Think of professional wrestling and you think of larger-than-life characters – personality-wise and literally large – performing mind-boggling athletic feats in the ring. It’s the sheer size of some of these guys that attracts viewers. Who wouldn’t want to see a 7-foot 347 pound giant fight a 7-foot 450 pound monster? It’s these fights that capture the audience's imagination, these mass monsters who are the most intimidating in the sport – true heavyweights that rely on their size and strength to get their business in the ring sorted. But neglect to take the small guys seriously at your peril.
The smallest guys in wrestling – generally cruiserweights or light heavyweights – may initially look out of place in the ring and seem as if they don’t belong, especially when pitted against a heavyweight – although these fights are unfair anyway and are thankfully taking place far less frequently. The smaller the wrestler, the less he’ll be able to use brute strength and the more he’ll have to rely on his tactical skills and athletic capabilities – making these small men intimidating in their own right. Check out this list and recollect as you think back to some of wrestling’s most intimidating small men.
Tajiri was sometimes used in comedic roles, but when he had to, he could be a very serious individual and his work in the ring did the talking for him. The Japanese Bussaw, unlike many of WWE's previous Japanese signings, had a lot of success in the WWE, winning multiple titles in his four-plus year tenure. Once ECW folded, Tajiri was brought into the WWE, originally playing William Regal's assistant.
15 Mr. Fuji & Professor Tanaka
Forget about the cheesy Mr. Fuji you saw accompanying Yokozuna to the ring in his robe. The Mr. Fuji of the early days of the WWE was a vicious heel and teamed with his intimidating partner, Professor Tanaka, who packed a lot of size on his 5-foot-11 frame. Fuji himself was 5-foot-10 but was also billed as 270 pounds. His weight may have been exaggerated a little, but Fuji sure wasn't scrawny.
14 Rey Mysterio
Possibly the most famous "small man" in WWE, Rey Mysterio was certainly the fans' favorite. Standing in at 5'6, Mysterio’s accomplishments in the sport show that size is no barrier to greatness. With nearly three decades in the ring, Mysterio has won everything from the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship to the Triple Crown Championship, but it’s his work in WWE that made Mysterio – meaning "king mystery" in Spanish – gain mass appeal. Mysterio brought something different to the company, something that couldn’t be taught in wrestling school, something that hadn’t really been seen before. His unique athletic capabilities and crazy levels of flexibility helped kick-start something of a cruiserweight revolution at the time in the 1990s.
13 Billy Kidman
12 Gregory Helms
The 5’10 Gregory/Shane "Hurricane" Helms has always been an exciting wrestler to watch. Helms knew he didn’t have any great attributes, but he persevered, stuck to his dreams and worked hard to turn himself into one of the greats. His energy, enthusiasm and in-ring persona has made Helms into a fan favorite and has meant that his storylines are super fun to watch. Helms is perhaps most well-known for his part in the Invasion storyline as a member of The Alliance but he has also made many other (what would otherwise seem as run-of-the-mill and dull) matches come alive.
11 Perry Saturn
When looking at a close up picture of Perry Saturn, you wouldn't notice that he's only 5-foot-10. Saturn is a solid individual though and he had a lot of muscle packed on his small frame. Saturn was one half of a tag team, The Eliminators, who were brought in to ECW and once Heyman got a look at the compactly built Saturn, he decided against the group jobbing to the Steiner Brothers. After suffering an injury in 1997, Saturn quickly caught on with WCW, who were impressed by the toughness he had shown in ECW.
10 Chavo Guerrero
8 Owen Hart
The 5’10 Hart was certainly talented. He had many accomplishments during his time with WWE, including four tag team gold championships. He was also two-time Intercontinental Champion, a former European Champion, and was the 1994 King of the Ring, carrying on the Hart wrestling family tradition. If his family’s legacy in wrestling hadn’t already made him seem intimidating, his feats in the ring certainly did. He had a solid career that spanned over a decade and is regarded by his peers as being one of the greatest professional wrestlers to have stepped foot in the ring. Hart headlined a number of prime-time events, but his most notable fight was definitely against his older brother, Bret Hart – a good sibling rivalry story always captures the audience’s imagination.
7 Spike Dudley
If you’re a wrestling fan, it’s hard not to reminisce and think back to some of Spike Dudley’s performances. With periods fighting with Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Dudley was a much-loved figure. Dudley burst onto the scene in 1996 and became embroiled in a story line which led to him being called the little "runt" of his family – not one of the most flattering nicknames, but he soon shed this in-ring persona and grew into a well-respected character. He became known as a giant killer, someone that didn’t take any nonsense, and his feuds with his two older brothers, Ray and D-Von, will definitely live long in the memory.
6 Daniel Bryan
5 Eddie Guerrero
4 Dean Malenko
3 Chris Benoit
Obviously we are only including Chris Benoit on this list to talk about the performer we knew before the 2007 tragedy occurred.
During his career, Benoit stood at 5-foot-11 and was billed at 220 pounds, a very average size for a wrestler. That didn't mean any fan once thought they could take Benoit in a wrestling match. Benoit was believable in beating much larger men due to his sculpted physique and the ruthless aggression he displayed in the ring, or as fans also knew him, the one with "toothless aggression". Benoit would win just about every championship there was to win and his career was culminated with a World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania XX.
Benoit was one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time and he was tough as nails. Even standing at over 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, one could still be intimidated if they had to wrestle Benoit.
1 Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid certainly blew up the stage with his in-ring performances. He influenced much of the wrestling in the 1980s and '90s, during which he competed in WWF, Stampede Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. His wrestling prowess took him all over the wold, and it was his athleticism that really revolutionized the sport, paving the way for the more athletic, flexible athletes today. Dynamite Kid had several altercations with his fellow competitors during his career that gained him a bit of a reputation as a man not to be overlooked. Being 5’8, height and weight weren’t attributes he could count on, but his intimidating presence stemmed from his in-ring persona and fights with Bruce Hart – one of which Hart’s jaw was broken – and Jacques Rougeau Jr.
Dynamite Kid left his own legacy in the sport and has gained many followers due to his unique style. Chris Benoit is said to have idolized him, and it's not hard to see the resemblances in their two styles.
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