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  Dec 26, 1999

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Wrestling with the past

By GLENN COLE -- Toronto Sun

  The 1900s will soon pass into history. So after a few weeks absence, the wrestling column returns with a look at a personal list of top 20 favourites from the squared circle.

 Some you may remember, some you know well:

 - 1. Edouard Carpentier: The Flying Frenchman who thrilled audiences all over the world with his acrobatic style. He was a true gentleman of the ring who thrived in the 1960s and 1970s.

 - 2. Ric Flair: To be the man, you have to beat the man and Flair continually did that, particularly in the hey-days of the old NWA.

 - 3. Killer Kowalski: A favourite arch-villain from Windsor who played the role well. His claw hold was a classic and Kowalski was very athletic for a big man.

 - 4. Owen Hart: A reluctant star who was one of the most athletic performers in the business.

 - 5. Mick Foley: More people became aware of him when he joined the WWF as the character Mankind, although Foley also was quite popular in the U.S. as Cactus Jack. To do what he has done is amazing.

 - 6. Chris Benoit: WCW did not always realize what a hot property it had in the Montreal-born, Edmonton-raised star. Benoit always is entertaining to watch.

 - 7. Argentina Rocca: He was another acrobatic star from the 1960s.

 - 8. Stone Cold Steve Austin: More of an entertainer than a classical wrestler, but he revived sagging WWF fortunes when it turned him loose.

 - 9. Bret Hart: The excellence of execution says it all.

 - 10. Abdullah the Butcher: He always came prepared to eat with fork in hand. The Butcher changed geographical perspective forever. Exactly when did Windsor become part of the Sudan?

 - 11. Shawn Michaels: The Heartbreak Kid became more of a showman in the WWF, but some of his in-ring battles, including the ladder match with Razor Ramon, were classics. His presence is missed.

 - 12. Bulldog Brower: The perfect old-style villain was often featured on the late Lord Athol Layton's wrestling shows on CTV stations.

 - 13. Andre the Giant: An awesome sight -- especially at the beginning of his career when he could move around more -- because there were so few big men wrestling at the time.

 - 14. The Rock (Rocky Maivia): Simply put, the WWF's future rests on the shoulders of this great showman.

 - 15. Greg Gagne: He followed in his father's footsteps to the ring and became one of the best from the defunct AWA .

 - 16. Maurice (Mad Dog) Vachon: Was a piece of when he was in his prime. Mad Dog had many classic battles in Montreal with Kowalski.

 - 17. Scott Hall: He did more in the AWA and as Razor Ramon in the WWF than he does now in WCW -- a lot more.

 - 18. Sid Vicious: A free spirit if there ever was one but when he sets his mind to it, Vicious can often be a top performer in any organization.

 - 19. Rowdy Roddy Piper: While he may never go down as one of the greatest in the ring, no one has done anything as successful as Piper's Pit. It was special.

 - 20. The Sheik: No more need to be said.

 Now just a reminder that this is a personal list and that is why some of the names of yesteryear do pop in.

 There are men such as Hulk Hogan, Whipper Billy Watson, Angelo Mosca, Nick Bockwinkle and Baron van Raschke that don't appear, but 20 people could compile such a list and none of them would be the same.

 There are those fans who put a premium on the entertainment aspect of wrestling while some put the onus on athletic ability, which many of the names on this list have or had in the ring.

 Enjoy the holiday season.