Ranking Who Was Really The Man In Wrestling Every Year 1990-2020

It's not about beating anybody.

Austin Jericho

To illustrate just how drastically WWE has fallen, in 1998, Mick Foley led the Time Man of the Year poll. He was removed from consideration - it was felt that he hadn't "done enough" to warrant consideration, but clearly, his unseemly profession had much to do with it. Foley wasn't even the Man in 1998; wrestling was just that white-hot.

To be the Man, you don't beat the Man.

A passing of the torch is just another of pro wrestling's endless fictions. Very rarely does it happen; it was attempted, in 1990 - though Hulk Hogan treated the torch like it was a trillion dollar bill - when the WWF attempted to make the Ultimate Warrior the Man by foregoing the traditional transition custom. It was an audacious but unsuccessful gambit; Warrior didn't have the same working magic, he "wrestled" his old Intercontinental Title rival to diminished returns, and he just wasn't Hogan. So what does make the Man?

It's a combination of factors: drawing power, in-ring skill, the underrated ability to perform as a TV star, the ability to get oneself over, the ability through promos to sell big matches on the pape.

It, simply, is a matter of who was the biggest f*cking deal...

31. 1990 - Hulk Hogan

Austin Jericho

In 1990, the Ultimate Warrior was the WWF Champion - but Hulk Hogan remained the man, as he had throughout the 1980s mega-boom.

The two clashed in the closing stages of the Royal Rumble and at WrestleMania VI in the aforementioned, stadium-sized Ultimate Challenge of WrestleMania VI. If Hogan was a career politician, this was his re-election masterstroke; he framed the result as his loss, more so than Warrior's win, but he was simply too much of a stand-up guy to not pay respect to his opponent. He raised Warrior's arm in triumph, babyfacing himself as the next top babyface paraded in the ring.

Sure as sh*t, Hogan enjoyed a hotter summer; he sold an injury at Earthquake's hands like no other assault he had been subjected to, and the young fans of the WWF were too busy writing Hogan's letters than to pester their parents for tickets to the Ultimate Warrior Vs. Rick Rude series.

Hogan was the focus once more; the draw and the Man.


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!