Many wrestlers have come and gone throughout promotions like the WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA. But what stands out most is which ones remained stars and how much the fans actually loved them.
For example, can you find us anybody who thought Vince McMahon's idea of bringing in Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon was genius? Did anybody like The Goon, the hockey "star" who allegedly was kicked out of every pro hockey league he joined? We highly doubt it.
But guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and so many other stars found ways to appeal to the fans. Whether it was their character, microphone skills, in-ring ability, catchphrases, or what they did outside of the ring, the best wrestlers often go down as the most beloved who fans cared about most.
As we go back to my earlier point, some wrestlers didn't do a whole lot but leave bad impressions on wrestling fans. Even accomplished guys like Triple H, Ric Flair, and Sgt. Slaughter had major controversies on-screen and off-screen and it damaged some of the love their fans would have given them.
But as you will see with the wrestlers on this list, they didn't do anything bad enough outside of the ring that damaged how the fans felt about them. They kept it clean, classy, and professional for the most part throughout their careers. These are the wrestlers that whenever you talk about them, no one will say anything but good things.
Here are the 15 most lovable wrestlers of all-time.
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15 Eddie Guerrero
Oddly enough, Latino Heat appealed to his fans like few others despite doing what our parents told us never to do: Lie, Cheat, and Steal.
Eddie Guerrero helped revolutionized the lucha libre style. At 5-foot-8, he didn't need the size and strong stature to perform so well. As a nine-year-old who started watching WWE in the mid-2000s, Guerrero was one of my absolute favorites. His feud with JBL was what got me into wrestling.
Even as a heel, you couldn't help but laugh at his storyline with Rey Mysterio where he tried taking his son away from him. He was just too lovable and who can hate his entrances with the slick cars? The WWE Universe was hit hard by his untimely passing in 2005, but his legacy was cemented way before it.
14 Daniel Bryan
What's impressive is how Daniel Bryan electrified and energized the crowds like nobody else could since The Rock and Steve Austin dominated the Attitude Era.
Bryan got his major break in WWE by emerging as a star right away in 2010. Though he had to retire in 2016, due to neck surgeries and having to follow his doctors' advice, the "YES!" movement became bigger than anything John Cena had ever done. And trust me, Cena's a huge deal.
If you don't believe me, just watch his retirement ceremony. From hearing the crowd, you'd think that Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan teamed up against Austin and The Rock in a tag-team match. Or simply that Donald Trump dropped out of the GOP race.
All jokes aside, Bryan's accomplishments and way of bringing the fans together was something remarkable. He didn't need that much time to do it.
13 Rob Van Dam
His old WWE theme song called him "One of a Kind." Fitting because that actually applied to who Rob Van Dam was.
A man known for his slick pony tail, awesome outfits, and who, in Jim Ross' words, was the man that "put his career on the line," RVD has won 21 championships throughout his pro wrestling career.
There was just something about him that everybody loved. His in-ring performance and high-flying style, along with the ability to do dangerous jumps, made him beloved to the fans. He didn't need good microphone skills to win the fans over.
It's no wonder WWE fans are hoping he'll give it one last go with the company.
12 Jim Ross
Okay, so Jim Ross isn't technically a wrestler, but rather a commentator. Still, we have to make an exception here.
That's because when he became WWE's main announcer, Ross was able to make WWE sound more like scripted entertainment. When I first watched WWE, his voice and powerful delivery made me think it was all real-life. And I'm happy to say that.
Ross made any mid-card wrestler appear to be as good as Hulk Hogan or John Cena. He made every match sound like it was the main event of WrestleMania. His infamous trademarks and voice became iconic in the industry. In a way, it's depressing to know there won't be someone else like him.
At least, Michael Cole has tried, though.
11 Rey Mysterio
Find me a wrestler who was more well-liked than Rey Mysterio by the kids. He always greeted them before going into a match and every fan who grew up watching him had a Mysterio mask.
He's the ultimate master of the lucha libre style, but fans also viewed him as an underdog wrestler. He was always put into storylines where his best friends (Guerrero and Batista) would backstab him. Who can forget when CM Punk came out to humiliate him while his family sang Happy Birthday to his daughter?
Vince McMahon deserves credit for making Mysterio so well-loved. It was like that kid who was picked on in elementary school that stood up to the big bullies and taught them their lesson. That's how Mysterio became so lovable to the fans.
10 Miss Elizabeth
She didn't exactly "wrestle" as much as she did manage for her real-life and on-screen husband, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage.
But like Ross, she gets a pass here. Miss Elizabeth was what every man dreamed of marrying: Unbelievably gorgeous, incredibly sweet, and she just had the friendliest smile and attitude you could see in wrestling. Watch any Savage documentary and they'll talk about how her simply accompanying him to the ring made the Macho Man a much bigger Superstar.
Her tragic death in 2003 was one of the most devastating moments in the history of pro wrestling, but we haven't forgotten all she did for the WWE and her fans.
9 Bruno Sammartino
Fans of the '80s will tell you Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage were "the guy" while '90s fan will tell you it was Steve Austin or The Rock. People of the 2000s will say it was John Cena. People of today will tell you Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan.
But the first true Superstar who appealed to the fans like no other was Bruno Sammartino. His first stint with WWE, which lasted nearly 20 years, put Vince McMahon's powerhouse company on the wrestling map. He's best remembered for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign that lasted 2,803 days.
It was his in-ring ability and character that made him arguably the best wrestler of his time and certainly America's favorite guy in the industry.
If you don't quite understand how popular of a wrestler The Vigilante was, just watch how crazy the crowd went at the 2014 edition of Survivor Series, when a 55-year-old Sting appeared at a WWE event for the first time.
The biggest "what if" for most WWE fans can easily apply to Sting not joining WWE sooner. He was the biggest star in WCW and his feud with the nWo nearly put McMahon's company out of business. Sadly, Sting opted to go to TNA, learning he wouldn't be booked properly if he joined WWE after they bought out Ted Turner's company.
Still, Sting electrified the crowd and gave us a real-life Batman. He stood up for what was good and defended against all evil during his feuds with the nWo. Sting was just too special for the industry that he got into this year's WWE Hall of Fame class, despite wrestling in only three WWE matches.
7 Dusty Rhodes
Anyone who isn't a fan of Cody Rhodes, also known as Stardust, needs to give him a break. It's impossible to come close to achieving what his father did when he was a pro wrestler.
The American Dream wasn't your typical Superstar. He wasn't a 6-foot-4 wrestler full of muscles. He wasn't an under 6-feet lucha-libre wrestler and he wasn't a combination in between.
Dusty Rhodes was a 300-pound guy who played a real-man character. His interviews and uniqueness as a performer did nothing but bring in love from all of the fans. Justly, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.
6 The Rock
I really, really wanted to put The People's Champion at number one, but it's hard to do when he's been so on-and-off. Still, that's not taking away anything from what The Rock did for the WWE and its fans.
Though he was/is an iconic performer in the ring, he made his legendary status as a guy who had the slickest insults to his opponents and rivals on the mic. "If you smell what The Rock is cooking," became synonymous during The Attitude Era. As McMahon saw his company on the verge of falling apart, he relied on The Rock to help turn the fortunes around.
He did just that. Everything about The Rock was phenomenal. Even though he appears once or twice a year, the crowd still gets electrified.
5 Mick Foley
It was no shock to see Mick Foley get such a warm reception when he teamed up with Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin to take down The League of Nations at WrestleMania 32.
Foley, who also performed as Cactus Jack, Dude Love, and Mankind, literally did what was best for business. His championship win over The Rock in 1999 basically turned the tide in the Monday Night War. Here's a reminder for those unfamiliar:
In WCW, Hulk Hogan captured the World Heavyweight Championship by poking Kevin Nash in the chest and pinning him. The move infuriated fans. WCW also told fans to "not" go over to WWE because Foley was booked to win the title against The Rock. Over 600,000 fans switched to see it.
Also, he literally put his life on the line in a Hell In a Cell match against The Undertaker in 1998, where he broke his entire body when thrown off the cage and chokeslammed through it, falling into the ring. He wanted to do it for the business and the legend of Foley never looked back.
4 Hulk Hogan
Watcha gonna do when The Hulkster was only fourth on my rankings, BROTHER?!
Well, Hulk Hogan would be much higher if he didn't betray so many of us fans during the leaked tapes that came out last year. Hogan's made several racial remarks that are hard for his life-long fans to forget.
Still, we can't deny how Hogan elevated the WWE during the '80s. Nobody drew crowds, brought in revenue, and energized crowds like him. The Hulkster was the most marketable wrestler of his time.
Just seeing how devastated his fans were at Bash at the Beach in 1996 when he turned heel goes to show how much they really cared about him. While not the most lovable wrestler nowadays, we can't overlook the former image of Hogan.
3 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
He finished high on this list.....OOOOOOH YEAAHHH!!!
Aside from Hogan, nobody brought more swagger, talent, and entertainment than the charismatic Randy Savage. His life was all about wrestling, which appealed to his fans. The Macho Man built his legacy in and out of the ring.
As he and Hogan formed The Mega Powers and later feuded, everybody admired what Savage did for the industry. He specifically changed his voice and personality to develop his lovable character.
His marriage/partnership Miss Elizabeth made them easily the most beloved wrestling couple (on and off screen) of all-time.
2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker has done everything possible to draw love and admiration from his fans: Longevity (Over 25 years), loyalty (Sticking with WWE during the Monday Night War), ability to change characters, and just all-around awesomeness.
Seeing the crowd's devastated faces when he went 21-1 at WrestleMania XXX tells the whole story. The Undertaker's character hasn't been much of a talker, but the way he simply fights and keeps his 50-plus year-old body going has captured the hearts of countless wrestling fans.
1 Stone Cold Steve Austin
It was always going to be The Texas Rattlesnake.
As McMahon saw his WWE company nearly sink to the bottom while rival WCW was dominating the war, he desperately needed someone to become the new face, the next Hulk Hogan and guy who drew the entertainment.
Enter Steve Austin. A criminally-underused Superstar in WCW, he emerged as a main star in 1996 and retired in 2003. In seven short years, he still did enough to be the most beloved wrestler ever. His feuds were nonetheless entertaining to say the least. Coming out in his trucks, drinking beer, embarrassing his boss, and acting as the anti-hero that we all wanted to see.
McMahon himself called Austin the best and most profitable wrestler in the history of WWE. Even though we often question McMahon's decisions and opinions, this is something we don't disagree with.
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