Nothing quite expresses a wrestler's personality quite like a T-shirt. A few letters or some art can tell about as much about a wrestler or who or what he represents as a quality promo. And it's always been one of the best ways for fans to support their favorites—not to mention one of the most lucrative for wrestling companies. But the best wrestling shirts stand out and make an impression long after a wrestler or stable is gone. That's the subject of this week's countdown...
The best wrestling T-shirts ever.
Before honoring the best of the best, here are...
Ten honorable mentions. Hey, these shirts are awesome too.
1. D-Generation X was hot during the Attitude Era. Like white hot. So it's hardly surprising that DX's inspired football jersey was a hot seller. I wouldn't be surprised if teams took the field for these for rec games.
2. The Rock is a man of a thousand catchphrases, and nearly every one of them was made into a T-shirt. One of theme was even made into a TV show. But The Great One's three-word philosophy on life, "Just Bring It!", is one of the most popular of his sayings. And shirts.
3. Perhaps the D-Generation X Suck It jersey wouldn't have been possible if their original shirt, "Two Words: S*ck It" wasn't popular. The lewd, yet simple catchphrase remains one of the most popular in wrestling history.
4. Originally made as a part of a controversial custody storyline, the "I'm Your Papi" tee would become the tribute shirt for Eddie Guerrero following his sudden passing in late 2005. It would be one of the less exploitive ways Eddie would be posthumously honored over the following year and a half.
5. Made at the height of his monster heel run in Ring of Honor, Kevin Steen's red, white, and blue "Kill Steen Kill" shirt may be one of the best parody shirts in recent memory. It was a take on John Cena's popular "Rise Above Hate" shirt. However, if you ask Steen about it, you'd probably get apronbombed. Steen admitted in an interview that the Sandy Hook school shooting in late 2012 was one of the reasons he distanced himself away from "Kill Steen Kill".
6. The only NXT shirt to make the board, the vintage Vaudevillains shirt has no problem in reminding you how the manly Simon Gotch and the slightly less manly Aiden English are going to humble you: "the olde fashioned way".
7. In 1977, Greg Valentine and Ric Flair were the NWA Mid-Atlantic tag team champions. When they lost the titles thanks to Wahoo McDaniel, Greg formulated a plan of revenge. In a Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title match, Greg carried out that plan by breaking Wahoo's leg. Whether or not it was actually broken is up for debate, but if you were to ask Greg, well, just look at his shirt: "I Broke Wahoo's Leg". The act and the shirt made Valentine one of the most hated men in wrestling.
8. When CM Punk made the declaration during his infamous pipebomb of 2011, thousands of people surely nodded in approval. After all, he was—and still is—one of the most influential people in wrestling history. His passion for life can get even the most mundane people to run through walls for him. Hell, if you think about it, "I'm a Paul Heyman Guy". And chances are, you are too. Don't worry, ladies. You can be Paul Heyman Girls too.
9. An off-handed comment by Brock Lesnar during Wrestlemania 31 quickly went viral and became one of the hottest Internet memes of 2015. Music videos were made about it. Custom t-shirt companies made shirts with the words on it. And recently, even the E jumped on the "Suplex City" bandwagon. Although, if WWE weren't PG, it would have its correct name: Suplex City Bitch.
10. The only shirt not endorsed by any wrestling company, the "WWF Wrestling Panda" shirt made by Die Hard Threads is a parody shirt with the logo by the...other WWF...World Wildlife Fund, the organization that forced the WWF we know and love to change its name. You too can express your displeasure of the name change for $20 plus shipping. I'm pretty sure it's not welcome at WWE events though.
11. Though Chris Jericho was one of the most popular wrestlers in WCW, it took him two years to get some officially endorsed threads. His one shirt in WCW, "WCW Monday Jericho", is still a very popular one among collectors.
Before you go spending your hard-earned dollars on some new threads, have a look now at...
The ten best wrestling t-shirts EVER.
Remember, these are decided by a community vote. And if your favorite didn't make it, blame you. Off we go. (Note: All photos via wweshop.com unless otherwise noted.)
10. Eat Sleep Conquer Repeat.
A take on a popular dance song from 2013, Brock Lesnar's most popular shirt since returning to the WWE would actually serve as both a prediction and a spoiler for his in-ring exploits since. Cripple Mark Henry, cripple Big Show, beat Undertaker's streak, win the WWE Championship, dominate everyone, even after losing said championship. But eat, sleep, conquer, repeat works too.
9. Kevin Owens' original KO.
When at one point in your WWE career you have more shirts than main roster matches, you're probably gonna be either a big deal or a big waste of time. Thankfully for the former NXT Champion, he's a big deal. It also, as it turns out, was a big money saver for the E. The shirt and logo were both originally made for the then-former Chris Hero, Kassius Ohno. But then he put on weight and it didn't work out for him. The KO logo has since been smoothed some for main roster marketability and such, but the old one will always be our first love. After all, it probably conveys his grittiness than the new one.
8. Shane O'Mac.
Ah, the perks of being the owner's son. While Vince spoke of his grapefruits and genetic jackhammers, and Stephanie screeched and shrilled her way to the top, and Linda acted about as lifeless as a Miami Marlins game in August, Shane McMahon was just being the guy that sacrificed his body while doing the Ali Shuffle. And he often did it in style, with custom-made jerseys made for every major match he was in. Eventually, the E gave in and sold the Shane O'Mac baseball jerseys. Not the ones Shane wore, mind you, but generic ones, which, let's be honest, were just as good. (photo via wrestlingdeals.com)
7. Macho Man.
How can you not like a shirt that's as colorful as the personality behind it? The late Randy Savage's trademark sunglasses and his famous nickname in big letters make the shirt stand out, but not nearly as much as the many, many, many colors it comes in. The only shirt on the countdown to have official shirts made by and not made by WWE, anyone will want to feel like dropping an elbow after putting on the threads—though I wouldn't recommend it. In fact, don't do that. Don't drop elbows on unsuspecting victims.
6. Cactus Jack: Wanted.
Mick Foley as Dude Love may have been the dream, but Mick Foley as Mankind made the money. But it wouldn't have been possible if Mick Foley didn't succeed as Cactus Jack. When Foley was the "madman from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico" came around, you knew shit was going down. After all, the iconic shirt says so itself: Cactus Jack was once "the world's most dangerous wrestler". It's hard to disagree. (photo via topropetuesday.com)
5. Hot Rod!
Hulk Hogan's "Hulkamania" T-shirt may have been the most popular wrestling T-shirt of the 1980s. His arch rival, Roddy Piper's shirt, may have been 1A. His trademark ringer has always been popular with fans of wrestling's lightning rod. Put on a kilt, act a little rowdy, and you got an instant Halloween costume. It's about as 80s as it gets, but as the Hot Rod himself once said, old school's cool.
4. Bullet Club.
What started as a stable of shoot wrestlers in New Japan morphed into the best nWo tribute band since... well, ever. Not surprisingly, the pretty cool bone soldier logo of its stable has become quite the hot seller; probably the most popular wrestling shirt in recent memory. You can't go to a wrestling show without someone wearing one. Eventually the shirt became so popular, it began to be sold around the world, far far away from its Japanese borders. And shops can barely keep them in their inventory. TOO SWEET ME! (photo via prowrestlingtees.com)
3. Best in the World ringer.
Originally produced as a one-time only shirt exclusively for fans attending Money in the Bank 2011, the CM Punk ringer tee became crazy popular. Fan demand for it was so high, the E eventually had to produce them in mass quantities—and they could hardly keep up with said demand. With the "Best in the World" no longer in the company, good luck getting your hands on one. (photo via extremewrestlingshirts.com)
Gritty, edgy, and simple. The logo shirt of WCW's most notorious stable was a hot seller during WCW's peak. It seemed that everyone wanted to wear one, even if you weren't a fan of the group (hell, I wanted one). The commercials for it were pretty funny too. The black shirt with the white logo was a hit with teens and young adults. Three simple letters would wind up being a license to print money for WCW.
1. Austin 3:16.
And speaking of shirts that are gritty, edgy, and simple, the promo that launched a career also launched the most popular shirt in wrestling history. Fans couldn't stop buying them, and WWF couldn't stock them fast enough. Just how popular was Austin 3:16, the shirt? At the height of his popularity, it accounted for nearly half of all merchandise sales. And when celebs are repping Stone Cold, one thing's clear: you've hit on something awesome. Deservedly so, the most popular t-shirt in wrestling history was voted by you as the best wrestling t-shirt in history. Oh, and WWE still sells them today.
So...anything we missed? What shirts you feel should have made it?