“You think you know me?” -Edge’s entrance theme
Growing up, I loved watching game shows. I am very thankful that I do not have the Game Show Network because I would never get anything done. Of all the game shows I loved, perhaps the best in my mind was Family Feud. I don’t know what it was, but I was addicted to it.
I think part of the reason I loved it was the concept of surveying 100 people about a common topic. It always intrigued me and I have always been curious of how the process would work. Finally, years later, a light bulb popped above my head.
100 random people surveyed: who are the most well-known wrestlers in the world?
I asked the willing volunteers to name me the first five wrestlers that came to their head. 54 people were able to name five. The others ranged from one to four. People (namely a bunch of women) who were unable to name anybody were excluded from the results. The ages of the subjects ranged from 18-52.
It wasn’t easy, but the results are here and some of the stories from my interactions with people are also outlined. Enjoy!
SWINGS AND MISSES
Naturally, out of 100 people, some answers are going to be dead wrong/hilarious/stupid. My first willing participant, 23 year old Jonathan, tried his best to come up with answers and gave me these gems: “Johnson…uh, Phillips…Joe and Smith.” A part of me almost counted these answers as votes for Big Dick Johnson, former WWF announcer Mel Phillips (yikes), Just Joe and Davey Boy Smith. I ultimately decided against it.
Rob, 21, said George Foreman. If Hulk Hogan had gotten the grill, I can only imagine how this answer would be different.
Danny, 21, took liberties with my question and responded with Nacho Libre. Surprisingly, nobody said Zeus or Randy The Ram.
Doyle, 45, gave me the names Red West and Tex Cobb. Upon some research, Red West was a stuntman known from the badass movie “Road House” and Tex Cobb was a former boxer/actor known for his work in “Ernest Goes to Jail” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
Paul, 20, struggled and finally named Grave Digger. Thankfully, he immediately recognized it as a monster truck instead. I wrote it down anyway.
Other awkward interactions: one foreign guy focusing on his smoothie instead of listening to me and eventually saying “Wrestling…that fake stuff.” I should’ve gone Dr. D on his ass. One girl swore I meant UFC. Another girl said she was running late and couldn’t take one minute to answer two questions. I saw her talking to a friend behind me for 20 minutes afterwards. Nice people in this world, let me tell you.
Before we get to the names of people who actually count, let me quickly list some of the names completely omitted I was surprised about.
Any of the McMahons
Rob Van Dam
The Legion of Doom
Vader (at least from a “Boy Meets World” aspect)
1 PERCENT MILK
These are the people who were mentioned only once. From here on out, the number in parentheses indicates the number of times that person was mentioned first.
Dusty Rhodes (1)- He got a mention!
Jack and Gerald Brisco
Trent Barretta (1)- Swoggle Squad contributor Sara Solano made it into the survey, messing things up.
Colt Cabana- Sara again.
Ahmed Johnson- Amanda, 21, quoted him as her favorite as a kid. That's some childhood.
Scotty 2 Hotty- Will, 18, had never watched wrestling before, but KNEW who Scotty 2 Hotty was!
Bushwhackers- Big ups to Manuel, 31, who described who they were in his broken English
Luke Gallows- Another friend of mine walked by and messed with the results just a tad.
Rick Rude (1)
Alberto Del Rio
Carlito- Odari, 21, even knew he was known as Carlito Caribbean Cool. Good on ya, Odari!
Chris Benoit- SHOCKED this wasn’t higher. As my friend Tony said, “If you surveyed people and asked them to name the top 10 running backs, do you think they’d say OJ?” Touche, Tony.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Jake Roberts- The adjective “poor” was said before Jake’s name. We have a Beyond the Mat fan.
X-Pac- Jimmy, 27, about X-Pac: “He looked like a rat.”
“Cowboy” Bob Kelly- I had to look him up. John, 51, even schooled yours truly.
Owen Hart- Once again, SHOCKED
Brock Lesnar (1)- The biggest surprise in my eyes. I figured people would guess that he was or some of the guys would hold him in that regard. Instead, Brock is a lowly one percent.
Mr. T.- Technically correct. Note: David Arquette was thankfully omitted from anyone’s mouths.
Stacy Keibler- She’s already known as “the chick that is dating George Clooney.”
Shawn Michaels- 98 people in and someone FINALLY mentioned HBK.
TWO PERCENT MILK
Now, everybody mentioned twice.
DDP (1)- Julia, 19, could ONLY name DDP. I have no words.
Dennis Rodman (1)- REALLY? REALLY? MORE PEOPLE KNEW DENNIS RODMAN WRESTLED LIKE FOUR TIMES THAN WHO CHRIS BENOIT, BROCK LESNAR OR SHAWN MICHAELS WERE? Give Bischoff credit: that shit worked.
The Miz (1)- This one will be higher in ten years. Guaranteed.
Kofi Kingston (1)
Randy Orton- Another surprise. I figured Orton would get some love from the ladies. I guess he got to their gym bags, too.
Edge- Our fellow Swoggle Squad member, Tope, is going to be heartbroken.
Booker T- I asked if Torran and Bradley knew he was doing commentary now. They both reacted as if that was the worst idea ever. Even out of the loop, people know.
Bret Hart (1)- I guess WWF really was struggling in 1994-1995.
All that being said, let’s see the men and women ranked 11-24.
24. Matt Hardy: 3
One person knew Matt Hardy per arrests he has had this year.
23. Kurt Angle: 3
All the mentions of Kurt Angle were fond and smile-filled. I didn’t have the heart to break it to people that he’s taken a turn for the worse.
22. CM Punk: 4
What he does works. I could go on and on, but I’ll wait until he is in the top ten the next time I take this survey.
21. Chyna: 4
VH1 reality shows and porn are good for something, I guess.
20. Jeff Hardy: 4
He beat his brother again. Let him at least tie you!
19. Ultimate Warrior: 4
Imagine if he hadn’t gone nuts. That’s partially a hypothetical scenario for this survey and partially a hypothetical scenario in general. The world would be a lot more boring.
18. Batista: 4 (1)
No women said Batista. I would’ve lost money on that one. That being said, I was personally amused Warrior and him were equal. How fitting.
17. Mick Foley: 5 (1)
Cactus Jack was name-dropped twice. Mankind was said three times. Dude Love sucked.
16. Roddy Piper: 5 (1)
Just when I thought I had the answers. In all seriousness, I wish Piper’s legacy was even stronger.
15. Kevin Nash/Diesel: 6
If these six people had seen his most recent stint in WWE, I’m sure they would rather forget about Big Daddy Cool. Again, I was flabbergasted so many people remember Kevin Nash (or Steve Nash as one girl called him. Close enough.)
14. Goldberg: 6 (2)
If Eric Bischoff knew how to save money and Vince Russo knew anything about wrestling, Da Man would have been in the top 10. In that short time frame, he made an impact.
13. Andre the Giant: 7
I honestly thought most people had forgotten Andre, but I’m glad they didn’t. If anything, Rob Reiner deserves some credit for this one.
12. Big Show: 8
WOW…I guess he is better than Andre.
11. Ric Flair: 8 (1)
Just missing the top 10, Flair was commonly referred to as “Nature Boy.” Commonly known as the greatest wrestler of all time, less than 10 percent were able to name him. That’s how it works, I guess.
Without further ado, survey of 100 people, the top 10 wrestlers people know of.
10. Sting: 8 (3)
I doubted the popularity and legacy of WCW before I saw this result. Sting sneaking into the top ten solidifies the fact that WCW is remembered. Now…IF HE HAD ONLY GONE TO WWE AT SOME POINT!
9. Rey Mysterio: 9 (1)
Some people might find this surprising, but I don’t at all. Every time I’ve shown wrestling to a general audience, Rey always stands out to them because of his style of wrestling. He resonates with people who have never fathomed seeing such athleticism in a wrestling ring. Give him credit; his work generates interest.
8. Kane: 10
The Attitude Era caused this to happen. Kane is here because he was Undertaker’s brother. Nobody said Kane without saying The Undertaker. They go hand in hand like Peanut Butter and Jelly or Macaroni and Cheese. That being said, Kane has no right to be this high.
7. Randy Savage: 12 (1)
No surprise here. Macho Man endeared himself to pop culture in such an awesome way and people remember him. It doesn’t matter if it was from the Slim Jim commercials or “Spider-Man” or his actual work in the ring. People dig Randy Savage. That’s a great thing.
6. John Cena: 15 (7)
Well, well, well. Look who has already snuck his way up this list. Like it or not, John Cena is a mainstream celebrity and people, whether they like it or not, know who he is. That being said, less than 20 percent knew the biggest name in wrestling TODAY. That’s a sign of why the business is in a recession.
5. Undertaker: 27 (3)
When you’ve been around the entire lifespan of most fans, you are bound to be remembered. Plus, it is kind of impossible for people not to recall The Undertaker. Everybody that cited ‘Taker said it in the tone of “that badass motherfucker Undertaker. He was the coolest.” You won’t hear an argument from me.
4. Triple H: 28 (8)
Let the jokes begin! The fact that HHH ranks this high has nothing to do with his marriage. The fact of the matter is this: DX, main event heel at the end of the Attitude Era and probably the guy that caused a lot of these subjects to stop watching wrestling in 2002-2003. Also, it’s a really easy name to remember.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin: 32 (6)
The man that made wrestling cool again in 1998 is number three. Several people actually know that he does movies now, so that doesn’t help his standing. The most popular star of all-time (let the debate begin) hasn’t been forgotten, but he isn’t the breakout star the magnitude of two other guys.
2. The Rock: 48 (27)
Smell it. It’s the smell of The Rock forever being tied to wrestling. This number tells me that Vince is truly not stupid and wants to use the mainstream notoriety to make WWE huge again. At this point, however, The Rock is synonymous with “used to wrestle” and it’s seen as a good thing.
And...without further ado...at number one...
1. Hulk Hogan: 59 (29)
I sure hope Hulk doesn’t see this. He might try to keep wrestling for another 20 years. Without a doubt, wrestling is still known as Hulk Hogan’s territory and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Of all the people that had never watched wrestling or knew nothing of it, half of them could tell me Hulk Hogan. Now, it’s time to do my “Reality TV Stars with Horrible Wives” poll.
Whew. That’s a lot to take in. What do all of these results say to me? A couple of brief things come to mind.
The Attitude Era rules. 2-5, 8, 12, 17, 20, 21, 23 and 24 were all in WWF during that time. These characters are forever connected and are looked upon in a fond manner. I don’t see “The Reality Era” coming even close.
The “best” suffer. Guys like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart are better known by pure wrestling fans than the general public and I don’t think it’s their fault at all. It just so happens that being considered one of the best doesn’t make you as marketable as a bald, trash talking redneck or funny jock or bleach-blonde giant.
Tragedy is ignored. As bad as the stigma of wrestling in the public eye can be, most people don’t let situations like Owen Hart or Chris Benoit come to their mind. Everyone has surely heard about it, but they don’t hold onto it. So, take that, Nancy Grace!
Ignorance is bliss. I’ve been a fan my entire life and can’t imagine not knowing superstars like Razor Ramon or Doink the Clown. For most people, wrestling is that sideshow fake sport. They don’t want to know anything about it unless it’s The Rock or Hulk Hogan. That saddens me.
However, at the same time, more people’s childhoods were filled with wrestling than I thought. Sharing quick stories of the good old days of the 1980s or laughing about The Rock’s catchphrases made me feel good about my passion and I’m glad so many other people got a kick out of it at some point in their lives. I can only hope that more jump on board.
That way, the next poll will be even better.
That poll will be when I take that hack Steve Harvey’s job.