The Most Recognized Professional Wrestlers, According to YouGov
YouGov Ratings is a bold attempt to quantify what America thinks. I thought I would check out to see which former professional wrestlers were the most recognized to the general public. This could be a “Most Popular Wrestler of All Time List”. At the very least, it is which wrestlers have the highest brand name recognition. (It is a work in progress as votes are cast every day, and YouGov adds names to the database.)
YouGov Ratings show the voter the name and photo, and the voter votes either Thumbs Up, Neutral, Thumbs Down, or Never Heard of. I have voted many times, so I can vouch that it is a real survey.
So I looked up a bunch of pro wrestlers and subtracted their “Never Heard Of” percentage from 100%, to get the percentage of Americans who either voted Thumbs Up, Down, or Neutral (i.e. they have heard of the person). As of April 2018, around 4000 - 4500 votes were cast for these wrestlers:
Hulk Hogan 95%
Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” 94%
John Cena 79%
Stone Cold Steve Austin 78%
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey 68%
“Macho Man” Randy Savage 65%
Vince McMahon 63%
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair 62%
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper: 53%
Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes 49%
Triple H 49%
Chris Jericho 47%
Linda McMahon 47%
Brock Lesnar: 40%
Jerry “The King: Lawler: 38%
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka: 37%
“Captain Lou” Albano: 37%
“Ravishing” Ric Rude: 37%
Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart: 32%
Gorilla Monsoon: 29%
Hulk still rules! Even with Dwayne Johnson being an A-List celebrity, Hulk Hogan is still The Man.
Brock Lesnar is surprising, but many other UFC stars have low brand ratings as well. It’s hard to believe if you are a fight fan. Same with Ronda, but according to Google Trends, the general public had peaked its interest when the media hyped the two losses.
You’d think with Chris Jericho being a podcaster and musician, he’d be in the 60%’s.
John Cena may not be as recognizable as he thinks he is. For a guy who was the face of the modern era of WWE for decades, has become a Youtube meme, is in video games, and has just branched out in TV and movies in the last few years- he still has a lot of work to do. Granted, he is in a good position to start a new career in Hollywood, but it is interesting how he is nowhere near the 90%’s yet. I wonder where Nikki Bella (reality shows) would rank.
Steve Austin- who hasn’t wrestled full time since the early 2000s- is still solid, and his successful podcast and cable TV appearances can’t hurt. Of course, one has to imagine an alternate reality where Austin gets the Hollywood push instead of Dwayne Johnson, but Austin is still up there. When you consider he really got hot in 1997 and “only” kinda had a 4–5 year run on top of the WWE, the fact that he’s neck to neck with Cena is telling. However it is interesting that he is not close to Hogan’s legacy in 2018, even though Austin was on the highest rated RAWs, sold more t-shirts, and still involved in wrestling as a pundit.
For a billionaire CEO who has been in the general’s public eye since the 1980s, Vince McMahon is also a tad lower than expected.
Randy Savage’s rating is awesome considering he was ignored by the WWE for so long, was pretty much out of the wrestling spotlight as of 2000, and passed away in 2011. Seriously, it shows you how iconic he is.
Ric Flair is just where I expected him. He’s often on top of many “Best Wrestlers of All Time Lists” and respected by his peers and wrestling journalists, but he never really branched out into the mainstream.
I’d be shocked if 37% of all Americans actually know who Ric Rude was, so some statistical normalization still needs to happen over time with this survey, but it still interesting how the 1980s stars are still legendary, thanks to NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Event, the early WrestleManias, video tapes of the day, and even LJN action figures.
Unfortunately, the number of wrestlers in the pool isn’t large yet, and one has to wonder why some were selected over Jesse Ventura, Dave Bautista,The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant, and many others.
Just as a joke, I looked up a couple of wrestling celebrities for comparison:
Mr. T 93%
Andy Kaufman 69%