The past five years have been an interesting time in pro wrestling. With TNA growing stronger and bringing in a whole new roster while bringing back some of those that may have departed from the WWE, we have one of the largest pools of talents between two shows that we’ve had since the days of the Monday Night Wars.
If you've missed any of the previous three parts, just click on my name to check out the 80s, 90s, and 2000-2005.
2006 brought in a whole new group of championship contenders and a whole new group of mid-card talent as well. Now mid-card talent is not a group that is automatically labeled underrated. The Intercontinental and US Championships are titles that should be looked at as with the same respect as the world titles. I do believe, however, that you should be someone who has earned one of these before moving on to the world titles. Everyone should have to move up in the ranks to get that spot. But not everyone does.
This brings us to the final installment of Wrestling’s Overrated and Underrated
- Batista – Debuting as Devon’s body guard, Batista quickly moved into Evolution and under the wing of Triple H where he skyrocketed to the top. He was tag team champion with both Ric Flair and John Cena, he held the World title four times, and he held the WWE championship two times. It seemed if he wasn’t injured, his only story line was going after the world title. He had a bizarre relationship with Rey Mysterio—one minute hugging and picking him up like he’s a little kid, then the next driving his head into the ground. His move set consists of Goldberg hand-me-downs; his entrance is ridiculous which we have dubbed The Wonder Woman entrance; and his in-ring taunts are that of The Ultimate Warrior. There is not one original thing about Batista and yet we were supposed to fear “The animal.” The controversies, the bashing of fellow wrestlers, and the industry in my opinion put Batista at the top of the list of overrated and just in general jerk of pro wrestling. A 41-year-old ex-bouncer, his best work was at the end of his run when he let his personality really come out, playing the whiny, I want to be champion character.
- Jeff Hardy – Jeff started great in the WWE and clearly excels in tag team matches. But his inability to be reliable and actually show up to wrestle make him such a poor commodity that questions why would anyone want him. He started in 1998, over 10 years ago and was one of the best new breakout stars of the time. But in the period of 2005 to now, he’s jumped from TNA to WWE back to TNA because you never know what Jeff Hardy you’ll get. You’ll get the same moves, the odd face paint, and the occasional crazy bump—but after years of doing this, it’s taken its toll on Jeff. Not to mention the partying and drugs as well that cost him his job several times. When he showed up at TNA this year and Tazz started screaming, “oh my god it’s Jeff Hardy!” my first thoughts were ‘big deal, here we go again, lets see how long he lasts this time.’
I’m hardpressed to pick out a third who really stands out. It's easy to say that these past five years, Triple H has been very predictable, but he’s also been very entertaining. Ric Flair and the rest of the old school guys over in TNA should be stepping back and letting others step in, and guys like X-Pac and Scott Hall should never be handed a championship again.
- Santino Marella - he made his debut in 2007 as a supposed fan in the crowd in Italy who was given a shot at the Intercontinental championship. When he was asked who he was he said, “Santino Marella” and the crowd in Milan Italy exploded. Little did they know he was Anthony Carelli born in Ontario, Canada. When Santino started out he didn’t begin as the funny man he became. He defended his IC title and constantly entertained the crowd. Along the way he became the comedian of the show, and as they say dying is easy, comedy is hard. His butchering of superstar names (Triple ‘Achay’, John Chena) his time as a part of Glamarella, even yes his stint as Santina Marella all have made him someone you hope to see on the show each week. I only hope that his teaming with Kozlov grows and they become a substantial team in the WWE or he goes back after the IC title and we once again get to see the Honk-A-Meter.
- CM Punk how can someone who was a three time world champion, an ECW champion, and a two time winner of Money in the Bank be underrated? Because with all his accolades, as quickly as he’s pushed to the top when everyone else is injured, as soon as they come back, he’s tossed to the wayside. He took something good like being straight edge and made it that of a heel. Think about that—we are booing the guy who's saying stay off drugs and don’t drink kids. It’s just great and pure poetic WWE—only they could make a monster out of a role model. His mic skills are great, his in-ring work is fantastic, and his story telling both in the ring and out are superior. He needs to be put back on top, and not in a fashion of he’s barely hanging onto the title, but as a real threat and true champion, whether it be as face or heel.
So many underrated guys that could be named, and a lot from TNA like Jay Lethal, Chris Sabin, one of my personal favorites Alex Shelly are all deserving of a bigger spotlight. In the WWE I also think guys like MVP, Evan Bourne and John Morrison need to have more title opportunities—maybe not world titles but definitely tearing up the scene going after the US and IC championships.
The Best of the Time
I had trouble picking just one. These two have actually been debated on this site as to which one is better, and yes, I might be a bit impartial because one of them has been my favorite forever but this is my list. Tou don’t like it write your own article.
A Tie – Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho
Kurt Angle – he departed from WWE in 2006 and to be honest at the time I thought it was such a dirty move. He went to Vince saying he needed to get out for health reasons, only to jump ship and end up on TNA that same year. While his beginning in TNA seemed to be a bit over-glorified, his in-ring work always stood out on his own. The Angle Alliance, the Thanksgiving Dinner episode, the feuding with AJ, and then the Main Event Mafia, and now the moving up the ladder to get back to number one. I wonder if that was written for him, or if its something he himself wanted to do. I’ve read his book—it sounds like the old Kurt Angle, the one that believed in Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence.
Chris Jericho – sure he was ‘fired’ in 2005 after loosing a match to Cena and we watched him on a singing reality show for a bit, but when he returned and the Save Us campaign began we got the best Jericho we have ever seen. The feuds with Shawn Michaels, smashing his face into the Jeri-tron, the incident with Shawn’s wife were all priceless, all fantastic Jericho and to this day he just keeps entertaining. Edge said it best last night on Raw. “Who’s survived all this time, we have”.
Other greats of the time that really stand out and could easily be listed here are Randy Orton and Edge.
The Stand Alone
Overrated? Perhaps. Underrated? Hard to imagine. Best of the Time? Some might say. Love him, hate him, boo him or cheer him, John Cena is in a class all unto his own and has been for the past 5 years.
So many people claim Cena is overrated, that he’s nothing but mic skills, and he can’t wrestle. Sure his move set is a bit simplistic but he’s thrown down with the best of them and had decent matches. His cocky attitude of ‘you can’t see me’ might be making the nay-sayers a bit louder but was Stone Cold ever that great of a wrestler? How many guys are? There are different styles, technical, high flyers, and brawlers, and I think Cena is a decent brawler.
Underrated? How can a guy who’s held the WWE championship 7 times and the heavyweight twice be underrated? I think a lot of people have forgotten the old Cena who was the US champ three times, and was losing to Carlito and was a midcard guy for the first three years of his career. He’s only been in the WWE for 8 years and he’s made such an impact on a global level that I think the haters are being much too harsh.
Best of the time? He’s been called the new Hulk Hogan, and while so many of us sit here now and say Hogan never had a good match, Hogan was a squash champion. But I know I when I was a kid I bought into Hulkamania and it made my eyes pop and look forward each week to watch, and now Cena is doing that for my kids. He’s creating the next generation of longtime wrestling fans who 20 years from now will be writing articles discussing how overrated he was but would probably still revert to a kid if he got to shake hands with him.
Hope you enjoyed, and I hope we can spark some good debates and conversation.