Ranking The 10 Best British Wrestlers Of All Time


Hamish Woodward

The countdown of the best British wrestlers of all time is in, with the top ten finally taking their place!

This list compromises the best wrestlers from various background. Whether it is the best in the ring, the most interesting characters or the most influential, all factors have been considered in this list.

If you think we’ve missed anybody out of this list, let us know in the comment section below!

10. Big Daddy

While he was not the most technically gifted wrestlers in the world, Big Daddy is undoubtably an all-time great character in British wrestling.

Born Shirley Crabtree, the super-heavyweight found success as the John Bull-type character of Big Daddy.

With his big belly, glittery hat and gaggle of kids chasing him to the ring, it was hard not to love Daddy.

He became perhaps the most famous wrestler in history in the UK. A reported 16 million fans tuned in to see his clashes with Giant Haystacks, and the likes of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher were said to be fans of the star.

While he was pretty terrible in the ring, no-one has captured the zeitgest like Big Daddy did.

9. Johnny Saint

While his claim of being the world champion for 20 years straight wasn’t quite as impressive as it first seemed, Saint was one of the premier lightweight wrestlers for over two decades in the UK and Europe.

He is noted to have inspired wrestlers like William Regal and Daniel Bryan. The WWE brought him in train others at the performance centre. He was then made the general manager of NXT UK, six decades after debuting in wrestling.

Inside the ring, he was noted as one of the finest technical wrestlers of all time.

Many have noted that nobody was ever as smooth as Saint in the ring. He was called “the man of 1000 holds” in his heyday, a very apt nickname indeed.

8. Drew McIntyre

Being the first Briton to win the WWE Championship is an accolade that nobody else in history can match, and a big part of why Drew McIntyre is rated so highly.

The Scottish star had two runs in the WWE. The first saw him labelled “the chosen one”, although he failed to live up to that moniker. He was fired in 2014, and found a new lease on life on the UK indie scene.

Upon his return to the UK, he became one of the company’s biggest stars. A Royal Rumble win was followed by two WWE Championship victories.

McIntyre also main evented the first stadium wrestling show for 30 years. He faced Roman Reigns at Cardiff’s Clash at the Castle, losing in controversial fashion in the Millennium Stadium.

7. Les Kellett

When you talk about the best British wrestlers of all time, all styles need to be considered.

As such, not including the world’s greatest comedy wrestler would be a shameful omission. And Les Kellett is just that – a clown of the wrestling world, in the best way possible.

Nobody could command the crowd like he did. He had them in the palm of his hand, laughing throughout the match and beyond.

While he was a much different character behind the curtain, there is no doubt Kellett was an all-time great British wrestler.

6. Kendo Nagasaki

One of the greatest characters in wrestling in Kendo Nagasaki. The Japanese (well, Englishman in a mask) wrestler was an enigma in his day, with the mystery surrounding his identity one of the great wrestling mysteries.

He was one of the top heels in country for over a decade. Nagasaki boasted supernatural powers, including the ability to hypnotise his opponents during his matches.

Nagasaki was one of the top draws in the country, with his bouts against Big Daddy some of the most popular in ITV history.

His career wasn’t without its issues, with his unmasking in 1977 almost ruining the character completely. However, he managed to get the mask back on and recovered to continue wrestling for decades.

5. Billy Robinson

Throughout his legendary 34-year career, Billy Robinson was considered one of the finest technical wrestlers in history.

The Englishman became a star in Britain, America and Japan, and is considered one of the greatest “catch-as-catch can” wrestlers in the history of the sport.

Robinson even wrestled against Japanese icon Antonio Inoki in 1975 in a match dubbed “The Match Between the World’s Top Two Technicians”.

While it was high praise to be compared to Inoki, Robinson’s greatest accolade was probably the students he trained. He is responsibly for the careers of some of the all-time greats, including Marty Jones, Johnny Saint, The Iron Shiek and Ric Flair, to name but a few.

4. William Regal

One of the few Brits to make a big impact on the United States is William Regal.

He came through the circus tents in Blackpool to wrestling on TV as Big Daddy’s tag team partner. While this seems like a good deal, he left this opportunity to move to the US, signing for World Championship Wrestling.

He helped bring the British style of wrestling to the US, although drug issues hampered his career. He did achieve many championships in the WWE, including winning the Intercontinental Championship and King of the Ring in 2008.

There were plans for Regal to win the WWE Championship that year, but drug issues stopped him becoming the first ever WWE Champion.

3. British Bulldog

Davey Boy Smith, better known as the British Bulldog, is one of the best wrestlers of all time.

Whether it be tearing it up as Young Davey on World of Sport, as a team with Dynamite Kid or in the main event of Wembley Stadium against Bret Hart, British Bulldog was an icon of wrestling.

Smith was probably the most popular Brit while State-side. He was a huge star during the 1980s, challenging for the WWF Championship multiple times in his career.

His career was effectively ended he landed on a trapdoor in the ring in WCW 1998. This even caused the drug addiction that would later kill him.

Despite this, he remains an icon of the sport and an all-time Great British wrestler.

2. Dynamite Kid

The Wigan-born Dynamite Kid is one of the most influential wrestlers in history.

Real name Tom Billington, he wrestled all over the world after making his start in the music halls of Great Britain.

He compensated for his smaller stature by working harder than anyone else (as well as indulging in the occasional steroid use).

This intense desire to prove himself saw him craft some of the best matches ever seen. His match against Tiger Mask (Sammy Lee) in New Japan is heralded as a match that inspired countless modern-day grappler.

While behind the scenes he was known as a horrible, horrible man, one he stepped through the curtain there were few better than the Dynamite Kid.

1. Will Ospreay

Despite only just turning 30, Will Ospreay has quickly established himself as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the United Kingdom.

He began in his career in Britain, as one of the top high-flyers in the country.

Ospreay moved to Japan in 2016 after impressing in matches against AJ Styles and Kazuchika Okada. He became a huge star in NJPW, starring first in the junior heavyweight division, then moving up to the heavyweight class.

The Englishman made history as the first Briton to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, a testament to his talent in the ring.

No wrestler has had more five-star matches, according to the Wrestling Observer. Ospreay overtook Okada in 2022 to earn have the most classic matches of all time.

Now in AEW, the Essex lad has even more opportunities to cement his legacy. It may be early in his career, but Will Ospreay is undoubtably the greatest British wrestler of all time.


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