List of the biggest draws in wrestling from 1908-2008

Discussion in 'The Wrestling Archives' started by Mazzaroti78, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Mazzaroti78

    Mazzaroti78 Occasional Pre-Show

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    This is a list I found in researching a claim that Bret Hart was a bigger draw, by far, than HHH. That, of course, turned out to be incorrect but I thought everyone on these boards that wasn't involved in that discussion should see this list. It was compiled by Dave Meltzer and published in the wrestling observer in 2008. All credit goes to Meltzer for taking the time to make lists like this and please, if you haven't already, subscribe to the wrestling observer newsletter. Now onto the list and let's really discuss the best drawing performers in wrestling history.





    What shocks me is how many times Kane is on the list and how few times Sting is on the list. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Why Always Me

    Why Always Me WWF Champion

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    So according to this The Rock holds the record for most big gates in one year, as a Rock fan that pleases me :).

    What exactly is the 'drawing' criteria based on though??
     
  3. Mazzaroti78

    Mazzaroti78 Occasional Pre-Show

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    The list is about drawing houses. What wrestlers made people get out out of their homes and go the house show/PPV/TV taping etc. Any card with less than 10,000 paid isn't factored in which is why Sting isn't on here and no TNA star is on here. This is a big test of who was a true draw.
     
  4. Marky-Marc

    Marky-Marc Pre-Show Stalwart

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    Wow, this thread has been open fo 3 days now and just like I said in our previous discussion, nobody cares about your lists get over yourself.

    To avoid spam, I agree it's interesting how little Sting appears and of course it's crazy that Hogan was #1 for so long. Also, very interesting to see that durin HHH's huge comeback in 2002, he was out drawn by Bob Sapp, interesting indeed.

    However, like I said in the previous thread, these lists are skewed. I appreciate you providing this for the sake of discussion but they're not totally accurate. You have to take into account tthat ticket prices haveraised over time and I'd be willing to bet that te WWE adds more and more house shows each year to their road schedule.
     
  5. Rayne

    Rayne Sally Section

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    I can understand why Sting isn't on that list all that much. He's been a foil all of his career, often playing the face to someone's much more attention grabbing heel. People don't go to a wrestling match to see the face win; they go to see the heel get beaten.
    People forget Bob Sapp was a huge draw over in Japan. No one really cared about him stateside, but he put asses in seats. It's why so many small MMA organizations still sign him to get beaten on; he draws in foreign markets.

    Also, for the record, HHH was a much bigger draw than Bret Hart- give me the choice between the two to make money off of one of them, and I'd take HHH every day. Bret Hart had a couple of really hot years, and made a few people famous; HHH dominated the industry for a decade. People practically lived to see him get his comeuppance. He was so good at playing the heel that people still hate him, and attach whatever other reasons they can to feel their heat is legitimate instead of making them look like the marks they are.
     
  6. ajwebber1985

    ajwebber1985 Dark Match Jobber

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    maybe it's just me but the list seems a little flawed because there are wrestlers on there who you know wasn't main eventing they just so happened to be on the same card as a big star...i mean most of those wrestlers in the 80's were riding Hogan's coattails. Anytime i see One Man Gang on a list as a draw and i dont care what year it was...it seems pretty flawed
     
  7. dd23beatlesfan1

    dd23beatlesfan1 Getting Noticed By Management

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    While the modern era info was interesting, I found the territory era info to be just as interesting as well. The things that surprised me the most were from that era.

    1. I was surprised to see that The Sheik had such a dominating run as a top draw. I figured that Bruno Sammartino would've won every year from 1963-1977 (maybe throw in Morales for a few years in the early '70s), so I was surprised to see that the Sheik had such a long run (about 4-5 years) as the top draw in wrestling.

    2. I was happy to see that Dick the Bruiser was as huge a draw as his reputation here in Indy suggests. All my life, my parents, uncles, grandparents, and any older people that I talk to endlessly talk about how great Dick the Bruiser was, he was the best ever, etc. That's because he ran the WWA, the promotion that was located here in Indianapolis. So for a long time, while I knew he was a star, I thought maybe his hype was just due to all the fans here in Indy only recognizing him because he was the major star here in the Indiana area (similar to most of the big stars of the territory era). But this list proves that it isn't just nostaligc Hoosiers hyping him up. He really was legitimately one of the biggest draws in wrestling for about 12 years. Impressive.


    3. I also thought it was very interesting to see that Bob Backlund was a bigger draw than Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, and Ric Flair during his run as champion. Popular wrestling lore nowadays downplays Backlund's achievements tremendously especially in the WWE. If you watch Billy Graham's DVD, Vince alludes that he thought it was a huge mistake to take the title off Graham and put it on Backlund instead, thinking the idea was representative of an old school promotor (his dad) who just couldn't adapt to the times, by having an old "basic" wrestler as champion rather than a charismatic superstar. But truth be told, it wasn't such a mistake, as Backlund was the top draw in wrestling for about 5 years straight. So Vince Sr. wasn't so stupid after all ;)
     
  8. The Prodigal Anti-Lemming

    The Prodigal Anti-Lemming Registered Lemming Smasher

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    Fascinating topic. My thoughts:

    —I was surprised to see Gama’s name in there, and I hope that the Observer isn’t basing that figure on unverifiable reports that he drew throngs of 60,000 in his native India.

    —I would speculate that Charlie Cutler and BF Roller were the two strongest draws of 1914. These two were at the forefront of the industry after Gotch’s retirement, with both having claimed a version of the American title, which promoters briefly touted as the top championship in North America pending Gotch’s anticipated comeback or the crowning of a new world heavyweight champion (which promoters finally received when Stecher was crowned in 1915).

    —Interesting to see that Jim Londos was an immediate draw in his first full year in the sport (1917). He also drew for a number of years in the twenties before finally winning his first world championship in 1930, more or less confirming what I already knew.

    —Stanislaus Zbyszko’s 1921-22 world title reign was largely perceived as a failure at the live gate, which is why the title was passed along to “Strangler” Lewis in ‘22.

    —Funny to see Toots Mondt’s name up there in 1924. This would serve to fuel widespread speculation among experts that Mondt was perhaps pining for a world heavyweight title run and was unhappy that the Lewis-Sandow combine never permitted him one.

    —I admit, I did not expect to see Jim Browning’s name up there as early as 1926, given the fact that he would not break out into the main event level until 1932-33.

    —Odd that Londos gets acknowledgment for breaking records in 1931 (probably in reference to the MSG bout with Ray Steele that drew 31,000) while getting credit for a “near record breaker” in 1934. The 1934 match was with Ed Lewis, and drew 35,265 in Chicago, which in fact was a record breaker. All my most reliable sources stand by that figure, so I will believe that account until I see concrete evidence to the contrary.

    —There’s a name that doesn’t get too much acknowledgment today: Danno O’Mahoney. His time as a draw might have lasted beyond 1936 had Dick Shikat not double-crossed him, making him to look like an utter fool. If promoters learned nothing over the 1925 double-cross of Wayne Munn, they did learn something from the O’Mahoney debacle, as the period following it were Lou Thesz’s early glory years.

    That's all for now.
     
  9. Banetyson

    Banetyson Dark Match Jobber

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    1987 #3 REALLY?! Kamala?! Wow. I guess it's during his Lawler feuds or something... Who the hell was he feuding with then?

    And I can't believe Sin Cara was a number one draw. I wonder how they get these nimbers.
     
  10. Chris1-16

    Chris1-16 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    Yeah, 2000 was obvious.

    But he was a much bigger draw in 1999 than people think. The number of Rock signs in the crowd that year was just much as you saw in 2000, it didn't really matter whether Austin was there or not.
     
  11. RJJ

    RJJ Getting Noticed By Management

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    LMAO:lmao: What's wrong austin's fans? I thought austin was the biggest name in wrestling history? I thought rock never got over untill austin went out for the surgery :scratchchin: cough*1999*cough Like I said, vince will ALWAYS put austin ahead of the rock, no matter what.

    In 2000, Rock Set all-time record for most big gates in one year?! Wow, no wonder why he was the highest paid wrestler in wwe history at that time.
     
  12. Floyd Sinclair

    Floyd Sinclair Dark Match Jobber

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    While he isn't a wrestler, I do find it odd that Muhommad Ali didn't make the list as a top draw. Him and Anoki in that "Wrestler vs. Boxer" match sold the Tokyo Dome out past capacity, despite the match as a whole sucking. That one match drew more money than alot of the American gates that year.
     
  13. Why Always Me

    Why Always Me WWF Champion

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    LOVE IT!!! It's always the same 'Rock rode Austins coattails, Rock was never as popular as Austin, Rock only became big when Austin was injured'. In 1999 Austin was the focal point of every PPV until he was 'run over' (thus meaning he was promoted more than The Rock, yet The Rock was the bigger draw).

    Somebody posted WWF Shopzone figures from around that time in another thread, The Rock OWNED Austin. The Rock doesn't get the respect he deserves and I don't know why.
     
  14. svsuperfly

    svsuperfly Dark Match Jobber

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    I'm from the old school. I was in attendance during the Cal Palace days. Peter Miava would fill that joint. So would Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson. But the biggest draw I've experience during the territory days was always Andre the Giant. People would but tickets, even if they were not a wrestling fan, just to check him out in person. There was a freak show appeal for him unfortunately.
     
  15. Floyd Sinclair

    Floyd Sinclair Dark Match Jobber

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    Kane was a draw durring his feuds with Undertaker and Austin, or whenever he did his whole "Demented" schtic. Konnan wasn't really a draw in the states, but he has always been a big name in Mexico.

    Kamala I have no honest answer for.
     
  16. Chris1-16

    Chris1-16 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    The difference between the 2 in '99 was that Austin was more protected by booking. Austin was only in storylines with main eventers while Rock was more balanced out. In December of that year despite being undoubtedly the most over person in wrestling and an established main eventer he was feuding with Al Snow and the New Age Outlaws.
     
  17. RJJ

    RJJ Getting Noticed By Management

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    Not to mention jobbing to triple h week after week, the same guy who austin refused to put over at summerslam 1999.

    Till this day I'm still pissed off on the way rock-hhh backlash(2000) ended, hey don't get me wrong the ending was great and all, but austin being the reason for rock winning the title wasn't. That was rock's moment, and austin shouldn't be sharing the spotlight, but I guess vince didn't see it that way.
     
  18. SCrooked1

    SCrooked1 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    When you think about Austin being #1 in '98 and #2 in '99 is simple, in '98 Austin was the man of the WWF, there is no doubt about that. In '99 Rock clearly carried the WWF at times, especially the 2nd half of the year.
     
  19. FlairFan2003

    FlairFan2003 Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    How many times Ric Flair is on this list is amazing, still in the top 10 in mid 2000's after spending most of the 80's second only to Hogan.

    I'm surprised in 1995 that Hogan wasn't listed - he was WCW Champ almost all year - did he simply not wrestle enough to draw enough gates, certainly when he did wrestle he would have been in front of good crowds (usually vs Flair, who was ranked #2 that year, the highest ranking for a US wrestler thay year).
     

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