Every Top WWE Star's Signature Moment of the Past Decade

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2019

Every Top WWE Star's Signature Moment of the Past Decade

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    Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35
    Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35Credit: WWE.com

    Every year, the men and women of WWE create dozens, if not hundreds, of memorable moments, but only a few truly define a Superstar.

    If you look back at some of the biggest legends in this business, it is easy to pinpoint their biggest moment from a specific decade. For Hulk Hogan, it was beating Andre the Giant in the 1980s and forming the New World Order in the '90s.

    Not all defining moments are good. For Bret Hart, most people will remember the Montreal Screwjob and his subsequent exit from WWE to join WCW.

    Over the past 10 years, fans have criticized WWE more than ever. People have griped about everything from the quality of storylines to management not pushing the right Superstars.

    But in between all of those complaints, WWE and its Superstars have delivered some unforgettable moments. Let's look back at the past 10 years and the signature moments for some of WWE's top stars. We are only going to focus on current talents, and this is not a ranked list, so the order is irrelevant.

Roman Reigns Is in Remission

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    Roman Reigns has won multiple titles and was part of one of the most popular stables in WWE history with The Shield, but for most fans, his most important moment of the decade was his return from cancer treatment.

    On October 22, 2018, Reigns revealed to the world he had leukemia. At this point in his career, The Big Dog was being booed more than any villain in the company. It had become trendy to dislike him despite a track record of great performances.

    As soon as he revealed his diagnosis, all of that false hate went away. Fans who were booing him a few minutes earlier were visibly crying when he spoke about needing to take time off to treat his disease.

    On February 25, Reigns returned to WWE and revealed he was in remission. The WWE Universe gave him a hero's welcome, and he has been a fan favorite ever since.

    The speech he gave that night was heartfelt and genuine. We were listening to Joe Anoa'i talk about how thankful he was, not the character of Roman Reigns.

    Everybody has known somebody whom cancer has affected directly or indirectly, so seeing Reigns return served as an inspiration to many fans who were going through the same thing.

Daniel Bryan Returns from Injury After Three Years

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    Pro wrestlers are forced to retire from in-ring competition every year. In 2015, we all thought Daniel Bryan's name would be added to that list.

    Neck injuries and concussions led to The Yes! Man being forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship following Extreme Rules 2015.

    After three years of working on his health and working with experts to evaluate his condition, Bryan was cleared to return to the ring on March 20, 2018.

    The crowd lost its collective mind as an emotional Bryan thanked everyone for their support during his battle. It was the feel-good moment of the year.

    As he spoke, the arena quieted down so everyone could hear what he had to say. He was the most choked up when he spoke about how much Brie Bella helped him along the way. It's hard not to shed a few tears watching his return promo.

Seth Rollins Destroys The Shield

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    The Shield was arguably the most successful stable in WWE since Evolution, so when Seth Rollins attacked Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns with a steel chair to break up the group, it shocked the world.

    The trio had just defeated Batista, Randy Orton and Triple H at Payback 2014 in a memorable encounter, which made The Architect's betrayal that much more surprising.

    A stable usually shows signs of weakness before a breakup like this, but everything had been going smoothly for the group until that moment. The Game had a plan to destroy The Shield, and it worked perfectly.

    All three members of the group went on to win multiple world titles, but they will forever be associated with their time as teammates.

    Rollins is back to being a heel on Raw while Reigns is a babyface on SmackDown and Jon Moxley is having deathmatches with Kenny Omega in All Elite Wrestling. They will all continue to have successful careers for years to come, but it will be hard for The Beastslayer to top the moment he stabbed his brothers in the back.

Kevin Owens Beats John Cena

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    Before NXT was on the USA Network every Wednesday, the black-and-yellow brand was still unwatched by the majority of the WWE Universe. Many fans knew who Kevin Owens was, but he wasn't a household name when he made his debut on Raw.

    It was May 18, 2015. John Cena was in the ring talking about his United States Championship open challenge when Owens' music surprised everyone.

    The Prizefighter came out with his NXT Championship and proceeded to attack Cena and stomp on the U.S. title. It was a bold statement by a newcomer, and the fans took notice.

    A couple of weeks later, KO would shock the world again when he defeated Cena at Elimination Chamber in a non-title match. It was one of the most impressive debuts in recent history and immediately established Owens as someone to watch.

    He has gone on to prove WWE's faith in him was well-placed by producing countless show-stealing matches and being one of the best mic workers to come along in years.

John Cena Beats The Rock

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    John Cena has been compared to a lot of big stars from the past, but the one person everyone always seemed to mention in those conversations was The Rock.

    In many ways, Cena was the spiritual successor to Rocky in WWE. He came along right as The Rock's career in the ring was winding down so he could focus on acting, so they never had a chance to do battle during those couple of years when they were in the company at the same time.

    Cena has multiple catchphrases just like The Rock. Both men have finishers that slam their opponents on their backs, and they both have signature moves that involve bouncing off the ropes and posing while their opponent is laying on the mat. Cena uses the STF, and Rocky uses the Sharpshooter.

    Their showdown at WrestleMania 28 was booked a year before it happened. In the months leading up to the show, both men took victories in verbal battles and even got physical a few times.

    Matches like these do not come along often, and WWE made it as big as it possibly could. The next time we see something like this, it will probably be Cena facing whoever has established himself as the face of WWE in a few years.

AJ Styles Debuts at the 2016 Royal Rumble

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    For many years, AJ Styles has been considered the best pro wrestler on the planet. Until 2016, none of those years were spent working for WWE.

    He had a few matches with the company all the way back in 2002 before he had made a name for himself, but he was never signed to a full-time contract.

    The Phenomenal One spent 18 years working for companies like WCW, Ring of Honor, TNA, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and a laundry list of indie promotions. He spent that time honing his craft against a wide variety of opponents from around the world.

    When he finally made his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble pay-per-view, nobody could contain their excitement. Many people knew he was coming, but the moment his music hit for the first time was still special to everyone who had been following his career for a long time.

    He has won several titles since that night, but none of those victories can compare to the moment he stepped through the curtain to enter his first Royal Rumble match.

Brock Lesnar Breaks The Undertaker's Undefeated Streak at WrestleMania 30

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    WrestleMania 30 was designed to be a special occasion. It featured the first Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal; the apex of The Yes! Movement with Bryan's WWE title win; and The Rock, Hogan and Steve Austin sharing a few beers to open the show.

    All of those moments pale in comparison to Brock Lesnar defeating The Undertaker to end his WrestleMania undefeated streak after 21 wins over the course of 23 years.

    When the referee's hand hit the mat to count the pin, it was like the air was sucked out of the building. Some fans were booing, but most stood in stunned silence.

    It was something many thought impossible. Surely, The Undertaker would retire with his streak intact. The Beast made sure that never happened and became a legend in the process.

    To this day, people argue over whether it was the right call. Regardless of whether you liked it, you will never forget where you were the night Lesnar beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.

Becky Lynch Beats Charlotte and Ronda Rousey in WrestleMania 35 Main Event

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    When this decade started in 2010, the WWE women's division was a shell of its former self. Gone were the days of Lita and Victoria fighting in steel cages and Trish Stratus having great matches with Mickie James.

    For years, women struggled to be taken seriously in pro wrestling. They were told not to have matches like the guys and were expected to be models as much as pro wrestlers.

    On February 23, 2015, a sub-minute match with Emma, Paige and The Bella Twins led to the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance trending on Twitter. This is recognized as the moment the Women's Revolution began.

    For the next four years, Superstars such as Natalya, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Paige and many more fought hard to make sure management had a reason to keep pushing them. All of that hard work led to three women headlining the biggest show of the year for the first time at WrestleMania 35.

    Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey had been building their feud for months leading to the PPV, and when it was all over, The Man stood tall as both the Raw and SmackDown women's champion.

    This wasn't just an important moment for women. This was a milestone for the whole industry and validation that all of the hard work put in over the years was worth the blood, sweat and tears shed to make it happen. Lynch has had many standout moments, but this victory will define her career for years to come.

Kofi Kingston Wins the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35

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    Kofi Kingston has been with WWE for over 11 years. In that time, he has done just about everything a Superstar can do in pro wrestling.

    He has won multiple U.S. and IC titles, he has been part of one of the greatest tag teams in history with The New Day and he has created a legacy of making the most unique saves during the Royal Rumble every year.

    When Mustafa Ali was forced to bow out of a Gauntlet match on the February 12 episode of SmackDown, nobody could have predicted it would lead to the greatest year of Kingston's career.

    His hourlong performance that night got the WWE Universe behind him and forced WWE to change whatever it originally had planned at WrestleMania 35.

    At the biggest PPV of 2019, Kingston defeated Bryan to win the WWE Championship, becoming the first African-born Superstar to hold the title and an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

    His six-month reign came to a screeching halt when Lesnar beat him in under 10 seconds on the October 4 episode of SmackDown, but nobody can ever take his WrestleMania moment away from him.

    This wasn't just the defining moment of the decade for Kingston. It was the defining moment of 2019 for WWE as a whole.

Randy Orton Unifies the WWE and World Titles at TLC 2013

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    Randy Orton has not been in the main event scene much in recent years, but there was once a time when it felt like he headlined the majority of PPVs in WWE.

    Back in 2013, his longtime feud with Cena was still going strong and the two met at Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a TLC match to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships.

    The original brand split had been over for some time, and the entire roster was working both Raw and SmackDown on a regular basis. It didn't make sense to have two top champions anymore, and these were the two biggest stars in the company at the time.

    The Viper is a 13-time champion who has defeated such stars as Bray Wyatt, Bryan, Sheamus, Triple H and Christian to win gold, but Cena has been his most frequent opponent. They have traded titles four times, with their most important encounter being the unification match at TLC 2013.

    Orton kept both titles as a sign of his dominance before the big gold belt was retired and the company began recognizing the WWE Championship as a singular title.

    We can make an entire list of just the awesome RKOs Orton has hit over the years, but when it comes to signature moments from the past decade, nothing tops beating Cena in a match where the two most important belts in the company are on the line.

Honorable Mention: CM Punk's Pipe-Bomb Promo

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    This list only focused on the top stars who are still with WWE, but it would be ridiculous to make a list of defining moments from the past decade without mentioning CM Punk's famous pipe-bomb promo.

    A lot of Superstars are remembered for being good on the mic, but only a few individual speeches ever stand out years after they take place.

    Punk's pipe bomb is right up there with the birth of Austin 3:16 at Survivor Series 1996, Vince McMahon declaring victory over WCW and Dusty Rhodes' "hard times" promo.

    The Straight Edge Superstar was so convincing, many fans believed he was doing it without permission. It was the definition of a perfectly worked shoot-style promo.

    This was one of the defining moments for the entire company from the last decade. Punk says he has no intention of returning to the ring, but weirder things have happened. Perhaps 2020 will be the year he finally laces up his boots and has one more match to end his career on a high note.


    What do you think were the best moments from the last decade in WWE? Follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.