Greatest Professional Wrestling Champions Before Vince McMahon

Some of pro wrestling's greatest champions before the sport fell victim to VMS (Vince McMahon Syndrome).

The Top Ten

1 Lou Thesz Lou Thesz Aloysius Martin "Lou" Thesz was an American professional wrestler and six-time world champion, most notably holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times.

While I respect Bruno Sammartino, I feel that Thesz did more for wrestling on a global scale than Bruno did. He was the first Undisputed World Champion and the youngest. He helped out Rikidozan to get AJPW started, and established the NWA as the dominant organization in the U.S. Even Vince McMahon Sr. looked at the NWA Title as THE WORLD Title in wrestling.

2 Bruno Sammartino Bruno Sammartino

2-time WWWF Champion, holds longest reign as champion. Also a 211-time headliner at Madison Square Garden, including 187 sellouts.

3 Verne Gagne Verne Gagne Laverne Clarence Gagne was an American professional wrestler, football player, wrestling trainer, and wrestling promoter.

10-time AWA Champion, 4-time AWA Tag Team Champion, and also won numerous NWA regional titles

4 Bronko Nagurski Bronko Nagurski Bronislau "Bronko" Nagurski was a Canadian-born American football player, renowned for his strength and size.

Pro Football Hall Of Famer with 2 NWA World Titles to his name

5 Pedro Morales Pedro Morales

First WWWF Triple Crowner (WWWF, WWWF Intercontinental and WWWF Tag Team titles)

6 Gene Kiniski

NWA and AWA World Champion and numerous regional titles

7 Danny Hodge

2-time NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion

8 Buddy Rogers Buddy Rogers
9 Ed Strangler Lewis
10 Johnny DeFazio

4-time WWWF Junior Heavyweight Champion

The Contenders

11 Frank Gotch

Early pioneer of the sport, second longest World Heavyweight title reign (1908-1913) behind Bruno Sammartino

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