Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top 50 Superstars of All Time

In 2010 WWE released a special countdown themed DVD that stirred up just a wee bit of controversy. That DVD I am covering today is The Top 50 Superstars of All Time (trailer). Todd Grisham hosts the DVD and chimes in every several chapters introducing the next superstar to make the list. He states in the intro the list was formed by surveying a variety of WWE superstars. He does not clarify any further, but I imagine various wrestlers were asked to rank their ten favorites and point totals were assigned to each list entry accordingly. Looking at how this list turned out however, I think the only personnel of WWE that were surveyed had their names end in McMahon.

Keeping in mind this was released originally in 2010, I realized where each superstar was in their careers at the time and that gave me a good idea on how they fared in their ranking. I was a little shocked minutes into the feature to see longtime PPV/TV headliner Batista make the cut at #49. Then I remembered this DVD hit a few months after he left the WWE after his eight year run there to pursue a Hollywood career, and it all started to make sense how this list would eventually pan out.

I will give props to this list for having each era of wrestling well represented with several prominent superstars from each decade making an appearance. This goes back to the black and white days with legends like Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz and Gorgeous George to old school NWA champions like the Funks, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. Almost all of the headliners from the Rock ‘n Wrestling era of the 80s WWF and the Attitude era of the 90s to the top stars from the roster split era of the 2000s find their place on the list, just where some of those land is what caused me to bat an eyebrow.

In 2010 Hulkamania was running wild….in the longtime struggling #2 promotion in America, TNA Wrestling. Ric Flair was hanging out there too at the time. If I were to do my own top 50 list, I can guarantee you that Ric Flair would be somewhere in the top three, and even though the Hulkster is not a mat technician by any means, I cannot deny his irresistible charisma that lead to big business and great childhood memories for me that would easily land him a top ten spot. I was definitely befuddled that Ric Flair clocked in all the way back at #17. Even if someone accidentally typed the “1” in front of that number, being ranked at #7 seemed too far back for the Nature Boy. However, I was shocked exponentially more to see the Hulkster make the list all the way back near the middle of the pack at #23. Yes, that is right, 23. I will allow you to go outside and scream random profanities for a few minutes.

The controversial rankings for The Top 50 Superstars of All Time is the reason to get all worked up watching this. WWE does not have in-depth profiles for each star on the list, and even going just a couple of minutes of quick career highlights on each wrestler winds up with a feature time just under two and a half hours. As with most other WWE documentaries, they have a wide range of current and former wrestlers interviewed for the feature. Regardless what you make of the rankings, if you are a newer fan and are not that familiar with the top stars of the business in the pre-cable years, then this is a convenient history lesson to watch and learn about some of the best in the business.

The primary reason I would recommend hunting this video down is the nice array of matches on here. Disc one is just the feature, while disc two and three feature a total of 21 matches. It shames me to admit I have never seen a match with NWA legend, Lou Thesz, but a few days ago I finally saw one from 1963 where he faced Argentina Rocca. The action is far more grounded back then and it was fascinating to see how far pro wrestling has evolved since then and to see the crowd go wild for 1963’s version of high spots in the form of only a couple of quick punch and kick flurries compared to the high spots of countless finishers and reversals in any televised main event today.

Other noteworthy matches on this collection is a ‘match’ between Gorilla Monsoon and Muhammad Ali, well to call it a match is quite a stretch as it is more like Ali gets embarrassed by Gorilla and Monsoon proceeds to bury him in an interview afterwards. There is another oddity of a match, this time an actual ‘boxing’ match between Gorilla Monsoon and Andre the Giant that spins out of control right from the get go. There are a few classic title matches on here that I did not mind watching again, like Bret Hart winning his first WWF title from Ric Flair in 1992, and the Halftime Heat special where Mankind and The Rock waged war in what I believe was the WWE’s first and only empty arena match that featured creative and entertaining use from a wide range of weaponry throughout the arena.

There are a few tag team matches from the early 2000s on here that were the go home PPV show that featured wrestlers from a couple matches on the PPV teaming up to face each other in a tag team match. These transpired during the apex of the Attitude era and featured very hot crowds popping big for teams featuring that era’s best like Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and the Hardyz. The last match featured in the collection is Edge and The Undertaker squaring off in the main event of Wrestlemania XXIV. I always thought this to be an underrated match as it featured a ton of great back and forth action with intense near falls, and probably the single greatest moment for a referee that has Charles Robinson making an all out 100-yard sprint down the Wrestlemania entrance ramp to make a pin count.

If you do not have time to watch all these individual matches, then I believe The Top 50 Superstars of All Time documentary is available in the ‘Beyond the Ring’ channel on the WWE Network. If you do have the time, then I highly recommend the DVD if you want to see a bunch of forgotten gems and oddities that make up this collection of matches on the bonus discs.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Primetime Specials

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