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The Most Iconic Pro Wrestlers in History – From Then Till Now

The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is one of the most lucrative businesses out there. We have put togethter a list of the top wrestlers of all time.
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The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is one of the most lucrative businesses out there. It has been around for decades, and it is owned by Vince McMahon. However, the WWE would be nothing without its slew of talented, charismatic, and sometimes shocking performers.

There have been many iconic pro-wrestlers over the years. What makes each of the names on this list so successful is unique to each of them. What isn’t unique to each of the pro-wrestlers on this list is the amount of money they have made from the WWE and other, independent venues that have hired them to perform.

Edge

Edge

Career Started: 1992
Career Ended: 2011
Net Worth: $14 million*

Edge (real name: Adam Copeland) was trained by professional wrestlers such as Ron Hutchison and Sweet Daddy Siki. He started wrestling in the nineties with various independent groups before he joined the WWE. He is one of wrestling’s most decorated participants. He has won thirty-one WWE championships overall.

Edge was forced into retirement in 2011 after he broke his neck. He was famous for not faking his stunts, and this injury caused his immediate departure. He returned briefly in 2019, but he mainly focuses on his acting career now. He has a role in the hit show Vikings as Ketill Flatnose.

“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

Career Started: 1974
Career Ended: 1993
Net Worth: $1 million*

Nicknamed “The Million Dollar Man,” pro-wrestler Ted DiBiase has held thirty titles throughout his professional wrestling career. He was described by the IGN as one of wrestling’s “most gifted technical wrestlers” to ever get in the ring. He is considered one of professional wrestling’s most notorious villains.

The Million Dollar Man started his career in the mid-seventies. He retired after twenty years of terrorizing opponents in the ring. He was the first WWF North American Heavyweight Champ. He won three WWF Tag Team Championships alongside Irwin R. Schyster. He won the WWE’s 24/7 Championship once and the King of the Ring in 1998.

Randy Orton

Randy Orton

Career Started: 2000
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $11 million*

Randy Orton, like Vince McMahon, is part of a generation of wrestlers. Orton is the third generation, as his grandfather, father, and uncle were all pro-wrestles. Randal Keith Orton is signed to WWE as part of the WWE Raw brand name. Orton made history when he became the second-youngest two-time WWE champ of all time at the age of twenty-seven.

Orton formed a group called The Legacy, which featured Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. He has also been associated with The Authority, who briefly named him as the “Face of the WWE.” After that, he joined the Wyatt Family alongside Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt.

Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Career Started: 1989
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $8.5 million*

Rey Mysterio is signed to the Raw brand of the WWE. He is considered, according to ESPN, to be one of the greatest cruiserweights in the history of professional wrestling. He was born in Chula Vista, CA, and he began wrestling when he was fourteen. His uncle was a professional wrestler, and he tutored him in the art of wrestling.

He signed with WCW in 1995 before switching to the WWE. Mysterio is best known for helping to popularize the now-famous style of fighting called the Lucha libre, which is a flying wrestling style that also helped jump-start the emergence of the cruiserweight wrestler category.

Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle

Career Started: 1998
Career Ended:  2019
Net Worth: $25 million*

Kurt Angle is still signed to the WWE, except he works backstage as a producer instead of getting in the ring himself. He started wrestling when he was in the NCAA, winning the D1 Heavyweight Wrestling Championship twice. He then won a gold medal in the WWC in 1995.

Angle began a professional career in his favorite sport in 1996, signing with the WWF. He made waves almost immediately, with John Cena stating that he was one of the most “gifted performers” of all time. He was named the Wrestler of the Decade in 2004 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Triple H

Triple H

Career Started: 1992
Career Ended:  N/A
Net Worth: $40 million*

Triple H (born Paul Levesque) is a business executive, as well as an actor and professional wrestler. He is signed to WWE, and he also works backstage as the executive VP of Talent, Creative, and Live Events. He has held that role since 2013. He gained fame in the nineties for helping to usher in the “Attitude Era” of pro-wrestling.

Triple H was widely considered one of the best wrestlers in North America in 2000. He won five Intercontinental Championships, two World Tag Team Championships, a Grand Slam Championship, and many other accolades. He is part of the Generation X stable.

Mick Foley

Mick Foley

Career Started: 1983
Career Ended: 2012
Net Worth: $18 million*

Mick Foley is a former pro-wrestler who is currently signed as a color commentator to the WWE. Throughout his career, Foley was known for wrestling both under his real name and under the guise of various creative personas. One such persona was Cactus Jack. Cactus Jack was a bloodthirsty, physical brawler who used sharp objects to terrorize his opponent.

Foley also wrestled as Mankind, a masked, boiler-room-dwelling, mentally-unstable loner who would shove gym socks into the mouths of his opponents. His third main persona was Dude Love, a relaxed, hippie-like personality. Those three personas earned him the nickname “The Hardcore Legend.”

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar

Career Started: 2002
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $22 million*

Brock Lesnar is not just a professional wrestler who is signed to the WWE. He is also a former MMA artist and NFL player. He had an amateur career at Bismarck State and the University of Minnesota. He signed with the WWE right out of college, and he became the youngest title champ in the sport’s history at age twenty-five.

Lesnar began to pursue a career in the UFC, becoming a box office-sensation there for his physical style of fighting. He returned to the WWE in 2012, and he was the Universal Champion there from 2017 to 2019.

The Undertaker

The Undertaker

Career Started: 1987
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $17 million*

The Undertaker is one of the more terrifying members of this list. Born Mark Calaway, The Undertaker is a 6’10” member of the WWE who is regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport. He started his career in 1987, but it wasn’t until the Attitude Era that he deployed his current gimmick.

The basis of his character is that he is a horror-themed, supernatural, macabre entity that uses scare tactics to freak out his opponents. The Undertaker once won twenty-one straight victories at Wrestlemania. He has held a seventeen championship titles with the WWE.

John Cena

John Cena

Career Started: 1999
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $55 million*

John Cena has managed to amass such a high net worth through not just his WWE career, but also his career as an actor and television show host. He first signed with the WWE in 2000, and he gained industry notoriety for his gimmick as a smack-talking rapper. He changed that up after winning his first singles’ championship.

In 2005, Cena changed his character to become somewhat of a Superman-esque figure. He then led the WWE as its franchise player. He has closed out the Wrestlemania five times and headlined some of the biggest WWE pay-per-view events in its history.

Bret “The Hitman” Hart

Bret “The Hitman” Hart

Career Started: 1978
Career Ended: 2000
Net Worth: $14 million*

Bret “The Hitman” Hart is a retired pro-wrestler who became a champion in the eighties and nineties as part of the WWF. He was in charge of the Hart Foundation Stable. The Canada native helped give the WWF an international audience, and he was called “one of the greatest” by Sky Sports.

The Hitman wrestled for years until a fateful incident in 1997, which led to him leaving the WWE and joining the WCW until his retirement in 2000. The Montreal Screwjob Incident, as it was known, was an unscripted incident where the referees fixed the outcome of the match beforehand.

Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels

Career Started: 1984
Career Ended: 2018
Net Worth: $17 million*

Retired pro-wrestler Shawn Michaels is best-known by his ring-names “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Mr. Wrestlemania.” He has wrestled for the WWE throughout his entire career, starting in 1998 and continuing for a decade until a back injury forced him into his first retirement. He made a comeback in 2002 and wrestled until 2010.

He co-founded and led the D-Generation X stable and headlined event after event. When he went to the AWA (while still signed to the WWE), he and fellow performer Marty Jannetty formed The Midnight Rockers, which had a very high-profile breakup in 1992. Michaels has won the WWF World Championship four times.

Ric Flair

Ric Flair

Career Started: 1972
Career Ended: 2012
Net Worth: $3 million*

Ric Flair has had a wrestling career that has spanned forty years. He has wrestled for the JCP, WCW, and WWE (also wrestling for the WWE when it was still the WWF). He began using his famous moniker, Nature Boy, in the mid-seventies. He has attracted millions of viewers throughout his career.

He has won Wrestler of the Year six times after PWI nominated him repeatedly. Wrestling Observer Newsletter named him Wrestler of the Year eight times. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, the first wrestler to ever be inducted two times. He retired in 2012.

The Rock

The Rock

Career Started: 1996
Career Ended: 2019
Net Worth: $280 million*

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a professional wrestler before he was an actor. He was also a college football player, and he chose to go into wrestling after an injury cut short his hopes of becoming an NFL player. Johnson developed his wrestling persona, The Rock, during the Attitude Era of the nineties.

His gimmick was being a boastful trash-talker. He won his first WWF title in 1998, and he helped the WWE boom in the nineties and 2000s, getting the organization to its highest-ever television ratings. He left wrestling in 2004 to pursue an acting career, though he performed part-time until 2019.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Career Started: 1989
Career Ended: 2003
Net Worth: $45 million*

Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestled from 1989 until 2003, when he left to pursue an acting career. Stone Cold started out with the ECW in the early nineties before signing with the WWE in 1995 as The Ringmaster. He rebranded himself as Stone Cold the next year, a move that gave significant clout during the Attitude Era.

Stone Cold’s gimmick was that he was a trash-talking, beer-drinking, brazen antihero who defied both the establishment of the WWE as well as his boss, Vince McMahon (who was in on the gimmick). This defiant attitude helped him become the main figure of the Attitude Era.

Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan

Career Started: 1977
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $25 million*

Hulk Hogan isn’t just one of the most popular wrestlers of the eighties; he is also one of the most popular wrestlers of all time. Hogan, who is also a TV personality and musician, started his pro-wrestling career in 1977. He didn’t get much attention then, but he became famous once he signed with the WWE.

His gimmick was that he was an all-American, patriotic hero. That caught on with audiences, and Hogan became the headliner for the first nine editions of WrestleMania. He helped to usher in the eighties’ boom of wrestling. His alter-ego, Hollywood Hulk, led the New World Order stable.

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Career Started: 1976
Career Ended: 1994
Net Worth: $1 million*

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (whose real name is Richard Blood, which could also work as a wrestling name) started his career in the late seventies. He has been associated with a variety of different pro-wrestling organizations, including the AWA, CP, WCW, and WWF. He became “The Dragon” when he joined the WWF.

He retired briefly from the WWF and left to join New Japan, a pro-wrestling organization that pitted him against greats like The Great Muta and Hiroshi Hase before he retired to the WWF in 1991. His onstage gimmick is a giant ball of fire, as well as a keikogi.

Sting

Sting

Career Started: 1985
Career Ended: 2016
Net Worth: $8 million*

Sting has had a wrestling career that has lasted more than thirty years. He is known for being the public face of the WCW and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Currently, he is signed to the WWE under the Legends contract. He has been with the WWE for five years. His gimmick is a painted face and some very nasty feuds with New World Order and Four Horsemen.

Sting has won twenty-five championships throughout his career with various wrestling organizations. He headlined the Hall of Fame class for the WWE in 2016. It was there that he announced his partial retirement.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Career Started: 1975
Career Ended: 2015
Net Worth: $500,000*

Jake “The Snake” Roberts is one of the most colorful characters on this list so far. He wrestled for a variety of American and Mexican wrestling companies before he joined the WWE. He had a stint with the WWE from 1986 to 1992 and 1995 to 1997. He has also wrestled for ECW and TNAW.

The Snake has been known throughout the career for his intense promos and dark charisma. In matches, he uses psychological tactics against his opponents, including bringing live snakes into the ring to freak them out. He is also the pioneer of the DDT finishing move.

Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant

Career Started: 1962
Career Ended: 1993
Net Worth: $10 million*

Andre the Giant was most famous in wrestling for his size (as well as his feud with Hulk Hogan). Andre the Giant suffered from a condition known as gigantism, which is an illness that causes the human growth hormone to over-produce itself. He was 7’4” tall and weighed 520 pounds.

He was nicknamed “The 8th Wonder of the World” because of his size. He was able to score acting gigs, too, most notably in the movie The Princess Bride, in which he played Fezzik. He was the first person ever inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1993, which was also sadly the year he passed away.

Dusty Rhodes

Dusty Rhodes

Career Started: 1967
Career Ended: 2001
Net Worth: $3 million*

Dusty Rhodes was born in Austin Texas, and he was not only a pro-wrestler himself, but he also was a booker and trainer who was instrumental in helping grow the National Wrestling Alliance, the WWF, and Jim Crockett Promotions. He was billed onstage as the “son of a plumber,” and he had a “common man” character that resonated onstage.

He did not have a wrestler’s physique, but he had enough charisma that people loved seeing him. He made on-air appearances in interviews that showed his personality. Vince McMahon, the chairman of the WWE, said no wrestler could compare to Dusty Rhodes when it came to charisma.

Roddy Piper

Roddy Piper

Career Started: 1969  
Career Ended: 2011
Net Worth: $4 million*

Roddy Piper has been noted as one of the most notorious wrestling villains in wrestling history. Though he was born in Canada, he is of Scottish heritage, and that Scottish gimmick was used frequently in his ring appearances. He was billed as hailing from Glasgow, and he would wear a kilt and enter to bagpipe music.

He was nicknamed “Hot Rod” and “Rowdy” for his spontaneity, quick temper, and quick wit. He headlined many PPV events, racking up thirty-four championships and hosting “Piper’s Pit,” which was an interview segment that encouraged and instigated feuding (and therefore views) in professional wrestling.

Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig

Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig

Career Started: 1980
Career Ended: 2002
Net Worth: $8 million*

Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig is the son of Larry Hennig, who was also a pro-wrestler. Larry went under the ring name “The Axe.” Curt is the father of Curtis Axel, who is a WWE wrestler, turning the Hennig family into a WWE dynasty. Hennig was a member of the New World Order stable alongside Hulk Hogan.

He had a “redneck,” country, All-American persona. He was the leader of the music group The West Texas Rednecks, who performed the satirical song “Rap is Crap.” Hennig has been credited with raising the standards for technical wrestling in the WWE alongside Bret Hart.

The Sheik

The Sheik

Career Started: 1949 
Career Ended: 1998
Net Worth: $50,000*

Several wrestlers have billed themselves under the name “The Sheik” or some variation of it. The Original Sheik was Edward Farhat, who often went by just The Sheik, to distinguish himself from wrestler The Iron Sheik. The Sheik debuted in 1949 after he served in the US Army. He was often teamed up with wrestler Gypsy Joe.

The Sheik’s biggest, most-attention-getting match was one against Lou Thesz. However, The Sheik didn’t even wrestle in that match. He was set to face Thesz, but he was scared Thesz, an anti-gimmick wrestler, would embarrass him, so he ran and hid under a bus.

Chyna

Chyna

Career Started: 1995
Career Ended: 2016
Net Worth: $500,000*

Chyna, who also wrestled under the ring name Chyna Doll, billed herself as the Ninth Wonder of the World. The wrestler was a founding member of the D-Generation X stable, and she was its first female enforcer. She was the only female wrestler to ever hold the WWF Intercontinental Championship twice.

She was also the first woman wrestler to participate in the King of the Ring Tournament and the Royal Rumble Match, and she was victorious over several male wrestlers, including Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Jeff Jarrett, breaking ground for all the female wrestlers to come.

The Ultimate Warrior

The Ultimate Warrior

Career Started: 1985
Career Ended: 1998
Net Worth: $2 million*

The Ultimate Warrior (real name: James Hellwig) started out his career under the name Blade Runner Rock before ending up with The Ultimate Warrior. He wrestled under that name throughout most of his career, save for a brief stint in 1998’s WCW. He wrestled then under the name The Warrior.

He was a two-time WWF Champion and won the WWF’s Heavyweight Championship once, when he pinned down Hulk Hogan during Wrestlemania VI’s Main Event in Toronto. He was the first wrestler to ever hold both of those titles at the same time. He retired in 1998, though he did wrestle a final match in 2008.

Jimmy Snuka

Jimmy Snuka

Career Started: 1968
Career Ended: 2015
Net Worth: $200,000*

Jimmy Snuka wrestled under the name “Superfly.” He was born in Fiji in 1943, and he wrestled for several different organizations from the 1970s through the 2010s. He gained the most fame from his time in the WWF in the eighties, and he holds the distinction of being the first wrestler to introduce high-flying wrestling to the WWF.

Snuka’s induction into the WWF Hall of Fame came in 1996, and he was later the first wrestler to be inducted into the ECW Hall of Fame. He passed down his legacy to his children, Sim and Tamina, both of whom are WWE wrestlers.

Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie McMahon

Career Started: 1998
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $7 million*

If her last name looks familiar, that is because Stephanie McMahon is carrying on a long dynasty. Vince and Linda McMahon are her parents, and Triple H, a fellow pro-wrestler, is her husband. McMahon started appearing on-air for the WWE in the late nineties. She was part of a storyline involving The Undertaker.

Her onscreen relationship with Test was a show, and she got engaged to Triple H both in the ring and in real life. That helped promote the “McMahon-Helmsley Faction” storyline, which raked in the ratings. Stephanie has held the Women’s Championship WWF Title once in her career.

Batista

Batista

Career Started: 1999
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $13 million*

Dave Bautista wrestles under Batista, the ring name under which he gained a prodigious amount of fame. He has won the World Heavyweight Championship four times. He has won the WWE Championship two times. He held the World Heavyweight title for 282 days, a record-setting tenure.

Batista, who inspired the term “Batista bomb,” for his signature, brutal in-ring move, won the 2005 Royal Rumble Match, and he holds the distinction of being one of the highest-grossing PPV wrestlers in the history of the sport. He also has an acting career, and he appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy as Drax the Destroyer.

Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino

Career Started: 1959
Career Ended: 1987
Net Worth: $4 million*

Wrestler Bruno Sammartino is a name that comes up often when people are discussing the great legends of early wrestling. Sammartino was born in Pizzoferrato, Italy in 1935, and he immigrated to the states, becoming a wrestler with the WWF. He held the WWF Championship for over eleven years, which is the longest length of time in the organization’s history.

Sammartino was nicknamed “The Strongest Man in the World” and “The Italian Strongman.” Later, he would get the nickname, “The Living Legend.” His signature move was the powerful, bone-crushing bearhug that he used to finish someone off. He died in 2018.

Owen Hart

Owen Hart

Career Started: 1983
Career Ended: 1999
Net Worth: $14 million*

Owen Hart began his wrestling career under the ring name The Blue Blazer. He was born in Canada, and he is a member of the Hart Wrestling Family. He was the youngest of twelve, and his parents were Stu and Helen Hart, promoters for Stampede Wrestling. He has held various championships for the WWF and USWA.

Hart is regarded within the WWF as one of its best in-ring wrestlers and performers. He headlined many PPV events, raking in the views. Sadly, he met a tragic end in a freak accident when he fell from the rafters of a Kansas City Arena in 1999.

Goldberg

Goldberg

Career Started: 1997
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $14 million*

Bill Goldberg wrestled under his surname until his retirement. He is still involved with wrestling, and he is currently signed as a color commentator to the WWE. He was one of the most popular figures during the Attitude Era and pro-wrestling boom. His time in the WCW made him famous, as he had an undefeated streak that ran from 1997 to 1998.

He has held three different championships with the WCW. Before he was a wrestler, he was a football player and an MMA color commentator. Goldberg also, like many other pro-wrestlers, has gotten into acting. He’s done voice overs for Family Guy.

Dynamite Kid

Dynamite Kid

Career Started: 1996
Career Ended: 2018
Net Worth: $100,000*

The Dynamite Kid was born in England, and he wrestled all around the world. He wrestled for the WWF, Stampede, All Japan, New Japan, and several independent circuits. He and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, were part of the villainous tag team, The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had famous feuds with Bret Hard and Tiger Mask.

The Dynamite Kid, despite feuding with Hart, drew high praise from his rival when Hart called him the most “influential” in-ring performer. The Dynamite Kid brought together styles from Mexico, Canada, Japan, and Britain, upping the bar for overall athletic ability in the sport.

Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes

Career Started: 2006
Career Ended: N/A
Net Worth: $4 million*

Cody Rhodes is a legacy. His father was Dusty Rhodes, who is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Rhodes began amateur wrestling in college, where he was a two-time state champion in Georgia. He joined the WWE in 2006, and he was originally assigned to Ohio Valley, the WWE’s developmental territory.

However, Rhodes proved that he was immensely skilled, and he was quickly contracted into the WWE in 2007. As a main roster member, he wrestled there for nine years, often wrestling under the name Stardust. He left the WWE in 2016 and joined TNA, where he wrestles and is a producer.

Diamond Dallas Page

Diamond Dallas Page

Career Started: 1988
Career Ended: 2002
Net Worth: $10 million*

Dallas Page, AKA Diamond Dallas Page, is a semi-retired pro-wrestler who also doubles as a motivational speaker, actor, and fitness instructor. He had a wrestling career that spanned two decades in the ring. The now-sixty-three-year-old started wrestling in 1988 for the AWA. He then signed a contract with WCW three years later.

Page signed with WWF in 2001 after WCW was sold, and he debuted in the July Invasion Show of that year. He kept getting injured, and, as a result, he was forced into retirement. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. Eric Bischoff was his inductor.

Yokozuna

Career Started: 1984
Career Ended: 2000
Net Worth: $10 million*

Yokozuna was born in San Francisco, though he was billed from the Land of the Rising Sun, Polynesia. He stood 6’4” and weighed in at a whopping 589 pounds. Yokozuna was trained by Afa Anoa’i, and he debuted in 1984. Wrestling was part of his family’s business, and he was trained for years by The Wild Samoans.

He trained in Mexico, learning how to wrestle in a way that was technically sound. His initial storyline was that he was responsible for breaking Greg Gagne’s leg, ending his career. He was offered a spot on the WWE roster in 1992 by Vince McMahon himself.

Miss Elizabeth

Miss Elizabeth

Career Started: 1985
Career Ended: 2000
Net Worth: $5 million*

Miss Elizabeth was a wrestling manager who occasionally stepped into the ring herself. The petite pro-wrestler stood 5’4” and weighed just 115 pounds. She is best-known for her time spent managing Macho Man Randy Savage, to whom she was also married from 1984 until 1992.

She worked in the WWF from 1985 until 1992, followed by a stint in the WCW from 1996 until 2000. She and Savage split in 1992, and she began dating pro-wrestler Lex Luger, who she was with from 1999 until her death in 2003. Elizabeth’s death was caused by acute toxicity due to an overdose of vodka and painkillers.

Hacksaw

Hacksaw

Career Started: 1979
Career Ended: 2013
Net Worth: $2 million*

“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is currently signed on a Legends contract with the WWE. He was trained by Fritz Von Erich, and he debuted in 1979. He also wrestled under the names “The Convict,” “Derek Wood,” and “King Duggan.” The wrestler was billed from Glens Falls, New York. He developed a persona of an American patriot while in the WWE.

He is best-known for carrying out his patriot persona by using a 2×4 wood length as a weapon. He also has a distinctive battle whoop and frequently uses a “U-S-A!” cheer. He was the first Royal Rumble winner ever in 1988.