Top Five Underrated Wrestlers

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Craig Wilson, John Carbery, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage

We all know the guys that fans rave about as the best of all time and who should feature, if there was one, on a Mount Rushmore of wrestling. But what about the guys that maybe don’t get the credit they deserve despite going about their job diligently? It’s those superstars that are the focus of this latest Top Five.

Craig

Honourable mentions: Terry Taylor, Dean Malenko, Shane Douglas.

Lance Storm5. Lance Storm: Now there’s a guy that doesn’t get all that much love. A very talented performer whose work took in stints in America – for WCW, ECW and WWE – as well as in Japan. Never a world champion, but held a multitude of mid-card titles and who can forget the “If I can be serious” shtick that I thought was immensely entertaining. The fact that he now helps train wannabe bodes very well for the future of the business but had virtually everything that could have made him a very strong upper-midcarder but it just never really happened. He could have achieved quite close to the level of success that Chris Jericho did, and that’s not a slight against Y2J as I see both in quite a similar mould. You could certainly always count on Storm to deliver a top class match.

4. Raven: A second consecutive Top Five placing for Raven. I’m a huge, huge fan of Scott Levvy. Crazy, intense promos long before Bray Wyatt climbed into a ring. When all those around him in ECW were happy enough to use chairs or put people through tables, Raven had a level of depth to his character that really made him stand out. Unfortunately the same level of success didn’t quite transition into his runs with WCW and WWE but you only need to hear him speak about wrestling in interviews or ‘book’ on Kayfabe Commentaries DVDs to hear his interest and knowledge in wrestling. A very intelligent man, a great talker and with a unique character. Perhaps so underrated as his peak times came during such a boom period for wrestling.

3. Bam Bam Bigelow: I am a huge fan of Bam Bam. A distinctive look and a moveset not normally associated with big men meant that Bigelow could work as well as strike fear into opponents. Thanks largely to the Network I’ve been able to watch his run with ECW and see what a force he really was. Surprising then that, despite two stints with the company, the WWE never saw that. In the 80s, he could easily have been the foil to Hulk Hogan in a period where the company put big man after big man in front of him. During his second run he had memorable matches with the likes of Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart but will probably be remembered more for his WrestleMania 11 main event versus Lawrence Taylor.

Arn Anderson2. Arn Anderson: Ric Flair may have taken the glory from the Four Horsemen but you really can’t underestimate the pivotal role of Arn Anderson, a man who went about his job – as the group’s enforcer – in a quiet but effective manner. Maybe you have to wonder what his career could have been had he not been in the Four Horsemen. Did it hold him back? Could he have, as a singles competitor, gone on to have a high-profile feud with Flair in the 80s over the gold? It may have led to a career worthy of a place in any Hall of Fame but you have to wonder what could have been had he not been involved in the Horsemen and been overshadowed there by Ric Flair.

1. William Regal: Could, and really should, have gotten a WWE title run. Regal, for me, is one of the most entertaining guys in wrestling history and I’m not just saying that because we are both from the same side of the Atlantic. A terrific worker, great talker and with a throwback in-ring style, he really did stand out from the crowd. Admittedly he had a few issues along the way that maybe prevented him from reaching the heights that he did. Fact he was one of two people – along with Kane – to get a shout out from Daniel Bryan during his retirement speech shows the mark he has made on the business and am thrilled with fact he still has a prominent role in the WWE.

John:

5. Chris Masters: When the Masterpiece first appeared on WWE screens he was just another of the uncoordinated muscle men that Vince McMahon was throwing at us in the mid 2000’s. However, over time Masters really applied himself and became a really capable big man. If you’ve ever seen him wrestle on the independents you can see what an accomplished performer he’s become. Sadly he’ll probably be best remembered by most as the guy with the massive pecs who used a Full Nelson as a finish.

IYH_13_NAO_-_Flash_Funk-Goldust_Et_Bart_Gunn_044. Too Cold Scorpio: A guy who never really got a main event push anywhere, but a mid card stalwart of ECW, WCW and the WWF throughout the 90s who always delivered. Scorpio was one of the best flyers of the age and always entertaining to watch, though someone who never seems to get the acclaim he deserves. I’d recommend checking out his ECW matches from 1996 to see just how talented he was.

3. Steve Grey: The prototypical World Of Sport wrestler, Steve Grey was a colourless grappler who plied his trade in matches against much more famous faces like Johnny Saint & Vic Faulkner. Still, when you watch these matches to see his more famous opponents you’ll be blown away by just how good Grey was. A technical master who’s well worth seeking out online.

2. Jamie Noble/James Gibson: Jamie Noble was part of the Cruiserweight scenes in both WCW and WWE from 1999 onwards and was in turn a fake Japanese Jr Heavyweight under a mask and eventually a trailer park redneck. When he was released by WWE in 2004 though that Noble/Gibson showed the wrestling world just how great he is. His exhibition of technical skill during his reign as Ring of Honor Champion in 2005 speaks for itself, sadly most television viewers never got to see this work but when he was given the opportunity to shine, shine he did.

1. Marty Jannetty: Constantly overshadowed by his fellow Rocker Shawn Michaels, its somewhat been forgotten just how good Marty was. A dynamic wrestler who put in some of the best performances of the 80’s and 90’s. While HBK certainly got his start tagging with Janetty he also had his first classic rivalry and singles matches with him. The Rockers was always an even effort, its just that with time and with the considerable achievements of Michaels, Marty has been left underrated by many.

Jamie:

002_SD_12222015sb_0903-31478375555. Kofi Kingston: Kofi reeled off his accomplishments in a recent promo on Raw, and my goodness there were a lot. I grant you that at various intervals holding certain WWE mid-card titles may have carried very little weight, but the fact that WWE continue to use Kofi as a champion speaks volumes. I just find it perplexing that after just one extremely brief attempt to push him further up the card – with Randy Orton circa 2009 – they have done comparatively little with such a talented worker who has been constantly over with fans. To anyone who may argue that point prior to joining New Day: I bet you still enjoyed his matches, right? The irony of Kofi at the moment is that despite being underrated himself, he gets booked in matches ahead of someone even more underrated…

4. Xavier Woods: Maybe it’s because New Day are currently going so well that WWE don’t want to tamper too much, but it amazes me how little they utilise Xavier Woods. We mainly hear him in a talking role, but he is just as good in the ring too. This guy literally has everything needed to be a professional wrestler in 2016. However, he’s not 6’5”. I pray to God that WWE do not still have this big man fetish, but it’s the only plausible explanation for Xavier Woods not being deployed more often and in more meaningful matches.

3. Saturn: By his own admission, Saturn was off his face on drugs for much of his time in WWE. Thus, he did not quite reach the performance levels he once met in WCW and ECW. Having revisited every WCW Nitro and PPV from 1998 I can tell you that this guy was absolutely outstanding in his day. By 1998 the whole nWo thing was getting old, but WCW’s mid-card was stacked with future world champions (Jericho, Benoit, Mysterio, Guerrero). While Saturn did not go on to reach this level, if you want a reason to watch late 90’s WCW beyond the nWo angles and cruiserweight matches, then you won’t go far wrong with Saturn.

Kanyon2. Kanyon: Chris Kanyon had the size, the ability and the personality but it just did not take off for him. His is a tragic tale, but you can’t argue that when he transformed from Mortis into Kanyon in early 1998 he quickly displayed that ‘je ne sais qua’ you see in wrestlers who occupy higher spots on the card. Upon being repackaged as Kanyon and appearing to feud with Raven one could have predicted a bright future for the former masked man. However, and symptomatic of the rest of his career, the rug appeared to be pulled from under his feet and he became Raven’s lacky instead. And I thought WWE were the masters of stop/start booking…

1. Christian: How can a two time World Heavyweight Champion be underrated? Welcome to WWE. Christian’s problem is that he will always be compared to Edge; they are lifelong best friends, with Edge being slightly older, taller and – sorry Christian – better. However, that’s not to say Christian was a tag-long rather than a tag partner. He absolutely deserved to win his World Heavyweight Championships, which were long over-due in my book. As far back as 2005 Captain Charisma was white-hot in his solo work with John Cena. Since then can anybody name a bad Christian match or promo? His series with randy Orton for the WHC is a testament to his talent. For me Christian is wrestling’s answer to Scottie Pippen. On any other team…

Brian:

5. David Taylor: When people talk about great European wrestlers of the 1990’s…people talk about the likes Steven Regal, Davey Boy Smith and Fit Finlay. All great wrestlers, but one that continually gets overlooked in this discussion is none other than Dave Taylor or ‘Squire’ David Taylor in WCW. Taylor could wrestle a technical match or he could brawl just as easily. He had a brief run in the WWE as well and helped train future wrestlers down in the WWE’s developmental system. A truly underrated talent.

4. Mike Rotunda: I am certainly not talking about the wrestler he would become as Irwin R. Shyster…but the great grappler he was in his first WWF stint as a tag team with Barry Windham and his days wrestling in the NWA. Rotunda was a great technical wrestler that gets overlooked a lot, but make no mistake, the talent was there.

3. M.V.P. I never realized just how gifted a wrestler Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) was until I saw him wrestle Chris Benoit in some outstanding technical match ups in the WWE. M.V.P. can flat out wrestle and has the gift of gab to go along with his repertoire. He should be considered great, but is often not looked at or considered one of the more talented workers of our generation.

The Red Rooster2. Terry Taylor: Don’t let the stupid Red Rooster gimmick in the WWF fool you. Terry Taylor was an exceptional technician in the ring. He had ability, some agility and charisma. People would be surprised to know that Taylor was doing AJ Styles “Phenomenal Foreman” move back in the early 80’s while a star in the old Mid South territory. He also had the look of a future world champion, but politics and bad booking prevented all that from happening.

1. Bobby Eaton: Bobby Eaton was considered a tag team specialist most of his career. He won several tag title in the NWA, WCW and various territories. The thing is, Eaton could go and wrestle a 60 minute Iron Man match with the likes of Ric Flair if given the chance. Bobby Eaton was one of the most gifted technical wrestlers of all time. The main thing that held him back as a true singles star was his inability to do a great interview. Other than that, Eaton was as talented and as underrated as they came in the business.

You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.

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10 thoughts on “Top Five Underrated Wrestlers

  1. Wow…. let’s see…

    1. Scott Norton-Dude was a powerhouse and was very popular in Japan. He was also a good addition in the nWo despite having to team with someone as overrated as Fluff Bagwell.

    2. Kanyon-The guy doesn’t get a lot of credit as well as the fact that he can do all sorts of things in the ring while also having a lot of personality. Who could forget those Kanyon cutters out of nowhere?

    3. Road Dogg Jesse James-I love the guy for his mic skills, personality, and the ability to connect with the crowd. Yet, I feel it sort of overshadows his worth as a wrestler as he’s not just a solid tag team guy but also could work in the ring with the likes of the Rock, HHH, and Stone Cold w/o overshadowing them.

    4. Bam Bam Bigelow-A big guy that can do cartwheels, high-flying stunts, and some grounded ring work. The guy had it all and it’s a shame he was never see to his full potential as an all-around performer.

    5. 2 Cold Scorpio-I discovered him in 1992 in WCW as I just love what he did as a high-flyer as well as being someone that would also do things in the ring w/o the need to fly. He never got a lot of love as I think he was badly misused in WWE.

    I wanna put some women wrestlers as honorable mentions but I really can’t think of any. I want to say some of the ECW ladies like Beulah and Francine but they weren’t really wrestlers. WCW never did anything. In the WWE, I want to say ladies like Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Jazz, Victoria, and Mickie James but they were too good to be considered underrated as they were equals to both Trish & Lita during the early and mid-2000s. I liked what some of the women in Ring of Honor are doing though I need more to really form a valid opinion. As for the WWE/NXT, I can’t say anything as I’ve just been too disconnected with what they’re doing because I don’t like what WWE does while I don’t know much nor do I care about NXT as I know that if they get called up to the main roster, they’re fucked.

    Like

    • Francine and Beulah were criminally underrated performers. Francine did the first ever table bump in the U.S which would pave the way for WWE divas such as Lita, Stacy, Terri, Molly, Tori & Trish to be able to be powerbombed through tables by the Dudleys every Monday night. Francine and Beulah were also the first really feminine valets to bridge the gap between female manager and wrestler. They were the first women taking bumps from the men, they made catfights legendary and they would bring weapons in the ring which had yet to be seen from valets, until ECW came around.

      Beulah did the first ever top rope moonsault and conncected with her opponent in the U.S. Bull Nakano moonsaulted off of the top rope in her WWF match against Alundra Blayze (but she missed). That left the door open for ECW’s Beulah to be the first woman to moonsault. That was a big deal in the 90’s and was covered by all the major wrestling magazines.

      The Francine vs Beulah feud inspired the Sable vs Luna feuds which would lead to the reinstatement of the WWE womens title. Beulah and Francine weren’t wrestlers but they were more than managers and valets. They were the first women to come along that blurred the lines between lady wrestler and manager, due to their constant physical involvement in match ups and willingness to bump. SUNNY, SABLE, MARLENA and CHYNA weren’t nearly as physical as the women of ECW were in 1995-1996. Both Francine & Beulah deserve credit for redefining what it meant to be a female manager/valet.

      Mattel we want Francine & Beulah action figures

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 1.Terry Taylor- great technical wrestler, good heel as evident in Mid South and World Class. 2.Tommy Rodgers- thought he was the more talented half of The Fantastics. Good technical wrestler.
    3.Bobby Eaton- quiet, got the job done. Good with no matter who they paired him with. Dennis Condrey, Stan Lane, Arn Anderson
    4.Chavo Guerrero- great lineage and was great in tag teams but watching him as a single competitor for NWA Los Angeles taking on Piper,Tolos, Gordman or Goliath he was always a great talent.
    5. 2 Cold Scorpio- paired up with Marcus Bagwell but had a lot of talent. Good run as ECW Television Champion and totally wasted as Flash Funk.

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  3. 1. Arn Anderson–you don’t even have the Four Horsemen name without him! Was great enough to have been a world titlist, but was awesome as a number 2 guy. His promos were outstanding.
    2. Lance Storm–the guy I always think of when talking about a multiple-titled competitor. Never had a bad match. Should have been a world champion.
    3. Chris Kanyon–WCW actually assigned him to train Jay Leno, poor Chris. His DDP-ripoff was hilarious, and the Kanyon Cutter was just as good as the Diamond Cutter. Could wrestle any style, and was quite sound.
    4. Bobby Eaton–THE tag team specialist. Whether it was with Dennis Condrey, Stan Lane, Steven Regal, or Arn Anderson, he always made his partners look good. One of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Was crazy over in NWA. Quiet, but deadly efficient.
    5. Mike Rotunda–could do it all in the ring. Even with the ridiculous I.R.S. gimmick that the WWF foistered on him, Rotunda made it work. He and Ted DiBiase, Sr. made for a great tag team, but his paring with his brother-in-law, Barry Windham. Never got the credit he deserved, but fellow wrestlers have raved for years about his toughness and skill, and rightfully so,

    Honorable Mention–MVP, Bam Bam Bigelow, Nick Dinsmore, and Dean Malenko.

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  4. Francine and Beulah were criminally underrated performers. Francine did the first ever table bump in the U.S which would pave the way for WWE divas such as Lita, Stacy, Terri, Molly, Tori & Trish to be able to be powerbombed through tables by the Dudleys every Monday night. Francine and Beulah were also the first really feminine valets to bridge the gap between female manager and wrestler. They were the first women taking bumps from the men, they made catfights legendary and they would bring weapons in the ring which had yet to be seen from valets, until ECW came around.

    Beulah did the first ever top rope moonsault and conncected with her opponent in the U.S. Bull Nakano moonsaulted off of the top rope in her WWF match against Alundra Blayze (but she missed). That left the door open for ECW’s Beulah to be the first woman to moonsault. That was a big deal in the 90’s and was covered by all the major wrestling magazines.

    The Francine vs Beulah feud inspired the Sable vs Luna feuds which would lead to the reinstatement of the WWE womens title. Beulah and Francine weren’t wrestlers but they were more than managers and valets. They were the first women to come along that blurred the lines between lady wrestler and manager, due to their constant physical involvement in match ups and willingness to bump. SUNNY, SABLE, MARLENA and CHYNA weren’t nearly as physical as the women of ECW were in 1995-1996. Both Francine & Beulah deserve credit for redefining what it meant to be a female manager/valet.

    Mattel we want Francine & Beulah action figures

    Like

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