Professional wrestling is a spectacle born in the early 20th Century and as vibrant today as it ever was. WWE shares are soaring, averaging ~$16 per share in 2008 as compared to ~$50 per share today. At the end of the day, icons draw fans into the arena to fill the seats, and a great wrestler has to have more than in-ring talent. They have to have charisma, panache, style.
One subcultural mark of style? An incredibly memorable entrance. Wrestling fans, old and young, can appreciate an impressive entrance.
1. The Ultimate Warrior. The Ultimate Warrior was an uncompromising ball of energy. From the second his drum-heavy hard-rock hit the arena, fans were on their feet and cheering, feeling the blood pumping through their veins. Behind the facepaint and the bicycle tassels was a man of intensity whose Conan-like physique and raw physical presence created a lifelong brand.
2. The Undertaker. The Undertaker is perhaps the longest serving specter of professional wrestling within the WWE. Debuting at Survivor Series 1990, the dead-man has an entire arsenal of awe-inspiring entrances. American Bad-ass ‘Taker rode down the ramp to the ring on a big Harley-Davidson, Kid Rock hammering out the beat behind him. Classic Undertaker stalked through a layer of torches held by hooded acolytes, mist enrobing them all and the ring.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin. The working class hero who put down beer like it was cool, clear water and threw the bird at authorities, double-deuce style, whenever possible was perhaps one of the most iconic performers to ever see the inside of a WWE ring. When the glass broke, and the bald bull sauntered out atop the remnants of what was left, Austin 3:16 was about to be read to the entire audience with a mudhole stompin’ and a sweet stunner in tow.
4. Goldberg. While Bill Goldberg was more of a World Championship Wrestling superstar, he held his own in the WWE and brought his iconic entrance with him. Horns, martial percussion, and an entourage of nervous-looking security guards accompanied this American bruiser to the ring. Spear, jackhammer, three count. Goldberg was Brock Lesnar before Brock Lesnar existed on the card. And his entrance was better.
5. Aleister Black. A black horse entry in the pantheon that is the top five, NXT Champion Aleister Black is on a meteoric rise. Sure to be a favourite on the main roster for his Black Mass kick and grotesque yet compelling back tattoo. Steely gaze, sharp electric guitar and harsh vocals accompany the Dutch striker to the squared-circle. Keep an eye on Black.
Rounding out the top ten, we have a handful of deserving grapplers and showmen.
Bray Wyatt deserves to be No. 6 — the crowd participation is always very high with his fireflies and lantern combo, and the moody song also helps create a great deal of ambiance.
Hulk Hogan hangs out at No. 7, simply a pure charisma and perfect portrayal of his character combined with flawless face booking. Let’s be honest, the Real American song doesn’t hurt either — all blasting guitar chords and fist-pumping patriotism.
Finn Balor at No. 8, shredded physique encased in a tight-fitting leather jacket bobbing down the aisle to high orchestral crescendos is an image that’s hard to top.
Bobby Roode, gem-encrusted robe and a thousand angels at his back, pushing him down the thrust and into the ring with a conviction to claim victory — and to never give in — at No. 9.
And at 10, joining the best of the best in WWE history, NXT head honcho Triple H. Lemmy’s growling over Motorhead’s groove metal, great barbarian costumes and death’s heads, the ritualistic spraying of the water. What’s not to love?