They take up most of the space on your television screen, and Vince McMahon adores them, so obviously they're important. Plenty of big men have graced the wrestling world with their presence over the last few decades, with a couple of them winning several world championships during their time. Seen as locker room leaders and feared by their peers, some of these massive athletes were ruthless when entertaining, but incredibly kindhearted when the cameras weren’t rolling.
In the world of wrestling, there are many characters from all walks of life, and big men were always unique for drawing eyeballs. Some were seen as the huge threats to giant babyfaces like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, while others used their physiques to help the good guys fight the good fight.
It only seems fair to rank the best big men in wrestling history, picking 25 of the best wrestlers who had an obvious size advantage. You may notice some big men missing from the list, including Giant Baba, One Man Gang, Hillbilly Jim and Haystacks Calhoun, yet the ranking tries to reflect overall wrestling abilities mixed with the effect they had on fans, rather than just piling up size. Also, keep in mind some of the wrestlers below were great for their respective eras, and maybe would not be regarded as some of the most skilled workers in the present time.
Here are the 25 best monstrous big men in wrestling history:
Apart from Kamala’s shtick being incredibly racist, the Mississippi-born wrestler played a savage quite well, entertaining the masses in matches against Jake Roberts, Andre The Giant, and Sargent Slaughter. He didn’t win titles in many major wrestling promotions, but acquired gold in the USWA, NWA and IWA.
24 Mike Awesome
It seems as if Awesome is underappreciated when it comes to wrestling historians. He certainly wasn’t a major player, but the Floridian had his fair share of memorable moments in both WCW and ECW before making his WWE debut during the Invasion in 2001. His major accomplishment was winning the ECW championship in 1999 in a three-way match.
His matches against Masato Tanaka were pretty damn special, too.
23 Abdullah The Butcher
The well-traveled veteran was a staple in hardcore matches, using his fork to claw away at the faces of his opponents. He enjoyed plenty of success in the NWA and Japan, and he’s regarded as one of the most iconic workers in the history of the hardcore business. Though he never won a Championship belt in WWE or WCW, he did win gold in NWA and was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
Just take a look at his forehead.
Another wrestler who was taken from us too soon was Umaga. He graduated from being in a subpar tag team called 3 Minute Warning, and he was the nephew of both Aka and Sika, also known as The Wild Samoans.
He was a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, and terrorized the likes of Ric Flair, John Cena, and CM Punk, to name a few.
21 George “The Animal” Steele
The former amateur wrestling coach wasn’t exactly a standount in the 1980s, but more so a perfect example of how a gimmick could lead to widespread popularity.
The WWE Hall of Famer will forever be remembered for having the hots for Miss Elizabeth, which resulted in an entertaining feud against Randy Savage.
Yes, he enjoyed eating turnbuckles, too.
20 Sycho Sid
You can’t say Sid wasn’t deserving of the honors he obtained, even though his wrestling abilities were limited and his mic skills were dreadful.
Nevertheless, Sycho Sid Vicious/Justice won 13 championships over different territories in his career, and wrestled alongside some of the biggest stars ever including Ric Flair, Sting, and Shawn Michaels.
A gruesome leg break in 2001 pretty much destroyed his aging wrestling career.
19 Kevin Nash
You can’t knock on Nash’s accolades, since he won an abundance of major championships in the 1990s working for both WWE and WCW. Unfortunately, Nash had more dull matches than not, and his title reign as Diesel didn’t exactly provide the fans with the most compelling duels. His main skill was making friends with powerful individuals who helped push his career skywards.
18 The Big Show
Paul Wight has been around for quite a while, accomplishing many feats including winning his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship over Hulk Hogan back in 1995.
He’s a WWE Triple Crown and Grand Slam champion, and if it weren’t for the lack of great matches over the past couple of years (excluding his superb feud against Brock Lesnar), he could have gone down as one of the best big men ever.
17 Gorilla Monsoon
Known for his commentary to wrestling fans born in the late 1980s, Monsoon was a beast that resembled his moniker all too well. With his bushy beard and generous chest hair, the New Yorker was a superheavyweight main eventer during the 1960s and 1970s, and also served as WWE President in storylines.
He also got the better of Muhammad Ali in the ring during an altercation that may or may not have been preplanned. We'd bet on preplanned.
16 King Kong Bundy
Bundy looked more like a superhero villain, with his size and frame equal to someone like Juggernaut of Marvel Comics.
The gigantic New Jersey native was responsible for challenging fellow wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker at a few WrestleMania events, and even dipped into the acting world. His big role was a small role in Married With Children...
15 Stan Hansen
It’s safe to say many children of the WWE Universe would be traumatized if they had to watch a Hansen match, since he was one of the stiffest workers around in both North America and Japan. His match against Vader on a NJPW vs. AJPW supercard was one of the most brutal matches ever, with Vader’s eye poking out of its socket after a blow from Hansen. It's safe to say that Hansen would've been heavily fined in the modern WWE.
14 Mark Henry
Still taking names to this day, Mark Henry’s success as a weight lifting champion guided him to a few titles in WWE, where he spent his entire pro wrestling career.
Formerly known as “Sexual Chocolate,” Henry won the WWE World Heavyweight and European Championships, and also acquired the ECW Championship (WWE’s version of ECW, that is).
He also impregnated Mae Young, who later gave birth to a hand. Best. Storyline. Ever.
John Tenta had some pretty terrible gimmicks (Golga, The Gargoyle, Shark), but performing under Earthquake was no joke for his opponents.
Feuding with The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Jake Roberts propelled him to fame, and to the promotion’s credit, they put the big man over almost everyone except for the superstars of the company.
The Vancouver-bred talent won the WWE Tag Team Championship alongside another giant, Typhoon, as The Natural Disasters.
12 Big John Studd
The blonde Studd paved the way for big men heels that came after him, since he was one of the biggest heels the 1980s had ever seen. He put Andre The Giant over at the first WrestleMania, and squared off against fellow big men such as the NFL’s William “The Refrigerator” Perry in the battle royal at WrestleMania II (which Andre won).
He turned face and left Bobby Heenan in his second WWE stint, winning the 1989 Royal Rumble shortly after.
He may not be as threatening under the guide of The Authority as Corporate Kane, but there was a time when the “Big Red Machine” was the scariest and most fear-inducing superstar on the entire roster.
Introduced as The Undertaker’s little brother, the Spanish-born demon won a whopping 18 titles in WWE, besides being awarded “Worst Feud of the Year” seven times in The Wresting Observer.
10 Sgt. Slaughter
Slaughter’s prolific wrestling career started in NWA, and when he made the switch to WWE, he made an impact right off the bat against the likes of Bob Backlund and Pat Patterson. Switching from back-and-forth from heel to face, Slaughter received major heat in the early 1990s, returning to WWE from the AWA as an anti-American who supported Iraq in the Gulf War.
He won major championships in WWE, AWA, NWA and even in Maple Leaf Wrestling.
9 Killer Kowalski
The famed trainer who taught talents such as Triple H, Frankie Kazarian, and Damian Sandow wasn’t the safest worker out there, having damaged Yukon Eric’s ear in Montreal and even hospitalized Jack Dempsey, who was working as a special guest referee.
That said, those incidents helped Kowalski get over as a villain, who also won over 40 championships in wrestling. He was also the first person to ever pin Andre The Giant in North America.
8 Bruiser Brody
At 6’8” and 283 pounds, Brody was known for being a madman and goes down as one of the best brawlers of all-time. He had brief but successful stints in WWE, NWA, and AWA. He was also triumphant under the AJPW promotion, winning the NWA International Heavyweight Championship three times.
In 1988, Jose Huertas Gonzalez, who was never proven guilty for the crime, stabbed him to death in Puerto Rico.
7 Ernie Ladd
A member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame, Ladd was one of the best heels in the business. The Louisiana native had memorable feuds with the likes of Andre The Giant, and he held titles alongside Ole Anderson and Bruiser Brody. He also enjoyed time in broadcasting with Gorilla Monsoon after he retired from wrestling in 1986. He was entered in both WWE and WCW’s Hall of Fame one year apart from each other.
6 Andre The Giant
He may have been ranked in our “25 Most Overrated Wrestlers In WWE History” list, but there was also a time when Andre was the premiere spectacle in wrestling, picking up where Bruno Sammartino left off. He may be remembered more for losing to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, yet there will never be another star as big as Andre to ever step foot into the ring again.
He was also responsible for bringing wrestling to the mainstream before he was body slammed in front of thousands of spectators.
The three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion was a soft-spoken and classy individual amongst his peers, but as a wrestler, he was as ruthless as they came. Vader’s hard punches connected more often than not, and the mammoth had memorable feuds against Cactus Jack, Sting, and Riki Choshu.
He was loved in Japan, and if it weren’t for Shawn Michaels’ attitude, he would have won his first and only WWE Championship at WWE SummerSlam 1996.
4 Bam Bam Bigelow
Why is Bigelow rated so high on this list?
You have to go back and watch some of his matches to answer that question. The former ECW World Heavyweight Champion was able to move around like a lightweight in his prime, and offered something different to the squared circle when he made his debut in 1987.
Simply put, the Asbury Park legend should have won more titles based on what he was able to do between the ropes, treating fans to excellent matches with the likes of Bret Hart, Taz, Shane Douglas and Rob Van Dam.
Portraying a sumo wrestler from Japan, the Samoan was crushing foes in the early 1990s before engaging in a great feud against The Undertaker for the better part of a year. He was part of one of the more interesting WrestleMania storylines at WMIX where he beat Bret Hart for the WWE Championship by cheating. Hulk Hogan decided this wasn't fair and came out to avenge him and win the title.
The 1993 Royal Rumble winner was highly successful in his WWE career, winning four titles as a gifted behemoth.
2 Brock Lesnar
He may not be as big as some of his compatriots on this list, yet the “Beast Incarnate” had uncanny speed and agility for his size during his first championship run in WWE. He’s still able to put on a good scrap when he makes the odd appearance now and then, and Jim Ross went on the record to say he could have been the best big man WWE ever signed.
He also conquered The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak earlier this year, if you didn’t hear it by now. Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Repeat.
1 The Undertaker
He’s easily the most accomplished wrestler on the entire list, when you factor in titles and longevity. When the Undertaker made his debut in 1990, he made a sudden impact by winning the WWE Championship a year later when he defeated Hulk Hogan.
He’s regarded as one of the best WWE superstars of all-time, and nearly 25 years after his first match at WWE Survivor Series 1990, he’s still kicking by producing classics alongside the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk in a handful of most recent WrestleMania events.
Despite losing for the first time at the yearly extravaganza, it is impossible for any other wrestler to muster up a WrestleMania streak similar to his.
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