WWE Power Rankings: CM Punk and the 25 Greatest Superstars of the 2000s
After I covered the '90s in a previous top 25, it was natural for me to follow with the greatest WWE wrestlers of the last decade.
If the '90s was a transitional decade, the '00s was the confirmation the WWE could adapt to anything. The fans witnessed the end of the Attitude Era, the full cycle of the Ruthless Aggression Era and the birth of the PG Era.
A lot of things happened in the first decade of the 21st century, from retirements to tragedies and from the arrival of the new generation Superstars to some who simply came and left with a bang.
To build the following top 25 of the greatest (and not best or purest) wrestlers, I considered 11 factors, including the major and secondary championships, the in-ring abilities, the mic skills, the impact on WWE and the charisma.
It was easy to list the amount of championships and how many times the wrestlers headlined WrestleMania or other major pay-per-view events. However, there could be dissidence regarding the other factors, such as the mic skills and the impact on WWE.
Keep in mind that the list is only for what happened in the exclusive period of 2000 to 2009.
So, with no more introduction, let's see who made the cut and who's the greatest wrestler of the last decade.
25. Big Show
The World's Largest Athlete is the only true giant since Andre The Giant.
Just like Andre, the Big Show was mainly used as a jobber to the highest-level Superstars. But still, he found his way to the top with one world title reign in 2002. Since then, he went on the downfall for the rest of the decade.
If he was not a top-class enhancement talent, he would miss the cut for the top 25.
24. The Dudley Boyz
With 10 Tag Team Championships in less than six years, they proved to be one of the greatest tag teams ever.
They were rarely on the top of the card, but they were a gem in the tag team division.
The Dudleys introduced the regular use of tables in WWE and they became an unstoppable hardcore duo.
If he was almost on par with Edge during the E & C era, Christian's singles career quickly stalled when the team disbanded.
He had some success in the mid-card division, becoming a three-time Intercontinental Champion and gaining a very big fanbase, but there was a little something missing to elevate to the very top.
Going nowhere, Christian joined TNA to eventually come back as the face of the now-defunct ECW with two title reigns with the brand. Then, in 2009, he was left in front of an uncertain future.
Kane started the last decade with a huge statement when he eliminated a record of 11 wrestlers at the 2001 Royal Rumble.
When he was meant to be a dominant force, after his shocking debut in 1997 and his brutal ascension, he became The Big Red Jobber.
He was still a popular figure and a solid wrestler so he managed to put on his resume six Tag Team, two Intercontinental and one ECW Championship.
21. Trish Stratus
The only woman on the list made it because she was without a doubt the greatest female wrestler of her generation.
She was one of the rare wrestling ladies to have actual charisma and great in-ring abilities.
Some might say she's overrated, but no one can deny she was a true warrior who brought prestige to the Women's Championship and who became the ultimate Diva prototype.
20. Rob Van Dam
In only six years with the company, RVD won the WWE Championship on one occasion and he won 10 secondary titles in the last decade.
However, for some reason, despite once being the most popular wrestler on the roster, he didn't stay on the top of the mountain once he reached it.
He didn't catch attention with his very average mic skills, but his astonishing wrestling style did the job.
19. JBL aka Bradshaw
The self-made millionaire entered the 21st century as Bradshaw, a brawler selling his services as a member of the duo called the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA).
He then parted ways from his associate to start a singles run and he quickly made his mark as JBL. With his new persona, he won the biggest prize in WWE to keep it for an impressive 280-day reign.
In the meantime, until he retired in 2009, he became a Grand Slam Champion and one of the most hated heels ever, with his arrogant businessman millionaire gimmick.
18. Eddie Guerrero
As one of the greatest high-flyers of all time, Eddie Guerrero was not a top draw in WWE, but he never failed to deliver classic matches and promos.
With his "I lie, I cheat, I steal" motto, he could generate heat like only few others. And he did it with so much panache, that even those who booed him started to cheer for him.
As a one-time WWE champion, he won't be remembered as a dominant wrestler, being mostly stuck in the mid-card division where he won his share of gold.
However, regardless of championships, he will be remembered as one of the best all-around performers.
17. Chris Benoit
Benoit was one of the greatest technicians ever and he proved it on many occasions. It led him to one World championship and to 11 secondary title reigns in the 2000s.
In 2004, the year he won the Royal Rumble, he was seen as the Wrestler Of The Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI). On that special year, he was also involved in the PWI Match Of The Year (at WrestleMania XX) and in the Feud Of The Year.
He was not exactly a top guy on the mic or the most charismatic, but his outstanding wrestling skills drew admiration from everyone and a huge fanbase.
16. Booker T
He headlined his share of major PPVs and he became a world champion on two occasions in the 2000s. And, with his overall character, he was a great storyteller with decent mic skills.
The 2006 King Of The Ring was not the best technician, but, with all the heart he put in his matches, it compensated and made for great spectacles.
In addition to his world titles, he managed to put the hand on the tag team gold on four occasions. He also won the Intercontinental Title once and the US Championship three times, becoming one of the most decorated wrestlers in the business if we count his WCW years.
15. Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma could be way higher on that list, but we all know his story.
He had everything for him. He mesmerized the crowds with his unmatched suicidal dives and with his unorthodox wrestling style.
He was one of the most popular of his generation and a three-time world champion. The only problem is that he was always one step behind due to his behaviour outside the ring.
14. CM Punk
If you combine his charisma, mic skills and wrestling abilities, you have the total package in CM Punk.
He is the only one to have won the Money In The Bank match twice and it happened both times on the Grandest Stage of Them All. And, on both occasions, he didn't fail to cash his contracts to capture the World Heavyweight Championship.
CM Punk won a third World title when he defeated Jeff Hardy in 2009. In addition to being a former ECW, Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, he became the only one to have officially won against The Undertaker via submission. All that from 2006 to 2009.
13. Rey Mysterio
Especially loved by the kids and appreciated by most of the other fans, the masked flying Superstar had an undeniable impact on WWE in the 2000s.
With his agility and his resilience, the ultimate underdog managed to become a two-time world champion and the winner of the 2006 Royal Rumble.
He was more than just a draw for the Hispanic audiences; he actually became a top dog and one of the most popular wrestlers of the last decade.
12. Brock Lesnar
The Next Big Thing would be higher on the list, but considering he only spent three years with WWE, he has to be put no higher than 12th.
The word "impact" could be associated with his name in the dictionary. He entered the business with an unprecedented bang and, even today, we can feel the aftermath of his impact.
He literally destroyed everyone on his path, including The Undertaker and Kurt Angle. In fact, nothing could stop his ascension to the top and his three WWE titles.
11. Steve Austin
Stone Cold barely missed the top 10, thanks to his career-ending injuries. He didn't rule as he did in the '90s, but he still had that "it" factor and he went with some unforgettable moments before hanging up his boots.
When he won the 2001 Royal Rumble, he became the first and only to emerge victorious from the January Classic on three occasions. In the last decade, he also added two more WWE titles to his list of accomplishments.
Despite his best years being behind him, he never failed to entertain the crowds like only he could do with his unique promos.
10. Shawn Michaels
HBK represented the new generation in the '90s, but when he came back in 2002, he was a member of the old guard, along with The Undertaker.
If his best years were behind him, he still had gas in the tank and he proved more than once that he was The Main Event and The Showstopper.
He didn't need to win more than one world championship to prove his value. He was there to entertain the fans and that is exactly what he did, with his classic promos and his stints with DX.
9. The Undertaker
His presence in the top 10 should surprise no one. The Undertaker entered the new millennium with a brand new biker's gimmick to eventually come back to his old Deadman persona.
In the 2000s, he put his hands on four world championships and he continued his unique domination. As in the '90s, he was not always in the spotlight, but he was still a top draw and the glue holding the WWE together.
In those years, the WrestleMania streak began to have more and more importance, especially when he reached 15-0.
We could also talk about his Royal Rumble win in 2007 and about his four Tag Team Championships, but we all know his legacy goes beyond his list of accomplishments.
At some point in the last decade, The Animal was on the top of the mountain, but he didn't manage to steal Cena's spot. Batista mainly lacked the mic skills to become the face of the company.
However, despite his below-average in-ring abilities, his intensity allowed him to deliver some great matches and to be involved in memorable feuds.
As a five-time world champion and the 2005 Royal Rumble winner, he was without a doubt one of the greatest of his generation.
7. Randy Orton
His runs as The Legend Killer and The Viper built his legacy in the 2000s. And his time with Evolution truly helped him to evolve into what he is today.
From 2002 to 2009, he managed to become a six-time world champion and a Royal Rumble winner.
His charisma and his wrestling abilities are the reasons why he became a top draw, but he still has to work on his mic skills.
6. The Rock
The Great One was still a top dog in the 2000s, but only for a few years until he left. But while he was there, he was the biggest draw for two solid years.
From 2000 to 2002, he won five world titles and two Tag Team Championships, but he faded away until he left in 2004.
His mic skills and charisma are the big reasons why he's in the top 10 but he barely missed the top 5 because didn't headline many major PPVs.
5. Chris Jericho
The first WWF Undisputed Champion added two World Heavyweight Titles to his resume in the 2000s.
In addition to his three world titles, Jericho added eight Intercontinental Championship reigns to his first in 1999, to become the record-holder for the most reigns, with nine in total.
With his astonishing arsenal of moves and his uncommon mic skills, he proved to be one of the most complete wrestlers ever.
The Rated-R Superstar was rarely the top draw, but he was always good second. He never tried to steal the spotlight and he accepted his role with dignity, contributing to build many other careers.
From 2000 to 2009, he won a total of 29 championships, including nine world titles. He also brought the Tag Team division to a new level with 13 championships and he established the new standards for the ladder match concept.
He became one of the most versatile wrestlers in the business and he can be rightfully called the total package.
3. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle won it all in six years when he was with the WWE. He became a six-time world champion and he is the 2000 King Of The Ring.
However, beyond the numbers, he will be remembered as probably the best wrestler in WWE history when we talk about in-ring abilities.
If he was not always the biggest draw of his time, he made his presence felt with his too-often underrated mic skills. He could cut classic promos and he was an ace to sell storylines.
2. John Cena
The current face of WWE started his ascension to the top in 2002 and, in only a few years, he became the top draw of the company.
In eight years, he won seven world titles and he had many long reigns. He headlined WrestleMania on five occasions and he won the 2008 Royal Rumble.
If his in-ring abilities are not outstanding, his mic skills and his charisma always did the job to get the spotlight on him.
1. Triple H
Triple H headlined 22 major pay-per-view events, including eight WrestleManias in the 2000s and he won 11 world titles in that time frame.
His impact on WWE was unmatched for 10 years and no one can deny his charisma or his overall skills.
He was involved in several classic, brutal feuds and he always delivered greatly when he stepped in a ring.
I didn't include the calculations I made to determine the order of the list because I prefer to keep them for the comment section if needed.
That being said, the comment section is wide open for discussion and for your opinion.
Who doesn't belong on the list?
Who should be there?
Do you agree or disagree with the order?
Who should be No. 1 if not Triple H (and why)?