Since the early 1980s, WWE has been revolutionizing the professional wrestling business. No other wrestling company in history has had a similarly seismic impact on the industry itself and the wider entertainment world at large. However, while business people and backroom staff might have played a deeply significant role in WWE’s rise, it is the larger-than-life athletes in the ring who will be remembered as the company’s most vital life force.
From Andre the Giant to John Cena, WWE Superstars have been winning over the hearts and minds of audiences across the world for more than 40 years now. All wrestling fans have their own personal favourites, but some stars – whether thanks to their talent, charisma, or hard-work – will always burn brighter.
While many have laced up their boots and stepped into a WWE ring, only a celebrated few can count themselves among the greatest WWE Superstars of all-time. Sites like Koobit.com might be leading the way in helping fans catch a glimpse of some of WWE’s modern masters, but here’s a look at the wrestling legends who laid the groundwork for the company’s greatness.
Hulk Hogan was WWE’s first great star. WWE tickets were snapped up in minutes whenever Hogan, arguably professional wrestling’s biggest icon, was in town.
Hulkamania ran wild during WWE’s Golden Era in the 1980s as cable television brought this new, exciting brand of entertainment to a whole new audience. Battling the likes of WWE legends Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and Rowdy Roddy Piper during the height of his career, Hogan’s All-American superhero style ensured that he was a fan favourite everywhere he went.
Twice winner of the Royal Rumble, one-time Tag Team Champion, and 6-time WWE Champion, Hulk Hogan remains a household name synonymous with the sport of professional wrestling. For evidence of the Hulkster’s far-reaching impact on US culture, fans need to look no further than Hogan’s match with Andre the Giant in 1988, which was watched by 33 million people – an American television record for wrestling to this day. Understandably, Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
Canadian grappler Bret “The Hitman” Hart has always described himself as “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be”. While this may be up for discussion, Hart is without doubt one of the greatest WWE stars of all-time. Trained by his father Stu Hart, an accomplished wrestler in his own right, the Hitman dominated the pro-wrestling scene in the early 90s, engaging in memorable battles with the likes of Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Hart, one of the most gifted technical wrestlers ever, went on to become the face of the company, winning the WWE Championship 5 times, United States Championship once, Intercontinental Championship twice, and Tag Team Championships twice. To this day, Bret Hart matches are studied by both aspiring and established pro-wrestlers, with many citing the Hitman as the reason they got into wrestling in the first place.
In 2021, WWE named Trish Stratus as the greatest female Superstar of all-time. In the early 2000s, while male wrestlers from the same era like The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Kurt Angle were carving out legendary careers, Stratus was busy leading the women’s division to new heights. Another Canadian trailblazer, the Torononian wowed audiences with her power, athleticism, and charisma, collecting a host of titles on the way, including the Women’s Championship 7 times.
In 2013, Stratus was nominated to the WWE Hall of Fame, exactly 10 years on from being named “Diva of the Decade” in 2003. Other stars might receive more plaudits, but Stratus’ impact on women’s wrestling in WWE, and across the entire pro-wrestling industry, is arguably unmatched. Having amassed an incredible body of work through the years, and setting the table for many female wrestlers to come, Stratus became the first woman to earn the Lou Thesz Award from the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020.
Son of former wrestler Rocky Johnson, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson entered WWE in 1996 and left the company as one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. A towering, powerful figure, The Rock moved from the world of American football to pro-wrestling in his early twenties and never looked back.
While his speed, stature, and technical ability helped him make his mark, it is charisma that took The Rock to the top of the mountain. An electric performer who dazzled with a microphone in hand, The Rock connected with fans in a way that many other wrestlers could only dream of, adding extra drama and intrigue to every match.
Over the course of his career, The Rock was an 8-time WWE Champion, 2-time World Heavyweight Champion, 2-time Intercontinental Champion, and 5-time Tag Team Champion. After hanging up his boots, The Rock, under his real name Dwayne Johnson, moved seamlessly into Hollywood and has since starred in blockbuster movies like The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, and Jungle Cruise.
Dwayne Johnson was named to Time magazine’s list of most influential people in 2016 and 2019. His immeasurable impact on the wrestling industry, and entertainment world at large, will continue for a long time to come.