WWE: 20 Modern WWE Stars and Their Legendary Counterpart
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about comparing former and current stars.
In fact, CM Punk lately has been compared to many other stars as if he were just an evolved version of these former performers.
There are no shortage of ideas by people about who is who from the past.
I suppose I am here to just put my hat in the table by saying that these comparisons are a bit unfounded.
Yes, many stars have some characteristics of older stars, but that does not mean that they are just WWE's version of that star in modern WWE.
Each of these athletes is a distinct person, wrestler, and performer.
So the following are my comparisons of stars to their closest counterpart in the past. While some of these I will say are fairly close, there are no shortage of unfounded comparisons, and those who are close still have things that make them distinctive.
I'll start with a simple that might be a bit blatant for those with who remember back to the '90s.
Ezekiel Jackson is a big, strong and powerful man who is not exactly a friend with the microphone.
His biggest accomplishment is being a one-time Intercontinental Champion.
The star he most compares with is easy...
The one-time Intercontinental Champion, Ahmed Johnson was never a big success, though WWE wanted him to be.
They gave him many opportunities, but, ultimately, he just wasn't good enough at anything.
He was a big and strong guy—that was about it.
Johnson's promos are laughable at best and horrific at their worst.
Jackson compares favorably in that Jackson can actually wrestle somewhat and has developing mic skills, though his nervousness makes them weak.
In the end, they do match up well, but Jackson is a step up, which is good. We don't need anymore Fun With Ahmed videos popping this time called Fun With Ezekiel.
Comparison: Very similar, but advantage Zeke
The newest face of the women's division, Kelly Kelly is not the greatest performer and certainly not a great talker.
She has her looks, though, and mainstream popularity.
Being the face of the women's division is something that rarely happens, as WWE rarely gives any thought to promote the division, let alone give it a face.
Kelly Kelly is usually compared as one of the most popular faces of the division in WWE history.
This comparison is only fair to an extent.
Kelly Kelly are at different levels as competitors in the ring and on the mic. Stratus has her beat on both accounts, and that probably will never change.
Trish was, however, the original woman to come into the company and show that the attractive women that WWE loves to bring in can actually wrestle.
WWE wants Kelly Kelly to be the next Trish as a girl who comes in as attractive and ends up leading the company and a worker.
Kelly Kelly is simply never going to be at that level, though, so the comparison is weak at best.
Comparison: Not much there, even with WWE fighting for it
Yoshi Tatsu, my how the possibly mighty have been left to rot.
Tatsu is actually a great wrestler for those who don't know, but you will never see him on TV.
Because he is the smiley and happy cruiserweight babyface that WWE doesn't care for anymore.
The same happened to Trent Barreta.
There used to be a time where stars like this could thrive...
OK, I lied. WWE never really was great with their use of Japanese wrestlers.
Tajiri had an OK run, but he is not incredibly comparable to Tatsu.
Instead, I give you Funaki, who went from decent cruiserweight to jobber faster than it takes most to get a break in the company at all.
Funaki and Tatsu have a similar way with the mic as faces, which is not a great thing for either, as it is comical and parodied a bit too much.
Their wrestling styles are fast and hard-hitting.
In fact, they have a lot in common. I just hope that if Tatsu gets back on SmackDown soon he doesn't become an announcer.
In the end, they are very comparable in that they will probably both end up being considered jokes in the end, which is just a waste of good talent.
Comparison: WWE makes them the same
A rough, intense Irishman with a temper.
Sheamus came into the business at a fairly late age by WWE standards and seemed to be handed everything.
Everyone chastised him as being given too much, too fast without the skills to back it up.
Who else in WWE history was intense and powerful whom WWE had a deep set love for?
Oh, that guy!
Yes, the Ultimate Warrior.
He was a top competitor from the start who sparked up the crowd and was always incredibly intense.
Many have made this comparison before, though it is a bit flawed.
Sheamus and Ultimate Warrior may be big intense men that WWE loved, but Warrior will always be the one who could light up a crowd.
While Sheamus can get big cheers, he will never get near Warrior. At the same time, Sheamus is a much better performer both in the ring and on the mic.
Sorry for you Warrior fans out there, but, while Sheamus will never be as "cool," he will always be a better performer.
Comparison: Both intense, trade off between ability and excitement
The man who can light up an audience with wrestling more than his words ever could.
Evan Bourne is one of the greatest cruiserweights to ever step foot in a WWE ring.
However, he came a bit too late. At least about eight years too late.
If he had been around at the height of cruiserweight wrestling, he could be as popular now as Rey is—though, who knows?
He easily compares with another great cruiserweight, a seven-time champion for that weight class title, in fact...
He was one of the greatest cruiserweight stars of all time, with his finisher becoming one of the coolest of all time.
This connection between the two is more than just the Shooting Star Press as a finisher, though.
Both men are top-level cruiserweight talents with exciting and innovative movesets.
Kidman is probably a better mic worker, though it is debatable, as we rarely see Bourne on the mic and Kidman was a bit hit and miss.
Bourne has the edge in the ring as I see it.
In the end, both men are top cruiserweight talent, with Bourne being more than just Kidman 2.0. But still, the comparison is fair.
Comparison: Close but no cigar
Beth Phoenix, a dominant women's wrestler with the size and frame to make her a monster in the women's division.
Her ability and size have had her flirting with wrestling men rather than women at times, though it has never truly happened.
Who else was a dominant and large framed women in WWE? Too easy...
Chyna used to be a rare breed in the women's division.
She was mostly used as a valet and member in DX because she was just too powerful to face other women.
She is still the only woman in history to gain the Intercontinental Championship.
It is tough to compare them, even so, as their frames may be similar, but Beth has always been a women's wrestler.
On a skill level, I personally think Beth may be better, though it is hard to tell when she is limited in comparison to Chyna, who had to go all-out facing men in wrestling matches.
It's hard to say, as they were put in much different roles and, as such, wrestled much different styles. What is there to say? Beth is much more attractive, and isn't that all WWE cares about?
Comparison: Difficult to discern
A star who has come a very long way from his first days in the company.
Ryder was a Major Brother, then he was an Edgehead, and finally he became a gimmick that is almost a Jersey Shore rip-off [though it technically began before the show (credit: Brendan Houston)] jobber.
Somehow, of those three gimmicks, Ryder finally found success in the goofiness of his Jersey Shore-esque gimmick.
Not many people have tried to compare Ryder to anyone in particular, but there is a comparison to be made with...
The Ultimate Opportunist, one of the greatest of all time.
Edge didn't start out as Edge, the awesome heel.
He began as a vampire who eventually became normal and teamed up with some guy we all know as Christian.
The two teammates were great competitors, but their silly work at times could be considered a bit too out there for being serious stars in WWE today just as Ryder is dealing with now.
Edge and Ryder have a somewhat similar style to their in-ring work even though Ryder is much smaller than Edge in weight and height.
While Ryder cannot compare well right now with Edge, think about how Edge became great. Perhaps Ryder just needs that one break.
Hopefully it doesn't take as long as it did for Edge.
Comparison: Maybe only one gimmick away with skill development
Ah, Jack Swagger.
A big man with loads of talent who will never be given a real chance, which is a shame because he is just what WWE clambers for usually: a big man with in ring ability.
Sure, Swagger is extremely hit or miss on the mic, but he certainly has the presence to build if he can get over that lisp.
As far as in ring ability, he has gone from one of the best technical wrestling big men that everyone was watching become a star to one of the best technical wrestling big men that no one cares about.
Swagger, at his peak, was compared a lot to...
The original man to make the Ankle Lock truly shine.
Kurt Angle is one of the top technical wrestlers of all time.
He is not as big as Swagger, so he uses more ground and pound in the ring. Other than that, the two have a similar style.
Angle has the advantage of never having to worry about mic work. It came so naturally to Angle that people sometimes forget how good he could be.
In the end, Angle and Swagger are technical wrestlers. That is about as far as the comparison go, though Swagger will be entirely criticized for his Angle-like work until he uses a move other than the Ankle Lock.
Comparison: Technical skill though not much else
Daniel Bryan...quite simply the greatest wrestler in the world.
He can fly. He can out-wrestle anyone on the ground.
He is criticized for lacking charisma or interest on the mic.
Many call for him to be more aggressive and ruthless.
All facts that link him to...
Yes, the obvious comparison by most, Chris Benoit, is not actually the perfect comparison.
Instead, Dean Malenko is quite simply Bryan's father, as far as the ability goes.
Bryan and Malenko have about the same build and same in-ring technicality.
Malenko was ignored by many for his "boring" nature and "lack of charisma."
The comparisons are pretty clear here, though Bryan is a much better mic worker and charismatic star than Malenko, and he also has the advantage as a wrestler.
So basically, Bryan is Malenko 2.0.
Comparison: Bryan = Malenko Evolved
A masked wrestler who is a star in Mexico.
A guy who can fly and dazzle any crowd.
The comparisons were coming in before he even debuted...
This is absolutely one of the most overused and tired comparisons by fans.
At this point, WWE probably already had Sin Cara penciled in as Mysterio's replacement.
The truth is that there are a lot of lucha libre wrestlers with masks out there. They are not all possible replacements for Mysterio.
Sin Cara, formerly Mistico, is one of the greatest Mexican wrestlers of all time who is also a cruiserweight, so he is as close as WWE is going to go at this point to replace Mysterio.
However, the project so far has been a failure for Sin Cara, who has never blended with the WWE style, which is something that Mysterio did with surprising ease.
In the end, Cara and Mysterio are different wrestlers, though there is probably just enough to make the comparison, mainly because they are both in WWE.
Comparison: They fly, they wear masks, what else do you want?
Mason Ryan is a big guy with big muscles.
He is a power heavyweight who compares to a man who many say he looks a lot like...
Yes, by now, everyone has heard the comparison between the two.
Honestly, they kind of look like brothers, but what matters is how their abilities and styles merge.
Batista did not start out as much more than a muscular guy. The same can be said for Ryan now.
Batista developed his power moves while slowly fine tuning his mic skills until he had become a star.
Mason Ryan has yet to do this, but he is trying.
Their styles are fairly similar from Batista's early years.
The difference, though, is that Ryan is from Wales, which will become much more of a factor when he can really speak—which could be a while.
Until then, he can be safely called by most the next form on Batista.
Comparison: Possibly Batista reborn
Kofi Kingston is a solid in-ring competitor.
He is explosive when he needs to be, and he can really fly.
His mic skills are underappreciated and can be great given time and opportunity.
But who does he compare to?
Booker T has always been an explosive star.
In his early years, especially, his high flying was incredibly high impact.
Booker is a questionable mic worker, sometimes great, sometimes lousy, though his charisma always makes it a show.
Booker and Kofi are similar in many ways. In fact, if Kofi turned heel, he could use a Booker-like gimmick fairly easily.
The stars are not perfectly similar in that Kofi is more of a flier and cruiserweight, but they have a similar explosiveness and attitude.
Comparison: Explosiveness in different packages
Eve is possibly one of the most improved women wrestlers of all time.
She went from being nothing more than a model to becoming a high flier with a surprisingly innovative move set.
Not many stars can be compared to her, as she keeps improving and becomes one of the most unnoticed gems in the division in the ring and even on the mic when necessary.
There is one though...
I know, I know.
Kelly Kelly and Trish have more in common at face value, but looking deeper there are similarities.
Eve may not be as much of a daredevil (though who ever will be in comparison to Lita?), but she gains more and more of the high flier power of Lita each time she wrestles.
Obviously, Eve has a long way to go, but, unlike Kelly, Eve might just get there.
There is the high flying style, the understated beauty, and the attitude that makes them both good mic workers, especially in comparison to most women in the business.
Comparison: A work in progress
Wade Barrett is an Englishman with class.
He is a brawler at heart who wrestles in a big man style, though he still has the size to maneuver quickly.
It may seem obvious, or maybe it's just because they're both English...
Wade Barrett has many close comparisons with Regal.
They both are brawlers at heart who tend to ground and pound rather than fly.
Regal has more of a technical style over Barrett's physicality, but their general move sets are comparable.
On the mic, they are both gold, as they just radiate presence and dignified nature.
You almost call them both kingly.
Their accents are both awesome, by the way.
Comparison: Both classy, brawling Englisman
Big Show is the oldest man on this list, but the comparison between him and one other legend is undeniable.
Show is a huge man with strength and power that makes up for some of his lack of mobility.
He can also wrestle on the ground, even taking that scary chance or two on the ring ropes.
His size, though, is what makes many compare him to...
Andre the Giant
The Eighth Wonder of the World and the most legendary giant possibly to ever live.
Andre was a beast, and it made him a huge attraction.
While he wrested quite a bit with ideal psychology and emotion in the ring, there was nothing technical about Andre.
Show lacks that pure emotion that Andre had, as he tried to make up for it by wrestling for the spectacle.
The big men are mainly comparable for their size rather than their abilities, but no one will ever drop this comparison.
Comparison: They are both giants
Dolph Ziggler took a while to find it, but he now has "it."
He can talk. He has charisma in spades. He has some of the best wrestling ability in the business.
He also has that all-important emotion in the ring.
He exudes technique, focus, determination, and a will to steal the show.
Who else just brings it no matter what?
Shawn Michaels, the Showstopper, the main event.
Comparing the early heel Shawn Michaels to the current Dolph Ziggler is like comparing The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien to Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Sure, they are not identical, but you can see the inspiration.
The two both have that swagger, but, more importantly, they just have that natural ability to steal the show every night.
Ziggler is not Michaels, but he is perhaps an evolution or modern adaptation of the classic Showstopper.
Comparison: A new brand of cockiness, same affinity to outshine all
Honorable Mention: Curt Hennig
The Miz is the perfect example of the modern WWE superstar.
He has charisma and mic skills that transcend everything else, but he has in ring ability that is often criticized.
That is not to say he's a bad wrestler, just that people typically want more, which he still fights to find.
Beyond everything else, Miz is cocky. He is completely into himself, and he lets everyone know it.
Do you know who else has charisma, is full of themselves, has sometimes questioned in ring ability, and starts his name with "The"?
While arguments can be for Jericho here in terms of gimmick, Miz patterned himself after The Rock more than anyone?
He has admitted it directly before. It was the inspiration for his own in-ring name.
The Rock is one of the most charismatic stars of all time, and he rides that charisma everywhere.
It doesn't matter if he is wrestling, walking around, or talking on the mic. The Rock gives you that charisma.
He also never tires of putting himself over, especially in the third person.
Rock's wrestling has never been his greatest attribute, but he can really get it done when needed, just as Miz does more and more.
Comparison: The Miz could start talking about himself in third person, and we wouldn't blink an eye
Honorable Mention: Chris Jericho
He is the second biggest star in WWE today in terms of credibility, championships, and in-ring ability.
Randy Orton has everything going for him. He's young. He's completely over. He is one of the best in-ring competitors in the business. His gimmick is fully ingrained in the WWE Universe.
Orton is a cold, calculating face who acts more like a violent heel, but he gets cheered, making him one of WWE's two anti-hero figures.
His RKO is the most over and probably the greatest finisher in the company.
He is a legend in his own right, though he is comparable...
Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE would have us all cheer for Orton, as we once did Stone Cold Steve Austin.
They even went out of their way to have Orton adopt some of Austin's old signatures.
Is it a comparable twosome? Yes.
They are both way too over for what they represent: one, a drunkard who hates all authority and, the other, a cold, calculating snake who can't get along with anyone.
They are both great in-ring psychologists who have similar brawling styles. Orton used to fly more, something Austin did not do, but he has forsaken the sky for his gimmick's sake.
They are two cold SOBs.
Comparison: Like two books on the same shelf
Honorable Mention: Jake "The Snake" Roberts
CM Punk is a rare breed of star who has paved the way for himself.
He is no man but himself.
Many people compare him to many different people with his anti-authority run and his affinity to say whatever he wants whenever he wants.
Who best compares with Punk?
Well, if it's not Stone Cold...
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Now, I can see the comparisons.
They both are good mic workers, and they used to both be criminally erratically booked with horrible situations that they still made great matches out of.
Roddy Piper, however, is no Punk, and Punk is no Piper.
They are both controversial, but their in-ring ability is completely different with much different mic technique.
Comparison: Two controversial figures with different styles
Honorable Mention: Stone Cold Steve Austin
John Cena, the most polarizing figure in WWE today, a man who has been called out unfairly as not being a wrestler, being completely corny, and burying all other stars.
Yeah, maybe I should just get straight over to the comparison we all know is coming...
The faces of two generations, both men have been criticized for burying stars and not even wrestling.
It is hard in professional wrestling for a company to make a good balance between marketability and proper talent use.
Hulk Hogan dominated WWE for much longer than Cena in that he held that WWE Championship so long that many great stars never even got a chance at that title.
In the end, though, the comparison is their charisma and in-ring ability.
They both have loads of charisma and good mic work that can be great at times or weak at others.
Their in-ring ability is where Cena exceed Hogan, as he can truly go when the lights go down, and Cena truly could carry a match which was something Hogan rarely did.
Cena will have a hard time reaching the legendary popularity of Hogan, but he certainly has the similarities and the ability to even pass him up.
Comparison: Two of the most controversial men in WWE history with similar traits in their rise
In the end, no star today, no matter how close, is an exact remake of a star in the past.
Orton is not Stone Cold. Cena is not Hogan.
And while it is fun to look back at these comparisons, is it really best to hold onto the past?
The present and the future bring excitement and surprise.
Sure, we could recreate the Attitude Era if we really wanted to, but haven't we already seen it?
Complain all you want about the current product. I know I will at some point. However, at least, it is different and can never be truly predicted.
Thanks for reading!