Here it is, part one of my top 25 superstars from 1990 to 2012! My ranking system is based on accomplishments, longevity, character appeal, and my overall opinion of each performer(nostalgia is big for me). I’ll credit wikipedia right now with a lot of the facts that I’m going to toss around in this one(who can honestly remember every title reign? C’mon man!). Also, every now and then, I’ll throw in a “remember when” comment about something random from these guy’s careers to get everyone thinking(I like random facts). Here we go!
25. John Bradshaw Layfield – The longest reigning WWE Champion in Smackdown history! How could you not have this guy on your top 25 list? Bradshaw went from being a beer guzzling, poker playing redneck in the APA alongside Farooq(who he won the tag team titles with on three occasions), to becoming one of the most entertaining heel World Champions in WWE history. JBL served as color commentary alongside Michael Cole on the Smackdown broadcast team, and the guy was quite entertaining. Bradshaw is also credited as being the tenth grand slam champion in WWE history. His dedication and hard work in the company for several years finally paid off when he won the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero. Remember when Orlando Jordan(yes, the guy with the bisexual role on TNA) was apart of his stable as US champion? Bradshaw had a solid match at WrestleMania 21 with John Cena(where Cena won the WWE Title for the first time) and has another solid match the following year when he defeated Chris Benoit for the US Title. Bradshaw’s last match in WWE was at Mania 25 and lasted 20 seconds. The rumor was that Bradshaw was so banged up physically that he could not work a match. Rey Mysterio defeated JBL for the Intercontinental title that night. He’s made a few sporadic appearances on WWE since then and could potentially make a comeback someday. His overall well worked gimmicks along with his 14 years dedicated strictly to WWE are the biggest reasons I rank him in the top 25.
24. CM Punk – The “Indyriffic short order cook from Pikesville” was once a label created for Punk by one Kevin Nash(notice who isn’t on this top 25 list). Punk has risen to the top of WWE nearly six years after his debut on ECW on SyFy. If you include his ECW Title victory, Punk is a six time world champion that has just recently reached the very top of the company. He was also a World Tag Team Champion with Kofi Kingston in case you forgot. My favorite CM Punk moments came within a few months of each other. Punk won the MITB match at WM 24, and then cashed in on Edge after he received a Batista Bomb to win the World Heavyweight Championship on Raw. Punk was nowhere near the top of the company during his first run as champion, which is what makes him all the more impressive. One of the things that I love about Punk on a personal level is the fact that he respects the business. He’s always talking about where the business has been and where it could go. He pays respect to Randy Savage quite frequently when using his signature elbow drop. He has a love and appreciation for the business that shows the fans night in and night out that he only wants to make things better for the audience. Mentioning Punk’s accomplishments in 2011 is what ultimately brings him on this list. His two matches with Randy Orton as well as his two matches with John Cena and his match with Triple H are a testament to what sort of performer CM Punk is(best in the world). You honestly want to know what excites me the most about CM Punk at this very moment? Knowing that the best is yet to come.
23. Christian – Christian is without a doubt a guy that still hasn’t fully received all that he deserves for his hard work in this industry. The guy has worked his ass off for years trying to have the best match on any given night, and he’s succeeded many times. His WrestleMania match with Chris Jericho is extremely underrated(for those who don’t remember, it was during the jealousy angle where Trish Stratus turned on Y2J). I’m disappointed with the nature of how Christian’s character remained in the World Title picture after losing to Randy Orton, but the quality of matches that those two put on more than makes up for the lack of a good face push in my opinion. Ignoring the World Title scene for a second, Christian was a great Intercontinental Champion on and off over the years, as a well a good representative of the ECW Title as the brand was on the decline(eleventh overall grand slam champion). My favorite Christian moment? When he defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the NWA World Title and the promo that he cut on the following Impact where he put down WWE for not having faith in him. What am I forgetting here? Oh yeah, there was that whole tag team thing with Edge. How did that go again? Multiple tag team title reigns, innovators of the TLC match, and one helluva entertaining gimmick for those with the benefit of flash photography! Christian’s return is upcoming, and I’m excited to see how his character is used throughout 2012. For all that he’s accomplished and for the entertainment his character provides, Christian deserves this spot on my top 25.
22. The Big Show – What? A guy that won his first World Championship by DQ? What? A guy that only held the World Heavyweight Championship for a mere forty five seconds? What? A guy that wrestled Akebono and Floyd Money Mayweather and LOST to both on the grandest stage of them all? These things might all be true, but you can’t argue with one fact; Big Show does one helluva Hulk Hogan impersonation! Show has worked his tail off as a big man to accomplish everything that he has. He’s battled with weight and with constant injuries, and yet always manages to come back on tv with a smile on his face and more jokes to crack. Anybody remember when he got pissed on by William Regal? Good times. Show has formed several successful tag teams(Unholy Alliance with the dead man, ShowMiz, and JeriShow to name a few) and was also a standout for a short time in the hardcore division if I’m not mistaken. Show is also a six time world champion. What I remember most about the Big Show are two things. First, when he tore through the ring at the 1999 St. Valentines Day Massacre and tossed Stone Cold through the cage and to the floor for the win over Vince McMahon(this gave Austin his shot at the Rock at WrestleMania that year). Second, I remember when Big Show replaced a run down Stone Cold at the 1999 Survivor Series and captured the WWE Title in a triple threat match with The Rock and Triple H. Show is a comedian and a fun guy on the mic, and he works his tail off to have good matches with every sized guy you can imagine(Khali, Taker, Kane, Mysterio, Henry, Daniel Bryan, ect). His six world championships, outstanding comedic personality, and longevity while battling injuries since entering the business in 1995 are what make Big Show a member of my top 25.
21. Jeff Hardy – The charismatic enigma. The guy who showed up wasted at Victory Road and lost all the respect in the world from fans and his peers. The second innovator(behind only HBK) of the ladder match. The guy who’s been in and out of rehab over the years. The guy who put his body on the line night in and night out to entertain an audience as he worked to reach his dream of becoming a world champion. Good or bad, love him or hate him, he is Jeff Hardy. Hardy is the ninth overall grand slam champion and is a five time world champion between WWE and TNA. He is a seven time tag team champion alongside his brother Matt(won’t be on this list, in case you were wondering). I have a hard time with Jeff Hardy, honestly. There are things that he’s done that caused me to lose respect for him. Fortunately for Jeff, there’s a guy that’s much higher up on my list that battled with a lot of similar demons and was in almost the exact same position that Jeff is in right now at the very young age of 35. If Jeff’s future is anywhere near as bright as the other guy’s was before his retirement ten years later, then I’d say we have a lot to look forward to from this Hardy boy. Jeff has also shined at the midcard level as Intercontinental Champion and one of the best moments that I remember about him is when he defeated Triple H for the IC Title. My other standout moment for Jeff is the ladder match that he lost to The Undertaker for the WWE Title. You know which match I’m talking about. I’m talking about the match that Jeff almost won, and afterwards refused to stay down no matter how much the heel badass Undertaker beat him down. Eventually the Undertaker showed a nod of respect towards Hardy before he collapsed in the ring. His desire to entertain the fans and his accomplishments since arriving on the jobber scene in WWE in 1994 to achieve his dreams of being a world champion are what give Jeff Hardy such a decent spot on my top 25 list.
That’s all for this first edition. I hope you liked the flashback moments and got to thinking about what your top 25 might look like. I can’t say for certain when the second edition of this will be out, but it could be sooner than you think. Until next time, thanks for reading!