WWE has been a platform for some truly huge names, with many going on to exceptional things outside of the ring.
From Hulk Hogan to Dwayne Johnson, many of the performers who have taken centre-stage in WWE have done incredible things to increase the public’s awareness of the sport, be it through their unique fighting styles, their charisma or their controversial nature.
To celebrate the achievements of these wrestlers, GiveMeSport have compiled a tier list of 24 WWE legends, ranking them from elite to overrated.
If our opinion doesn't match yours, please don't be offended, it's all up for debate and it's solely our own opinion.
So without further ado, here goes.
Elite: The Rock, Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair
Very occasionally, an athlete will transcend their sport and become a global icon in their own right. When you take into account his post-wrestling career, it’s easy to argue that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson falls into this category for WWE.
Before his meteoric rise to mainstream stardom, the ‘People’s Champion’ won eight WWE championships and headlined several WrestleManias, quickly becoming a cult hero as a result of his larger than life personality and his charisma.
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin performed at the same time as ‘The Rock’ and was another icon of WWE’s Attitude Era, becoming incredibly popular for his defiant personality and his blue-collar warrior image.
Austin fractured his neck in the ring in 1997 when he was dropped on his head in a fight with Owen Hart, but recovered and was even able to handle a long-term feud with WWE chairman Vince McMahon. After winning six WWE Championships, a record three Royal Rumbles, and headlining three WrestleManias with Johnson, Austin retired a legend in 2003.
Sixty-six-year-old Hulk Hogan is one of the earlier superstars to appear on this list, rising to prominence in the 1980s. Hogan has been given credit for his role in helping wrestling entertainment grow from having regional fanbases to a global audience, furthered by having his own animated series and starring in films and television shows.
‘The Real American’ also took home six championships and gained a legion of celebrity fans, including Andy Warhol, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Crystal.
Much like ‘Stone Cold’, Ric Flair had to overcome a serious injury setback to become a legend. Flair went pro in 1972, but was involved in a plane crash three years later, breaking his back in three places. Despite doctors telling him that he would never perform again, Flair is recognised by WWE as a 16-time World Champion, largely thanks to his ability to adapt after his setback to play to his strengths and become ‘the dirtiest player in the game’.
Icon: Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Edge, John Cena, Randy Orton
Shawn Michaels performed in WWE across three decades and won every major title. His career wasn’t without controversy, however, with Michaels unceremoniously ending his partnership with Marty Jannetty by smashing his head through a window, showing him to be a popular but flawed figure amongst fans.
Michaels took a four-year break from WWE due to a back injury, but returned and fought in high-profile encounters right up until 2010.
The Undertaker is a captivating figure in WWE, and the 55-year-old’s success - including a string of WWE and World Heavyweight titles - has ensured that ‘The Deadman’ will go down in history.
The Undertaker holds an unbelievable 24-2 record at The Show of Shows, which included a phenomenal 21-0 streak. The Undertaker has received some criticism for his matches lacking excitement, while he certainly lacked some of the showmanship that propelled the careers of some of our elite names.
Edge took an unusual route into WWE; he won an essay contest offered by a Toronto gym at the age of 18 for which he was rewarded free wrestling training. It’s fair to say that he capitalised on this, especially as part of the ‘E&C’ tag team with Christian, a fellow Canadian wrestler. Edge’s ‘Master Manipulator’ talents and his willingness to rattle his opponents with mind games put him a step above Christian in the eyes of supporters, making him a WWE icon.
John Cena defeated many of the names on this list on his way to his 16 World Championships, including Dwayne Johnson and Randy Orton, making it easy to see why his ‘Cenation’ of fans has grown so large.
Although his mainstream reputation doesn’t quite equal that of ‘The Rock’, Cena has also developed a career outside of the ring including acting, releasing an album and making over 600 Make-a-Wish visits, making him one of the best-known names in WWE history.
Randy Orton was subject to great expectations at the start of his career, as his father, uncle and grandfather were all fearsome wrestlers. His dad, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton, knocked out Paul Orndorff at the first ever WrestleMania in 1985.
It’s fair to say that Randy lived up to those expectations, as he became the youngest-ever World Heavyweight Champion at the age of 24. His RKO is one of the most famous signature moves in wrestling, justifying his place as an icon in GiveMeSport’s list.
Hero: Kurt Angle, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Kane, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, CM Punk
Kurt Angle went one better than many wrestlers, winning an Olympic gold medal for freestyle wrestling in 1996, making our ‘hero’ list for his troubles.
His WWE career started four years later and he went on to win four WWE Championships. Perhaps Kurt could have won more in another era, but fighting alongside the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Steve Austin and The Undertaker at the turn of the century, his chances of success were limited.
Triple H took on the nickname ‘King of Kings’ during his career in the ring, justified by his 14 World Championships and amplified by his showmanship qualities, leading to feuds with Vince McMahon, Steve Austin and Dwayne Johnson.
Some fans have said that he rose to prominence by marrying into the McMahon family and that he used his chief operating officer role to advance his own image rather than promoting young talent, which does have to be taken into account when considering his overall reputation.
After making arguably the most spectacular debut in WWE history in 1999 against ‘The Rock’, Chris Jericho went on to have an excellent career, as signified by becoming the first ever Undisputed Champion. Jericho took several hiatuses from WWE, including to tour with his metal band, which meant he didn’t threaten the icons too much in our list.
Next on our list is nightmare material Kane, who is perhaps best known for his imposing physique and for wearing a mask in the ring, which he was forced to remove during a Championship match on Raw to reveal his face to the world.
Such storylines are a key part of the WWE viewing experience, which is primarily why Kane makes it onto our list as a hero. For good measure, Kane also experienced some success, including a World Heavyweight Championship win.
If storylines are a vital part of WWE, then Eddie Guerrero is deserving of his spot in GiveMeSport’s list. ‘Latino Heat’ Guerrero took home five different types of WWE title, but will always be remembered for his charisma, mind games and deceitful tactics.
Sadly, Guerrero’s career was cut short when he died at the age of 38.
Rey Mysterio has proved that size isn’t the only important factor in WWE, with the five-foot-six masked wrestler winning the Royal Rumble in 2006. He later became the smallest ever wrestler to win the Heavyweight World Championship at WrestleMania 22, which was the highlight of a totally unique career.
CM Punk made his name as an anti-establishment wrestler, armed with a multitude of fighting styles. Punk claimed several championships before his career took a turn in 2011, when he openly criticised WWE and its chairman Vince McMahon, as well as breaking several other rules after defeating John Cena.
Above all else, this was gripping viewing and cemented Punk’s place in WWE folklore.
OK: Batista, The Big Show , Brock Lesnar, JBL, Jeff Hardy
Six-time World Heavyweight Champion Batista holds the honour for the longest reign for that title at 282 days. His career started to spiral in 2014 when he abandoned his partners at Evolution and quit WWE.
He made his return to the ring last year and attacked Ric Flair on the legend’s 70th birthday as a ploy to encourage Triple H to fight him at WrestleMania 35. ‘The Animal’ ended his controversial WWE career with a loss to Triple H after that incident.
The Big Show made a big impression on his WCW debut in 1995, defeating Hulk Hogan to claim the WCW World Championship. The Big Show is still making part-time appearances in WWE so could yet find himself rising up the rankings, but will have to settle with an ‘OK’ place in the GiveMeSport rankings for now.
Like a few other names on this list, Brock Lesnar has found success outside of WWE - including winning a UFC heavyweight title - which has only enhanced his reputation amongst fans.
In 2002, he beat The Rock to become the then youngest ever WWE Champion in history. At WrestleMania 30, he returned to the ring, spectacularly defeating The Undertaker on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
He’s certainly one of the most intimidating fighters to grace the sport, giving him a strong reputation amongst the GiveMeSport team.
JBL claimed to be a ‘Wrestling God’ after reinventing himself as a suited-and-booted self-styled millionaire in 2004, showing that he wasn’t short on showmanship. He held the WWE Championship for 280 days after defeating Eddie Guerrero, overcoming the likes of The Undertaker in that time.
His role as a commentator and financial analyst for the sport before his 2017 retirement ensured he remained a well-known figure within the sport.
It was Jeff Hardy’s resilience that got him noticed by WWE officials, encouraging them to give him and his brother Matt their debuts in 1998.
With guidance from Michael Hayes, the duo achieved the Tag Team World Championship before defeating Edge and Christian in a career-threatening encounter.
In his solo career, Jeff Hardy stood out from the rest with his individuality, gaining the nickname ‘The Charismatic Enigma.’
Jeff still appears on SmackDown after a shocking return to the ring after losing to CM Punk in 2009, showing that his career has not been short of drama.
Overrated: Christian, Goldberg, Booker T
Christian’s WWE career peaked in 2011, when the Canadian wrestler won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules by defeating Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match. Despite this success, it says a lot about his career that he lost the title only two days later to ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton.
Christian did enjoy some tag team success with his partner Edge in the Attitude Era, but his underwhelming Heavyweight Championship defence makes him difficult to take too seriously in his own right.
Bill Goldberg has been criticised by fans for his lack of charisma and mic skills, which undermines the career of the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.
The ex-WCW World Heavyweight Champion kept fans waiting for an appearance after WWE bought WCW out in 2001, only making his debut in 2003. A year later, Goldberg left the sport after WrestleMania XX and, despite an impressive comeback in 2016, it’s hard to consider him one of WWE’s all-time greats.
Booker T had an impressive career in WCW, winning 11 Tag Team Championships and being the last-ever WCW World Heavyweight Champion before the WCW promotion folded in 2001.
He was unable to replicate his success in WWE, even preventing ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin from winning the Undisputed WWE Championship as part of The Alliance.
Unfortunately for Booker T, he joins Christian and Goldberg in our list of overrated WWE legends.News Now - Sport News