How do you describe a top rope bump that gave you the goosebumps to someone who doesn’t know anything about professional wrestling? Can you compare it to the grace of a back-to-back triple jump in ice skating, the beauty of a “Hail Mary” pass for a touchdown, and the art of a 360 windmill dunk? The answer is Yes! Yes! Yes!
It’s an art form of its own and some of the greatest Superstars to ever lace up the boots have made a living off of it. Legends like Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, and Jushin Liger have mystified us with their death defying leaps. Their sacrifice to pull off those insane moves from the top rope has put them in a special category. Then there are the other guys; the wrestlers who couldn’t pull off a top rope maneuver if their life depended on it.
Many of these guys are incredibly huge, but that’s no excuse. André the Giant attempted a top rope maneuver against Kamala in a steel cage match. Bam Bam Bigelow weighed well over 300 pounds and could do moonsaults off the top turnbuckle all day. Even Japanese wrestling star and sumo athlete Akebono Tarō attempted a top rope attack. Being 300 pounds is no excuse and wrestling in the ‘70s isn’t one either, so without further ado, here are 15 wrestlers who couldn’t climb to the top rope.
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15 The Great Khali
One of the tallest competitors to ever compete in a squared circle, The Great Khali would never set his feet on the top rope during a match. Maybe he isn’t suicidal or maybe he doesn’t want to accidentally kill another colleague, but we all know, Khali and high-flying maneuvers are like water and oil. He signed with WCW before the merger in 2000 but the WWE let him slip from their payroll.
He performed in different promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling and Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre before he signed with the WWE in 2006. He became the World Heavyweight Champion and was in many important feuds during his tenure. We will probably never see a top rope maneuver from The Punjabi Playboy but we doubt anyone is complaining about that.
The ECW legend loved leaning against the turnbuckles while sitting during his entrance but that was the extent of their relationship. Raven is as hardcore as it comes and he would rarely need a top rope maneuver to finish his opponent. Who needs a moonsault when you have barbed wire, a trash can, and chairs?
He even grew up during the era where top rope maneuvers were becoming bigger and more important in the match, however, Raven stayed true to his roots as a brawler and psychopath persona. Raven’s career wasn’t hurt by his move-set as he would go on to win championships in various promotions. After a short absence, Raven has come back to the ring this year, performing with other ECW legends like The Sandman and the next Superstar on this list.
13 Tommy Dreamer
Just like Raven, Tommy used his brawling and hardcore skills to push a match and make the fans pop. You won’t be finding him doing front-flips, a corkscrew moonsaults, or a senton bombs on YouTube anytime soon. He was trained by an unknown great who was more than just a wrestling enhancement worker in Johnny Rodz and made his professional debut in 1989.
A few years later he was hired by Eastern Championship Wrestling before it turned into Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. Not only is he on the "Mount Rushmore" of ECW legends but Dreamer is bringing back the hardcore theme matches with his promotion, House of Hardcore. We do give Tommy some credit about not being afraid of heights as he was involved in a scaffold match during his career.
12 King Kong Bundy
His vitriolic attitude made him one of the biggest heel Superstars in the ‘80s and we wouldn’t have it any other way. King Kong Bundy was so massive that it was believable he could crush superhero Superstars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Weighing over 400 pounds, Bundy was another larger than life figure when he stepped into the ring. He made his debut in ’81 and would join the WWE in ’85.
Bundy's move set was pretty simple, a body slam here, an elbow drop there, and then a big splash to top it off. The mammoth was not the type of person who would be climbing up to the top rope for a spectacular spot. Regardless, he was involved in many great feuds and won titles in other promotions besides the WWE.
11 Abdullah the Butcher
One of the scariest and most hardcore professional wrestlers to ever perform in the industry, Abdullah makes guys hardcore guys of today’s generation look like they belong on Sesame Street. When you see a photo of Abdullah, one thing you will notice is the scars on his forehead from years of blading. He started his career in 1958 and stuck with the wild man gimmick ever since.
He’s won countless titles, especially in NWA, and has given many children nightmares. One thing is for sure, the WWE Hall of Famer has never performed an attack from the top rope. Standing over six feet tall and weighing 300 pounds, Abdullah was not made for the top rope. He would rather bite you, cut you with a knife, and go after your throat.
10 Bastion Booger
He is well known for the horrible gimmick the WWE gave him, however, Mike Shaw had a decent career before making his way to the biggest stage of them all. He would make a name for himself in Canada, performing for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling and Vancouver’s NWA All-Star Wrestling. He would work with greats such as Owen and Bret Hart, and Davey Boy Smith.
Shaw was allegedly given the terrible gimmick as punishment and was never pushed as anything other than a “freak” gimmick. His final match was in 2009 and he opened a wrestling school in Michigan before his death at the age of 53 in 2010. Billed at 400 pounds, Bastion would never be seen on the top rope or even attempting a maneuver from the spot during his career.
9 Giant Gonzalez
Outside the WWE he was known as "El Giante" and is the tallest man to ever be a professional wrestler, standing at seven foot nine and weighing over 450 pounds. His athleticism came from a basketball background and he was actually drafted by Ted Turner’s Atlanta Hawks in the ’88 NBA draft. A knee injury and the physical demands of an NBA schedule made Gonzalez retire early, however, Turner gave him a contract to perform in his WCW promotion.
After a year of training, he made his national debut for WCW. He would have feuds with many talented legends such as Ric Flair and Sid Vicious before coming to the WWE. The most well-known feud to come out of his career was against The Undertaker. He would never set foot on the top rope and would retire from wrestling in ’95.
8 Bad Luck Fale
Bad Luck Fale had a chance to go to the WWE when his fellow Bullet Club member’s Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows signed with the company in the early part of 2016, but decided to stay with New Japan Pro Wrestling. The New Zealander grew up in the world of rugby but transitioned over to professional wrestling in 2009.
Most novice rookies in NJPW usually lose a lot before getting a push, however, NJPW gave Fale many chances to shine, such as wrestling in the G1 Tag League in his first year. He would become a member of the Bullet Club in 2013 and has been a powerhouse ever since. You will not see Fale making any attempts to destroy his opponent from the top rope. At 6'4" and weighing over 300 pounds, he’s easily the biggest man in NJPW.
7 Giant Haystacks
Professional wrestling in the United Kingdom hasn’t always been as popular as it has been across the great pond, however, there is a rich history of the industry dating back to the 70s. One of the most well-known and recognizable Superstars from that era was Giant Haystacks. He was 6'11" and 600 hundred pounds and his larger than life look helped push British wrestling on the map.
His most notable achievement was his feud with one-time tag team partner Big Daddy. Younger fans might know of him as one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling under WCW, when he portrayed Lochness. Giant Haystacks was slow and would constantly hold the rope as he walked to his opponent. We doubt he ever attempted a top rope maneuver.
6 Sid Eudy
Whether he was Sid Justice, Sid Steele, Sid Vicious, Sycho Sid, Vicious Warrior or hell even just Sid, one thing was a guarantee, he could not perform a top rope maneuver.
Through his professional wrestling journey, Sid found some great success as heel with his imposing figure. The formula was quite simple, don’t do too much and simply overwhelm your opponents with power. This ideology led Sid to several championships in multiple promotions, including both WWE and WCW.
For whatever reason, during the twilight of his career, Sid decided to take a trip onto the top turnbuckle. The idea failed miserably and Sid delivered one of the most gruesome botches in pro wrestling history literally snapping his leg. His top rope days were done following the incident.
5 Man Mountain Mike
If you watched enough matches of Haystacks Calhoun, you would know he had a feud and teamed up with a wrestler that went by the name of Man Mountain Mike. Both were huge, weighing over 600 pounds each, and both wore overalls to the ring, so what’s not to like? Mike was trained by The Great Bolo and made his professional debut in 1968. He would bounce around different promotions and even headlined some big events in Japan against legendary Superstar Antonio Inoki in ’75.
He would work for the WWE in the tag team division, but never won anything significant. One thing is for sure, Man Mountain Mike was never seen on the top rope and no record has him ever attempting a maneuver from there. It’s safe to say that a guy weighing over 600 pounds and wearing overalls kept his feet on the ground.
4 Happy Humphrey
Before there was Haystacks Calhoun, Happy Humphrey was the most recognizable super-heavyweight in the professional wrestling industry. He was billed as the world’s largest wrestler, weighing over 750 pounds and sometimes up to 900 pounds. He would get his start in the business against a bear in 1953 and his career would climax against Calhoun in a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden under promotion owner Vince McMahon Sr.
He also was a mentor to legendary wrestler Harley Race when The King just started getting his feet wet in the business at the age of 17. Remarkably, Humphrey would go on to lose 570 pounds after entering a clinic, however, he gained most of his weight back and passed away in 1989. Humphrey enjoyed gravity and he never would attempt a top rope maneuver in his career.
3 King Mabel
He’s one of the few wrestlers to ever have the honor of being part of WWE’s New Generation Era, Attitude Era, and Ruthless Aggression Era before his untimely death at the age of 43 in 2014. King Mabel or Viscera was an immovable object that could crush his opponents in just a few short minutes. He was built as a main event star during his first stint with the company which climaxed in a feud with Kevin Nash at King of the Ring ’95.
In his second stint, he was regulated to the mid-card and became an unscrupulous character that loved the dark side. Even though he weighed well over 400 pounds, King Mabel could reach the middle rope during his matches by performing a leg or elbow drop on his opponent. Key word, middle rope.
It’s been 16 long years since Yokozuna passed away at the young age of 34 and we can still remember his awesome character like it was yesterday. Billed as an anti-American from Japan, the Anoa’i family member quickly rose to the top of the WWE at a time when it took years to get there in ‘92. In less than a year, he would win the Royal Rumble and then face Bret Hart for the Heavyweight World Championship at WrestleMania IX.
Even though he won the belt, he lost it to Hulk Hogan the same night, recording the second shortest championship reign in the company’s history. Yokozuna would go on to have a prosperous career by winning titles and being in some epic feuds. The giant could never land a top rope move, but as we all know, he did use the turnbuckle for his finisher, the deadly Bonzai Drop. Again, even getting to the second rope was an immense struggle.
Who would have thought that in 2016, you would get Brock Lesnar versus Bill Goldberg at Survivor Series and be happy about it? Not us, especially after the atrocious match they had at WrestleMania XX. Goldberg has had a dominant career right from his national debut in 1997 when he fought against Hugh Morrus. WCW would push Goldberg to win 173 consecutive matches, something that wasn’t seen since the ‘60s and ‘70s with a top baby face.
He would win many titles and become one of the most recognizable faces of his era, however, how many of you can honestly say you remember any significant spot when Goldberg was on the top rope? He was an athletic beast, but could never pull off any ariel techniques, making him number one on this list.
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