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10 Most Influential Wrestlers Ever

The greatest and most legendary inspirations in professional wrestling history.

Ric Flair
WWE.com

Professional wrestling has been around for well over a century now, and has evolved through a variety of different forms as society and popular culture has changed around it. In fact, back in the 1920s there wasn€™t really any such thing as pop culture. America had the Depression and Prohibition instead, the two suckiest horsemen of the apocalypse, and after wrestling€™'s first superstar Frank Gotch retired, Ed Lewis, Billy Sandow and Toots Mondt - the Gold Dust Trio - responded to the crash in wrestling€™s fortunes by changing a fair few things: adding more panache and pizazz to the product, introducing gimmicked holds and the concept of the roster.

Television came along, completely redefining the business. Bruno Sammartino ruled the northeast in the 1960s, but Verne Gagne€'™s AWA ran the rest of America. With the advent of cable over regional television, the business suffered another seismic change, just in time for Vince McMahon Jnr. to capitalise and lead the charge to go national.

For the first time, the whole country - the whole world - got to follow a single promotion€™s angles and storylines€ and characters. During all of this time, certain performers managed to become more than just pro wrestlers, or fledgling sports entertainers. They embraced change, surfing the wave rather than being swamped by it, and inspired whole generations of wrestlers and fans alike.

This article names and acclaims who I consider to be the ten most influential performers in wrestling history€ the wrestlers who shaped the business.

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Professional writer, punk werewolf and nesting place for starfish. Obsessed with squid, spirals and story. I publish short weird fiction online at desincarne.com, and tweet nonsense under the name Jack The Bodiless. You can follow me all you like, just don't touch my stuff.