What does it mean to be a legend of professional wrestling?
The dictionary defines a legend as follows:
an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.
"the man was a living legend"
synonyms: celebrity, star, superstar, icon, famous person, great, genius, phenomenon, luminary, giant, big name
So, if we apply this definition to pro wrestlers, being a legend means being famous or notorious. That is the only qualification, meaning that wrestling ability or even charisma is secondary to how much fame the wrestler has garnered.
This leads to many fans decrying the legacies of legendary wrestlers. They claim that certain iconic superstars don't deserve their status because they 'couldn't wrestle' or had a 'limited move set.'
Unfortunately for these critics, pro wrestling isn't just about how many different variations of an arm lock you know. It's about performance and getting the crowd emotionally invested in the story being told in the ring. Period. Technical wrestling can be a delight, but it is by no means essential to be a great pro wrestler.
Here are seven wrestling legends who are underrated by critics and fans.
#1 The Ultimate Warrior
We begin our list with one of the most maligned legends of wrestling, the Ultimate Warrior.
Jim Hellwig made his debut alongside fellow face painted warrior Steve "Sting" Borden as part of the short-lived Blade Runners. After Hellwig went to WWE and Sting went to the NWA, he burst out as a major star in a short period of time.
It's hard to appreciate just how popular the Ultimate Warrior was during his heyday. Fans would paint their faces and wear streamers to be just like him. His greatest accolade was when he captured the WWE Championship while also retaining the Intercontinental championship, making him the first double champion in WWE history.
But many fans, especially those who were born after his rise to fame, put down the Warrior for a perceived lack of wrestling ability. It's true that in terms of technical wrestling ability, Ultimate Warrior wasn't in the top ten of his era. Probably not even the top one hundred.
However, he was able to capture the hearts and minds of an entire generation of wrestling fans. The crowd was red hot for his Wrestlemania 6 bout against Hulk Hogan, and he always enjoyed a great reaction any time his music hit.
Maybe he was never as accomplished a grappler as Austin Aries, but Warrior was a hundred times more legendary, and fans shouldn't underrate him so much.