Between December 1985 and November 1988, Dave Meltzer published several lists of "rankings" in the Wrestling Observer looking at wrestlers. Sometimes people were split into weight classes or tag teams separated from singles wrestlers. Sometimes this was based on recent match ratings or someone was left off the list due to injury or inactivity. Obviously, it was subjective and based on personal opinion. However, it gives an interesting glimpse into which wrestlers had the most appeal to him while being "in the moment".

I've synthesized the information into a spreadsheet and present the findings here.

Singles (Many Appearances)

Singles (Several Appearances)

Singles (Few Appearances)

Tag (Many Appearances)

Tag (Several Appearances)

Tag (Few Appearances)

Ultimate Rankings 1986 - 1988 (Top 50 - included on seven or more lists)

rank wrestler
1 Ric Flair
2 Nobuhiko Takada
3 Ted DiBiase
4 Owen Hart
5 Bobby Eaton
6 Stan Lane
7 Tatsumi Fujinami
8 Keiichi Yamada
9 Barry Windham
10 Road Warrior Animal
11 Bruiser Brody
12 Genichiro Tenryu
13 Road Warrior Hawk
14 Terry Gordy
15 Robert Gibson
16 Arn Anderson
17 Tiger Mask
18 Ashura Hara
19 Tommy Rogers
20 Samson Fuyuki
21 Stan Hansen
22 Bobby Fulton
23 Tully Blanchard
24 Masa Saito
25 Jumbo Tsuruta
26 Hiroshi Hase
27 Toshiaki Kawada
28 Akira Maeda
29 Paul Diamond
30 Ricky Steamboat
31 Riki Choshu
32 Eddie Gilbert
33 Curt Hennig
34 Kengo Kimura
35 Yoshiaki Yatsu
36 Rick Martel
37 Shiro Koshinaka
38 Dick Murdoch
39 Pat Tanaka
40 Ricky Morton
41 Terry Taylor
42 Randy Savage
43 Brad Armstrong
44 Kazuo Yamazaki
45 Bret Hart
46 Jim Neidhart
47 Tim Horner
48 Shawn Michaels
49 Keiji Mutoh
50 Marty Janetty

Formula was based on overall average rank in each issue (tag/singles mixed together) with the highest and lowest appearances thrown out. 

Several wrestlers were excluded from this list due to fewer appearances but would normally have made the list including Dennis Condrey, Tito Santana, Fumihiro Niikura, Fatu, Tama, Samu, Haku, Terry Funk, Black Tiger, Joe Malenko, Dean Malenko, Michael Hayes and Ole Anderson.