There have been a number of overrated and underrated professional wrestlers throughout history. Some of these competitors enjoyed a level of success and admiration that didn't seem to match their skills in the ring, while others who possessed excellent technique never achieved the level of success and fame that some believe they deserved.
With some of the highly overrated wrestlers, that undeserved success followed them throughout their careers allowing them to defeat otherwise skilled athletes that they should have not otherwise been able to defeat.
On the other hand, there have been a boatload of very talented wrestlers, who were underrated and therefore remained low level participants and were never recognized for their talent. These unfortunate individuals never progressed to the next level. This failure is either due to the lack of recognition from "the powers that be" or perhaps a lack of enthusiasm from the fans worldwide.
In this article, we will be looking at 20 wrestlers, 10 of them being overrated and 10 being underrated. Many of these wrestlers have been fan favorites, but this article is not meant to take anything away from them. It's worth mentioning that all of the guys on this list were hard-working talented athletes.
I do have to hand it to these guys on the overrated list because somehow they were able to play "the game" better, regardless of their skill level. All of the wrestlers on this list were great talents, and many of these underrated wrestlers deserve the same respect that their more successful counterparts received throughout their wrestling days.
Here are the 10 most overrated and 10 most underrated wrestlers of all time.
16 Overrated: Lex Luger
Lex Luger's physique was the main reason he achieved the success he did during his wrestling career. His work on the mic and in the ring came off as uninspired. The other reason for his success other than his looks was the focus the promoters put on his career, which was totally undeserved based on his performance. The promoters truly believed there was hope for Luger and with their help he won the World Heavyweight Championship twice, and the United States Championship multiple times.
Lugar was definitely overrated during and after his wrestling career; he seemed to be more of a Hulk Hogan rip off rather than an original gimmick. The list of "what ifs" with Luger is extensive, and with a little more talent and charisma in and out of the ring, Luger could have reached the same level as some of the greats like Ric Flair or Bret Hart. I suppose being overrated isn't a terrible thing. After so many years we are still talking about him and you know the old saying... any publicity is good publicity.
10. Underrated: Goldust
Goldust may have painted himself into a corner with his signature gimmick. Without it, it's possible he may have been taken more seriously in the wrestling world. Although many people remember Goldust and his painted face, this may have prevented him from ever becoming "the guy." Throughout Goldust's long career in the industry, his matches have always been strong. He is a tough wrestler who deserves to be competing against the top guys in professional wrestling. Dustin has a great talent for getting deep into his characters and he is much more than just a big guy. He demonstrates good skills in and out of the ring.
Great mic skills and a willingness to dive deeper into his character than others is what makes Goldust such a great performer. Being as underrated as he is, the result of that was that he has only won a few belts here and there. He has the talent and skill to be at the highest level and should be competing with the best this sport has to offer.
9. Overrated: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has somehow reached the level of wrestling icon, but does he deserve all of the admiration he received? When you stop to think about it, there just aren't as many great Kevin Nash moments in wrestling history as people would like to believe. After joining the WWE, Nash befriended wrestling legend Shawn Michaels, who is rumored to have asked Vince McMahon to push Diesel, as Nash was known at that time. Nash just wasn't as entertaining as other wrestlers we had become accustomed to seeing, probably because of his mediocre mic skills and limited and stiff moves inside the ring.
Teaming up with Hulk Hogan for the nWo was the smartest thing he ever did. His partnership with Hogan was the main reason promoters decided to put more focus on him. The combination of Hulk and Nash made him a household name for many wrestling fans throughout the world. The reality is that Nash's career was completely exaggerated and from day one, he was overrated. Choke-slams and big boots can only take you so far; the fans will eventually begin to notice a lack of wrestling skill at one point.
15 Underrated: Ultimo Dragon
Ultimo Dragon was one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world, but promotions such as WWE and WCW never thought of him as being a top guy. Mainly booked for mid-card matches which were always very entertaining for fans, the Ultimo Dragon delivered some incredible performances, as he pulled off some seriously incredible moves over the course of his career. It's a shame that overrated guys such as Lex Luger got promoted more than the Ultimo Dragon, who really did deserve to be a main-eventer. Paving the way for wrestling legends such as Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon was definitely one of the more talented wrestlers to ever step into the ring.
Not being utilized enough in North America, he spent much of his time overseas. Ultimo was more valued by promotions around the world who saw his potential. I rate Ultimo Dragon as an underrated wrestler because he really did deserve to win more championships while he was in North America. He certainly racked up the gold in other countries though.
14 Overrated: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett was always one of those wrestlers that did a lot of things well, but didn't reall excel at one particular trait. He wrestled decent matches, his promos were decent and he had somewhat of a presence, but decent doesn't mean you're main event caliber, which is a spot Jarrett has held much of his career. WWE seemed to evaluate Jarrett well, as he was mainly used in the midcard and tag divisions, but Jarrett has regularly main evented in NWA, WCW and TNA. Part of this has been Jarrett's pull backstage but it just doesn't seem right that Jarrett main evented so many shows while far more talented guys were lost in the shuffle.
Jarrett was a multiple time WCW champion in 2000, after going to the promotion in late 1999. To think that WCW once had guys like Goldberg, Sting and Hulk Hogan main eventing then were down to Jarrett is pretty sad. Luckily, WWE never overrated Jarrett's abilities.
13 Underrated: William Regal
William Regal deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but sadly, only a small number of wrestling fans will ever understand the talent that William Regal possessed during his wrestling days. Winning an impressive 16 singles championships throughout WCW and WWE, he was even named King of the Ring in 2008. The list of accomplishments Regal won during his wrestling career looks as though he would have been a wrestling superstar, but he never went mainstream as he is still more unknown than he should be.
He showed great wrestling technique with awesome promos. William Regal had it all, and deserved to be one of the top guys in the WCW and WWE. His career never really took off as one would have expected. Regal was completely underrated as a wrestler and is an unknown to many fans of today. William Regal's name should be mentioned often in any conversation of the best of all time; his list of accolades speak for themselves.
12 Overrated: The Rock
The Rock is one of the most recognizable figures in America today, being one of the most successful actors around. Before his acting career took off, The Rock achieved some success in the wrestling world, but don't let that success distract you; he was totally overrated as a wrestler.
When Rock is in the ring, you can tell he's really an actor/entertainer at heart. His mic skills are that of an all-time great and he has the charisma of a star. But his talent did not carry him during matches as The Rock's actual wrestling skills are limited to say the least. His People's Elbow finisher is one of the worst closers ever, and he stole the whole sharpshooter bit from Bret Hart as well.
The Rock just didn't have a huge range of moves in the ring, but he is still widely believed to be one of the best wrestlers of all time. The Rock winning the belt in 2013 felt like a joke, with him being a part-timer who only comes around every few months. And yet he somehow managed to bury actual full-time wrestlers.
He makes pretty good movies though; he should stick to that.
11 Underrated: Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow had a lot more going for him than just his big body; he was one of the most skilled wrestlers of all-time. He had all the tools needed when it came to professional wrestling and he deserves more recognition for his incredible talent in the ring. With a cool gimmick and an awesome head tattoo, what's not to like about Bam Bam Bigelow? First off, the name Bam Bam Bigelow is a great wrestling name and his skills in the ring were just as good. Bigelow was very agile for his body type, and could pull off moves a lot better than his stiff opponents. After his very successful career in ECW, it's a shame that WWE didn't push him harder and he never was able to win a title.
This guy was so athletic that at his size he could still pull off a moonsault. The WWE never recognized the great talent that Bam Bam Bigelow was. I believe he deserved a lot more high profile matches and just more respect as an overall wrestler. For these reasons, he makes this underrated list.
10 Overrated: The Ultimate Warrior
I'm sure this will stir up some debate, but put your childhood love for The Ultimate Warrior to the side, and listen to my reasoning for why he's overrated. While The Ultimate Warrior was definitely energetic in the ring, he won a lot of titles that easily could have gone to some other very deserving, more talented wrestlers. Known for having an undisciplined work ethic, The Ultimate Warrior couldn't seem to get along with any of the other talent. His gimmick is definitely a classic, loved by many wrestling fans. His shortfall was he didn't have many redeeming qualities other than his gimmick. Maybe The Ultimate Warrior wouldn't be quite so overrated if he wasn't featured and promoted as much as he was. However, he was often given special attention over his opponents, even as his matches were often disappointing -- short, lifeless matches. As many fans grew up, they began to see how limited Warrior really was in the ring.
9 Underrated: Lance Storm
Lance Storm was a great technician in the ring and all of his matches were entertaining. Winning several titles in WCW and WWE, there were some flashes of what could have been, but Storm just didn't take off like he should have. He deserved much more recognition than he received, and Storm doesn't get the credit his skill so much deserved. Never found on many top wrestlers lists, Lance Storm is completely underrated. His heel gimmick wasn't too much, but was entertaining enough to give him some serious value as a wrestling character. Storm was a solid wrestler who just never blew up as a wrestling superstar.
He had all of the qualities and talents that some of his cohorts did and possibly even more so. Lance Storm could have been so much more, but things just didn't work out for him, as fans for some reason never were sold on Storm, even though he was extremely talented in the ring.
8 Overrated: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner had the potential to be amazingly successful, but his lack of intuition and skill as a wrestler is what cost him having a higher regarded career. Following his bodily transformation, Scott Steiner became very boring in the ring, and he also had a reputation of being hard to work with. Another issue with Steiner was being clumsy in the ring, which occasionally led to him injuring some of his opponents. He somehow achieved much success in WCW, winning a bunch of titles even though he was stiff as a board in the ring, and that often led to some seriously underwhelming matches.
On the mic, Steiner rambled on and verbally fantasized about his body, which just highlighted his lack of charisma.
Throughout his run as a top star, Scott Steiner didn’t bring much into the ring except his giant muscles. His skill set was extremely limited, and his gimmick was just not enduring or endearing enough for him to ever be considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The fact that Scott Steiner is considered by some fans to be one of the "greatest wrestlers of all time" is what lands him on the overrated portion of this list.
7 Underrated: Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko was incredibly talented in the ring. Dean knew the sport of wrestling inside and out even earning the nickname "The Man of 1,000 Holds." He put on some great demonstrations of athleticism in WCW's cruiserweight division, but never really advanced farther than that. What seems to have held Malenko back most of all was his inability to entertain outside of the ring. A professional wrestler not only needs to keep people interested in the ring but out of the ring as well. A wrestler's out of ring performances are extremely important in gaining fans.
Dean Malenko could have been one of the biggest names in wrestling if only he had a little more charisma outside of the ring. Dean had the talent and physical prowess to succeed in any sport and if he followed a path to a different professional sport, he may have been considered one of the greatest ever. Sadly, Malenko never gained the respect and accolades that he deserved and was totally underrated by the wrestling world.
6 Overrated: Batista
Batista's gimmick is lackluster to say the least. He is known for being a musclebound hot head. With a minuscule arsenal of moves from which to choose, many of Batista's matches aren't very entertaining for most people to watch. Batista was fortunate to compete against some of the top guys in the WWE such as The Undertaker and Edge, but in these matches, Batista just couldn't hold his own and it was noticeable. Winning the World Heavyweight Championship four times and the WWE Championship twice, Batista has a long list of accolades despite his overrated talents.
It feels as though he relied on his spine buster move much more often than needed. Batista should stick to Hollywood and his acting career where he is finding some success. I think he was more entertaining as Drax and Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy than he is in the wrestling ring.
5 Underrated: Brian Pillman
Brian Pillman was an excellent wrestler but never made a name for himself as a huge superstar. Pillman was an extraordinary talent for WCW as Flyin' Brian and every match he competed in at this level turned out to be awesome. It really was hard to take your eyes off of Pillman. Sadly, a substance abuse problem and some health issues hindered Pillman's chances of being a superstar wrestler. Things just were never meant to be for Pillmam even though he had all the wrestling tools and charisma in the world and could have been "the guy."
During his short time in WWE, Pillman was one of the founding fathers of the Attitude Era. His 'Pillman's got a gun' segment with Stone Cold Steve Austin was thought to be one of the first moments of the Attitude Era. His career was cut short due to the reasons I've stated before, and Pillman sadly passed away in his mid 30s. But seriously, Pillman was a great talent and was an awesome wrestler. He will always be underrated.
4 Overrated: John Cena
John Cena has been "the guy" for just way too long. He's dominated the wrestling world for a very long time despite much of the WWE fan-base not being fans of Cena. This is why he is on this list and why I consider him to be totally overrated. While he is known for his generosity and his charity work, and his love for the WWE is admirable, his spot as being the top guy for this long is just not appropriate considering he hasn't been the most talented guy on the roster for years now, and probably never was. I'm just not sure what Vince has seen in Cena all of these years.
We may be seeing a bit of a correlation here, as many of the overrated wrestlers have been beefed up guys who just don't have the athleticism or the talent needed to be respected as a top wrestler. Cena will continue to be one of the biggest names in America, which I feel is unwarranted. He is a definitely one of the most overrated wrestlers on this list.
3. Underrated: Raven
Raven was one of the best wrestlers to come from the ECW. Many have drawn some comparisons to current wrestler Bray Wyatt. Both are excellent examples of dark characters that captivated the audience. Raven was very successful in ECW; he won six titles during his time there as a singles and tag-team wrestler. He also made some small splashes in other promotions, winning the TNA World Championship and another title in WCW. Raven was so talented as a wrestler inside and outside the ring. He was the leader of two factions, the Raven's Nest and the Raven's Flock, between ECW and and WCW. Not just any personality can pull off being the leader of a faction, let alone two. Raven was so multi-dimensional as a wrestler that very few could have done it better. Raven is very underrated because he was talented enough to be one of the biggest names in professional wrestling.
3 Overrated: Hulk Hogan
Almost every person in America knows the name Hulk Hogan, but why? Hulk Hogan's career was not all that it was cracked up to be. My opinion is that HH is actually a very overrated wrestler and that opinion is likely shared by many wrestling pundits. He's like the John Cena of the past. The only thing Hulk Hogan had going for him was his gung-ho patriotism, which was entertaining for a time but only for so long. It is very confusing to me to think that so many people rate Hogan as wrestling's biggest star when he really only had two moves, a body-slam and a leg-drop.
One of Hogan's most iconic and remembered moments was when he turned heel by joining the competition, the nWo. His big inaugural event was capped off with, you guessed it, another boring leg drop. Hulk Hogan's list of championships and accolades is just way too extensive to list here. He is the perfect example of a wrestler that “played the game” outside the ring way better than he performed inside the ring. There was so much great talent that could have easily done what he did during his predictable matches, and many believe that other wrestlers definitely would have done it better. Hulk is a massive success and a huge international star, and for several years, he was a bit of a sensation. But he was also very overrated as a wrestler.
2 Underrated: Rick Rude
It's a bit of a head-scratcher as to why Ravishing Rick Rude never won a WWE or WCW World Championship belt. Rick Rude was a great wrestler and his mustache and tights gave him an original look that hit on all cylinders. His work as a heel in WWE was very entertaining and Rude pulled it off perfectly, relying heavily on his great charisma. His solid matches with Ultimate Warrior, Sting, and other well known wrestlers were some of Rude's best moments.
He could deliver a great match against anybody in the business. Rick Rude did win the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania V, but Rude could have won many more titles than he did with his great wrestling skills. He was an original member of D-Generation X in WWE and then later moved to WCW to join the nWo. He will always be remembered for his great work as The Ravishing One and he will always be one on the most underrated wrestlers of all time.
1. Overrated: Goldberg
Starting with WCW in 1997, Goldberg was given a push from the start as he beat up many jobbers in quick fashion which definitely turned the right heads. After his undefeated streak ended, Goldberg quickly faded away, but not until he whined and complained his way to being one of the most overrated wrestlers of all time. While his dangerous wrestling style in the ring made him quite entertaining, his opponents often said they felt very unsafe working with him. Let's not forget when Goldberg ended one of the greatest wrestling careers ever, when he kicked Bret Hart in the head in 1999. Pulling stuff like that just can't happen at the top level of the world of professional wrestling. A big dude like Goldberg can certainly dish out some serious damage. But lacking charisma, and without all the extra promotions, Goldberg just didn't have much of a gimmick except being a dangerous guy, and that one trait alone clearly doesn't deserve all of the championships he won. For these reasons, I put Goldberg at the top of this most overrated wrestlers of all-time list.
1 Underrated: The British Bulldog
Davey Boy Smith was one of the most talented WWE Superstars during the 1990s. His character, The British Bulldog, was one of the best of the era. While he was definitely great as a tag-team partner with the Dynamite Kid, he was even better when he split from his partner. After going solo, he was booked for some great matches in the upper mid-card right from the start. His feuds with Bret Hart and fellow underrated wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow were very entertaining. One of The British Bulldog's best moments was in England at SummerSlam in 1992 with Hart, where the Bulldog bested Hart to win the Intercontinental Championship to the crowd's very loud delight.
This match was most likely the highlight of the British Bulldog's career, which is a shame. Davey Boy had the looks and the talent to have had many more great moments. The British Bulldog never achieved the amount of success he could have. Bulldog could have been a household name. He was definitely one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time.