Traditionally, the wrestling landscape has been perceived as “The Land Of The Giants”, with the larger-than-life, muscles and frames of mammoth men ruling the roost. This has made it harder for those wrestlers of lower stature. That said, a few stars of today and pioneers of yesteryear have flourished, being very credible and commendable workers even if at a height that may be scoffed at. These are 10 great male wrestlers under 5’10 who despite a smaller frame have managed to grasp acclaim to break the glass ceiling…even if they may have needed a ladder to reach it!
Current: Bryan Danielson
Looking for a candidate for the performer of WWE’s lockdown era? Daniel Bryan would have to be in that conversation.
From his battle with Drew Gulak and his AJ Styles Intercontinental title bout to the brilliant Universal title match Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania XXXVII main event, the 5’8 grappler was a highlight of programming during a time when WWE TV could have been much dourer.
Since jumping to AEW in 2021, Bryan Danielson has had non-stop banger after banger in terms of quality matches.
His very first was a 30-minute time limit draw against then-AEW champion Kenny Omega – talk about an introduction!
He’s since had great matches with top names such as Minoru Suzuki, Eddie Kingston, and “Hangman” Adam Page. Not just that but he has also helped put over new and younger talents on various episodes of Dynamite.
As of April 2022, Bryan is still tearing it up in The Blackpool Combat Club alongside Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta, under the tutelage of William Regal – where he is one of the hottest properties in wrestling as one of the finest technical wrestlers alive.
Past: Dean Malenko
On the topic of brilliant technical wrestlers, we now move on to tremendous in-ring expert Dean Malenko.
Bryan himself claimed: “Dean Malenko was my absolute favourite. He was the guy I watched and was like ‘wow.’…He was like 5’7″ and I saw the style he worked, I loved the submission stuff and he was so good at it.” “The Man Of 1,000 Holds”’s height has been described by WWE.com as “billed somewhat generously at 5-foot-10″.
Malenko has many accolades to his name, single-handedly adding prestige to the WWF’s Light Heavyweight title (winning it twice). Furthermore, he was a two ECW World Television title reigns, four WCW Cruiserweight titles, and a United States title reign.
Perhaps “The Shooter” had his best work with fellow Radicalz member Eddy/Eddie Guerrero across ‘the big three’ (ECW, WCW, WWF). In addition, “The Crippler” Chris Benoit was 5’8. Speaking of “The Crippler”, the shared-nicknamed Ray Stevens was a potential addition to this list.
A flawless worker through the ropes, leading anyone to a good match, Malenko has utilized his skills behind-the-skills to train the next line of performers.