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elliott

Current Top 10 Contenders GWE2026

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We had one of these in 2016 and I figured it would be nice to have as a reference point for 2026. 

So what does your current top 10 look like? Who's in and who's knocking on the door? Is there anyone who looks like a candidate for your top 10 but you're hoping to see more of during the project? What do you need to see out of a top 10 candidate? 

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I shared you this in private, but right now I'm thinking it may turn out like this: 

1 Hokuto

2 Nakano

3 Funk

4 Casas

5 Jaguar

6 Bret

7 Satomura

8 Hansen

9 Kong

10 Mysterio

Not my current top 10, but what I am predicting based on what I am watching.

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No particular order, no way I'm opening that can of worms at this point:

Terry Funk

Ric Flair

Jushin Liger

Mitsuharu Misawa

Daniel Bryan

Genichiro Tenryu

Stan Hansen

Toshiaki Kawada

Negro Casas

Shinya Hashimoto

 

 

I plan on doing a deep dive on Bock at some point (have seen A LOT from him, but not everything I wanted) and he's most likely gonna take one of these out.

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I probably have a lot more liquidity than many of you, but I'll give this a shot. In no particular order:

Current Top 10

Ric Flair

Terry Funk

Stan Hansen

Jerry Lawler

Akira Hokuto

Kenta Kobashi

Bull Nakano

Jim Breaks

Tenryu

Jaguar

Knocking on the Door

Bockwinkel

Chigusa Nagayo 

Dick Murdoch

Need to See More

I want to watch more of many of the people listed above. I also need to see more of Fujiwara, Hashimoto, Fujinami, and all of the touted lucha candidates. Good thing I have 5 years! That top 10 is going to be tough to crack though the more I look at it.

What do I want to see out of a top 10 candidate

I want to feel an emotional investment when I am watching their best matches and I want to be entertained no matter what. I want them to be true to themselves and for the stories to make sense. I appreciate when they bring out the best of whoever they are facing. 

I am struggling about how to rank foxes vs hedgehogs. I don't want Jim Breaks to be anybody but the Jim Breaks I know. I can't penalize him for being who he is not. As it's been said, Terry Funk can be an all time face and an all time heel; but he is always Terry Funk and that's what makes it work. I guess I am concerned that weighting versatility too strongly is tipping the scales in a way that is opportunity-based or inherently unfair. But we reach this level, it seems like a tiebreaker we can rely on, and it tough to think of others that are meaningful at the moment.

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Two Texans, two Joshis, two Nature Boys, two lighter-weights, a Giant and a Pillar are my front-runners.

And I've got five years to learn how to love a Bockwinkel and appreciate various Luchadors.

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34 minutes ago, Dav'oh said:

Two Texans, two Joshis, two Nature Boys, two lighter-weights, a Giant and a Pillar are my front-runners.

And I've got five years to learn how to love a Bockwinkel and appreciate various Luchadors.

Ooo! Challenge accepted!

Two texans: Hansen & Funk?

Two Joshi: Hokuto & Aja?

Two Nature Boys: Flair & Rogers

Two Lighterweight: Liger & Bryan (or Rey?)

A Giant: Andre?

A Pillar: Kobashi?

 

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16 minutes ago, elliott said:

Ooo! Challenge accepted!

Hansen and Funk? Tick.

Hokuto? Tick. Aja? She's growing on me with each viewing. Just a force of nature, a maelstrom sucking everything around her into an inescapable vortex of violence. Leaning towards "tick".

Rogers and Flair? Tick. (Working on my Rogers treatise as we speak type).

Liger? Tick. Bryan or Rey? Tick. (Bryan has to overcome my recency prejudice. Or more accurately, I have to overcome my recency prejudice, it's not really on him.)

Andre? Mais oui. Tick.

Kobashi? Currently tick, but there's so little separating three of the four.

 

I've been watching a lot of Pointless lately. I hope to see you on there one day, elliott :)

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I was so hoping it was Buddy Landel. 

 

So far, not in any order that they're necessarily likely to finish, I'm messing with:

Casas

Satanico

Fujiwara

Hashimoto

Ishikawa

Tamura

Tenryu

Funk 

Hansen

Lawler 

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Working #1s: Daniel Bryan, Hijo del Santo, Tenryu, Flair, Funk

Everybody Else: Kawada, Steamboat, Hashimoto, Misawa, Cena, Lesnar, Akiyama, Rey Mysterio, Fujiwara, Hansen, Chris Hero, Mariko Yoshida, Yuki Ishikawa

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1. Kobashi
2. Misawa
3. Kawada
4. Tenryu
5. Hansen
6. Bryan
7. Akiyama
8. Taue
9. Liger
10. Mysterio

Other contenders: Flair, Funk, Styles, Tanahashi, Hashimoto, Kong, Hokuto, Casas, Colon, Jumbo.

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Kneejerk reaction would be?

1. Bryan
2. Jumbo
3. Stan
4. Kobashi
5. Misawa
6. Kawada
7. Casas
8. Funk
9. Liger
10. Akiyama (I'm actively trying to fit him in, but I'm sure objectivity will come in, eventually, when I get into full comparisons. 

Other guys with a chance: Lawler, Rose, Mysterio, Taue (Maybe?), Fujinami, Santo, Flair, Tenryu, Hokuto, Bock

And crap, that's basically my working Top 20. If I had to guess, I'd say I have 7 locks in the Top 10, and the other three spots could go in any order depending on the day. 

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Bock

Terry Funk

Ric Flair

Jumbo Tsuruta 

Are definitely on my top 10. I don't know where, nor do I know the rest. I need to dig into more 90s AJPW before I can accurately know where to put the Pillars as I've actually not seen very much AJPW between 1993-1999 that didn't involve Vader.

 

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Wrestlers I expect to absolutely stay in my top 10: Bockwinkel, Casas, Funk, Satanico, Rose, Lawler

Wrestlers who may stay in my top 10: Flair, Andre

Wrestlers who will probably not stay in my top 10: Breaks, Virus

Wrestlers who could potentially end up in my top 10: Jumbo, Tenryu, Fujiwara

Wrestlers who are contenders that I have new thoughts about but still don't have a great shot at my top 10: Pillars, Hansen, Bryan

Wrestlers who I just don't know enough about to judge yet but that I imagine could make it: Hashimoto, Liger, Ishikawa, various joshi wrestlers

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As it stands today - Bryan, Flair, Kobashi, Jumbo, Kawada, Misawa, Styles, Liger, Mysterio and WALTER, in no particular order other than Bryan leading the race for #1.

This will be fun to look back on in 5 years time.

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Top 10 right now (Alphabetical)

Akira Hokuto

Daniel Bryan

Eddie Guerrero

El Hijo del Santo

El Satanico

Jushin Liger

Kenta Kobashi

Kiyoshi Tamura

Shawn Michaels

Yoshiaki Fujiwara

 

Other Strong Contenders: Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Daisuke Ikeda, Jumbo Tsuruta, Jun Akiyama, Tatsumi Fujinami, Volk Han

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Working Top Ten: Genichiro Tenryu, Kazuchika Okada, Kenta Kobashi, Kiyoshi Tamura, Mitsuharu Misawa, Ric Flair, Shinya Hashimoto, Stan Hansen, Tatsumi Fujinami, Toshiaki Kawada

 

Close candidates: Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, El Satanico, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Nick Bockwinkel, Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Volk Han

I'm very comfortable with this crew of wrestlers. 

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The only locks for my top 10 as it stands are Bret, Mysterio, Bryan, Santo and Liger. Casas, Hansen and Regal would be knocking at the door too.

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I sent this to Grimmas the other day when we were sharing top 10s. I dunno. I feel like 7-10 could  just as easily be 3-6. I'm also looking at it and there's no Heenan, Volk Han, Tamura, Savage, Casas, Masami, Andre or Destroyer. This is gonna be difficult. 

1. Terry Funk

2. Dump Matsumoto

3. Akira Hokuto 

4. El Satanico

5. Jerry Lawler

6. Bull Nakano

7. Jaguar Yokota

8. Chigusa Nagayo

9. Hijo del Santo

10. Stan Hansen 

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No Fujiwara either. Here's a question and I'm asking it sincerely: Do you think your current excitement for joshi (e.g., 5 workers in the Top 10, Dump at #2) is going to last through to 2026?

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Fujiwara is an oversight he should be in there somewhere. Along with like 10 other people. 

re: Joshi excitement. Only time will tell. I can say that I've been a Joshi fan going back to the late 90s and while 2016 was probably my low point as a Joshi fan had I done a list in 2006, 5 Joshi workers in my top 10 wouldn't have been crazy for me. On my personal timeline as a hardcore wrestling fan, I arrived at Hokuto as an all time great far earlier than Lawler, Fujiwara or Satanico. I convinced DEAN to make the Best of Jaguar tape 20 years ago :) Liking Joshi isn't new for me. I'm in my mid 30s and I first found Joshi when I was 13-14. 

My values have changed too in terms of ranking people compared to 2016. I care far more about peak than longevity. I also appreciate chaos and over the top spectacle more than just about anything. That will be reflected not just in how I rate DUmp, but Invader 1, Abdullah, Sangre Chicana, Savage, Perro etc. 

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1. Kenta Kobashi

2. Bryan Danielson

3. Jushin Thunder Liger

4. Hijo del Santo

5. Nick Bockwinkel

6. Chris Benoit

7. Stan Hansen

8. Mitsuharu Misawa

9. Aja Kong

10. Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

Choosing just ten wrestlers for a preliminar ranking is hard as fuck, because I can give another, idk, 20-25 names who have strong chances to be in these top spots too. I think I have my top 3 pretty locked (the order could change, though), but from #4 to maybe #25 or whatever anything can change. Same with wrestlers I'm considering for that Q2 segment of my list (26-50). For example, right now I have Hokuto and Akiyama near the top 20, but I can see both of them as top 10 locks if everything I still have to watch continues to deliver. And the more I think about it, the more I see Misawa out of the top 10 (but not too far below).

I have more top tier contenders than ever, and that's fun and satisfying as hell, but also puts a lot of pressure on me. How the hell does a list feel right if you have Casas or Funk "only" at #15 or #20 in it? But again, there's a lot more of amazing wrestlers. I still have five more years...

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My 2016 Top Ten was:

  • Funk
  • Misawa
  • Bockwinkel
  • Fujinami
  • Liger
  • Casas
  • Satanico
  • Kawada
  • Hansen
  • Bryan

with Flair, Eddie and Hashimoto just missing the cut. I still feel really good about my Top 5 -- if I had to reorder my ballot based on 2021 impressions, I would probably have Bryan just outside of that in the No. 6 slot -- but Kawada and Hansen are definitely two that could very easily slide out for, say, Jaguar Yokota and Sangre Chicana.

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