I think it’s time for a list; they’re always popular. This one isn’t that long, but for those I mention here are the most iconic wrestlers in the history of the sport.
This group of greats, are yes, at the very least, legends of the sport. But more than that, they were the most exciting, creative and spectacular wrestlers the sport has ever produced.
How do I judge this, well, if wrestling had a professional level, these athletes would have been, not only a first round draft choice, but the first athlete selected in the draft. They were, by all accounts, the kings of entertainment and the juggernauts of success.
Each one, had a way of making life long fans out of individuals who had never seen a match before. And for the fans the sport already had, like a magnet, every time one of these greats would walk onto a mat, people would leave their seats, just to get closer to the action. These individuals were wrestling’s ultimate fan attractors.
In chronological order:
Bill Koll; the father of slam. After 4-years of hand to hand combat against the Germans in WWII, he forced the rules committee to redefine tough.
Dan Hodge; was never defeated in college and pinned 95% of his opponents, an NCAA record that’s worthy of awe, and a hell yes.
Rick Sanders; the George Carlin of wrestling; the original master of funk, fun, and flexibility.
Dan Gable; not the most creative, but he was always magical; and recently, President Trump agreed.
Some guy from Clarion; enough said.
Randy Lewis; launched more competitors than Cape Kennedy did rockets.
Barry Davis; America’s energizer bunny who disguised himself as a Hawkeye.
Terry Brands; someone who was always on the attack; always. And on a personal note, the most intense match I ever had the pleasure of watching was the battle; no, check that, the war that occurred between he and Penn State’s Jeff Prescott at the Virginia Duals.
Tom Brands; the type of warrior that would be on all of our lists as the person we’d want next to us in a foxhole.
Lou Banach; he consistency scored in wild numbers against other heavyweights far bigger than he.
Ed Banach; Lou’s little brother, and Iowa’s career pin leader.
Cael Sanderson; simply a pure joy to watch.
Ben Askren; just when you knew you had him, or thought the opening he gave you was the way out of trouble; oops.
Zane Retherford; a whirling dervish, masquerading as a boy scout.
Bo Nichol; unpredictably electric, and the cause of many a skipped heartbeat.
Now I realize that I didn’t mention anyone before 1945, but given the technical nature of the sport then, versus now, there wasn’t a lot of oohs and awes back in the day.
If you have a name or two that you’d like to add to this list, please do so in the comments section below.