The first decade of the 21st century in pro wrestling will be remembered for a lot of things. Over the last decade we have a multitude of wrestlers take their turn in the spotlight, wrestling in main-events, and stealing shows. Yet with as many big names as we have seen in the WWE, TNA, and WCW, only a few were able to maintain their pro wrestling stardom throughout the century. It is finally time to take a look at the top Pro Wrestlers of the Decade.
I will freely admit that I have not seen every match in every wrestling company over the last ten years. With that said, I limited my selections to pro wrestlers from the top promotions in the United States. I based my criteria for ranking on several different factors. Here are the following five major factors that I used to base my ranking of Pro Wrestler of the Century.
- Length of time on the top of the cards.
- The number of universally regarded great matches that they had over the last ten years and the quality of opponents.
- The amount of money they were able to draw on top using buy rates, house show estimates, and television ratings.
- Fan reaction to the wrestler during his or her length on top.
- The number of memorable moments and matches that the wrestler had over the last ten years.
I completely discounted independent wrestlers from the rankings. I know there are a lot of fans of indy promotions and wrestlers, but even the top star isn’t drawing revenue on a level of a WWE or even TNA Wrestling show. I also discounted original ECW and WCW wrestlers, since the companies folded the first year into the decade. On revenue a lone, it is impossible to look anywhere else but the WWE for a Pro Wrestler of the Decade.
1 – Shawn Michaels. He may not have ever been the overall top guy in the WWE in the decade, but I can’t think of another pro wrestler more deserving of this title than HBK. Michaels came back at WWE SummerSlam in 2002, and has been a mainstay ever since other than missing some time with injuries. Over the last decade, I can’t think of anyone that has more consistently great matches with any opponent other than Michaels.
2 – Triple H. This was a tough one. In my opinion, this was all about HBK and everyone else. However, at the end of the day there is nobody that has had more longevity and impact on top in the WWE than Triple H this decade. Triple H has missed more time than most over the decade due to injuries, yet he has always sustained that position. Granted, anyone could rightfully argue that his wife is a big factor in his longevity and his father-in-law. However, like him or not he has been a draw for most of the decade. He works hard, and has had some great matches himself over the last ten years. He is probably the most recognizable WWE star other than the Undertaker in the WWE today. In regards to world titles, Triple H has had at least one run in all quarters of the decade. Looking at ten years of work, it is hard not to rank him highly on any Pro Wrestler of the Decade list.
3 – Kurt Angle. I think Angle would have run away with this award if he never left the WWE. Ironically, Angle’s run in TNA Wrestling actually helps his cause quite a bit here. Other than Michaels, I don’t know if you can make an argument for a more consistent great wrestler this decade than Kurt Angle. It is amazing that three years after leaving the WWE, Angle continually has some of the best matches in TNA with all levels of talent. Angle has been wrestling longer than Michaels has this decade, but you can’t equate the revenue that Michaels draws on a WrestleMania to whatever business Angle is doing for TNA. The one thing I love about Angle is that he rarely has the same match twice. No matter who his opponent is, he adapts and makes him look good. Angle has had universally great matches with guys like Shane McMahon, Jeff Jarrett, and Bob Holly. Not bad wrestlers, but none are great wrestlers yet Angle got the best out of them and than some. I am still a Kurt Angle fan and if not for falling short in the revenue criteria, he would have run away with this award.
5 – John Cena. This one kills me, but to be fair he has to be highly considered for this honor. Unlike the previous wrestlers, Cena has the shortest amount of time on top. Cena has only been on top for less than five years. However, nobody can deny that he has blown most of these guys away in terms of drawing revenue and selling merchandise. He hasn’t had great matches, but he hasn’t had a ton of stinkers either. He is probably the most recognizable WWE star today by people aged 18 and under. He has turned into a phenomenon on his own. I am not a fan of his, but there is something to be said by staying relevant for five years in this wrestling climate. I don’t know if Cena will be on top for another five years, but in this decade he truly was one of a small breed of superstars.
Other notables: The Rock, Goldberg, Sting, Chris Jericho, Edge, Rey Mysterio.
Check out the WWE DVD, The Shawn Michaels Story: Heartbreak & Triumph by clicking here.
Order the WWE From the Vault – Shawn Michaels DVD by clicking here.
Order the WWE – Shawn Michaels – Boyhood Dream DVD by clicking here.