Sorry Hulk Hogan, Hillbilly Jim, and Psycho Sid Vicious. At 6-foot, 8-inches tall or less, you’re just not tall enough for us today. This is a list for only the tallest of the tall.
The “giant” has always held a place in wrestling since its early beginnings. It marries the carnival sideshow of oddities (bearded woman, two-headed goat) with the carnival sideshow of the strongman. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was a regular thing for traveling carnivals to travel with a giant who would challenge locals to last in the ring with him for 5 minutes to win a cash prize. After a few too many beatdowns, plants were put in the audience and the bouts were rigged. You can see where this will all evolve.
While there are some things that come to a giant without really trying, such as being famous for having no more skill than an overactive pituitary gland, many will tell you that they would trade places with an average-sized wrestler in a second. The toll of wrestling on their bodies is worse than that of a regular wrestler and the hassles that come with their travel schedule are downright inconvenient.
But as long as there are audiences, there will be the thirst for the giant. You’re not going to see guys with the technical skills of Dean Malenko or Eddie Guerrero on this. Nor will you see guys with the charisma of The Rock or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. They are simply physically incapable of that kind of wrestling, and most are actually shy after a childhood of being tormented because of their size. Most giants are men of few words, and few moves.
Appreciate the giants because they are few and far between. Here is a list of the 14 tallest giants ever to wrestle for WWE.
14. Kevin Nash – 6’9”
Dusty Rhodes knew he had something with the charismatic Nash, but the WCW booker gave the big man such horrible gimmicks as Oz, Master Blaster and Vinnie Vegas, none of which connected with fans because, frankly, they sucked. It wasn’t until Shawn Michaels caught Nash on WCW television and thought he’d be a great bodyguard character that Big Sexy caught his break. Evolving into one of the main characters as Diesel during his WWE run, Nash returned to WCW and was a charter member of a stable called the NWO… perhaps you’ve heard of them. After the years-long run with WCW, Nash bounced between WWE, TNA and the indies, never really finding his niche after years of abuse on his body. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
13. Ernie Ladd – 6’9”
“Big Cat” Ernie Ladd is perhaps the most underrated and least appreciated giant on this list, having been one of the top heels of every promotion he worked for in the 1970s and early ’80s. Ladd was drafted by the Chicago Bears out of college but spent the bulk of his professional wrestling career with the San Diego Chargers, including several AFL championships. Back then, athletes didn’t get nearly the money they do now, so Ladd wrestled in the off-season until a football injury forced him into wrestling full time in 1969. The Big Cat tried his hand at broadcasting for the WWE in the mid 1980s, but never quite caught on. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995, 14 years after the Chargers put them into their Hall.
12. One Man Gang – 6’9”
We prefer to remember the mammoth George Gray for his portrayal of tough-as-nails biker gang member One Man Gang, who first made a name for himself in World Class Championship Wrestling as part of Gen. Skandor Akbar’s “Devastation, Inc.” stable. He was hired by the WWE to serve as one of the many big men Hulk Hogan would run an extended program with. After his championship chase was over, he languished until he was reinvented as Akeem, the African Dream. Wearing traditional African garb and speaking in a ghetto-jive way that would never fly today, Akeem found his greatest WWE success in a tag-team with Big Bossman called the Twin Towers. An interesting bit of trivia is that he scored the pinfall over Shawn Michaels at Michaels’ first Wrestlemania (No. 5) in a Twin Towers vs. Rockers bout.
11. Giant Baba – 6’10”
Next to Antonio Inoki and Rikidozan, Shohei “Giant” Baba is probably the most recognized name in the history of Japanese wrestling. First making a name for himself traveling from territory to territory (similar to Andre the Giant’s travel schedule) in the US during the early 1960s, Baba really grew to mythical status when he returned home to the Land of the Rising Sun in the late ’60s and began teaming with Inoki. After a falling out with Inoki in 1972, Baba started All-Japan pro wrestling, which was largely considered the most successful promotion in the world over the next decade. He regularly visited the US, taking on the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant in Madison Square Garden for the WWE. Baba would make cameos in the ring up until his death in 1999. If he were still alive today, he would surely be one of the Japanese members of the WWE Hall of Fame.
10. Big John Studd – 6’10”
It’s gotta be hard to be as massive as Big John Studd, but still not be the main attraction. Studd, just a couple of inches shorter than Andre The Giant, played second banana, bad-guy foil to the loved Andre for most of his first run in the WWE between 1982 and 1986. His most notable match was a loss to Andre in a “bodyslam challenge” at the first Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden. After a series of losses to Andre, and then Hulk Hogan, there really wasn’t a lot of options for Studd, who it’s rumored was actually despised by Andre in real life. He had a brief run as a good guy in 1988-89, including winning the Royal Rumble, but health problems forced him to retire. He died in 1995 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
9. The Undertaker – 6’10”
What can be written about Mark Calaway that hasn’t already been said? While Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock were all the hottest star of their brief time on top, none have had the longevity of The Undertaker. Having risen to almost mythical proportions, The Undertaker debuted in WWE with Brother Love as his manager almost 25 years ago, but had actually wrestled with Sid Vicious and then Danny Spivey as the Skyscrapers in WCW. A sure-fire first ballot hall-of-famer, when asked who his favorite wrestling character of all time is, Vince McMahon usually references The Undertaker, who still has it after all these years. He’s also in the center of one of the most asked questions in the reality era: Should his Wrestlemania win streak have been broken by Brock Lesnar?
8. Kurrgan – 6’11”
After a hit-and-miss career in the seasonal Canadian indy circuit and a failed attempt at joining the WWE, Robert Maillet was not expecting a call from Bret Hart to pull him away from his job as a bouncer in New Brunswick bars. But, the call came, and after some work at getting the ring rust off, Maillet, as “The Interrogator” made his WWE debut as part of The Truth Commission, managed by Don “Jackyl” Callas. An attempt to break Maillet out as a singles wrestler didn’t go anywhere, but it did give him the name Kurrgan, which is the character he’s most known for. After a run as part of The Oddities as a tie-dye wearing dancing fool, Maillet left wrestling for the movies, scoring parts in such blockbusters as 300, Pacific Rim and Sherlock Holmes.
7. Uncle Elmer – 7’0”
Stan Frazier was a big country guy from Mississippi who played a big country guy from the Ozarks. His character of the gruff but lovable uncle in a hillbilly clan that consisted of Hillbilly Jim, Cousin Luke and Cousin Junior was a favorite of kids and at 475 pounds, Frazier was a sight to behold. He bounced around southern indies for years, most notably Jerry Lawler’s Memphis territory, but got his big break in the WWE in 1985, where he wrestled for two years until his then 48-year-old body couldn’t keep up with the travel grind wrestlers were expected to follow then. Aside from being the match before the Wrestlemania II main event, Frazier’s biggest moment in the WWE was getting married on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, which was actually real and not just a storyline.
6. The Big Show – 7’0”
Fans may be begging this behemoth to retire at this point in his career since he seems to be phoning it in from both a workrate and charisma standpoint, but this is one man whose void will never be filled. He was put on a pedestal too quickly, winning the WCW World Title from Hulk Hogan in his first match. After his lack of ability became apparent, he slid down the card until WWE came calling. He worked in their OVW developmental territory to hone his craft and has been at the top or near the top of the card for about 20 years. If he had been around 20-25 years earlier, this is the man who would have been Andre the Giant. If Andre the Giant had been around 20-25 years later, he would have been The Big Show. Andre probably got the better end of that deal. His win in the battle royal at Wrestlemania 31 was likely the last great “moment” he’s going to have.
5. Kane – 7’0”
So, the Undertaker has a brother who was horribly scarred as a child because of a fire. Paul Bearer (who may or may not be their father) finds this now-adult brother of The Dead Man and brings him to the WWE to get revenge on his brother for what he did as a kid to him. Paul Bearer, of course, found this scarred monster at the dentist’s office, where he was tormenting Bret Hart at the urging of Jerry “The King” Lawler and teaching good oral hygiene under the name Isaac Yankem DDS.
Kane eventually goes on to have a love-hate relationship with his brother, but not before attacking baseball’s all-time hit champion, Pete Rose, multiple times. Kane’s anger subsides as he is unmasked following a tag-team run with Rob Van Dam. Why was he with Rob Van Dam? The same reason he was later teamed with Daniel Bryan. It’s a secret! Once that runs its course, Kane realizes he’s getting older and like his Cincinnati Reds nemesis, management is for him, so he dons a suit and becomes the Director of Operations, except for when he steals his old mask. In order to differentiate, he’s no longer named just Kane. Thankfully, the WWE calls the suit-wearing one Corporate Kane and the mask-wearing one Demon Kane. It makes it easier to follow.
But, boy, the dude is tall!
4. The Great Khali – 7’1”
The Great Khali, played by Dalip Singh, is proof that size alone does not a compelling wrestling make. There’s no debating that he’s an awesome sight at over 7 feet tall when he’s walking to the ring, head-and-shoulders above everyone in the crowd, but the moment he steps inside the squared circle, it just all falls apart. He showed almost no technical skill, nor any desire to be cheered or booed from the crowd. A big charisma vacuum is not pleasant to watch. Being from India, his English is extremely limited. In the first part of his career, he was given Jinder Mahal as a mouthpiece, but after a brief failed run as WWE champion, Mahal faded from the picture as it was clear he was going to be nothing more than somebody to gawk at in the undercard. Khali left WWE in late 2014 after his contract expired and opened a wrestling school in India. Let’s hope he’s the student and not the teacher.
3. Andre the Giant – 7’4”
The most famous giant in the history of professional wrestling, (with the exception of the world’s tallest man ever, Robert Wadlow) and perhaps the world, Andre the Giant is the professional wrestling giant all big men are compared with. Some of the men in this list came along too early, before wrestling was established in the U.S., while others arrived after the territory system died. Andre the Giant was in the right place at the right time when Vince McMahon Sr. noticed him and put him on a 365-day travel schedule. He was more agile than the end of his WWE showed. YouTube has a lot of his Japan work, which shows he could actually perform technical wrestling moves.
2. Giant Gonzalez – 7’6”
Ted Turner invested a lot of money in bringing Jorge Gonzalez up from Brazil to play for the Atlanta Hawks, but when it turned out the big man had no basketball ability, he was dumped on World Championship Wrestling. He wrestled there to little success as El Gigante in the early 1990s before making the leap to WWE in 1992 where he wrestled under the name Giant Gonzalez and was managed by Harvey Wippleman. His most notable match was as an early victim to The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania XI. After a year in WWE, he retired from wrestling and died in his native Brazil in 2010.
1. Silo Sam – 7’8”
So, if you were Silo Sam, would you say that your bigger claim to fame was being the tallest professional wrestling in the history of the game (even if your run was largely forgettable) or that you had a bit part in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, getting to chase the man-child around a dinosaur statue park? Jon Harris competed during the end of the territory era working for the Memphis-based CWA and the Von Erich’s WCCW in Texas. Rumor has it after a tryout match for WWE in the mid-1980s, Andre the Giant petitioned for Harris to not get a spot since he was taller than Andre. The only national exposure Harris ever received was for a brief run, mainly in battle royals, for the AWA, which was airing on ESPN at the time. Since he stepped into a WWE ring, we’re going to count him. How can you not count someone so darn tall?