The Man Without Fear
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Texas by way of Illinois
Re: Greatest wrestler before Golden Age?
Drawing money can't be the only deciding factor in these lists in my opinion. I understand why so many of you use the numbers because numbers aren't subjective while judging talent is, but I don't think that's the end all on these lists unless the wrestler left an indelible mark on the industry like a Hogan or an Austin.
Even when I analyze Hogan and Austin's placement on these lists I look at the talent they possess/ed and their superstar qualities that were used to accomplish what they did to build their legacies. Hogan had so much charisma and knew how to utilize his connection with live audiences all over the world like no other. He was the World Wrestling Federation's perfect face of the company in the 80's not only because of the incredible marketing machine it was but also because of Hogan's look, personality, and charisma. In Austin's case, again, it was a great character excellently played by a guy who was one of the best talkers and workers in the ring ever, and that generated big business. However, those two are special cases because the talent, the timing and the marketing all came together. Hogan and Austin deserve to be at the Top of anyone's greatest wrestlers list as well as The Rock.
However, I wouldn't agree with a statement such as Ultimate Warrior or Goldberg being greater draws than Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart makes them greater wrestlers/bigger legends. Absolutely cannot. This is not me saying money doesn't matter because money is a huge part of the business but talent, influence, and a rich legacy in the industry also matter and should be factored into these discussions. Bruno has all three and so does Thesz. Bruno drew a lot of money for WWF in New York and had the longest WWF Championship reign ever. That's commendable to his historic career. Thesz also had lengthy and successful reigns as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Bruno wasn't nearly as talented as Thesz as a worker in the ring but Thesz wasn't some curtain jerker compared to Bruno either. As I stated in an earlier post, Thesz traveled the United States and internationally as NWA Champion to attract crowds and build prestige to the title and pro wrestling.
I don't want to take too much away from Bruno Sammartino's credit because he's a bonafide legend and he deserves mention amongst the greatest names, but I'm not going to place him at the very top of Golden Age wrestlers list over Lou Thesz. Bruno may have been a bigger star than Thesz but he is not the greater wrestling legend imo.