Wrestling has always been about perception. It’s the way it has been from the start. Fans today may rail on Vince McMahon going for someone with a certain look but really, it’s no different than promoters before him. Yes, ring skills are important, it’s key to have a connection to fans with promo work and such but a good build has always been the gateway for a worker into the business and that doesn’t look to change any time.
It's a lot easier to make a star that looks larger than life than taking an average looking person and trying to market them as the face of a company that thrives on being "larger than life".
Naturally, the steroid era has given us some big bodies but even in the Golden Age, you had some guys pretty well stacked. The key to finding the best is how they look, how sculpted with muscle, handsome but still effective in the ring as well. It’s not just the men either; plenty of women have shown some great bodies, not just the “supermodel” look associated with WWE Divas but really looking powerful in their own right. With so many wrestlers over the years, picking the best of the bunch is tough but here goes. This is a rundown of the 25 physiques in wrestling that looked good to get over and often backed by big stars as well while even those who didn’t have huge success can at least boast to looking the part well enough.
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Many have noted that while his ring work sucked and his promos were downright insane, Sid certainly had the right look of a wrestler. More importantly, he looked like a guy more than prepared to kick your ass. Standing nearly seven feet tall, Sid had a long and lanky build with a well-muscled torso and did look imposing in the early going with his size to get over more.
More than a few would call him a “young Hogan” although that never truly worked out as well as it could have (and when they wrestled, the difference were quite obvious). It’s a shame as had he managed to get his wrestling and promos more together, Sid could have gone much higher with a great look that helped sell him as a monster even if he could never fully back it up.
24 Bruno Sammartino
In the pre-steroid era, Bruno’s body was pure weight-lifting and training and it thus looks even more impressive now than it did in his prime. He was incredibly strong and used that for his ring battles with that barrel chest and thick arms. He was one of the biggest stars of his time as he took on all comers and Sammartino’s build helped convince fans he could defeat anyone in his path, which he did for seven years as champion. Even in the ‘80’s, Bruno could still wrestle and look terrific doing it and holds to his great body today, a legend for the business who did it on his own and proud of it.
23 Bill Goldberg
Goldberg himself will acknowledge that he was pushed more on his look than his actual in-ring abilities. Once they realized what they had, WCW really began backing him and Goldberg showed it off with his great muscular figure totally believable as this monster. The ring entrance worked just right for him with the fireworks and smoke (Cena aptly describing it as “Unleash the Kraken”) and made Goldberg look like a guy prepared to destroy all in his path and transformed him into one of the biggest stars WCW ever had.
22 Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat is a great example of a guy who knew how to balance his body out. He was strong and kept himself in great conditioning as even in his later years in WCW, he had a great physique with a good six-pack and strong chest and arms. What made it work was Steamboat keeping himself fast in the ring with his martial-arts based ring work and high-flying and thus, you could buy him as a guy able to take huge punishment before hitting back hard. He even looked impressive doing his “fire blowing” trick and yet another reason why “The Dragon” was one of the more popular workers of his time.
21 Buff Bagwell
Bagwell had an okay body for a while but it was in later WCW that he exploded into an incredible physical specimen. True, it was mostly steroid use but it still looked impressive with his flexing and posing and added to his persona as an arrogant jack-ass. Yes, Bagwell was still pretty crappy in the ring but that figure did give him more years of ring life than he should have and his quick comeback from a broken neck showed he was more athletic than most gave him credit for and living up to his nickname of “The Stuff.”
20 Stacy Keibler
Those legs…Keibler may not be well muscled or as athletic as others but a list of “great wrestling bodies” has to include hands down the best pair of gams to ever grace a ring. At 42 inches long, Keibler loved showing them off in short skirts and dance moves, able to wow walking on those amazing legs and look amazing in whatever she did. She may not have had much in wrestling skill but she could work that physique quite well as more than a few lustful fanboys can attest.
19 John Cena
Even Cena’s biggest haters have to give props to the man’s amazing conditioning. He builds it up by pure bodybuilding and thus a physique that’s strong and natural, emphasizing his strength but not overtly so. Cena also has some of the best conditioning around as many have noted that he’s capable of going for 40 minute matches and still look like he just got out of the shower. It’s one of several reasons why Cena remains such a top star, he knows to take care of himself and while not as flashy with the muscles as others out there, he’s able to look great while performing, the trick every wrestler loves to capture but few rarely to such a height.
Given how late in life he entered wrestling, Batista had the ingredients pretty well set. His build was terrific, tight muscles and sculpted abs and that increased as he continued his rise to the top. True, that same ripped physique and the need to keep it up so much was a key reason behind his many injuries as he would suffer numerous muscle tears but it did lead to Batista’s success as a monster in the ring and currently carrying over to his movie career so you can’t argue with how well he makes it all work.
Fans forget just how groundbreaking Chyna was when she debuted in 1997. This bad-ass, near silent muscular woman coming out of nowhere and easily manhandling guys nearly twice her size, it was amazing. She really looked the part with those tank tops and leather pants, tight muscles and just an imposing figure that gave HHH instant heat. Ironically, she lost a bit of that intimidation after plastic surgery as the original physique she struck got her instantly over as a bad-ass and a woman who could easily mix it up with the guys and be believable at it.
16 Scott Steiner
It’s still amazing to see Steiner in his first few years, well muscled and strong but in the usual college athlete way, able to pull off some moves unlike anything fans had seen before. When he turned heel in 1998, he was soon bulking up beyond belief, biceps and abs bulging all over and took on the name “Big Poppa Pump” and it certainly fit him. True, this also led to his persona of a complete lunatic and that same bulk also robbed his in-ring ability, turning him into a shadow of the great worker he once was. Still, Steiner achieved his greatest success as this monster muscleman so it worked out in the end for a body fans loved to hate.
15 Brock Lesnar
The great thing about Brock has always been that he looks like your typical incredibly-molded monster but in reality is a brilliant technical worker who can even take off the top rope if he wants. His training is quite clear with his muscular build, looking every bit the ass-kicker he truly is and that tattoo on the back adding to the appeal as well. Even standing still, Brock is imposing as hell, intimidating to anyone around him and a main reason he’s gotten over so well. His UFC time has added to that, Brock knowing he has to be in top shape and given his success in WWE, he’s done quite well there.
14 Kerry Von Erich
The Von Erichs are infamous for their family tragedies that would lead to sad death and so much pain for so many. But that shouldn’t take away from the fantastic talents of the brothers. While David was the best in the ring, Kerry easily had the best look, many noting the former high school athlete was sculpted like a Greek god, amazing body with tight abs and muscles toned from years of discus throws (which helped create his punch finisher) and helped him get over immensely with female fans. True, Kerry was ravaged by drug use but still looked amazing through it all, a great body and makes his ultimate fate all the sadder.
13 Shawn Michaels
Michaels always had a good build but he really got to work on it when he began his singles run, well-muscled but not overtly so, his body lithe for his high-flying moves and able to take amazing punishment. It added to his appeal with female fans (Proven by the famous “Playgirl” spread) and Michaels lived it up to add to his “Boy Toy” persona that helped make him a star. He impressed more with his comeback in 2002, still in fantastic shape and even better than before and could probably still go in the ring today, showcasing his as a body as sharp as his wrestling skills any why he’s still an icon to so many.
12 Trish Stratus
It’s still amazing to see how Trish went from mere “eye candy” to one of the best female wrestlers of her time. There’s no denying her amazing curves, ample chest and nicely toned rear end which she loved to show off in skimpy outfits. But her athleticism was soon on display, quite flexible with her moves and looking amazing with how she managed it all. She’s kept in great shape running a yoga business and still remains a stunning body to go with her looks.
11 Paul Orndorff
“Mr. Wonderful” always had an ego, both in and out of the ring but he also possessed a great body that he loved to show off, often doing pose-downs with other wrestlers. More skilled than he got credit for, he’d be a major highlight in WWE facing Hulk Hogan in an epic feud and have a good later run with WCW. Always in great shape, he retired when he was still pretty physically capable and a great reminder to old-school fans of how good a physique guys had for his time.
10 Triple H
Once more, HHH’s success really had little to do with his relationship with Stephanie, the guy was always rising well as a young talent. That included his look as he knew how well Vince McMahon responds to guys with a great build and hair and Hunter always had that. True, you can tell how much he bulked up from DX to his title run but it still showed with great ring work and to this day he can still deliver a top-notch battle when needed. He’s more the suited authority figure now but HHH still boasted a good frame to help his drive to the top immensely.
9 Madusa Miceli
True, WWE Divas of the near past and present may look better with curves and pure sex appeal. But Miceli was one of the best female workers around because of her no-nonsense attitude combined with her gorgeous looks. A weightlifter, she had the muscles to go with her curves and showed them off well as AWA Women’s champion. She glammed it up more in WCW but could still be quite believable kicking ass and as Alundra Blayze in the WWE reigned as Women’s champion quite well. Lithe and athletic, strong enough to face bigger competitors, she showed a lady in wrestling could be athletic as well as gorgeous, a rare combo but she pulled it off quite well.
8 Andre the Giant
In terms of sheer presence, few have ever been able to touch Andre. Standing over seven feet tall and often 500 pounds, the man was a truly stunning sight to fans and it’s interesting to look back at his younger days when he was actually rather thin (by his later standards) and able to carry himself better. He was no great in-ring worker but he didn’t need to be as the mere sight of him battling it out with multiple guys was enough to get fans going, towering over all opposition and be showcased as an immovable force. It was worse in his later years but Andre was always a major star because of that body and while it led to his early death, it created a legacy few have ever been able to touch.
7 The Ultimate Warrior
True, Jim Hellwig may have had the reputation of being a complete lunatic much of the time but WWE themselves have acknowledged how his look was a key to his push. Steroids helped of course but the Warrior was a sight to behold with his muscles, flowing hair and bandannas so when he charged to the ring, fans responded. He was a sight to see taking guys down, did look the part of a warrior quite well and that truly helped add to his legacy. He may have been hampered by his personality but you can’t deny the Warrior had the looks needed to succeed and for a time, did it well.
6 The Rock
Dwayne Johnson was always in good shape when he began wrestling but got more ripped as his career took off. The Rock was well sculpted and handled it well with his ring work to win fans over, not to mention adding the cool shoulder tattoo to stand out more. He seems to have kept it up, knowing that it’s helped him in his action movie success and his current TV series, “Ballers” and maintains a great look to remain the People’s Champion to so many in or out of wrestling.
5 Hulk Hogan
If there was a sight every fan in the 1980s knew well it was the end of a Hulk Hogan match. After successfully defeating his opponent, Hogan would celebrate with the crowds by flexing and showing off his muscles. Those famous “24-inch pythons” were part of Hogan’s appeal as he handled himself with true star status in the ring, a fantastic figure that helped Hulkamania grow. True, his early WCW stuff had him a lot thinner without the constant steroids but he’d bulk back up in time for his heel turn and even today, still boasts muscles most would kill for. No matter what, the Hulkster’s body was always key to his charisma and helped boost wrestling to new heights.
4 Lex Luger
Luger was given the moniker of “The Total Package” right in his entry in the NWA and it did fit him. A decent worker at his start, he was bursting with great charisma which he showcased well in his fantastic build. He would show it off with flexing and his Torture Rack finisher that pushed him on as both face and heel, winning fans over well. It’s no wonder he tried out for Vince McMahon’s ill-fated World Bodybuilding Competition although a motorcycle accident would keep him from taking part (which might be for the best). Luger kept up his physique in his later WCW run, living up to his build and while it may be what he’s more famous for than his titles, you can’t deny how he lived up to the name of the “Total Package.”
3 Superstar Billy Graham
While there had been guys building up on their bodies before him, Graham really took it to a new level. Coming out in tie-dyed outfits and shades, Graham would love to flex and pose a truly impressive body, well-tanned and showing off a physique you just didn’t see back then. It pushed Graham majorly along with his always fantastic promos as he was also one of the first guys to really show the effects steroids had on the body. Sadly, that would come back to hurt him with later health problems that led to a near-death experience but Graham changed the game when it came to wrestling bodies and boosted a new way of “training” that continues today.
2 Jim Londos
The Golden Greek was one of the biggest stars of the early years of wrestling and that was due to his physique. He wasn’t much of a worker but built his fame by his great body, well-muscled and showcasing it well in battles against “less attractive” types that made him more of a hero for fans. He was a huge star in Greece, drawing 100,000 fans to matches there and terrific selling himself as a force to be reckoned with. In many ways, the first to push his looks as much as wrestling skills and setting a new bar for the business to move to sports entertainment.
1 Rick Rude
Everyone who watched WWE in the late ‘80s remembers Rude starting off his matches by running down “all you fat, lazy sweat-hogs out there” before removing his robe to show off his body. The fact was even before he came to WWE, Rude was rising high as an arrogant ladies man in World Class, reigning and champion and in great shape and WWE just increased that. He really was well sculpted with great abs, strong to back up his lithe form, quick speed and showing it all off in style. He may have left us early but Rude lived up to his name of “The Ravishing One” with a body to back up his great heel style.
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