Character is everything in wrestling.
You can be the best wrestler in the world, but if your character isn’t right, chances are you won’t make it to the big time.
The recent success of wrestlers like Enzo Amore, Sasha Banks, and The New Day bears this theory out as they each have strong and distinctive personalities and characters.
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The following five people are five of the all-time best characters the WWE have ever had.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Who else but Stone Cold could be top of the list?
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If you weren’t familiar with his work in WCW or ECW, you would have been forgiven for thinking that the then-WWF had hired a dud in The Ringmaster, as Austin was originally known in the company.
Paired with the Million Dollar Man, he did nothing of any real note until June of 1996 when he won the King of the Ring and gave the greatest promo of all time – coining the phrase Austin 3:16.
Refining the character over the next couple of years, Stone Cold would wind up representing the ordinary man on the street as he waged war against the corporate structure of the very company he worked for.
A fair few people out there would like to tell their boss where to go, and the Texas Rattlesnake did that for them. Full of fire, passion, and credibility, he’s the best of all time.
Extreme Championship Wrestling was a company famed for being cutting edge, and that applied to its characters also.
The man at the summit of their success in this area was Raven, who would subsequently take the character to both WCW and the WWF. Adopting a look approximating the grunge music scene, and representations of generation X, Raven created a dark character with depth – a far cry from his more lighthearted creations prior to Raven’s ECW debut in 1994.
Referencing classical works of literature in his intelligent promos, creating feuds that felt like they were shoots with the likes of Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman, and running roughshod over the company as the top heel and champion, are what qualify this creation as great.
You were never quite sure what he would do next – he might just crucify you…
Scott Hall has made peace with WWE after years out in the wilderness due to personal issues, and the company seem eager to celebrate his run as Razor Ramon.
Introduced through some brilliant vignettes set within the Cuban population of Miami, The Bad Guy arrived a fully formed character when he debuted in the ring. Affecting an accent like Al Pacino’s in Scarface, wearing Mr T’s gold chains, and with a string of catchphrases ready set up, Razor was a palpable hit as he headed straight into main event feuds, first with Randy Savage/Curt Hennig, then later Bret Hart.
Making the transition to a face didn’t Razor’s edge (pun intended), as he continued to be one of the coolest characters to ever grace a WWF/E ring.
Nobody in the current product has the same kind of swagger and untouchable nature that El Jefe had.
The greatest thing about Kurt Angle’s characters was that he was always playing himself – Kurt Angle, Olympic Gold Medalist.
The beauty of it was the unexpected versatility that he brought to the table: one year he was the dorky, miniature cowboy hat wearing sidekick – the next, he was an ultra-serious, legit fighting machine. 180 degree turns from each other, yes, but believably so.
The best run he had was in his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin during the WCW invasion angle, when he would imitate Stone Cold’s beer drinking celebrations with cartons of milk. Priceless.
After leaving WWE, Angle’s run in TNA added several notable wrinkles to his character, such as adding his then-wife Karen to the mix, leading the Main Event Mafia faction, and becoming Commissioner of Impact!
Now in semi-retirement, it would be nice to see Angle back for one last match at WrestleMania next year. If they can keep Rusev hot until then, a fitting end for Angle would be to go out as the All American hero his heel character always claimed to be.
Of course, there have been many more entertaining and excellent characters throughout wrestling history, but the five above are in a league of their own.
‘The Loose Cannon’ Brian Pillman
Though he had previously been reasonably generic either as a face or heel, when Brian Pillman unleashed his Loose Cannon character, it was a massive shot in the arm to the industry.
Growing his hair out long, staring with wild eyes, ranting like a lunatic, and seemingly doing whatever he felt like, Pillman blurred the line between his character and his real personality.
Several prominent people in the industry genuinely believed he had lost his mind thanks to incidents in WCW such as referring to Kevin Sullivan as ‘booker man’ in their submission match, grabbing an unsuspecting Booby Heenan causing him to curse live on air, or turning up in ECW saying that he had been fired from WCW (he hadn’t).
A car accident took him out of action just as his star was going supernova, but that didn’t stop the WWF from securing his signature to one of their contracts, such was the buzz that he had created as The Loose Cannon. It’s about time Pillman was in the Hall of Fame.
Who would YOU add to the list? Leave YOUR picks in the comment section below!