One of the most important things to help preserve the future of professional wresting is utilizing mentors from the past. WWE has an extensive history that has had its share of icons, superstars, showstoppers and femme fatales who have inspired generations of children who were watching their televisions in awe.
The current generation of wrestlers was inspired by a time when wrestling experienced Hulkamania in the 1980s before transitioning into the Attitude Era in the 1990s – giving us polarizing figures in the sport like the members of the New World Order and D-Generation X. Their personas have influenced today’s generation of WWE superstars. They’ve trained under them and learned from them. However, there is so much more that can be done as new talents come into the WWE Performance Center for the next generation of pro wrestling stars.
There has been recent talks about Shawn Michaels possibly being hired to become a new full-time coach at the WWE Performance Center. The Heartbreak Kid is just one of a number of retired wrestlers who could be a great option to come in and teach the future stars of professional wrestling. The following are the top 15 retired wrestlers who could be WWE coaches.
15 Hardcore Holly
First, let’s give Hardcore Holly some credit for having some of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history. That includes being put in racing stripes and given the nickname “Spark Plug.” Holly is someone who was one of the hardest workers in the WWE and was a fixture on the mid-card section throughout the 1990s. He is someone who could easily be hired by the WWE since he’s not active in wrestling on a full-time basis.
14 Spike Dudley
When looking at how the WWE is bringing back the Cruiserweight Championship and revitalizing the division, one of the men who actually had a good amount of success during the Ruthless Aggression era was Spike Dudley. While he was one of the smallest wrestlers at about five-foot-seven and under 150 pounds, he was one of the toughest to get into the ring in wrestling history. His career included stints with ECW, WWE and TNA. He’s toured on the independent circuit, wrestled in front of more than 20,000 people and everything in between.
13 Michelle McCool
During a time when there were mostly supermodels hired to become talents in the WWE, Michelle McCool was someone who was able to make a successful transition into the world of professional wrestling. Part of that was the fact she had a passion for wrestling when she was younger, but would go down the path of being a middle school teacher who also competed as a competitive fitness model.
12 Ernest Miller
It is unfortunate that Ernest “The Cat” Miller doesn’t have any championship belts attached to his professional wrestling resume. He wasn’t a main event superstar. But what Miller was known for was his charisma as he danced and jived before and after matches. “The Cat” was one of the more entertaining superstars who wasn’t at the top half of the match card. One of the most important things young wrestlers should learn is being able to show personality in their movements and actions.
11 Val Venis
Speaking of having charisma in the ring, Val Venis was someone who oozed of it during his time in the WWE’s Attitude Era in the 1990s. He was known as the ladies man that showed machismo and got the female audience interested as he walked to the ring wrapped in a towel as porno-music played through the stadium. Not known as a main event caliber wrestler, the man who competed as Val Venis would be a great option for being able to teach character development.
10 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
WWE superstars like Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose will often reflect on watching guys like Jake “The Snake” Roberts as he would speak during backstage interview segments. The man knew how to speak and speak well to the audience. Additionally, he was a master of mind games during his run in the 1980s. Do you remember his python Damien? Overall, Roberts was one of the masters of using psychology in wrestling.
Lisa Marie Vachon has not been seen in the wrestling scene since about 2013 and has focused a lot on her restaurant in Chicago. But maybe the WWE could bring in a former Women’s Champion to be a mentor for the next generation of WWE's women. Victoria competed in an era of women’s wrestling that also featured other legendary stars like Lita and Trish Stratus. She had changed her character a couple of times to adapt to the evolution of wrestling, which makes her a great option for a WWE coach.
8 Ron Simmons
Sometimes, it’s a matter of what isn’t said. A superstar doesn’t need to ramble on during a lengthy promo to get the message across to the fans what they can expect at an upcoming match. In the case of Ron Simmons during his later years in the WWE, he just needed one word – DAMN! Fans would know what was going to happen when he walked into a room, but he was also good at using facial expressions to help set up what he was about to say.
A valid argument could be made supporting why Lita is deserving of being named one of the top female wrestlers of all time. Her in-ring style that was derived from lucha libre helped her become a high-flying and risk-taking diva; the likes of which hadn’t been seen at the time. Originally, she debuted as a valet for Essa Rios and then The Hardy Boyz during the 1990s and would transition into a singles wrestler that won the WWE Women’s Championship four times.
6 Diamond Dallas Page
The recent announcement that Diamond Dallas Page was retiring from professional wrestling wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a good thing. One of the more accomplished superstars from WCW during the Monday Night Wars is someone who has shown his worth as a coach in more ways than what can be done inside the ring. Look at how DDP has helped change the lives of Jake Roberts and Scott Hall for the better.
Looking at the career retrospect of Edge’s run in the WWE and it’s easy to see why he would be a great addition to the coaching staff at the WWE Performance Center. Edge started out as a lower-tier wrestler in WCW before joining WWE and forming a tag team with Christian; one that would end up totally reeking of awesomeness. The character was able to develop slowly and take the opportunities given to him in becoming a main event superstar.
4 Trish Stratus
There have been a number of cases where WWE brought in a model into the world of professional wrestling and things didn’t quite pan out. However, Trish Stratus was a rare exception and had a very long career in the WWE that started as a manager for Test and Prince Albert in 2000. Given time, she would become one of the most influential WWE Women’s Champions of all-time with rivalries against the likes of Lita, Victoria and Mickie James.
Steve Borden has seen just about everything one could see in the world of wrestling over the last 30 years. It all started in 1985 with smaller territories, through the different eras of WCW and up until his championship feud with Seth Rollins last year for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He’s made changes in his character more times than many of the current superstars on the WWE roster – from a Blade Runner to being nicknamed “Flash” and all the way to being the “Icon.”
2 Daniel Bryan
There are a lot of professional wrestlers who are coming from the independent circuit. Some have spent several years honing their craft here in the U.S. and around the world so that they can receive an opportunity to appear on WWE television. Daniel Bryan was one of the first stars to make that transition and be able to find success as a world heavyweight champion. Additionally, Bryan has learned a number of skills from different styles of wrestling around the world – making him one of the most technically sound wrestlers who can be a huge benefit to the WWE Performance Center.
1 Shawn Michaels
It’s not 100 percent set in stone, but the rumors are that Shawn Michaels could become a coach at the WWE Performance Center sooner rather than later. This would be amazing news for not only current wrestling students, but those who would be regulars at the center from the NXT roster. Imagine walking into class and having someone like the Heartbreak Kid sitting in the front of the classroom.
While he might have a personality to match the fun teacher you enjoyed having in high school, he will still push the next generation of wrestling superstars to develop themselves into unique talents that will have a chance to mark their own legacy in WWE. He’s also a good instructor in teaching how to properly tell the story of a match through the moves, the body language and the promos. Sure, it’s reported that he’ll get started with a “finisher class” but he’ll likely be moved up to additional WWE courses.
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