Sports lists are one of the great things about sports. They elicit conversation, debate, anger, laughter, joy, basically everything that sports gives you, but after the fact. With that being said, I believe I have come up with one of the more fun lists to discuss and debate. This is my ALL TIME LIST OF COOL WRESTLERS!!! What is cool though? Much like the definition of cool, this list is 100% subjective, and I reserve the right to make up my own reasoning for each individual over another. With that being said, here are some of my criteria.
- Would I like to drink beer with this person? If the answer is yes, they have a shot. If the answer is Fuck Yes, then they are most likely on the list.
- Does this person have their own shoe? Yes helps, but simply wearing cool shoes is helpful as well. Really, having some sort of distinguishable characteristic with their wardrobe is what I'm going for with this. Kyven Gadson's Iowa State robe with "Gadson" shaved into the back of his head is strong to quite strong in this criteria.
- Reputation. This is pretty self explanatory. If you have a reputation for being too intense or laser focused on winning, you probably aren't going to make this list. Guess what though, if that's your focus, you probably don't care about not making this anyway. If you have youtube clips where you are cracking jokes and people genuinely to appear to enjoy your company. You've made it.
- You should have won something. An NCAA Title or world title would help, but really it's not necessarily what I'm going for here. All American's are really solid for this list.
That about does it. I'm going to go through college weight classes, as best I can (some of the weight classes are different now from back in the day, so I just put those peeps in the closest class), and made my all time cool team. Without further adieu, let's begin with the little dudes.
125, Paul Donahoe - This one was easy for me. Being from Michigan, I had the pleasure of going to Fargo with Brent Metcalf and Paul Donahoe. They didn't know I was there, because why would they, but I watched them kick ass and have fun while doing it. Donahoe won an NCAA Championship at Nebraska, and then was at Edinboro shortly thereafter. I'm not going to go into why that happened, but it's a wild story, the gist of which you can get if you Google image Paul Donahoe. Either way, a cool dude who is doing great things in Michigan with youth programs and developing talent. #TeamDonahoe.
133, Scotti Sentes - Scotti is the lone person on this list that I have actually had the pleasure of hanging out socially with. Steve Sentes, the older brother of Scotti, attended the University of Michigan and was a friend of mine while he attended. While in Philly, watching the NCAA Championships a couple years back, Steve, myself, and some mutual friends joined the Chips for some post tournament dinner and drinks. Coincidentally, Scotti lost to the person least likely to be on this list, Andrew Long. Needless to say, it was a hoot. Scotti, and the rest of the Chippewas were great to hang out with, and I may, or may not have, had to buy a round of shots after losing a chugging competition. Good times, and a well deserved spot for the now Assistant Coach at Cal Poly.
141, Bobby Douglas - I was stretching a bit to get Bobby to cut down to 141, but I needed him on this list. I read his Biography that came out a couple of years ago, and that thing was wild! He is still one of the greatest coaches in NCAA History, Per his Wikipedia page, "He accumulated a career record of 303-17-7 (.953) from his high school days through his World Championship competition." Are you fucking joking? Nope. He coached Cael Sanderson to an undefeated college career. He had a couple of stories that I absolutely loved. One of which was that when he was coaching at ASU, he travelled to Ann Arbor to recruit Zeke Jones (who wrestled for Ann Arbor Huron High School, the River Rats), Douglas ended up getting drunk with Jones' parents and passing out on their couch. I can relate. Also, he told Cael that if he didn't like the pressure or going undefeated, to simply lose a match. It's his choice if he wants the pressure or not. Finally, he told Cael that if he wanted to be an Olympic Champion, he needed to do 50 pullups per day. That last one just seems so arbitrary and simple, but for whatever reason, Cael bought in. Either way, Bobby Douglas seems like a character, one who I would like to hang out with.
149, Eric Grajales - Being from Ann Arbor, you know that a Michigan Wrestler had to make the list. Eric was a character to say the least. I picked him to win the NCAA Championship both his Junior and Senior seasons. Why? Because the dude had more talent than anyone else out there! He was great to watch though. He would saunter back to the center of the mat, he would give up two on ones and leave his leg available, just WAITING for someone to try to take it. He would lose matches he should have won, and win matches that others thought he should lose. He was pure entertainment! Also, I coached a young man who wrestled with Eric at Michigan. Through context clues, I have discerned that Eric IS in fact a blast to hang out with, and I hope to do so. Cheers to Eric Grajales and never losing an MMA fight!
157, Bubba Jenkins - Tell me with a straight face that you don't think that Bubba would be a blast to go out with. If you can do that, then you probably are also not fun to go out with. Hanging out with characters is what makes this list fun. Would Bubba talk shit? Absolutely he would. That's one of my favorite things to do. He wore tricked out shoes, had that elbow pad which didn't appear to actually serve a purpose, not to mention the headgear which protected his corn rows. Since being the first person to destroy David Taylor's dreams, he has been destroying people's faces inside a cage. Bubba Jenkins makes this list easily, beating out Matt Hughes and Dylan Ness for the top spot.
165, Dave Schultz - Dave makes this list because you can't find one person who has ever said, "Dave was kind of an ass hole." When I am dead, I promise you will find plenty of people who could say that, but I haven't heard anyone say it. In fact, I have heard that he was so genuinely enjoyable and pleasant to be around, that everyone felt that they were his best friend. Dave Schultz is absolutely on my list of people you wish you could have dinner with that you can't. Off the top of my head, it's Dave, Andre the Giant, and Wilt Chamberlain (reportedly Wilt and Andre were already friends, which would make this dinner less awkward). Also, with that group I would have the freedom (not that I would) to instigate any fight that I want and not have to worry about anything!
174, Royce Alger - Royce is the reason that I came up with this list. Two time NCAA Champion, undefeated in his final 78 matches at Iowa, and looks like he had more fun doing it than anyone ever. He has openly spoken about wanting to have a career as a stand up comic (ME TOO), at World Team camps would randomly make the horn noises and do the chants for IRAN to "replicate the environment". Straight up, the dude seems like he would have more stories to tell about his life than there is time. He's one of those people who you would love to drink beers with and listen to his stories, but you would be worried that you would enjoy yourself too much and not remember all the gems that he would have to share. Either way, that's a risk I'm willing to take. Royce, let's grab a drink. First round is on me.
184, Jake Herbert - For real, the name for that Jpeg online is HerbertMullet_Large. This is one of the many images for Jake. The images alternate between him kicking the shit out of someone, or doing something funny. Who wouldn't want to spend an hour talking shit with Jake Herbert? If you made it this far through this, I trust you agree with me. The dude is a two time NCAA Champ, Olympic Silver Medalist, and runs a bad ass clothing company; Double Leg Ninja, http://doublelegninja.com/
I have heard a couple of quotes from Jake that I appreciated. One was him discussing how much more important it is to get young kids involved with gymnastics at an early age than wrestling, to avoid burning out the kid at an early age, while also creating an athlete. Additionally, I have heard him talk about his journey through training for the Olympics and starting a clothing company, essentially something original to add to a resume. Whatever career he chooses to do when his wrestling career is over, that line of work will be lucky to have a cerebral and hard working person. I suggest that you check yourself before you wreck yourself if you disagree with this choice.
197, Cael Sanderson - Was there any doubt that Cael was going to make the list? We have plenty of characters and crazy people on the list, but now we need the ultimate winner. I recently brought up on the podcast that there is something that Cael is doing at Penn State to develop and culture and attitude in that room and program. This culture is focused on winning and developing, but it appears to have less of the scary intensity that you can sometimes get from the Brands. It is soft spoken, but has a Jedi like ability to get refs to change their minds and calls. Cael clearly has a level of charisma that draws people in and helps them grow as people. I want to be around that. Also, Cael used to chase tornado's in Iowa, which seems awesome. Sorry you didn't make the spot Kyven, but at least you got a shout out.
Heavyweight, Kurt Angle - This dude has had one hell of a run. From NCAA Championships, to Olympic Gold, to WWF/E, to more world championships. Shit, I just want to hang out with him and hear his story. Full disclosure, it was between Angle and Brock Lesnar. In the end, I'm still pretty terrified of Lesnar, and I feel like Angle would be less frightening to hang out with. Why doesn't Kurt Angle have his own wrestling shoe? How the hell does Rulon "The Biggest Loser" Gardner get his own shoe, and Kurt Angle, the Brands Brothers, Kendall Cross, and other champs don't get a shoe. If you were a bad ass wrestler in the 90's, you got the shaft.
Well that does it. That completes my All Time Cool Team. Were there better wrestlers out there, for many of the weight classes, probably. Were there other people that would be able to tear up a city like this team? Never. With that being said, it's probably never going to happen. However, if you all would like to get together and set up a surprise party with Tommy and I, I'm sure we'd be down.