2012 was a big year for the WWE.
Perhaps the most successful WrestleMania of all time, the celebration of 1,000 episodes of Monday Night Raw and of course the show’s brave expansion to a three-hour format were just a few of the landmark events that the company oversaw during the last 12 months.
As well as this, the year was also significant for a number of individual performers.
Stars such as Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk had arguably their greatest years with the company yet, reaching previously uncharted heights in their own personal careers.
But who were the most dominant stars on pay-per-view?
In the first installment of my WWE Review of 2012 series, this article takes a look at WWE win/loss records to determine the 10 most successful Superstars at PPV events over the past 12 months.
Win-Loss Record: 4-7
With a record of four wins and seven losses, Ziggler creeps onto this list in 10th place.
Truth be told, the Miz should actually have assumed this position as he won the same amount of PPV matches but lost just five along the way.
However due to the fact that Ziggler ended the year so strongly with his huge Money in the Bank victory and by emphatically finishing as the sole survivor at Survivor Series, he gets the nod ahead of the WWE’s most must-see Superstar.
Ziggler’s record is perhaps somewhat deceptive though, as he in fact had one of the best years of his career, making the long-awaited leap into main-event stardom which culminated in defeating John Cena at TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs in December.
However five defeats in the first six PPVs of the year are ultimately what cost him a higher place on this list—a run that included a brief spell jobbing to the Funkasaurus Brodus Clay.
More on him later.
Win-Loss Record: 4-5-2
A rocky year for the poster boy of the WWE sees John Cena languish in ninth place with a record of four wins, five defeats and two draws.
He did, of course, secure the Money in the Bank briefcase, but he lost possibly the biggest match of his career against the Rock at WrestleMania XVIII, and also he failed to regain the WWE Championship on no less than three PPV occasions.
Such adverse results make for a rather unsuccessful year in the ring for the former 12-time World Champion.
But outside of the ring, the Leader of the Cenation has experienced a far more enjoyable time: becoming the first man to grant 300 wishes for the Make a Wish Foundation and initiating the Susan G Komen for the Cure partnership which raised $1,000,000 for the breast cancer charity being the highlights of this extra-curricular success.
But in the cruel world of win-loss records, philanthropy gets you nowhere. As a result, John Cena must reflect on what has been perhaps his worst record on PPV since his meteoric rise to the top.
Win-Loss Record: 4-4
At No. 8 is a rising star who, like Dolph Ziggler, had one his better years with the company, winning multiple championships in a highly eventful year.
The Ghanaian entered 2012 as one half of the Tag Team Champions alongside Evan Bourne. However, that lasted just two weeks as on Jan. 15 he and Bourne suffered the embarrassment that losing the titles at a Raw house should, though admittedly the defeat came under circumstances beyond Kingston’s control.
He then won the titles once more, this time with R-Truth as his partner, though the duo’s reign may well be remembered more for the lack of competition in the Tag Team division during a somewhat transitional period.
A successful Intercontinental Title run concluded Kingston’s year, though earlier defeats at Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania and against Team Hell No in September prevent the newly-dubbed “Wildcat” from charting higher on this list.
Win-Loss Record: 4-3
Despite a monster push for the man formerly known as Skip Sheffield, Ryback must settle for seventh place with a record of 4-3.
This is largely due to the fact that he didn’t debut his new gimmick on WWE television until April 6, and thus missed out on an additional three PPVs at the start of the year.
Had he emerged sooner, he would no doubt have picked up a few wins over various jobbers anyway, and thus would be able to boast better PPV figures during his breakout year with company.
That being said, WWE did well to protect Ryback by ensuring the losses that he did endure were by no means clean.
Though the statistics may not necessarily suggest it, a star has been developed here—one with the potential to be a top name with the company for a number of years to come.
Win-Loss Record: 4-3
Technically tying with Ryback is none other than Eve—the only female talent to appear on this list.
However, the current Divas champion beats the Big Hungry to sixth spot for exactly that reason; she has a Championship to show for her efforts.
Furthermore, both in and out of the ring she has been perhaps the top-performing Diva in the company, improving upon her in-ring work as well as her backstage involvements.
Add to that a prominent role in the John Cena/Zack Ryder/Kane storyline at the start of the year, as well as some mainstream exposure on reality TV show Stars Earn Stripes, and Eve can deservingly look back on what was a rather successful 2012 for the 2007 Diva Search winner.
Win-Loss Record: 4-0
After introducing his wholly unexpected Funkasaurus gimmick on the Jan. 9 episode of Raw, Brodus Clay went on to finish 2012 undefeated at PPV events.
The former bodyguard was initially booked in a number of squash matches, but after the WWE gave up on his push, he was pretty much removed from PPV shows entirely, hence his impeccable avoidance of defeat.
In the last seven months of the year, he featured at just one PPV—Survivor Series. Admittedly, he ended up on the winning side, but was also the first man to be eliminated—falling to Tensai of all people.
But nonetheless, take nothing away from the big man—his gimmick was intriguing to say the least and perfectly understandable given the company’s target demographic, while he also knew how to get down to business with wins over Dolph Ziggler and the Miz.
However, I wouldn’t imagine Clay to make the top five on such a list next year, barring some sort of drastic character change.
Win-Loss Record: 4-0
Another Superstar with an immaculate PPV record is the up-and-coming talent that is Antonio Cesaro.
The former ROH Tag Team Champion can boast the same record as Brodus Clay, but in fact went one better than the Funkasaurus by claiming to be the United States Champion during each of those four successful PPV outings.
Since winning the title at the SummerSlam pre-show, he has gone on to successfully defend the strap against the likes of Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel and R-Truth.
And it’s not just the series of victories that Cesaro has impressed with; the standard of his performances have also really caught the eye, and led many to believe that he has all the potential to be a future World Champion.
Unlike Clay in fifth place, one can fully expect to see Cesaro chart as high once again in 2013, perhaps even improving upon his tally of four successive PPV wins.
Win-Loss Record: 5-9
Daniel Bryan became a star in 2012, and as a result secures a top-three place on this list.
Five victories sets him apart from the previous entries, amongst these being the Tag Team Championship win with Kane at Night of Champions, as well as the overcoming of the odds to remain World Heavyweight Champion in a Cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry and at Elimination Chamber win just a month later.
However, Bryan worryingly suffered nine defeats in total at PPVs in 2012.
Granted this included two defeats in one night against Sheamus at Extreme Rules, but his subsequent failure to defeat CM Punk for the WWE Title and losses at Survivor Series and TLC despite being a Tag Team Champion put something of a blemish on the World’s Toughest Vegan’s otherwise outstanding year.
Either way, his achievement of unprecedented success and the invention of the simple yet brilliant “Yes” chants make him one of the WWE’s true success stories of 2012.
Win-Loss Record: 10-3
An incredible first nine months of the year sees Sheamus storm into second place, with an impressive ten victories.
The highlights include a Royal Rumble win, victory for the World Title at WrestleMania and a quality showing against Daniel Bryan in their two-out-of-three falls match at Extreme Rules.
He then endured a drawn-out feud with Alberto Del Rio, before a surprisingly good rivalry with the Big Show which ultimately saw the Irishman lose his World Heavyweight Championship to the World’s Largest Athlete.
However despite defeat, Sheamus won over a number of skeptics with a fantastic display against Show, convincing those who had been previously critical of his overly-cheesy babyface run.
In the end though, such defeats cost the Celtic Warrior top spot on the list of the 10 most successful Superstars on PPV of 2012.
Win-Loss Record: 10-0-1
That honor goes to none other than CM Punk, who ended 2012 with ten PPV wins, zero defeats and the solitary draw.
Naturally the lack of a single defeat sees him rank higher than Sheamus, despite the fact that the two Superstars tied on wins.
His incredible year included high-profile wins against John Cena and Ryback, as well as fantastic performances against Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan, each on multiple occasions.
Though the end of the year saw Punk’s victories become less spectacular, he still managed to leave the year as he entered it; the reigning, defending WWE Champion.
His tenure at the top of the pile could be about to end though given his imminent showdown with the Rock at the Royal Rumble, but his accomplishments of 2012 have nonetheless ensured that his place in the history books has been well and truly cemented.
Feuding with the Great One could also give the former Indie star the mainstream exposure he has been searching for, helping him raise his game and reach even greater heights within the company.
After providing us with a dramatic year and some of the greatest in-ring performances, CM Punk rightfully takes his place at the top of this list.
While PPV win-loss records give us some indication of who were the success stories of 2012, they are not necessarily the sole determining factor.
As in the cases of Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan, their records were far from perfect yet they still enjoyed massive personal successes and are now on the cusp of true superstardom with the WWE.
Nonetheless, reflecting on the PPVs of the past 12 months offers an intriguing review of the past year in the WWE.
Thus, the next part of this series will focus on the other side—the 10 least successful superstars on PPV throughout the year.
So make sure you stay posted for part two over the coming days, but until then feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the article and any opinions you may have regarding the superstars featured on this list.