Let’s face it, you gotta be at least a bit of a showboat to be in pro wrestling. A showboat is essentially a showoff, an exhibitionist craving the limelight, who eats up every ounce of adoration or hatred that comes his or her way. Cocky? Sure. Conceited? Perhaps. But, love ‘em or hate ‘em, a good showboat can spin the fans’ reaction into making them sports entertainment’s next superstar.
Urban Dictionary defines showboating as having an exaggerated idea of ones talents or a grotesque amount of undue pride for mediocre ability. While I don’t necessarily agree with this, everyone listed here is without question talented, though there are some who perhaps fit more closely to this mold.
It was a tight battle to get on this list. Many of WWE’s greatest showboats didn’t quite make the cut. Only three active Superstars did and Dolph Ziggler, the self-proclaimed Show-Off himself, isn’t one of them.
It’s an eclectic group. Some are heel, others are classic babyfaces. Some used their spotlight pandering en route to the top of the mountain as WWE Champions, while others were just never able to grab that brass ring. Despite these differences what they do all have in common is a consistent, attention-stealing allure that makes them the Top 15 Showboats in WWE History.
15 ‘Adorable’ Adrian Adonis
Adrian Adonis played a biker gimmick in the AWA and found success in the WWE, winning the World Tag Team Titles with Dick Murdoch. After losing the belts and aligning with Jimmy Hart, he drastically altered his character into The Adorable One. With his pink tights, bleach blonde hair, effeminate swagger and cladding himself in makeup and gift bows, Adonis became not just one of the WWE’s biggest showboats, but one of its most hated wrestlers.
14 The Godfather
WWE’s resident pimp daddy is a great example of how a little (or a lot) of showboating can propel a wrestler into superstardom. Previously as The Supreme Fighting Machine Kama and Kama Mustafa, Charles Wright was your typical bad guy worker who lacked pizzazz. But when The Rock took over The Nation and Wright transitioned into the role of a street pimp, the fans ate it up.
13 Rob Van Dam
Who’s got two thumbs and likes to point out he’s the best wrestler in the world? This guy! During the old ECW, Rob Van Dam went from an opening card, semi-jobber to becoming the face of the company after he started just being himself. Doing so meant being a consummate showboat who the fans loved to watch. He catapulted into the WWE after the closure of the land of extreme as Mr. Monday Night, The Whole F’n Show… Rob… Van… Dam!
The son of the legendary American Dream, Dustin Runnels was practically unrecognizable when he debuted as The Bizarre One in 1995. There’s literally not a thing about the Goldust gimmick that isn’t showboating at its finest. From his breathy promos, elaborate robes, face paint and zip up onesie, there was gold literally falling from the rafters when he’d enter an arena while TV screens would display him in a film-like filter.
11 The Miz
Did you know The Miz is awesome? He’s likely the first person to tell you. Mike Mizanin has made a career out of being a showboat and he’s very, very good at it. The Miz is the cocky, confident heel who you love to hate and hate to love and has been a WWE mainstay for over a decade. He’s overcome the odds of being one of the smaller wrestlers in the company by decorating himself with nearly every title and prize sports entertainment has to offer.
10 Billy Gunn
Who knew when Billy Gunn was the handlebar mustached, blue jean wearing Smokin’ Gunn with his brother Bart, that somewhere deep inside this cheesy babyface was a showboat just itching to escape. He did just that after the failed Rockabilly gimmick by teaming up with The Road Dogg and becoming "Bad Ass" in the legendary duo, The New Age Outlaws. This of course led to D-X and the rest, as they say, is history.
9 Kurt Angle
Integrity. Intensity. Intelligence. The three I’s of your Olympic Hero could’ve easily been three I’s and an S, because Kurt Angle was nothing short of a showboat during his WWE tenure. Angle has always loved the limelight and he personifies every quality a good showboat should have. Through a decorated career that saw him fluctuate between phases as the most loved and most hated man on the roster, one thing that always remained constant was his cocky attitude in the face of the fans’ response.
8 Mr. McMahon
When this boss orders his superstars to perform some off the wall shenanigans in front of thousands of people, he at least has the decency to take part in it himself. Nobody loves showing off for the WWE Universe quite like the chairman of the board. From his infamous strut and overdramatic gulp to screaming “You’re Fired” in the faces of countless of his workers, Mr. McMahon is undeniably one of the best showboats in the biz.
7 "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Oh Yeah! No wrestler in WWE history could command a room of thousands of screaming fans quite like Randy Savage. Show me a match he’s had, heel or face, where The Macho Man doesn’t at some point choose to showboat to the crowd instead of focusing on his opponent and I’ll die of shock. Savage played every match, every promo and every second in the spotlight for the fans like a conductor weaving his wand during the symphony of a lifetime.
Through each of his iconic iterations over his WWE career (and beyond), Savage was the epitome of showboating. In his earlier days with the glittering capes and almost nonsensical promos, to joining fellow phenomenal showboat The Sensational Sherri as The Macho King, to the tassels and dazzlingly colorful ensembles he wore as he’d strut to the ring to Pomp and Circumstance, nobody did it better and no one seemed to love the attention more.
6 "Ravishing" Rick Rude
“What I’d like to have right now is for all of you fat, out of shape (enter name of city here) idiots, keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show the ladies what a real man is supposed to look like!” When a guy starts off every match with this decree, he just might be a little bit of a showboat.
5 Chris Jericho
Launching himself from useless bookings and backstage politics at WCW, Chris Jericho arrived to the WWE in the summer of ’99 and was finally allowed to become the star he deserved to be. As Y2J, Jericho debuted in a showboat promo war against The Rock and quickly rose through the ranks of the company. Whether it be backstage shenanigans, hosting The Highlight Reel, his glow in the dark jackets or one of the best entrances in wrestling history, Jericho is a show stealer whose cocky demeanor and love for the spotlight is equally matched only by his excellent in-ring abilities.
4 Ric Flair
Though his status as a household name and world class athlete became a staple long before he ever stepped foot in a WWE ring, Ric Flair created a legacy as not just one of the greatest wrestlers of all time but one of the industry’s biggest showboats. When others were content with just being a standard grappler, Ric Flair became the rock star of pro wrestling. He would style and profile and eat up every bit of attention he got, always paying it forward back to the fans with his incredible matches.
3 Hulk Hogan
Without question the most recognizable face in the history of pro wrestling, Hulk Hogan put sports entertainment on the map while being an unparalleled showman who yearned for the attention of the fans. Hulkamania literally ran wild as people everywhere were saying their prayers and eating their vitamins while copying Hulk’s iconic poses, both at live shows and in their living rooms at home.
2 The Rock
Whenever I see a hard working wrestler struggling with a gimmick that just isn’t flying with fans, I think of The Rock. Nobody in their right mind would’ve predicted that the babyface Rocky Maivia would become the most electrifying man in all of sports entertainment, let alone a bonafide movie star. It was all because they gave him just a little push, handed him a microphone and allowed him to become the showboat he truly was.
1 Shawn Michaels
Could anyone else even be considered number one when it comes to this list? Nobody, absolutely nobody, in the history of the business is a bigger showboat or lived for the spotlight more than Shawn Michaels. In five years, The Heartbreak Kid went from putting Marty Jannetty’s head through The Barber Shop window to zip-lining his way into WrestleMania and becoming WWE Champion and the face of the company.
Vince McMahon used to call Michaels the most flamboyant superstar in the history of the WWE, and up until that point, he definitely wasn’t wrong. And though many a sports entertainer have come and gone who match or outdo Michaels in one or two areas, his overall showboating performance is something to which nobody can hold a candle. With the outfits, the pose, the music, the time with D-X and the self-assured, constant cocky nature, HBK is a recipe that makes him the biggest showboat in the history of the WWE by a landslide.
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