If drawing power or championships don't make the greatest ever, maybe it's the way a performer leaves his mark on the business. I just watched Impact back from this week. Hulk Hogan got choked up as he was announcing his retirement. I gotta say, I was actually pretty impressed with the sentiment. Fact is, I'm actually looking forward to the match now, where I might not have been before. And even though I can predict a rather marginal showing, I'm willing to believe he's looking to go above and beyond for this one last shot. There are few in this business who have worked with Hogan longer than Sting and as closely.
The photograph of the greatest ever continues to morph as each legend steps out of the ring and into the history books. Gorilla Monsoon, Owen Hart, Junkyard Dog, Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels.....all great names with a very long list of accolades both professionally and personally. The things they all had in common? Passion, pride, and a longing for the pop of the crowd...a genuine love for the fans.
So....how do you rate the greatest ever? I admit, I have no idea. The way a legend leaves the ring is very telling about how much love there is for the business. When Shawn Michaels left the ring for the last time, it was at the right time. He was still able to go, but he was set; having had two amazing runs and over 20 years invested. HBK is now among the elite.
Ric Flair is still listed in the top few ever, but his story hasn't been so charmed as of the more recent past. A life of excess has left him needing to perform even after the lights and glitz of the Hall of Fame had faded. Tear filled good byes from WWE's top tier were well received, but has the retirement fakeout been a black mark on his record? In my opinion, no. His contributions to TNA have been invaluable, giving a few of their top talents a rub that elevated them to a higher level.
Championships, drawing power, legacy......might there even be something else to contribute to the title of the greatest ever? There may just be something more.....