs would once again show how much he’s improved since becoming #AllElite. These two definitely have it in them to give the fans a big hoss battle for the ages. I just know we’re gonna get a shoulder charge standoff battle here!

Categories
Sports Strength

Elton’s Cody Rhodes Return to WWE Dream Matches

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“Wrestling Has More Than One Royal Family.”

When those words were uttered over the loudspeakers at WrestleMania 38 within the AT&T Stadium on Night 1, the fans came unglued! They knew exactly what theme song that intro belonged to and what returning superstar was set to make his re-debut in WWE – the “American Nightmare,” Cody Rhodes! The former All Elite Wrestling EVP/active roster member decided to go back to the company he left all those years ago to build his stature & morph into the main event talent he knew he could always be.

Cody’s first night back in WWE gave everyone in attendance and at home the pleasure of watching him work his ass off against one of the very best ring technicians in the business, Seth Rollins. And after defeating WWE’s resident “Drip God,” I decided to take a peek at the rest of the company’s roster in hopes of finding the perfect opponents for Cody’s second run.

I’ve managed to find eight wrestlers that would mesh extremely well with Cody’s in-ring style and provide the WWE Universe with a list of quality bouts that should be PPV-worthy.

1. AJ Styles
WWE

After AJ Styles got ousted from his Bullet Club leadership position by Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes aligned himself with the uber-popular New Japan stable. I would have loved to have seen AJ Styles stick around a bit longer to settle his beef with Omega and eventually lock up with the newly christened “American Nightmare,” but AJ was WWE bound at that point.

Now that both men are in the same company, it makes all the sense in the world for the ex-Bullet Club members to come to blows. I’m pretty confident that AJ’s high-impact, high-flying offense would mesh quite well with Cody’s throwback in-ring style. And I just know the promo battles between them would allude to their past stable affiliation, which could make for some fiery verbal comebacks from both men.

2. Bron Breakker
WWE

Imagine this fantasy scenario – the proud son of Rick Steiner vs. the proud son of Dusty Rhodes. The offspring of two NWA/WCW legends going head-to-head. And two future Hall of Famer’s fighting to preserve the legacy of their family name. Bron Breakker vs. Cody Rhodes has all the makings of a quality matchup where Bron’s power-based move set would force Cody to switch up his gameplan a bit and go for some intricate submission work. The mental images of Bron suplexing Cody repeatedly and Cody finally locking in the Figure Four Leglock onto Bron get me super excited. This dream match has the potential to be supported by a storyline that honors both men’s wrestling family lineage.

3. Carmelo Hayes
WWE

During Cody Rhodes’ AEW stay, his best matches came against opponents of a smaller stature. He competed against the likes of Sammy Guevara, Scorpio Sky, and Darby Allin, which resulted in some of Cody’s more celebrated performances under Tony Khan’s-promoted wrestling banner. Once Carmello Hayes gets that main roster callup, I just know he and Cody can create the sort of in-ring magic that Cody developed during his rivalry with AEW’s “Spanish God.” Hayes is one of the best young gunners on the WWE roster, so it won’t come as a surprise when he ends up putting on a banger of a match with Cody as his dance partner.

4. Chad Gable
WWE

Chad Gable can have a great match with just about anybody. Now that he’s finally found his footing as a member of the Alpha Academy, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion has gotten far more opportunities to prove his worth against top-tier competition. I’d pay good money to watch Gable pull off some slick suplexes on Cody and plant the “Son of a Son of a Plumber” with that stunning Moonsault of his. I’d also empty out my savings account just to see Cody clock Gable with that graceful moonsault of his own and take down his smaller foe with an extra brutal Alabama Slam. Gable’s smaller build and Cody’s height advantage could present an interesting dynamic for their first-time meeting.

5. Edge
WWE

Edge is back to full active duty and has been working with a myriad of opponents he never got to contend with during his last run. The “Rated R-Superstar” has mixed it up with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and AJ Styles, so it’s only right that he makes a play for Cody Rhodes at some point. As early as SummerSlam, I could see the newly turned heel rendition of Edge engaging in a war of words with Cody that will place them in a marquee match on WWE’s “Biggest Party of the Summer.” So who you guys and gals got your money on – Edge’s Spear or Cody’s Cross Rhodes? I know I’d pop like a madman if Cody leaped over Edge, forced him to smash his shoulder into a turnbuckle, and immediately get dropped with Cody’s finisher for the win!

6. Finn Bálor
WWE

I already alluded to the battle of former Bullet Club members between AJ Styles and Cody Rhodes. But what about getting to witness a clash between the original leader of the stable and the blond-haired dynamo that joined it after Bálor left the group? The same storyline scenario that could take place between AJ and Cody could easily be applied to this dream match. Bálor’s swift offense can definitely give Cody a run for his money, but Cody’s slick nature and never-say-die attitude can also keep him in the fight for much longer than expected. Give this one 15+ minutes and I’m convinced that these two young kings could easily deliver some in-ring greatness!

7. Kevin Owens
WWE

Fun Fact – when Cody Rhodes got his WWE release granted, Kevin Owens went out of his way to help Cody transition to the indies by asking The Young Bucks to help him on his way. How wild would it be for Kevin to get at Cody by telling him he’s the reason why Cody succeeded outside of WWE and returned as a newly minted main eventer? Kevin’s smack talk would have a sense of truth to it, but I’m sure Cody would offer a rebuttal by stating he also excelled on the indies due to his hard work and determination. Owens never disappoints once the bell rings – put him in the squared circle with Cody, WWE! I’m tryna see Cody get planted with a Pop-Up Powerbomb and Owens laid out with a Springboard Cutter.

8. Montez Ford
WWE

Montez Ford has convinced me and a whole lot of wrestling fans of his potential to be a huge singles star. After watching him hold his own against Roman Reigns on SmackDown back in 2021, I got the thinking – Ford has all the makings of a future WWE Champion. At some point, I’d love to see Cody pull up on Montez to truly test his mettle and see if he has what it takes to contend with him. Montez bounces around the ring like a madman and seemingly has unlimited energy, which is why I’d love to see him utilize it against an always game Cody. This fun little sprint could make for a fun second-hour matchup right in the middle of an episode of Raw.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 30 Most Influential Women in Wrestling

Hey everyone! It’s The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm.

This month to celebrate Women’s History Month, I’ll be making a list of some of the most influential women in wrestling. When the idea of this article was brought up, I was a bit hesitant. There was no way I could write this without feeling like I was leaving somebody out or not really doing the subject justice. The choices might be subjective. but I wanted to really show appreciation to every generation of women’s wrestling, going back to the earlier days of the business.

There are a lot of women who aren’t on this list that had a huge influence on the business but let’s appreciate the list I tried to put together as a catalog of women you should know about.

Enjoy!

Honorable Mentions

The Fabulous Moolah, Babs Wingo, Marva Scott, Judy Grable, Kathleen Wimbley, Miss Elizabeth, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Maryse, Eve Torres, The Beautiful People, Jazz, Victoria, Ivory, Melina, Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Sunny, Sharmell, Summer Rae, Alica Fox, Michelle McCool, Layla, Maria Kanellis, Daffney, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai, Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, The IInspiration, Carmella, Zelina Vega, Liv Morgan, Nikki Cross, Kairi Sane, Ruby Soho, ODB, Taylor Wilde, Nia Jax, Britt Baker, Brandi Rhodes, Thunder Rosa, Jade Cargill, Hiraku Shida, Riho, Serena Deeb, Ronda Rousey, and Stephanie McMahon, and every other women’s wrester that I may not have mentioned because they’re all influencing the future of women’s wrestling.

Influential Women
30. Sara Del Rey
WWE

Many people may not be aware of who Sara Del Ray is or why she is on this list but I’ll explain. Before there was a women’s revolution in the WWE, Del Rey was setting the bar for women’s wrestling on the North American independent scene. Del Rey would also wrestle in Japan and became the fourth woman to make the PWI Top 500 wrestlers.

The biggest influence Sara has had on the industry as of late is away from the limelight in her role as the head trainer for NXT. All of your favorite women’s wrestlers of today who went through NXT from the Four Horsewomen, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, and everyone currently in NXT was trained by Sara Del Rey.

29. Aja Kong
WWE

If you saw Aja Kong once, you wouldn’t forget her. The war paint on the face, the short hair, and the size made Aja stand out. Starting in All Japan Women’s Wrestling, Kong would dominate the women’s wrestling scene in Japan. Kong would win many championships and even ended Bull Nakano’s three-year championship reign.

Kong would make her presence felt in North America when she would briefly appear in the WWE built up as the next challenger for Alundra Blayze’s Women’s Championship. The match would never take place since Blayze would jump ship to WCW. Kong would continue to dominate in Japan and still make appearances in America for Shimmer and most recently AEW. There is something about Aja Kong though, that she always remains a threat.

28. Bull Nanako
WWE

Bull Nakano started her career at 15 years old and won her first championship at the age of 16 in AJW. From there on Nakano continued to build her legacy working around the world and winning championships. Bull would make her presence felt in the WWE when she had a memorable feud against Alundra Blayze. They were the two faces of the women’s division during that incarnation of it.

She would win the WWF Women’s Championship and hold it for about five months. Nakano and Blayze would continue their feud in WCW. Nakano continued to support women’s wrestling the most she could and is truly one of the most memorable figures from the dark days of women’s wrestling in North America. Many have been inspired by this Japanese legend.

27. Wendi Richter
WWE

It’s impossible to talk about women’s wrestling in the 1980s and not think about Wendi Richter. Although she began wrestling in 1979, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that she played a pivotal role in the wrestling boom. When Vince McMahon was interested in bringing outside celebrities into the federation, Wendi Richter was quickly paired with the popular Cyndi Lauper.

It was during this partnership that Wendi Richter defeated Fabulous Moolah for the Women’s Championship ending her nearly seven-year reign. It was the involvement of Cyndi Lauper and her partnership with Richter that kicked off the “Rock N’ Wrestling” era.

26. Sable
WWE

Sable wasn’t known for her in-ring prowess but the popularity she gained due to her beauty and presence on camera changed the game. There were attempts at a women’s division for the WWE in both the 80s and 90s but the flame would always seem to burn out. By 1996 there wasn’t much of a women’s division but valets and personalities such as Sunny and Sable appeared on-air regularly. They both quickly became two of wrestling’s biggest sex symbols. Sunny became the most searched woman on the internet at one point.

However, Sunny walked so Sable could run. Sable’s fast rise to popularity led to her being the first WWE Diva featured in Playboy and it led to the resurrection of the defunct Women’s Championship. Sable was the prototype for most of the divas we would see for the next decade and a half. The impact Sunny and Sable had really put the women back in the forefront of a male-dominated program even if it wasn’t exactly for the same reasons.

25. Paige
WWE

Although Paige started wrestling at the age of 13 years old, her time in the ring for the WWE felt short. Paige had such a distinctive look that she stood out the moment wrestling fans saw her for the first time. Paige was appropriately dubbed the anti-diva because her goth-like appearance and pale skin weren’t the stereotypical images of the WWE Divas of the past.

In her short time with the company, she would become both the NXT Women’s and Divas Champion. At one point she held both titles simultaneously. In 2014, Paige was ranked the number one woman in wrestling for PWI’s Top 50 and “Diva of the Year” by Rolling Stone. Paige was also a star of “Total Divas,” had a Hollywood movie made based on her life called “Fighting for my Family” and was even the GM of Smackdown after being forced into retirement due to neck injuries.

24. Ethel Johnson
WWE

In all honesty, all three sisters should be on this list. Babs Wingo was Ethel’s older sister and the first African American woman to integrate into professional wrestling. Their younger sister Marva would join the business as well. Ethel began wrestling when she was 13 years old and was dubbed “the biggest attraction to hit girl wrestling since girl wrestling began.”

Johnson was known for being one of the first female wrestlers to perform a standing dropkick and a variation of the flying head-scissors. Johnson would be part of sell-out cards, toured Latin America, and even challenged for the NWA Women’s Championship. Johnson and her sisters were trailblazers for this business.

23. June Bryers
WWE

June Bryers was a popular women’s wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s. Bryers at the peak of her career held the Women’s Championship for ten years. Bryers began wrestling in 1944 and it wasn’t until 1952 till she won her first championship capturing the tag team titles with Millie Stafford.

The pioneer of women’s wrestling would win the vacated Women’s Championship in 1953. Bryers was one of the first women wrestlers to cross over into entertainment by making appearances on shows such as “What’s My Line?’ and “I’ve Got a Secret.” Bryers brought a ton of athleticism and technical skills to women’s wrestling. Bryers would have a controversial yet memorable rivalry with Mildred Burke and retire as the Women’s Champion.

22. Luna Vachon
WWE

There was nobody else like Luna Vachon. The adopted daughter of Paul “The Butcher ” Vachon wanted to continue her family’s legacy and pursue wrestling even though they objected to the idea. Luna continued on her pursuit anyway. The unique look, the raspy voice, the half-shaved head, and the veins painted on her face all made Vachon stand out. In 1993, Vachon would join the WWE first appearing as a valet for Shawn Michaels feuding with Sensational Sherri.

Vachon would be paired with Bam Bam Bigelow for the rest of her tenure while also challenging for the revived women’s championship against Madusa. Luna would be the first women’s wrestler featured in a wrestling video game. Vachon would also have short runs in ECW and WCW before returning to the WWE. The second run would show Luna be a valet for Goldust, the Oddities, and even Gangrel. Luna would also be involved in elevating Sable and challenging for the women’s championship. There weren’t many women that were as different as Luna Vachon.

21. Beth Phoenix
WWE

Beth Phoenix is one of those women’s wrestlers who I believed was ahead of her time and felt like she was in the wrong era. If Beth was to debut ten years later, she would have been a perfect fit for the women’s roster in midst of their revolution. However, when Beth did debut in 2006 during the Diva era, she stood out like a sore thumb. Phoenix had a look that wasn’t common among the rest of the division of the time.

It wasn’t unbelievable to think that she could wrestle the men based on her physical appearance, strength, and technical ability as a wrestler. Beth would become a 3 time Women’s Champion and 1 time Divas Champion but would choose to retire in 2012 due to her frustrations with the booking of the division even though she fought for change. Beth would return in 2017 to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, join the commentary team, and occasionally wrestle. Regardless, Beth Phoenix was a sign of what the future would bring.

20. Bayley
WWE

Bayley dreamed of being a WWE Superstar since she was a child. Although many of the model women in the company for the previous decade didn’t look like her or might not have had the same passion for wrestling as her, she still pursued her dream. Fortunately with the inception of NXT and slow build towards a revolution in women’s wrestling, not only did Bayley fit in but she became one of the most popular women in sports entertainment. Bayley made her first appearances on NXT playing a super fan.

The Hugger was born when she would fangirl over her favorites and give them hugs. Bayley didn’t win a lot but the colorful underdog never gave up. Bayley became the perfect role model for little girls around the world. Especially the misunderstood ones that loved WWE. Although she has scrapped the positive role model gimmick, she continues to be one of WWE’s biggest stars. Bayley would become the first-ever women’s Grand Slam and Triple Crown Champion among many other major accolades.

19. Awesome Kong
WWE

In an era of pretty barbie doll-shaped models in women’s wrestling, there was Awesome Kong. She was different in size, presentation, and power. Kong had a career that spanned nearly 20 years where she wrestled all over the world and for various different promotions. Initially perfecting her craft in Japan, Kong would dominate the North American scene. Most notably wrestling for companies such as Shimmer, ROH, and TNA.

Kong would also have brief stints in WWE and AEW before retiring in 2021. Regardless, she was a threat to everyone in every company she was part of. Kong also has a long list of accolades in wrestling. This includes being ranked the number one female wrestler in 2008 by PWI and entering the men’s Royal Rumble. Lastly, she became a main character with her acting role on the Netflix series “Glow.”Awesome Kong was a phenomenon.

18. Sherri Martel
WWE

Sensational Sherri may be remembered as being a manager to some of the biggest legends in sports entertainment but many people didn’t know she started off as an in-ring performer. In fact, Sherri Martel was a 3-time AWA Women’s Champion before debuting for the WWE. In the WWE, she became the Women’s Champion in 1987. Sherri Martel would go on to manage the likes of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, and the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels once WWE phased out their women’s division.

In WCW, she would manage Ric Flair and Harlem Here. Sherri would change her presentation to match whoever she was managing at the time. In many ways aligning with Sherri helped elevate and complete the package for many superstars during transition periods of their careers. Sherri was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, as her influence inside and outside of the ring couldn’t be denied.

17. Mae Young
WWE

Most of us remember the perverted old lady Mae Young that infamously gave birth to a hand in the Attitude Era. In reality, Mae Young was a pioneer of women’s wrestling by that time. Young broke into the business in the 1940s and even wrestled through World War II. After the war, Mildred Burke and herself were the first women’s wrestlers to perform in a post-war Japan. They were also the pioneers of opening up women’s wrestling in Canada.

Young would first retire sometime in the 1970s but eventually became an on-screen regular on WWE television along with her friend the Fabulous Moolah. They first appeared in 1999 and would make sporadic appearances until her last appearance in 2013. The matches and segments were always fun and comedic. Young even took an unforgettable table bump from the Dudley Boyz off the Raw stage. Mae Young’s legacy was honored when the WWE introduced a new all-women’s tournament named after her called “The Mae Young Classic.”

16. Jacqueline
WWE

Jacquline was a mainstay on the wrestling scene since debuting in 1988. Jacqueline would make her mark in the USWA becoming a fourteen-time Women’s Champion in the promotion. In 1993, Jacqueline would be the first woman to be featured in PWI’s annual top 500. Following her run in the USWA, she would appear in WCW, WWE, and TNA. In WCW, Jacqueline would manage Kevin Sullivan and Harlem Heat during her time there. Although it was rare at the time to see women tangle with the men, it wasn’t with Jacquline.

Jacquline would make her WWE debut to oppose the popular Sable. This rivalry would lead to the WWE reviving the Women’s Championship which Jacquline would win. This would make her the first-ever African American Women’s Champion. Jacqueline would also win the Cruiserweight Championship which was predominantly held by the men in 2004. In 2016, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

15. Gail Kim
Daniel Moore Studios / IMPACT Wrestling

Gail Kim was a dynamic wrestler from Canada who instantly caught everyone’s attention. Kim began her career on the Canadian independent scene before being signed to the WWE in 2002. Gail would win the vacated WWE Women’s Championship in her debut match for the company. Kim would have two stints working with the WWE. Although she stood out for both her looks and in-ring skills, she was never able to break through the glass ceiling in that company. Gail would find major success in TNA.

TNA is where she would become the inaugural Knockouts Champion and went to have a highly praised rivalry with Awesome Kong. Kim would become a 7-time Knockouts Champion and the first woman inducted in the TNA Hall of Fame among all of her other accolades. Gail Kim is proof that you could succeed outside of the WWE and was a key piece to the revolution that was happening for women’s wrestling outside of the federation.

14. Molly Holly
WWE

Holly started her career on the independent circuit in 1998 but her first big break was with WCW. Since they didn’t really have a women’s division, she served as a valet to “Macho Man ” Randy Savage as “Miss Madness” at first. Behind the scenes, Molly and Madusa would be training women’s wrestlers at the WCW Powerplant too. Holly was let go from WCW but was soon picked up by the WWE after an endorsement from Randy Savage.

During that run, we would see her be portrayed as Hardcore and Crash Holly’s younger cousin, Mighty Molly alongside the Hurricane, and even a self-righteous prude who thought she was above the other “divas” on the roster. For Wrestlemania XX, when the women’s title match was almost taken off the card, she suggested a hair vs title match in which she got her head shaved to secure their spot. Holly was more than a pretty face and she always delivered in the ring.

Whether the Hall of Famer produces, trains, or does anything else, you know she’s passionate about this business.

13. Natalya
WWE

It’s not all about what Natalya Neidhart does on-screen but it’s also how important she is behind the scenes. Natalya is the first-ever female third-generation superstar being the daughter of Jim “The Anvil ” Neidhart and part of the legendary Hart Family as the granddaughter to Stu Hart. The Queen of Harts would start her career on the independents in 2003, working for Stampede Wrestling and traveling to wrestle in places like England and Japan. Nattie was signed to the WWE in 2007 where she would become a mainstay for the company till this day being part of the pre and post-women’s revolution eras for the division.

She would spend time both managing and wrestling. Natalya would become a multiple-time champion, a regular cast member of the reality television series Total Divas, and become a locker room leader for the women in the back. More recently we have seen Natalya and her husband TJ Wilson helping talent out in the ring at their new Dungeon.

One day we’ll learn just how important Natalya’s influence and mentorship meant for many women. This is why I find Natalya to be an unsung hero of women’s wrestling.

12. Mickie James
WWE

Mickie James began her career in 2002 as a valet but soon after began to train as a professional wrestler. James quickly made her presence felt in TNA joining the stable called “The Gathering.” She would make her debut in WWE as a Trish Stratus super-fan who turned into an obsessive stalker. It’s one of the most memorable storylines in wrestling. James would go on to win the Women’s Championship five times and the Divas Championship once. Mickie would return to TNA in 2010 where she would win the Knockouts Championship three times really leaving her mark in that company.

She would return to WWE in the midst of the women’s revolution as that established name that younger girls could work with. “Hardcore Country” would return to TNA again in 2021 where she would capture the Knockouts Championship for the fourth time. She would even make appearances for NWA. Mickie was even able to enter the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble as the Knockouts Champion, breaking down the forbidden door.

James has wrestled women from the past, the present and she continues to work with the future which is why she made it this high on the list.

11. The Bella Twins
WWE

The Bella Twins deserve more respect put on their name. They really earned it. The Bella Twins were introduced to the WWE in 2007 and were automatically labeled as models. The Bellas would both win the Divas Championship one time each during their first run before they would leave the company for a year, only to return to really elevate their brand. They were cast for the reality television series Total Divas upon their return. They soon became fan-favorites on the show which would lead to them getting their own spin-off series called “Total Bellas.” Although they were usually together, they would have their own major achievements too.

Brie Bella would wrestle Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam in a storyline that involved her real-life husband Daniel Bryan. Nikki would win the Divas Championship again and became the longest-reigning Divas Champion. They became regulars for red carpets and outside appearances for the company. The way they took their success from the WWE and continued to grow their brands outside the company is really admirable.

The Bellas started their own businesses, appeared on other popular reality shows, and found ways to stay in the public eye even after retiring.

10. AJ Lee
WWE

AJ Lee wasn’t here for a long time but she really accomplished a lot in her short time. Lee was a lifelong wrestling fan and it was a dream for her to be in the WWE. Lee began wrestling in 2007 and was signed to the WWE by 2009. In 2012 she made her debut on television and she sky-rocketed from there. In a time when the “divas” weren’t getting a lot of time or appreciation, AJ Lee stood out. Lee played a mentally unstable character and was involved in the male storylines with on-air relationships with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, and Dolph Ziggler.

At one point AJ Lee even became the Raw General Manager. Being involved in these storylines made her more popular with the fanbase. Therefore, when she started focusing more on becoming the Divas Champion, it got more fans focusing on the division. AJ Lee would win the championship 3 times and even held it for 400 plus days at one point. I truly believe AJ’s popularity put eyes back on the women’s division.

AJ Lee always spoke up for the division and continues to help with women’s wrestling being involved with WOW.

9. Becky Lynch
WWE

The Irish Lasskicker began wrestling in 2002 and then suffered an injury in 2006 that made her give up on her dream for six years. Becky Lynch would return in 2012 and be signed by the WWE in 2013. Lynch had a ton of experience under her belt from wrestling in Canada, Europe and America before taking the time off. Our first exposure to Lynch on NXT was her river dancing and playing off her Irish heritage. Although she got more serious when pairing up with Banks and found more confidence when she became the steampunk version of herself, something still felt off.

Becky became the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion and the fans adored her but there was still something missing. Becky just didn’t have that chip on her shoulder like the other Horsewomen until she did. The rise of “The Man” in 2018 changed everything and she became one of the biggest names in sports entertainment. “Big Time Becks’ ‘ is now a six-time Women’s Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, and was victorious in the first-ever women’s Wrestlemania main event.

Lynch’s star continues to grow and the sky is the limit for her success now.

8. Mildred Burke
Pro Wrestling Illustrated / WWE

When people think of pioneers of women’s wrestling, they usually think of The Fabulous Moolah. However, before Moolah there was Mildred Burke. Burke began wrestling in the mid-1930s until the mid-1950s. She started out wrestling at carnivals in 1935. Mildred would hold a handful of women’s championships but most notably the NWA Women’s Championship for nearly 20 years. In the 1930s, Burke wrestled over 200 men while only losing to one of them.

In a dispute with her former manager, trainer, and ex-husband Billy Wolfe, a lot of controversies surrounded Burke and the importance of women’s wrestling to the National Wrestling Alliance. This led to Burke starting her own women’s wrestling promotion and she also introduced women’s wrestling to different countries around the world, most notably Canada, Mexico, and Japan.

To this very day, Burke’s influence and footprint are felt in wrestling as she was truly one of the earliest pioneers of women’s wrestling.

7. Alundra Blayze/Madusa
WWE

During the dark years of women’s wrestling, Alundra Blayze was fighting to make a difference. Madusa began her career in the AWA in 1986 and was the first woman to be awarded the “Rookie of the Year ” by PWI. She would be the first foreign woman to sign a contract to All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling. In 1991, Madusa would join WCW to be a valet for the Dangerous Alliance. In 1993, she would debut in the WWE under the new name of Alundra Blayze. When WWE decided to try to revive their women’s division in the mid-90s, Alundra was at the forefront. During this time she became a three-time Women’s Champion.

When she was released from WWE, she infamously returned to WCW television by throwing the WWE Women’s Championship in the trash. Madusa would be blacklisted from the WWE and stay in WCW till the company went out of business. Along with Molly Holly, she would train wrestlers at the WCW Powerplant too. Feeling that women’s wrestling went in a raunchier direction, Madusa retired from professional wrestling.

In 2015, the WWE finally invited Madusa to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, finally appreciating her contributions to wrestling.

6. Trish Stratus
WWE

Trish Stratus went from sex symbol to arguably one of the greatest of all time. Stratus was a Canadian fitness model who transitioned into wrestling as she grew up a fan. In the beginning, she was portrayed as eye candy and involved in overly sexualized storylines such as having an affair with the Mr. McMahon character. Slowly though, Stratus would improve her in-ring skills and she became more focused on pursuing the Women’s Championship. In her pursuit, Stratus would become a fan favorite.

Stratus would win the Women’s Championship a record-setting seven times and was even a former Hardcore Champion. The Canadian Bombshell would be the PWI Woman of the Year four times. Stratus was also the PWI Woman of the Decade for 2000-2009. There is no denying her popularity as she has appeared on magazine covers, television shows, and movies. In 2011, she came out of retirement for a couple of matches before she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2018, she returned for the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble.

Stratus would wrestle Charlotte Flair in her hometown at SummerSlam which is her last match as of right now.

5. Lita
WWE

Lita started her career by training and working in Mexico in 1997. In early 1999 she would appear in ECW and would be signed to the WWE by the end of the year. The fiery redhead instantly stood out when she made her first appearance on WWE alongside Essa Rios. Lita’s popularity skyrocketed when she was paired up with the Hardy Boyz forming “Team Xtreme.” This led to her changing her attire, introducing the famous thong and baggy pants look to fit in with the Hardys.

She would go on to become a four-time Women’s Champion and the PWI Woman of the Year in 2001. The first three Raw main events featured women and the first-ever women’s cage match featured Lita. The fiery diva would also be involved in a ton of male storylines throughout the years. The period she was paired with the “Rated R Superstar” Edge was infamous. Although she retired in 2007, Lita returned a handful of times since then.

As recent as this year she challenged Becky Lynch for Raw Women’s Championship. Many of today’s women’s wrestlers credit Lita for inspiring them since she was more relatable, exciting, and unpredictable.

4. Sasha Banks
WWE

Sasha Banks began training at 18 years old and worked on the independent circuit before signing to the WWE in 2012. It was her childhood dream. During her time on NXT, she became the Women’s Champion and put on an all-time classic with Bayley in Brooklyn. The two of them would continue to make history in NXT. During her legendary feud with Charlotte Flair in 2016, she had so many first-ever moments for women’s wrestling such as being the main event of a PPV and entering the Hell in a Cell. Banks later became one half of the first-ever Women’s Tag Team Champions with Bayley in 2019.

The Boss has won the Women’s Championship six times in her career. Last year, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair made history when they were the first two black women to main event at Wrestlemania. “The Blueprint” has won awards from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stones, CBS Sports, and PWI. Sasha’s popularity has allowed her to crossover to mainstream media as she’s featured in commercials, walking red carpets, regularly making outside appearances, and has a recurring role on The Mandalorian television series that is part of the Star Wars franchise.

The “Legit Boss’s” star power is undeniable, her passion is unmeasurable and she’s definitely a role model for little girls around the world.

3. Chyna
WWE

Chyna was trained by “Killer” Kowalski in 1995 and was signed to the WWE by 1997. The “Ninth Wonder of the World” made her first WWE appearance when she attacked Marlena from her seat at ringside during a Goldust and Triple H match. Later it was established that she was Triple H’s bodyguard. When The Game aligned himself on-screen with his real-life friend Shawn Michaels, it made Chyna a founding member of DX too. Chyna proved to be a valuable asset to DX as she could overpower and intimidate the men due to size.

During her time with WWE, she broke barriers by being the first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship, to enter the annual Royal Rumble match, to regularly wrestle the men, and to become the number one contender for the WWE Championship. Chyna would also become the Women’s Champion in 2001. In her short stint with the company, Chyna became one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era, appearing on television shows and movies. Chyna also posed for Playboy in the year 2000.

Chyna would leave the WWE in 2001 but made appearances for companies such as NJPW and TNA. There will never be another Chyna.

2. Charlotte Flair
WWE

Charlotte Flair may be one of the most polarizing stars of the modern era but her influence on the future of women’s wrestling can’t be denied. The Queen is a second-generation superstar as she is the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair. She decided to pursue professional wrestling after her younger brother Reid passed away to fulfill his dream of becoming a wrestler. Charlotte has succeeded so much in such a short amount of time that she really has become the bar in women’s wrestling.

Put in a position to break out of her dad’s shadow and work even harder to prove herself to the doubters, The Queen always rises to the occasion. Charlotte is a 15 time Women’s Champion if including her NXT and Divas Championship reigns. She has won the Women’s Tag Team titles with Asuka, been victorious in a Royal Rumble match, and was part of the first-ever women’s main event at Wrestlemania along with Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. Charlotte has had unforgettable feuds with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Asuka, and Bayley.

Flair is now in the position where she’s almost untouchable and standing across the ring from her means something. It is almost as if she was destined to perform.

1. Manami Toyota
Twitter (@vintagepuro)

Manami Toyota is a name I’ve heard about for years. When checking out her work when prepping for this article, I understand why. Toyota was ahead of her time and a trailblazer for women’s wrestling. Making her debut in 1987 at the age of 16, this Joshi professional wrestler is considered one of the greatest of all time. Toyota spent most of her career in All Japan’s Women’s Pro Wrestling.

Whether teaming with Toshiyo Yamada or in singles competition, her talent was being compared to the major male names of the wrestling world. Manami’s feud with Kyoko Inoue produced the WON 1995 “Match of the Year” when they fought to a 60-minute draw in Korakuen Hall. If you’re someone who follows Dave Meltzer’s star rating system, then Manami is the only woman to have competed in fourteen 5 star matches. Manami has won many World Championships. Toyota would take a hiatus after 2007 and make her United States debut for Chikara in 2010. In 2017, she announced her retirement.

If you are a student of the game though or a woman who wants to pursue professional wrestling, study Manami Toyota. 

I hope you all enjoyed this list of influential women in professional wrestling. Let me know if I missed any matches you think should have made this list but didn’t.

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