Picking your favourite wrestlers is like, in the words of WWE commentator Corey Graves, picking your favourite flavour of ice cream: it’s all so subjective.
Picking the best, however – the greatest WWE superstars of all time – can thankfully be a little more scientific.
Everyone on this list is either a Hall of Famer or a future Hall of Famer, but we’ve spent the time splitting hairs between them, based on their unique combinations of star power, iconic looks, mic skills, career longevity, in-ring dominance and lifelong legacies.
RadioTimes.com brings you our top five lists of the greatest male and female WWE wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle, starting with the best female wrestlers ever.
Best female WWE stars of all time
The late, great Joan Marie Laurer may have a troubled legacy post-WWE, but her impact during her time with the company cannot be overstated. Chyna was an athlete unlike any seen before in WWE. Her Ninth Wonder of the World moniker was earned through her in-ring work and accomplishments.
Chyna was the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble match, the first to compete in the King of the Ring tournament and the only woman to have held the Intercontinental championship. She was a pivotal part of one of WWE’s most influential factions, D-Generation X, and helped change the expectations placed on women in the industry. Her in-ring legacy will endure forever.
Many of the women that led and continue to lead the Women’s Revolution in WWE idolise one woman more than any other: Lita. Her high-flying, all-action style was a unique in-ring sight during the Attitude Era and helped her smash glass ceiling after glass ceiling.
Best male WWE wrestlers in the world 2023
Her alternative image, especially when competing alongside the Hardy Boyz, was a beacon for so many young fans, allowing them to see someone like them on screen. Lita got physically involved in storylines – hitting hurricanranas and being put through tables – and made history by being half of the first ever Raw main event involving solely women. It’s even more credit to her that she’s still adding to her in-ring achievements in 2023.
3. Becky Lynch
Simply put, Becky Lynch changed the game for female superstars in WWE. And just like her hero Lita before her, she’s done it her way. All the women on this list are trailblazers, but few have achieved what Becky Lynch has.
At the height of The Man’s popularity, she saw a level of ferocity from the WWE Universe rarely reached. She was the top competitor in the company, regardless of gender, breaking new ground every week. That hot streak led to her stealing the show – and two championship belts – in the first women’s match to headline at WrestleMania, a truly iconic moment in wrestling history.
2. Trish Stratus
Trish led the charge against the stereotypes placed on female superstars during the ’90s and noughties. She transitioned from fitness model to WWE superstar and then into the most decorated Women’s champion the company had ever seen. She used her in-ring excellence and impassioned storylines to become synonymous with women’s wrestling during this period.
The other half of the first ever Raw main event involving just two women, Trish spent her career proving that she was an athlete capable of going in the ring and on the mic at the highest levels. Her work helped legitimise the women’s division and provide a platform for all the female superstars that would follow in her footsteps. No wonder she won Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Woman of the Decade for the noughties.
We could be here all-day listing Charlotte’s achievements, but the only one we need to mention are those 14 Women’s championships.
Even more impressive than that championship tally is how Charlotte has been able to balance the duality of becoming her own person in WWE with the fact that she’s the daughter of Ric Flair, a man whom many considered to the be the GOAT of this industry.
The Queen has stepped out of her father’s shadow and set about casting her own over every other female superstar that has ever competed in WWE. She has racked up championship reigns, epic rivalries and statement matches at breakneck speed, becoming an icon in her own right, as well as the biggest starmaker on the women’s roster today. Charlotte is the best women’s WWE superstar there has ever been and there’s so much more for her to achieve.
And now, it’s time for the best male WWE superstars of all time…
Best male WWE stars of all time
5. The Undertaker
There is little more iconic in WWE than The Undertaker’s entrance. There is little more legendary in WWE than The Undertaker’s WrestleMania unbeaten streak. There was little more shocking in WWE than the moment that streak was finally broken.
The Undertaker’s legacy is one of consistent quality, as the Deadman put on classic matches, worked in legendary rivalries and provided the company with some of its most memorable moments over a WWE career spanning three decades. His influence on several generations of superstar is immense, while his in-ring work should be lauded just as strongly. The Undertaker is a legend in every sense of the word.
4. Hulk Hogan
It’s undeniable that the Hulkster was wrestling during much of the ’80s and ’90s. Hogan’s magnetic persona reached levels of popularity never seen before, with Hulkamania truly running wild in the mainstream media.
He was a red, white and blue Superman dominating WWE in a period of incredible boom and provided so many memorable moments for wrestling fans. WrestleMania became the juggernaut it is today on foundations he helped set, working with Mr T and body-slamming Andre the Giant in early editions.
While many have criticised his in-ring ability and his controversies don’t help his legacy, there’s nobody who drew more passion, more admiration and more excitement from the WWE Universe and beyond than Hulk Hogan.
3. John Cena
Just like his childhood idol Hogan, Cena has his fair share of critics, but also just like Hulk, there can be no arguments against his impact on the health of the wrestling industry around the world.
To many people today, wrestling means John Cena. If people know just two things about the sport, it’s that it is ‘fake’ and that you can’t see this man. His gimmick was so infectious, polarising crowds like none before or since, that fans couldn’t help investing in him, for or against. He led the company into a new era, becoming a true icon while simultaneously teaching a generation of kids the value of Hustle, Loyalty and Respect and, above all, to Never Give Up. As legacies go, that’s hard to top.
2. Ric Flair
There is debate in the industry over how many world titles the Nature Boy won, but this is a sidenote. Another wrestler with plenty of controversies, Ric Flair lived, breathed and became professional wrestling in a way no other has ever done.
In the ring, Flair had the perfect blend of athleticism, technique and in-ring awareness, while his ability to make his opponents look good was extraordinary. Outside of it, few have played the crowd like Flair did, using his huge persona to create support, disdain and pure emotion through a catalogue of incredible promos.
His longevity is unmatched, being involved in the business for more than half a century, providing some of the most impactful moments in the industry’s history. His WrestleMania match against Shawn Michaels is pure magic. It’s making us teary just thinking about it.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Some things are a case of right place, right time and right circumstance. Stone Cold Steve Austin hit all three of these criteria like nobody else. He was only a wrestler in WWE for eight years but his impact during the Attitude Era of the late ’90s was truly monumental.
Sent into the stratosphere by his infamous Austin 3:16 promo at King of the Ring 1996, Stone Cold hit the cultural zeitgeist of the time right in the master vein. His fierce anti-hero persona exploded into the mainstream, with his catchphrase, persona and incredible rivalries with The Rock and Vince McMahon all becoming cultural milestones of the period.
None have ever burned as brightly at the exact moment they were needed like the Texas Rattlesnake. Nobody has ever done it better.
Who are the best WWE wrestlers of all time?
There have been countless incredible performers, athletes and talents on our screens and in our stadiums under the World Wrestling Entertainment banner, but those who endure are those who raised the game of the entire industry or those who affected change from within it.
It is truly remarkable that the Flair family has provided two of the most influential in-ring figures ever seen, while in a moment WWE needed a gamechanger to survive, Steve Austin turned Stone Cold and nothing was the same again.