Top 10: Professional Wrestling’s Smash Mouth Bad Asses
This is not a list of the greatest wrestlers ever. I wouldn’t even say I was a big fan of a few of those that I’ve listed. below. No, this is simply a small compilation of the ten most no-nonsense, smash-mouth, bad asses the industry of professional wrestling has ever seen in and outside of the ring.
When you boil it right down to it, it is essentially a top 10 of the last ten wrestlers I’d ever want to be mad at me.
HONORABLE MENTION, not included in the top 10: RON SIMMONS
The first African-American to ever win the WCW World Championship as well as one half of a world champions recognized tag team on four occasions, three with John Bradshaw Layfield and once with Butch Reed. Simmons was always a tough hard-nosed worker. You got the idea if professional wrestling had more to do with who was toughest, Simmons would have had more of a high-profile career. I originally had him in the top 10 before I realized there was someone else I had forgotten, so Simmons needed to be removed from the official Top 10.
#10 THE CRUSHER
A legend. The man put the the midwest on the wrestling map in his heyday. With Dick the Bruiser he formed one half of the most legendary tag teams in pro wrestling. He really varved his legacy out of the AWA, winning their world title three times, but he also left his mark in various NWA-affiliated territories. The Crusher was not anyone you’d want to provoke.
#9 PAUL ORNDORFF
If the main event of the first Wrestlemania was an every-man-for-himself streetfight shoot, the match would have lasted all but a few moments with Orndorff dusting off Piper, Hogan & Mr. T with more than enough energy to pose for the crowd (much like Hogan would do after all of his staged exhibitions). Orndorff’s toughness behind the scenes is legendary (just ask Big Van Vader). In the 1980s, if you took a secret poll of all the professional wrestlers, asking them to name the one guy they’d least like to get into a brawl with, I’m fairly certain Orndorff would have been the hands down winner.
#8 KILLER KOWALSKI
All you need to know about this man, and what a badass he was, is that when Andre the Giant was first brought over to North America, Kowalski was the first person who was booked to pin him in a match in Quebec City. What is so ironic about Kowalski is as mean and nasty and stiff as he was inside of the ring and in front of an audience is how nice and approachable and gentlemanly he was outside of the ring. But be careful, because he might just rip your ear off.
#7 CHRIS BENOIT
He wasn’t the biggest guy in the ring, but he might have been the toughest. I remember watching him in the ring in the mid 90s back in the WCW days and thinking to myself that thusre wasn’t anyone like him in the business at that time. I have still never seen a guy his size work as stiff as he did. His chops were lethal and he hit hard. He was exactly what they called him, a rabid wolverine.
#6 TERRY ‘BAMM BAMM’ GORDY
What can I really say that hasn’t been said before? Terry Gordy truly earned his nickname. This man’s work personified smashmouth. If it weren’t for Gordy, there was no way the Fabulous Freebirds would have ever taken off, with or without Michael Hayes. When you look at him you saw that he was just bred for brawling and beating people up in and outside of the ring. Terry Gordy is a legend
Well, I did say earlier that if you took a secret poll of the wrestlers in the 1980s on who’d they least like to get into a real fight with, the winner would be Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. In all reality it should be Haku, and it still might be. Everyone respected this man in the back, knowing what he was capable of. Working primarily in the WWF in 80s to early 90s, where stiff work was typically frowned upon, unless your name was The Ultimate Warrior – Haku was still a fairy stiff worker in a lot of uncompelling matches. Goldberg would tiptoe around him in the WCW days when he went by the name of Meng. When Bobby Heenan calls you the toughest man he’s ever met, then you know your not dealing with just any old stack of dimes. The man would literally take out 2 or 3 men at a time on semi-regular basis, and this is outside of the ring. If he wasn’t gouging out Jimmy Jack Funk’s eye or biting off your nose, he was typicall buried in the undercard of a wrestling show. Either way, King Tonga was not anyone you’d want to get into a physical altercation with – because you were not going to win. In fact, if this was simply a list of guys I think would win a fight, from what I’ve heard, Haku would probably be one.
#4 BROCK LESNAR
Brock Lesnar still has a lot to prove in his UFC career, but he could be doing worse. But as a pro wrestler Lesnar certainly brought that bigtime smashmouth showmanship that had been lacking in the WWE for longtime before he got there and has been missing ever since he left. The impact of his moves left impressions. As low-a-risk the F5 finisher was, if Brock was laying you out with it, you certainly wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one. Oh, by the way, he’s kind of strong too.
#3 BRUISER BRODY
Talk about a stiff worker and a tough s.o.b. Wrestling Observer newsletter named their ‘Best Brawler Award’ the Bruiser Brody Memorial Award. Brody’s status as a tough badass has almost reached mythic levels and rightly so. When you listen to Tony Atlas talk about the horrific events of what went down in Puerto Rico when Brody was murdered, even after having been stabbed and sliced open by some piddly scumbag, with chunks of his intestines hanging off of the knife of his assassin, Brody still was going to pull through. It was only after doctors were ordered by ‘persons unknown’ to stop operating that Brody died. As a worker he was mean, he was stiff, he was bloodthirsty, utterly uncontrollable and unpredictable, Bruiser Brody was certainly unforgettable.
#2 DICK THE BRUISER
When Bruiser Brody went to go work for Verne Gagne and the AWA he took the name King Kong Brodie out of respect to Dick the Bruiser. He was the Brock Lesnar of his day. The man is famous for starting barfights with patrons at bars between wrestling matches. And these patrons at the bars were not just any ham and egger either, they were professional football players, and when the police were called in and finally arrived, Dick the Bruiser was the one who was still standing.
#1 STAN HANSEN
He wasn’t the prettiest or most talented man to watch in the ring. Pound for pound I’d even say he’s probably not even the single toughest man on this list either, but man, sometimes you just wince watching him hit others while working a match. His larriot is quite simply the most brutal clothesline the induestry has ever seen. He took over Japan on that finisher alone. When you’d see him making his way to a ring before a match began with his black leather cowboy vest with the skull & bone symbol on the back, you’d think on another wrestler that vest would look silly. Yet on Hansen it somehow seemed just right. The man was a thick, tough, wreckingball of a wrestler. I think Bruno Sammartino is still bleeding and aching from his collisions with a young Hanson back in 1976. Stan Hansen, like a Bruiser Brody, has also achieved something of a mythic reputation in that he pretty much wrestled in the modern age, but rarely in a territory or companywhere he’d receive mass exposure.