No rules, no holds barred, bring out the foreign objects, and extreme measures were taken. This countdown has a special place in my heart due to the fact most of it is made up of ECW originals. The original Extreme Championship Wrestling was more than just the third string quarterback to WCW and WWF. Not to say ECW was the only company to produce hardcore legends, but it did produce some of the most innovative wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle.
Here’s my countdown of pro wrestling’s top ten hardcore legends of all-time.
#10. Abdullah The Butcher
– Nobody terrorized one’s opponents like Abdullah The Butcher. It was guaranteed if Abdullah was on the card you would see blood.. and lots of it. Aside from his massive 450-pound frame, Abdullah always carried a fork in his trunks which he would use to gouge his opponents’ eyes and cut them open. It was no secret The Butcher was out for blood.
#9. Sandman – Pretty boy, surfer-dude, pimp and finally The Sandman. Jim Fullington’s career took off when he became The Sandman. The Sandman character was revolutionary as a beer guzzling, nihilistic, modern day American barbarian. Rarely one for technical wrestling, the Sandman would always use tables, chairs, canes, and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire on his opponents. For all intents and purposes, The Sandman was the original Stone Cold Steve Austin in many regards.
#8. Raven – As the Raven, Scott Levy was the master of psychological warfare. Raven was as tough as they came with the championships to prove it. Raven helped make the hardcore product a profitable one alongside his long-time rival, Tommy Dreamer. “Quoth the Raven, Nevermore”
#7. Jeff Hardy – Jeff Hardy is WWE’s daredevil. It was unfortunate that Jeff had a stretch in WWE where he was his own worst enemy, because he has put on some of the most exciting matches and given fans many jaw dropping moments. The daredevil has been WWE and TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
#6. Axl Rotten – Chair swinging freak…pretty much sums it up!
#5. New Jack – Before becoming one of the most recognizable shoot-fighting wrestlers anywhere, legend has it that the man formerly known as Jerome Young worked as a bounty hunter and committed four justifiable homicides. Although these rumors from independent sources have never been confirmed, a few other things have. Many scheduled opponents have no-showed due to New Jack’s reputation for extreme violence. Honesty has never been a problem for this original gangsta.
#4. Terry Funk – Terry Funk was never one to “play by the rules” of the established wrestling business. Funk became THE hardcore legend over 30 years ago and was still going strong well into his 70’s. Despite having been an excellent amateur wrestler and a well-trained mat technician, Funk always perfected the blood and guts hardcore style that made him famous on five continents. Terry Funk could have played by the rules and became a multiple-time World Champion like his brother Dory, but had he done that he wouldn’t be Terry Funk.
#3. Tommy Dreamer – Dreamer was the heart and soul of ECW. Some fans might claim he was nothing more than a glorified jobber, but most understand that Dreamer was a team player. Dreamer did a great job of helping put his opponents over. His “Innovator of Violence” legendary status came from the fact that he could take more pain and physical abuse than almost any performer in the history of the industry. Long-term feuds with Raven and the Sandman (who caned Dreamer ten times after a Singapore Cane Match) did nothing but improve his hardcore credibility. Today Dreamer is the owner of one the most successful independent promotions, House Of Hardcore.
#2. Subu– “Homicidal, suicidal, genocidal” Sabu was the real-life nephew and student of The Sheik. So not only was he taught hardcore wrestling from it’s originator, hardcore wrestling was in his blood. Sabu had his own spin on hardcore wrestling in that if you can inflict punishment on your opponent by inflicting punishment on yourself; well that was even better. Sabu broke his neck twice yet never stopped wrestling the style that made him famous. And in fact, he became even MORE HARDCORE after these injuries.
#1. Mick Foley- Mrs. Foley’s baby boy is a 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. Foley once hitchhiked to Madison Square Garden to see his favorite wrestler, Jimmy Snuka, in a steel cage match against Don Muraco. Foley is perhaps the most mild mannered, intelligent, and articulate man to ever be a part of the wrestling business. That was until he stepped foot in a wrestling ring. Call him Cactus Jack, Mankind, or Dude Love; but regardless of what you call Mick Foley, his hardcore credentials are through the roof. The blood, the broken bones, the missing teeth, and the lost ear are all testaments to the greatness of Foley as a hardcore wrestler. I wonder how it felt to have the Undertaker shove him off the Hell in the Cell? (A question Foley advises his fans to refrain from asking.)
Who’s in your top 10? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section!