In 2014, one of our first Top 50 lists was the one you'll see below. However, there were a ton of issues with it.
For beginners, it only included wrestlers from the past 30 years. While that's certainly within our comfort zone, the fact remains that at least a dozen prominent competitors hung up their boots before 1985 and absolutely deserved to be included. And some wrestlers were just plain missing - which may be chalked up to the fact that we were just beginning this Top 50 business and may not have researched it as thoroughly as was needed.
In selecting the (updated) Top 50 Canadian Wrestlers, we included any professional wrestler who was born and/or raised in Canada - regardless of where they were billed from. Then we considered the following criteria:
How memorable were their runs in professional wrestling?
How successful were they in terms of championships and other accolades?
How well have they represented the country of Canada, either on screen or off?
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
Iron Mike Sharpe
With his lengthy run as a Canadian icon of sorts, Iron Mike Sharpe had to be mentioned on this list. Born in Hamilton, Ontario and often billed as "Canada's Greatest Athlete," Sharpe was what today would be known as an "enhancement talent," known for his questionable wrist guard and grunting.
Born in St. Mary's, Ontario, Traci Brooks is best known as the manager in TNA for everyone from CM Punk to Robert Roode, although she also competed in the Knockouts division and on the independent scene in Canada. Married to AEW's Frankie Kazarian, she retired in 2015 at a House of Hardcore show in Toronto.
Born in Florence, Ontario, Eric Young is one of the few wrestlers who was with TNA through most of its first decade. During that time, he held most of the promotion's championship, including a run as TNA World Champion. In 2016, he joined NXT as a member of Sanity.
Born in Calgary and billed as "the last graduate of the Hart Dungeon", Tyson Kidd became unified WWE/World Tag Team Champions with David Hart Smith in 2009 and then held them Cesaro before suffering a injury and becoming a WWE producer. Kidd is also a fixture on Total Divas with wife Natalya.
Born in Moncton, New Brunswick, Rene Dupree is the son of legendary Maritimes promoter Emile Dupree. During his four years in the WWE, Dupree won Tag Team Championship honors with both Sylvain Grenier and Kenzo Suzuki.
Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Vampiro was one of the top names in Mexico during the 1990s. He was popular near the end of WCW, where he feuded with Sting and others. After appearing in All Japan, Wrestling Society X and independent groups, Vampiro became an announcer on Lucha Underground.
Born in Sainte-Catherine, Quebec, PCO first rose to prominence as one of The Quebecers in 1993 (as Pierre) along with Jacques Rougeau, holding the WWF Tag Team Championships on three occasions, even reuniting the team briefly in WCW. He has also competed in TNA and became ROH World Champion.
Born in Calgary (and not Punjab, India as he was billed from), Jinder Mahal first competed in WWE from 2010 until 2014. Returning to the promotion in 2016 as The Modern Day Maharajah (with The Singh Brothers in his corner), he became an unlikely WWE Champion, holding the belt from May to November 2017.
Born in Oakville, Ontario (not Las Vegas as billed in the WWF), Val Venis rose (heh) to prominence with his adult film star persona in the WWF beginning in 1998. The Big Valbowski later worked for TNA under his real name of Sean Morley and today is a staunch advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
Born in Whitby, Ontario, Test was trained by Bret Hart, Leo Burke and Dory Funk Jr. He arrived in the WWF in 1998, and became part of many Attitude Era storylines including a kayfabe relationship with Stephanie McMahon.
Born in Carbon, Alberta, Archie Gouldie was best known as The Mongolian Stomper, despite not having any Mongolian heritage to speak of. Wrestling under his own name, Gouldie held the Stampede North American Championship an incredible 14 times.
Jacques Rougeau Jr.
Born in Saint-Sulpice, Quebec, Jacques Rougeau Jr. is the brother of Raymond and son of Jacques Sr. In the WWF, he was part of The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and The Quebecers tag teams and won the Intercontinental Title as The Mountie.
Born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson is the a member of the Anoa'i wrestling family and father to The Rock. During his wrestling career, Johnson captured the WWF Tag Team Championship with Tony Atlas and competed in the NWA and other regions.
Born in Surrey, British Columbia, Earthquake was initially billed Canadian Earthquake in the WWF. Later, he challenged Hulk Hogan during the summer of 1990 and won the WWF Tag Team Championships with Typhoon.
Born in Calgary and the daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Natalya was the first female to be trained in the legendary Hart Dungeon by uncles Bruce and Ross Hart. She has held the Divas Championship and outside the ring, is a star of the reality show Total Divas and is married to fellow Canadian Tyson Kidd.
Mad Dog Vachon
Born in Montreal, WWE Hall of Famer Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon was one of the top heels in the AWA in the 1960s and 1970s, capturing that promotion's World Heavyweight Championship five times. He also was part of a wrestling family that gave us Paul "Butcher" Vachon, Vivian Vachon and Luna Vachon.
Despite being billed from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.... Storm was actually born in Sarnia, Ontario. Storm's no-nonsense attitude and gimmick led to significant championship runs in ECW, WCW and WWE.
Abdullah The Butcher
Born in Windsor, Ontario (though he's billed as being from Sudan), WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah The Butcher wrestled for roughly five decades as a bloodthirsty madman who was hardcore before the term was invented.
Born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Kevin Owens was a Ring of Honor standout when we first wrote about him in 2014. He's since become one of the biggest heels in WWE, holding the NXT Championship, Intercontinental, United States and Universal Championships within a short period of time.
The world's most infamous Russian heel wrestler was actually born in Montreal. Most notably, Ivan Koloff ended Bruno Sammartino's historic first WWWF World Title reign in 1971, but he also was a big name in the NWA and other territories, teaming with his "nephew" Nikita in the early 1980s and 1990s.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kenny Omega has quickly gained the reputation of being a "Best Bout Machine" for his string of top-rated matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling and elsewhere. No less an authority than Sports Illustrated ranked him Wrestler of the Year in 2017. He recently became a founder of AEW.
While not always the most pleasant subject to talk about, Chris Benoit was born in Montreal, later moving to Edmonton, Alberta and traveling the world as one of the best technical wrestlers in the business. He captured both the WCW and WWE Championship before tragically ending his and his family's lives in 2007.
Born in Montreal (although billed from San Francisco for most of his career), WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson was the company's first Intercontinental Champion. In addition, he formed a legendary tag team with Ray Stevens and became one of Vince McMahon's most trusted advisers over the past 30 years.
Born in Orangeville, Ontario, WWE Hall of Famer Edge became one of the most decorated champions in the promotion's history, capturing more than 30 belts during a 15 year period, including 11 World Championships in WWE. In 2020, Edge returned to the ring after a lengthy retirement.
Born in Manhasset, New York, Chris Jericho was raised in Winnipeg, where he'd live until setting out to follow his dream as a teenager. In addition to being the first-ever WWE undisputed champion, Jericho has collected numerous titles in WWF, ECW, WCW and NJPW and in 2019, became the first AEW World Champion.
Born in Penticton, British Columbia, Tyler Breeze was trained for wrestling by fellow Canadian Lance Storm (who will show up later on this list). Following a successful stint in NXT, Breeze moved to the main roster and quickly formed a popular tag team with Fandango, before recently returning home to NXT.
Although the number "10" would have been a character-appropriate place for him, Shawn Spears isn't quite in that upper echelon (yet). Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Shawn Spears first gained fame as "The Perfect 10" Tye Dillinger in NXT and WWE. In 2019, he debuted at AEW's Double or Nothing PPV.
Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Although Davey Boy Smith Jr. briefly had the nickname "Canadian Bulldog" while in WWE (and yes, years AFTER I began using it!), the son of Davey Boy Smith and Diana Hart was born in Calgary and won the WWE Tag Team Championship. Smith has also had success in NJPW and Major League Wrestling.
Born in Varennes, Quebec, Sylvain Grenier first rose to prominence as the crooked referee in the Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock match in 2003. He then became a member of the multi-time World Tag Team Champion squad La Resistance before leaving WWE in 2007.
Born in Toronto, TNA Hall of Famer Gail Kim was one of the first women to have held the top women's championships in both WWE and TNA. In fact, she has captured six World's Championships in the two promotions. In 2012, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named her as the top female wrestler in the world.
Born in Montreal, Maryse joined WWE in 2006 as part of the Diva Search competition. In 2008, she captured the WWE Divas Championship and became one of the belt's longest titleholders. She later returned to WWE as a manager for her real-life husband The Miz, and stars in the reality TV show Miz & Mrs.
Tiger Jeet Singh
Born in Punjab but raised in the Toronto suburb of Milton, Ontario, Tiger Jeet Singh carved out a niche for himself as a hardcore villian throughout Japan. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Tiger won championships in New Japan Pro Wrestling and other groups. His son Tiger Ali Singh was briefly in the WWF.
Born in Laval, Quebec, Dino Bravo was billed as "Canada's strongest man" and later "the world's strongest man" after a benchpressing stunt at the very first Royal Rumble. He worked in the WWF for various stints in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s before succumbing to an alleged mafia shooting in his home in 1993.
The Missing Link
Born in Kitchener, Ontario, The Missing Link competed for many years as an amateur and professional under his real name Dewey Robertson. He transformed into the green-faced, wild-haired Link persona in 1983, terrorizing wrestlers in the WWF, NWA and World Class.
Born in Montreal, WWE Hall of Famer Luna Vachon had a career as a manager and wrestler, including runs in the WWF, WCW and ECW. In addition to being raised by Montreal's famed Vachon family, she counted Andre The Giant as a godfather and Gangrel as her former husband.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, John Tolos was one of the most vicious heels in the 1960s and 1970s. Dubbed The Golden Greek, Tolos captured the WWWF United States Tag Team Titles with his brother Chris, as well as numerous championships within the NWA. Upon retiring, he became a successful manager.
Born in Mississauga, Ontario (not Calabria, Italy or Paterson, NJ as WWE billed him from), Santino Marella was a comedic staple of WWE programming from 2007 until his retirement in 2016. In addition to providing comic relief, Marella also held the WWE Intercontinental, U.S. and Tag Team championships.
Born in Hill Valley, Quebec, Sami Zayn first came to prominence as the masked El Generico, capturing championships throughout the U.S. and Japan. Joining WWE in 2013, Zayn had a run as NXT Champion before moving to WWE's main roster in 2016.
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Bobby Roode is a two-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, having spent more than a decade in that promotion, being with TNA right from the promotion's very beginning. Roode signed with NXT in 2016 and quickly became a Glorious part of the main WWE roster.
Born in Montreal, Ron Garvin is perhaps best known for defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Tile in 1987. He also worked for the WWF, AWA and WWC throughout his career, where his hard punches earned him the nickname "Hands Of Stone."
Whipper Billy Watson
Born in the Toronto suburb of East York, Ontario, Whipper Billy Watson was a top regional draw from the 1940s until the early 1970s. In 1956, Watson ended Lou Thesz's six-year reign as NWA World Champion, as well as numerous championships within NWA affiliated territories in the U.S. and Canada.
Born in Edmonton, Gene Kiniski was a 40-year veteran of the squared circle, competing in regional territories following a successful football career with the Edmonton Eskimos. Most notably, Kiniski defeated Verne Gagne to win the AWA World Championship in 1961, as well as the promotion's tag team titles.
Born in Windsor (although he was billed as being from Poland), WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski was a top heel in the 1960s and 1970s in territories including the WWWF and NWA. Upon retiring from the ring, Kowalski opened a wrestling school, training (amongst others) Triple H and Chyna.
Born in Montreal, Rick Martel was one of the longest-reigning AWA World Champions, when he held that championship in the mid-1980's. He also had tag team success in the WWF with partners such as Tony Garea and Tito Santana, and as Television Champion in WCW before retiring in 1998.
Born in Kitchener, Ontario, Christian was one of the few holdovers from the Attitude Era until retiring from WWE in 2015. Along the way, he held almost two dozen titles, including the WWF/E Tag Team, Intercontinental, ECW and TNA World championships.
Born in Saskatoon, WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart was the patriarch of one of wrestling's most famous families of any era. In addition to winning dozens of regional championships throughout his career, Hart also established Stampede Wrestling, a breeding ground for dozens and dozens of top wrestling names.
Born in Calgary, Owen Hart was the youngest of the Hart children and is best known for his 1994 feud with brother Bret. The Rocket also won the WWF Tag Team, Intercontinental and European Championships and captured the King of the Ring. Tragically, his life ended in 1999 after a stunt gone horribly wrong.
Born in Toronto, WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus is arguably the most successful female wrestler of the modern era. She captured a record seven WWE Women's Championships before retiring in 2006.
Rowdy Roddy Piper
WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (not Glasgow, Scotland, where he's been billed from), and became one of the top wrestling icons, Canadian or otherwise. A top heel and babyface over four decades, Hot Rod was truly an original within the world of pro wrestling.
Bret "Hitman" Hart
Born in Calgary as part of the Hart Family, two-time WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hitman" Hart is a Canadian icon who was a seven-time World Champion and captured 32 championships title, including the triple crown of top titles in both in WWF and WCW.