Everyone has their favorite wrestler or top five favorite wrestlers. But why do we choose those wrestlers? In most situations, people pick someone they see as a star or superstar of the industry. What makes a wrestler a star or superstar? I plan on breaking it into four categories: Presentation, In-Ring ability, Promo Skills, and Crowd Connection.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Presentation is everything!” But in wrestling, it is only a portion of everything. A wrestler’s presentation encompasses their appearance and how the company they work for decides to present them. “Superstar” Billy Graham is a wrestler that many other wrestlers took inspiration from. His look was larger than life and many wrestlers have attributed Graham as a person they revered. Aside from a larger-than-life appearance, a wrestler’s entrance can go a long way with presentation.
An example of this would be Cody Rhodes. Cody’s entrance combines a great song, Kingdom by Downstait, and over-the-top pyro. When Cody makes an entrance, fans know they are about to witness a star in action.
In-ring ability isn’t just about being technically savvy or dominating your opponent, in-ring ability is about being able to perform in the ring. Not all great wrestlers are technical wizards like Zack Sabre Jr. Not all top wrestlers are high-flying phenomena like Rey Mysterio Jr. Multiple styles make up the top wrestlers of all time, so it is not a cookie-cutter idea. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to maintain the audience’s attention through their in-ring work. Knowing how to captivate the crowd through their style of wrestling is what makes a good wrestler great.
One surefire way to cement yourself as a top star is by having impeccable promo skills. There have been plenty of wrestlers throughout the years who lack in-ring ability but make up for it with charisma. Guys like The Miz, Road Dogg Jesse James, and LA Knight, are wrestlers who are average in the ring. Once they have a microphone in their hands, they ooze charisma. Being able to have the crowd in the palm of your hand while you speak is something special. Adding what you can do on the microphone with all the other attributes mentioned will definitively make you a superstar.
Typically, if a wrestler has a great presentation, fantastic in-ring abilities, and is charismatic on the microphone, then connecting to the crowd will be a given. There have been instances where even the best wrestlers, like Seth Rollins, will just not connect with the crowd as you would expect. Fans either want to see themselves in the wrestler’s boots or they want to look up to the wrestler as a larger-than-life personality. Sami Zayn is an amazing example of someone who connects with a crowd. People feel what he feels, care about what he cares about, and they understand he is one of them. Being able to connect to a crowd on a personal level can help boost not only a wrestler’s “stock” but their morale when they are performing.
My Personal Favorites
Using the criteria I have provided, I will mention some wrestlers who I think are superstars for their companies. The first obvious answer is Roman Reigns. He has had a generational run over these past three years, but it was not always like that. It took time for him to develop a connection with the crowd and to sharpen his promo skills. The next one to be mentioned is MJF. Max has always been fantastic to watch when he is on screen, but this current title run has helped him bolster a newfound connection with the audience. He is truly on the path to being one of the greats. A younger star that has taken the world by storm is Willow Nightingale. She checks off all the boxes for what a superstar is supposed to be. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Becky Lynch. Arguably one of the greatest superstars to ever step in the ring. Her abilities, mic work, connection with fans, and presentation have truly made her a GOAT in the industry.
Who are some stars you can think of that fit this criteria? Who are some that are on the cusp but just need a nudge in one of the categories?