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COMMENT





Chat with John Molinaro
The Wrestling Show with John Molinaro - Jan 22


John  Wrestling author and former Slam! Wrestling writer John F. Molinaro took questions in the Slam! chat room Wednesday, January 22 about his new book \"The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time\" and about pro wrestling in general.

\"The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time\" ranks the top wrestlers in history dating back from the 1800s to the present. Johns list features the best wrestlers from around the world, including Japan, Mexico, South American, Europe and India.

The book was edited by Dave Melzter, editor of the acclaimed Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and Jeff Marek, host of the Toronto-based Live Audio Wrestling radio program.

\"The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time\" is now available in all major bookstores and retailers across Canada and the United States. You can also purchase it online at www.liveaudiowrestling.com
John  Hello and welcome to the Slam! Wrestling chat with John Molinaro. Were ready to get underway.
Mickey J.  How did the book come about and what was the most fun about the process? Would you do another?
John  Stewart House (my publisher)approached me about doing a wrestling book in late 2001. They had already re-released Dynamite Kids bio and Dave Meltzers Tributes and they wanted to put out a third book. We kicked around a few ideas. The one that made the most sense was the one for the Top 100. There was actually a book put out by the Hockey News a few years ago that ranked the top 100 NHL players of all time and when it came out it raised quite a bit of fuss. I guess we just saw an opportunity to do the same thing with wrestling; to produce a quality book that would cause a bit of a stir.

The most fun was interwiewing guys like Ric Flair, Lou Thesz and a lot of the guys I grew up watching and getting their comments for the book.
Angelo  Very pleased to see Jim Londos high in your list. How much did you know about him before you actually did research?
John  I knew a little, not a lot. I knew of his influence and what a great draw he was for several decades. Meltzer was helpul, but who helped the most was historian Steve Yohe. I talked to him about Londos and he really helped me to better understand what Londos was all about. He told me how Londos, despite what many people think, was a great in-ring worker and that he was basically one of the first superstars that drew hordes of women to shows. So, Steve was very helpful in that regard.
Chyna Lover  Who did you want to include in the book and didnt?
John  Oh god, there are so many. The problem with a book like this is that there are only 100 spots available, so inevitably some worthy people are going to be left off. I would say for sure people from the early part of the 20th century like Joe Stetcher, Wladek Zbyszko, Dick Shikat and others. We included people like Ed Lewis, Frank Gotch, Londos and a few others, that the feeling was that we didnt want to weigh the book down with guys that people had absolutely no clue about. I know that sounds like a lame excuse, but it is what it is. I would also have like to included Bob Backlund, Jimmy Snuka, for sure.
DTCutting  John, in your opinion, what country produces the best wrestlers? Canada, Japan, Mexico or another country?
John  Very tough questions. Im biased because Im such a lucha and Japanese mark. I love those styles and I really think the training is more intense in those countries, because the trainers instill the basics from day one and dont let you go anywhere near the ring before youre ready. Thats not to bad mouth Canada and the States, because they have produced great wretslers (obviously). But I just feel, as a whole, that Mexico and Japan produce the best wrestlers.
Belly Welly  What did you base your rating on? Influence? Skill? Accomplishments? That isnt made clear.
John  Its actually spelt out in Dave Melzters forward to the book, as he spells out what factors were considered in making the rankings. Just to reitereate, we considered a lot of things: influence, star power, drawing ability, working ablility, cross over power into mainstream society.
DaveC  How is life after Slam Wrestling treating you?...I think I can speak for everyone else when I say I miss the daily wrestling updated here at Slam!
John  Thank you for your kind words. Its nice to know people havent forgotten about me even though Im no longer here at SLAM! After leaving SLAM!, I was hired by the CBC where I have been since April of last year. Im a reporter and writer for the CBC Sports web site and I produced the CBCs 2002 FIFA World Cup web site, and helped to produce their 2002 Grey Cup site.
DTCutting  John, are there any plans to write a sequel to your book, perhaps the Top 100 Canadian Wrestlers Of All Time or the Top 100 Current Wrestlers?
John  Actually, mt former partner in crime at SLAM!, Greg Oliver, has his own book coming out in a few months on the greatest Canadian wrestlers of all time. Its not a rnaking, but more of a Canadian Hall of Fame type book. As for me, there has been discussions with my publisher to write two or three new wrestling books, so this likely wont be my last book.
Singapore Cane  Who would be on your list of the 10 worst?
John  Oh God. There are too many to name. I couldnt narrow it down to just ten, but Ill throw out a few names. Chyna. Sable. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Kevin Nash. Lex Luger. Chyna for me would be THE WORST by far because she received a monster push even though she had no business at all stepping one foot inside a wrestling ring.
Beth  Any women listed in your book?
John  Yes, quite a few actually. Mildred Burke, who was the first major female wrestling star in the U.S. during the first half of the 20th centruy. She paved the way for every female wrestler who came after her. Quite a few Japanese women, like Lioness Asuka, Chigusa Nagayo and a few others.
Rick SHaw  How much influence did Dave Meltzer have over the list? Did he write any of the book?
John  Dave had a lot of influence in terms of editing the book. He, Jeff Marek and I compiled the list and we each consulted with some historians before we did the ranking. Dave was very helpful in shaping some of the bios and offering his advice. As far as writing, the only thing Dave wrote was the forward. I wrote all the bios.
A.M.  Where was Owen Hart on your list? I believe he was one of the best ever.
John  Owen really wasnt considered because his career ended so prematurely. I was a huge Owen fan and have a deep respect for his ring style. We just felt that there were too many guys like Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Canek and a few other junior heavyweights that came before Owen that paved the way for him.
Moderator  What about Stu Hart? Was he considered, even though he didnt make the list?
John  He was considered, but in the end, we felt that his influence was felt more as a promoter than as a wrestler. If we were ranking the 100 greatest promoters of all time, hed be there for sure. But we just felt his actual wrestling career didn;t allow him to break the list.
Nature Boy  Will anybody ever surpass Flair to be called the best wrestler of all time? Stone Cold, Rock, and Angle still have some time.
John  Well, thats hard to say. I mean wrestling is so subjective, as is this list. Ive heard from people who think Austin should be No. 1 ahead of Flair. Same thing for Hogan and the Rock. It depends on your perspective. I can say that for my mind, I doubt anybody will ever surpass Flair, but thats just me.
Matt  After watching the RAW 10th anniversary special, its clear that the WWE does not care about wrestlings past. Was that a factor for you in writing this book?
John  Somewhat. I suppose a small part of my motivation was to write a book that included a history of the industry that stood in direct contrast to Vince McMahons version. I think its important to present a version of history that differs from the WWEs, because as we all know, McMahon has hoodwinked and conned the general media and wrestling public into buying his revisionist version. So that was a part of the motivation, but only a small part.
George  How would you rate Toronto as a wrestling city in North America? Is it in the top 5?
John  Wow, thats hard to say. Do you mean of all-time? Geez, I dont know. I think its one of the greatest wrestling cities of all time in North America, but not top five. Historically, I would put St. Louis, Mexico City, New York City, Chicago, Memphis ahead of it. I think Toronto is the best Canadian wrestling city of all time. (With all due respect to Montreal and Calgary and Winnipeg).
Eric  Hey John,
just wondering if the Rougeau family, anyone of them were considered or even close to being considered
John  We briefly discussed Johnny Valentine, but in the end, we felt there were so many guys ahead of him.
Kim Sadler  Why havent the importation of foreign wrestlers, such as the luchadores and Japanese, worked well in North America? This is also reflected in the lack of foreign wrestlers in your list.
John  I think it hasnt worked because promoters in the U.S. and Canada just dont have a clue about foreign wrestling cultures and have no idea how to properly push Japanese and Mexican guys. They cant seem to get over the language barrier that if they cant speak english and thus do promos, they dont want to push them.
Lack of foreign wrestlers on the list? Thats an interesting comment, because a lot of negative feedback Ive been getting about the book is that there are TOO MANY Mexicans and Japanese guys.
HBK  Its good to see that you included Shawn Michaels in your list. Some people (Jeff Marek) dont think he should even be in the Wrestling Observer hall of fame. What are you thoughts?
John  I was always one of the ones that didnt vote for Michaels to be inducted into the WO HOF. For me, his gross unprofessionalism always kept me for voting for him. This past year, I changed my mind. I just think he was such a great worker during his prime and helped to influence a lot of guys that came after him, that its hard to to not vote for him. But I respect Jeffs view, even though I no longer agree with him.
Howard  Who is your top ten current wrestlers today? Mine are Angle, Lesnar, HHH, Rock, Benoit, Jericho, Booker T, Killings, Mysterio, and Eddie G.
John  God, thats tough. There are so mnay guys I would rank, including a lot from Japan and Mexico. Theres too many to name, but If I were to pick the top two, I would say Angle and Benoit by far.
sodadood  Looking back on the finished book, are there wrestlers (that are in the book) that you now wish you had placed in a different position?
John  Uhmm. I thyink you can make a case for Jim Londos being in the top 5. Through doing my research and talking to Steve Yohe, Ive come to better understand his drawing power and just what a historical figure he reallly was. Also, Frank Gotch. I think he deserves a spot in the top 10, up from #11, because he was so historically important.
Slobberknocker  Would you or the other editors of SLAM! Wrestling rule out a comeback to the site? Have you discussed what you are all doing next? I want the band back together. You guys kicked ass.
John  Thanks for the kind words. Again, its nice to know people havent forgotten about us and really respected the work we did. We have discussed it very briefly, as well as starting another project of some sorts. Nothing is even close to being finalized, but we are talking about it. No promises though, so dont be too disappointed if it doesnt happen.
DTCutting  What are some of the top wrestling venues (ie. arenas)?
John  Oh god, another tough one. In no particular order, I would say: Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Kiel Auditorium in St Louis, Madison Square Garden, Mid South Coliseum in Memphis, Budokan Hall and Sumo Hall in Japan, Greensboro Coliseum, The Cow Palace in San Francisco, Maple Leaf Gardens, and Cobo Arena in Detroit.
Bret  Whose movie career was more successful: Hogans or Santos?
John  Santos was WAAAAAAAY more successful. Santo did over 50 movies, and was a nationally revered movie star in Mexico. Hogans movies barely registered on the radar screen in the U.S., if they did at all.
Frank  John, where do you see professional wrestling, particularly in North America, heading over the next couple years?
John  Thats a very interesting question. I think it can go one of two ways. One way is to go the route of Pride and UFC, and incorporating more legitimate shoots. Or it can go the other way of hyping up the realk life backstage politics that goes on and is reported on the internet and make that the focus of the show even more. I think more than likely, the second one is the more likely.
Tom  Would you say the Bret Hart screwjob was the most memorable moment in wrestling history?
John  It certainly was one of the most memorable in recent history and certainly one of the most important. But I think I would have to say the 1925 Stanislaus Zbyszko-Wayne Munn match/double cross was the most important because that had huge repercussions that are still being felt to this day. That double cross totally changed the sport and the course of wrestling history forever by making promoters even more paranoid and protective.
J.P.  What was your favorite moment working for Slam! Wrestling?
John  Oh god, there were too many to name. Interviewing people like Flair who I watched as a kid. Writing stories like the five-year anniversary of the detah of Art Barr, the life and times of El Santo and all the stuff I wrote on Johhny Valentine and his fight for life. Of course, writing that media column that caught the attention of Jim Ross and sparked so much controversy was another big deal. But I guess the biggest highlight was being able to work alongside John Powell and Greg Oliver. They had such a staggering influence on my career as a journalist, and I consider myself very lucky to have worked so closely with them for so long.
Johnnie Canuck  Why isnt RVD event mentioned in your book...even in the up and coming catagory? I cant believe you overlooked him as a great future talent.
John  I dont think theres anyway we could have put him in the top 100. He was never a draw. Next ten section? I just think think there were too many people ahead of him.
John  Did Hogans unprofessionalism affect your choosing of his rank?
John  Somewhat. I think his relative low ranking (as Im sure most people were shocked to see he wasnt No. 1) had more to do with the fact that, in our view, guys like Flair, Inoki, Rikidozan and Lou Thesz, had more historical significance.
observer  how can you justify the exclusion of Joe Stecher? One of the all-time greatest hookers, he was wrestlings biggest star in the teens, and involved in nearly all of the big matches of the 20s (a major period in wrestling history).
John  Youre absolutely right! I cant really justify it at all, other to reiterate what I said earlier about \"bogging\" down the list with guys from the early part of the 20th century that people would have no idea about. I know thats a lame excuse, but thats all I can say to that.
Dynamo  If you had to put Chyna,Torie, Stephanie on a wrestling
card...who would you pick?
John  NONE! They all suck.
Teddy  What has the death of the territories done to the future of wrestling?
John  Its had an adverse effect on the future. Without the territories, there are less guys working as wrestlers on a full time basis. So where are the stars of tomorrow going to come from? If we had 30 to 50 territories like in the old days, you would see a lot more young stars coming up and being pushed. Thats no longer the case.
Ted  Who did more to kill off WCW: Russo, Bichoff, or Hogan?
John  Oh, I think there is equal blame to go around. Dont forget to include Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in that list, too.
Dominick  What about Ricky \"the Dragon\" Steamboat? The guy put on hellacious matches with Flair, Savage and Austin!
John  I totally agree. Hes rated #46, which I think is about right. But youre right, he had awesome matches, especially with Flair. Those Flair-Steamboat matches from 1989 were among the best I have ever seen.
Rick  What past wrestler could have been great if he didnt self-destruct?
John  For me, I would say Art Barr, The Love Machine. In the early 90s, he was the top drawing heel in the world while working for the AAA promotion in Mexico. Theres no telling how bigger he could have become had he not died at age 28 in 1994.
observer  Why is Hansen ranked so high? He is one of the best foreign workers to appear in Japan, but I think Destroyer has greater historical significance. And why are Misawa and Choshu ranker higher than Tsuruta?
John  I think Hansen, with the possible exception of Bruiser Brody, was the best drawing heel ever in Japan. He really paved the way for American heavyweights that followed him to Japan. Misawa and Choshu are rated higher because Tsuruta did a lot of damage to his legacy with the last few years of his career when he was doing comedy matches due to his poor health. I think that hurt him somewhat.
Nathan  Do you think HHH realises the damage hes causing to the WWE?
John  Yes i do, I just think he doesnt care. Hes opnly concerned about protecting his own spot on the roster, and not about the overall health of the WWE.
Ali  Whose the best manager of all time?
John  There were so many. For me, because I grew up watching Jim Crockett Promotions, my favourite will always be JJ Dillon. I was also big on The Grand Wizard, Gary Hart, Jim Cornette and Jimmy Hart (when he was in Memphis). But Id have to say the greatest of all-time was Bobby Heenan. He was just a super manager that took incredible bumps and got more heat on his guys than anybody else I ever saw.
DTCutting  John, what are your future plans? More books? More magazine articles? Another lucha newsletter?
John  Probably more books. Id reall like to do a book on the history of Lucha Libre and wretsling in Mexico, or a biography of El Santo. I dont think I would ever do another newsletter again because its just too time consuming.
neal  Who was the best interview of all time?
John  Again, thats so tough because its like comparing apples to oranges. Interview styles are so different. I liked Cornette and Heenan because they were so funny, and Nick Bockwinkel because he didnt shout at the top of his lungs, he just talked plainly in an artciulate fashion. For me, two guys standout: Flair, because his interviews were so emotional and so out of control, and The Destroyer, because I loved how he used to say he had a college degree from Syracuse Unvirsity, and not some busch-league college from the west coast. Really funny stuff.
Blair  Hi John - great to meet you the other night at Border City Wrestling show. Great book! My question is, if memory serves, neither The Honky Tonk Man or Jake Roberts made it into the book... I would think at least HM would have made the list somewhere, having been IC champ for such a long run and being one of the top heels of the late 80s. Thoughts?
John  HTM was never considered. Outside of his run as IC champ, he was never a main event star in a top promotion.
MUN  What is you alltime favorite WWF match?? WCW??Any other Leagues??
John  Fav WWF match would have to be Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid from MSG in the early 80s. Favorite WCW match would have to be Flair-Fujinami from 91 (the cover of the book). Fav AAA (Mexico) match would be El Hijo del Santo Octagon vs Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr from the When Worlds Collide PPV in 1994.
Kiddo  Why is Hogan so high on your list?
John  Its funny you say that, because most people have told me hes too low. They cant understand how hes not No.1.
Dave  Who are your biggest influences as a writer?
John  Umm. As far as other journalist and writers, I would say people Iv read for years like Mike Mooneyham, Dave Meltzer and Alex Marvez. I have a world of respect for them and theyve influenced my style, especially Dave. Mike Tenay, too. Jeff Marek, Greg Oilver and John Powell, becase they helped me in so many facets of my career to help get my name out there. But I would say the biggest influence would be my parents. I learned the value of hard work from them. My brother Anthony too.
Buzz  When researching this book, what shocked you the most?
John  Nothing really. I knew a lot of the history, so nothing really caught me off guard or took me by surprise.
John  Moderator: Thats all the time we have today. Thanks to John for taking the time to answer your questions, and to everyone who stopped by to chat. Let us know what you think of the new chat system by e-mailing gwinson@canoe.ca. Now heres John with the last word.

John  Thanks to everybody for coming by. Hope you rush out and buy the book (because I can use the royalty cheques). No seriosuly, Im grateful to hear from everybody who liked the book (and even those who didn;t like it). The book seems to have generated a lot of discussion, which is always a good thing. Thanks to all of you, and especially to Greg Winson and everybody at SLAM! for welcoming back to do this chat. Its been a nice renunion ot sorts. See you all later.