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Most influential?

I was having a conversation with friend about who the most influential wrestler of all time is. He chose Hogan based on the big boom that followed, but I said Stone Cold Steve Austin. Because of Stone Cold we longer have the "White Bread" babyface and almost all the big babyface angles involve rebelling against authority. Not to mention the "Main Event" style that still exist today. Thoughts?

​Hogan drew millions but I wouldn't call him particularly influential.  His whole act was cribbed from a combination of Jerry Lawler and Superstar Billy Graham.  Given those two choices, Austin is the clear winner.  ​

Comments

  1. Bret or Shawn probably. A whole generation of workers looked at them and realized they could do that too.


    It'll be that way in 25-30 years from now too. A ton of young fans will want to become wrestlers because they're big John Cena fans but 9/10 won't be anywhere near his size but they'll see Daniel Bryan and realize they can do what he does.

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  2. Just to throw out a contrary opinion, how about 'Superfly' Jimmy Snuka?

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  3. I would say they're in the conversation, yes.

    Basically, look at it this way: how many Indy dudes crib Shawn's act lock, stock and barrel?

    How many times have countless promotions tried to turn a guy into Stone Cold John Doe?

    How many Indy guys try to be Hulk Hogan? How many promotions try to turn a guy into Hulk Hogan?

    There you go.

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  4. Look at the indie style that rose up in the early 2000s that influences WWE today, that was because of guys like Shawn not Austin.

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  5. I'd agree with that.

    I guess maybe the answer varies depending on what kind of influential you're talking about, but I don't see any way Hogan sits at the top.

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  6. Hogan spawned thousands if not more of kids who wanted to be wrestlers. But as kids got older and realized they weren't going to be 6'6 320 pound jacked dudes they had to look at guys like Steamboat, Bret, Shawn etc to study what they did.


    So who do you give the credit to? Hogan, who created all these wrestling fans? Or the really great workers who provided the path?

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  7. abraham lincoln.

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  8. Spartacus. And he would have conquered the Romans too, but Crixus was too damn selfish and that's why Sparty should have kicked his leg out of his leg.

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  9. Shawn influenced pedophiles and male strippers. Bret influenced kids who wanted to become wrestlers.

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  10. Cain won the first recorded contest. Not that Kane.

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  11. First recorded death is nothing compared to Kane setting a cameraman on fire.

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  12. Gorgeous George pretty much changed the industry.


    Wonder what happened to her after she split with Macho Man.

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  13. Outside of wrestling it's Ric Flair. A whole generation of rappers stole his gimmick and every football team demands he speak to them before a game. The Panthers even got mad at him when he talked to the 49ers instead of them before a playoff game. WOOOOOOOOO

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  14. Cain The Undertaker.

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  15. Bret could have influenced a whole generation of wrestlers, but I hear anytime a Bret fan came to one of the training camps that they always showed up with tears in their eyes and the trainer ended up having to kick them out.

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  16. What about Jesus coming back from the dead to draw the biggest house in Jerusalem?

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  17. He stole that from Lazarus.

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  18. This is very true. In fact when I saw Run the Jewels last year, Killer Mike specified that he only recognizes one world champ, and that's Ric Flair.

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  19. And Lazarus couldn't draw a rainbow with a handful of crayons.

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  20. So you CAN'T become the man by beating the man?

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  21. If I'm not mistaken, the decision was reversed and Cain was disqualified.

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  22. Have you seen his video to "Ric Flair"? Very well done.

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  23. Killer Mike will not recognize the title change. Flair still holds the Killer Mike version of the title.

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  24. He was too far ahead of his time.


    And JCW Arena folded well over a millennium ago. That upstart Muslim promotion runs the show there now.

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  25. they brought him back WAY too soon imo. three days??? come on, build anticipation!

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  26. One of my favorite things in wrestling fandom is Bret fans and Shawn fans still tweaking each other.

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  27. I think you have a point here.

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  28. He totally agented Lazarus's deal

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  29. Jimmy Saville inspired a whole generation of pedophiles.

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  30. In the 70s a young man added cocaine to a Nick Bockwinkel gimmick and greatness was born.

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  31. That was as bad as when Punk won the title.

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  32. I don't think that Mick Foley was THAT important to wrestling.

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  33. I thought about it, but decided to just leave it at that. He's a high-flyer, crazy look, influenced Foley yada-yada. Use your imagination.

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  34. Not most influential ever but in terms of reshaping the roster and the kind of guy who can be highly successful in modern-day WWE, Punk should be high on the list someday. Bryan, Rollins, Ambrose, Cesaro, Finn, Sami, Owens...like with anything "influential" maybe it would've gone that way anyway, especially with what NXT became, but Punk kicked in that door for the indie guys years before the rest of them showed up.

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  35. ...Shawn forfeitted TWO titles with tears in his eyes, yet you're picking on Bret??!

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  36. I've thought there was money in a feud between Bryan backed by Shawn, and Tyson backed by Bret.

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  37. You mean after Macho Man split her?

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  38. HartKiller is my favourite guy here because he pops up only for these battles.

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  39. Rock is definitely up there as he was the first modern era cool guy heel.

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  40. Terry Funk created the off-kilter heel. Jerry Lawler invented the Superman comeback. Verne Gagne trained the most legends. There are lots of ways to look at the question.

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  41. When you say 'influential', do they mean to the fans or to future wrestlers?

    For the fans, It would probably be Hogan, Austin, Flair, the Rock... the biggest names to the casual fans.

    For wrestlers? There things become more interesting. Besides Austin, some other names:
    Superstar Billy Graham (Scott Steiner became a main eventer stealing his entire persona), Mick Foley, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler

    Exit question- 10 years from now, who will have been considered more influential- Daniel Bryan or CM Punk?

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  42. Punk. He came along first, and he was indisputably cooler.

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  43. Hall and Nash?

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  44. Not even close. There have been a ton of cool heels in the modern era before him.

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  45. Razor Ramon was pretty much a PG version of the Rock.

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  46. Billy Graham definitely gets a mention, he inspired Hogan, Ventura, and Steiner. Not bad.

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  47. Gorgeous George has to be in the conversation. The first guy to accentuate showmanship and pageantry over 'tough sportsman.'

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  48. Punk.

    I can't stand the guy, but think about who's easier to imitate and try to follow in the footsteps of:

    A guy who just wants to wrestle the best he can for personal satisfaction in spite of people constantly telling him he's not good/big/etc. enough to be successful...

    Or...

    Loudmouthed prick?

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  49. IIRC it was actually a mixed gender loser leaves town tag team tornado match


    adam and eve vs. god and jake roberts


    say what you will about match quality but it pretty much invented modern day storytelling

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  50. And they have nearly the same theme song.

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  51. I didn't know God had teamed with anybody other than Shawn.

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  52. Billy Graham easily. No one else touches the guy.

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  53. Hulk Hogan was a cool guy before him. I can't think of Rock as influential, because he had a unique style that no one came close (or really even tried) to duplicate.

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  54. "I can't stand the guy"


    Just when I was starting to like you, Stan.

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  55. John Cena is by far the most influential of this era. For better or worse, he completely changed this era of wrestling like no one has come even close to doing. All faces try to duplicate him (Sheamus being #1 example). People who don't like Cena's ways get mad and leave (CM Punk). That is a huge amount of impact.

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  56. I think most influential is a different question than most popular. From that perspective, you have to look at Billy Graham, Dusty Rhodes, and some of the early "Character" type wrestlers, since that's something used by all wrestlers today.


    In-ring, I know a lot of people might argue for Macho Man--there's also the influence that the Japanese and Mexican styles have had on the faster pace of modern wrestling--I don't know enough to point to particular wrestlers for bringing that over though.


    As far as the badass quasi-villain people would cheer for, Razor Ramon did that well before Stone Cold or the Rock, but I don't knwo if he was the first.

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  57. IMO, it's Gorgeous George and lots of other guys a very distant second. To use a horrid phrase, before him, it was presented as a sport. After him, entertainment. He was huge during his time, and completely changed the way the business was presented. No other wrestler ever altered things to such a degree.

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  58. I think Punk had the longer run in the WWE, and a much longer run at the top. He's been much less hampered by injury, and I think had more of an opportunity to establish a character that will leave a lasting impression.

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  59. Cena had zero to do with why Punk left.

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  60. He wasn't the main reason. I didn't mean to imply it. But CM Punk hated the style of Cena and the company being centered around him.

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  61. This. George influenced every blonde-haired pretty boy that followed, face & heel.

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  62. Foley inspired a Legion of copycats on the indie scene. Billy Graham has had his gimmick copied a dozen times, too. Austin is a big one, naturally. Goldberg is the measuring stick for all Big Powerful Monsters since.

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  63. I don't think it had anything to do with it.

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  64. Impact isn't the same as influence though. And if the faces acting like him part is about smiling and waving, I think that might be the influence of Vince's tastes.

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  65. CM Punk complained endlessly about not being in the main event of WM. Who was almost always in the main event instead? CM Punk didn't hate Cena as a person. But he was losing his passion for the sport. and his passion was a completely different type of wrestling than Cena's. I have no question Cena played a part.

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  66. I think Warrior has inspired more would be wrestlers than Goldberg.

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  67. Vince McMahon

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  68. The one he legit complained about was WrestleMania 30 and Cena was in like the No. 6 match on the card.

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  69. TJ: Backlund-Patterson seems to have been a pretty fantastic feud. Just watched a 28 minute draw from MSG. Certainly more fun than most on TV today. I wouldn't have minded Pat winning the title back then either, if only for a few weeks.

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  70. Billy Graham influenced Ventura, Hogan, Steiner, and a few others I'm probably forgetting. He's up there.

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  71. I think you are right, although he's really a combination of Gogeous George and Buddy Rodgers. So, I think the arguement really comes down to George or Rodgers.

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  72. Wouldn't it be safe to say that's Vince's taste, because Cena made him hundreds of millions doing just that?

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  73. People don't give Backlund enough credit. He had done hot feuds

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  74. It's funny that Eric Bischoff was doing the evil boss thing before Vince, so really Eric influenced Vince!

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  75. I loved their cage match on the WWF steel cage tape from the 80s.

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  76. In his famous pipebomb, he complained about WM 28. And he has since complained in interviews about the Miz (instead of him) being in 27. Also he complained about 29 not being a 3 way.

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  77. The decades-later Backlund backlash is a bizarre thing.

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  78. Yeah, some crowds went absolutely nuts for him! He was champ a little long though. Surely a few others could've held it, at least briefly? I know, different times, but still.

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  79. Maybe so, but none of that implies that Cena was a factor in Punk leaving the company.

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  80. Not to mention Bob Dylan and Muhammed Ali count Gorgeous George as an influence. That's two of the biggest names in pop culture in the 20th century

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  81. Those two were made to feud with each other.

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  82. Cena was the guy who always in the main event (with the exception of 30) instead. It's pretty easy to put 2 and 2 together here.

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  83. Surprised nobody has mentioned 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rodgers. His promos were ahead of their time, though he borrowed his look from George. He's got to be top 5 at least.

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  84. Yeah. Back then he seemed pretty legit, so to speak.

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  85. They really didn't have anybody. Maybe Greg Valentine could have gotten a legit reign. I'm finding it hard to think of anyone else. I don't see Don Morroco or George Steele as world champ.

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  86. You are probably right. And as much as I like Muraco, I agree there too.

    Muraco-Orton, the tag team.. I wish they had done more with them.

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  87. Do that many guys copy his schtick? Tons of guys use the Spear because of Goldberg, and the "New guy murders jobbers for months to set up an undefeated streak" is also there.

    Granted, muscular guys getting pushed right away is nothing new, but Goldberg is the biggest example in recent memory.

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  88. Buddy Rogers, Dr. Jerry Graham (who helped "Superstar" Billy Graham break into the business), Eddie Graham, "Classy" Freddy Blassie, and many others from that early 50's era all adopted the bleach-blonde look around the same time as Gorgeous George. It's hard to pin down 100% if he inspired all of them, but most stuff you read about that era generally credits George with popularizing the look in wrestling.

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  89. But wasn't Vince doing that in USWA like in 1993?

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  90. Also: Rikidozan & El Santo.

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  91. That's possible but I don't think anything is safe to say about the mind of Vince McMahon.

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  92. Heck, he influenced every wrestler who used personality to sell tickets. Which is to say, almost all of them.

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  93. Chris Benoit outdid him though.

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  94. Oh that's right!

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  95. We're talking high-flying moves, right?

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  96. Great team. Both guys were Piper's lackeys at different points, it would have been great had they all been together at the same time, like an early Shield. Or the Freebirds.

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  97. Completely perfect contrasting styles and characters. Patterson has said he couldn't wait to go to NY and wrestle Backlund because their style was so boring.

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  98. It's hard to guess how influential someone from that era is- it's just so long ago, and unfamiliar to most fans.

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  99. Right, I was suprised people were throwing out names from the 50s-60s, so I thought I would too.

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  101. MaffewOfBotchamaniaJune 30, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    Onita.

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  102. Hogan is influential in that Vince has been trying to find the next Hogan ever since.

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  103. 29 was a huge complaint of his, not being paid as a main eventer, even though he was against Undertaker. And who was in the main event....?
    Rock vs Cena II.

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  104. I think the implication is that Warrior influenced Goldberg to begin with.

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  105. Yeah, they pretty much defined their nations' wrestling scenes, even more so than any one Westerner defined theirs. Japan and Mexico were more or less defined entirely by one person each, while the American style has many fathers.

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  106. Most of the Backlund backlash came from Meltzer

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  107. Most influential: Dixie Carter

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  108. Punk definitely got shafted on pay compared to the other guys on the card, but I don't think we can pin that one on Cena.

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  109. Yeah but he's a crybaby bitch and complains about EVERYTHING

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  110. There's absolutely nothing cool about Punk

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  111. I'd say the Hardys and the E&C deserve a lot of credit for the indies, especially all the goofy promos PWG cuts seems straight out of Edge and Christian's playbook.

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  112. I thought Bockwinkel was more arrogant intellectual than crazed playboy.

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  113. I think Punk is going to get a lot of credit. The hybrid style, "my gimmick is no gimmick" stuff.

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  114. But every guy after the Rock has to be "funny" to be a main-event star.

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  115. Still mad he left before he got crippled?


    He's definitely smarter than Bryan.

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  116. Punk, because I'd like to think potential wrestlers will eventually realize that killing yourself for 15 people shows is stupid.


    Punk's way more iconic than Bryan is, sorry. Everybody will say Bryan's their favorite wrestler, but more people will be copying Punk's aesthetic.

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  117. He's also the first wrestler to influence the outside world.


    No George, no Ali.

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  118. Yeah, he said Cena was the biggest face and he was the biggest heel.


    There was some competition when they were both faces, but that involved other shit.

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  119. Goldberg wasn't a coke head psychopath though.


    He had a "superstar boxer" thing to him, a real athlete kick that Warrior definitely didn't have.

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  120. Beat me to the punch. It was Gorgeous George that really introduced much of the showmanship and flamboyance into wrestling, which is essentially what wrestling became, subsequently. I don't think anybody else even comes close to the kind of influence he had.

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  121. Agreeing with Hbkslush in Gorgeous George was the most influential person in wrestling.

    - He changed the look of a heel from a dirty, grimy character to a prissy one (this was huge, given this was right after WWII and the definition of a "man" wasn't bobby pins and a hair net)
    - He sold out the LA Coliseum like 30+ times
    - He had a valet (and was married in the ring!) Plus he used "Pomp and Circumstance" as his entrance music, so Macho, there ya go!

    And probably the biggest one - he helped to establish the then-unknown medium of television. Appliance places would have TVs with George's picture pasted on them, and they would sell (in comparison, sporting events like football and baseball showed players from far away angles that made them look smaller).

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  122. And the Ultimate Warrior was ultimately derived from The Road Warriors, as was Sting and every other face-painted manic type face.

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  123. And Liberace! He complained that Gorgeous George was imitating him.

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  124. I think Jericho deserves to be on the list.


    He kind of perfected the "goofy heel who can work" that's clogged up the indies, or at least their mid-cards. I don't think Chikara would exist without Jericho, for example (whether that's a good thing or not...)


    And well...there was a time in which I'd say Benoit was the most influential. A lot of short, snarling indie dudes using way too many brainbusters and powerbombs were in the main-event copying Benoit's shit down to a tee.


    Another name for the list in terms of inspiring people instead of outright imitation is Eddie. A lot of wrestlers have called him their favorites, and I think he deserves some credit because a lot of female wrestlers have credited him as their favorite talent (in NXT alone, I think Sasha, Jessie and Bayley have called him one of their favorites). And more than a little bit of Punk's stuff was in tribute to Mr. Guerrero. Nobody has tried to copy his gimmick directly (other than Chavo) but that doesn't mean he doesn't matter.


    Honestly, the entire undercard of WCW deserves massive credit for shaping what independent and lower card wrestling in the United States is like currently.

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  125. There's a reason he was champ for 5.5 years, and it wasn't because "there was no one else".

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  126. I think Benoit and Eddie were influenced by Dynamite Kid.

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  127. Guys like Macho and Piper always had legit face heat. Luger's up there as well.

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  128. Who exactly did Austin influence?

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  129. In "modern" times, I'd have to say Shawn Michaels. He may not have been as big as Hogan, Austin, etc., but there weren't a lot pretty-boy high-flyers before him. He's the guy that thousands of indy wrestlers patterned themselves after.

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  130. "Stone Cold" Randy Orton and "Stone Cold" Dean Ambrose come to mind.

    That's more on Vince, though.

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  131. It's Superstar Billy Graham who changed the entire conception of what a wrestler looks like, talks like, and wrestles like. No one's even close for American wrestling.

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  132. I don't think that Punk was even worried about headlining WM multiple times, he just wanted to headline one.

    And really, whether you like him or not, found him entertaining or not, it's pretty much impossible to deny his popularity at the time of WM29. He should have headlined in one form another, whether it was against Rock, Rock and Cena in a three-way, or Taker in a title match.

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  133. An entire genre. He was raising hell and doing Attitude long before DX.

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  134. An entire genre! He was raising hell and doing Attitude long before DX.

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  135. Wow that's very apt, Although who was the first super physique bodybuilder type guy? Graham or someone before?

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  137. Benoit was absolutely influenced by Dynamite Kid. That is a known fact.

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  138. There was some Greek guy (John Tolos or something) who is credited as the first guy to sell tickets using his physique. This was back in the 1950s or '60s. Obviously not a roid monster given the time period, but I think he could be credited with starting the trend in Charles Atlas types in wrestling.

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  139. Hogan certainly was derivative but it's not like Austin's act was some radical paradigm shift that had never been seen before. Dick the bruiser and The Crusher in particular built their careers off the back of the "blue collar guy who loves to drink beer and fight" trope.

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  140. That's right.


    He basically invented the junior heavyweight stuff along with Tiger Mask.


    It's weird that wrestling is 'new' enough that some of its biggest innovators and most influential guys are in their fifties.

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  141. I think a lot of it is Meltzer parroting. He wasn't a fan, to say the least

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  142. Gorgeous George. No George = no gimmicks. Not saying somebody else wouldn't have come along and done one, but he was the first.

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  143. Flair is at or near the top. A ton of wrestlers cite Ric Flair as their biggest influence.

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  144. I say Hogan. And again it's the same argument as why Kobe says Jordan is the best. Because he did all the big things first. The main stream media cross overs, the drawing record numbers, all of that.

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  145. I gotta say Billy graham he influenced hogan flair ventura austin idol steiner.and those guys influenced the following generation

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  146. Does anyone have a rant from meltzer I'd like to read it

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  147. Goldberg was influenced by the ufc he wanted to look as legit as possible.he was a fan of warrior though he dressed up as him for halloween

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  148. I wonder is some of the wwe guys are happy he's gone he seems dickish

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  149. Punk his talking is better.

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  150. Verne and the hart dungeon gave alot to pro wrestling

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  151. I would say the horsemen and the nwo Especially hall and nash

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  152. I read that with a 1970s sounding reporter and lmao

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  153. Yea athletes and rappers love flair.snoop dogg put flair over.its weird hearing flair samples in rap but cool.

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  154. Goldberg was a wrestling fan?


    And I have to see that picture.

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  155. The Mr McMahon character proved to be hugely influential in that they've been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since in wwe with one heel authority figure after another.

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  156. I've seen quite a few people mention Superstar Billy Graham, which isn't a bad pick by any stretch of the imagination. Hogan took a lot of his schtick from Graham (and a bit from Ventura). But if you want to talk influential bodybuilder types, you have to look at Jim Londos, who was the top draw of the 30s. Not a big guy, but he had a great build which was a big key in his drawing the crowds. In terms of influences, Graham was kind of a combination of Londos & Gorgeous George (build & personality).

    http://www.hellenism.net/images/famous/londos.jpg

    Nature Boy Buddy Rogers is certainly up there as well. You can draw a pretty straight line from George to Rogers to Flair.

    It's sad that Lou Thesz wouldn't get mentioned much, but that's more a comment on the business than him. He was definitely a gold standard.

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  157. In ten years it'll be interesting to look at. At this point in time people look back at hogan like they view leave it to beaver, some hokey piece of Americana that was campy but incredibly charming for its time.

    Will Austin be viewed that way in a decade or will people still be stunning their friends at graduation?

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  158. In all 3 examples, his complaint had nothing to do with Cena. 27, it was with Miz. 28, it was with part-timer Rock. 29, it was the fact it wasn't him with Cena and Rock. He would've been *against* Cena, not taking his place.

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  159. George (Stephanie Bellars) was married to Doyle Frankenstein, ex-guitarist for The Misfits for over a decade then they got divorced. Not sure what happened to her since then.

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  160. Oh, well then I guess I was wrong.

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  161. Shoot, Austin's not even the first Texan to pull that off - Stan Hansen was a beast.

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