Last week, we presented the Top 50 WWF Stars Of The 1980s. This week, put some Nirvana in your Discman, check out the AOL community for Seinfeld and check out this totally radical look at the Top 50 WWF Stars Of The 1990s.
The 1990s was one of the most diverse periods in WWF history. The first part of the decade saw Hulkamania ride into the sunset (or at least, over to WCW), paving the way for a New Generation of WWF superstars to make a name for themselves as wrestling's top promotion continued along a very cartoonish presentation of its product.
But something happened halfway through the decade. WCW, tired of being the industry's punching bag, fought back and did much more than buy out Hogan's contract - it also created competitive programming. To counter, Vince McMahon completely reinvented his product and created the famed Attitude Era, which would bring the WWF to a level of celebrity that hadn't been seen before -- or since.
In selecting the Top 50 WWF Stars Of The 1990s, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:
How prominent was the star in the WWF between the years 1990 and 1999 (e.g. excluding what they may have accomplished elsewhere)?
Were they involved in memorable matches and angles?
Did they win any WWF championships during this time (not crucial, given announcers and managers on this list, too)?
Are they often associated with the 1980s wrestling scene?
Ready? Here we go!
Virgil, the spokesperson for our former Canadian Bulldog's World site, entered the 1990s as loyal bodyguard for The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. By 1991, he'd had enough of DiBiase's abuse and faced him at WrestleMania VII. By SummerSlam, Virgil got his revenge by capturing DiBiase's Million Dollar Belt.
Ahmed Johnson debuted in the WWF in 1995 and made his debut at that year's Survivor Series event as one of the team's survivors. Johnson would go on to defeat Goldust for the WWF Intercontinental Championship the following year, and later entered into a lengthy feud with The Nation of Domination's Faarooq.
The British Bulldog
The British Bulldog (no relation) returned to the WWF in 1990 as a singles competitor, peaking with a main event win at SummerSlam 1992 over his brother-in-law Bret Hart. The Bulldog left the company later that year, returning in 1994 as a frequent partner of both Bret and Owen Hart, as well as Lex Luger.
The 123 Kid
WWE Hall of Famer The 123 Kid debuted in the WWF in 1993 and quickly made headlines by defeating Razor Ramon on Monday Night Raw. Over the next several years, he would become a pioneer for the company's light heavyweight style. After leaving WWF for two years, he returned back in 1998 as D-Generation X's X-Pac.
Jim Cornette joined the WWF in 1993 as a spokesperson for Yokozuna, quickly becoming the WWF Champion's second manager (along with Mr. Fuji). Over the next few years, Cornette managed The Heavenly Bodies, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog and Vader, and also had a role as heel commentator on WWF programs.
The Nasty Boys
The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags) entered the WWF in 1991. They quickly became WWF Tag Team Champions, defeating The Hart Foundation at WrestleMania VII, and had feuds over the next several years with the likes of The Legion Of Doom, The Natural Disasters and Money Inc.
WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze debuted in the WWF in 1993, quickly winning the WWF Women's Championship in a tournament to restore the long-vacant championship. Blayze battle the likes of Bull Nakano, Luna Vacho and Bertha Faye before taking her belt to WCW and tossing it in the trash.
Dustin Rhodes began in the WWF in 1990 during a brief storyline teaming with his father Dusty Rhodes. He returned to the company in 1995 as Goldust, one of the most controversial characters in WWF/E history. Leading into The Attitude Era, Goldust would feud with the likes of Razor Ramon and The Undertaker.
Money Inc. (WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster) formed in 1992 and quickly captured the WWF Tag Team Championship. Over the next couple of years, they were a top heel team in the company, feuding with Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake, The Natural Disasters and The Steiner Brothers.
WWE Hall of Famer Chyna debuted in the WWF in 1997 as the bodyguard of Hunter Hearst Helmsley and became a founding member of D-Generation X. Chyna managed to break barriers by regularly wrestling men and by the end of the 1990s, became the first female Intercontinental Champion.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow returned to the WWF in 1992 and made it to the final round of that year's King Of The Ring tournament. By 1994, Bigelow joined Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation, leading to a rivalry at WrestleMania XI where he would headline the show in a losing effort to NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Earthquake began the decade in a main event feud with Hulk Hogan, which included matches at 1990's SummerSlam and Survivor Series. He also feuded with Jake The Snake Roberts before winning the WWF Tag Team Championship with Typhoon in 1992. Earthqyake left the WWF in 1994 and returned as Golga.
While WWE Hall of Famer Triple H would certainly have bigger days ahead, his 1990s run was quite successful. He debuted as Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 1995 and was Intercontinental Champion. By 1997, he became Triple H and helped found D-Generation X, ending the decade as WWF Champion.
Another CBW spokesman to make this list is Tatanka, who debuted in the WWF in February 1992. Tatanka was given a huge undefeated streak that ended at the hands of Ludvig Borga in October 1993. He also turned heel in 1994, turning on Lex Luger and joining Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation.
WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter returned to the WWF in 1990 as a heel, originally complaining about the fans' acceptance of Nikolai Volkoff. He later became an Iraqi sympathizing heel, winning the WWF World Championship from The Ultimate Warrior and losing it to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII.
WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross joined the WWF in 1993, making his debut (in a toga) at WrestleMania IX. After several stops and starts, Ross became the company's lead announcer, calling main events for Monday Night Raws and WrestleManias during The Attitude Era -- the company's biggest boom period.
While WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect joined the WWF in the late 1980s, he began hitting his stride in 1990 during his run as Intercontinental Champion. Over the next decade, Perfect would battle the likes of Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, while also being the Executive Consultant to Ric Flair.
The New Age Outlaws
WWE Hall of Famers The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) were both in the WWF in the mid 1990s, but it wasn't until 1997 that they formed their popular tag team. Together, they held the WWF Tag Team Titles five times and became key members of the Triple H-run D-Generation X.
WWE Hall of Famer Sunny debuted in the WWF in 1995, becoming one of the company's first Divas. Over the next few years, she would manage The Bodydonnas, The Smoking Gunns, The Godwinns, Faarooq and LOD 2000. Sunny was also the most downloaded celebrity on the Internet over that time.
While WWE Hall of Famer Randy "Macho Man" Savage was one of the top WWF stars of the 1980s, he also had great success the following decade. As The Macho King, Savage feuded with The Ultimate Warrior in 1991 and later came back for epic rivalries against Jake The Snake Roberts, Crush and many others.
WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna debuted in the WWF in 1992. In less than six months, the 600-pound giant had won the Royal Rumble and captured the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania IX. Yokozuna held the championship for one year, turning back The Undertaker, Lex Luger and many other challengers.
The Rock debuted in the WWF in 1996 as Rocky Maivia, winning his debut match at Survivor Series and quickly capturing the Intercontinental Championship twice. After a heel run with The Nation of Domination, The Rock won his first of 10 World Titles in 1998, going on to headline WrestleMania XV.
While the Vince McMahon of the 1980s was merely portrayed as an announcer, that began to change in 1997, when the curtain was pulled back and he was revealed to be the owner of the WWF. For the remainder of the decade, he became the billionaire heel Mr. McMahon in most of the primary storylines.
WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart broke out as a singles star in 1991, capturing the WWF Intercontinental Championship at that year's SummerSlam. The following year, The Hit Man would upset Ric Flair for the WWF Championship, paving the way for more World Title runs before he forceably left the promotion in 1997.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin joined the WWF in 1995 under the generic name The Ringmaster. By 1996. he adopted the Stone Cold persona and captured that year's King Of The Ring tournament. By late 1997, he became one of the top names in the company by headlining numerous PPVs and WrestleManias.
WWE Hall of Famer Paul Bearer joined the WWF in late 1990, taking over managerial duties for The Undertaker. The duo worked in tandem for most of The Undertaker's biggest moments until Bearer turned on him in 1996, paving the way for him to manage his "son" Kane and Mankind, among other wrestlers.
While Al Snow had worked in the WWF as Avatar, Shinobi and Leif Cassidy in the middle of the decade, it was his return to the promotion in 1998 that caused headlines. Snow continued a gimmick he'd developed in ECW talking to his mannequin head Head, leading him to success in the WWF's Hardcore division.
Big Boss Man
WWE Hall of Famer Big Boss Man first turned babyface in 1990, leading to a match against his former partner Akeem at WrestleMania VI. Over the next few years, he feuded with The Heenan Family and Nailz before leaving in 1993. Big Boss Man returned to WWF in 1998 as part of Vince McMahon's Corporation.
WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett first interacted with the WWF while with the USWA, and later joined the promotion in 1993 as Double J. During the 1990s, Jarrett would hold the Intercontinental Championship six times, as well as the European Championship and WWF Tag Team Titles with Owen Hart.
WWE Hall of Famer Ravishing Rick Rude was the first challenger for The Ultimate Warrior's WWF title reign in 1990, challenging him at that year's SummerSlam. Although Rude left the company that year, he would return in the summer of 1997 as the insurance policy for Shawn Michaels and D-Generation X.
Although the 1980s were a much bigger decade for WWE Hall of Famer Bobby The Brain Heenan, the following decade still had some memorable moments. He managed such men as Andre The Giant, Haku, Mr. Perfect and The Barbarian and advised Ric Flair before retiring and becoming a heel color commentator.
WWE Hall of Famer Jake The Snake Roberts began the 1990s as a fan favorite, feuding with the likes of Ted DiBiase, Earthquake and Rick Martel. Within the next year, he'd turn heel and feud with Randy Savage and The Undertaker before leaving the company and returning to the WWF in 1996.
Ken Shamrock first appeared in the WWF as the referee for a submission match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII. He then transitioned to becoming a wrestler and would hold the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships, as well as winning the 1998 King Of The Ring.
WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund was largely dominant during the 1970s and early 1980s, but surprisingly returned to the WWF in 1992. Within two years, Backlund "snapped" and turned heel, leading to a win over WWF World Champion Bret Hart at the 1994 Survivor Series - a reign that lasted three days.
WWE Hall of Famer Jerry The King Lawler debuted in the WWF in 1992 following a lengthy in-ring career in Memphis. Lawler quickly became a top heel, feuding with the likes of Bret Hart, Doink and Jake The Snake Roberts - while also serving as the WWF's top heel commentator during The Attitude Era.
Glenn Jacobs, the man behind the Kane mask, had WWF runs in the mid 1990s including as Isaac Yankem DDS and New Diesel. However, his late 1997 debut as Kane (following more than six months of build up) thrust him into a top spot at WrestleMania XIV. In 1998, he held the WWF World Title - for 24 hours.
Rowdy Roddy Piper
While WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper's best work was in the 1980s, he accomplished a lot in the 1990s as well. Hot Rod captured the Intercontinental Title in 1992 and engaged in rivalries with Bad News Brown, Goldust and others. Piper also briefly served as WWF President and a color commentator.
Lex Luger's first exposure to WWF fans was through the World Bodybuilding Federation, which he joined in 1992 while waiting out his WCW contract. Luger debuted as a heel in 1993 and was challenging WWF Champion Yokozuna by that summer. Luger would remain in the WWF until returning to WCW in 1995.
Sycho Sid debuted in the WWF in 1991 as Sid Justice, beginning as a referee for the SummerSlam main event and later challenging Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII. Sid left the company and returned in 1995 as the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels, eventually winning the WWF World Championship twice as Sycho Sid.
Owen Hart returned to the WWF in 1991 after his run as The Blue Blazer, initially as a mid-card tag team specialist. By the end of 1993, he turn against Bret Hart, leading to a feud between the two brothers that would last nearly a year and main event SummerSlam 1994. Hart tragically died in a WWF ring in 1999.
The Legion Of Doom
WWE Hall of Famers The Legion Of Doom (Hawk and Animal) joined the WWF in 1990 and feuded with their lookalikes Demolition. The LOD soon captured the WWF Tag Team Championship and stayed with the company until 1992. They returned to the WWF in 1997.
Sable made her WWF debut at WrestleMania XII, accompanying Hunter Hearst Helmsely, but quickly transitioned to managing her real life husband Marc Mero. She soon became more popular than her husband, leading to a match between the two! Sable also won the reinstated Women's Title in 1998.
WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon debuted in the WWF in 1992 through a series of memorable vignettes. He soon began feuding with some of the company's top stars, including Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels and Diesel, holding the Intercontential Championship four times before leaving in 1996.
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley joined the WWF in 1996 as the masked Mankind. After a legendary feud with The Undertaker, the company let Foley's true personality shine through, leading to separate runs as Dude Love and Cactus Jack. Foley also captured the WWF World Title three times.
After decades of headlining in rival promotions, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair finally joined the WWF in 1991. He captured the vacant WWF World Title during the 1992 Royal Rumble and, while his time in the promotion was less than two years during the 1990s, Nature Boy made the most of his run there.
WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan was ranked the top WWF star of the 1980s, but how did he do in the 1990s? The Hulkster captured three WWF World Titles during that time, defeating Sgt. Slaughter, The Undertaker and Yokozuna, and feuded with Sid Justice and Earthquake -- all before leaving the WWF in 1994.
Diesel (a/k/a WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash) debuted in the WWF in 1993 as the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels. During 1994, Diesel would win the WWF World, Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships - the first person to do so in a calendar year. He also headlined WrestleMania XI against Michaels.
The Ultimate Warrior
WWE Hall of Famer The Ultimate Warrior captured his first WWF World Championship at WrestleMania VI, positioning him as the first person (in WWF lore) to cleanly pin Hulk Hogan. Warrior would feud with Randy Savage, The Undertaker and many others during several runs with the WWF.
WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels was often referred to as "The Wrestler Of The 90s" during this era. After splitting with his Rockers tag team partner Marty Jannetty, The Heartbreak Kid would capture three Intercontinental Titles, two of his five WWF Tag Team Championships and the WWF Championship three times.
Debuting at the 1990 Survivor Series, The Undertaker made a huge impression on the company. A year later, The Dead Man captured his first of seven World Championship,s from Hulk Hogan. The Undertaker also began his undefeated streak at WrestleMania VII, something that continued all the way up until WrestleMania XXX.