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Taker is among that first tier of all time WWE wrestlers, there is no doubt about it. If I had to rank the most significant guys in the modern history it would be:   Andre The Giant Hulk Hogan "Rowdy"

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Taker's not even close to being the best ever. He's a great talent with an incredibly long run, but Choc's right in that he was never on the same level as Austin, Rock, or Hogan.

 

I'd say that Taker belongs on the same level as guys like Hart, and Michaels. All legends, but they only got the top spot when the other big three weren't on fire. Hart got the top spot by default after Hogan left, Michaels never regained it after Austin got hot, and Taker was there to fill that role as needed during lean times.

 

He was a big part of the glue that held the whole thing together, but you can't deny that when he was around the big three he was basically an upper mid card act at best. Even the Streak was, for the most part, a mid card showcase.

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Even the Streak was, for the most part, a mid card showcase.

 

I don't think it mattered where on the card it was. Every year, people were tuning in to watch him and every year he was putting on one of the best matches of the night. The reason why we didn't see Undertaker in more championship matches to close the night was because he just didn't need it. Year in and year out, they could toss the Dead Man into the ring, get a classic out of him that eats up a half hour and makes everyone happy, and then move onto what you've been promoting.

 

Undertaker was one of those guys that just didn't need the strap to be a draw. Every year the WWE was guaranteed two big draws at Wrestlemania.

 

1. The WWE Championship

2. Undertaker's Streak match

 

And the Undertaker was the safer bet. You better believe that Vince loved having that security blanket.

 

 

Michaels never regained it after Austin got hot

 

I'd point out that Michaels got injured after Austin got hot and was missing through Austin's peak years. He hung around just long enough to pass the torch to Austin (with 'Taker acting as backstage enforcer to ensure he did the right thing) before being forced into retirement. I've little doubt that he would have been able to hang with Austin and Rock as the company's top heel if there wasn't that 4 year gap in his career. Triple H's ascension probably would have been unnecessary.

 

And, for what it's worth, I think Michaels golden years happened after he returned from that back injury even if he wasn't carrying the company anymore. Like Undertaker, by that point in his career, he'd just grown bigger than any belt or any need to be the man. People just tuned in to watch an acknowledged master at work. Toss him in anywhere on the card and he was good for one of the most memorable matches of the night.

 

There's something more lasting about that sort of feel.

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Shawn never would have been mainstream like Austin or Rock but he would have been great in the Attitude Era. Michaels career was at his best in those last few months before his first retirement. Between Hell in a Cell and his loss to Austin at WM 14. That was his apex and I'd go as far as saying no wrestler was ever as good as he was for those few months. That was not just his apex, it was the apex any wrestler has ever achieved.

 

Taker is great, he's not the greatest ever. That's no knock on him.

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You list all these eras he wasn't "the top guy" in... and yet he's the ONLY guy who was there for each of those eras and always considered top card.

I agree with what you said, Taker was very, very good for a very, very long time. He just was never the best guy at any one time, which is why he can't be the best ever.

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Well Michaels did have to go away because of an injury, but he would've lost to Austin regardless.

 

And Michaels never carried the company. He didn't draw all that well as champ and was simply better off as an upper mid card guy working great matches.

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There are only 4 guys who really "drew well" who made a marked difference as champ and were able to tap into the mainstream, non wrestling audience. They were Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock and Jon Cena. That's it. Those are the only guys.

 

Shawn though was within the world of wrestling simply great. To me he is the best ever as an overall performer. However if you want to talk about a Mt Rushmore of wrestling it is the 4 guys I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

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There are only 4 guys who really "drew well" who made a marked difference as champ and were able to tap into the mainstream, non wrestling audience. They were Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock and Jon Cena. That's it. Those are the only guys.

Well if you throw in the "mainstream" part, yeah, but if you want to talk about Mt. Rushmore you have to at least consider Flair, Thesz, Sammartino, and Strangler Lewis. I just have a hard time putting Cena over any of those guys.

 

However if you want to limit it to just WWF/E sports entertainment, I would agree with you.

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There are only 4 guys who really "drew well" who made a marked difference as champ and were able to tap into the mainstream, non wrestling audience. They were Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock and Jon Cena. That's it. Those are the only guys.

 

You've boxed yourself into a single aspect that implicitly undervalues every heel who ever wrestled and overvalues the whims of Vince McMahon's desire and ability to promote a chosen wrestler at the top of the ticket.

 

Using that sort of logic, you'd have to automatically put the likes of Warrior above Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, and Ted DiBiase from the same era. There was a time, after all, when Warrior was getting as big a crowd reaction as Hogan, Austin, Rock, or Cena ever did by just running to the ring and shaking the ropes for a few minutes.

 

Not that a case can't be made, but at some point you've got to wonder if crowd pops are everything. Like any other art, successful marketing can't be the only criteria.

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Warrior was also a disappointment as champ, pretty much from the get go.

 

As for the other guys you mentioned, they were all awesome but were for the most part mid card guys. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just the plight of being a good underneath worker. Trust me I'd rather watch a Rude/Roberts/Hennig/Dibiase match than anything involving the "big three", especially Hogan (yuck).

 

I think the mid card gets a bad rap because of the way it's been booked in recent years. Whereas today we have to put up with goofs like MIz and Sheamus, the mid card of the 80s and early 90s is what made the WWF so fun to watch. Unfortunately none of those guys were able to appeal to the casual wrestling audience. They were there to appeal to more hardcore fans.

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I'm not minimizing work as a heel, I said HBK's run in late 97 and early 98 is the greatest run anyone ever had. Plus the guys I said, 3 of them worked as heels. Austin and Rock's popularity rose from them being heels. Austin was the heel early in his Stone Cold run but people just liked him so much he became a good guy, without ever really turning or changing his character that much. Rock's popularity spikes came through his time as heels. When he rehabbed himself from his Rocky Mavia days in the Nation at first. Then turned good for a bit, was on the IC title level as a good guy. Then he turned heel and joined the Corporation as a heel which is when his stature skyrocketed eventually settting himself up for massive popularity. And ofcourse Hogan had one of the most important heel runs in wrestling history.

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Warrior was also a disappointment as champ, pretty much from the get go.

As for the other guys you mentioned, they were all awesome but were for the most part mid card guys.

 

Yes. But my point is that Warrior reached the status of a cultural phenom, no matter how briefly. Hogan vs. Warrior still likely ranks in the Top 3 most anticipated Wrestlemania main events ever. Does that automatically put him above the other guys I mentioned even though all of them have had careers that have stood the test of time much better and could actually, y'know, carry a match?

 

I'm establishing a baseline somewhere that being the hot draw is not the one and only deciding factor.

 

 

 

I'm not minimizing work as a heel, I said HBK's run in late 97 and early 98 is the greatest run anyone ever had.

 

If we're talking about gate, though, it's generally the faces that bring in the crowds. The villain, by his nature, tends to play a supporting role in most stories including wrestling even if he's crucial in defining the hero. In Hogan's case, he had Piper, Andre, DiBiase, and Savage boosting him to the heights of his career. If the best competition Hogan had in those days was Paul Orndorff and he was stuck wrestling against the generic big guys Vince loved like Sid and Bundy during what became his peak, the WWF's first boom in popularity never happens.

 

That's what I mean by implicitly undervaluing them, particularly back before the internet and Monday Night Wars era.

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Okay......

 

Maybe calling Undertaker the Babe Ruth of wrestling may have been a tad too high.

 

That is all that I am saying. I am sticking with everything else that I said. I have my opinion, you have yours. There are some fair points about where he stands in history. But, some of the things said are pretty ridiculous. The streak is nothing but a mid-card thing? Stop it. Diesel/Kevin Nash was better/top guy over Undertaker? Stop it. Austin was the top guy? Rock was the top guy? Yes to both of these. They both had their short highs and I will try to explain. Austin and Rock were the tippy top of the industry from 1996 - what? 2002 or so? Undertaker had his run from 1991 to 2017. Not always the top, top guy, but always near the top of the card. For decades. Decades. The top guys had their white hot peaks above him, then dropped down a bit. Not a bad thing. Undertaker was just one of the best wrestlers in the world for 25 years. One of the best that ever lived, in my opinion. Never a white hot peak, but just a straight line of dominance near the top. Constant. The entrance, the ring psychology working matches, an extremely good arsenal for a man of his size, great stamina, great respect from the fans and fellow wrestlers. Veteran or young.

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The streak was definitely a upper mid card thing for the most part. Go back and look at them. During the streak Taker's matches only headlined two of the 22 WMs during the streak (3 if you count post Streak). Quite a few were towards the top of the card, but many of them were in the middle. Some of them were towards the beginning of the show.

 

I think he deserves credit for making many of them feel more main event worthy, but ultimately most of those matches were mid card matches. Sorry.

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You can call literally anything but the first match and the last match the middle to make your point.

 

I think the delineation you're making is that Taker couldn't be considered a top guy because he didn't have the mainstream recognition that Hogan, Rock or Austin had.

 

I think there's a valid argument to be had there, maybe "Babe Ruth" isn't the right comparison cause Babe was a celebrity figure on top of being a baseballplayer. Maybe Taker is more of a Jackie Robinson or something. One of the best, but not one of the best known outside of the wrestling world.

 

But to say Taker is a career mid-carder is ridiculous.

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Agree with that. Most of the matches occurred in the middle of the card, but The Streak itself should not be labeled as a mid-card achievement. It is a Hall of Fame achievement that may never be matched/beaten. That is all that I am saying.

 

My apologies, if you are only saying that many of the matches happened middle of the card. That is true.

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Taker was not a midcarder, he was a main eventer at many points in his career. But he did fight several matches at Mania that were clearly mid card or even lower card matches. Mania is a unique event in that it can have multiple matches that are normally big enough to be main events. However even considering that matches against guys like Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, The Big Bossman (in a kennel from hell match), Mar Henry and a 3 way with BIg Show and A Train are the very definition of midcard.

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And an aside, the right baseball comparison for Taker may be Hank Aaron. Was the all time HR leader, an all time great. Never hit 50 HRs in a season. There are several guys who when at their best were better than Aaron was at his best (although Hank was obviously a great, great player at his best) but his longevity and consistency allow him to be considered in a group with those who may have peaked higher than him.

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Agree with that. Most of the matches occurred in the middle of the card, but The Streak itself should not be labeled as a mid-card achievement. It is a Hall of Fame achievement that may never be matched/beaten. That is all that I am saying.

 

My apologies, if you are only saying that many of the matches happened middle of the card. That is true.

I don't think the streak should even come up. This is professional wrestling where the outcome is pre determined. Especially when you look at the last few years where Mania was one of the few matches Taker actually had. His opponent had to be either a sacrificial lamb, or someone who was "burry proof" so to speak.

 

The greatest part of his legacy will be that he maintained, for the most part, the same persona for so long. No one remembers the NWA Mark Callous days.

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He actually changed up his gimmick like 10 or twelve times, but they were all variations of the same theme-- Bikertaker being the most of a reach. And Bikertaker was brief and cool for the soul reason that when Bikertaker was buried alive, it brought back the Deadman.

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Variations of the same theme. The Badass gimmick was late Attitude Era. They were trying to fit Taker into the more **cough** real world of the late WWF. Even bringing his wife into the story lines. I have to say though I did like when Taker crucified Austin on that big UT logo. He was still doing coffin matches then wasn't he?

 

Kane is Kane. Even unmasked Kane was Kane. Corporate Kane, was something different. For a wrestler with a true gimmick, and not a shtick, Taker kept it going for a long time. With the re imaginings of course. How long do you think Bray Wyatt can keep his gimmick going?

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