Scott Steiner, who is no skyscraper but rather a "genetic freak" with the "largest arms in the world," once said that size does matter. Vince McMahon will probably tell you the same thing, because even with smaller guys like Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins attaining success in the WWE ring, there's nothing better for Vince than a jacked physical specimen who looks the part of a pro wrestler...or a towering, larger-than-life giant, who also looks the part.
Playing the part is a different story altogether, as a lot of wrestling giants prove to be woefully lacking in workrate. Sure, there are some notable exceptions to this general rule, but by and large, wrestling's 7-foot-and-above giants have turned out to be clumsy, uncoordinated stiffs. Still, that doesn't stop promoters from hiring them in hopes of signing the literal next big thing. Who are these extremely tall individuals, and to be specific, who are the tallest wrestlers to ever compete in pro wrestling?
One important note before we begin – the heights of the wrestlers in this list are all, as far as we know, their real-life heights, and not their kayfabe ones. So consider yourself S-A-W-F-T if you're looking forward to an entry on Big Cass, for instance – as his NYU basketball profile will tell you, he's actually closer to 6'8", and you can't teach that.
Without further ado, be prepared to look up to some really tall wrestlers, and see what became of them.
15 Jeff Bearden (7'0")
Let's start out with a rather old-school, obscure example, yet one who deserves mention for the interesting career path he took. At 7'0" and 350 pounds, Jeff Bearden was an indie and international wrestling mainstay in the '80s and '90s, using the ring names Colossus the Gladiator and Giant Warrior in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and South Africa. The highlight of his career came when he faced "Barbarian" for the NWA Indo-Asian Championship in 1993, wrestling in front of a record crowd of 75,000 in Mumbai. We're using quotation marks here since we're not sure if the "Barbarian" in question was the same guy who was part of The Powers of Pain and The Headshrinkers (as Sione) in the WWE.
We promised you an interesting career path for Bearden, and we call it that because after he retired from wrestling in 2010, he became a motivational speaker, calling himself the "Get Back on Your Feet Guy." He also hosts a Las Vegas radio show called "Good Guys of Pro Wrestling," proving that he's still passionate about the business at this point in his life.
14 Brian Norton (7'0")
Brian who? Although he's the youngest wrestler in this list at 31 or 32, as well as the most recent example, Northern Irish wrestler Brian Norton might not ring much of a bell. Neither should his ring name, "The Northern Irish Nightmare" Jason Mullen. But WWE saw big things in the former traffic warden, signing him to a five-year deal in 2011 and assigning him to their developmental territory, FCW. Apparently, he wasn't any good, as he was released the very same year he was signed.
At the moment, Norton is back home in Northern Ireland, where he serves as part-owner of local promotion Pro Wrestling Ulster. Interestingly, his Twitter biography lists him as the "uncredited third Hodor," suggesting that he may have been a stunt double for Kristian Nairn on Game of Thrones. We have only one word to say about that, and any GoT fan knows what it is – Hodor.
13 Jackson Andrews (7'0")
From 2000 to 2004, Steven Andrew Slocum (who strangely went by both Steve and Andy as a basketball player) manned the middle for Texas A&M, averaging close to 8 points and 9 rebounds as a senior. But since those aren't exactly the numbers that could make the NBA drool over a legit 7-footer, he took his talents to Europe, then to the WWE a few years after his basketball career ended. There, he was renamed Jackson Andrews and assigned to FCW. He would make his main roster debut late in 2010 as Tyson Kidd's bodyguard.
Like so many other big, sweaty men to catch Vince McMahon's eye, Andrews was too raw for the main roster, and is barely remembered for his very brief WWE run. He is, however, far more notorious for being a man with two nicknames AND two fiancees, including Rosa Mendes, who accused him of physical abuse in 2012. Now 37 years old, he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth since that incident, though he also appears to have quietly retired from wrestling.
12 Eli Cottonwood (7'0")
This list is chock-full of basketball players who turned to the world of wrestling after college or their national team, but only Kipp Christianson could claim to have actually played in the D-League. Then again, it's not like he had much hope of cracking an NBA roster. The 7'0"-265 Christianson played 9 games for the Charleston Lowgators in 2003-04, averaging only 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Years later, Christianson became NXT Season 2 rookie Eli Cottonwood, and was the second elimination in a season that featured several ex-college football players – Lucky Cannon, Percy Watson, Titus O'Neil, and Husky Harris, a.k.a. the future Bray Wyatt. And speaking of that buzzard-following son of a taxman, did you know that Cottonwood was, until he was released by WWE in 2012, technically the first-ever Wyatt Family member?
A late bloomer in the world of pro wrestling, Cottonwood retired in 2014 a few months shy of his 40th birthday, but briefly resurfaced for an indie match in Minnesota in 2016. He's also a part-owner of Florida Hardcore Wrestling and was, as of 2015, the owner of a Las Vegas yoga business.
11 Andre The Giant (7'0")
Up to now, there's still a lot of debate as to how tall Andre the Giant really was. If you ask WWE, he was always 7'4", but the above photo of Andre with the 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain (and a very small-looking Arnold Schwarzenegger) suggests that he may have been at least an inch shorter than the NBA legend. Still, a giant is a giant by any other name, and Andre was huge by any and all standards, past or present. And we don't need to jog your memory on the immense impact he had on sports entertainment, first as a beloved, ostensibly undefeated babyface, then as a hated heel who feuded with Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.
At the time of the Hogan feud, Andre was already in his 40s and having an increasingly hard time dealing with his acromegaly (i.e. gigantism) and the health problems associated with it. And in a painful bit of irony, Andre passed away in January 1993, only 46 years old and having returned home to France for his father's funeral.
10 Giant Titan (7'1")
Straight from the Department of Redundancy Department, we bring you Giant Titan, which is the ring name used by former WWE developmental talent Michael Jarvi. At 7'1" and 348 pounds, his size made him a very enticing prospect for Vince McMahon when WWE signed him in 2007, but he lasted just a year in FCW before getting released. For the purposes of this list, we cannot stress this enough – size isn't enough these days to make it in the big leagues.
Following his release from WWE, Jarvi bounced around the independent circuit for several years, and was last seen competing for New Era Wrestling in 2014. His Twitter information suggests that he was based in South Tampa as of 2016, though he hasn't posted anything new since last year.
9 Big Show (7'1")
We've already covered Andre the Giant, so let's move on to his onetime kayfabe son, the Big Show. Strangely enough, the World's Largest Athlete is an interesting case of a wrestler WWE bills as being shorter than his actual height – for the sake of keeping things simple, Show is billed at 7 feet flat, but he was listed at 7'1" as a third-string center for the Wichita State Shockers in the 1991-92 season.
Nowadays, fans often poke fun at Big Show for his ability to turn face or heel at the drop of a dime, his age, or his rather underwhelming present-day finisher, the KO Punch. But in a wrestling career that's spanned nearly two-and-a-half decades, he's established himself as someone who was, and still is, more talented than the average giant wrestler.
Now 45 years old, Big Show remains on WWE's active roster and in arguably the best shape he's been in since his WCW days as The Giant, though he has mentioned that 2017 will likely be his final year before retiring from wrestling.
8 The Great Khali (7'1")
Please, WWE. Jinder Mahal's unexpected mega-push is enough as it is, and arguably commendable. It's good that WWE's focus on the Indian market involves two small guys (The Singh Brothers) and a medium-sized guy (Mahal), but it should not, by any means necessary, include a certain big guy called The Great Khali. His matches were downright unwatchable, and downgrading him from a main event star and former World Heavyweight Champion to comedy midcarder did not help matters any.
That said, Khali's piss-poor ring work is not at all uncommon in giant wrestlers, and he was, by most accounts, a great guy backstage. Following his release in 2014, Khali returned home to India to open a wrestling school, and his work as a wrestler and occasional Hollywood and Bollywood actor has given him great popularity in his home country.
7 Ron Reis (7'1")
Seriously. Ron Reis should have stuck to basketball. With his height, an NBA team could have easily used the former Santa Clara starting center as a project off the bench. But let's move on from Reis the basketball player, and focus on Reis the wrestler, who was pretty atrocious in the ring as he stunk it up in WCW as The Yeti. (Or, as Tony Schiavone said it, "THE YET-TAY!") Up to now, Big John Studd's former protege can't live down the fact that he made his WCW debut billed as an abominable snowman, yet rolled up in toilet paper like an overgrown school kid's mummy costume for Halloween.
Reis wasn't much better in the ring as Super Giant Ninja or as Reese, the incompetent enforcer of Raven's Flock. That's why WCW released him in 1998 before everything began to unravel for the company, and that's probably why he's mostly removed from the wrestling business these days, working for a wine distributor in WCW's old stomping ground of Atlanta.
6 Raja Lion (7'2")
Fans of Botchamania should be familiar with this true curiosity of the wrestling business – 7'2" Pakistani wrestler Muhammad Malik Khan, a.k.a. Raja Lion. But for those who aren't familiar, the then-21-year-old Lion wrestled the legendary Giant Baba (6'10", in case you're wondering) in 1987 and, to be quite honest, made the aforementioned Great Khali and The Yeti look like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, while making Giant Gonzalez look like Ric Flair. Lion was literally tripping over himself in that match, launching some of the most awkward kicks out there. In fact, kicking was his only form of offense, but Bruce Lee this guy wasn't.
Although his few matches are currently the stuff of wrestling infamy, no information seems to be available on what Raja Lion is up to these days. But we do wonder what he thinks of his status as someone who was, quite possibly, the worst wrestler to ever set foot in a ring.
5 Giant Silva (7'2")
Like many others in this list, Paulo da Silva was a basketball player before becoming a pro wrestler, and he did suit up for Brazil's national team as a 7'2" reserve center in the late-'80s. About a decade later, he was Giant Silva in the WWE, and like his fellow members of the Oddities faction, he would dance around in the ring after matches, win or lose, and generally look awful, showing little coordination or anything resembling sound technical wrestling in his few WWE matches.
When his brief WWE run ended, Silva was off to Japan, where he competed in NJPW and tried his luck in mixed martial arts as part of the Pride FC roster. He was only marginally better in the MMA scene, retiring in 2006 with an uninspiring 2-6 record that somehow included a win over sumo legend Akebono. He's mostly stayed out of the limelight since then, though with his national team experience, perhaps sticking to basketball may have been a better idea.
4 Kurt Zehe (7'2")
The oldest example in this list, Kurt Zehe was a German actor who stood 7'2" and weighed over 450 pounds, and had a film career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1950s. He was already in his late-30s when he began his wrestling career, moving to the United Kingdom and facing Irish boxer Jack Doyle in his most notable match, in 1952. Doyle was no little man himself, standing at 6'5", but he was definitely dwarfed by Zehe, who was billed as Gargantua and said to be as tall as 8'4".
Looking at footage of Gargantua wrestling back in the day, it's clear that he was very limited in the ring, booked as a monster heel who'd overwhelm opponents with his sheer size. He passed away sometime in 1969 at the age of 56 or 57, with very little else known about him apart from what was mentioned above.
3 Silo Sam/Trapper John (7'3")
You'd think that this passionate wrestling fan from the Hulkamania era onwards would clearly remember the gigantic mid-'80s WWE wrestler called Trapper John, but sadly, I've got nothing. Research tells us that this behemoth of a man, whose real name is John Harris, was on WWE's payroll in 1986 and that he wrestled only one TV taping, but the fact he lasted such a brief period of time leads us to think that he was very, VERY lacking in the ring.
Harris was billed as being as tall as 7'8", and also competed in Fritz Von Erich's WCCW under the ring name Silo Sam. Apparently, he passed away in April of 2005 at the age of 52, though he's become such an obscurity that there's no available information on his cause of death.
2 Max Palmer (7'7")
There is many a myth regarding the man born in Mississippi in 1927 as Max Palmer. First, there's his purported stint with the Rochester Royals (an ancestor of today's Sacramento Kings), which is listed on Wikipedia but doesn't seem to have happened. Secondly, there's the belief that he was Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer's stepfather – that was a different Max Palmer altogether. Thirdly, there's his billed height of 8'2" as a wrestler named after a mythological figure in his own right, the giant-sized lumberjack Paul Bunyan. He was actually 7'7", which is good enough to technically tie him for first place in this list.
Palmer, who also did some acting in Hollywood, only lasted a few years in the wrestling business, and was an evangelist by the 1960s, billing himself as "Goliath for Christ." He died in 1984 from heart disease, though good old Wikipedia claims that he was measured at 8'2" at the time of his death. Shows you what goes on when anybody can edit anything on an online encyclopedia.
1 El Gigante/Giant Gonzalez (7'7")
Jorge Gonzalez was a curiosity alright when the Atlanta Hawks used a 3rd-round draft pick on him in 1988. But the former Argentine men's basketball team center was too slow and too injury-prone for the NBA, which is why Hawks/WCW owner Ted Turner thought it would be a good idea if he tried his luck in wrestling as El Gigante. And here's a fun fact you might not know about Gonzalez – according to the previously-mentioned Ron Reis, it was Gonzalez whom WCW originally had in mind to play The Yeti, only for his WCW re-debut to get called off due to a diabetic attack.
That took place in 1995, and it's safe to say that ambling around as a toilet paper mummy would have been a very minor upgrade over wearing the garish, faux-nude bodysuit he wore as Giant Gonzalez in the WWE in 1993. He's still regarded as one of the worst big men to ever set foot in a WWE ring, if not the worst, though on a sad note, Gonzalez is no longer with us, having died in 2010 at the age of 44 due to complications from diabetes.