ThunderStruck: Top 25 Superstars: 15-11

Time for part three of my top 25 from 1990-2012! The criteria hasn’t changed but here it is in case you forgot or didn’t read my last two pieces. My ranking system is based on accomplishments, longevity, character appeal, and my overall opinion of each performer(nostalgia being a key factor for me). Below I’ve listed 25-16 before listing the main five for this column. Enjoy!



25. John Bradshaw Layfield

24. CM Punk

23. Christian

22. The Big Show

21. Jeff Hardy

20. Jeff Jarrett

19. Booker T

18. Chris Benoit

17. Macho Man

16. Ric Flair

15. Hulk Hogan – Hulk Hogan is number fifteen. Ten years ago, this might have received more of an argument, but I think today’s fans better than anybody can understand the frustration I have with Hulk Hogan in this business. Moving that aside, Hulk Hogan dropped the WWF Title at WrestleMania VI and passed the torch for a year to Warrior. That match, though not the greatest wrestling performance, still gives me goosebumps when I watch it. It was face vs face and it delivered for the main event of the night. Hogan would win the title back from Sgt. Slaughter at the following WrestleMania and hold onto the gold until the Survivor Series. Hogan would become obsolete for some time in WWE after this. He bombed the main event of WM 8 with Sid. He won the Title back from Yokozuna for no reason to end WM 9. He then went to WCW and made magic. Yes, the nWo was magic and it probably saved pro wrestling as know it. Hogan wrestled three “huge” matches that were loaded with hype(Piper, Sting, Goldberg) and kept WCW afloat during it’s big run. When Hogan left, the company sunk. I’m not going to say that Hogan was the only reason WCW saw success, but he was a pretty huge centerpiece. This argument in itself could make for a column. Hogan returned to WWE in 2002 and made magic at WM 18 with the Rock and once again worked his way to the top of the ladder as WWE Champion. He reinvented the industry in ’84 when he won the title and made wrestling main stream. He again reinvented wrestling in 1996 when he made the heel gimmick cool and made the nWo group bigger than all of WCW. Without even mentioning his run as a tag team champion with Edge and his numerous World Title reigns in both WWE and WCW, Hulk Hogan easily made his way into the number 15 spot on my top superstars list.

14. Rey Mysterio -Mysterio was an eight time tag team champion and seven time tag team champion between both WCW and WWE. He is also a three time World Champion. He wrestled a match on Nitro in the summer of 1996 with Dean Malenko that I watched when I was seven years old that I still haven’t forgotten about. The match can actually be found on his little big man DVD set. That set is loaded with incredible matches. Chris Jericho best said it when he pointed out that people often forget that the cruiserweight division is a huge part of why WCW dominated the Monday Night Wars for as long as they did. Mysterio’s biggest moments were when he won the 2006 Royal Rumble and went on to pin Randy Orton in a triple threat match at WM 22 with Kurt Angle’s World Title on the line. I’ve never been happier for Rey. Rey has since worked his ass off through knee injury after knee injury and has always managed to bounce back. He put over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 27 and I was honestly a little surprised by it until I heard that it was actually Rey’s idea. Rey was then rewarded for all of his hard work when he won the WWE Championship tournament on Raw this summer. Despite losing the title the same night, Rey shined throughout the tournament and carried his match with John Cena before dropping the title to him. Mysterio has worked with such a variety of wrestlers that it’s mind boggling. He’s worked matches with the cruiserweights in WCW, the top stars in WWE like Undertaker, Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and he’s worked with giants like the Big Show, Khali, and Kane. This guy does it all and doesn’t seem to quit. For his incredible in ring performances and his lengthy list of accomplishments during his career in ECW, WCW, and WWE, Rey Mysterio deserves this spot on my top 25.

13. Randy Orton – Ask me about my favorite Randy Orton match and my answer will never change. Summerslam 2004. Some called it premature. I called it brilliant and exciting. That RKO came out of NOWHERE and launched Orton into stardom. Orton has now held nine world titles and is the top face of WWE Smackdown. He won the 2009 Royal Rumble and lost a classic match to Triple H at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. Orton is also one of the many victims on the list of Undertaker’s WrestleMania opponents. Orton and Taker worked several good matches together over the last six years. Orton does not have the best track record at WrestleMania(4-4 I believe), but his recent win over CM Punk at this past event was a great match, as was his triple threat match with Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes at WM 26. Orton and Cena are now the leaders of the locker room and of this current pool of talent. Jericho, Taker, and Hunter are the last of their kind, like we keep hearing. I remember when Orton came onto WWE tv and Stacy Keibler flirted with him but then told Vince that it was Randy who made the moves. Randy got booked into a nice rivalry with Hardcore Holly(another name who would never touch this list) after that. Orton was huge in the stable of Evolution with Triple H and Batista, but didn’t stay with the group long because of Triple H’s jealousy over Orton’s World Title win. Aside from the victory over Benoit that I discussed earlier, Orton being dumped from Evolution by Triple H is what really helped launch this guy into the main event scene without anybody at his side. Some of my favorite Orton memories are when he and Edge were the team of Rated RKO, and when Orton defeated Wade Barrett at the 2010 Survivor Series despite the storyline firing of John Cena that came from it. Orton works great matches, executes his quiet but intimidating viper gimmick well, and has accomplished far more than his father ever did and has done it in only a ten year span. For that, Orton cracks this spot on my top 25 with ease.

12. Mick Foley – The Hardcore Legend. The four time World Champion. The glorified stuntman. The guy who hosted the highest rated segment in the history of Monday Night Raw. Before Mick Foley ever set foot in a WWE ring, he was kicking ass and breaking his own in both ECW and WCW prior to that. He worked a match against Sting in the summer of 1992 that was falls count anywhere that was better than any hardcore match I ever saw him work in WWE. The guy did a running frontflip onto pavement! Who does that? Mick Foley does. Foley shocked the world on January 4, 1999 when he pinned the Rock to become the WWF Champion(with some help). I remember watching that night and going crazy for Foley. It seemed so unexpected for the underdog in Foley to become World Champion on an episode of Raw. Definitely one of my favorite moments growing up. My next favorite Foley moment came later that year at Summerslam when Foley was able to pin Stone Cold for the WWF Title in a triple threat match after delivering the double arm DDT. Jesse the body Ventura was the ref in that match and I remember thinking Foley was the last guy with a chance to win that night(he lost the title to Triple H the next night, however). Everybody talks about the fall off the cage being his most brutal match, but I think his I quit match with the Rock at the Rumble in 99 was probably the most intense match I’d ever seen him go through. For me, Foley Ranks higher than Hogan and Flair for a couple reasons. First, Foley has two sides. He has the wrestling side(the one that will do ANYTHING to entertain an audience). He also has the personable side. You’ve seen this side of Hogan in documentaries and on tv shows, but never see it much with Flair. Foley is funny as a person on commentary, as a guy cutting cheesy promos, or just as a sarcastic bystander with someone to say about a situation. It’s hard to a find a guy as likeable and as willing to put his body through hell for the fans as Mick Foley. His match with Edge at Mania 22 and his match with Orton at Backlash in 2004 both show the physicality of what he is willing to do to his body in trade for a captivated audience. Whether or not Flair intended for the phrase glorified stuntman to be an insult to Foley, it’s one of the biggest reasons along with his memorable matches that made him stand out and earn such a high spot on my top 25.

11. John Cena – The Marine. 12 Rounds. Legendary. The Reunion. Cena is a movie star that said he would never go away but came back and then disappeared aga…oh wait. Wrong guy. Cena filmed a bunch of action movies AND managed to stick around through it all! Since his World Title win over JBL at Mania 21(really good match by the way if you ever get a chance to see it), Cena has been the top guy in WWE and has rarely been booked to lose a match cleanly. Cena has fought all the monsters that have come across his path(Umaga, Batista, Khali, Kane), has fought some of the best challengers in the company(HBK, Lashley, Triple H, Orton, Edge), and has defeated everybody successfully. He is the modern version of Hulk Hogan. Yeah, a lot of people are sick of him. I’m not. The guy cuts better promos overall week in and week out than anybody else(yeah, you can argue that but show me someone who gets handed the mic every week like Cena and show me someone who speaks as clearly as Cena with stumbling over his words). No, he isn’t the most exciting performer or the flashiest or the most creative, but he gets the job done and knows how to wrestle a main event match. The guy is a twelve time world champ, four time tag team champ, three time US champ and the winner of the 2008 Royal Rumble after a surprise return from injury. Some of my favorite Cena matches in 2011 would be his victory over Miz and Morrison in a triple threat at Extreme Rules, his victory over Truth at Capitol Punishment, his win over Mysterio for the WWE Title on Raw in July, and his two matches with CM Punk at MITB and Summerslam that both ended in controversy. As much as I called Cena’s match with Kane at the EC typical, I actually looked back and realized that I was glued to my tv through the entire thing. Even when Cena seemed to wrestle a trainwreck last man standing match with Del Rio at Vengeance, I remember being hooked to the screen through the entire thing. That’s what you get with John Cena matches. You have to see them and see who wins. People want to see Cena lose. I want to see Cena win, especially on April 1st. Getting back on track now. Love him or hate him, he’s wrestled some average matches over his career, as well as some fairly incredible ones. His lengthy list of accomplishments and leadership in the WWE as well as his ability to work the microphone like no other is what makes John Cena number 11 on this list.

Let the hating begin! Argue with it however you’d like or feel free to just share some memories or favorite moments. The next two parts will be out before WrestleMania with no promises as to when exactly. I’ll also have a final part that is a piece dedicated specifically to number 1 and will be posted probably the week of WrestleMania. Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck! – add me

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