25 Faces of Wrestling [Part 1]

I give my opinion's on the past, present and future faces of wrestling.
January 07, 2010
Hello to all of you in the retro junk community. Seeing as we are in a new decade and all I thought it might be fun to give my opinions on the top 25 faces in World Wrestling Entertainment history. I am a dedicated wrestling fan and would love to share my opinion's to this awesome comunity. After a weeks worth of listing, writing and collecting pictures I give you my countdown.

25. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

This list will see superstars on it famous for multiple reasons. Some were daredevil technicians in the ring, winning fans over for their dedication to the art of wrestling. Some were masters on the microphone, cutting powerful promos that stirred up emotion in the hearts of the audience. And then there's Hacksaw Jim Duggan. The funny-looking mush-mouthed high school athlete began his career as a masked menace known as 'The Convict,' but when he moved to Mid-South Wrestling, he quickly became a 2x4-toting defender of the American way, getting crowds fired up by marching around the ring waving an American flag. Duggan's success came from his goofy charisma, which cast him as a sort of Lennie-like idiot savant, often getting his ass beaten badly by nefarious heels but never giving up, not even against kidney cancer

24. U.S Express

This is an interesting entry on this list, representing a tag team composed of two wrestlers who went on to singles fame as heels but were massively over as babyfaces when together. Mike Rotunda probably found the most success as 'Irwin R. Schyster' in the WWF, the briefcase-toting taxman personifying everybody's hatred of the tax-and-spend federal government. And Barry Windham, Rotunda's real-life brother-in-law, spent some time as a member of the nefarious Four Horsemen. But the pair broke into the business together in the NWA's Florida territory, where they teamed as a super-patriotic tag team known as the U.S. Express. The pair were two-time NWA tag champs and then jumped to the WWF, where they wrestled at the very first WrestleMania before Windham left the company in protest of the federation's new creative direction.

23. Bob Backlund

The nerdy Bob Backlund is in many ways the apotheosis of the end of wrestling's early days. The former amateur wrestler was noted for his clean-cut appearance, upstanding moral character, unimpeachable technical wrestling abilities, and quickly became a huge star after his debut in 1973. After several years working the territories, he was brought into the WWWF to challenge the flamboyant 'Superstar' Billy Graham, in pretty much every way Backlund's polar opposite. After a bitter feud, Mr. Backlund managed to win the WWWF Championship in 1978 at Madison Square Garden. Even though he bravely defended the belt from all comers, Backlund's popularity declined over his five-year reign, as fans tired of "Howdy Doody's" relentless optimism, and when the Iron Sheik won his title he retired from the promotion soon after, returning in the 1990s as a preachy, self-righteous heel.

22. Trish Stratus

Not only is Canadian fitness model Trish Stratus one of the hottest women to ever step in the ring, she also became an extremely over babyface based on her unprecedented willingness to take bumps and actually learn the ins and outs of the wrestling game, unlike many of her eye candy compatriots. After making her debut in 2000 as a manager for midcard tag team T & A, it became apparent that she had more in mind than just looking pretty at ringside. After just a few months in the company, she was being driven through tables by the Dudley Boyz, and it wasn't long before she stepped in the squared circle herself and won the Womens Championship. Stratus moved from face to heel multiple times during her tenure with the WWE, but her face runs are the best-remembered, as the spunky blonde took on all comers in some classic matches.

21. Tommy Dreamer

The 'heart and soul' of ECW didn't share the outrageous attitude of many of his compatriots. Instead, Tommy Dreamer was the epitome of the blue-collar hero, surviving a lifetime of abuse at the hands of Raven to eventually triumph over his hated foe in one of the most cathartic moments in wrestling history. First debuting as a 'pretty boy' wrestler, Dreamer came into his own after a Singapore Cane match with the Sandman. Even though he lost, he took his licks like a man, and the crazed Extreme Championship Wrestling crowd started to warm up to the schlubby New Yorker. When he started his feud with Raven over Beulah McGillicutty, it broke many of the unwritten rules of wrestling, with Dreamer never getting a win on Raven until the gothic superstar's last match in the promotion. But when he got that win, in a Loser Leaves Town match, the pop was like nothing fans had ever heard.

20. Dusty Rhodes

Wrestling is a true depiction of the American dream, where no matter how fat, ugly, or Southern you are, you can rise to the top on hard work and dumb luck. In fact, the very personification of the Dream in the squared circle did just that. Dusty Rhodes got his start as a heel in the AWA but quickly developed the working-class, son of a plumber persona that would make him one of the most lovable babyfaces in the business. His feuds with Ric Flair and his Four Horsemen are the stuff of legend, with Rhodes often taking brutal beatings to get the seriousness of the angles across. Dusty's NWA run is widely considered his best, with tons of hot matches, gory attacks, and heated promos, but his WWF run as the polka-dotted 'Common Man' was also a ton of fun. Rhodes now works backstage for ECW, passing on his skills to a new generation of superstars.

19. The Rock 'N' Roll Express

One of the most exciting and charismatic tag teams of the '80s electrified fans all over the Mid-South region, taking the attitude and style of Los Angeles glam metal and letting two Southern boys run wild with it. The Rock 'n' Roll Express was founded in Memphis by Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, two of the most popular high-flyers of the era. They quickly began to spread out over the territories, signing up with JCP in 1985 and capturing that promotion's tag titles four times. Their feuds with the Midnight Express and the Four Horsemen were the stuff of legend, with the teams clashing and trading victories over the course of several years. The pair developed a style of tag wrestling that laid the foundation for matches to come, with Morton taking a beating as the face in peril before tagging out to Gibson, who would clean house.

18. Junkyard Dog

In the early '80s, the Junkyard Dog was one of the hottest workers in the nation, with his electrifying ring style paired with one of the best entrances in wrestling making him a superstar wherever he worked. After playing college football and graduating with a political science degree, Sylvester Ritter debuted in Jerry Jarrett's Tennessee territory before being snatched up by Bill Watts' UWF, which had a thing for charismatic African-American workers. Watts gave him the name 'The Junkyard Dog' and kitted him out in white boots and a long chain around his neck. Entering the arena to the tune of Queen's 'Another One Bites The Dust,' the Dog quickly became the hottest name in the UWF, beating many of the company's top stars before jumping to the WWF, where he was a dependable midcard babyface during the Rock & Wrestling era.

17. Mick Foley

One of the most unlikely success stories in wrestling history, the schlubby wide-bottomed Mick Foley proved that you don't need a steroid-inflated body or good looks to rise to the top of the wrestling business. Foley started his career as the maniacal Cactus Jack, but it wasn't until a landmark interview with Jim Ross in the WWE that he became a megastar. Foley's success as a babyface came almost entirely from his ability to sustain physical abuse that would kill the average man. See, for example, the Hell In A Cell match with the Undertaker. Foley's promos were just as awesome, with the surprisingly well-spoken father of two using wit, humor, and old-fashioned craziness in equal doses to get the crowd behind him. With his recent jump to TNA, we'll see if a new chapter in his career is beginning.

16. Jerry Lawler

Memphis, Tennessee's favorite son is probably best now known for his long-lived color commentator role on WWE programming, but inside the ring the King was one of the most feared grapplers in the game. Before he got in the ring, Jerry Lawler worked as a disk jockey. He cut a deal to exchange airtime for wrestling training and quickly followed his dream into the squared circle. He made his debut as a heel but turned face in 1974 and stayed that way in the Memphis region, serving as the promotion's hometown boy. His career is most notable for his surreal feud with actor Andy Kaufman, which spilled over onto the David Letterman show and had the local fans slavering for Kaufman's blood. Lawler continues to work shows for the USWA in Memphis, often getting a bigger reaction than any wrestler on the card just for dropping the straps on his singlet.

15. Tito Santana

One of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time, the high-flying Tito Santana is well remembered for his unforgettable feuds over the WWE's second-tier belt. Winning the belt in a series of matches with Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, Santana established himself as the consummate babyface by never taking shortcuts to get the job done. After he lost the belt to 'Macho Man' Randy Savage in 1986, he had another legendary feud with him but Savage purposefully disqualified himself in match after match to avoid dropping the belt back to Tito. Santana's later career wouldn't match the heights of those two legendary feuds, especially after McMahon repackaged him in a slightly racist bullfighter gimmick, but Tito always got the crowds on their feet when he stepped into the ring. He continues to make sporadic appearances on the indie circuit to this day.

14. Jimmy Snuka

The Hawaiian-born Jimmy Snuka is widely regarded as the man who introduced the high-flying style to the WWF ring, with his unusual habit of wrestling barefoot helping make his character one of the standout babyfaces of the '80s. After getting his start in the Hawaii territories, he soon moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he worked both in singles and as a tag wrestler. His signature Superfly Splash was so popular that it led promoters to remove their restrictions on grapplers doing moves off of the turnbuckles. He entered the WWF as a heel, but the fans quickly got behind the charismatic wrestler and he dumped manager Lou Albano and turned good, feuding with Don Muraco and competing in several legendary steel cage matches in Madison Square Garden. His feud with Roddy Piper cemented his position as a classic babyface.

13. Randy Savage

The Macho Man is one of those wrestlers who worked both sides of the coin, and one of the few to land on both our Top 50 Heels and Top 50 Faces list. Randall Poffo was just that good. A charismatic performer with a completely unique image who could deliver in the ring no matter the opponent. After his brutal WWF feud with Ricky Steamboat, Savage turned face to join up with Hulk Hogan as the Mega-Powers, one of the most dominant tag teams of the '80s. Easing the turn was the presence of his new valet, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. The classiest woman in wrestling proved a perfect match for the absurd and vociferous Savage. His greatest triumph came in winning a one-day tournament for the vacant WWF Title at WrestleMania IV and holding it for over a year before losing it to Hogan. His later career is notable for his bizarre forays into recording a hip-hop album, appearing in the Spider-Man movie, and being impersonated by TNA talent Jay Lethal as 'Black Machismo.

That's it for part one folks, remember to tune in for part two if your interested, I'm counting down the final 12. If your wrestler didn't make it high enough or didn't make it at all I'm always open to your opinions as long as there friendly ones.

Hope you had a Very Merry Christmas

Good luck in the New Year and God Bless

- Zane Watson
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