40: Scott Hall
Wrestling fans have become so jaded at this point that it’s easy for most to forget how important and cool Scott Hall showing up in WCW was in 1996. His and Kevin Nash’s arrival made wrestling important again. It launched the Monday Night Wars and forced WWF to change and become something bigger and better than it was.
In the ring, he was an incredible performer (before the alcohol took over) who is responsible for one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history, with his ladder match against Shawn Michaels. He also had great runs against the likes of Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and even Konnan in WCW.
Greatest Match/Feud: Bash at the Beach 96. Ladder match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 10.
39: AJ Styles
In the dying days of WCW, AJ Styles was there. Today in 2019, AJ Styles is still there, in WWE, at or around the main event scene at all times. The only reason he gets dinged at all is because he is not a great mic worker, and that is exposed even more with WWE’s terrible, pre worked spots.
There is absolutely no doubt about his wrestling ability, though. He was the last big Royal Rumble debut. He has put on show stopping matches with everyone he has encountered. He has even taken half assed feuds in WWE and made them important in the ring.
Greatest Match/Feud: Styles vs. Okada at NJPW Dominion 2015. Styles vs. Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
38: Kerry Von Erich
The Texas Tornado stuff was all well and good, but Von Erich’s true legacy is intertwined with his father’s promotion, WCCW, out of Dallas. He beat Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In the mid 80’s, he was every bit on the same level as every wrestler of the era, and was definitely working at a higher level than his peers in WWF at the time. People still talk about the feud with the Freebirds to this day.
Greatest Match/Feud: The Von Erich family vs. the Fabulous Freebirds. Von Erich vs. Ric Flair at his brother’s memorial show in Dallas.
37: Kazuchika Okada
Yep, the RAAAAAIIIIINNNNNMAAAAAKEER!!!!!! Not only one of the no-doubt best wrestlers in the world, he’s one of the most respected, too. When All In happened last year, he had to be on the card, because his presence helped legitimize it. He’s one of the best and most important wrestlers in NJPW in the past 30 years, and his style and smooth ring work can’t be touched.
Greatest Match/Feud: Pick a match between him and Omega.
36: Brian Pillman
Instead of being sad about how it ended, lets enjoy the Brian Pillman we got to see. His loose cannon gimmick was a prototype for what countless wrestlers would attempt to become. Even before that though, he was one of the best wrestlers in the world. His matches with guys like Jushin Liger, with and against Steve Austin were ahead of their time. Holywood Blondes was an absolutely underrated tag team that just wasn’t pushed properly.
Greatest Match/Feud: Pillman vs. Jushin Liger at Superbrawl 2. Pillman vs. Kevin Sullivan at Superbrawl 6. Any of his promos during his ECW run.
35: Ricky Morton
He’s the greatest tag team wrestler of all time. Don’t @ me. To put his career in perspective, he was in the hottest tag team in the world when he was wrestling in Mid South wrestling in 1984. My mom was pregnant with me, and my dad would take her to see wrestling events in Tulsa. The Rock and Roll Express were wrestling in main events then.
Fast forward 35 years, the Rock and Roll Express is wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and have gained immortal status in the world of wresting. During Wrestlemania weekend, R&R wrestled one of the best current tag teams in the world, LAX, and the Express were treated like royalty. Oh, and Ricky Morton did a Canadian Destroyer in that match. Ricky Morton had been wrestling for 30 years when that move was invented.
Greatest Match/Feud: Express vs. the Soviets for the NWA Tag Team Championship in 1985. British Bulldogs vs. Express in 1989. Taggins with Tanahashi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon last week in NJPW.
One of the guys behind some of the best tag team wrestling in WWE history. He would go on to become the biggest star from the tag teams that innovated the hardcore style. His singles run was marked with some of the biggest highs in the sport at the time. Unfortunately, a back injury cut his career short, leaving a lot more what-if’s than what was.
Greatest Match/Feud: TLC match at Wrestlemania 17. Edge vs. Mick Foley at Wrestlemania 22.
33: Rob Van Dam
The Whole F’in Show. Mr. Monday Night. Rob Van Dam. One of the biggest crossover stars from the ECW era, Van Dam was an absolute machine whose innovative move set wasn’t made for WCW and WWF at the time, but found a home, and staying power in ECW. It’s no surprise that his style or wrestling has never really been matched. He innovated an almost high flying judo sense of wrestling.
Greatest Match/Feud: RVD vs. Cena at One Night Stand 2006. Pretty much any match he did in ECW.
32: Randy Orton
He’s been the metaphorical rock of the WWE for two decades. The fact that, in 2019, he is still a main eventer speaks to high longevity as a character and a wrestler. He is WWE’s “Break in Case of Emergency” wrestler. Whenever they need a great worker and mic guy to come in and make someone look good or make a title relevant, they send in Orton. His finisher, the RKO, has become one of the most iconic moves of all time thanks to social media.
Greatest Match/Feud: Orton’s feud with Undertaker in 2005. Orton vs. Chris Benoit at Summerslam 2004.
31: John Cena
Yes. Yes. I know. I get it. Yes, he sucks. But he is also great. He doesn’t have any moves. Except when he does. He was never as good as wrestlers who deserved it more. He also reinvented himself in the back half of his career and was the launching pad on the main roster for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It is going to be impossible in the current to properly rate John Cena for the wrestler he was and his importance. My guess is, 10, 15 years removed, he will probably get his due as one of, if not the more important wrestler in WWE for a long stretch of time.
Greatest Match/Feud: Cena vs. RVD at One Night Stand 2006. His feuds with Randy Orton and CM Punk.