Wolski’s Wrestling Ramblings: The Top 10 Canadian Wrestlers

   On July 1, our neighbors up north celebrated their national holiday, Canada Day. It is the celebration of the unification of three colonies, the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single Dominion simply called Canada.

   In honor of that, I’m going to celebrate one of the greatest things we get from the Great White North: wrestlers. Canada has a rich history in wrestling, and some of my favorite wrestlers come from there.

   Please enjoy my list of the top 10 wrestlers to ever come from Canada. As an aside, this list is based on my personal taste, with historical significance and the quality of the wrestlers’ career playing a small role. It’s just a list I made for fun, so don’t take it too seriously.

10. Sami Zayn

   Coming in at number 10 is Sami Zayn. While I haven’t seen any of his work as El Generico in other promotions, his WWE run has been enough to captivate me. My introduction to NXT was his chase for the title that ended at NXT Takeover: R-Evolution. He beat Neville and won the title in the culmination of a nearly year-long story and it was one of my favorite matches ever.

   Any time he wrestles Kevin Owens is a treat, and his Takeover matches with Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura rank near the top of my list.

   While he was the heart and sole of NXT, he hasn’t yet got a real fair shake on the main roster. He loses a lot. Yet he makes the most of what he’s given every time, and his stint in NXT is good enough for him to make the list.

9. Kenny Omega

   Omega is another guy I haven’t seen much of until recently. I bought New Japan World in January, and have been able to watch some of Omega’s matches, specifically all of his G1 Climax 2016 run, the first match with Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, and his bout with Chris Jericho at WK 12.

   He is a cardiovascular machine and really impressed me with his abilities in the ring. He also seems pretty cool outside the ring, as “Being the Elite” is pretty fun to watch.

   With his name already in the history books as the first non-Japanese wrestler to win the G1 Tournament and by recently winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Omega is one to keep watching in the future and one that continues the good tradition of wrestling in Canada.

8. Christian

   While Christian was known as a tag team specialist in his early career, he made a name for himself as one of the best mid-card wrestlers ever during his WWE stint. He had many entertaining rivalries with John Cena, Chris Jericho and others.

   He also took home several championships in the WWE, winning 20 titles during his time there, including two reigns with the World Heavyweight Championship. His run with the ECW Championship in 2009 was especially a highlight, as he was mainly carrying the ECW brand during that time.

   His work in TNA was also stellar, winning the NWA Championship twice in his near three-year stint as Christian Cage. He had awesome matches with Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle and Rhyno.

   Even more than his wrestling, Christian is now making waves with his buddy Edge by hosting an awesome podcast and show on the WWE Network. It’s very funny and there are always great guests. Also, the banter between E & C is a lot of fun too. One of the more underrated wrestlers from Canada.

7. Kevin Owens

   Kevin Owens is a fantastic wrestler, in all senses of the word. He has been on the WWE main roster for only three years and has racked up six singles championships and several high profile feuds and matches.

   He has all the little things I love in wrestling, as he always sells his injuries right after a pay per view. The best example was the 2016 Royal Rumble, where he entered the match early on, clutching his arm and limping to the ring due to a hellacious street fight with Dean Ambrose earlier in the night.

   He’s also highly entertaining on the mic as well. When he’s allowed, he cuts a great serious promo. All you have to do is watch some of the stuff from the Cena feud. He’s also very funny too, as he talks serious trash to his opponents during a match, and it’s a small thing I appreciate.

   He manages to take most of the average angles WWE gives him and makes them entertaining, and that’s probably why he’s been featured all over the card for his entire run.

   Whether playing a calculated, ruthless man that would do anything to win, or playing the typically cowardly WWE heel, he does it with style and makes anything work. A true Canadian hero and one of my favorite current WWE talents.

6. Owen Hart

   Owen Hart, much like Christian and Kevin Owens, is a wrestler that spent most of his time in the mid-card, but made all of his segments much watch. He had all of the same in-ring talents as his brother Bret, and had the mic skills that he lacked.

   He won seven titles, three Slammy awards and the King of the Ring crown in 1994. His rivalry and matches with Bret still stand the test of time as incredible mat classics.

   But outside of the ring may have been where Owen made his true mark. Known as one of the nicer guys in the business, he would play several good-natured pranks, and helped alleviate the stress on the road for many of his fellow wrestlers. He was a beloved family man, and no one has a bad word to say about him.

   That’s what makes his unnecessary death at Over the Edge 1999 even more tragic. While there were shady circumstances surrounding it, and his widow Martha refuses to allow him to be in the WWE Hall of Fame or in other WWE media, his legacy and contributions to the wrestling business will not be forgotten. Almost everyone that knew him has a great Owen story to tell.

5. Trish Stratus

   “The Diva of the Decade” started her WWE career in 2000, as a valet for the ill-named tag team T & A. She was a former fitness model and wrestling fan turned WWE Superstar and for the first portion of her career was seen as little more than eye-candy. She moved from person to person, having romantic angles with everyone, even Vince McMahon himself.

   Then she started wrestling and showed the world that she was not just another pretty face. She was a tremendous wrestler and had great feuds and matches with the likes of Lita, Victoria and Mickie James.

   She accomplished an unprecedented feat, winning the WWE women’s championship seven times in her six-year career. During a dark time in the history of women’s wrestling she was one of the few bright spots, and her work inspired the next generation of wrestlers to set the ring on fire.

4. Rowdy Roddy Piper

   I’m embarrassed to say this, but until I started writing this article, I had no idea “Hot Rod” was from Canada. Probably because they laid it on thick with all the Scottish stuff.

   Regardless, he’s a wrestler that makes our Northern neighbors proud, due to his good wrestling skills and fantastic promos that ushered in the Rock N Wrestling era of the sport. Without him, it’s debatable that the first WrestleMania would be as big of a success, as the rivalry between him and Hulk Hogan started the boom.

   He would go on to have several memorable feuds and moments with the likes of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Bret Hart and Adrian Adonis. He is arguably the greatest heel wrestler of all time.

   He also dabbled in acting, with my favorite being his role as John Nada in “They Live.” He unfortunately passed away three years ago on July 31, 2015. However, he will always be remembered as the greatest wrestler to never win a world championship and a tremendous sports entertainer.

3. Edge

   Speaking of great heels, the number 3 pick on this list is great at this as well. Edge debuted in the late 90s at the tail end of the Attitude Era as part of The Brood. He teamed with his buddy Christian and broke out of the gothic stable to become the five-second pose masters of entertainment.

   They, along with the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz created and perfected the tag team ladder match, with several TLC bouts at WrestleManias 16 and 17 and a bout at SummerSlam 2000.

   Those contributions alone would earn him a spot on this list, but he later broke off from Christian, winning the King of the Ring tournament in 2001 and having a solid singles run on Smackdown until sustaining an injury in early 2003 and missing two WrestleMainas.

   He would return in summer 2004, winning the Intercontinental Championship before turning heel and wrestling the likes of Shawn Michaels. His crowning moment came in 2005, when he would win the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21.

   He’d cash it in nearly a year later and win his first world championship from John Cena. After this he became a permanent staple in the main event picture, picking up 11 total world titles in feuds with The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and John Cena.

   His career ended following a successful title defense at WrestleMania 27, and he became one of the most decorated champions in WWE history, with 31 total titles won, including a record 12 World Tag Team Championships. One of my favorite wrestlers ever.

2. Chris Jericho

   Chris Jericho is one of the most versatile, performers in wrestling history. He’s one of the last wrestlers to work for nearly every promotion under the sun, including ECW, SMW, WCW, NJPW and WWE, winning championships everywhere he went.

   He is great as an in-ring competitor, but his true strength is his mic work. He is one of the few superstars that could go toe to toe with The Rock on the microphone. He has over a dozen catchphrases throughout his career, with the most recent being getting over a piece of paper, better known as the “The List.”

   No matter where he is on the card, he always entertains. He has had feuds with almost every major WWE star you could mention from the past two decades, like Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, John Cena, Triple H and The Rock.  

   He’s accomplished so much in wrestling, and gone through so many different changes to his character. He’s won 28 titles in WWE, including a record nine Intercontinental Championship reigns. Recently in his limited work in NJPW, he won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at the Dominion event this year.

   His accolades outside the ring are nearly as impressive. He’s released several well-selling albums with his band Fozzy, and has dabbled in acting and hosting TV shows. He is also a best-selling author, writing four great books detailing his time and escapades in the squared circle. One of mine and Canada’s favorite sons.

1. Bret “Hitman” Hart

   Who else could take the number one spot on the list? The Excellence of Execution is synonymous with Canada’s tradition of wrestling. As the most popular member of the illustrious Hart family, he captured championships in WWE, WCW and Stampede Wrestling.

   He has one of the most consistent and best styles ever in wrestling, as he mastered the typical WWE babyfaces “five moves of doom,” and was able to incorporate those moves in different orders or ways depending on the opponent. The style was safe and contributed to the fact that Hart never injured a fellow wrestler in his 22-year career (a point of pride for the Hitman).

   He was able to mesh well with anyone in the ring, whether it is big giants like Kevin Nash or The Undertaker, or smaller athletic guys like his brother Owen, Shawn Michaels and Hakushi.

   He carried the company in a time of turmoil, following the steroid trial of 1993 and 1994. He won the WWE Championship five times, tieing Hulk Hogan at the time. In total, he won 31 titles in his career across all of these companies and was the only two-time King of the Ring tournament winner.

   Hart was the perfect representative for Canadian wrestling, as he took it seriously, put his country on his back and was always involved in local Calgary events (as he was a consistent contributor to the Calgary Sun newspaper, writing columns blending kayfabe and reality).

   The number of memorable matches and moments he was involved in cement him as one of the best wrestlers ever. We also can’t forget the Montreal Screwjob, a moment Bret was involved in that changed the course of wrestling forever.

   Following the screwjob, life would continue to deal Hart bad hands (Owen’s death, misuse of his talents in WCW, a concussion and stroke, two divorces and a family in shambles), but he continued to be passionate about wrestling and his fans, eventually burying the hatchet with the company in 2010.

   So there you have it, the top 10 Canadian wrestlers in history. Obviously, there are some wrestlers I’m not overly familiar with that might take a spot in your personal list, but these 10 athletes represent the great tradition of the Great White North. Thanks for riding along and reading this list.

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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