10 Best Wrestlers Of 2023

Another year winds down, but which WWE & AEW wrestlers put the biggest stamp on 2023?

Gunther Cody Rhodes Bryan Danielson

A quick reminder of the qualifiers and caveats that apply to these things, just to try and offset the potential rage about anybody that may not have made the final cut. 10 is a tiny number anyway, but in a year where yet more quality ceilings were raised and wrestlers outdid themselves on a near-weekly basis, there had to be a few stipulations. And they are;

- In line with WhatCulture.com's primary coverage, the list is centred around those wrestling for WWE and AEW. That's not to undermine Impact Wrestling, ROH, GCW, NJPW, Stardom, TJPW, or anybody promotion or performer outside of the mainstream North American bubble, but please consider these parameters before contacting your local authorities over an omission.

- In 2023, there was a glorious surplus of great wrestling in the same way, post-2000, there became a glorious surplus of great prestige television shows. As much as anything these wrestlers have done bell-to-bell, this list features performers that - like all great characters in said shows - grabbed you by the throat and forced you to sit up and pay attention to what they were doing. Quality of matches matters, but quality of promos and ability to build said matches comes above the quantity of contests if they’ve all been mostly meaningless.

- Like many articles on this website, it's a subjective collection of wrestlers. Yours may be different, almost definitely is different, and that's great. And if you crave blanket positivity in your coverage, here's loads of it…

10. Rhea Ripley

Gunther Cody Rhodes Bryan Danielson

Rhea Ripley was on such incredible form for the first half of 2023 that it's little wonder that the shock-and-awe nature of Nia Jax's return has been the first time her Women's World Championship has felt under threat since she won the gold at WrestleMania 39.

The leader of The Judgment Day and biggest star in the group at that, Ripley's owned the role since she took it up in 2022, but she's elevated herself and the stable to new heights since January 1st. She made an incredible coast-to-coast run in the Royal Rumble look easy, and subsequently made her 'Show Of Shows' victory look anything but. Her 23:35 minutes against Charlotte Flair on the company's grandest stage were minutes as hot as any this year, and stole the show from underneath the epic Bloodline main event drama on the 'Grandest Stage'.

Believably dominant in contrast to the muddled way her character was initially handled on the main roster, there was a measured quality to her thrilling squash wins over Zelina Vega and Natalya at Backlash and Night Of Champions respectively, she became completely unbeatable in television, and made contenders of Raquel Rodriguez, Jax and a flailing Shayna Baszler by the mere fact that she interacted with them.

A multi-tool player, her partnership with Dominik Mysterio continued to be one of the most endearingly appalling things in all of wrestling, and surely inevitable feuds with Becky Lynch and Jade Cargill could be legacy-defining epics if they reach their peak.


Michael is a writer, editor, podcaster and presenter for WhatCulture Wrestling, and has been with the organisation over 7 years. He primarily produces written, audio and video content on WWE and AEW, but also provides knowledge and insights on all aspects of the wrestling industry thanks to a passion for it dating back over 30 years. As one third of "The Dadley Boyz", Michael has contributed to the huge rise in popularity of the WhatCulture Wrestling Podcast, earning it top spot in the UK's wrestling podcast charts with well over 50,000,000 total downloads. He has been featured as a wrestling analyst for the Tampa Bay Times and Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, and has covered milestone events in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, London and Cardiff. Michael's background in media stretches beyond wrestling coverage, with a degree in Journalism from the University Of Sunderland (2:1) and a series of published articles in sports, music and culture magazines The Crack, A Love Supreme and Pilot. When not offering his voice up for daily wrestling podcasts, he can be found losing it singing far too loud watching his favourite bands play live. Follow him on X/Twitter - @MichaelHamflett