I DIDN"T ASK FOR THIS
The 30 roughest brawlers in wrestling history
In the tumultuous world of the squared circle, there are many types are competitors. Among them are some of the most technically proficient professional athletes, who can be found in the highest levels of any arena of competition.
However, this is not the class of warrior we are talking about here. Oh no. Instead, WWE.com breaks down the toughest, roughest ring destroyers who have ever stepped through the ropes.
#30 The Brooklyn Brawler
As hardnosed as a collision at home plate, The Brooklyn Brawler grappled his way through WWE in a torn New York Yankees shirt, a leather cap and all-American blue jeans. Despite having access to Bobby "The Brain" Heenan’s managerial talents, Brawler didn’t win many matches, but that’s what might have made this man from the County of Kings so special.
#29 Dick the Bruiser
You don’t become known as the “The World’s Most Dangerous Wrestler” by accident, and Dick the Bruiser proved he was as dangerous as they come. The only proof needed is the battle scars on his face.Forged on the midway alongside the tough-as-nails Green Bay Packers of the 1950s, the ruthless Bruiser combined an absolutely explosive brawling style with a complete and total disregard for the rules. This outrageous battler was so intense that he was once banned from competing in the state of New York for causing a riot in his very first match there.On another occasion, legend has it he started a bar brawl with Detroit Lions great Alex Karras. This encounter would serve as a prelude to a legendary match between them that is widely regarded as one of the early frontrunners of hardcore wrestling.
#28 George "The Animal" Steele
With his trademark green tongue and hairy torso, George "The Animal" Steele might be the most unorthodox man to step foot in a WWE ring. Both inside the ring and out, he lived up to his moniker. Like a true animal, Steele was virtually impossible to contain. He clawed at opponents, bit them and used just about every illegal maneuver in the book, but his most devastating hold was his Flying Hammerlock, which could separate an opponent's shoulder in mere seconds.Witness the savagery of "The Animal"When he wasn't biting his opponents, “The Animal” was eating turnbuckles, and his opponents would then be tossed headfirst into the exposed steel bolt that secured the ropes to the ring post.Since Steele retired, his legend has only grown, and his very name still evokes terror. He captured the spotlight, and of all the unusual people who have plied their trade in WWE, “The Animal” was truly one of a kind.
#27 The Minnesota Wrecking Crew
Some things are just simple matters of fact. For example, no one in history delivered a more devastating spinebuster than Arn Anderson. Another simple matter of fact? Arn and Ole Anderson are two of the greatest — if unconventional — brawlers ever. Though not roughnecks in the traditional sense, the Andersons could best be described as “tactical brawlers,” often focusing on a single body part and continuing to hammer away throughout the course of a bout.See how The Minnesota Wrecking Crew dished out punishmentFor their part, Arn and Ole will be best remembered as original members of The Four Horsemen, but they formed their own tag team in 1985. Reestablishing a classic team from the 1960s, the Andersons created The Minnesota Wrecking Crew and certainly lived up to their name, plowing through opponents and capturing the NWA National Tag Team Titles.
Taming wild animals is best left to trained professionals. Taming “The Animal” is another matter entirely.Trained by Afa of The Wild Samoans, this out-of-control brute from the rough streets of Washington, D.C., emerged on the scene in a beastly fashion and never looked back.Watch Batista create havoc inside a steel cageOnce unleashed, Batista mixed it up with everybody from Triple H to The Undertaker to Randy Orton to John Cena. His furious approach to the squared circle earned him a sea of accolades, including winning the 2005 Royal Rumble Match and eventually becoming a six-time World Heavyweight Champion. He was so unbeatable in his first World Title reign that it lasted 282 days — a WWE record for longest single reign in that title’s history.
#25 Dick Murdoch
“Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch is one of the toughest men to ever step inside the squared circle. Coming out of Waxahachie, Texas, Murdoch had the physique of a bar fighter and the surly attitude to back it up.Watch Dick Murdoch fighting dirty against Tony AtlasThough he was never one to turn down a one-on-one battle, Murdoch found success as a tag team competitor. As The Texas Outlaws, Murdoch and Dusty Rhodes traveled all over the United States, wreaking havoc in matches that resembled saloon brawls. Perhaps his greatest achievement came in WWE in 1984, when he and a brawler from the streets of New York City, Adrian Adonis, captured the World Tag Team Titles.
#24 Big Boss Man
Blessed with the fleetness of a wide receiver and the girth of a lineman, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Big Boss Man wowed audiences with his agility. Yet, as impressive as maneuvers such as his enzuigiri kick were, it was Boss Man’s unrelenting power — combined with quick hands and a surly demeanor— that made him a truly devastating Superstar.Watch Big Boss Man teach Al Snow about hard timeBefore joining the ranks of WWE, Boss Man worked for years as a corrections officer in Georgia, keeping in line those who were serving hard time. His fondness for fisticuffs transitioned naturally to the squared circle, where he belted opponents as varied as Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker with uppercuts that could be heard in the nosebleeds. Though championship glory escaped Boss Man for much of his career, his late ’90s renaissance in WWE gave way to four reigns with the now-defunct Hardcore Championship — a true measuring stick for any brawler.
#23 "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
A true, red-blooded American, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was as strong and as tough as he was charismatic. A former football player drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, the patriotic competitor would march to the ring with his trademark two-by-four slung over his shoulder — a suggestion from Duggan's rough-and-tough mentor, Bruiser Brody — while chanting "U.S.A.!"See "Hacksaw" doing what he does best“Hacksaw” charged into hard-hitting matches against a slew of top-notch brawlers, winning the inaugural Royal Rumble Match by eliminating One Man Gang, reigning supreme over Haku to call himself the "King of Wrestling" and defeating Steve Austin on his first night in WCW to capture the United States Championship.Still occasionally returning to WWE to mix it up today, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is definitely a true American brawler, “tough guy!”
One of WWE’s ultimate brawlers on the current roster, the fiery Sheamus has battled his way to both the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Title, decimating any Superstar who dares to cross his path.See Sheamus kicking arse in a Dublin Street FightThe Celtic Warrior doesn’t rely on the luck of the Irish when he gets in the ring. Instead, he lays out his opponents with his devastating High Cross, Irish Curse and his most lethal weapon, the Brogue Kick. While it often comes with a warning of The Great White pounding his fist on his chest and repeatedly shouting “Brogue!” his rivals rarely anticipate the massive boot in the face coming their way.
#21 Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy
In the infamous rebel trio of The Fabulous Freebirds — a unit consisting of Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy that thumbed its nose at authority — it was never in doubt that Gordy was the intimidating muscle of the group.Watch a slugfest between Terry Gordy and Bam Bam BigelowAt 6-foot-4 and a husky 260 pounds, the man nicknamed “Bam Bam” laid waste to lesser opponents in the Texas and Mid-South territories with a variety of strikes and slams. Rare was the occasion when a Gordy match didn’t veer outside the confines of the ring. His use of the incapacitating “Asiatic spike” — a rude thumb to the throat — had a reputation for injuring opponents, and it sparked outcry from officials, fans and foes alike.Though he flirted with a run in WWE, briefly appearing as The Executioner in 1996, Gordy is perhaps best remembered for the destruction he carried to Japan, where he and partner “Dr. Death” Steve Williams teamed as the aptly named Miracle Violence Connection.
#20 Triple H
If you're an up-and-coming Superstar looking to make it in WWE, there is no better Superstar to emulate than Triple H.Originally emerging as the well-groomed Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Triple H evolved into a brutal warrior who tenaciously fought not only his foes, but also his way to the very top of WWE. En route, The King of Kings racked up 13 World Championships and some grisly injuries in his physical wars against terrors like Cactus Jack, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Kane.Watch Triple H battle in an infamous Three Stages of Hell MatchIf there is any doubt about how far The Game is willing to push himself in a fight, just look to his epic showdown with The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVIII. It’s required viewing for anyone who thinks they know what being tough is all about.
#19 Blackjack Mulligan
Standing at a brutish 6-foot-9, Blackjack Mulligan was one of the roughest in-ring competitors to ever come out of the state of Texas — and that’s saying something.Watch an ugly brawl between Blackjack Mulligan and Moondog SpotA star football player at West Texas State University, Mulligan brought the full force of his aggression to the squared circle. In addition to many regional championships, he was NWA World Tag Team Champion (with Ric Flair), NWA United States Heavyweight Champion and NWA World Heavyweight Champion, defeating WWE Hall of Famer Bobo Brazil. Mulligan also had many memorable battles with WWE Hall of Famer Andre the Giant, as well as wars with Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino.A vicious competitor in his own right, he would join with Jack Lanza to form one of the most infamous and merciless tag teams ever. As The Blackjacks, the two rough and tough Texans backed up their intimidating look with relentless offense and rule-breaking.
#18 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Although a beloved WWE Hall of Famer today, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper began his WWE career as one of the most hated villains ever to step between the ropes. From his early days in the squared circle to his days in WWE, the out-of-control Superstar ran wild in brutal fashion.Famous for hosting the most innovative (and controversial) interview segment in WWE history “Piper’s Pit,” “Hot Rod” always backed up his words in the ring, taking on everyone from Ric Flair to Hulk Hogan to Andre The Giant to Jimmy Snuka to Mr. T (in a Boxing Match) to anyone else he didn’t particularly like. Once the bell rang, he would unleash a furious onslaught of pure brutality. Never one to back down from a fight, he once even competed in a gory series of Dog Collar Matches against Greg Valentine that cost him partial hearing in one of his ears.Relive the insanity of Piper vs. Goldust in a Hollywood Backlot BrawlThough Piper captured many titles throughout his illustrious career, his legacy will always be a profound ability to talk the talk and walk the walk — doing one just as intensely as the other.
#17 The APA
Before JBL was JBL, he was simply Bradshaw, and he combined with Faarooq to form the always ready to rumble APA. If it wasn’t enough that the rough-and-tough combination was known to share company with the likes of The Undertaker, The APA were also so intimidating that other Superstars would actually hire them as their bodyguards.Witness an insane bar fight involving The APAFond of playing cards and drinking, Bradshaw and Faarooq always came ready to mix it up. Whether they were duking it out in World Tag Team Title Matches, Bar Room Brawls or, on occasion, actual pub fights, the brawling “brothers” always gave as good as they got against everybody from Kane to Edge & Christian to The Dudley Boyz.
#16 Tommy Dreamer
It’s more than just his hardcore heritage that make former ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer one of the greatest brawlers of all time.So what separates the ECW Original from his extreme brethren? One word: tenacity. Neither pain nor penalties nor consequences nor the agony of defeat ever kept Dreamer from completing his appointed rounds in the ring. He remained steadfast in taking the fight to his opponents when rivals like Jerry “The King” Lawler, Raven and The Sandman tried to break his spirit. He stayed loyal to the hardcore cause of ECW during the Monday Night Wars and WWE’s relaunch in 2006.See Dreamer in a wild brawl in the ECW ArenaIt was never hard to knock Dreamer down. It was getting him to stay down that was the trick since, as sure as the sunrise, he would always rise again. It was not because he was motivated by championship gold or his legacy, but because he enjoyed punishing opponents enough to understand why the world called him The Innovator of Violence.
#15 "Dr. Death" Steve Williams
Some guys just look like brawlers — and Steve Williams certainly fits that description. Big, burly and bearded, “Dr. Death” was the last person you’d want to meet in a dark alley. Talented in the ring, Williams was a naturally gifted athlete who took full advantage of his size and strength to deliver a brute-force offensive assault to his opponents.Watch The Miracle Violence Connection in tag team actionA master at putting foes away, Williams’ arsenal included three devastating finishing maneuvers: the Doctor Bomb, the Backdrop Driver and, perhaps most devastating, the Oklahoma Stampede. A classic rough-and-tumble performer, “Dr. Death” is also remembered for his tag team run with Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy. Together they were known as The Miracle Violence Connection as they rampaged through Japan, racking up victims for nearly a decade.
#14 The Dudley Boyz
In the opinion of the great ECW announcer Joey Styles, The Dudley Boyz are, quite simply, the greatest tag team of all time (sorry, Road Warriors fans).Originally an ECW comedy act spoofing the goonish Hanson Brothers from the movie “Slap Shot,” half-brothers (wink wink) Bubba and D-Von went on to be the longest-tenured and most decorated tag team of all time, winning 23 recognized World Team Titles over 14 years.See The Dudley Boyz rumble in an infamous TLC MatchSouth Philly Street Fights? Check. TLC Matches? Check. Electrified Steel Cage Matches? Check. Beating up The Gangstas, The Hardys, Edge and Christian, The APA and countless other teams? Checkmate.
#13 John Cena
When John Cena gets in the ring, one thing is for certain — his opponents better be prepared for the fight of their lives. Since 2002, the leader of the Cenation has brawled and beaten his way to 11 WWE Championships and two World Heavyweight Championships. Cena is a powerhouse in the ring, using all of his 6-foot-1, 251-pound frame to forge one earth-shattering battle after another.Watch Cena in the fight of his life against Brock LesnarWith a hard-hitting, never quit attitude and heroic strategy of “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect,” The Champ wears down his opponents with a combination of unrelenting heart and brutal force. In the end, Cena can either seal victory with a vicious Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall victory, or make an opponent tap out to the unforgiving STF.Combined with his fearless “Never Give Up” mantra, Cena’s penchant for brawling has given him a huge advantage in the WWE ring.
The man they call Vader earned the nickname “The Mastodon” for a reason. He attacked opponents with the force and rage of a prehistoric beast, leaving his competition in a heap when he was through.Watch a physical encounter between Vader and Cactus JackBig Van Vader burst on to the American scene in 1990 after terrorizing Japanese rings, crushing opponents with clubbing blows before finishing them off with his trademark powerbomb. His bruising style in the ring knew no bounds. The laundry list of stars who fell at the hands of Vader is a who’s who of sports-entertainment’s elite: Sting, Cactus Jack, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, just to name a few, all have felt the unbridled fury of Vader.
#11 Dusty Rhodes
Born the son of a plumber, WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes mixed a blue-collar work ethic with a soul singer’s charisma to become one of the most in-demand competitors of all time as he fought for the common man with everything he had.See Dusty Rhodes rumble in the dangerous confines of War GamesWith unrelenting guts, Rhodes fought his way to the top of the NWA where he waged a brutal and lengthy war against the legendary Four Horsemen while capturing the distinguished NWA World Heavyweight Title on three separate occasions. Crowds lined up to see Rhodes deliver his Bionic Elbow to legendary rivals like Harley Race, Ric Flair, Ernie Ladd, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, “Superstar” Billy Graham and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.He may have called himself a common man, but when it came to spilling copious amounts of plasma in one of his countless wars in the ring, Dusty Rhodes was anything but common.
#10 Harley Race
A seven-time holder of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship between 1973 and 1983, Harley Race earned his accolades in the countless wars he waged against such greats as Dory Funk Jr., Giant Baba, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. Through it all, he forged a reputation as one of the toughest men ever to step through the ropes.See a classic brawl between Harley Race and Ric FlairRepresenting the sport's oldest World Title with pride and defending it with his raw-boned and rugged mat style, Race was so tough and celebrated that he is one of the few NWA Champions who would engage in title unification matchups against WWE Champions like “Superstar” Billy Graham and Bob Backlund.The fierce competitor eventually brawled his way into WWE during the company's national expansion and became "The King" Harley Race. This is fitting since, throughout his career, he proved himself one of the true regal grapplers of destruction.
#9 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar said it himself, and he said it best: He’s an “ass-kicker,” plain and simple.As evidenced by his fighting style in his WWE return at WWE Extreme Rules against John Cena, Lesnar’s methods inside the ring are nothing short of brutal. Arguably the most-talked about battle of 2012, Lesnar’s vicious assault on the Cenation leader may not have ended in victory for the former UFC Champion, but it cemented his place among the greatest brawlers of all time. With a blunt, hold-nothing-back approach to his offense, Lesnar is one of the biggest threats to ever enter a WWE ring.Witness a grueling battle between Brock Lesnar and Triple HAnd if his wars against Cena, Triple H and CM Punk were any indication of how the brawler plans to assault foes moving forward, the term “here comes the pain” has a whole new meaning.
#8 Stan Hansen
Dubbed “The Bad Man from Borger, Texas,” Stan Hansen was the walking, talking, tobacco-chewing epitome of a no-nonsense cowboy. Though far from Herculean in appearance – The Last Outlaw’s belly unabashedly spilled over his simple black trunks – Hansen was a blustery force inside the ring.His bullwhip-cracking entrance was terrifying enough; never mind Hansen’s trademark Lariat clothesline, which was thrown with bullet velocity and, as Hansen got on in years, often half blindly.Get a rare look at a wild brawl between Stan Hansen and Hulk HoganIn 1976, he broke the neck of WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino, and in 1990, he knocked Vader’s eye out of its socket. A bounty-hunting mercenary at various points in his career, Hansen wreaked havoc around the world for nearly 30 years before hanging up the bullwhip in 2000.
#7 Abdullah The Butcher
“The Madman from the Sudan” has been jabbing his fork at opponents and fans across the globe for more than half a century, and in all this time, the 400-pounder's distinctive look has barely changed — his baggy pants hiked high above his bulging belly, his eyes mad and wandering, his forehead carved so deeply with scars that he can firmly insert quarters into the wounds like a coin slot.Watch a classic brawl between Abdullah the Butcher and Bruiser BrodyThe WWE Hall of Famer never stayed put in one spot for long, inflicting his damage and moving on to the next wrestling company. His most significant exposure came in WCW where Abby terrorized Sting and was fried in an electric chair during the infamous Chamber of Horrors Match at Halloween Havoc 1991.The terror brawled with a list of victims that reads like a Hall of Fame itself. They all can attest to the same fact — a champion wasn’t a champion until he came face to face with Abdullah the Butcher.
#6 The Undertaker
After more than 20 years of unparalleled intimidation and domination, Undertaker proved at WrestleMania XXIX that he is still as dangerous and as brutal as he’s ever been.On The Grandest Stage of Them All, The Phenom laid his body and mind on the line in an epic brawl against CM Punk. It was one of the most grueling matches in recent memory. Not only did Taker push The Streak to an ungodly 21-0 and further etch his already hallowed name into the history books, but he also reminded the WWE Universe that any time The Deadman steps inside the squared circle, it’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight to remember.Relive the night The Undertaker ended Shawn Michaels' careerIn such a brawl, Undertaker poses as great a threat as any Superstar in WWE history. His diverse move set — with the bruising Tombstone piledriver and the jiu jitsu-inspired Hell’s Gate submission — spells doom for any who dare oppose him. As long as The Deadman lurks on the periphery of WWE, no one is safe from the gloved grip of sports-entertainment’s grim reaper of justice.
#5 Bruiser Brody
Bruiser Brody was the prototypical brawler. A massive, ill-mannered brute with the beard of a mountain man and the unpleasant disposition of a DMV employee, the 6-foot-8 masher from Santa Fe, N.M., pioneered what would become hardcore wresting through his brutal wars with Kamala the Ugandan Giant, The Funks and, most famously, Abdullah the Butcher. Revered for his freewheeling melees from Texas to Japan, Brody intimidated opponents and promoters alike with his blunt attitude and disarming intellect.See Bruiser Brody take on another great brawler in Buzz SawyerA former journalist with a college education, the big man understood that every spurt of red plasma mattered — a quality too often lacking in the most careless of brawlers. In the years after Brody’s untimely death in summer 1988, many would adopt his “intelligent monster” persona. None would do it better.
#4 Terry Funk
When considering Terry Funk on a list of the greatest brawlers of all time, we’re not referring to the clean-shaven, clean cut, wool tights wearing youngster who won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from fellow WWE Hall of Famer Jack Brisco in 1975.Watch Terry Funk brawl with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in an actual barNo. We’re talking about the self-proclaimed “middle-aged and crazy” Terry Funk who returned from starring in Sylvester Stallone movies to piledrive Ric Flair through a table. We’re talking about the Terry Funk who replaced the short arm scissors and spinning toehold with a flaming branding iron and barbed wire as his weapons of choice. Last but not least, we’re talking about the brawling badass who amped up his extreme etiquette in WWE as Chainsaw Charlie while wielding, you guessed it, a chainsaw. OH MY GOD, a chainsaw! Enough said.
#3 The Road Warriors
The Road Warriors are the most dominant tag team in sports-entertainment’s history, period. Bodybuilder thick with their heads shaved into wild Mohawks like some post-apocalyptic monsters, Hawk & Animal’s intimidating appearance immediately brought them attention, but it was the carnage they caused in the ring that truly gave them a following.Watch The Road Warriors vs. Sting & Booker T in a Chicago Street FightFor two decades, it was a massacre every time the duo suited up in their motorcycle boots and spiked leather collars. They smashed Baron Von Raschke & The Crusher in Minnesota, stomped through The Midnight Express in Georgia and battered Harley Race & Stan Hansen in Florida. Wherever they went — from the Deep South to Japan — they broke bones and won titles.Finally arriving in WWE in 1990 as The Legion of Doom, the tough guys immediately disposed of Demolition before defeating The Nasty Boys to become the World Tag Team Champions at SummerSlam 1991. With this victory, The Legion of Doom became the only duo in the history of sports-entertainment to hold the tag team titles in AWA, NWA and WWE. Oh, what a rush!
#2 Cactus Jack
Why was Cactus Jack so dangerous? Because he never got in a fight that he cared if he could win. This deranged Superstar — one of the “three faces” of WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley — didn’t concern himself with victory so much as punishment. He went into each match with the singular mindset of leaving his opponent a quivering mess by the time the final bell rang.Relive the famous Falls Count Anywhere Match between Cactus Jack and Triple HTrue, Cactus didn’t always win the fights, but it’s hard to argue against a Superstar who literally fell onto an explosive device and came back for more. Cactus traveled all around the world, from stints in WCW and ECW to tours of Japan, leaving a trail of pain and suffering in his wake before his grand swan song in WWE — a Hell in a Cell Match against Triple H with his career on the line. That it took a stipulation to finally get him to stop fighting says more than any YouTube clip ever could.
#1 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
What would “Stone Cold” Steve Austin do? For the most part, the answer involved an awful lot of fighting. This beer-swilling son of Texas loved to throw down against anyone on two feet, from the iconic Rock to “The Baddest Man on the Planet” himself, Mike Tyson.Watch one of Austin's best brawls against Dude LoveAustin’s fighting style was pretty basic at its core — locate target, punch repeatedly — but what made The Texas Rattlesnake special was the world-beating attitude with which he carried himself. There was never an ounce of humility in him, and Austin, more so than anyone else on this list, was never in doubt that he was going to win a fight. Oh, and the guy he liked to beat up on the most? His boss. Mr. McMahon felt “Stone Cold’s” wrath more so than any Superstar before or since. Austin ultimately never fought for us, but he always fought like we wished we could, against the people we wanted to fight the most.So raise your Steveweisers, WWE Universe, and run for cover before “Stone Cold” sees you’ve got your guard down.