Here are the top 10 superstars of the new millennium so far as spoken by the stuffs of WWE.com;
#10 Rey Mysterio
Size matters, huh? Tell it to Rey Mysterio. Since the turn of the century, WWE’s “Littlest Big Man” has captured the WWE World Heavyweight Title once, World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Titles twice, and WWE Tag Team Title four times. From his legendary battles with close friend Eddie Guerrero to, arguably, one of his most memorable bouts, a triumphant turn in a Mask vs. Intercontinental Title Match against Chris Jericho at The Bash 2009, Mysterio’s performances have always proven larger than life.
Case in point: Mysterio’s effort during 2006’s Royal Rumble Match. The 5-foot-6 Superstar kicked off the contest as the No. 2 entrant and lasted longer than any Superstar has in Royal Rumble Match history. Mysterio managed to outsmart, outmaneuver and, finally, outlast 29 opponents in a record-breaking one-hour, two-minute and 12-second show of endurance.
That WWE Hall of Fame-worthy feat is just one of many that encapsulate the grit and determination of WWE’s Ultimate Underdog, and proves Mysterio has long since earned his place among the 25 biggest Superstars of the new millennium.
#9 Daniel Bryan
You hear a lot about Superstars who “changed the face of WWE,” but Daniel Bryan’s the only one who took on the machine and won without lifting a finger to do so. A soft-spoken, normal dude who happens to be wicked good at wrestling, Bryan’s skills gradually built him a furious fan base among the WWE Universe that – to put it lightly – booed the hell out of every contender paraded in front of them until their guy was next in line to win the big one.
The whole time, all Bryan did was shrug, lace up his boots and win. He won without excessive pomp and he connected without effort. People liked the guy. Understanding the importance of that, Bryan gave them everything he had, and the audience was more than willing to forgive any past misdeeds in return. (Does anyone even remember how ironically the whole “Yes!” thing started? Thought so.) It was a mutual admiration society that happened to change the course of a WrestleMania. For hardware-heads who are counting championships, Bryan has won every title there is, including the one that matters most of all: The hearts and minds of the WWE Universe. Here’s hoping we see him in the ring again.
#8 Randy Orton
There’s a reason Randy Orton is called The Apex Predator. Since debuting for WWE in 2002, the grandson of Bob Orton and son of WWE Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. has racked up 13 WWE World Heavyweight Championship reigns, second only to John Cena’s 15 and the 16 won by all-time leader Ric Flair. What makes Orton so much different than Cena is that he doesn’t care if he is revered or reviled, how much merchandise he sells or whether or not he appears in mainstream media. The Viper only worries himself with striking “outta nowhere” with his RKO and racking up wins.
If more WWE World Heavyweight Championships come for The Viper with the satisfaction of face-planting his hapless opponents, then that’s just a bonus. Though Orton may not be counting, I am. I predict that it will be Orton, not Cena who breaks Flair’s record 16 World Heavyweight Title reigns.
#6 The Rock
The Rock didn’t just reach the brass ring. He grabbed it from Mr. McMahon’s hands and dropped a People’s Elbow on it. Already a World Champion by the dawning of the new millennium, The Great One captured four more WWE Championships and two WCW World Titles before leaving WWE in 2004.
After years of random “via satellite returns,” Rock returned home in 2011 in one of the most shocking comebacks ever. It became even better when he agreed to a highly anticipated WrestleMania 28 showdown with John Cena. The megastars traded verbal jabs for a year before Rock bested Cena at The Show of Shows.
Rock’s comeback tour culminated in a WWE Championship in 2013 and a WrestleMania rematch against Cena, proving he was as skilled as ever.
When The Rock left, it seemed like there would never be another Great One. When he returned, he proved it.
#5 Shawn Michaels
After Shawn Michaels stepped away from active competition due to lingering back issues in the wake of WrestleMania XIV, it seemed unlikely that we’d ever see this “Sexy Boy” compete inside a WWE ring ever again. Yet, HBK nevertheless re-emerged on the roster full-time in 2002 — the launching pad for what was perhaps the most enduring and celebrated period in HBK’s WWE Hall of Fame career.
“Mr. WrestleMania’s” seasoned status elevated everyone he squared off against during the first decade of the new millennium, including John Cena, with whom he clashed in an unprecedented 56-minute bout on the April 23, 2007 edition of Raw. Alongside best friend/occasional nemesis Triple H, Michaels also re-embraced his raunchy Attitude Era roots during that time, wreaking all kinds of havoc alongside The Game as a rebooted D-Generation X between 2006 and 2010. But HBK countered those sophomoric antics with some truly serious wars with rivals like Chris Jericho, JBL and The Undertaker, who retired The Showstopper — one of the most unforgettable Superstars of all time — at WrestleMania XXVI.
How dominant was The Rated-R Superstar from the year 2000 until his untimely exit from the ring in 2011? Let us count the ways: Eleven WWE World Heavyweight Championships. Main-evented WrestleMania against The Undertaker himself. Participated in some of the most defining, boundary-pushing moments in WWE history, from PDA to TLC. Plus, he’s the only Superstar to win a Royal Rumble Match, King of the Ring tournament, Money in the Bank Match and Elimination Chamber Match.
His resume aside, the remarkable thing about Edge was that he was the rare Superstar who seemed to always be on the upswing, no matter how deep into his run he was. Even when The Ultimate Opportunist had to call it a day due to a lingering injury, he had just defended the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania and left the WWE Universe salivating for more. And yet, he also somehow managed to leave that same Universe with the feeling he had done all he was meant to do. Like the T-shirt says, he’s done it all, won it all, and for a guy who so often asked if we thought we knew him, we’re left with the feeling that we won’t ever forget him.
#3 Triple H
Has anyone even come close to the dominance of The Game in the past 15 years? Sure, John Cena may have more World Championship victories (Cena has 15 to Triple H’s 11 since the dawn of the new millennium), but has the Cenation leader ever taken over as WWE’s COO? Has anyone else front-manned three dominant super-groups like DX, Evolution and The Authority? The answer to all of those is a resounding “no.”
Time and again, The Cerebral Assassin has positioned himself at the center of activity within the WWE Universe. Whether it be overcoming Cactus Jack in a New York City Street Fight at Royal Rumble 2000, defeating Sting in a historic clash at this year’s WrestleMania or helping shape the future of WWE itself in NXT, no one Superstar has been more influential or instrumental since the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, than The King of Kings.
#2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker has completely obliterated the concept of three-act structure. If we were to really break it down, The Deadman is probably on Act 14 or 15 at this point.
Think about it. No Superstar has reinvented himself more often, re-emerged more successfully or risen from the ashes to defy Father Time more persistently than The Phenom. Any WWE Superstar would be incredibly fortunate to have one great title victory, comeback or WrestleMania moment in a 15-year span. The Last Outlaw essentially has checked one (or more) off every single year.
The crazy part of it all – The Demon of Death Valley would also undoubtedly be on any and every Greatest Superstars of the ’90s list. Yet, even as all the Legends that would accompany him on those lists begin to cede the spotlight, The Undertaker remains steadfast and center stage.
#1 John Cena
When WWE needed someone to show “ruthless aggression,” one kid with a bad haircut stormed onto the scene and changed sports-entertainment forever. His name? John Cena. The then-up-and-coming Dr. of Thuganomics was bold enough to get in the face of venerated Superstars like The Undertaker and Kurt Angle as he gradually clawed his way to the top. Over time, the WWE Universe — half of them, anyway — couldn’t help but love him.
The Cenation leader has been serenaded with “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks” chants every night, but he always proves he’s the toughest Superstar going. He has been down, but never for long, returning from multiple injuries months ahead of doctors’ prognoses.
Since his 2002 debut, Cena has won 15 WWE World Heavyweight Championships, second only to Ric Flair’s 16. From winning two Royal Rumble Matches and a Money in the Bank contract to four U.S. Championships and four Tag Team Championships, it’s easier to say what he hasn’t accomplished at this point.
Honorable Mentions –
#25 ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
#23 The Miz
#22 Booker T
#21 Trish Stratus
#20 Jeff Hardy
#19 Eddie Guerrero
#18 The Shield
#17 Rob Van Dam
#16 CM Punk
#15 Big Show
#13 Kurt Angle
#12 Chris Jericho