Imitation is the greatest form of flattery; so often today we see so many wrestlers take a page out of the book of their favorite wrestlers, like Dolph Ziggler for example who uses a lot from the two Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Although imitation is a great source of flattery, Michaels himself said it is key to establish yourself as your own person.
Inspiration for these 13 WWE superstars drew from all over the wrestling circuit, whether it was someone in the WWE, WCW or an independent wrestling promotion. Ric Flair is a name you will see come up a lot in this article.
Who is Vince McMahon’s favorite wrestler of all time? What about Steve Austin’s favorite wrestler? Or Shawn Michaels’ favorite? Or even John Cena’s favorite ? Let’s answer these questions and take a look at 13 WWE superstars and who their favourite wrestlers are. Enjoy!
13) John Cena: Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon
When asked who his favorite wrestler was, John Cena said both Hogan and McMahon. According to John, these two together took the business to another level, beyond anyone’s expectations at the time. Cena also credits all the success of the WWE to Vince, as without Vince there would simply be no Hulkamania, no Austin 3:16 or no Vince McMahon power walk to the ring. All these factors intermixed with Vince’s entrepreneurial skills make McMahon Cena’s favorite wrestler of all time.
12) Daniel Bryan: Dean Malenko
As much as Shawn Michaels had a huge impact on Daniel Bryan’s career, Bryan’s number one was “the man of a thousand holds”, Dean Malenko. As a youngster, Bryan was obsessed with Malenko’s style in the ring. He also loved Dean’s finisher, the Texas Cloverleaf. Bryan implemented a lot from Dean’s playbook throughout his career from moves to submissions. Bryan also recalls meeting Dean for the first ever time; Daniel discusses how Malenko had the driest sense of humor ever which made him even greater in Bryan’s book.
11) CM Punk: Rowdy Rowdy Piper
Punk admits that his favorite wrestler of all time and the reason he became a wrestler was because of Rowdy Rowdy Piper. The two have also been linked with one another, and many refer to Punk as the modern day Rowdy Piper. After Piper’s passing, Punk memorialized his childhood idol during a screening of the movie They Live. Punk also commented on Piper’s passing stating that Piper gave him a purpose and lit his path. He also spoke about how he will cherish Piper’s friendship forever.
10) Mick Foley: Terry Funk
No real surprise here; Mick Foley worshipped Terry Funk growing up. Foley discussed having a soft spot for “Superfly” Snuka, but when he really got into wrestling, Funk became his favorite. Foley admires Funk’s ability to get noticed so quickly, and Foley recalls Funk wrestling in front of fans that were unfamiliar with him, but what made Terry so special was his ability to familiarize himself with the people rather quickly. He just knew how to work a crowd no matter where he was. This taught Foley a great lesson throughout his career. Stylistically you can see that Foley used a very similar style to Funk, and both were regarded as hardcore legends. Many in the wrestling business believe that Funk was one of the most underrated wrestlers in the history of the business.
9) Big E: Goldberg
A rare case of a WWE star growing up idolizing a WCW star, Big E watched a lot of WCW as a kid and loved Goldberg’s intensity. Big E recalls being captivated by Goldberg’s entrance which started with a security team calling him from his dressing room. He’d eventually make his way out walking through a smoke filled scene; not many in the wrestling business had an entrance as epic as this one. Big E also recalls meeting Goldberg and how much of a great guy he was outside of the ring, this exceeded his impression of Goldberg. Big E stated that even though it’s unlikely, his dream match would be against Goldberg.
8) Cody Rhodes: Sting
Like Big E, Cody was a WCW kid growing up. Rhodes was emphatic in claiming that Sting was his favorite wrestler ever. Cody recalls the impact Sting made against the NWO, turning himself into the biggest face in all of pro wrestling. According to Cody, there weren’t many people that wanted to see Sting lose. Cody recalls the epic build up and match at Starrcade 97 which saw Sting capture the World Championship from the NWO’s leader Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
What also sold Cody was Sting’s ability to perform like an athlete in the ring while keeping this mysterious demeanor which captivated so many fans. You can see Cody using the same kind of demeanor today with his new Stardust character.
7) The Miz: The Ultimate Warrior
As a child, The Miz recalls rocking Warrior face paint, putting streamers on his arms and screaming like The Ultimate Warrior all day, every day. Warrior’s character was just so infectious, and his energy was unbelievable according to the Miz. What sold the Miz on the Warrior was his belief in him, Miz claimed “it was who he was and I believed in him”.
6) Dolph Ziggler: Ric Flair
Dolph Ziggler’s heroes growing up were Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. Like The Miz, Ziggler loved the fact that Flair was Flair in and out of the ring. He was also the main attraction every night, whether he was wrestling in the main event or simply making an appearance with his perfect suit, glasses and limousines, there was always something so cool about Flair according to Ziggler. Dolph used this in his own gimmick, being known as “the show off”.
Most importantly, Ziggler praised Michaels and Flair’s ability to make anyone he was in the ring with look good no matter who it was. This became something that Ziggler modeled his career around and credits Shawn and Ric for having this mentality.
5) Kofi Kingston: Shawn Michaels
Kofi joins the list of a countless number of WWE stars that consider Shawn Michaels as their favorite of all time. Steve Austin said it himself during the Stone Cold Podcast, so many times wrestlers tell him that they got into the business because of Shawn Michaels. Kofi can also attest to this; Kingston claims Michaels is the greatest wrestler of all time. Kingston credits Michaels for being at the top of his game for almost 4 decades, truly remarkable to believe. Similar to Flair, Kingston credits Shawn for making anyone look good in the ring against him no matter who it was. Kofi claims that Shawn never had a bad match. Michaels is one of the most idolized wrestlers in the WWE today.
4) Seth Rollins: Necro Butcher
Seth Rollins went off the board when talking about his favorite wrestler growing up. Seth praised the Necro Butcher for being so ahead of his time. Having wrestled with him in the past, Rollins claims that the Necro Butcher can do anything in the ring along with his unique look. Rollins claims Necro is so special because you never know what to expect from him. Rollins also recalls some of his classic matches against Samoa Joe, and they were absolutely incredible to watch according to Seth.
Rollins also admired the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels growing up.
3) Stone Cold: Ric Flair
Austin truly loves the wrestling business. Being a huge fan, Austin got the opportunity to work with wrestlers he claimed were the best of all time. Austin claims Shawn Michaels was the greatest in ring performer of all time.
Austin credits Flair as being his favorite wrestler of all time, a common theme in this article. Stone Cold praises Flair as being the total package of what a true pro wrestler should be like. Austin claims that if you look up the term pro wrestler, there is a picture of Flair. High praise by the Texas Rattlesnake.
2) Shawn Michaels: Ric Flair
Like so many others, Michaels worshipped the Nature Boy Ric Flair growing up. Michaels was amazed at Flair’s charisma and talent level in and out of the ring. Like Austin said, Flair was one the first ever complete pro wrestlers who can put on a match and cut a promo as good as anyone else. Michaels claims Flair paved the way for a whole generation of wrestlers just as Michaels himself did for today’s generation of superstars that look up to him. Michaels claims that without Flair, there would be no Shawn Michaels.
1) Vince McMahon: The Undertaker
When Vince was asked who his favorite superstar of all time was he did not even hesitate to say “The Deadman” The Undertaker. His respect for Taker stems from years and years of hard work. McMahon acknowledges Taker’s loyalty, longevity and extraordinary commitment to his character as reasons for why he truly is the best. McMahon went on to say that The Undertaker is an extraordinary person and the best professional of all time. McMahon claims no one worked their craft better than The Undertaker. Vince feels forever indebted to “The Deadman” for all his contributions on and off screen over the last 20 plus years. The two will forever remain the best of friends.