The definitive Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling
The debate of the Mount Rushmore of pro wrestling is always a fun one to be had in the wrestling community. Someone’s version of their Mount Rushmore can tell you a lot of their experience watching wrestling.
Undoubtedly, one of the major problems these types of arguments is the fact it can be heavily WWE focused and ignore the rich history pro wrestling has around the world.
When you think of Lucha Libre, one of the first names you will think of is El Santo. El Santo is the most iconic luchador of all time and became part of Mexican culture forever.
El Santo helped popularize Lucha Libre all over the world with the movies (52 films) he was the protagonist in. In these movies, Santo would face all kinds of foes like mummies, werewolves and more.
Besides movies, El Santo’s popularity skyrocketed thanks to his own comics, becoming as popular, or even more than, Batman and Superman in Mexico.
Credited as the person who introduced pro wrestling to Japan, before his legendary career as a wrestler, Rikidōzan was a successful career as a sumo wrestler.
Rikidōzan became a national hero in Japan despite being born in Korea. He would face American heels and defeated them with a valiant effort. His best known feud was against Lou Thesz and in 1957 they allegedly drew a rating of 87 and the match was viewed of 70 million people.
Rikidōzan was the founder of the first-ever puroresu promotion in Japan, JWA (Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance). He would also help train legendary wrestlers Antonio Inoki ( Founder of NJPW), Giant Baba (Founder of AJPW) and Kintaro Ohki.
The influence of The Father of Puroresu can still be seen to this day in Japan.
Ric Flair is considered by many the greatest wrestler of all-time in the ring and cutting promos. The 16 or 21 times (depending of who you ask) world champion, is one of the most influential and well known wrestlers of all time.
You can’t talk about the history of pro wrestling without mentioning Ric Flair’s name. He was part of legendary matches with wrestlers like Terry Funk, Sting, Barry Windham and his legendary matches with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
“The Flying Angel” is one of, if not the most influential wrestlers of all-time. Her influence can be seen on some of the best wrestlers of the current generation in the likes of: Daniel Bryan, Kenny Omega, and many more.
Toyota was leading the joshi puroresu boom period seen in Japan during the 90s, and most importantly changing people’s perception of women’s wrestling at that point in time with in-ring work ahead of her generation.
Manami Toyota was involved in some legendary matches with Kyoko Inoue, Toshiyo Yamada, Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, and many more.
She is unquestionably the greatest female wrestler of all-time, however, you can also make a case for Manami Toyota as the greatest wrestler of all-time.