In the 1980s, in many homes, wrestling matches were watched live and recorded on videotapes for future re-runs. Missing a match between Rey Mysterio and Triple H was just unfathomable. The same goes for matches featuring famous stars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Randy Orton or the even more contemporary, Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock”.
Through many wrestlers, especially those doing a lot to put the sport on the global stage, betting on wrestling has become an exciting experience and gained popularity across the globe. The ones we will discuss here are incredibly accomplished; besides winning over and over again in the ring, they are some of the most commercially successful wrestlers ever.
1. Hulk Hogan
From the 1980s into the late 2000s, Hulk Hogan became the most popular wrestler globally, and the “Hulkamania” spread like wildfire. While Hulk Hogan might not rank as number 1 for his ring skills when compared to wrestlers like Ric Flair, for example, the Hulkster at one point was undeniably the highest-paid wrestler in the wrestling industry.
When it came to the business of being the poster wrestler role model for kids and a commercial wrestling icon, the Hulk Hogan persona drew more attention and, in turn, money than most, making him one of the most prosperous wrestlers of all time.
Ferocious, generally perceived as deadly with a dark and unrelenting persona, right up there with the Hulkster is the Undertaker. Although younger than the Hulkster, he is credited as the longest-serving wrestler with the WWE. However, unlike the Hulk Hogan commercial persona, as much as both adults and children loved the Undertaker, his personality did not make it easy to become a commercial role model for children.
His athletic and technical skills are unrivalled, evident in his winning of the Tuwaiq Mountain Trophy in Saudi Arabia, the only WWE superstar to have ever won this.
The youngest of the three on this list, Adam Joseph Copeland, commonly known as Edge, is a WWE Hall of Famer who dominated the WWE Smackdown tournaments before taking some time off and being forced to retire. He is one of the most endowed wrestlers in the history of wrestling, with over 11 world titles and other medal recognitions; this is more titles than any wrestler in WWE history.
Some of his famous wins include his defeat of The Undertaker in a table, ladder and chair match in 2008 to regain the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge is also credited for popularising and revolutionising the most entertaining wrestling matches, which require two or more wrestlers to tag-team and battle against a group of other wrestlers.
Wrestling remains a highly loved and supported sport, with many new wrestlers following the veterans’ footsteps. The rookies have also overshadowed the extent of popularity and fanfare that older wrestlers enjoyed.
WWE single-handedly put wrestling on the map with its various events and tournaments such as the WWE WrestleMania, the WWE Smackdown and the coveted WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A lot might have changed now, and many new faces might currently dominate the wrestling industry, but these three men carried wrestling on their backs for a long time.