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Who is more historically important?


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Who is more important for pro wrestling history?  

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  1. 1. Who is more important for pro wrestling history?

  2. 2. Who is more important for pro wrestling history?

  3. 3. Who is more important for pro wrestling history?

  4. 4. Who is more important for pro wrestling history?

  5. 5. Who is more important for pro wrestling history?



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Good morning. I usually open this kind of poll on wrestlingclassics, and I compare the historical importance of wrestlers.

 

How much important is  the criteria "historical importance" in judging the career of a wrestler and his hall of fame status? Is it more important than "drawing power"?

First of all I want to ask you what do you think about "fame" and"popularity". For example, probably wrestlers like Batista and Randy Orton are way more popular and more known by people than wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, because they were on top for longer and they were main eventer in more popular periods for pro wrestling. But does that mean that Orton and Batista are more important?

Obiouvsly the comparisons are about who is the most important wrestler, NOT about who is the best wrestler/worker. For example, Johnny Gargano could be a better worker than The Rock, but in no way he is more important.

 

The comparison of my poll are:

Stan Hansen vs John Cena

Kurt Angle vs Goldberg

AJ Styles vs Randy Orton

Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan

Batista vs Edge

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We have Hansen's WWF run vs Bruno and his great gaijin run in Japan but I think this is comfortably John Cena. Top ace of the biggest company in the world for over a decade. Longest top babyface run at the top of the card since Bruno (please feel free to correct me on that). 

Picked Goldberg for the second one for his role in the Monday Night Wars and the Streak really stands out. Angle clearly put in far much more quality but I don't know how much we can ascribe "historical importance" to him. Angle was never the top guy and never the top draw for the company that he was in. 

Had a hard time picking between Orton and Styles. Styles innovated and perfected a certain style of wrestling and took it all over the world refining his act before landing in the WWE. Orton, meanwhile has always been near the top of the card in the WWE but never really the biggest attraction. And as far as significant impact on wrestling history? I mean, this is Orton we're talking about. So little about his career really stands out and he always seems to be overshadowed. Very tough call here.

Went with Daniel Bryan for this next one. Top babyface for a significant period of his career -despite- booking. One of the innovators of the US style that became far more popular internationally. Forced a change of WrestleMania creative by sheer force of his connection with the crowd. Hardy gets points for his Attitude Era tag runs and late 2000s singles run but I'd say Hardy's biggest contributions might be the TLC stuff.

Lastly I went with Edge although this was a very tough call for me. I picked him for his TLC stuff which really helped to define a certain style of match that's going to this day. Batista, while a far bigger draw consistently than Edge ever was, doesn't significantly affect the business in the same way that I perceive Edge helped too with his gimmick match performances. 

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Stan Hansen vs John Cena: Love Stan Hansen and would watch his matches over a Cena match almost every time but I don't think there's even a close comparison when it comes to who is more important historically. Cena is arguably one of the top 5 most famous wrestlers ever and gained a mainstream following that very few have attained and therefore takes this one by some stretch. 

Kurt Angle vs Goldberg: Close one this but Angle just pips it for me. Goldberg came along at a time when the industry was at its hottest and became one of the biggest stars in wrestling but was only around full time for a fairly short window of time. Angle on the other hand maintained a long career and parlayed his successful legitimate career into becoming one of the best pro-wrestlers of his generation. While Angle was never the top guy (although came close in TNA), I would also claim that Goldberg also had others around him that could have been considered the top dog too and since Angle was the better worker, had more longevity and the legitimate background he takes it.

AJ Styles vs Randy Orton: Picked AJ fairly easily on this one. While Orton has had the more mainstream career for me personally he's always been a guy who's just been around rather being than the driving force or renowned worker Styles is. AJ took a while to get to the top of the table but has always been consistently considered a great worker and as the evening begins to draw in on his career I think he'll go down as an all-time great in-ring talent. 

Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan: Jeff Hardy scrapes this one for me. Bryan is easily the better worker of the two (in fact I've never particularly cared for Jeff's in-ring work) but in terms of longevity, iconic moments and just being constantly over it probably ends up being a pretty one sided argument when it comes to historical importance in Jeff's favour. He inspired a whole generation of high fliers and arguably if it hadn't been for issues outside of the ring could and should have emerged as one of the WWE's biggest stars in the early 2000's. There's a lot of flack that goes alongside him but I don't think the impact his career had, certainly early on, should be dismissed.

Batista vs Edge: Batista all day on this one and again someone who's in ring work I don't particularly enjoy but can't dismiss. Edge had an incredibly noteworthy career and probably has dozens of matches in his library that can be considered vastly superior to Batista's but if there's one thing you cannot ignore when it comes to historical importance and that's mainstream recognition. Batista has parlayed his wrestling career into becoming a genuine Hollywood star and arguably the biggest star to emerge from wrestling other than The Rock so based on this alone it's an easy win for him. 

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Jeff Hardy vs Daniel Bryan is very tough for me. Hardy has that style (both in appearance and in in-ring work) that is just too influential to just write him off. Even if he never got a big, big push due to his own actions, I think he was bigger than his actual push.

Which is not to say DB doesn't have a significant historical importance, specially in the wake of his Road to Wrestlemania 30 and all of what that entailed. But Jeff being influential to an entire generation, if not more than that is just too big to overlook.

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I liked this game.

I think the word "historically" is really key here because it goes beyond great matches, title success, even popularity and being "the top guy." History is also about symbolism - which is why someone like Patrick Henry is a more well-known Founding Father than, say, Benjamin Rush or John Jay. Or why JFK is historically more important than James Monroe despite only being in office for less than half of how long Monroe was President. Or, if you're a basketball fan, why John Starks was immortalized in a Beastie Boys song and was a household name if you were a basketball fan in the mid-90s,  while Terry Porter is completely forgotten. 

So, Cena is more important than Hansen because Cena symbolized the number one company in the US (if not world) for about a decade. Goldberg, to me, is historically more important than Angle because Goldberg represents WCW's last major star and, with the mishandling of his character, the company's symbolic downfall.

AJ Styles is more historically important than Orton because, 20 years from now, nothing Orton accomplished will matter beyond the WWE record books. What has he done? AJ Styles, on the other hand, symbolizes the "non-WWE mega-star," a guy that could've retired without ever stepping foot in a WWE ring but still been regarded as somewhat of a legend for having high-end matches in a number of non-WWE rings. After the success of All In and the rise of indie wrestling culture over the past 5 years, AJ Styles might go down as the "Iggy Pop and the Stooges" to The Bullet Club's "Ramones" - the guy who, whether he knew it or not, was paving a road that had never really been traveled before....

Except, arguably, by Daniel Bryan (which is why I voted him above Hardy). I do think the Bryan/Hardy thing is a close call, but I lean a bit more towards Bryan just because, he really did build a huge legacy as a technician during the early-to-mid-00s when indie wrestling was still mired in that post-ECW/Ruthless Aggression Era glut of being all about blood n' guts hardcore wrestling (at least the shows I went to prior to 2005 or so). Bryan symbolized something different. Jeff Hardy, on the other hand, definitely inspired lots of future performers and the TLC matches were seminal - but I'm not sure he deserves all that credit for "stunt wrestling" on his own. Sabu was mythic too and Jeff's most historic/symbolic moments were all shared with others (his brother, Edge and Christian, etc.). It just seems like pointing to just Jeff because of his popularity is giving him credit as an innovator that I'm not sure he deserves.

Lastly, I went with Batista over Edge. I don't think either are really historically important. Batista got my vote based on the mainstream movie success, though I'm kinda willing to see the argument for Edge here - and it has nothing to do with Edge's in-ring skills. Edge might be more historically important simply because, in 2005, he might've been the first guy to ever truly be "made" and turned into a main event star just based on internet fans turning against him and forcing the company to make him a heel and use his real-life drama as an on-screen storyline. 

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Since it seems people have different opinions on what "historical importance" means, the definition I'm using is pretty much what role someone played in creating the wrestling landscape that exists today. It's not about who has more iconic moments or who drew more money, though those are things I'm factoring.

Went with Cena over Hansen. I love Hansen, but Cena pretty much created the concept of a post-Attitude Era top guy in WWE and the fallout from his mixed reactions is still being felt with the Reigns situation.

Goldberg over Angle. Massive draw in his peak and was responsible for carrying WCW through its last gasp in the Monday Night Wars. He also created the template for the monster face with his short and brutal squash matches that WWE still tries to imitate.

Orton over Styles. Close one as neither guy really had much influence beyond the hardcore fandom, but went with Orton because of the RKO out of nowhere memes.

Bryan over Hardy. I understand Hardy's was the bigger star at his peak and also a huge influence on WWE's gimmick matches, but Bryan was a huge player in creating the 2000's indy wrestling boom and working style. He, alongside Punk, was also a big influence in removing WWE's previous stigma from hiring super indy talent and paving the way for guys like Styles and Joe to get main event level pushes. I don't think Hardy had quite the same impact due to his influence largely being felt on shaping dangerous match-types that, by nature, can never be the main attraction on a regular basis. As far as general high flyers, I think the more crisp style propagated by WCW cruiserweight guys and Rey Mysterio in particular was more influential over Hardy's more sloppy stunt-centric approach.

Edge over Batista. I don't think Batista's Hollywood career is relevant as the question is about who's had more of an impact on pro wrestling history exclusively. Batista was a big star, but he didn't really do much in breaking down walls and was pretty much a continuation of WWE's trend of pushing big men into main event spots. Edge is right alongside Jeff Hardy in creating the modern conception of WWE gimmick matches as daredevil stunt shows. He was a big star in his own right as well and the Matt Hardy feud served as a forerunner to the reality era stuff we get now.

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Cena over Hansen easily. Even though I'd always liked him, I huffed and puffed a little when he was about to break Flair's record. Not that it really matters anyway, but I think if there is anyone to be an equal to the kind of work Flair put in "back in the day" it's John. More than just his consistent in-ring work, his work behind the scenes and with Make-A-Wish and all the PR he has done and continues to do, he's been the perfect ambassador for WWE more than anyone else, even Hogan in his day. 

Angle over Goldberg, not so easily but a quick decision anyway. It continues to impress me how easy the transition it was for Kurt compared to other professional athletes, especially since by all accounts he never grew up a fan. He found his way through being endlessly self-deprecating, yet still every bit the Olympic champ when that bell rang. Goldberg was a lot of hype, fun to watch, but in the end a very limited guy who still did make the best of it. 

Bryan over Hardy. WrestleMania 30 was a special night for me, when I enjoyed the modern product in a way I didn't for a very long time and Daniel Bryan was a big part of that. The momentum he had going into New Orleans was huge and I really felt like I was seeing the next centerpiece guy take his place. 

Batista over Edge, simply for how I can look back on some of his angles with people and correlate it with his acting ability. I saw the thing where he turned on Rey Mysterio from about a decade ago, and there is some mighty thick pathos to it that you normally didn't see. Fast-forward to something like his performance in Blade Runner 2049, where he gives you a deep impression with little time in a great movie that's almost 3 hours. 

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Bryan vs. Hardy was the toughest choice of the five, and I do think Hardy's peak star power is underappreciated at this point. But I still chose Bryan, because if I had to tell the story of WWE over the last 20 years, his 2013-2014 run -- and all the weird ripple effects from it -- would be a more important chapter than anything Jeff did. I don't know if that's the correct way to assess historical importance, but that's how I looked at it. 

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I think it's too soon to answer most of these, to be honest. In my opinion, you need to be fully removed from the eras of everyone before you can answer these questions. Daniel Bryan's historical importance, for example, is still a story being told. It's incomplete. Everyone used to argue Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels as these major important figures historically because they were medium-sized guys being pushed on top; however, they were exceptions within the same system more than they actually changed the system. The lesson there is that when you try to write a narrative too soon, it's easy to get it wrong.

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1 hour ago, Charles (Loss) said:

I think it's too soon to answer most of these, to be honest. In my opinion, you need to be fully removed from the eras of everyone before you can answer these questions. Daniel Bryan's historical importance, for example, is still a story being told. It's incomplete. Everyone used to argue Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels as these major important figures historically because they were medium-sized guys being pushed on top; however, they were exceptions within the same system more than they actually changed the system. The lesson there is that when you try to write a narrative too soon, it's easy to get it wrong.

Although, as you said, the career of some wrestlers, like Bryan and Styles, are still in course, and we can not establish their legacy, what would be your choises at the moment?

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I don't even understand how somebody can say Hardy was a bigger star. WWE might have been a bigger pond in 08-09 when Hardy was towards the top of the card then the 9 months Bryan was on top, but Bryan was actually the top guy in the company for those 9 months. He was the top babyface. He main evented Summerslam and Wrestlemania and a half dozen other PPVs in that span. For Hardy's run on top, he only main evented Armageddon if I remember correctly. I think a closer comparison would be Hardy to Punk.  

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I selected Bryan and was asked why. I feel that Bryan's ascent to the top was the beginnings of the audience rejecting the narrative in WWE. The reverberations of this are still being felt today, with the way the audience has interacted with Becky's attempted heel turn and the ongoing saga of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. I think that in 5/10/20 years time that shift will be significant. Conversely, I think Hardy's defining impact to the great narrative of wrestling was the quest for the 'bigger bump', which could only go so far, though you still see remnants of that in the Kevin Owens/Shane McMahon Hell In A Cell.

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6 hours ago, joeg said:

I don't even understand how somebody can say Hardy was a bigger star. WWE might have been a bigger pond in 08-09 when Hardy was towards the top of the card then the 9 months Bryan was on top, but Bryan was actually the top guy in the company for those 9 months. He was the top babyface. He main evented Summerslam and Wrestlemania and a half dozen other PPVs in that span. For Hardy's run on top, he only main evented Armageddon if I remember correctly. I think a closer comparison would be Hardy to Punk.  

Hardy never really got that "top guy" run but he was easily one of the most popular wrestlers of the aughts and is the only wrestler who legitimately rivaled and perhaps even surpassed Cena in merch sales which I don't believe has ever been replicated.

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3 hours ago, Boss Rock said:

Hardy never really got that "top guy" run but he was easily one of the most popular wrestlers of the aughts and is the only wrestler who legitimately rivaled and perhaps even surpassed Cena in merch sales which I don't believe has ever been replicated.

CM Punk was neck-and-neck with Cena in merch sales for a while in 2011.

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15 hours ago, joeg said:

I don't even understand how somebody can say Hardy was a bigger star. WWE might have been a bigger pond in 08-09 when Hardy was towards the top of the card then the 9 months Bryan was on top, but Bryan was actually the top guy in the company for those 9 months. He was the top babyface. He main evented Summerslam and Wrestlemania and a half dozen other PPVs in that span. For Hardy's run on top, he only main evented Armageddon if I remember correctly. I think a closer comparison would be Hardy to Punk.  

After Armageddon, Hardy main evented Judgment Day, Extreme Rules, Night of Champions, and SummerSlam.

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10 hours ago, El-P said:

What is Hardy's "legacy" ? Falling off high places ? And the worst ever "under no condition to perform" appearance ever on a major company PPV ?

I think this sells Hardy short, although I won't defend his transgressions or claim he was the greatest worker. It's true that he mainly got over due to his spot-heavy style in the TLC and ladder matches, but I really don't think those were just cheap pops. He legitimately connected with fans in those matches and he continued to build that connection in later years. I don't know who else at that time would have gotten those reactions against the Undertaker in the famous "Make yourself famous kid!" match. And during his 2008-2009 face run he rivaled Cena in terms of audience reaction and merch sales. I also have to think he at least partially inspired the spot-heavy indie style you see so often today. Whether or not that's a good thing is truly in the eye of the beholder, but it's still pretty impactful.

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12 hours ago, El-P said:

What is Hardy's "legacy" ? Falling off high places ? And the worst ever "under no condition to perform" appearance ever on a major company PPV ?

Bingo.

 

4 hours ago, Alucard said:

After Armageddon, Hardy main evented Judgment Day, Extreme Rules, Night of Champions, and SummerSlam.

Completely forgot about his PPV run in the Summer of 09. So I guess it could be argued that for 4 months or so he was in that top babyface spot feuding with Edge and Punk.

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There was another thread a few months back on this same Hardy/Bryan bigger star topic, I posted this video there too (as well as their respective music hype videos that both got which are a tremendous aid in getting guys over as stars), but this is always one of my favorite intros, where Jeff felt like THE biggest star going. I wish they would've gone back to this theme now too.

 

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I originally voted that I couldn't decide, but ultimately I would go with Bryan. I still think Hardy deserves credit for being the star that he was and for being at least partly influential for the high risk indie style. But Bryan is one of the biggest indie stars ever and while Punk was really the first to open the door for indie darlings in WWE, Bryan played a huge part in that too and proved a guy who didn't have the typical "look" or personality of a guy like Austin or the Rock could become a top star.

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8 hours ago, Boss Rock said:

 It's true that he mainly got over due to his spot-heavy style in the TLC and ladder matches, but I really don't think those were just cheap pops. He legitimately connected with fans in those matches and he continued to build that connection in later years. I don't know who else at that time would have gotten those reactions against the Undertaker in the famous "Make yourself famous kid!" match. And during his 2008-2009 face run he rivaled Cena in terms of audience reaction and merch sales.

All that is well good, but he was first and foremost mostly a terrible worker and a shitty promo. What does that says about the fans, I won't go into, but I really couldn't care less about merch sales and "connection" with the fans. The fact is Jeff Hardy in-ring was sloppy as fuck, had terrible basics, was an innovator of that god-awful 00's indieriffic styles with physically awkard looking moves (see also : Edge), he was not a very impressive high flyer either if you really think about it (he was a very stupid one though, loving to bump on tables and chairs from very high places), and most of the Hardys most famous spots are directly copied from RVD/Sabu stuff anyway. Did I mention he was sloppy as fuck and had terrible basics ? 

8 hours ago, Boss Rock said:

I also have to think he at least partially inspired the spot-heavy indie style you see so often today. 

I don't see that at all. The current indie-style is a product of 15 years of ROH and Japan fetichism. Jeff Hardy is a product of late 90's backyard Us wrestling, and his style clearly demonstrated it. Jeff Hardy was basically an emo teenage crush version of New Jack, minus the great promos and character. 

Daniel Bryan, along with CM Punk, changed the way WWE sees indie talents. Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles at SummerSlam, and the entire NXT system as it is today and has been for a few years now, doesn't happen without the Pipe Bomb and Yes ! Yes ! Yes !. That beats the hell out of whatever merch sales statistic.

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