Best Pro Wrestlers Of The ’90s: Top 5 Champions, According To Fans

The 1990s were a truly magical decade for professional wrestling. From the Monday Night wars between the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to the dawn of the Attitude Era and the NWO, professional wrestling in the ’90s was an exciting time. To help honor the decade that changed the sport forever, we’re breaking down the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s. 

If you haven’t made it out to see a live wrestling event lately, then do yourself a favor and see the nearest show. In fact, a recent study finds that seeing a live sporting event in person can help boost your mental health as much as getting a job. Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University say that watching live sporting events can improve your well-being and actually help reduce feelings of loneliness. Researchers surveyed more than 7,000 adults to find that those respondents who recently attended a live sporting event scored better in terms of ‘life satisfaction’ and overall well-being

Those are compelling reasons to get out and see a live sporting event, but how far would you travel to make it to a game or a big wrestling match? A recent survey suggests that the average sports fan would travel a staggering five hours and 48 minutes and spend over $750 just to watch their favorite teams play in person. The survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fanatics examined the lengths fans are willing to go to just to see their favorite teams play in person. The survey found that 35 percent of respondents have planned a vacation around live sporting events while the average respondent would travel nearly six hours and spend over $750 for tickets to watch their favorite team play in person. Sounds like a fun way to travel while going to see your favorite wrestlers at the next Wrestlemania. 

So, which performers deserve to be called the greatest of the decade? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports, pop culture, and entertainment websites in an effort to bring you a consensus of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed pro wrestlers from across these sites. See one you think we missed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

Dwayne Johnson at the AFI FEST 2016 Premiere of "Moana" in 2016
Dwayne Johnson at the AFI FEST 2016 Premiere of “Moana” in 2016 (Photo by Tinseltown on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Pro Wrestlers of the ’90s, According to Experts

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Easily topping the list of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s is Stone Cold Steve Austin. There isn’t much that Stone Cold didn’t achieve in professional wrestling. Steve Austin was the face of the Attitude era of the ’90s and he helped usher in a new generation of wrestling fans with his attitude and anti-authoritative personality. 

Steve Austin arrives for the Spike TV Launch Party in 2003
Steve Austin arrives for the Spike TV Launch Party in 2003 (Photo by DFree on Shutterstock)

“Steve Austin was more than the face of the WWE; he was literally the electro-shock the company needed. He was the leader of the mythic Attitude Era and he contributed like no other to help Vince McMahon to save the company from bankruptcy and to eventually win the Monday Night Wars. Stone Cold was to the ’90s what Hogan was to the ’80s. He didn’t do all the work by himself, but he was the perfect leader and he was like a god for the fans. The beer drinking Texas Rattlesnake, also known as the Toughest S.O.B. In WWE history managed to become an icon in only five years. Among other accomplishments in the ’90s, he won the WWF Championship four times, the Royal Rumble on two occasions and he became the 1996 King Of The Ring,” explains Bleacher Report. 

It was at the 1996 King Of The Ring that the world was introduced to Stone Cold Steve Austin and his famous catchphrase ‘Austin 3:16.’ Still, Stone Cold had a long way to go before he was the face of professional wrestling in America and no one would have thought that he’d turn into the megastar he was. 

“No one could have predicted that WCW mid-card heel ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin would close out the decade as the most popular star in wrestling. All it took was an attitude change in ECW and some opportunities to shine in WWE, and Austin became the icon of the Attitude Era. Since then, it feels like every few years there’s an attempt to recreate the magic of Austin via a turn as an antihero who flouts traditional heel/face dynamics or an evil authority storyline that doesn’t work. Then there’s his finisher, The Stunner, which still remains a popular move for countless wrestlers,” writes The Sportster

The Stone Cold Stunner is one of the best finishing moves in wrestling history. Opponents, refs, front office executives, and even old ladies were eventually victims of the Stone Cold Stunner. Stone Cold Steve Austin would flash a double middle finger to his opponent’s face before kicking them in the gut and hitting the Stone Cold Stunner. And who could forget Austin’s antics? From getting arrested on live television to slapping his boss in the groin and giving him a Stunner, Stone Cold Steve Austin is responsible for some of the most unforgettable moments in the history of pro wrestling.   

“Getting his start in WCW as ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin, the Texas Rattlesnake soon found himself sacked after getting injured. Joining the WWE, it didn’t take long for Austin to make his mark. Becoming an anti-authority figure, Austin clashed with WWE owner Vince McMahon, leading to some of the best segments and matches in wrestling history. Who can forget Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon in a steel cage, Austin vs. The Rock for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 15, or Stone Cold driving a Zamboni to the ring and attacking McMahon?” raves Next Luxury

2. The Rock

The only guy that could follow Stone Cold Steve Austin on the list of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s is The Rock. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson made his WWF debut at Survivor Series 1996 before going on to become one of the biggest stars in the world. Today, The Rock is one of the biggest action movie stars in the world, but none of that would have been possible without his captivating career as a professional wrestler. 

Dwayne Jonhson at the premiere of "Black Adam" in 2022
Dwayne Jonhson at the premiere of “Black Adam” in 2022 (Photo by Fred Duval on Shutterstock)

“When it comes to in-ring skills, The Rock was a perfectly serviceable pro wrestler capable of putting on some extremely good matches. But the appeal of the former Rocky Maivia was not in his matches, but rather his character. Rock is easily one of the most charismatic wrestlers of all time, a self-obsessed motormouth with promo skills so sharp that nobody’s ever really been able to come close to it since. When it comes to being a ‘WWE Superstar,’ it still feels like The Rock is the ideal,” explains The Sportster

The Rock’s work on the microphone is legendary, and he could get the audience to love him or hate him within a few seconds, depending on whether he was a ‘babyface’ or a ‘heel’ at that time, of course. Regardless, The Rock is also responsible for some of the best moments in the history of professional wrestling, and his feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin are absolutely unforgettable

“In what is now one of the best booking decisions ever made by WWE’s executive powers, an unremarkable early start to his career soon led to The Rock prematurely turning heel. Taking on a more brash, arrogant attitude, he began referring to himself in the third person, brutally trashing all of his opponents on the mic. It was a critical moment in not only the young wrestler’s career, but in WWE’s history itself, leading to one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, and the star pupil of the Attitude Era,” furthers Wealth of Geeks

“The Rock might be all over the movie screen now, being featured in all kinds of major releases, but when he got his start with the WWF, people were floored by his character and charisma. He had a way with the microphone, and a physicality in the ring that really ushered in a step away from overly sized behemoths in the ring to be replaced with truly muscle bound, confident and charismatic forces of nature. The Rock was a truly impressive specimen, and respectfully earns the right to be deemed the greatest WWE Wrestler of the 1990s from his title reigns to his overall popularity with millions of fans worldwide,” adds Money Inc

3. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart

Slamming his way into the third spot on the list of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s is none other than one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time – Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart. Although Bret Hart wasn’t a big name in the Attitude Era of wrestling, the ‘Hitman’ was certainly one of the faces of professional wrestling throughout the 1990s. Bret Hart took professional wrestling to new heights during the 1990s and he was responsible for helping to usher in a new era.

“As one of the greatest technical wrestlers in pro-wrestling history, Bret Hart represented the new guard after Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior spent their last glorious moments with the WWE. Following the breakup of the Hart Foundation and his two Tag Team Championships with Jim Neidhart, Bret Hart was designated to carry the company on his shoulders in a time of darkness following the end of the Golden Age Era. In only six years, from 1991 to 1997, he became a five-time WWE Champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, the 1994 Royal Rumble co-winner and the only two-time King Of The Ring (1991 and 1993),” explains Bleacher Report

Bret Hart is one of the only professional wrestlers who experienced success as both a tag team wrestler and a singles wrestler. The ‘Hitman’ won every title possible during his time in the WWF.

“Introduced to WWE as one-half of the influential tag team, The Hart Foundation, with his brother-in-law, Jim Neidhart, Hart achieved fast success thanks to victories against Demolition, Rhythm and Blues, and The British Bulldogs in the late ’80s and early ’90s. After setting out on his own, the Hitman continued his climb to prominence as a singles competitor, winning the King of the Ring, the Intercontinental Championship, and the WWF Championship by 1992. Watching him wrestle, you truly understood why he took to calling himself the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be,” writes Wealth of Geeks

Bret Hart became the face of WWF after wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Ultimate Warrior left the company in the early ’90s. From there, Bret Hart’s feuds with wrestlers such as Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin helped the WWF overtake WCW in the Monday Night Wars.   

“His reign in the WWF would see him win multiple titles, including the Heavyweight Championship. He was still acting as Heavyweight Champion when he was fighting in his last match for the WWF in 1997 against Shawn Michaels (his long time personal and professional rival) where he was very blatantly stripped of his title when Vince McMahon had ordered the bell to be rung when Shawn Michaels had Bret Hart in Hart’s signature finisher, the Sharpshooter. Ultimately, he went on to find a few years of success with the WCW,” notes Money Inc

4. The Undertaker

Tombstoning his way into the fourth spot on the list of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s is The Undertaker, who wrestled for three decades, and as a result, he’s likely the most recognizable wrestling character across the globe. 

“If The Undertaker was not always the center of attention, he was without a doubt the glue that kept the WWE together for the whole ’90s. He was not always in the main event, but his sole presence in the ring always made high-profile matches. Despite his legendary dominance in the ring, he ended the decade with only three WWE Championships. The Phenom didn’t need the spotlight or many Title reigns to build his legacy. After all, just to defeat Hulk Hogan in 1991 after only one year with the company is enough to make a name for himself. And, when we think about all the obstacles put on his path, it’s no wonder why The Deadman is a legend,” raves Bleacher Report

If you grew up watching professional wrestling in the ’90s, then chances are you thought The Undertaker possessed superhuman abilities and he couldn’t be hurt by normal men. Of course, professional wrestling has several layers of acting, and The Undertaker was one of the best. 

“In his illustrious 30-year career, The Phenom managed to win the World Championship title a record 7 times (WWF Championship & World Heavyweight). During the 1990s, wrestling fans knew very little about kayfabe and thus many of us ended up believing that The Undertaker and the mysterious Paul Bearer had supernatural abilities… During his stint with the WWE, The Undertaker became the pioneer of many firsts. Although Undertaker’s in-ring skills and aura made him a force, it is his impressive run at Wrestlemania that separates him from the rest,” furthers SportLister.

The Undertaker was undefeated at Wrestlemania for over 20 years before Brock Lesnar beat him to end his vaunted streak. Regardless, The Undertaker represented a time in professional wrestling when anything was possible, and he’ll go down in history as one of the best characters ever. 

“If goth and horror had a representative in professional wrestling, The Undertaker was it. He was always dressed in all black and seemed invincible to everyone. The Undertaker brought a new way of storytelling to the WWE that would help all of professional wrestling evolve and change with the times. His tombstone piledriver, followed by a pin made him one of the most dangerous men in wrestling at the time,” adds One37PM

5. Shawn Michaels

Rounding out the list of the best pro wrestlers of the ’90s is none other than the living legend, Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels entertained wrestling fans as part of the tag team The Rockers before going on to a singles career that saw him make quite the transformation. Shawn Michaels went back and forth between ‘babyface’ and ‘heel’ for most of the ‘90s, but he was always responsible for putting on an entertaining match. 

Rhonda Rousey, Shawn Michaels
Rhonda Rousey, Shawn Michaels at the WWE For Your Consideration Event at the TV Academy Saban Media Center in 2018 (Photo by Kathy Hutchins on Shutterstock)

“The Main Event, ‘The Showstopper’ and ‘Mr. WrestleMania.’ All those nicknames come from the ’90s after nearly 10 years of hard work with the WWE. Beyond his three WWF Championship reigns in the ’90s, Michaels made history with countless iconic moments. After a solid run in the tag team division with Marty Jannetty, he became a singles competitor, but not before throwing his former partner through a window with a Super Kick in 1991. With his new Heartbreak Kid gimmick, Michaels climbed the ladder to the top with three Intercontinental Title reigns and two Royal Rumble victories. Then, in 1996, after an historical Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII he won his first WWF Championship against Bret Hart,” writes Bleacher Report

The breakup with his tag team partner sent Shawn Michaels on a path to wrestling stardom. Shawn Michaels went on to have epic WrestleMania showdowns with the likes of The Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his performances in those matches are legendary. Again, none of this would have been possible without the historic manner in which Shawn Michaels turned on his tag team partner

“The moment Shawn Michaels turned on Marty Jannetty in 1992 may have been the death of WWE tag team wrestling. The betrayal was so shocking, and Michaels so successful in the years that followed that many tag teams are simply looked at wondering which one is going to be The Jannetty. But as a wrestler, Michaels’ influence can’t be understated either, as his swagger, athleticism, and Superkick finisher Sweet Chin Music basically influenced any wrestler who grew up watching him,” explains The Sportster

Both Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart broke away from their tag team partners and became singles stars and their careers will forever be entwined with one another. However, both wrestlers would return to factions later in their respective careers as Bret Hart and his brother Owen Hart headed up the rejuvenated Hart Foundation while Shawn Michaels and Triple H formed Degeneration X. From there, Shawn Michaels and Degeneration X would go on to be one of the premiere draws of the Attitude Era in the WWE. 

“Like his contemporary and real-life rival, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels was seen as one of the bright young talents in WWE in the early ’90s. Breaking from the uber popular tag team, The Rockers, in 1992, Michaels became the dominant heel in the company by the mid ’90s, enjoying success as a Tag Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and WWF Champion by 1996. Combining pure athleticism with his flamboyant personality, speed, and attitude, Michaels was one of the most consistently high-performers in WWE throughout the ’90s,” adds Wealth of Geeks

You might also be interested in: 


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


  1. I saw Stone Cold Steve Austin at the mall once. He powerbombed a Starbucks barista through a table for messing up his coffee order.

Comments are closed.