Corrigan’s Corner: Who Is the Greatest 2nd Generation Wrestler?

Ring of Honor debuted on Destination America last week with a breezy, fun show chock-full of great action and a couple interesting storylines especially the Colby Corino sacrifice right...

Ring of Honor debuted on Destination America last week with a breezy, fun show chock-full of great action and a couple interesting storylines especially the Colby Corino sacrifice right in front of his father. The man who stood out of the most, however, was Jay Lethal. His hilarious commentary, harassment of the Briscoes, and creative t-shirt stole the show. Oh, you don’t get Destination America? You want to know about his shirt? That’s why Corrigan’s Corner is here to fulfill your needs (Amanda.)

Lethal’s shirt proclaims him as the “Greatest First Generation Wrestler.” Ever.

With that debate already ended, and The Rock locking up the greatest 3rd generation wrestler distinction, it’s time to determine the best 2nd generation wrassler’ and by Gawd, what a list of a candidates.

Hell, the honorable mentions could fill out a Starrcade: Tully Blanchard, Eddie Gilbert, Jeff Jarrett, Ricky Morton, Dick Murdoch, Goldust, Stardust, Alberto Del Rio, Greg Valentine, the Von Erichs, Barry Windham. (And that’s excluding second generation divas like Paige and Natalya.)

So just who cracks the Top Ten? In honor of Billy Eichner joining Snapchat, here…we….go!

10. Owen Hart

The runt of the Dungeon, Owen Hart paved the way for Daniel Bryan to blend that whiny heel character with dazzling moves and 5-star matches. A former Intercontinental Champion, European Champion, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and of course, 1994 King of the Ring, Owen remained the most reliable performer of the WWE throughout the 90s. Plus, his Tag Team Title reigns with British Bulldog and Jeff Jarrett carried the division into the boom period of the early 2000s. Unfortunately, his life was cut way too short before the King of Harts ascended to the throne of the WWE kingdom.

9. Ted DiBiase

It’s only fair to separate “Iron” Mike DiBiase’s son’s career into two parts: pre/post Million Dollar Man. Before entering WWE in the Rock N Wrestling Era, DiBiase tore up the Georgia and Mid-South territories battling Paul Orndorff, Tommy Rich, One Man Gang, and The Freebirds. His feuds with Junkyard Dog and Jim Duggan drew big box-office and proved the technician could win by following the rules or breaking em. He was even hand-selected by Stan Hansen to replace Bruiser Brody on a hellacious run throughout Japan.

But then…that maniacal laugh. DiBiase emerged onto the WWE scene as a precursor to JBL and even Mr. McMahon as the personification of corporate greed. Along with his servant Virgil, the Million-Dollar Man abused his resources by trying to control the federation, even purchasing the WWE Championship from Andre the Giant. When that didn’t work, DiBiase decided to just create his own title, appropriately titled the Million-Dollar Belt. Eventually, he’d win official gold with I.R.S. as WWE Tag Team Champions.

8. Jake Roberts

Trust me, The Snake didn’t need gold. He slithered throughout North America, wreaking havoc in Georgia, Mid South, Stampede Wrestling, and World Class in Dallas. Then Roberts entered the WWE where his sinister, brooding character clashed against the colorful, boisterous personalities of the Rock N Wrestling Era. His soft-spoken promos articulating descriptions of torture revolutionized the genre. His DDT was the deadliest finisher in the industry. And his pet python Damien…gulp.

7. Mr. Perfect

The son of Larry “The Axe” and the father of current Hulkster impersonator Curtis Axel, Curt Hennig, as of this writing, launched the family name into the annals of wrasslin’ history. A former AWA World Heavyweight Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, and original streak holder, Mr. Perfect delivered inside the ring as well as on the mic. His introductory vignettes of bowling 300s and throwing his own touchdown passes still make me crack up.

6. Eddie Guerrero

Latino Heat still burns in the hearts of fans across the globe who had the privilege of witnessing his amazing talent. The biggest star of the Guerrero family, Eddie played with the crowd’s emotions unlike anybody before or since. Whether bullying his best friend Rey Mysterio or sucking up to his Mamacita Chyna or scratching and clawing at the monster Brock Lesnar, Eddie adapted to every situation to produce the best storylines and matches possible. And it was definitely rare to see Uncle Eddie without gold around his waist as his resume boasts the WWE, European, IC, Tag Team, U.S., and Cruiserweight Championships.

5. Nick Bockwinkel

One of the pillars of the AWA, Nick Bockwinkel held the World Heavyweight Championship four times, for a combined nine years. That’s right, Mr. Bockwinkel ranks up with Bruno Sammartino and Fabulous Moolah for mind-blowing title reigns. His father Warren was a regional star during the 1940s, and Nick certainly picked up where he left off. His rivalries with Curt Hennig and Verne Gagne defined generations and his partnerships with Ray Stevens and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan established a stranglehold on the company. Perhaps most importantly, Bockwinkel influenced Chris Jericho, The Miz, Damien Sandow, and countless other superstars with his arrogant, intellectual villainous style.

4. Dory Funk Jr.

Similar to Bockwinkel, Dory Funk Jr. was a pillar of his stomping grounds: the NWA. Although he only held the World Heavyweight Championship once, his reign lasted more than four years and unlike Bockwinkel, he toured across the country and overseas to defend the strap against a litany of challengers. Jack Brisco, Johnny Valentine, Dick the Bruiser, Ole Anderson, Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, Thunderbolt Patterson…you name him, Dory Jr. faced him. For the past 20 years, he’s been giving back to the business just like his father did by training the future of the business in Florida.

3. Terry Funk

Whereas Dory Jr. was silk and smooth, his younger brother Terry was wild and crazy before Steve Martin ever stuck an arrow through his ear. Hell, Funk shot arrows at fans for pure sport. In hindsight, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship seems like the beginning of his legendary career, as he followed that up by defining an entire hardcore generation by pioneering insane bloodbaths in Japan and Empty Arena Matches in Memphis, not to mention donating his legacy to the fledgling ECW

2. Bret Hart

Forget the haters, he’s The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be. The Hitman was the face of the WWE during the 90s, winning multiple WWE Championships and headlining WrestleMania after WrestleMania. Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart ran roughshod over the tag team division during the 80s, and then he elevated the Intercontinental Championship even higher with classics against Mr. Perfect, Roddy Piper, and Davey Boy Smith. Starring in the first Ironman Match, inventing the Ladder match, suffering in the Montreal Screwjob…when wrestling history occurs, you’ll find Bret Hart there.

1. Randy Savage

The son of ring veteran and promoter Angelo Poffo, “Macho Man” Randy Savage transcended pro wrestling and became a household name. His gravelly voice, vibrant wardrobe, perpetually manic energy, and exploding charisma inspired generations of not just future wrestlers, but future mainstream entertainers. Savage injected a frantic pace to WWE matches, and managed to appear truly larger than life in the midst of a cartoon cavalcade. He’s the only man to give Shawn Michaels a fight for the title of “Mr. WrestleMania” as his wars with Ricky Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, and Ultimate Warrior stand the test of time. Savage could transform from cocky jock to paranoid king to loving husband at the snap of a finger. Slim Jim owes him everything, and so does the wrestling world. Long live Macho Madness, Oooooh Yeaaah!

John Corrigan
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John Corrigan

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John Corrigan
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