Professional wrestling is a sport that combines crazy athletic ability with the wherewithal to avoid seriously injuring another person while still making sure that whatever you are doing looks real enough to impress a crowd and help them suspend disbelief long enough to immerse themselves in the finished product. That being said, some people are better at certain things than others.
While technical masterminds such as Bret Hart and Curt Hennig will always have a special place in our hearts for masterpieces they have delivered in the ring, some have managed to make punches look like solid connections while never actually harming a bone in their opponent’s body. To land a punch and make it look real is quite a feat, and these ten performers have been the best at it during their times in the ring.
We’ve all heard the commentary line “he’s the best pure striker in WWE history,” and it is hard to disagree. As long as he has been in the ring, The Undertaker has employed a repertoire of slow-paced, winding punches which come across as devastating haymakers. Add to that the addition later in his career of MMA gloves, and it’s clear that striking ability is synonymous with The Phenom.
Whether or not he can be considered the greatest of all time is up for debate, but, in a list of ten, his omission would be unthinkable.
Watch any match that involves Sheamus and you will wince at the impact he makes with his opponent at least once. Whether during his devastating Brogue Kick or his signature 10 Beats of the Bodhrán, Sheamus never fails to deliver a striking visual. Pun intended.
Whether or not his striking prowess is based on finesse or pure brutality, The Celtic Warrior has earned his spot among the best of them, and he certainly represents that status in every match. His style is the definition of brutality, and we can’t get enough of it.
8 Chris Benoit
It’s unfortunate that the mention of Chris Benoit in any list such as this requires a disclaimer. While his ultimate end was undoubtedly unfortunate and horrendous, the skill Benoit displayed in the ring is undeniable.
WWE may not acknowledge this in the aftermath of that tragic event, but Chris Benoit was one of the greatest in-ring performers of his generation. When it came to strikes, Benoit had the ability to make an audience wince. Everything which is iconic about Ric Flair’s patented chops is doubled when watching footage of Benoit delivering the same chop. They are beyond crisp and a work of art to behold.
7 Big Show
The Big Show’s entire arsenal is composed of strikes. Outside of chokeslams, the occasional suplex, and ill-advised aerial maneuvers from his younger days, Big Show almost exclusively employs a striking offense. While that doesn’t ensure placement on this list, his execution most certainly does.
The most iconic move ever employed by Big Show has to be his “Shhh! Chop” where he would silence the crowd, lay his opponent in the corner, and then slap their chest with his open hand. Combined with near-perfect timing on his WMD finisher, and the big man deserves a round of applause for using his natural gifts.
6 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin was never the most technical wrestler, and he wasn’t meant to be. His entire gimmick was a hot-headed, put-up-or-shut-up, gritty brawler. If you enjoyed watching Stone Cold in the ring, you enjoyed watching his strikes.
While the Stone Cold Stunner will always outshine the rest of his body of work, take a moment to watch a few matches and you’ll come around to our logic. Between solid, seemingly wild strikes, and a mastery of the Lou Thesz press, Steve Austin was a striker through and through—and easily among the best at what he did.
5 Roman Reigns
It’s hard to support Roman Reigns in the ring. For so long, he was pushed down the fans’ throats despite constant rejection. We’ve all wanted to boo the man, and it’s always tough to give him any credit for any accomplishments that he earns. Still, this accolade can’t be denied.
Reigns connects solidly with every move. While he doesn’t strike often, one move in his arsenal shines above the rest: The Superman Punch. Reigns literally jumps in the air and launches a very real fist into the side of his opponent’s head, seemingly connects, and fails to cause head trauma. That checks every box we’re looking for.
4 Bruno Sammartino
This is an all-time list, isn’t it? Thought we’d forget the original brawler? Not at all.
Bruno Sammartino was the top star before wrestlers were stars. Bruno thrived in an industry that wasn’t known to be more entertainment than sport. And Bruno definitely hurt some people along the way.
Despite occasionally being a bit reckless, look at footage available on Sammartino. It is absolutely bewildering to see some of his berserk punches. The man seems to be throwing wild punches from all angles at times, and it is an absolute treat to behold.
Cesaro’s current standing with WWE is a crime. We said it. Almost no one in the business is more innovative in the ring than Cesaro. Not only is he impressive in singles competition, but Cesaro consistently manages to bring out the best in any tag team partner he is given.
Most impressive however are Cesaro’s European Uppercuts. Watching these take place, from any angle and at any speed, they look devastating. His normal punches look great as well, but those uppercuts are seemingly deadly. His mastery over the move is worthy of recognition.
Speaking of uppercuts, has there ever been anyone who throws a more beautiful uppercut than The Big Red Machine?
It’s no surprise to see Kane on a list like this. Much of his in-ring style reflects The Undertaker’s because of their origin. Along with his style, no one manages to show more character in every move than Kane does.
But those uppercuts. A perfect blend of timing, power, theatrical sounds, and sheer mastery lead to one of the most beautiful striking maneuvers in WWE history. Kane’s physical style lends itself to every striking move, and he is always entertaining to watch compete.
1 Bray Wyatt
Can Bray Wyatt be at the top of more lists? Yes, he can.
Who on the current product has a more physical style than Bray Wyatt? There isn’t anyone. Every move in his arsenal is barbarically forceful. This especially applies to his striking maneuvers. When Bray throws a clothesline or a lariat, it seems like someone’s head is going to come off. His whole body goes behind the move.
While he has so much more in his arsenal to offer, you won’t find many that can best Wyatt in striking ability. Combining the berserk fury of Stone Cold with the finesse and theatrics of Kane, Bray truly earns his spot on this list.