Who is the best wrestler in the world? We recently asked this question on our Twitter, and the diversity of the answers spoke volumes about the level of talent currently in wrestling. DDS staff, along with representatives from a number of other wrestling websites, have provided some of their own answers here. Note: this is in no way meant to be a comprehensive list as the number of picks for each contributor was extremely limited (though comments on the selections of others was allowed). There are surely many more great men and women worthy of the title, so make sure to tell us who you think deserves to be called ‘Best in the World’ in the comments.
Anthony (@HijoDeLaBruja): I choose Nicole Matthews because she’s “smart, sexy, and…” No, wait…it’s because she’s funny, badass, and fairly hot. Plus, unlike the Local H lyrics to “All The Kids Are Right,” she’s proves that all the kids (and “internet wrestling community” fanboys) are WRONG!!
Not to mention, that she is a ‘complete’ wrestler, as she excels in both tag team and singles competition. Many wrestlers can tell you, there is a science to teaming up and going it alone…and not everyone can master both. She can also hang with opponents of various styles (like: brawlers, luchadoras, power wrestlers, etc.), without having to switch up her own game. Speaking of which, aside from her silly antics and hijinks, she has an array serious moves in her arsenal, including (but not limited to):
A dangerous, sheerdrop brainbuster (which is picture perfect, from this video game that I used to play in the late 90’s), a technically sound northern lights suplex (which she can hit seamlessly and “out of nowhere”), and (of course) the ever popular “LARIAT!!” (that has only gotten more stiff, which each throw). And before anyone even tries to say “She’s No Ninja!!,” bear in mind that ninjitsu is chock-full of “illegal” maneuvers…and she wouldn’t be my top pick, if she was constantly getting disqualified.
Chris (@ChrisC06): Nicole Matthews is a wrestler whose star is on the rise and isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Throughout the last couple years, she has shown why she’s a prime candidate for the title of Best in the World. Her work in the ring continues to improve, both as a singles wrestler and as one half of the Canadian Ninjas. Her personality shines in her confidence and her taunting of her opponents, and the crowd. Nicole is a great talent who is only getting better.
Leslie: Matthews was the MVP of SHIMMER in 2010, putting on fantastic matches every time she stepped in the ring, including a match with the legendary Ayako Hamada. She’s easily one of the most entertaining personalities in wrestling (she has to be, in order to keep up with one Portia Perez), and backs it up with a brutal but technically sound style.
Hanan (LifeisRKOingMe): As far as the recent wrestling product goes, the best out there is Shinsuke Nakamura. He has a unique style, and judging by his MMA bout can take some insane bumps. His nonchalant behavior makes him stand out from the rest. He’s got the skills, best legs in the business, and an incredible selling. He’s a jujigatame expert and is also well known for his signature finisher the Boma Ye.
Leslie: New Japan’s all around best. A perfect foil for the hot blooded Tanahashi, the nearly sedated look of Nakamura belies an intense style that does the King of Sports proud.
Leslie: The “World Famous” Kana is one of the fastest, hardest hitting, and most intense wrestlers on the planet. Her aggression is second to none and she forces all of her opponents to step their own game up. Her unique personality, fashion forward style, and incredible self-marketing ability make her one of the most intriguing women in Joshi by far. Add in an eagerness to engage fans, threats to castrate her male opposition, and an uncommon (for a Joshi) Battlarts based wrestling philosophy and you have a formula for greatness.
Chris: Hero is one of the most talented and diverse wrestlers going today. He is ever evolving and has a number of different styles in his repertoire. He’s called “That Young Knockout Kid” for his devastating striking ability, however, he is just as skilled in applying his power, lucha skills, and mat prowess to his ring work like few can. His personality also makes him one of the strongest talkers on the scene. His promos can last several minutes without becoming stale and every word appears to be well thought out. He is intense and methodical in both his mic work and his wrestling. This all makes Hero one of the greats in wrestling and quite possibly the Best in the World.
Ayzali (@AyzaliWali): Chris Hero’s as charismatic as they come while still maintaining a fierce presence. When he’s in the ring you pay attention and you feel his energy at all times. His move set is something to be seen and he delivers high quality matches every time he enters the ring. Hero also has the utmost respect for the craft and seems to always be willing to learn, something that’s beyond respectable to see! You can tell he’s really love the sport not only as a wrestler but a fan.
Sonny (@22nijuni): Most decorated female wrestler ever, greatest dropkick of all time, suplex master, pinned the SHIMMER Champion, Queen of Queens.
Mary (Captured Beauty): Manami Toyota is the best in the world. Male or female, it’s hard to find someone who can mix any style and set a pace of a match that causes her opponents to keep up. Every strike and move has psychology behind it. Every opponent looks like a star. She always comes across extremely humble, both to fans and her peers. You can’t fake that.
Leslie: Manami Toyota is the Greatest Wrestler of all time, and still one of the very best now. It’s amazing that she’s had such a long and storied career but can still electrify crowds from Korakuen to Brooklyn. Her grace and poise are unmatched. A true Queen.
Jon (@rollingelbow): There’s too much to say about Muto. He’s wrestled everyone (Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steamboat, Steve Austin, Sting). He brought “action” (as he calls it in his shoot DVD) to NJPW with people using the ropes and incorporated American style into Japanese style. He invented the moonsault, popularized misting in the eyes as Great Muta, invented the shining wizard. I can’t even go over how many different kinds of matches he’s had with different size, style, etc. opponents. From Norton to Liger to Inoki to Hashimoto to Chono to Kawada to Tenryu to Akebono to Jr. heavyweights. And he’s STILL awesome even at his current age
Oh. He even got Yinling pregnant by green misting her vagina in Hustle.
Markus (@DakotaKDash): Kota Ibushi just has raw talent and he’s getting better with every month that passes. So while there are others who might be better or more over now, I think he’s got the best “current skills & further potential”-ratio, and that makes him the best complete package in my eyes.
Leslie: Kota Ibushi is a genius. His creativity and diversity has any crowd, whether it’s comedy loving DDT fans, HARDHIT shootstyle lovers, American indie connoisseurs, or New Japan fangirls, in the palm of his hand. He’s one of the brightest rising stars in all of Puroresu and I hope to see bigger and better things for him in the future.
Chris: She’s got great character, incredible skills in the ring that shows off different styles, and she really has a way of making fans “believe” her. She always delivers and brings her A game. Eagles doesn’t slack and her poise and methodical movement in the ring shows the level of dedication to her work.
Anthony: Though she (currently) has almost 10 years of wrestling experience, she emerged onto the North American “independent” scene (via SHIMMER Women Athletes, in 2008) as a relative “unknown.” Now, she is the top female wrestler, for (arguably) the top female promotion. Since becoming champion she has yet to be defeated in singles competition.
Leslie: Eagles is a wrestling machine. There’s not an aspect of the sport she doesn’t excel at, and her current reign as SHIMMER champion is probably the most interesting title reign in wrestling. This is due in no small part to Eagles’ pitch-perfect performances against some of the other top competitors in the world.
Sara Del Rey
Greg (@BigZ38): My pick for best of the world is Sara Del Rey. Over her career, she has been what I feel a top wrestler should be, both as a hero and villian. In peril, she makes you want to cheer her on. As a champion, you know the long climb in store for her opponents. As the bad guy, you want to hate her, and see her get what is coming.
Chris: One of the most recognizable names in women’s wrestling, Sara Del Rey has continually impressed with her sheer level of talent. With her rigorous dedication to training, “Death Rey” seemingly lives and breathes professional wrestling. She is powerful, poised, and dominant in the ring, which leaves no doubt as to why she’s been called the Queen of Wrestling.
Ayzali: Sara Del Rey has been not only an amazing wrestling talent, but one of the few people I idolize. If you’ve heard her story you realize she has had her hardships, and yet now she’s an inspirational figure. You see her move in the ring and you have to pause to see how graceful yet hard hitting she is. She carries herself with the utmost respect, and you can tell this is the case at all times. I’ve never felt such passion from a female talent. She epitomizes what it means to not only have a high level of talent but the longevity to continue to stay as one of the top talents in the world.
Leslie: She’s just as good as she claims, and she claims she is greatest. Her brutal in-ring persona impresses not only fans, but other wrestlers. She represents what’s best about the sport and we are all lucky to watch her in her prime.
Ludevig (The Lounge): MsChif is the best Wrestler in the World. She held the NWA World Womens, NWA Midwest and SHIMMER Championships for a combined 7 years. Mschif is instantly memorable on any show she is on and is a firm favorite the World over due to her excellent in-ring skills.
Chris: Simply put, “Your Soul’s Tormentor” MsChif is the reason I became a fan of women’s wrestling. Her skill in the ring, her style of wrestling, her look, every bit of who she is as a professional wrestler has caught the attention of myself and many others. A ten year veteran, she has traveled the world and put on great matches throughout her career. Innovative, talented, smart, and dedicated are just a few words I would use to describe MsChif as a wrestler and there is a reason why she is my personal favorite.
Leslie: Cheerleader Melissa is the Best Wrestler in the World. Her style is brutality defined: headkicks, deadlift Samoan drops, curbstops and, of course, the Kudo Driver. Whether she’s giving at a war cry before driving her elbow into an opponents face or giving a sadistic smile before smashing them between the guard rails, Melissa just comes across as an almost supernaturally powerful force in the ring. She’s one of the few wrestlers that makes me fear for my personal safety and the safety of my fellow fans, and that’s such a good thing. You never know what new form of violence Melissa will inflict upon her opponent, you just know to get out of her way.
Chris: When the debate of best wrestler is brought up, “Cheerleader Melissa” is a name that is sure to be mentioned. A veteran of the ring, Melissa has left a long trail of great matches behind. She’s wowed audiences all over the world with her brutal, hard-hitting style and most assuredly will continue to do so.
Greg: It takes a special athlete to have the attire of a cheerleader, look good in it, and still strike fear in their opponents. She is known as the Future Legend, but I dare say that is a misnomer, because this 10+ year veteran has an endless list of amazing matches over her career. A jack of all trades, her technical skills are as good as any. But when it’s time to turn it up, watch out for the Kudo Driver, the Curb Stomp, and the guardrail (literately!) When her name is on the marquee, you are in for a show.
Steven (Diva Dirt): Athena may not be the best wrestler in the world, but if you’ve seen her in action than you know she’s well on her way. With a unique moveset, charisma for days and an attitude like none other, it’s only a matter of time before Athena makes a permanent mark in the wrestling world.
Chris: A relatively new name to most fans, Athena has impressed just about everyone who has seen her. In her ring work, “The Wrestling Goddess” shows why she carries the name of the Greek deity of wisdom: she knows wrestling. Her incredible athleticism, talent, and character are great reasons why some might consider this young up-and-comer the Best in the World.
Leslie: If it weren’t for Ayako Hamada this site would probably not exist. She’s one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Japan and see wrestling in the first place. I skipped out on the Tokyo Dome show just to see her wrestle a tag match where she was pinned by GAMI. It was still worth it. Ayako is simply amazing at everything she does and in every place she wrestles. Easily one of the best in the world, and has been for years.
Chris: Ayako Hamada is a legend in the wrestling business. The woman exudes pure talent and I question if she could have a bad match. Her mix of Japanese and lucha styles makes for an impressive moveset that shows off both her impressive power and agility. I have personally seen her put on matches that left the crowd in awe of her work. Ayako is a prime example of wrestling at its finest.
Shanti (Ring Belles): Ayako Hamada is the best in the world because wrestle just about any style and you are guaranteed to get your moneys worth any time she’s in the ring.
Chris: At first glance, El Generico could be mistaken for a silly, comedy character and nothing more. The name, the look, and the mannerisms all imply someone who is there to get laughs. And then he begins to wrestle. “The Generic Luchador” has amazed audiences his surprising all-around skills. His speed and agility mark him as a high-flier, but Generico is no slouch when it comes to power. He is one of the most impressive wrestlers I have seen, personally, and a worthy candidate for the title of “Best in the World.”
Steven (ROH World): El Generico is the best in the world because he is the best babyface in the business. He musters up more support from the crowd than anybody I’ve ever seen. He is brilliant in the ring and is loved by the fans. He also proved last year that he’s not just a comedy type of character by having some awesome matches with Kevin Steen in a very bloody feud. Plus nobody kicks out of the Brainbustahhhhhh!
Stephen T. Stone (Grapple Kingdom): Bryan Danielson has a diverse range of maneuvers ranging from high-flying to ground-and-pound tactics. He can slap on a submission from just about any way you can think of. He’s fearless in the ring; no chance is too big for him to take. He is simply the best technician in the world.
Chris: The original “Best in the World,” Bryan Danielson was arguably the most popular wrestler in the American indy scene right until he left in 2009. His strikes and unbelievable prowess at mat wrestling helped him to grow in fame and demand across the globe Really, what more could be said about “The American Dragon” that hasn’t been said a thousand times before. Bryan Danielson is wrestling in its purest form.
Markus: Purely skill-wise I’d go with an American in Sara Del Rey. Skills & more leads right to Kana, who is without a doubt one of the best around, in everything she does. Then again I have endless adoration for Ayako Hamada, Manami Toyota and Takako Inoue. But in the end I’m going with Hikaru Shida. I have yet to see a match including her, that I didn’t enjoy and during my trip to Japan this winter she was the one wrestler who impressed me the most. I’ve seen Kana, I’ve seen Kurihara finally besting Tamura, I even saw Hamada in action. Still, Shida’s preformance just stuck out the most. She’s going to be big. She is already for me. Honorable mention for another close runner-up: Syuri. Also very impressive and has the whole audience in the palm of her hand every single time.
Leslie: It’s still real to Davey Richards, damn it. Everything he does backs up his talk of being a true Professional Wrestler. He has level of intensity most normal human beings don’t, unless they’re forced into wrestling Davey Richards. Like Kana, and others here, he forces people to bring their A+ game, or else. Davey Richards believes pro wrestling is a sport, and his passion makes everyone else believe too.
Chris: Davey Richards has been a talking point in recent years amongst fans of independent wrestling. He’s a wrestler that many feel has claimed the title of ‘Best in the World’ through the hard-hitting style and intensity he displays in his matches. Davey has put on some of the best matches I’ve personally seen live and he’s clearly passionate about his life as a professional wrestler.
Leslie: The prototype for ‘Best in the World.’ One of the greatest, and most influential, wrestlers of all time. Recent years have seen him spend more time out of the ring than in it, but the noticeable hole left by his absence in the puroresu scene shows just how good, and important, he still is.
Ayzali: Kobashi was always so electric for me I adored him maintaining this sorta old school swagger when in ring. He had moves that were even more impressive for me due to his size. How many people can stay true to the basics and still drive the audience bonkers? Plus he assisted in crafting KENTA, I mean come on.
Thanks to all who contributed to this post! Who do you feel is the best in the world? Akiyama, Castagnoli, Aries, Nanae, KENTA, Mercedes, Devitt, Lufisto, Perez, Low Ki, Kong, Tanahashi, SAWA… Let us know your pick in the comments section.