A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
Ask anybody what their “Mount Rushmore” of pro wrestling is, and you’ll hear a lot of the same names — people like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Steve Austin are obviously some of the most important figures in professional wrestling history. Whether you personally like the performer or not is irrelevant; their place in the sport has been cemented.
Much like any other list, once you move further down things become a little more murky. There are many wrestlers who have been on the cusp of greatness throughout the years, but for a multitude of reasons, never quite reached the top of the mountain. Wrestlers such as:
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams
Dr. Death is one of the most respected wrestlers of all time. His peers speak highly of him and there is no doubting his toughness. He made his biggest mark in Japan as half of the awesome Miracle Violence Connection with partner Terry Gordy. In the states, his accomplishments are not as illustrious. He did go on an amazing streak of not being pinned for five years and held both versions of the UWF title, however.
Williams never got over the hump that is the difference between really good and one of the greatest of all time. What makes an all-time great? Every fan will give a different answer. However, a common answer will be lasting impression. Even Doc’s most ardent fans will admit he does not check off this box. His unwillingness to stay in one place for too long is probably what hurts him the most.
The Ultimate Warrior
One can argue there was a time The Ultimate Warrior was the most popular wrestler in the world. His star may have shined brightly, but it burned out quickly. Warrior is a casebook example of style over substance. He never had a true run at the top of any promotion, has arguably one great match to his credit, and many of his most memorable moments are memorable for the wrong reasons.
Warrior’s mainstream appeal was undeniable, but it can also be argued his WWF run was negligible. He was a flop as champion and the history of the company can be discussed and barely mention him. His WCW return only highlighted how much of a flash in the pan he was. Anyone who saw Warrior will never forget him, but his biggest contribution to wrestling was to show how unique Hogan was.
Edge is a case that shows how subjective the phrase “all-time great” can be. Edge seems to check off a lot of boxes: Great matches. Decent promo. Some mainstream crossover. Impressive title resume. It’s a career many wrestlers would rightfully be envious of. He just came around at a time when everyone could make an immediate impact, but no one could make a lasting one.
A deep dive on the Rated R Superstar will find a great — even spectacular — career that does not quite measure up to the likes of Flair or Austin. While I found he was generally overrated throughout his career, Edge could bring the goods with the right opponent. It’s outside of his matches that he loses points. Charismatic to a point, he always seemed to be missing that key ingredient, that “it factor” that separates The Rock from Randy Orton.
Rob Van Dam
RVD has been insanely over with fans since his legendary ECW TV Title reign. His unique style and attitude caught on with audiences. Many fans today still argue if there was more of a focus on him, it would have saved the failed WCW/ECW Invasion. He has headlined major events and was even the number one wrestler in the PWI 500 in 2002.
Mr. Monday Night’s issue is a simple one: he never evolved. He kept his high flying, fast-paced offense even after he lost a step or seven. This led to RVD’s matches became more awkward and sloppier than they already were. Van Dam is an important part of wrestling history, but he is not an all time great.
Diamond Dallas Page
He looked like he was 45, started training when he was 35, and wrestled like he was 25. Or something like that. DDP is a testament to work ethic and passion. He is also proof it helps to have good friends in high places. It took him a while to get there, but once Page got to the top, the fans loved him. DDP was always in the title picture. He is a WCW Triple Crown Champion and carried Goldberg to the first great match of his career.
It is probably a result of timing more than anything DDP did. He got a late start and hit his peak during the hectic nWo period. He became the guy without ever having a chance to be that actual face of the company. Once WCW was gone, the WWE never gave him a chance. He may not be an all time great but he deserves a self high five for his post-wrestling career.
Next week: Rock ‘n Roll Express vs The Fantastics?
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