Top 50 Wrestlers Of The 1990s: #50
At this point, WWE is on "The Road To WrestleMania" which means that booking overall rises above it's usual sea level (which at the moment is very, very low) and disinterested fans become reacquainted with a product that is none too familiar. And what, pre tell, does this do to a nostalgic wrestling fan boy? Frustrate the ever living hell (yeah) out of them (see Raw 25 for perfect evidence).
Even though I'm going to New Orleans this year for WrestleMania 34, I'm looking forward to everything surrounding the event rather than actually attending it. Sure, my attitude may soon change once I'm actually sitting in the Super Dome, but the prospect of sitting 7+ hours just to see Roman Reigns defeat Brock Lesnar in the main event isn't none too appealing. It's extremely difficult for me to shake all of it's misused and sterilized characters, heavily-scripted dialogue and Orwellian buzzwords straight from the Vince McMahon dictionary ("WWE Universe" instead of fans, "sports entertainment" instead of wrestling - I could [and have] gone on to exhaustion). All of this is a constant Charlie Brown storm cloud that overhangs WWE's current product.
Guess what didn't have all that corporate mumbo-jumbo? Professional wrestling before the mid-2000s. That's why returning nostalgia acts like the Rock, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin garner interest again because their time period was when wrestling was at it's hottest and the wrestlers ran the show. (Also why podcasts like "Something To Wrestle With" & "What Happened When" are such smash hits among wrestling fans) Who wants to cheer for "a brand"? Can a brand cut a one-of-a-kind promo? Can they literally beat the ever-living hell out out of a despicable villain? No, whether it's WWE, NXT, ROH or NJPW they're just three or four letters in caps. What matters are the performers and characters behind those letters.
So sue me if get pretty nostalgic around this time. Good or bad, accurate or off-base, it inspires me to do the following: rank the top 50 wrestlers from the 1990s. Like many, the 90s were right in the thick of my wrestling fandom, and while all of the big promotions still had their own flaws WWF, WCW & ECW unarguably had a wrestling show worth watching. You had outlaws, American Badasses, People's Champions, Canadian patriots, degenerates, and Human Suplex Machines. Very combustible elements brewing that yielded historic angles, match-ups and story lines (something that current WWE is so lackadaisical with).
So from now up until "The Grandest Stage of Them All" I will release my list of top wrestlers from that decade, factoring in their impact from the kid-friendly first half to the cuss-ridden, beer drinking second half to determine where which of our favorites fall in rank. So let's get to the competitor who drew #50....
#50: Ken Shamrock
Hailing From: Macon, GA
Finisher: The Ankle Lock
Professional wrestler turned MMA fighter, turned back to professional wrestler, the introduction of Ken Shamrock into WWF in 1997 created a loose blueprint for today's Brock Lesnar. With his shoot fighting background, Shamrock was slated to be a big star for the company, and while he had his share of memorable feuds and match-ups, "The World's Most Dangerous Man" didn't have as much as an impact as initially believed. He started off refereeing the WrestleMania 13 classic between Steve Austin & Bret Hart, but he and Vince couldn't capitalize on Ken's natural charisma, replacing his persona with a hot tempered man that flips shit when pushed too hard.
Great idea for a basic foundation for a character, but a layer or two more could have done Ken wonders. However, personally speaking, Shamrock is in my top three of "Attitude Era" wrestlers and I wouldn't have been as big of a WWF fan if it wasn't for him.