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Best Pro-wrestler of the Decade


tiger_rick
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Best Pro-wrestler of the Decade?  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought there would be some discussion on this one.

 

I think this is the toughest award out of any of them because I don't think there's been that one stand out guy/girl you could make a really solid case for being great for all (or at least most) of the decade like you had with Flair/Jumbo/Fujinami in the 80s and Misawa/Liger/Hart in the 90s. Maybe Kenta Kobashi - but then he didn't even make the poll. Most of the main contenders at the start of the decade either died, retired to do other things or couldn't keep up with the standard they started the decade with and went through the motions for (some of) the rest of it.

 

Say what you want about him but Triple H was maybe the strongest contender for this by the end of 2000 and if you were able to look into the future and guarantee that he would be at/near the top for the entire next ten years I think people would have presumed he had the decade in the bag. Unfortunately he wasn't really able to maintain that standard for the rest of the decade, despite the odd flashes of brilliance. Personally I wouldn't vote him Wrestler of the Decade but he's a stronger contender than some might give him credit for.

 

Edge and Kurt Angle both had a pretty harsh backlash against them, and whilst I've also criticised both at times, I think they can also be a bit underrated in that they have been there or there abouts in prominent positions, funny segments and good matches for most of the last ten years. To be honest, I could see Angle having won the vote had it been done halfway through the decade. In-ring I'd put them both behind Benoit and Guerrero.

 

I'm surprised to see so many votes for Chris Benoit not just because of how he went out but because post-2002 everywhere you looked there seemed to be a lot of people who had gone off him in the few years before then/felt he was too repetitive/felt he'd been surpassed by guys like Danielson, etc. The only exception being the period directly before and after he won the World Title. Not me and I remember defending him and his matches with guys like A-Train, Edge, JBL, Orton, Finlay and Regal as examples that he still had 'it' but even then I wouldn't say they were his best years in-ring. Even I will admit that once he won the title there was a feeling of "what's left?" as if it was some kind of 'lifetime achievement award'.

 

Eddie Guerrero isn't a bad pick at all. He really developed into an elite level allrounder. Some of his promos were amazing as well so if it is taking into account guys who made the effort to improve themselves then you could argue he's way ahead of Benoit in that respect. He made what seemed like a derivative one-joke gimmick work in his first WWF run, his post-2001 release work on the international circuit was really really good, and then in his comeback he showed how he could get over with the WWE audience and despite attempts to turn him heel the audience still loved him whatever he did. He had the odd disappointing match here and there and people were quick to criticise whenever he and Kurt Angle or Rey Mysterio had a sloppy exchange, but I don't think that really mattered since in terms of the overall entertainment package I thought he still delivered. Even after his death he was still the most over babyface on the roster! On the other hand it is sort of depressing if the best wrestler of the decade is a guy who died of a heart attack halfway through it.

 

The Undertaker had some dull periods and also missed some time due to wear and tear but on the other hand the last ten years really did go a long way to adding to his legacy. His 2002 heel run, 2003 babyface run and the last few years were the best work he'd done since 1996-97 but unlike then when his best matches tended to be against world class guys like Foley, Hart, Michaels and Austin I think he also showed that he could have decent matches with people you wouldn't expect him to. The predictably crackers against HHH (01), Rock & Angle (02), Lesnar (02; 03), Angle (03; 06), Orton (05), Edge (08), Michaels (09) were supplemented by surprisingly good ones against a washed-up Flair (02), a demotivated Hardy (02), Test (02), A-Train (03), Big Show (03; 08; 09), Cena (03; 04), Vince McMahon (03), Mr. Kennedy (06), and Batista (07; 08) when in reality all of those could have quite easily ended up sucking. He even managed to get something half-decent out of Great Khali.

 

As good as he was at his best, Brock Lesnar was only really around for two years the first few months of which were spent being compared to Goldberg/Sid and mocked by the casual fans and six months of which were spent in the dreaded 'Happy Clap Brock' getting mocked by the smart fans (on here and elsewhere). I still say he might be the best new wrestler to make his debut in the decade.

 

Despite great runs in early 2000, mid-2001 and February 2008-present and being one of the few watchable things on Raw in 2003, Chris Jericho was too inconsistent and seemed to have times when he just couldn't be bothered. He also missed that whole period from August 2005-November 2007.

 

Shawn Michaels missed the first couple of years, only worked four times in 2002 and I'm not as keen on a lot of his post-comeback stuff as some. If Benoit was "too repetitive" then I think you have to hold the same standard to HBK. Still a great big match performer though.

 

Credit to Bryan Danielson for being the only non-WWE worker to get on there. Especially where guys like Kobashi, Joe, KENTA, Mysterio, Muto, Styles, Mistico and Shocker who were all heavily praised on here as being one of the best in the world at one point in the last decade didn't. I think it shows how consistent he's been since he always seems to get in the Wrestler of the Year polls, despite being in promotions that less people watch. I haven't seen enough of his stuff to vote for him (or to dismiss him) but hopefully someone gives a decent argument in the next three days.

 

Hmmmn...

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I'm a fan of Danielson, because I think he's one of only a very few guys on the US indy scene who's any good - and to be honest, whilst that isn't saying much (I can count the number of indy wrestlers I consider decent on one hand, literally), I do think he's very good indeed, with not only the technical ability that the Fappers love, but also the knowhow as to what to do, how to do it and when to do it, instead of just shoehorning everything in there. Furthermore, he's worked a great deal on character and actually has a definite, working persona that you just can't help but boo or cheer. He's excellent.

 

That said, nothing he's done to date has EVER put him above Benoit, Guerrero, Michaels, Lesnar or Angle; those guys at their best have always been better. Don't misunderstand me: I think Danielson has plenty of time to prove himself an elite of their class, although I think he'd have had a better chance of doing that in the same system that allowed the forementioned to do so well, rather than the current WWE system of micro-management. I just don't think he warrants being called "Wrestler Of The Decade" (hopefully he'll do so at the end of next decade), and I do feel his inclusion in this poll is largely because the indy fanboys are so desperate to be able to critically acclaim a wrestler outside WWE.

 

Funny that you should say you don't rate Michaels' post-comeback stuff, TheBigBoot - I never rated any of his pre-hiatus stuff all that highly and thought he was ridiculously over-rated. But since he returned, he's gradually won me over, and I personally now consider him the legend that everybody called him before. I still don't rate his old stuff, but I definitely think most of his matches since 2002 have never been anything below decent, and the vast majority of them superb. He doesn't just have great matches, he has great matches consistently to the point where I actually look forward to seeing him against anyone, because I know he'll make whoever his opponent is the most watchable they'll ever be, even if that opponent is a superlative wrestler himself (I lament the fact we'll probably never ever see him against Big Daddy V).

 

Never rated the Undertaker that highly - it always felt like his gimmick for a while took a lot of the skill out his game; he very rarely had to sell, almost never had to job cleanly, and it frequently felt like his opponent had to "tailor" his game around the gimmick, which meant we very rarely saw 'Taker out of his comfort zone or doing anything new unless he was wrestling Kane or Batista, or basically anyone billed as strong enough to cause him trouble. The fact that he pretty much always beat them, however, made him as predictable and annoying as Cena in that respect.

 

I would've voted Benoit if he'd been around for more than just half the decade, and I always felt he was hard done-by when he first joined the WWF. I was ecstatic when he won the belt at WMXX, but I thought the best time to put the belt on him was when he was a psychotic heel feuding with The Rock in '99/2000 - he looked the most threatening back then, and was red-hot as a heel.

 

Angle, well - what's there to say that hasn't been said already? Horribly over-rated. Great from a technical perspective, charismatic and was excellent in his "Killer Kurt" phase (despite being in the worst physical condition of his life), but has never been particularly consistent, most of his matches have been spotfests, and a lot of matches that people have spunked over, I really don't see the big deal. For example, people calling his match with HBK the best ever - sorry, don't see it. It's a very good match, and Angle does hold up his end of the bargain, but it's nowhere near Match of the Decade. Kurt's biggest problem has always been his spottiness - an amateur wrestler shouldn't be doing moonsaults or 450s (however beautiful they might look), and his finisher overkill has ruined many an otherwise classic match for me; in fact, it's become a particular problem in the past few weeks, killing off BOTH of Desmond Wolfe's finishers within three weeks of his debut, and stinking up an otherwise enjoyable (if not classic) spotfest between him and AJ (who's even more over-rated than Angle).

 

But for me, even though he's not my favourite wrestler ever, not even in my top five, I still say Shawn Michaels has to be the wrestler of the decade. He's skilled, consistent and like I said: he's got to the point now where everybody looks forward to his matches with anticipation, because we know for a cast-iron fact that they'll be good.

 

EDIT: By the way, Kobashi is my joint-favourite wrestler of all time, and I did nominate him, but he's been slightly less consistent than Michaels, plus he's not been so stellar since his time out. Mutoh is great, but has been too lazy, too often, and the past three years or so have seen him at his worst. I'd vote for Samoa Joe as Most Over-rated Wrestler of the Decade - he's certainly neither consistent nor adaptable, trying to be a monster even when it's clear he can't be a monster all the time - no selling might work against the lower orders and lighter weights, but against guys like Abyss, Morgan or Angle, it just looks shit. Mysterio would've been on course for a vote, but his championship run, both the challenge run and the reign, was awful. KENTA has been good, but I personally think he's taken a turn for the worse from his early days, ever since he came back from RoH, practicing their disgusting, point-missing, piss-poor imitation of the Japanese style - he's become too much of a spot-monkey for my liking, and one of the reasons why I have come to detest RoH so much; wouldn't have minded if they'd just been there and pleased their obnoxious fanboys, but now they're infecting Japan and I hope they go out of business. Mistico and Shocker - I'm afraid I have to hold my hands up and admit to being a contributor to the lack of popularity of lucha libre on here, and can only apologise.

Edited by Carbomb
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I know sometimes the only real answer you can offer is "I just don't enjoy it", as it's something I often have with certain guys people love, but Carbomb you're a good poster, so I'd be interested in a decent critique on Shawn Michaels, pre-98. I am just in awe of virtually everything he did from 94-97 and cannot quite imagine what there is to not be entertained by. Even if the HBK character doesn't do it for you, his in-ring is utterly sensational and he did exactly what you said you loved about him now - almost promised a decent match with even the poorest guy. 95 and 96 in particular, I don't think there's a more favourite period of mine for one guy than his run then.

 

Off the top of my head, Rumble 95, Nash at Mania, JJ at IYH, Kama at KOTR, Bundy on Raw, Razor at Summerslam, Sid on Raw, with Nash vs Owen and Bulldog, Owen on Raw, 123 Kid on Raw, Leif Cassidy on Raw, Nash at IYH, Bulldog at KOTR, Owen on Raw, with Ahmed vs Smoking Guns on Raw, Vader at Summerslam, Yoko on Raw, Mankind at IYH, Sid at Survivor Series are all incredible performances, and if I was to spend longer, I could come up with more. He also had MOTYCs in 93, 94 & 97 and the worst matches he had I can think of without giving it proper thought were with Bret Hart and Mr Perfect, in combinations that just didn't mesh for me but other people (particularly with Bret) love.

 

End of my love letter, but I'm really curious as to what you don't like.

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Never liked Shawn Michaels. Until 2003, I never got the big fuss about him. To me he was somebody so against the true idea of what we'd been taught are heroes should be. When I'm watching wrestling with my Dad or something, it was far easier to watch it when the giant, charismatic and colourful superhero types like Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior or Randy Savage were champions. Also, when Bret Hart was the WWF champion, he always played the role of somebody who reached out to his legions of fans and stood up to the bully's and out wrestled everyone in the land of the giants.

 

Shawn Michaels on the otherhand was a skinny, hairy chested, long haired bloke who didnt look like he could handled himself if your average lad went up to him and smacked him in the face. The way he danced, his terrible promos and everything about his character both as a heel and a face I just didnt get. As a heel he relied on cheap heat and getting his arse out and that only drew the kind of heat that made you turn the telly over. As a face he never drew any money, and was possibly the lowest drawing champion in the Vince McMahon era. If it wasnt for those fat lasses buying those heart shaped red sunglasses, I'd imagine WWF would have went under in 1996. As a wrestler he was very good, but again, the way he no sold stuff and took fits in his matches just made him look like an unprofessional tosser. He got fed Bret Hart, Diesel, Davey Boy Smith, Mankind and Sid Vicious in 1996/97 and the fans still didnt take to him. His legacy in the 90s is way overrated. He also, had a shitload of time off and never dropped the title to anyone. He had most of 1994 off, he had alot of late 1995 off, he wrestled every now and again in 1997 and never wrestled for 4 years after the beginning of 1998. There was always something predicatable about his character and as a performer. I dont even want to mention the nip-up and the skinning of various cats.

 

The Shawn Michaels of the noughties was the best wrestler of the decade though. He's been amazing.

Edited by Ian_hitmanhart
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Well there you go. I couldn't disagree more with virtually everything you said, but repeating everything in my above post would be utterly pointless, and that's fair enough. Isn't it nice to have one of these without it turning into petty insults or a mind-fuckingly annoying disagreement about who was at fault for Montreal. Me and my mate are both huge Bret Hart fans, but when it comes to Shawn, I love his stuff equally and he still thinks HBK was too much of a cunt to enjoy him back then. However, we disagree about it and crack on. This has never happened on the internet before now. Lovely. Carbomb, care you get ride atop this high horse too?

 

On topic, I voted Shawn for this decade too, by the way. He's still the fucking shit.

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Brock Lesnar. Cemented his name forever in pro wrestling in just two years - no one else on the list can top that one.

That makes no sense. He wasnt a huge draw and the business didnt suffer in match quality, merchandise sales, live attendance, television ratings or buyrates without him. Mick Foley drew monster business and created a star in Triple H in early 2000, so you could say he did more than Lesnar from January to April. Same with Steve Austin and The Rock. They had a far better period in the early part of the decade than Lesnar. You could take Lesnar out of this decade and it wouldnt mean much as far as wrestling goes. You couldnt take Rock, Austin, Michaels or Kurt Angle away from the decade, because it would be far less entertaining.

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Well there you go. I couldn't disagree more with virtually everything you said, but repeating everything in my above post would be utterly pointless, and that's fair enough. Isn't it nice to have one of these without it turning into petty insults or a mind-fuckingly annoying disagreement about who was at fault for Montreal. Me and my mate are both huge Bret Hart fans, but when it comes to Shawn, I love his stuff equally and he still thinks HBK was too much of a cunt to enjoy him back then. However, we disagree about it and crack on. This has never happened on the internet before now. Lovely. Carbomb, care you get ride atop this high horse too?

 

On topic, I voted Shawn for this decade too, by the way. He's still the fucking shit.

 

Sure. Sorry for the hiatus, work finishes late for me.

 

I'm not quite the same as Ian. I didn't know much about Shawn's activities in the locker-room back then; it was only after Wrestling With Shadows came out that I found out about it, and I saw that in 2000, I think.

 

What I saw of Michaels back then, he just didn't seem like he meant any of it; he looked and sounded like a bit like Matt Morgan does now, i.e. someone who clearly knows what he's supposed to be doing, and does everything he's supposed to, but in a completely formulaic way. He didn't look convincing, and I didn't feel like there was any "fire" to his performance, and, in fact, that's sort of the problem: his matches looked like performances, instead of his performances looking like matches.

 

Since his return, he's felt much more like a mature wrestler - it's like he's done the very Japanese thing of truly "suffering" for his art, to build the sort of "fire" that only life over the years can bring. I know I'm sounding poncy and annoying people with it, but it does genuinely feel now like he's unified his life and his art; there's the fire, there's the tragedy, and the steely glint in the eye that only a seasoned, elite veteran has. You can see it in the Undertaker's eyes now, too.

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Ah, that's what I meant about some discussion. A few points:

 

That said, nothing he's done to date has EVER put him above Benoit, Guerrero, Michaels, Lesnar or Angle; those guys at their best have always been better. Don't misunderstand me: I think Danielson has plenty of time to prove himself an elite of their class, although I think he'd have had a better chance of doing that in the same system that allowed the forementioned to do so well, rather than the current WWE system of micro-management. I just don't think he warrants being called "Wrestler Of The Decade" (hopefully he'll do so at the end of next decade), and I do feel his inclusion in this poll is largely because the indy fanboys are so desperate to be able to critically acclaim a wrestler outside WWE.

 

Maybe, and in fairness WWE has had a monopoly over mainstream wrestling outside Mexico and Japan for almost a decade now so it makes sense they would have some of the best wrestlers in the world, it's just interesting that he's the only non-WWE candidate. The reason I mentioned the names I did is because at one point in the last decade people were calling them the best in the world (or at the very least calling them a shoe-in for Wrestler of the Year) and I actually wouldn't have minded reading a case for some of them. In the case of Shocker people were calling him the greatest luchadore of all time (which even given that I haven't seen as much lucha as some seemed like hyperbole). Getting back to Danielson, I hope he does do well in WWE. Danielson is one of the few Indy guys I rate as well, although I haven't followed them much since the days of MLW, CZW, ROH, FWA, 3PW, All Star in 2003-04 so I'm sure there are plenty of talented workers out there. From what I have watched since he's one of the top guys. When I did he was one of the better guys and has only gotten better since. Guys who I wasn't really a fan of from their pre-WWE work (like Shanon Moore and CM Punk) seem to have gotten better from being in WWE although in those cases they spent a long time in developmental changing their style. I just hope they don't change Danielson too much. I haven't seen much of Samoa Joe's recent stuff against fellow heavyweights but I did like his stuff against Scott Steiner a few years back. Still, in a lot of ways I preferred Umaga.

 

Funny that you should say you don't rate Michaels' post-comeback stuff, TheBigBoot - I never rated any of his pre-hiatus stuff all that highly and thought he was ridiculously over-rated.

 

Actually, I'd agree with that. People used to rate him as the 'Best Wrestler in the World' which I didn't agree with. To me that only made sense if you only watched WWF but WCW, USWA, ECW, SMW, UWFi, AAA available either on satellite, cable or even in regular video stores I couldn't see it. I used to watch Jushin Liger and Benoit/Pegasus on NJPW Ringwarriors on a Friday night and I couldn't see how Michaels was better than them. Of course, he also had the misfortune of his prime coinciding with the tape trading boom (at least in the UK, in the States that may have been more late 80s/early 90s) so it was around the time of my (and I'd imagine a lot of others) first exposure to AJPW, AJW, JWP, MPW, FMW, ECW, etc. It is not that I thought Michaels sucked. It is just that there were just too many good wrestlers around (which is a good thing). I'm not one who always moans about the PS 50 every year but I will say that at the time I couldn't fathom how PowerSlam (who had no doubt watched all the stuff I had plus lots more) ranked him No. 1 ahead of Misawa, et al. in 1994 when I wasn't even convinced he was the best in the WWF. I don't want to turn this into another Hart vs. Michaels thread. There are certain specific things and certain specific matches, or certain specific years where Michaels worked better, but for the most part I felt Bret Hart was the better of the two. So yes I did think he was overrated in that sense. That said, in 2009 I'm much more likely to go back and watch a HBK match than a Bret Hart. Like Ian, I was aware of the backstage stuff, but in my case whilst that didn't exactly endear him to me it didn't stop me from enjoying his matches either. In-ring I thought he was very good and my only real problem with him being overrated was that I felt there were people better.

 

 

But since he returned, he's gradually won me over, and I personally now consider him the legend that everybody called him before. I still don't rate his old stuff, but I definitely think most of his matches since 2002 have never been anything below decent, and the vast majority of them superb. He doesn't just have great matches, he has great matches consistently to the point where I actually look forward to seeing him against anyone, because I know he'll make whoever his opponent is the most watchable they'll ever be, even if that opponent is a superlative wrestler himself

 

As for why I enjoyed more of his pre-comeback work - like I said, I still he is a great big match performer (and some of those compare favourably to his matches in the 90s) but when it comes to watching him on a weekly TV basis I think it comes down to lack of variety and overexposure. On the first point, a lot of the time the Michaels of 2002-2009 has just seemed more repetitive to me than he did in say 1991-1998, where his character and style was changing (I wasn't massively into his big title run in 1996 but even though, I may not have been a huge fan of his time on top I enjoyed the journey). Also that feud with Triple H seemed to go on for years and I thought a lot of their matches were sub-par to the extent that seeing those two cut promos on each other did nothing for me. On the second, his regular time-offs in the 90s seemed to make when he did wrestle it felt like a bigger deal than it actually was so I'd be looking forward to it. He can still pull out the odd non-big match cracker. I nominated his Raw matches with Jeff Hardy (08) and John Cena (09) because I really liked them but the fact remains that a lot of his stuff in-between then just doesn't do anything for me. Also for as good as those matches are, are they better than his TV matches vs. Razor Ramon and w/Diesel vs. Razor Ramon and 123 Kid in 1994? I wouldn't say yes and even if they are I think they are somewhat lost amongst all the average stuff. That's not really a knock because his TV matches go, they are technically sound and they still get a reaction from the crowd so I wouldn't say they don't work. They just don't stand out like they used to. I can also see why some feel the same about guys I like(d) watching week after week like Benoit and Mysterio but for me I just found them more enjoyable on a more regular basis. Personal preference I suppose. That said Shawn is still very, very good at what he does. I have no problem calling him a legend.

 

(I lament the fact we'll probably never ever see him against Big Daddy V).

 

Me too. Michaels vs. Big Guy was always one of the things I liked most about him, watching him fly around for guys like The Twin Towers, King Kong Bundy and Sid. In fact I enjoyed that little feud he had with Kane a few years ago and I remember him having a decentish Raw match with Khali. If he'd worked more matches with big guys during this run I think I'd have enjoyed it more. I'd still like to see him work a feud with Mark Henry at some point.

 

Never rated the Undertaker that highly - it always felt like his gimmick for a while took a lot of the skill out his game; he very rarely had to sell, almost never had to job cleanly, and it frequently felt like his opponent had to "tailor" his game around the gimmick, which meant we very rarely saw 'Taker out of his comfort zone or doing anything new unless he was wrestling Kane or Batista, or basically anyone billed as strong enough to cause him trouble. The fact that he pretty much always beat them, however, made him as predictable and annoying as Cena in that respect.

 

I agree with the first bit - that the gimmick dictated a lot of what he was/wasn't able to do. Disagree with he send bit - I think he's done very well for most of this decade at making it look like he was in trouble and despite the no-selling he actually takes a lot of bumps for a big man. Not necessarily in matches but in segments as well, Big Show press-slaming him off the stage (02) or Kennedy bloodying him as he smashed him in the head with a microphone probably did as much for them as if they had won a match and in both cases beating down The Undertaker has become a sign that the person who does it is inline for a big push. For me, it is is what made Maven eliminating him from the Royal Rumble, Great Khali pinning him cleanly in his debut, Big Show knocking him out (2008 and 2009) so effective (and surprising). It seems like when he does put someone over he goes all out for it and the above examples are actually more generous than a lot of headliners (past and present) would be.

 

2000-01 aside I think he's been okay in that respect. True he normally does almost always beat them in the end, but I actually like the fact that they have one guy who is almost unbeatable/is unbeatable at WrestleMania because it seems that when people do actually beat him it actually means something. I think he's the closest they've got to a present day Andre the Giant, not in terms of style but in terms of coming across as a legend, 'The Phenom', who doesn't need to be in the main event but always feels like a special attraction and a win over him means a lot. Coming across as an impervious to pain monster (Deadman gimmick) or a Bruiser Brody-with slightly more selling-American Bad Ass (Biker gimmick) guarantees that when someone does get the better of him it seems like a big deal. Even the times he didn't lose I thought guys like Test, A-Train and Kennedy were allowed to look competitive against him when he's probably got the political stroke to have insisted they be squashed like DDP when Undertaker was selfish.

 

I think the advantage for those people who didn't beat Taker the first time around but did look strong is that you got the impression they would do in the future - which is exactly what happened with Batista in 2007. The feud with Kennedy is actually a good example because you were left with the feeling that Kennedy didn't go over by pinfall (he got fluke wins at ) you felt like he was almost there and that he would beat him in the future if he kept at it - which is exactly what would have happened had Kennedy not been unable to cash in 'Money in the Bank' and you can bet 'Taker would have lost further matches in their feud. The more I think about the more I think Undertaker is a good contender for this. As far as the comparion with Cena goes, yes both their feuds are predicable but so were a lot of Hulk Hogan's (anyone who becomes his friend turns on him), Steve Austin's (McMahon tries to screw him, McMahon looks like he has succeeded, Austin finds a way to come out on top) and Ric Flair's (lose title-win it back) best work. As long as they make it entertaining along the way I don't mind and even though Cena and Taker are different kinds of character I do think that Cena has been protected for so long now that a clean win over him on a Big Four show could also mean something similar.

 

I would've voted Benoit if he'd been around for more than just half the decade, and I always felt he was hard done-by when he first joined the WWF. I was ecstatic when he won the belt at WMXX, but I thought the best time to put the belt on him was when he was a psychotic heel feuding with The Rock in '99/2000 - he looked the most threatening back then, and was red-hot as a heel.

 

I think there were plenty of times they could have put the belt on Benoit before they did: the feud with Rock you mention, in 2001 when he was (surprisingly) getting better reactions than Jericho in their feud with Austin (would have happened if he hadn't been injured), in 2002 when Heyman appartently wanted him to transition the belt off Lesnar onto Angle and McMahon went for Big Show, etc. Around mid-2003 I also thought they'd dropped the ball by not putting it on him sooner, but in retrospect I think things worked out better in terms of creating a huge moment since getting Triple H to tap cleanly in the main event of the 20th WrestleMania meant more in the grand scheme of things than his other possible title runs (which would all likely have ended up being short anyway) probably would have done.

 

Angle, well - what's there to say that hasn't been said already? Horribly over-rated. Great from a technical perspective, charismatic and was excellent in his "Killer Kurt" phase (despite being in the worst physical condition of his life), but has never been particularly consistent, most of his matches have been spotfests, and a lot of matches that people have spunked over, I really don't see the big deal. For example, people calling his match with HBK the best ever - sorry, don't see it. It's a very good match, and Angle does hold up his end of the bargain, but it's nowhere near Match of the Decade. Kurt's biggest problem has always been his spottiness - an amateur wrestler shouldn't be doing moonsaults or 450s (however beautiful they might look), and his finisher overkill has ruined many an otherwise classic match for me; in fact, it's become a particular problem in the past few weeks, killing off BOTH of Desmond Wolfe's finishers within three weeks of his debut, and stinking up an otherwise enjoyable (if not classic) spotfest between him and AJ (who's even more over-rated than Angle).

 

Yeah, pretty much everything to be said about Angle has already been said. At one point I thought he was the most overrated wrestler of all time (when there were all the threads on whether he was better than Flair or Hart, when every PPV match he had was getting a ***3/4 + rating) since then he's had a pretty big backlash against him, not just on here but it seems from the wrestling media in general. I don't know that he's overrated anymore but he definitely was. A lot of your criticisms are the same as my own, although I've never had a problem with the moonsault since there seemed to be some thought behind it since it was (at least in WWE) saved it for PPVs/blow-off to feud matches on TV as if it was a last resort for when his other stuff didn't work, and also as cocky heel who believed he was the best athlete in the business showing off that he could do the high-flying pro wrestling stuff as well even though he didn't need to just to outdo a Mysterio/Michaels or whoever he was wrestling at their own game - but the fact he always missed it turned it into almost a comedy spot which is stupid (and dangerous). It is also indicative of my main problem with him: that none of his finishers 'work'. That he was able to turn the Angle Slam, top-rope Angle Slam, regular Anglelock and moonsault into transition moves really worked against him and, as you mentioned with Wolfe, he does the same to his opponents offense. If Jay Lethal can survive for that long in the super deadly, 'this is really a finish this time I promise', heel-hook Anglelock then how am I expected to believe it could beat a Mick Foley or (it if he ever returns to WWE) Undertaker with it? I also agree with the amateur wrestler point since one of the things that is annoying is how little actual mat-wrestling he often does which would have not only been believable in that they could get over how an Olympian was nearly unbeatable once he took his opponent down (as in the 'Killer Kurt' shooter-type gimmick vs. Orton) but would have prolonged his career. That Iron Man match he had with Lesnar was an ideal opportunity to show off that side of him but instead it ended up as a suplex-a-thon. But yeah Angle criticism has been done to death and he is a funny guy who had as many good matches as just about anyone else this decade, I just feel he could have been something more.

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