Today's entry in giving me their fave fives is the illustrious Dashing Brandon Stroud of With Leather. Fun fact, it was actually B-Stroud's idea for me to do this. Here they are, in ascending order rather than descending order (mainly because that's how he gave it to me):
|It's time, it's time, it's VADER TIME|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
5. "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson - Nothing gets me through the dark ages of unsatisfactory mainstream wrestling like the independent circuit, and nobody got me into indy wrestling like Bryan Danielson. I'm one of the lucky few who managed to follow Ring of Honor from the very beginning, and some combination of Dragon, Paul London and Low Ki kept me moving past the death of wrestling I loved (WCW, and to a lesser extent ECW) and all the Katie Vick angles the E could throw.
Dragon appealed to me because of how great he was (is) in the ring, because I've always been drawn to those Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko types who do tons of moves but always for a reason. As my tastes in indy wrestling evolved, so did Dragon, turning into an airplane spinning hobo and eventually into the Bob Backlund-esque ROH champion that gave me the happiest and most productive year or so of wrestling fandom in my life. I'm happy he has a good job now, and I hope he keeps getting paid to do it.
4. Tiger Mask - This spot was The Great Muta's for the longest time. I grew up on the NWA and WCW, so The Great Muta was my favorite wrestler when I was nine. When he left, I had to know where he went, and some combination of Japanese supershows and tape trading through magazines and eventually the internet led me to Satoru Sayama. He's still completely unlike anyone who came before or after (even the other Tiger Masks, and Tigers Mask) and was so far ahead of his time we're still working up to it.
He gets bonus points for having the coolest music this side of Jushin Liger (ti-eeeee-gah, maskoo-oooooh). One of my prized possessions is a signed copy of his shootfighting book.
3. Ricky Morton - You know how you love stuff when you're a kid, but you revisit it as an adult and realize how shitty it was? He-Man is like that. Ricky Morton is not. He was my favorite wrestler when I was really little, and he somehow gets better the older you are, the more you watch him, and the more detached you are from good tag team wrestling. Morton could've stuck being a pretty boy Southerner with bandanas around his legs, but he painted in a medium of peril and ass-whompings I'm still struggling to define. This guy got his ass kicked harder than anyone who isn't a Mulkey but still got fired up and threw big stomping punches at people when he had to. And his finisher was mostly getting dropkicked in the back by his own tag team partner. That's awesome.
I met him when I was 7, and again when I was 27. 20 years later he was still better than 1987 Robert Gibson.
2. Vader - Glorious moments are why you love Vader. He's got arguably the best look and persona of any pro wrestler in history. He debuted in WCW with a fucking mastadon helmet that shot steam. He murdered the Z-Man so hilariously and hard. He had so many unbelievably amazing matches with Sting you can't begin to arrange them all. In Japan, he suplexed Inoki so hard it made the world hurt. He got his eyeball knocked out during a match, but no big D, he just put it back in. He ripped off Cactus Jack's ear and broke his nose. He lived in a WHITE CASTLE OF FEAR. And once when i was 14 I slapped him on the boob as he walked by, and he smelled like peppermint.
Vader is awesome, and you don't need a paragraph on the Internet to know that. Watch anything he's ever done, except anything in the WWF, especially that time he was too fat to stand.
1. Jumbo Tsuruta - A wretler who always made wrestling seem real, even when he didn't. I like him so much I named my cat "Jumbo". The best way to explain is to point you to this old article from Progressive Boink, where I do my best to tell someone living outside my brain why Jumbo Tsuruta is the best ever.