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7 Superstars Shining Brightly

Wrestling Digest,  Feb, 2001  by Steve Anderson

The WWF's "Magnificent Seven" are the embodiment of true champions

SUPERSTARS--THE WWF LOVES the term. Since the mid-1980s, the federation has resisted referring to its athletes as wrestlers; they are superstars. These superstars do more than wrestle. They endorse products, appear on talk shows, and star in major motion pictures and highly rated television programs.

Ever since the WWF burst into the mainstream with the advent of Rock and Wrestling in 1984, the federation has been defined by its champions. Today, WWF world champions have made the transition into mainstream entertainment and enjoy worldwide popularity. They walk the fine line between celebrity and ring warrior. Some have walked it better than others. And some have done it magnificently.

The "Magnificent Seven," as we has deemed them, have been ranked in ascending order based on their mat skills, their mic skills, their activities away from wrestling, and their championship reigns.


ON THE MAT: No one will mistake Mick Foley for a mat marvel. His strength has been and always will be his ability to bump. His life-threatening and crowd-popping stunts have made him a "hardcore legend," but they also have also shortened his active ring career.

ON THE STICK: Combining humor and self-deprecation, Foley pokes more fun at himself than he does at his antagonists. Now, as the WWF commissioner, he is free to be his fun-loving self and create some of the more hilarious moments in the history of the federation.

BEYOND THE MAT: Foley is wrestling's true Renaissance Man. He penned a best-selling autobiography ("Mankind: Have a Nice Day!") and a soon-to-be-released children's book ("Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos"). His television appearances have included MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch," CBS's "Now and Again," USA's "G vs. E," and ABC's "Boy Meets World? He was also one of the main subjects in the feature documentary "Beyond The Mat."

WEARING THE STRAP (THREE TITLES: DECEMBER 29, 1998; JANUARY 26, 1999; AUGUST 22, 1999): His first title reign was dramatic. The second win was entertaining. The third was shocking, because no one expected him to upend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at SummerSlam. Foley's stints as WWF champion were not lengthy, but he did prove that anyone, despite self-perceived deficiencies in talent and appearance, can become the WWF standard-bearer if he has enough charisma.

FINAL BELL: Foley knew it was time to step aside and think about his future after the "fatal four-way" at Wrestlemania on April 2, 2000. His battered body would only deteriorate more from risk-taking bumps and stiff chairshots. Injured or healthy, Foley, more than anyone, represents wrestling's "everyman."


THE MAT: Shawn Michaels combined high-flying maneuvers with solid technical skills. He has carried limited musclemen to great matches and held his own against scientific wrestlers such as Bret Hart. To this day, he still ranks near the top of all-time workers.

ON THE STICK: Michaels' 1992 heel turn truly was the spark he needed for his microphone work. Once bland on the "stick," the "Heartbreak Kid" became colorful, cocky, and eventually risque.

BEYOND THE MAT: Despite his good looks, Michaels never truly capitalized on a career outside the ring. In fairness, WWF business was down during his championship reigns. He made appearances on USA's "Pacific Blue" and the syndicated "Baywatch."

WEARING THE STRAP (THREE: MARCH 31, 1996; JANUARY 19, 1997; NOVEMBER 9, 1997): Michaels' title reigns were fraught with controversy. His second stint as champion ended with his infamous "lost my smile" speech on February 13, 1997. The third reign began under equally controversial circumstances when Vince McMahon "screwed" Bret Hart at the 1997 Survivor Series.

FINAL BELL: Michaels' breakneck style entertained the fans but ended his career prematurely at Wrestlemania 14. Fans never got to see Michaels realize his true potential as a WWF champion and standard-bearer.


ON THE MAT: Since becoming the WWF champion, Triple H has not rested on his proverbial laurels. While mid-card matches may steal shows, his main-event bouts stand out as memorable, match-of-the-year encounters. His offense is exciting, while his "defense" allows his opponents to shine.

ON THE STICK: He tried to primp, preen and genuflect. He even tried an accent. But when "blueblood" Hunter Hearst Helmsley evolved into Triple H, he emerged as an effective spokesman for D-Generation X, along with various "corporations" and "factions."

BEYOND THE MAT: Triple H has gained a tremendous amount of mainstream exposure, portraying Cameron Russell on UPN's "Grown Ups" and the Disciplinarian on ABC's "The Drew Carey Show." He also appeared on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

WEARING THE STRAP (FOUR: AUGUST 23, 1999; SEPTEMBER 26, 1999; JANUARY 3, 2000; MAY 21, 2000): His first two title reigns were uneventful, as he lost to two unlikely contenders: Vince McMahon and the Big Show. His third title reign was uncharacteristically long (nearly four months) in today's era of constant tide changes.