WWE: A Look Back at the Past 15 Years

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IINovember 4, 2010

WWE: A Look Back at the Past 15 Years

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    Just a look back at the past 15years of Professional Wrestling in the WWE.

    We will look back at which superstar shined the brightest in each year from 1995 to 2010.

1995: Year Of The Hitman

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    WWE Championship

    Arguably the greatest Canadian wrestler of our time, Bret has wrestling in his blood, he is the son of legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart and brother of the late great Owen Hart. Bret was never really taken seriously upon his arrival in the WWE. I mean wrestling was all about one thing, Muscles and Bret obviously lacked the goods. 

    Vince however thought otherwise, by biding his time he managed to make Bret the greatest face in the wrestling world for over 15 years. once Hogan and company left the WWE, there was an opening for a new wrestler to take the brass ring, Bret was called on as Vince's prodigy. Small for his size Bret and Vince managed to use to put on some of the greatest matches in the world. His feud with HBK and the British Bulldog were some glimpses of just how great once can be. 

    Bret was also part of the Hart Foundation, a Canadian group who despised Americ

1996: Year Of The Heart Break Kid

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    1996 Royal Rumble Winner

    Def. Bret Hart WWE Championship: Wrestlemania 12

    The Showstopper is one of the WWE's finest assets. Once the looker, HBK had it all he was loved by most and hated by many yet he is still regarded as one of the greatest to ever step foot inside the squared circle.

    Vince new all to well just how arrogant and cocky HBK can be, so instead of fighting it he used it to bring in a whole new range of audiences around the states and worldwide. HBK is noted for some of the most controversial moments in wrestling history such as the Montreal screwjob, Curtain call and of course D-X. 

    D-X today is still one of the best selling merchandise products in the WWE, the fan base is so big that people from China named their local football team Degeneration X. HBK is not known as the showstopper because of his outrageous behavior but mainly due to his incredible in ring ability, he can make any one look good.

    his matches with Bret Hart, HHH, Austin, Owen, Taker, Angle etc are some of the finest spectacles ever seen in a WWE Ring. He is a shoe in for a future HOF and thanks to Vince we have witnessed one of the greatest entertainers grace us with his presence for over 20 glorious years.

1997: Year Of The Rattlesnake

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    1997 Royal Rumble Winner

    Feud With Vince

    WWE Champion

    Like Undertaker, Austin was never really seen as a big star in both ECW and WCW. However Vince so tremendous potential in the young lad so he decided to put his faith in him and by word he was right.

    Austin is the poster child for WWE, if you ask anybody what do you think of when I say WWE, Austin will be the first thing to come out of their mouth. This is mainly due to the fact that Austin defeated the great Jake Roberts to become The KOTR Champion and also the birth of Austin 3:16. Till this day I can't think of anybody else who gets a bigger ovation the the rattlesnake. People love his ways and his character possibly due to the fact that they can relate to what Austin is going through, a working man who hates his boss.

    The Austin and McMahon feud as well as the Austin and the Rock feud helped the WWE win the Monday Night wars against WCW, putting an end to the ratings war. Austin may never wrestle again, but that has not stopped us from seeing him he usually makes brief appearances as well as taking up role sin various movies most recently The Expendables starring Jet Li and Stallone.

1998: Year Of The Deadman

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    WWE Championship

    Tag Team Championship

    Creation of the Ministry 

    The Undertaker or Mark Calloway previously wrestled for the WCW before he made the witch to the WWE. In this time the WCW managed to make a real mockery from what would be one of the greatest wrester's and icons in the business today.

    Undertaker debut in the WWE in 1990, during a time where characters such as Hogan and Savage were running the show, so how do you create a character so unique an different and throw him into a pack of wild lions only to come out of there alive?

    Well its simple create a man who is already dead, that's right create an Undertaker. His character was such a huge success that he had followers from all over the world coming into watch the Deadman in action. Perhaps the greatest piece of creative thinking was having this 7ft man coming in and defeating The American Hero Hulk Hogan for the WWE title within his first year in the company. This impressed a lot of people who at the time must of felt that wrestling was real so obviously majority of the WWE Universe will cheer the Top dog just look at Hogan.

    They also have Undertaker a nice background which allowed them to build around is character for instance the introduction of Kane his younger brother, Casket matches, Hell in a cell matches, Inferno matches and buried alive matches, all of which suited the big mans criteria. Lastly by giving Taker the streak it has made him a Legend to a point that if he were to be defeated at Mania then Wrestling would die along with him.

1999: Year Of Great One

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    Headlined Wrestlemania 15

    WWE Champion

    The Rock started of his career, as the son of Rocky Johnson or Rcky Maivia, he was athletic, charismatic yet the crowd never appreciate him and often found themselves booing him out of the building. 

    The Rock then went home and came up with a knew gimmick and persona, he dropped Maivia and became known as The Rock. A Cocky, arrogant wrestler who walks and o everyone and talks about anyone. 

     The Rock finally had the breathing space to showcase his talents to the world without the pressure of been known as Rocky Johnson's son. he immediately made an impact by becoming the youngest and first Samoan wrestler to win the IC Championship. 

    The crowd never no how to react by this I mean although the Rock was an A** they loved him. Vince fed on the electricity that the Rock was garnering from every arena he went to and used it to his advantage. He made the Rock into a superstar by having him dethrone the legendary Ron Simmons from the Nation of Domination.

    Feuds with Foley, HHH and Austin would help him develop his in ring chemistry with wrestlers as well as the audience. his unique ability to capture the audiences attention just by using his words made him into a cultural icon, with rappers and actors world wide using his various catch phrases in moves, songs and commercials.

    Rock owes Vince hugely, by becoming a great wrestler it allowed him to branch into Hollywood, after his first solo movie the Scorpion King, the rock became one of the most wanted stars in Hollywood and is currently filming his new move the Fast and Furious 5.

2000: Year Of The Game

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    HHH is known for his amazing physique and tremendous attitude and will for the sport of professional wrestling. Vince was never a fan of hunter mainly because of his antics with HBK in the mid 90's. however he took a shine to him during the years of 1999/2000, where he along with the Rock created some of the most epic moments in sport today. HHH became the WWE Champions few times during this time gap and it made the crowd angry. Especially because HHH was in cahoots with the McMahon's this certainly made good TV.

    HHH today is seen more as a veteran than a leader, as he gives way to younger talent HHH will always be remembered for the moment she shared and have the WWE universe such as D-X, Evolution, HHH VS. ROCK, Angle and Austin. As well as a host o others.

2001; Year Of The Big Red Machine

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    Hardcore Champion

    Tag Team Champion

    WCW Tag Champion

    Most Eliminations in a Rumble

    IC Champion


    The current World Heavyweight Champion and former WWE Champion is a true man of the sport.

    Kane is a true face of wrestling. Where would we be today without the BIg Red Machine?

    The Undertaker would seem somewhat incomplete, the roster would not have any genuine characters, and we would not have one of the greatest big men of the sport.

    Kane has the uncanny habit of doing some amazing moves for a person of his size. He can perform Huracanranas, dropkicks, top rope moves, etc.

    Kane can adapt with any wrestler in the ring from Kurt Angle to Miz. He is one of the strongest wrestlers there is in the business and one of the most professional.

    He waited over 10 years to capture his second title; in this time, he allowed for younger talent to move forward

2002: Year Of The Pain

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    Lesnar is listed for  a couple reasons but mainly due to his success outside the WWE World. Lesnar came to the WWE in 2002 billed as the next big thing and managed by former ECW owner Paul heyman. Lesnar was a big powerful man who made everyone look like rag dolls in the ring i.e. Rikishi and Mark Henry. He quickly made a name for himself by winning the KOTR tournament in 2002, he "ended" the career of Hulk Hogan and he won the WWE Championship from the Rock all in the space of months. 

    His matches with Angle helped him pursue a career in MMA. not to say that he was not keen in MMA before his WWE debut, but it did give him a name and allowed him to get a title shot in UFC after only a couple matches. He is currently the UFC Champion and in my mind the greatest fighter in the world.

2003: Year Of The Olympic Machine

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    WWE Champion

    Tag Team Champion

    The greatest wrestler in WWE is without a doubt one of the greatest performers too.

    He feuded with nearly every guy on the roster from Kane to Test to Hogan and Rock. Angle was a man somewhat like HBK who could make anyone look good in the ring. 

    He has won every single achievable title for his weight category. The only accomplishment to elude him is the Royal Rumble; that is not to say that he has not headlined a Wrestlemania, he has headlined four Wrestlemanias.

    Angle's feud with Lesnar made 2003 a very successful year for the company as they progressed through the whole Ruthless Aggression era.

    He helped guys like Cena, Edge, and others to make it to the top of the mountain

2004: Year Of The Wolverine

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    Royal Rumble Winner

    Headlined Wrestlemania

    World Champion 

    He dedicated his life to the sport. He started at New Japan Pro Wrestling and eventually worked his way to WWE. Benoit was one of the great pure wrestlers the company had to offer.

    His matches alone were treated with tremendous respect by those around him. I truly enjoyed his feud with Kurt Angle in particular. At a time where Entertainers such as Rock, HHH and Austin were calling the shots, these two men showed the other side or the forgotten side of wrestling and all its glory


2005: Year Of The Champ

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    Hate him or love him, Cena is the man of the moment. People must realize where and how Cena started in the WWE. He debut in 2003 and faced Kurt in a match deemed a ruthless aggression try out. Cena was great in the ring, fast dedicated and was able to keep up with the likes of Y2J.

    However no one really would of thought that Cena would go onto become the icon that he is today. Vince repackaged the prototype persona of Cena and made him into a white hip hop rapper who was young cocky and basically could not rap. This enraged the audience as they felt Cena was making a mockery out of the hip hop world, however during the whole lesnar, Angle feud which was about 2years after his initial debut, Cena struck gold by pinning Big show to help Team Angle to victory and from that point on a star was born. i mean no one had a problem when Cena was defeating the likes of Lesnar so why do they have a problem when he defeats Edge and others.

    He is now one of the biggest names in the company, he is slowly making the transition into movies and music and has most certainly becoming a national icon.

2006: Year Of The Underdog

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    Royal Rumble Winner

    World Champion

    The underdog of WWE, Rey has always been a fan favorite since his days at WCW, Rey has been able to give us 5 star matches on a weekly basis.

    Rey was one of the most popular wrestlers in WCW, ECW and of course, WWE.

    He has been involved in many high profiled matches during his career, he has won the Royal Rumble and has managed to Headline and win a Wrestlemania match.

    Rey is a great role model for younger talent who wish to follow in is footsteps. His good nature and wrestling persona has helped accelerate Mr. 619 to the top of the mountain,

2007: Year Of The Rated R Superstar

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    World Champion

    MITB Winner


    Edge is charismatic, experienced, talented, great worker of the Mic and host of other assets that make the Rated R Superstar the hot ticket of the moment.

    Although his in ring ability and work ethic has come somewhat subdued and repetitive, he still manages to put on five-star matches week in week out.

    Edge is a great singles wrestler and he was a huge tag team specialist with partner Christian.

    From then, he has managed to claw his way up the ranks of the company by biding his time and waiting for the right moment to become number one, when the likes of Benoit, Eddie, Lesnar and others were not part of WWE, Edge managed to make the most of a golden opportunity.

    Edge has won the KOTR and the MITB it was at these two moments that his character developed into one of the biggest icons known today


2008: Year Of The Lion

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    World Champion

    World Unified Tag Champion 

    After his unappreciated spell with the WCW in the mid 90's, Jericho finally decided to jump to rival show WWE after signing a contract with the company in 1999. 

    Then during a promo that took place on Aug. 9, 1999, we were finally introduced to the already established superstar Chris Jericho. 

    The crowd went insane, they could not believe there eyes as one of WCW's guys were standing in front of the Titantron whilst the People's Champion, The Rock, was in the ring.

    Just to show you how great of a star Jericho is, for a debut he was electric; personally I feel no one has ever come close to duplicating what Jericho did that night.

    He was composed, energetic and certainly charismatic, he put on a great display of character as he wooed the Chicago audience, the chemistry he created with the Rock was certainly special.

    Jericho has the distinct honor of holding the prestigious IC Championship more times than any other superstars

    During the Invasion angle, we were treated to some pretty amazing moments such as Stone Cold Steve Austin's Betrayal, DDP revealed as the stalker, The Return of the Rock, and of course Chris Jericho capturing his first heavyweight title.

    The great thing about this particular victory is not that he was competing against the Rock, but that he finally achieved what every wrestler wants and that is to be the best in the business at what they do.

    Now we should not really state that winning titles makes you the best, however after the way Jericho was treated in WCW, the way he was misused etc

    It was great to finally see him wear the gold around his waist

2009: Year Of The Viper

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    World Champion

    WWE Champion

    Royal Rumble Winner

    Headlined Wrestlemania


    Orton started off small; he debuted as the son of Bob Orton and slowly worked his way to becoming The Viper and current WWE Champion.

    His greatest moment or transition was most probably The Legend Killer persona, which allowed Orton to showcase his talents against some of the most iconic wrestlers known today such as Undertaker, The Rock, Austin, Flair and Mankind amongst others.

    His time in the Evolution stable helped him develop other aspects of his wrestling lifestyle such as mic work and chemistry.

    He is arguably alongside Cena, one of the two alpha males of WWE at the moment.

2010: Year Of The Celtic Warrior

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    WWE Champion

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