Greatness is defined as having the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent. In the world of professional wrestling, where many have decried in interviews about their greatness and even more have tried to demonstrate it in the ring, the true definition of the word often gets blurred with the theatrical reality of the matches seen live or on television. So when it comes time for wrestling pundits to weigh in on just who is the best of them all the task in weeding out the wrestlers and finding true greatness among them takes them in all sorts of directions. Is it a popularity contest, a great all-around performer or someone who has lit up the squared circle better than any other? When the final decision was made the answer proved to have strong qualities in all of those departments and then some.
For decades many have wondered exactly who is the best fit when it comes to wearing the mantle of pro wrestling’s all-time greatest combatant. Names bandied about from an earlier era such as Lou Thesz, Vern Gagne, George Hackenschmidt, Rikidozan, El Santo and Gorgeous George as the premier legends of their era. Turning to modern times, while the names of Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Andre The Giant and Antonio Inoki among others have all made their mark in the industry as champions of the sport one name still rises to the top of this particular “Space Mountain”.
When “Nature Boy” Ric Flair came down to the ring, for fans it always seemed to mean something special was going to happen. As one who would continue to “style and profile” his way to a record sixteen official world championship reigns (with as many as ten more that can be disputed in his favor), Flair’s continued high profile persona allowed him always to be considered as someone who could have quality title runs that would continue to draw fans in with each and every show. At his peak, Flair’s dominance as a performer had him facing a variety of wrestlers from different wrestling organizations all around the world yet continuing to deliver one remarkable performance after another for 30, 40 or even 60 minutes a night. he backed that up with some of the most stirring interviews on record that he could somehow magically intertwine a lavish lifestyle while touting his prowess in the ring which he inevitably backed up.
When matching up his body of work, it’s easy to see why many (including the majority of our voters) consider him the best to have ever graced the squared circle. With a penchant for excitement and an all-around performance that was second to none, it’s easy to see why Ric Flair is universally thought of as being the man among men within the landscape among the wrestling giants. So for those pro wrestlers, grapplers and sports entertainers in the future who are looking to be defined with their own level of greatness one still will always have to look at the “Nature Boy” and the standards he set in his career before setting out to try and do something better. Because as Flair himself would put it, “To be the man you have to beat the man.”
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