WWE: The 10 Best Current Superstars in the Company
The definition of a perfect WWE superstar is different for everyone.
Some think that a perfect WWE star is fantastic in the ring, but doesn't bring much else to the table. Others think that a perfect WWE star's more important quality is having a larger-than-life personality.
Many prefer the perfect WWE star to be skilled in every category, from in-ring ability to mic work.
That's why creating a list of the WWE's top stars is extremely difficult, with no set formula to do so. Still, that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.
Here are my rankings of the 10 best current superstars in the WWE.
NOTE: Part-time superstars (such as Triple H or Undertaker) are not eligible to be on this list. Neither are superstars who have had lengthy TV absences (Christian) or been out of action because of an injury (Wade Barrett). Also, as the titles implies, this list will rank the 10 best stars based largely on their current positions in the company.
10. Damien Sandow
It didn't take Damien Sandow very long to skyrocket up the WWE ladder.
Since debuting shortly after WrestleMania 28, Sandow has quickly worked his way up the card and has been awfully impressive along the way.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, Sandow was undefeated in singles competition, but it's not his win-loss record that has people talking. It's his great gimmick and wildly entertaining mic work that have helped him quickly rise up the ranks of the WWE.
The creative team is clearly behind Sandow, and though his in-ring work has been limited largely to squash matches, he's branched out recently to tag team bouts and longer singles matches.
He's looked damn good in the ring, too, especially during his match against Randy Orton on last week's SmackDown.
While Sandow is still technically a rookie, he's excelled on the mic, in the ring and as a character. Big things appear to be in store for the "Intellectual Savior of the Masses."
9. Cody Rhodes
It's been a bit of a whirlwind year for Cody Rhodes, who has been the Intercontinental Champion, a glorified jobber and off of TV altogether at different points throughout 2012.
Yet, through his ups and downs, Rhodes has still managed to shine.
Of all the WWE's rising stars, he is one of its most consistent performers and best all-around talents. He's proven to be capable of working well with a wide variety of opponents, from Booker T to Big Show to Christian to Sin Cara, and is as good on the mic as any young superstar the WWE has under contract.
At the same time, there's something very "old school" about Rhodes: his punches, the way he maneuvers around the ring, etc.
Rhodes is a throwback to the heels of old who actually got booed for being a fantastic heel, which is something that I think is often overlooked.
In a day and age where quality heels are often cheered because of how good they are as performers, Rhodes almost breaks the mold by getting booed because he's so good at making people hate him.
He's already one of the WWE's top overall heels and should stay in that role for quite some time.
You have to be impressed by what Kane has done over the past several months.
After a rough start to 2012 that featured a couple of atrocious feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton, Kane has been on fire ever since he got involved with AJ, Kane and Daniel Bryan earlier this year.
Kane's time in the WWE Championship picture with Bryan and Punk proved that he can still put on great matches with the right opponent, as he performed incredibly well in both pay-per-view and TV matches with those two stars.
He's also had a number of great TV bouts this year and has really entered a zone as a performer since turning baby face not too long ago.
Though I was originally skeptical about another face turn for Kane, he's turned out a number of tremendous comedic performances lately and has been ridiculously entertaining during his skits, segments and matches with Bryan.
Anyone who questioned whether or not the 45-year-old Kane was still deserving of an upper mid-card spot in the WWE should now see that The Big Red Monster still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
7. Alberto Del Rio
Like most wrestling fans, my biggest problem with Alberto Del Rio is that his character has gotten rather stale, especially over the course of 2012.
But when I look at ADR, it's hard not to notice his tremendous talents.
Despite his stale gimmick, he's actually a decent mic worker and isn't nearly as bad of an actor as some fans make him out to be. Perhaps more importantly, though, he's one of the WWE's most consistent performers in the ring.
While ADR may not be everyone's cup of tea, he almost always has good matches, and it doesn't matter who he's facing.
Just in the last couple of weeks, Del Rio has had very good to great matches with Randy Orton, Kane and John Cena.
I think that Del Rio's never-ending and awful feud with Sheamus has clouded our judgment a bit and made some of us grow to resent him.
But truth be told, the only thing holding ADR back is that he's stale. Other than that, he's one of the better overall performers in the WWE.
6. John Cena
Just like Alberto Del Rio, John Cena is extremely stale as a character.
But especially after witnessing his fantastic mic work with CM Punk on this week's Raw, it's difficult for me not to recognize that Cena can still do it all.
Granted, Cena hasn't had great chemistry with some of his main rivals this year, like Kane and Big Show. But when he's in the right situation, he's one of the WWE's top talents.
If he's not making poopy jokes and being stuck with G-rated humor, Cena is arguably the second best mic worker in the company. At the same time, he's able to put on great matches whenever he's not stuck in a bad feud with the immobile Big Show or the retired John Laurinaitis.
When the WWE takes the PG restrictions off of Cena (like on Monday's Raw) or doesn't book him in bad rivalries, Cena is allowed to shine as one of the top overall performers around.
Now that he's going toe-to-toe with Punk, I think we'll see just how good Cena really is.
Sheamus is yet another major WWE star who tends to get blasted by Internet wrestling fans.
But I just don't get it.
Even though his feud with Alberto Del Rio has been downright awful, the Great White has still managed to be absolutely phenomenal recently, especially when it comes to his performances in the ring.
Sheamus has had a long line of superb matches in 2012 with everyone from Randy Orton to Chris Jericho to Dolph Ziggler to Daniel Bryan.
Not even Sheamus's biggest critics can go back, look at his matches from this year and say that he hasn't been well above average in the ring over the course of 2012.
Of course, Sheamus has slowly but steadily improved as a performer outside of the ring as well.
Although his promos can come across as too scripted and rehearsed at times, Sheamus has found his niche as a serious-yet-funny performer who actually is pretty damn good in the comedy department.
While Sheamus's terrible feud with ADR has made a lot of fans sour on the Celtic Warrior, his recent performances as a wrestler and performer shouldn't have.
4. Randy Orton
Randy Orton tends to get criticized for being robotic and monotone, but he's "The Viper" and that's his character.
He's not supposed to be the smiling, happy-go-lucky baby face that someone like John Cena is. He's supposed to be the cold-hearted, no-nonsense ass kicker that doesn't fit into your typical face or heel mold.
I think Orton thrives in that role, in large part because he's allowed to let his in-ring work do most of his talking for him.
Whether you like Orton or not, it's hard to deny that—especially over the last couple of years—he has developed into one of the very best in-ring performers in the business.
He's always been very athletic for someone his size, but recently, he's developed arguably the best in-ring psychology in all of pro wrestling. His matches always tell a great story, one that keeps the crowd entertained from start to finish.
Criticize Orton the character all you want, but Orton the wrestler has been nothing short of amazing since the start of 2011 and even throughout the last several years of his career.
3. Dolph Ziggler
How can any wrestling fan not be impressed by Dolph Ziggler?
I'm not sure that there's any wrestler on the planet who can make his opponents look as good as "The Showoff" does, which is a true testament to his unmatched abilities as a bumper and seller.
No one—and I mean no one—sells moves like Ziggler, who makes a simple clothesline look like he was hit by an 18-wheeler.
Ziggler is, of course, largely recognized for his abilities as a seller, but that's just one aspect of what makes him such a fantastic in-ring performer. He's also an amazing athlete, and like Randy Orton, one of the best in-ring psychologists around.
He's put on so many outstanding matches over the last year or so, with everyone from Orton to Chris Jericho to Sheamus to CM Punk.
Along the way, Ziggler has also made drastic improvements as a talker and character, adopting the "Showoff" persona and showing some huge strides on the mic.
If he continues to improve his mic work and character development, it's not unthinkable that Ziggler will become the top overall talent in the WWE.
2. CM Punk
There's not much that I can say about CM Punk that you don't already know.
Punk has always been a great wrestler and performer, but over the last year-and-a-half or so, he's stepped his game up big-time and has some people even mentioning him in the same breath as the all-time greats.
That talk is much deserved because Punk can truly do it all.
He's as charismatic as they come, can work the mic better than anyone in the industry today, and to top it all off, is arguably the best pure wrestler in the WWE.
Punk's fantastic mic work has been very apparent in 2012, as he's put on great matches with Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Kane and even Mark Henry.
He is on what is undoubtedly one of the greatest rolls in WWE history, as he's held the WWE Championship for roughly 300 days and has stolen the show on just about every single one of them.
1. Daniel Bryan
Who would have thunk it?
A little more than a year ago, Daniel Bryan was a rather generic baby face who was known primarily for his fantastic in-ring abilities. But today, he's the hottest act in the wrestling business and, at least in my view, its best overall talent, too.
We all knew that Bryan could wrestle, and he's proved that this year by having countless tremendous matches with guys like Sheamus and CM Punk.
But what's blown us all away is Bryan's unbelievable character development, which has transformed him from a mundane good guy to a ridiculously entertaining heel/tweener.
He's been so good as a performer lately, showing a ton of range as he's transformed from the bad boyfriend to the crazed anger management patient.
Whatever character Bryan has had, he's made it work to absolute perfection, and when you combine that with the amazing wrestling skills we all knew he possessed, it's created the top overall superstar in not only the WWE, but pro wrestling as a whole.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!