Welcome to the Outerhaven Hi-Five, where we take a specific gaming, comic or otherwise geek culture topic and pick our personal top five items or subjects from that realm. Keep in mind, these lists are subjective, and may not reflect the overall opinions of the writers or you, the reading populous.
Clinton Bowman’s Top Five Pro Wrestlers of the 2000s
I have been a longtime fan of men and women in stretchy pants, or what the plebs call, professional wrestling. According to the Wikipedia definition (because we can all trust Wikipedia,) professional wrestling is an “athletic performance that combines athletics with theatrical performance.” This is true, as most of the action in the ring is choreographed and rehearsed before shows, but the pain is still legitimate, i.e: Daniel Bryan (real name Bryan Danielson) having to relinquish the WWE Intercontinental Championship due to an injury sustained in the throes of competition. While there are many wrestlers that I think are great, only five stand out to me as the best of the best of the best, (and one of them tried to play football for the Vikings…SPOILER ALERT!)
5) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Eight-time WWE Champion Dwayne Johnson’s successes came mostly during the Attitude Era, however, a lot of his popularity, and skill grew into itself in 2000, 2001 and 2002, where he moved away from overuse of the catchphrases and learning how to use inflection and tone properly in his promos (I’m a voice specialist, I’m kind of overly analytic about these things.) His performances during the epic failure that was the WCW/ECW Invasion angle, as well as his feud with Brock Lesnar during the summer of 2002 and his Hollywood heel persona, this easily places him in my top five wrestler list, regardless of the return of the Rock and Sock Connection for WrestleMania XX and match against Randy Orton, Batista and The Nature Boy, Ric Flair.
4) Scott Steiner
Why the hell not? Watch the video below to understand why I put him as #4.
While TNA was doing its best business EVER, Scott Steiner, a former WCW and WWE talent, was scourging around TNA, botching promos and hopping on pogo sticks, calling everyone white trash and saying that he went to a higher educated university, while asking us to remember when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. What really endeared me to Steiner was his work during the Main Event Mafia storyline with Sting, Kurt Angle and KING BOOKAH in 2008. Steiner may not have been the best in the ring, but he certainly embodied professional wrestling as what it’s supposed to be. Insanely. Silly.
3) Booker T
A five-time WCW Champion and WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T meandered a lot during the initial stages of his WWE career, coming stumbling out of the blocks because of a failed match with Buff Bagwell on RAW after WWE bought out WCW from Ted Turner and what was then AOL – Time Warner. However, his consequential feuds with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2001, his epic tag teams with Goldust and Kane, his best of 5 series with the current “Face that Runs the Place”, John Cena for the United States Championship in 2004, and his King of the Ring victory that brought us King Booker and Queen Sharmell in 2006, as well as his work bouncing off of Scott Steiner in 2008 with the Main Event Mafia, I must say that Booker T deserves the #3 spot in my list for sure.
2) Brock Lesnar
Youngest WWE Champion. Youngest King of the Ring. An absolute genetic freak like none other. Brock Lesnar dominated in the 2 short years that he was in the WWE. Aligned with the best mic in the business on several occasions, Brock Lesnar had epic feuds with Kurt Angle, Big Show and even a nice small tussle with John Cena (which we got again in 2012 and 2014…#SuplexCityBitch,) Brock Lesnar’s first tenure ended on a whimper at WrestleMania XX, when he had what was widely considered to be the worst match of 2004 with Bill Goldberg, who also ended his WWE tenure at that time. Brock would then go to dominate New Japan Pro Wrestling for a year before dominating the UFC, becoming the single biggest box office attraction in UFC history. Brock would eventually return to WWE in 2012, but not without making a statement through my #1 wrestler of the 2000’s via a thunderous F-5 after WrestleMania 28.
1) John Cena
He’s a philanthropist. He’s charismatic. He’s dating Nicole Garcia (Nikki Bella.) Michael Cole calls him the most polarizing figure in WWE history. Fifteen-time world champion. Four-time and current United States Champion. Four Tag Team championships and two Royal Rumbles. John Cena might be what you refer to as the Derek Jeter of professional wrestling (I would say Tom Brady, but we all know what happened there.) His first feuds were with Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, the Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Booker T and The Undertaker. I couldn’t tell you any other wrestler that got that right out of the gate, and Cena was pretty close, admittedly, to being released from WWE right after his debut in 2002. Most fans are most fond of his Thugonomics gimmick, which featured him as a fitted-wearing, throwback jersey-emblazoned battle rapper who used brass knuckles and a steel chain to gain an unfair advantage in his matches from time to time. However, the fans loved the gimmick so much, he became the most loved superstar in the company towards the summer of 2004. Cap that off with a WrestleMania 21 victory against John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield for his first WWE Championship, and the eventual departure from SmackDown to become the face of RAW, despite Triple H’s near sabotage of his career, John Cena has definitely made his mark as a first ballot WWE Hall of Famer, with timeless feuds against WWE Hall of Famer Edge, Randy Orton, Umaga, the Great Khali, Triple H and Shawn Michaels, as well as his post-2010 feuds with CM Punk, Rusev, Dwayne Johnson and Brock Lesnar.
Honorable Mentions go out to:
John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield, Eddie Guerrero, Shelton Benjamin, Mr. Kennedy, Trish Stratus, Lita, Victoria, Kurt Angle, Batista, Edge & Bobby Lashley
What’s your top five? Place them in the comments below, and I’ll feature a select list in next week’s Hi-Five!
That’s it for my Outerhaven Hi-Five for this week, make sure to check out next week’s where I take a look at my personal top five guards in the current NBA.