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  1. KB8

    Genichiro Tenryu

    Tenryu was my number 2 in 2016 and I'd expect him to land there again in 2026. There's almost no chance he drops out the top 3 no matter what, and I guess there's always the chance he finishes at the very top. I feel like I've written stupid amounts of words about Tenryu on this board and elsewhere already, and at this point there's not really a whole lot to say about him that hasn't been said by SOMEONE. His longevity is amazing and he's the gold standard for cantankerous old bastards in pro wrestling. He's one of those wrestlers that I'll watch no matter the setting, the opponent, the type of match, and almost always find something to like about his performance. On the surface he doesn't feel like a versatility candidate, because Tenryu is pretty much always Tenryu in the same way Hansen is pretty much always Hansen, but he takes that show on the road in lots of different ways once he becomes fully-formed as a performer. He has the classic precursor to King's Road, he has the lumpy potato-throwing crowbar-fests in WAR, he was perfect at doing inter-promotional wrestling, he was a master of the big spectacle, he did wild barbed wire and tables garbage brawls in an Onita fed - he basically took the Tenryu Show everywhere in Japan from 1989 to 1999 and did it in singles, tags and multi-man matches, ruling in every single environment. As he got older (or EVEN MORE OLDER) in the 00s he leaned further into the grumpiness and brought a sense of hostility to every contest. You could put him in there with a Kawada, a Kobashi, a Kaz Hayashi or a Kazushi Miyamoto and his unquenchable thirst for punching you in the throat would inevitably bubble to the surface. There was nobody better at the random outburst of violence, where he'd either come into the ring unprompted and kick someone in the eye or throw a water bottle at their face from across the ring. He had good matches with every motherfucker in Japan and great ones with a lot of them. If I could only watch one wrestler for the rest of my life, I would pick Tenryu, so, you know, that probably counts for something. And I'm not even close to being on the same side of the fence as folk saying he doesn't have a litany of great matches. I would obviously caveat this by saying my idea of a great match is probably different from most peoples', but I could rattle off 40 that I'd call great without hesitation, a number of them being all-time top 100 level, and there are still a decent handful of his most highly pimped matches that I'm yet to see. He was the man. GENICHIRO TENRYU YOU SHOULD WATCH (or check the Complete & Accurate): v Riki Choshu (JPW, 2/21/85) w/Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Killer Khan (All Japan, 8/2/85) w/Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 1/28/86) v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 3/27/88) w/Toshiaki Kawada v Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 12/16/88) v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 6/5/89) w/Stan Hansen v Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura (All Japan, 11/29/89) w/Stan Hansen v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 12/6/89) v Hulk Hogan (SWS, 12/12/91) w/Masao Orihara v Koki Kitahara & Great Kabuki (WAR, 7/14/92) v Ric Flair (WAR, 9/15/92) w/Koki Kitahara v Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura (WAR, 10/23/92) w/Takashi Ishikawa, Ashura Hara, Koki Kitahara & Ricky Fuyuki v Riki Choshu, Tatsumi Fujinami, Hiroshi Hase, Osamu Kido & Takayuki Iizuka (New Japan, 2/16/93) w/Takashi Ishikawa v Shinya Hashimoto & Michiyoshi Ohara (New Japan, 6/14/93) v Shinya Hashimoto (New Japan, 8/8/93) w/Ashura Hara v Atsushi Onita & Tarzan Goto (WAR, 3/2/94) v Nobuhiko Takada (UWFi, 9/11/96) w/Nobutaka Araya v Kazuo Yamazaki & Takayuki Iizuka (WAR, 11/9/96) v Shinya Hashimoto (New Japan, 8/1/98) w/Hiroshi Ono, Ichiro Yaguchi & Shoji Nakamaki v Atsushi Onita, Mitsunobu Kikuzawa, Sambo Asako & Shigeo Okumura (No Rope Barbed Wire Street Fight Tornado Double Hell Match) (Onita Pro, 6/27/99) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 10/28/00) w/Nobutaka Araya v Taiyo Kea & Kiyoshi Miyamoto (All Japan, 4/27/02) v Katsuyori Shibata (New Japan, 11/13/04) w/Jun Akiyama v Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue (NOAH, 9/18/05) v Tiger Mask (Real Japan, 3/18/10)
  2. KB8

    Negro Casas

    Casas was my number 3 in 2016, but he's my current frontrunner for number 1 next time. He has the incredible longevity. He has the incredible peak, where at his best he was as good as anybody I've ever seen. He has the incredible matches. He has the incredible performances. He can brawl, work the mat, carry a match with his otherworldly presence and charisma. I don't need him to be amazing or the best guy in *every* match he's in -- I've seen him be amazing and the best guy in *enough* matches he's in to be okay putting him number 1. He's in my MOTD for two separate decades, twenty years apart, with one of them being my #1 match of all time, and in a third decade his best match would be around my top 5. The more random 90s CMLL TV that pops up on YouTube his case is only bolstered to me. To Soup's point about him slipping into the background a bit in 2001, well, I can't really argue that because I haven't gone through that stuff and don't know how I would even go about it, but if you asked me to watch every bit of footage from a wrestler who happens to be on a down year then I wouldn't have a problem with doing that with Casas. A phenomenal pro wrestler and right now I'd call him the GOAT. NEGRO CASAS YOU SHOULD WATCH: w/Blue Panther v El Hijo del Santo & Eddie Guerrero (Juarez, 1987) v El Hijo del Santo (Los Angeles, 7/18/87) w/Blue Panther & Fuerza Guerrera v El Hijo del Santo, Yoshinari Asai & Gran Hamada (WWA, 1990) v El Hijo del Santo (WWA, 5/17/91) w/Dr Wagner Jr. & Rambo v Silver King, Gran Hamada & El Texano (UWA, 2/29/92) v El Dandy (CMLL, 7/3/92) w/El Felino & Bestia Salvaje v Ultimo Dragon, Ciclon Ramirez & Oro (CMLL, 3/12/93) v Ultimo Dragon (CMLL, 3/26/93) w/Sangre Chicana & Mocho Cota v Ringo Mendoza, Silver King & Ultimo Dragon (CMLL, 3/4/94) w/El Dandy & Hector Garza v El Hijo del Santo, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL, 11/29/96) v El Hijo del Santo (CMLL, 9/19/97) w/Mr. Niebla & Atlantis v El Hijo del Santo, Blue Panther & Black Warrior (CMLL, 4/24/98) w/El Hijo del Santo v Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL, 3/19/99) w/El Hijo del Santo v Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL, 11/2/01) v Blue Panther (CMLL, 4/24/11) v Blue Panther (CMLL, 3/2/12) w/Stuka Jr. & Valiente v Virus, Fuego & Vangellys (CMLL, 6/14/13) w/Terrible & Shocker v Rush, Maximo & Rey Escorpion (CMLL, 6/28/13) w/Blue Panther & Atlantis v Negro Navarro, Black Terry & Solar (CMLL, 8/16/13) v Rush (CMLL, 11/22/13) v Titan (CMLL, 1/3/14) w/Barbaro Cavernario & Dragon Lee v Virus, Hechicero & Cachorro (CMLL, 5/23/14) v Dragon Lee (CMLL, 5/22/15) w/Kamaitachi & Gran Guerrero v Dragon Lee, Stuka Jr. & Volador Jr. (CMLL, 2/19/16) v Aramis (Lucha Memes, 3/11/18)
  3. KB8

    Jerry "The King" Lawler

    Lawler was my number 4 in 2016 and he'll be around the top 5 again in 2026. "A minimalist's dream," the history books would write. I get where people are coming from when they say they want more STUFF, and I honestly don't say that be snide or sarcastic or whatever. He IS a minimalist and some people prefer the maximalist. He's maybe the best puncher ever (I say maybe because I've watched a bunch of Sangre Chicana lately) and I'm completely fine with that being his primary offensive move, but I know some people would prefer a bit more wrestling. I actually think he's a perfectly fine mat wrestler and it's not like he didn't do actual wrestling moves, but...it is what it is. I love what he does and how he does it and he has a boatload of fucking awesome matches doing it (I could easily have rattled off 50 down below), so that'll get you pretty high on my list. One of the all-time great babyfaces with some of the most immaculate timing you could want, a sneak under-the-radar great - and sometimes huge - bumper, stuuuupid longevity, etc. He's great in singles and great in tags, in the cage, in a barbed wire ring, pulling horse shit or working straight. I actually do, however, buy into the point about him maybe lacking that real proper streak of savage bastardry as a heel. I'm not saying it's a huge thing to me, because I could count on one hand the amount of wrestlers I want to see working as shifty conniving heel more than Lawler, but his peers like Funk and Hansen have those performances where they're rabid insane animals you'd buy trying to stab someone or strangle them with a bull rope. When their backs are against the wall, Bockwinkel, Rose and Flair all have that real vicious streak. With Lawler, I don't really remember seeing it very often (the hair match vs Dundee from '77 is a good example, though). Still, his run as a babyface is so good that it more or less offsets it, to the point where I'm not entirely sure I'll have any Americans above him (only one I had over him last time was Hansen). He might also be The King, if you will, of the match-angle amalgamation. JERRY LAWLER YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Bill Dundee (Memphis, 8/22/77) v Harley Race (Memphis, 12/10/77) v Terry Funk (Memphis, 3/23/81) v Terry Funk (Memphis, 4/6/81) v Dutch Mantell (Memphis, 3/22/82) v Dutch Mantell (Memphis, 3/29/82) v Ric Flair (Memphis, 8/14/82) v Nick Bockwinkel (Memphis, 11/8/82) v Bill Dundee (Memphis, 6/6/83) w/Randy Savage v King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude (Memphis, 9/17/84) v Randy Savage (Memphis, 6/3/85) v Bill Dundee (Memphis, 12/30/85) w/Dutch Mantell v Bill Dundee & Buddy Landel (Memphis, 3/10/86) v Bill Dundee (Memphis, 7/14/86) v Bam Bam Bigelow (Memphis, 9/7/86) w/Bam Bam Bigelow v Austin Idol & Tommy Rich (Memphis, 3/23/87) v Austin Idol (Memphis, 4/27/87) w/Bill Dundee v Original Midnight Express (AWA, 10/30/87) v Curt Hennig (Memphis, 5/9/88) v Tommy Rich (SCW, 10/2/88) v Eric Embry (UWSA, 9/8/89) v The Snowman (USWA, 6/2/90) v Bret Hart (WWF Summerslam, 8/30/93) v Terry Funk (MLW, 8/22/03) v The Miz (WWE Elimination Chamber, 2/20/11)
  4. It feels trite to even say it at this point, as you could say it for almost every single match Rose had in Portland from like 1977-1983, but this was yet another example of maybe the most versatile wrestler ever working a very different match than any he's worked before or after. It's pretty remarkable, and I know it was almost a necessity as he worked the same arena in front of the same crowd every week for nearly six years straight. But still, the creativity is astounding and he was clearly a guy who took immense pride in his craft. This ruled, of course. In a vacuum, taken in context, whatever you like - it was a badass wrestling match. They start real tentatively, or at least Rose does as he really doesn't want to engage in a fight. He backs up, slithers out the ring, slithers in, backs up again, bumps into Sandy Barr who shoves him away, and with every passing second the anticipation builds for him finally being popped in the mouth. Rose takes his first huge bump off a gorilla press slam, which is pretty wild considering the fact he's hardly a cruiserweight, but then Adonis crashes and burns on a missed splash and Buddy goes for the kill. He takes the first fall with a quick string of offence, everything targeted on the midsection, with a big gutbuster, a couple mean double stomps and a roll up. In very Portland fashion that continues into the second fall and I loved Rose staying on the midsection with a fucking stomach claw. That move isn't always the most compelling, but he went after it like he was trying to wring out a dishcloth and Adonis sold it like his spleen was being squished like Plasticine. When Adonis makes his comeback there's a great bit on the floor where Rose tries to run away only to be sunset flipped, and I love Sandy Barr making the count outside the ring just because. He would always do random shit like that and the people always popped huge for it. Adonis taking the return fall with the spinning toe hold bleeds into the third fall and obviously Rose sells the leg like death after hitting the Billy Robinson backbreaker. By the end they both literally try to rip each other's eyeball out and this was some of the nastiest eye-gouging you'll see. Even the DQ finish ruled, with Rose grabbing a pen that someone had chucked at him and stabbing Adonis in the eye with it! I remembered this being awesome and I can happily report I was not wrong.
  5. KB8

    El Satanico

    I had Satanico at number 5 in 2016 and he'll be right around there again in 2026. A word or two has been written about Satanico in this thread already so there's no point in me echoing it, but I want to reiterate just how great Satanico was at portraying the aura of the baddest motherfucker on the planet. I can't think of anybody in history who more believably comes across as a war leader; the sort of commander-in-chief who's out there coordinating beatdowns on the battlefield, who you buy unquestionably as someone whose teammates would follow into hell and back. And he backed it up every time, whether he was brawling or grappling, a rudo or a tecnico. One of the all-time great actors in wrestling. He was my #2 luchador the first time around and I don't see him falling short of that the next time. EL SATANICO YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Sangre Chicana (UWA, 9/24/83) w/MS-1 & Espectro Jr. v Sangre Chicana, Mocho Cota & La Fiera (EMLL, 9/30/83) v Atlantis (EMLL, 1/20/84) v Shiro Koshinaka (EMLL, 7/30/84) w/Espectro Jr. v La Fiera & El Faraon (EMLL, 8/12/84) v Gran Cochisse (EMLL, 9/14/84) v Super Astro (EMLL, 10/26/84) w/Pirata Morgan & MS-1 v El Egipcio, El Faraon & La Fiera (EMLL, 3/29/85) v Sangre Chicana (EMLL, 5/26/89) w/El Dandy v MS-1 & Masakre (EMLL, 8/11/89) w/Salomon Grundy & Super Astro v Jerry Estrada, Pirata Morgan & Emilio Charles Jr. (CMLL, 3/11/90) v Jerry Estrada (CMLL, 3/23/90) w/Sangre Chicana, Fabuloso Blondy v Perro Aguayo, Lizmark & Ringo Mendoza (CMLL, 6/8/90) w/Perro Aguayo & Kung Fu v El Dandy, Atlantis & Ringo Mendoza (CMLL, 10/21/90) v El Dandy (CMLL, 10/26/90) w/MS-1 & Fabuloso Blondy v El Dandy, Sangre Chicana & Ringo Mendoza (CMLL, 11/16/90) v El Dandy (CMLL, 12/14/90) w/Pirata Morgan & MS-1 v Los Brazos (CMLL, 11/22/91) v Pierroth Jr. (CMLL, 92/93?) v Pirata Morgan (AAA, 11/26/93) w/Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero v Tarzan Boy, Antifaz del Norte & Felino (CMLL, 1/21/00) v Tarzan Boy (CMLL, 2/25/00) w/Averno & Mephisto v Ultimo Guerrero, Tarzan Boy, Rey Bucanero & Mascara Magica (CMLL, 9/28/01) v Blue Panther (Caralucha, 7/25/15) v Hechicero (Lucha Memes, 2/5/18)
  6. KB8

    Toshiaki Kawada

    Kawada was my number 6 in 2016. He won't be that high next time, but he's someone I think is very good at the pro wrestling despite me being at the point where I don't really love the sort of style he was great at. He had lots of very good matches! He'll be someone's number 1, or perhaps the number 1 of many someones. There's really nothing else I feel like I need to say about the guy. TOSHIAKI KAWADA MATCHES YOU SHOULD WATCH: w/Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 12/16/88) w/Ricky Fuyuki v Can-Am Express (All Japan, 6/5/89) w/Genichiro Tenryu & Ricky Fuyuki v Giant Baba, Rusher Kimura & Masa Fuchi (All Japan, 9/15/89) v Akira Taue (All Japan, 1/15/91) w/Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi v Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi (All Japan, 4/20/91) w/Mitsuharu Misawa v Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (All Japan, 11/29/91) v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 2/28/93) v Jun Akiyama (All Japan, 7/9/93) w/Akira Taue v Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 12/3/93) v Steve Williams (All Japan, 4/16/94) w/Akira Taue v Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 5/21/94) v Mitsuharu Misawa (All Japan, 6/3/94) w/Akira Taue v Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 6/9/95) v Mitsuharu Misawa (All Japan, 7/24/95) v Gary Albright (All Japan, 10/25/95) w/Akira Taue v Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama (All Japan, 12/6/96) v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 6/12/98) w/Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen & Taiyo Kea (All Japan, 7/23/00) v Kensuke Sasaki (New Japan, 10/9/00) v Genichiro Tenryu (All Japan, 10/28/00) w/Nobutaka Araya v Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi (All Japan, 6/30/01) v Naoya Ogawa (Zero-1, 12/14/03) v Shinya Hashimoto (All Japan, 2/22/04) v Katsuyori Shibata (New Japan, 11/3/04) v Satoshi Kojima (All Japan, 2/16/05)
  7. KB8

    Yoshiaki Fujiwara

    I also had Fujiwara at number 7 in 2016 and he'll be top 10 again in 2026. In terms of wrestlers who worked both shoot style and pro style for semi-lengthy periods of time, he's the best ever. Shit, he might be the best shoot style worker ever and he was amazing at pro style to boot. It's been mentioned, but he's maybe the greatest defensive wrestler ever. Hardly anyone sells the cumulative damage of strikes better, how he'll sell those first shots that are partially blocked while trying to catch and arm or a leg as a counter, how he'll then sell the ones that start getting through his guard, how he'll sell the ones that land flush. I also love that he's a total carny and I'll always appreciate some Fujiwara horse shit. Plus he's like 95 and the last time I saw him he could still go, so he has the longevity and he has the incredible peak. Number 7 might be too low. YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA YOU SHOULD WATCH: w/Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Nobuhiako Takada & Kengo Kimura v Riki Coshu, Yoshiaki Yatsu, Animal Hamaguchi, Isamu Teranishi & Kuniaki Kobayashi (New Japan, 4/19/84) v Super Tiger (UWF, 12/5/84) v Kazuo Yamazaki (UWF, 1/7/85) v Super Tiger (UWF, 1/16/85) v Super Tiger (UWF, 911/85) v Akira Maeda (New Japan, 1/10/86) v Antonio Inoki (New Japan, 2/6/86) W/Akira Maeda, Osamu Kido, Nobuhiko Takada & Kazuo Yamazaki v Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, Umanosuke Ueda & Kantaro Hoshino (New Japan, 3/26/86) w/Nobuhiko Takada, Osamu Kido, Akira Maeda & Kazuo Yamazaki v Seiji Sakaguchi, Tatsumi Fujinami, Keiichi Yamada, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka (New Japan, 5/1/86) v Riki Choshu (New Japan, 6/9/87) w/Masa Saito v Antonio Inoki & Dick Murdoch (New Japan, 12/4/87) w/Tatsumi Fujinami, Keiichi Yamada, Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura v Hiroshi Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Super Strong Machine, Masa Saito & Riki Chosu (New Japan, 9/12/88) v Kazuo Yamazaki (UWF, 7/24/89) v Akira Maeda (UWF, 2/9/90) v Nobuhiko Takada (UWF, 2/27/90) v Nobuhiko Takada (UWF, 10/25/90) v Masakatsu Funaki (PWFG, 7/26/91) v Minoru Suzuki (PWFG, 11/3/91) v Yusuke Fuke (PWFG, 2/24/92) v Hiroshi Hase (New Japan, 5/3/93) v Shinya Hashimoto (New Japan, 6/1/94) w/Tatsumi Fujinami v Nobuhiko Takada & Masahito Kakihara (UWFi, 6/24/96) w/Shinya Hashimoto v Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura (Zero-1, 9/15/01) v Minoru Suzuki (Big Mouth Loud, 3/22/06) v Shinya Aoki (NEW, 4/5/17)
  8. KB8

    Mitsuharu Misawa

    Misawa was my number 8 in 2016, and he'll probably be a bit lower next time but I'm almost certain he'll be my highest of the 90s All Japan crew (unlike in 2016). I really can't be bothered spending a ton of time talking about the Pillars or whatever you want to call them, because it feels like I've been doing that for about 15 years and there are folk here who've been reading about them for even longer. At his best, Misawa was almost untouchable. In the '96 Tag League final, his performance might've been the greatest performance of any wrestler ever, how he portrayed a man who refused to go down while knowing that ultimately it was only a matter of time. He was Spartacus on the battlefield, advancing right until the last. MITSUHARU MISAWA YOU SHOULD WATCH: v La Fiera (All Japan, 8/28/84) w/Jumbo Tsuruta v Genichiro Tenryu & Hiromichi Fuyuki (All Japan, 1/14/90) v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 6/8/90) v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 9/1/90) w/Toshiaki Kawada v Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (All Japan, 9/30/90) w/Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi v Jumbo Tsuruta, Masa Fuchi & Akira Taue (All Japan, 4/20/91) w/Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi v Jumbo Tsuruta, Masa Fuchi & Akira Taue (All Japan, 5/22/92) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 3/27/93) v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 5/21/93) w/Kenta Kobashi v Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (All Japan, 12/3/93) w/Kenta Kobashi v Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (All Japan, 5/21/94) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 6/3/94) v Akira Taue (All Japan, 4/15/95) w/Kenta Kobashi v Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (All Japan, 6/9/95) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 7/24/95) w/Jun Akiyama v Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (All Japan, 12/6/96) v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 1/20/97) w/Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako vs Toshiaki Kawada, Yoshinari Ogawa & Takao Omori (All Japan, 8/23/98) v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 10/31/98) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 1/22/99) w/Yoshinari Ogawa v Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (All Japan, 3/6/99) v Jun Akiyama (NOAH, 2/27/00) v Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH, 9/23/02) w/Kotaro Suzuki v Shinjiro Ohtani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa (NOAH, 3/5/05) v Takeshi Morishima (NOAH, 3/5/06)
  9. KB8

    Shinya Hashimoto

    Hashimoto was my number 9 in 2016 and he'll be top 10 again in 2026 (I actually thought he landed just outside the top 10 but clearly I was fulla shit). In terms of aura, I'm not sure there's anyone who was more compelling to me personally than Hashimoto. The staredowns, the milking of the big moment, the intensity, the grit. Nobody does "gritting teeth and fighting through the pain" better than Hashimoto, which routinely makes his strike exchanges amazing rather than rote (is this the part where the old folks yelling at clouds say nobody knows how to do strike exchanges anymore?). OJ has written has awesome stuff about Hashimoto before, about how he was a samurai, how he had bushido, and I love that because the guy just embodies all that cool shit about being a warrior. He would stand against the tide with nothing more than his honour and his conviction. Is it any fucking wonder the people embraced him? A truly wonderful pro wrestler. SHINYA HASHIMOTO YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Victor Zangiev (New Japan, 4/24/89) v Vader (4/24/89) v Masa Chono (New Japan, 8/11/91) w/Michiyoshi Ohara v Ashura Hara & Hiromichi Fuyuki (WAR, 3/7/93) w/Riki Choshu v Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa (WAR, 4/2/93) w/Michiyoshi Ohara v Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa (New Japan, 6/14/93) v Genichiro Tenryu (WAR, 6/17/93) v Genichiro Tenryu (New Japan, 8/8/93) v Riki Choshu (New Japan, 6/15/94) v Hiroshi Hase (New Japan, 12/13/94) v Kensuke Sasaki (New Japan, 1/4/95) v Steven Regal (New Japan, 4/16/95) w/Junji Hirata v Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (New Japan, 6/12/95) v Nobuhiko Takada (New Japan, 4/29/96) v Riki Choshu (New Japan, 8/2/96) v Tatsumi Fujinami (New Japan, 6/5/98) v Genichiro Tenryu (New Japan, 8/1/98) v Satoshi Kojima (New Japan, 8/2/98) v Kazuo Yamazaki (New Japan, 8/2/98) w/Takayuki Iizuka v Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami (New Japan, 1/4/00) v Naoya Ogawa (New Japan, 4/7/00) w/Yuji Nagata v Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama (Zero-1, 3/2/01) w/Naoya Ogawa v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton (New Japan, 5/2/02) v Masato Tanaka (Zero-1, 11/7/03) v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 2/22/04)
  10. KB8

    Buddy Rose

    I had Buddy at number 10 in 2016 and there's a decent chance he lands there again in 2026. There have been three extensive cases made for Buddy in this thread - or at least three extensions of the same case made brilliantly - so I don't really have anything else to add about him as a candidate that wouldn't just be retreading ground. The point about his true greatness coming through best by watching him week to week is right on the money, but taking that sort of deep dive into a wrestler isn't something everyone will want or even be able to do. The good thing at least is that he has the matches that you can throw on whenever and those makes a pretty fucking decent case for him anyway. One of the most versatile wrestlers ever and one of those "I'll watch them in any setting" folks. Like, I watched a WWF TV match the other week where he was against SD Jones. It was a five minute studio match and he took two absolutely wild bumps, one of them being the best upside down corner bump I've ever seen (where he flew all the way out the ring and landed on the concrete). He had no reason to bump like that for SD Jones in a five minute studio match. In Portland I don't think I've seen a Buddy match that isn't worth watching and it doesn't matter if he was wrestling Roddy Piper or Rick Martel or Cocoa Samoa. The coolest thing is I still haven't seen a decent chunk of his Portland stuff. I guess he has a relatively short run as an all-timer, but to me there's enough there to go on and I think there's a good case for him being the best wrestler in the world during at least three of the years we have footage of. BUDDY ROSE YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Lonnie Mayne (Portland, 10/1/77) w/Ed Wiskowski, Roddy Piper & Killer Brooks v Adrian Adonis, Ron Starr, George Wells & Hector Guerrero (Portland, 4/7/79) v Hector Guerrero (Portland, 4/14/79) v Roddy Piper (Portland, 5/12/79) v Johnny Eagles (Portland, 5/26/79) v Killer Brooks (Portland, 6/2/79) v Adrian Adonis (Portland, 8/31/79) w/The Sheepherders v Sam Oliver Bass, Roddy Piper & Red Bastien (Portland, 10/27/79) v Rick Martel (Portland, 4/26/80) v Rick Martel (Portland, 5/10/80) w/Ed Wiskowski v Rick Martel & Roddy Piper (Portland, 8/2/80) v Jay Youngblood (Portland, 1/3/81) w/Rip Oliver v Roddy Piper & Steven Regal (Portland, 6/20/81) v Bob Backlund (WWF, 8/30/82) v Pedro Morales (WWF, 11/22/82) v Bob Backlund (WWF, 11/25/82) v Chris Adams (Portland, 2/26/83) w/Roddy Piper & Hack Sawyer v Ed Wiskowski, The Assassin & Rip Oliver (Portland, 3/17/84) w/Doug Somers v Leon White & Jesse Hernandez (AWA, 5/1/86) w/Doug Somers & Alexis Smirnoff v Midnight Rockers & Curt Hennig (AWA, 6/28/86) w/Doug Somers v Midnight Rockers (AWA, 8/30/86) v Marty Jannetty (AWA, 10/18/86) w/Doug Somers & Sherri Martel v Midnight Rockers & Despina Montegues (AWA, 11/27/86) w/Doug Somers v Midnight Rockers (AWA, 12/25/86) w/Doug Somers v Midnight Rockers (AWA, 1/17/87)
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    Terry Funk

    Terry was my number 11 in 2016 and, to quote our good friend elliot, I fucking blew it with that one. In fairness, any wrestler I have at number 11 is someone I think ridiculously high of, but in 2016 Terry probably suffered a little from a case of out of sight, out of mind. I've watched and re-watched a decent amount of Funk since the last deadline and he is neither out of sight nor out of mind at this stage in the 2026 project, and right now he feels top 5 with a bullet. People have covered the points about him as an all-time level babyface and an all-time level heel, and of course I agree with those people. Versatility out the wazoo - great in singles, tags, basically every style of match he was ever involved in and he was involved in plenty, from long, technical title matches for the NWA title to propfest brawls where he gets powerbombed into a literal dumpster. Wrestled everywhere and seemingly everyWHEN. Probably my favourite maniac in the history of wrestling and if he wrestled his whole career in Puerto Rico he would've been my number 1 (assuming he never had to leave for his own safety, anyway). I honestly get why some folk wouldn't dig the jelly-leg bit, but I love it and thought he walked that cartoonish line perfectly. Plus his shtick is unmatched and nobody could go from stooging to wreaking havoc more seamlessly than Funk. I suppose the counterpoint to him as a number 1 contender is a relative lack of seven star superclassic matches. Or just, like, "great matches" or whatever terminology we're using. It's kind of hard for me to actually articulate this, but I completely understand that point and it's one I probably would've agreed with once. Like, I think Terry has lots of great matches, but they're not necessarily the sort of matches I could see other people thinking are great. They don't feel "conventionally great" or whatever. That's not me trying to sound galaxy brain or smarter than your average fan, because in reality I'm pretty much a dipshit and I have awful taste in everything and nobody should listen to me anyway, but, for example, I could see someone thinking something like Terry/Hansen (pick one) doesn't qualify for classic status because it's only about 13 minutes long and doesn't really have a finishing stretch and ends in a riot. In comparison, Flair has tonnes of matches that have all the hallmarks of what would typically qualify as a great match. I'm not even explaining this very well but basically I understand why people would think Terry doesn't have as many great matches as, say, Flair. Especially not guys like Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, even Jumbo or Tenryu or Hansen or a Daniel Bryan. Same goes for any of the modern New Japan folks. I've seen the argument that he doesn't have as many great matches as Samoa Joe, and even if I disagree I get where that argument is rooted and think it's perfectly valid. It's just that I have a very different idea of what a great match is now than I did 15 years ago and in keeping with that idea Terry Funk has lots of matches I'd happily call great. He has a fucking bazillion performances I'd call great, even in random throwaway house show matches against Lanny Poffo or Rick McGraw or fucking Sal Bellomo. He's pretty much the ultimate "input" candidate, but I'm one of those folk who thinks he does exceptionally well on the output end of things as well. So yeah. A pretty good wrestler. TERRY FUNK YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 6/11/76) v Harley Race (Houston, 7/1/77) w/Dory Funk v Billy Robinson & Horst Hoffman (All Japan, 12/6/77) w/Dory Funk v Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 12/15/78) v Mark Lewin (Houston, 4/27/79) w/Dory Funk v Abdullah the Butcher & The Sheik (All Japan, 7/15/79) v Jerry Lawler (Memphis, 3/23/81) v Jerry Lawler (Memphis, 4/25/81) w/Dory Funk v Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka (All Japan, 12/13/81) v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 9/11/82) v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 4/14/83) v Bob Orton Jr. (Southwest, 5/26/83) w/Dory Funk v Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 8/31/83) v Barry Windham (Puerto Rico, 9/19/86) v Rick Martel (Puerto Rico, 9/20/86) v Ric Flair (NWA Great American Bash, 7/23/89) v Ric Flair (NWA Clash of the Champions IX, 11/15/89) v Atsushi Onita (FMW, 5/5/93) v Sabu (WWN, 2/28/94) w/Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck & Col. Parker v Nasty Boys, Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes (WCW Fall Brawl, 9/18/94) w/Mike Awesome v Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (FMW, 9/24/96) v Tommy Rich (ECW Crossing the Line Again, 2/1/97) v Sabu (ECW Born to be Wired, 8/9/97) v Mick Foley (WWF RAW, 5/4/98) w/Tommy Dreamer & Beaulah McGillicutty v Edge, Mick Foley & Lita (WWE/ECW One Night Stand, 6/11/06)
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    El Dandy

    I had yer man Roberto GutiƩrrez El Dandy at number 12, and he'll be there or thereabouts again in 2026. Dandy is one of my three favourite Mexican wrestlers ever and probably the one most responsible for shaping what I like in lucha when I was first properly getting into it. I started with AAA because of the Eddie and Rey Mysterio links. I'd already seen plenty of Psicosis and Juventud. I knew who El Hijo del Santo was. So it made sense to start there, and while it was a fine gateway there were still things I kind of struggled with. Then I started checking out more CMLL and oh boy THAT was the lucha libre I wanted to watch. Dandy was the guy I gravitated to more than anyone else and from that point on I haven't looked back. I think part of what makes him such a good intro guy is that he has a bit of everything. He has the singles matches, whether it's title matches that showcase the best of lucha matwork, or the apuestas that showcase the greatness of filthy blood-drenched lucha brawling. Those matches came against a wide variety of people -- Javier Cruz, Pirata Morgan, Emilio Charles Jr., Angel Azteca, Satanico, Negro Casas, Bestia Salvaje, Javier Llanes, Black Warrior, El Hijo del Santo (the triangle match was effectively a Dandy/Santo singles match), Negro Navarro, LA Park. He's been involved in some of the best trios matches in lucha history, from the brawling spectacles to the more mat-based, graceful exchange-driven trios. He even has the 2 v 2 tags. He's an incredible mat wrestler, a wonderful flier and a great brawler. He has stupid versatility, basically. I guess the significant knock on him (or significant relative to the other top 10/15/20 contenders) is that he maybe doesn't have the longevity. That probably becomes more striking when you put him next to his peers from Mexico; guys like Casas, Satanico, Santo, Panther. Dandy doesn't have that consistency over four different decades like a Casas or Satanico (not to say those guys were great that ENTIRE time). In that sense he's more of a peak candidate, but that peak is fucking tremendous and at this point I think he has better longevity than he sometimes gets credit for anyway. '89-'91 he was at the very peak of his powers and in 1990 he was the best wrestler in the world. In 1992 he has the Casas program and the July title match is the best match of all time so maybe you extend that peak to then as well. He has great stuff in '94 with the Javier Llanes feud and then in '96, going through the yearbook I thought he was a best in the world candidate that year, right there with guys like Casas, Santo, Hashimoto, etc. Every other week more weekly CMLL TV pops up and there's Dandy, not looking as washed as we maybe thought. He then has the Negro Navarro feud in 2001 and it produces one of the best title matches of the decade. Footage seems to dry up a bit after that and I honestly haven't seen that much of him the last 10-15 years. To me that holds him back more than anything to do with his peak being short, because some of his peers were (and still are) doing great stuff during that period. Maybe he's been killing it on untaped indie shows or whatever, but if there's hardly any footage of it then it's hard to judge him, so it is what it is. Either way I think there's more than enough great Dandy for a top 15 case. At his very best there weren't many better. Never doubt him. EL DANDY YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Javier Cruz (EMLL, 10/26/84) v Pirata Morgan (EMLL, 9/23/88) w/El Texano v Atlantis & Angel Azteca (EMLL, 3/31/89) v Emilio Charles Jr. (EMLL, 7/28/89) w/El Satanico v MS-1 & Masakre (EMLL, 8/11/89) v Angel Azteca (CMLL, 3/23/90) w/El Satanico & Emilio Charles Jr. v Angel Azteca, Javier Cruz & Atlantis (CMLL, 5/11/90) v Angel Azteca (CMLL, 6/1/90) v El Satanico (CMLL, 10/26/90) v El Satanico (CMLL, 12/14/90) w/Apolo Dantes & Black Magic v Blue Panther, Javier Cruz & Pierroth Jr. (CMLL, 8/16/91) v Negro Casas (CMLL, 7/3/92) v Bestia Salvaje (CMLL, 9/3/92) w/Atlantis & Pierroth Jr. v La Fiera, Emilio Charles Jr. & El Satanico (CMLL, 11/13/92) w/Atlantis & Ringo Mendoza v Javier Llanes, Mano Negra & Black Magic (CMLL, 2/15/94) v Javier Llanes (CMLL, 2/22/94) w/El Hijo del Santo, Lizmark & Atlantis v Negro Casas, Blue Panther, Dr Wagner Jr. & Felino (CMLL, 3/15/96) w/Lizmark & Silver King v Negro Casas, El Satanico & Felino (CMLL, 6/28/96) v Black Warrior (CMLL, 11/2/96) w/Negro Casas & Hector Garza v El Hijo del Santo, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL, 11/22/96) w/Negro Casas & Hector Garza v El Hijo del Santo, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL, 11/29/96) v Negro Casas v El Hijo Del Santo (CMLL, 12/6/96) w/Ultimo Dragon, Atlantis, Negro Casas, Shocker, Mascara Magica, La Fiera & Brazo de Oro v El Hijo del Santo, Felino, Black Warrior, Silver King, Dr. Wagner Jr., Satanico, Kevin Quinn & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL, 4/18/97) v Negro Navarro (IWRG, 11/18/01) v LA Park (Enesma, 10/15/04)
  13. KB8

    Kiyoshi Tamura

    I had Tamura at in 2016, but he'll most likely be be top in 2026. Since the last poll I've gone back and watched most of the UWF/UWFi stuff, so that along with the RINGS stuff and there's no way he finishes outside my top 10. His peak is truly phenomenal and he'll naturally get the bonus points with me personally because your high end RINGS might be my favourite type of wrestling ever. I know some people are iffy on the idea of tag matches in shoot style, but UWFi is what it is and it gives us a chance to see him work tags, and of course he was good in them. We have his full career arc on tape. He was fun as a scrappy underdog getting his ass beat in his second or third match ever. He was great punching above his weight a year into his career, clearly working with a chip on his shoulder. He was great as this ridiculous athlete who was starting to come into his own and gain momentum by picking up wins. He was great as a man at the absolute peak of his powers against his peers. He was great as promotional ace running the gauntlet against all comers. He was a great mat worker and a great striker. His explosiveness was often stunning. He was a wonderful pro wrestler. And I still haven't seen the bout with Yamamoto from 6/99 (but I'll add it to the list anyway because everyone and their granny has said it's awesome). KIYOSHI TAMURA YOU SHOULD WATCH: v Yoji Anjoh (UWF, 9/30/89) v Masahito Kakihara (UWFi, 5/10/91) v Yoji Anjoh (UWFi, 7/3/91) w/Yuko Miyato v Yoji Anjoh & Mark Fleming (UWFi, 3/17/92) v Yoji Anjoh (UWFi, 8/28/92) v Kazuo Yamazaki (UWFi, 10/23/92) v Nobuhiko Takada (UWFi, 2/14/93) v Naoki Sano (UWFi, 5/6/93) v Vader (UWFi, 6/10/94) v Kazushi Sakuraba (UWFi, 5/27/96) v Volk Han (RINGS, 9/25/96) v Volk Han (RINGS, 1/22/97) v Nikolai Zouev (RINGS, 6/21/97) v Bitsadze Tariel (RINGS, 7/22/97) v Volk Han (RINGS, 9/26/97) v Mikhail Ilioukhine (RINGS, 1/21/98) v Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (RINGS, 6/27/98) v Yoshihisa Yamamoto (RINGS, 9/21/98) v Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (RINGS, 1/23/99) v Yoshihisa Yamamoto (RINGS, 6/24/99) v Wataru Sakata (U-STYLE, 2/15/03) v Dokonjonosuke Mishima (U-STYLE, 4/6/03) v Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (U-STYLE, 2/4/04) v Hiroyuki Ito (U-STYLE, 8/18/04) Josh Barnett (U-STYLE, 11/23/05)
  14. KB8

    Triple H

    What I will say about Helmsley is that he had very good corner shoulder blocks. If he'd decided to be a Shoulder Block Guy rather than a High Knee Guy he may have had an outside shot at the bottom 5. But he didn't and I'm sure he'll cry himself to sleep about that every night.
  15. KB8

    Nick Bockwinkel

    Bockwinkel was my number 14 in 2016. As with a good few of the people just outside my top 10, 14 feels too low, because Bock was incredible and I wouldn't argue with anyone voting him as outright #1. It's just that the wrestlers ahead of him are incredible too and there's only so much space to go around. It's sort of insane that the majority of Bockwinkel footage we have is of him in his 40s. He was still amazing even in his 50s and there's more than enough footage there for a #1 case to be made (Matt D already did it, after all). He very well could've reached his peak as a wrestler late, not unlike Tenryu, and what we have of Bock is the Bock you need to see. But there's all that stuff of him in his ATHLETIC prime (assuming, you know, his physiology works the same as every other athlete or person ever) that hasn't seen the light of day, if it even exists on tape at all. I'm interested in how he even MOVED in his 20s and 30s. What did Nick Bockwinkel matwork look like when he was 32? Because It looked fucking sensational when he was 52. Anyways, the merits of Bock as a top candidate have been outlined already, so I'll just rattle off the matches. NICK BOCKWINKEL YOU SHOULD WATCH: w/Blackjack Lanza v Terry & Dory Funk (All Japan, 12/5/78) v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 12/13/78) v Verne Gagne (AWA, 2/10/79) v Jumbo Tsuruta (Hawaii, 2/14/79) w/Jim Brunzell v Terry & Dory Funk (All Japan, 12/9/80) v Billy Robinson (All Japan, 12/11/80) v Jim Brunzell (AWA, 7/16/81) v Ricky Morton (AWA, 7/2/82) v Jerry Lawler (Memphis, 10/25/82) v Jerry Lawler (Memphis, 11/8/82) v Chavo Guerrero (Houston, 2/25/83) v Terry Funk (All Japan, 7/12/83) v Wahoo McDaniel (AWA, 8/28/83) v Rick Martel (AWA, 8/16/84) v Rick Martel (AWA, 9/20/84) v Rick Martel (AWA, 3/28/85) v Larry Zbyszko (AWA, 2/23/86) w/Brad Rheingans & Steve Pardee v Buddy Rose, Doug Somers & Col. DeBeers (AWA, 5/31/86) v Curt Hennig (AWA, 11/15/86) v Curt Hennig (AWA Superclash II, 5/2/87)