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Late 90s wrestling undoubtedly had us glued to our TV screens every single week. The urge to watch our favourite wrestling characters (now Former WWE Wrestlers) and the development of storylines revolving around them was second to none. Wrestlers of the 90s had more creative freedom as compared to the wrestlers of the current era. Due to this, 90’s WWF Wrestlers were able to connect effectively with the audience.
The Attitude era, which came into existence with the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and after the Montreal Screwjob incident involving Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, referee Earl Hebner and Vince McMahon, is still regarded as one of the best eras of professional wrestling.
While it’s difficult to grasp the fact, the 90s era has been long gone and most of the 90’s WWF wrestlers, including The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Razor Ramon, Cactus Jack/Mankind/Mick Foley etc. have either retired or been restricted to just occasional appearances. Some of the former WWE Wrestlers of the late 80s and early 90s have also passed away e.g. Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior etc.
However, a number of 90s and 2000s wrestlers are still working a full-time (or close) schedule. These performers have not allowed age to catch up with them just yet. They have proven that although they are past their primes, they still have enough in the tank to hang with the best of today. Therefore, they have made it clear that their pro wrestling careers are far from over.
Without any further ado, here are 5 of the best wrestlers of the 90s who are still performing actively.
#5 Rob Van Dam:
Rob Van Dam needs no introduction whatsoever. Although he is more notably known for his WWF/WWE run in the early 2000s, he was the crown jewel of Extreme Wrestling Championship in the 90s and spent a big chunk of his career there. After the demise of ECW in 2001, Van Dam signed with WWF where he defeated the likes of The Undertaker, Kane, The Rock and others in his debut year.
Despite having so much potential, Van Dam could never fully capitalize on it due to injuries, backstage politics and drug possessions. At one time, he held both the WWE as well as the ECW Championship. However, a drug-related incident in 2006 caused WWE to derail his push and his wrestling career only went in the downward direction from there.
Rob Van Dam was also the subject of backstage politics during his initial years in WWE. Van Dam was in line to win the World Heavyweight Championship at one point in 2002. According to various rumours however, Triple H used his backstage influence to keep him down. By 2002, The Cerebral Assassin had already developed a reputation among the officials, after establishing himself as one of the top 90’s WWF Wrestlers.
Regardless of the obstacles, The Whole Dam Show still actively performs. Although he is among the Former WWE Wrestlers, he currently wrestles in Impact Wrestling nowadays along with his ECW colleagues Rhino and Tommy Dreamer. Impact Wrestling (formerly known as TNA) realizes how valuable of an asset Van Dam is to their company and how they can use one of the top 90s wrestlers to improve their product. He has stated that his current deal with Impact expires in January.
#4 and #3 The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff):
Many Tag Teams made up of real-life brothers have come and gone but the impact made by The Hardy Boyz is still unreachable. Matt and Jeff Hardy competed against various 90’s WWF wrestlers before signing with the WWF in 1998. Along with The Dudley Boyz and E&C (Edge and Christian), they revolutionized the Tag Team division. The Hardy Boyz was put on a show-stealing performance night-in and night-out. They added an Extreme touch to the Tag Team Division during the Attitude Era.
After splitting up in 2002, the brothers achieved success as individual performers as well. Jeff turned out to be more successful, bagging multiple world title reigns while Matt remained a prominent mid-card talent. Matt and Jeff Hardy’s wrestling history with WWE has been quite rocky. WWE fired Jeff Hardy in 2003 and cut ties with Matt two years later, in 2005, before rehiring the brothers in 2006 and 2005 respectively. Interestingly, they once again parted ways with WWE to head over to TNA.
After competing in various Wrestling promotions, The Hardy Boyz returned to WWE in 2017 as a tag team. They split up later that year due to Jeff’s injury, but once again joined forces this year and won the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships. Unfortunately, their reign didn’t last long due to yet another injury suffered by Jeff. Currently, Jeff is recovering after undergoing surgery and Matt sporadically wrestles on un-televised Live Events. The brothers are still listed as full-time performers. It is only a matter of time before the veteran tag team once again dominates the Tag Team division of WWE.
It should also be pointed out here that before returning to WWE two years ago, Matt Hardy finally became a main event player in TNA/Impact Wrestling. He was given full creative control over his character. He underwent different character changes such as the Broken Matt and Big Money Matt (different from Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Man gimmick).
As for Jeff Hardy, he enjoyed successful stints in TNA both times WWE released him from his contract. During the late 2000s, TNA was recruiting many former WWE wrestlers and Jeff (still in his prime at that time) perfectly fitted the mould. He also overcame his addiction problems there. He decided to take this step after appearing under the influence at a TNA pay-per-view (Victory Road 2011), causing a scene.
#2 Rey Mysterio:
The master of 619 is extremely popular with the kids, both of past and present. Before joining WWE in 2002, he competed in WCW. Mysterio had quite a memorable career in the now-defunct promotion. The moment where he took off his mask after losing against The Outsiders is still talked about to this day. Although he wasn’t a main event player back then, the list of the best wrestlers of the 90s is incomplete without mentioning his name.
After Eddie Guerrero passed away in late 2005, WWE promoted Rey Mysterio to the main event scene. He started 2006 by winning the Royal Rumble match and spent a record-breaking 62 minutes to win the bout. He then proceeded to capture the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 22 by defeating Randy Orton and Kurt Angle. Mysterio reigned as the World Champion for more than three months.
Once he dropped the Title to King Booker, WWE relegated Mysterio to the mid-card scene and he continued to perform there until his release in 2014. The master of 619 then made his presence felt in the Independent Circuit. Although he wasn’t among the 90’s WWF Wrestlers, his WCW legacy was enough to get him recognition around the globe.
Fast forward to September 2019, Mysterio is back in WWE and still continues to perform full-time. He has recently become a Grand Slam Champion. Currently, he is preparing for his son Dominic to make his WWE debut and form a tag team with him. Mysterio has openly admitted that he is all set to retire from professional wrestling within the next couple of years. So, now is the time to cherish the legend of Rey Mysterio before he walks into the sunset.
#1 Chris Jericho:
It is one thing to wrestle for over 20 years and another to keep evolving with time. Chris Jericho is undoubtedly one of the most iconic WWE wrestlers of all time. Not just WWE, the first-ever Undisputed Champion has also graced other promotions with his presence including WCW and AEW. In the 90s, he used to compete for WCW and was one of the most overlooked talents there. Making his WWF debut in 1999 did wonders for his career. He won several different Championships and accolades from there on and eventually became a household name.
Throughout his career, Chris Jericho has held the Intercontinental Title 10 times (9 in WWE and 1 in NJPW). Moreover, he constantly works on improving his promo skills. Jericho also possesses the rare quality to make almost every gimmick of his, highly popular. The “List” and “Painmaker” gimmicks are prime examples of this claim.
Chris Jericho performed as a part-timer in WWE from 2012 to 2017. He cited issue with his match’s placement at Wrestlemania 33 as the one of the main reasons for walking away from the biggest professional wrestling business. For those of you unaware, his match was 2nd on the main card. Jericho thought it wasn’t right, considering the amount of time and effort he and Kevin Owens put into the storyline.
Currently, Jericho is a part of the brand new Professional Wrestling promotion AEW (All Elite Wrestling), where he is the inaugural and current World Champion. At the age of 48, he doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Plus, he still possesses the magic to keep the audience invested in what he is doing. Moreover, Jericho also serves as the lead singer of heavy metal band Fozzy and hosts his own podcast. He is, without a doubt, one of the most successful former WWE wrestlers performing in AEW.
Do you still keep track of your favourite wrestlers of the 90’s? If yes, let us know in the comments section if you can think of anyone that isn’t in this list.