The in-ring portion of wrestling is important, but it is not necessary to be a great worker on the path to becoming a major star. Quite a few wrestlers went on to have legendary careers without having to excel in the ring. The push, along with charisma and personality, can make up for lack of in-ring skills. On the other side, there are many legends that had the opposite reputation for delivering effectively in the ring.
Many wrestlers in the industry have cited some performers who deliver good matches and others who get carried by better talents. We'll examine some wrestling legends on both sides of the coin. All these performers deserve respect for their accomplishments, but some clearly worked harder than others. Here is 5 Wrestling Icons Who Have Great Matches With Anyone & 5 Who Needed To Be Carried.
10 Great matches with anyone: Ric Flair
Ric Flair earned a reputation for being one of the top wrestlers to help others look good. The ascensions of Sting and Lex Luger each started thanks to their feuds with Flair. It takes a tremendous skill set for a veteran to not only lead new stars but make them come off as top names right away as well.
Flair is often in the conversation as the greatest in-ring performer in wrestling history, and for good reason. The long run from the 80s until the late 2000s featured countless classics against a wide array of wrestlers from fellow legends to lower card acts.
9 Needed carrying: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was not the worst in-ring performer in the world, but he certainly was not on the level of someone like Ric Flair or Randy Savage. The look and persona of Hogan made him the Vince McMahon's choice to become the face of WWE during its national expansion.
Most of Hogan's matches don’t hold up the same today given his lack of in-ring skills. His best bouts typically featured better in-ring workers like Savage, Flair or Rick Rude helping lead him in the ring. However, the fans' love of Hogan however made his matches the top attraction for a decade.
8 Great matches with anyone: Kurt Angle
The biggest honor of Kurt Angle’s career is the number of wrestlers who admit they loved working with him. Angle understood the wrestling, instantly becoming one of the best in-ring performers in the world within his first year in WWE.
WWE would continue to see him progress as one of the best workers in wrestling history. Angle had classics against fellow legends like Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio. A bigger claim to his skills would see him have impressive matches against Big Show, Mark Henry and everyone WWE wanted him to work with.
7 Needed carrying: Honky Tonk Man
The legendary Intercontinental Championship reign of Honky Tonk Man helped him become a star for WWE. Despite having such a memorable reign with the “worker’s title”, Honky Tonk Man struggled to ever showcase much in-ring skills.
This push allowed him to thrive thanks to comedy and promos. The matches were usually short or full of rest holds to pass the time. Honky Tonk Man would not have much of a strong run in WWE or elsewhere after the IC Championship reign ended. His lack of in-ring skills caused other promotions to shy away from another push.
6 Great matches with anyone: Eddie Guerrero
One of the reasons WWE had so much respect for Eddie Guerrero is due to the other wrestlers who loved working with him. Guerrero made the move to WWE after WCW underutilized him and had various issues come up. WWE gave him another chance that allowed him to fulfill his potential.
Wrestlers like JBL, Test, and Big Show had some of the best matches of their career against Guerrero, where he clearly led the way. Other legends would have classics with Eddie as well, with fans still loving his matches against Kurt Angle, Edge, and Rey Mysterio, among many others.
5 Needed carrying: Lex Luger
Lex Luger was one of the biggest stars in WCW history thanks to a great push early in his career. The look of Luger as a chiseled athlete made him a high priority for a wrestling promotion at the time. But Luger never could become a great worker during his career to have consistently great matches.
Most of the better matches involving Luger featured better workers like Ric Flair and Bret Hart leading the way. Luger would likely struggle in today’s wrestling climate with the performers expected to have better matches than in the 90s.
4 Great matches with anyone: Shawn Michaels
The career of Shawn Michaels featured a hit list of amazing matches against just about everyone on the WWE roster. Michaels was incredible throughout the entirety of his career, from the tag division to singles to main event work to his later status as a legend.
The reputation of Michaels would see him as the ideal worker for the bigger workers that often struggled in the ring. Diesel, Sycho Sid, and Mabel were just some of the wrestlers that benefited from being in the ring. Michaels gave most wrestlers the best matches of their career.
3 Needed carrying: Ultimate Warrior
Ultimate Warrior created a strong legacy in the 80s and 90s thanks to his impressive look. His jacked physique helped get him discovered by WWE with a major push. Warrior received a huge opportunity to shine with short matches.
However, his entrance running to the ring often lasted longer than some of his matches. Warrior's few impressive matches came against the elite wrestlers of the time like Randy Savage or Jake Roberts. Once the mystique wore off, Warrior struggled to stand out due to his lack of in-ring skills.
2 Great matches with anyone: Bret Hart
Bret Hart took strong pride in a couple of factors of his career. One was that he never injured another wrestler and the other was that he could help other wrestlers have their best matches. Everyone could have a great night in the ring when it was their turn to wrestle Hart.
WWE wrestlers like Bam Bam Bigelow, Diesel, Sycho Sid, and many others, had some of their best matches against him. Bret worked hard to not only spotlight his great skills, but he wanted to mask his opponent’s weakness to benefit everyone involved.
1 Needed carrying: Goldberg
Goldberg was one of the most flawed superstars to get a huge push in his career. The lack of variety involved in his work is evidenced by short matches with a handful of moves. It worked great, since Goldberg’s easy destruction of opponents made him a star.
Goldberg's amazing career allowed him to create a legacy, but his lack of in-ring skills always proved a weakness. Goldberg clearly needed wrestlers like Sting and Diamond Dallas Page to help him look good in his longer matches. WWE learned this mistake when Goldberg struggled in his 2003-2004 run.