As difficult as it may be to believe, many of our favorite wrestling stars from the 2000s are now either tenured veterans or retired. For some, their legacy has been enough to carry them through to the next generation of wrestling fans, and for others, their public appreciated has decreased massively. Of course, the biggest names of the era are going to survive just fine, but others are going to see their notoriety fade away, for a variety of reasons.
Indeed, some of the most famous stars of the 2000s are near the level of anonymous today. While they had an opportunity in front of them, they didn't have the lasting effect on the industry that many thought they would. Looking back on it, it's strange to think how many of these names were heralded for their skills at the time, and now have essentially become just another face in the crowd of wrestling's past. Whether they should be remembered or not in today's wrestling landscape is up for debate. Regardless, many of these names were far more renowned when they were in their prime, and have been largely cast away from the public eye since then.
Ranked below are 15 wrestling stars of the 2000s that nobody cares about anymore.
15 John Morrison
A former competitor on Tough Enough, Morrison was one of the WWEs rising stars in the early-2000s, and made an impact in both the tag team and singles ranks. In addition to his tag team known as MNM, he was also a player for the ECW Championship when the brand was revived, and one of the most charismatic stars of his era in WWE.
Ultimately, he was released from the company and went on to work indy shows, as well as making several runs in Mexico, where he primarily wrestles today. His Jim Morrison-laden gimmick was an obvious one, but he pulled it off relatively well. Now he's largely anonymous from U.S. wrestling audiences who don't follow Lucha Underground, and it's likely to stay that way.
14 John Bradshaw Layfield
John Bradshaw Layfield, a.k.a. JBL, was a veteran of the WWE ranks by the time he won the WWE Championship in the mid-2000s. He was a prominent member of the tag division in the '90s, with the likes of The New Blackjacks and The Acolytes, the latter of whom was extremely successful. His time at the top of singles competition cemented him as one of the best WWE talents of his era, and made him one of the more renowned names in the industry.
JBL hasn't been cast out of the WWE entirely, spending most of his time as a broadcaster. He's also been involved in some high-profile controversies, including recent allegations of bullying. However, there are many fans (mostly younger ones) who don't realize the impact that he had in the ring during his career, and if they do, it's generally when he won the WWE Title in the twilight of his career. In reality, JBL was one of the best power-based wrestlers of his day, and his tag team work is up their with the best in history.
Generally viewed as a generic muscle-head of the mid-2000s in WWE, Batista's stock has definitely dropped in recent years. The accolades are certainly there, but most people wouldn't regard him as a top talent of his era. Part of the reason is that he was mainly churned out by the WWE factory, wrestling little elsewhere, and seemed to be derivative of wrestlers that came before him.
He's seen more as a wrestling celebrity, rather than a competent in-ring performer, and in many circles he's been forgotten for that reason. He certainly had his time and place, but ultimately Batista just wasn't that interesting. He hit his peak early, and never went on to do much else, other than one return to WWE in 2013
12 Charlie Haas
One of the more recognizable mid-carders and tag team wrestlers during the mid-2000s in WWE, Haas was a three-time tag champion, and also made a run in singles competition. A solid technical wrestler in his prime, he was a good fit for the move away from The Attitude Era, and a consistent presence on WWE programing during his entire tenure with the company.
Since leaving, besides one stint in Ring Of Honor, he's been largely out of focus. Making appearances in a bevy of promotions, but not being able to make a mark on one in any kind of significant form, he essentially became a journeyman talent. Now, he's mainly retired outside of the occasional low-level appearance. Definitely a reliable talent in WWE, but his peak was also short-lived.
11 Shelton Benjamin
Alongside the aforementioned Haas, Benjamin was one-half of The World's Greatest Tag Team, which was immensely popular in their heyday. It's how he got his start in WWE, but unlike Haas, he would go on to make an impact in the Intercontinental Title hunt, as well as the United States Title.
Benjamin was athletic and fun to watch in the ring, and it's no surprise that he remained in vogue for almost a decade. Now, after spending several years in Japan, he's been largely outside of the U.S. wrestling landscape, and the prime of his career is over. He's mainly remembered as a curiosity of the mid-2000s, and little else. Benjamin was a good wrestler, but the interest in his work just isn't there anymore.
When TNA wasn't a complete dumpster fire, Abyss may have been their best true power wrestler. His somewhat derivative gimmick was overlooked by the fact that he was a force in the ring, and very entertaining when placed in the right situation. He captured numerous titles, and was simply one of the hallmark names of early-TNA.
Since then he's gone on to do a lot of work in Mexico, which was mostly derailed the interest for him stateside. He never made the jump to WWE, where he also could have theoretically succeeded, so an international move was probably his best option. Still, today he is associated with a particular era of a company that since then has been largely irrelevant.
9 Booker T
It would be foolish to say that Booker T isn't remembered fondly by today's fans of wrestling, because he still has a prominent broadcasting role with WWE. What does seem to be forgotten in some regards, is just how dominant he was over the course of his entire career, making a true case for the best all-around tag team, and singles wrestler.
WCW may be a punchline in the modern day, but Booker T's involvement is what made him a certified legend. His work with Harlem Heat is almost unparalleled in the scope of tag team wrestling, as he and brother Stevie Ray won 10 titles, and he almost equaled that amount in his singles career with both WCW and WWE. This has been diminished in recent years, but Booker T is definitely one of the best talents of all-time, dating well before his time in WWE.
8 Nigel McGuinness
McGuinness was a top ROH star in the mid-2000s, involved in a bevy of classic matches. He was one of the central figures that took the company to the next level, and for fans that followed the scope of the entire industry, he was seen as one of the elite figures of the time. A stint in TNA followed, but after that McGuiness retired early from in-ring activity.
It would be difficult to say that he's been forgotten entirely, given his on-screen role in ROH that didn't involve wrestling, but his in-ring work seems to have been cast aside by the average fan. This was a main event-level star for years in ROH, and it seems like he should get more credit than he generally does, despite the role he kept after retirement in ROH, and now as NXT's heel commentator.
7 Bobby Lashley
There was a time when Lashley was one of the hottest new names on the WWE scene. He was a prototypical WWE athlete who had the look and most of the in-ring skills to be a main event star. Most thought that he would eventually capture the WWE Title after stints with the ECW and United States Titles, but it never ended up coming to fruition.
He bounced around from the Mexican ranks to TNA, and now is an afterthought when it comes to the biggest names in the wrestling world. This is due in large part to the lack of interest in TNA/Impact Wrestling, where he has found a lot of title success, but ultimately he was never able to turn his career into that of a complete superstar. He was a good talent, who just came up a bit short of what most expected of him.
6 Cody Rhodes
Always hindered by bad gimmicks in WWE, Rhodes still had a fair amount of hype when he came onto the scene in the mid-2000s. At the time, WWE was desperately looking for new, younger personnel to shake things up, and Rhodes seemed to fit the bill.
It wasn't just his family ties (Dusty Rhodes, along with "Goldust"), but he seemed like the kind of in-ring athlete that could have become a huge star. Unfortunately, his contributions to the main event scene in WWE were minimal, and that was before he had several terrible gimmicks placed upon him. Rhodes stayed in WWE for nearly a decade, but only made minimal impact on anything outside of the tag division, which ran opposite of what most people thought he would accomplish.
5 Monty Brown
For a short time, Brown was considered to be one of the up-and-coming face characters in TNA, and was figured to be one of the names that would lead them to prominence. He had a ton of charisma, and a couple of cool finishers to his name. It should have all worked out, but TNA booking got in the way, along with other names gunning for the top spot.
He did spend a couple of years in WWE as Marcus Cor Von, but by then, his heart just wasn't in it anymore. Brown retired from wrestling in 2007, just seven years after his career officially began. For fans of early-TNA, "The Python" stills rings as a classic name who should have had many more accomplishments to his credit than he actually did.
4 Chris Benoit
It may be heresy to put Benoit's name on a list like this, after the tragic incident that took his own life, as well as the lives of his family. However, if we look at his work strictly in the ring, there's no denying that he was one of the best wrestlers of his era, and key figure in both WWE and WCW.
Benoit brought intensity to the squared circle every night, as well as a bevy of quality matches throughout his career. Some of this has been diminished because of the terrible act he committed, and also the fallout from it. You can't blame people for wanting to ignore acknowledgment of him whatsoever in recent history of the event, but his in-ring work still should be mentioned in the light that it deserves, on its own accord.
3 Petey Williams
Nobody had seen anything like the Canadian Destroyer finisher at the time that Williams debuted it. A rotating piledriver like that was still considered to be out of this world, even considering the recent Attitude Era, and recent emphasis on hardcore wrestling. Williams went on to much acclaim in the early days of TNA, but did little else during his time in the business.
As such, as wrestlers have gone on to athletic feats that rival or surpass that of the Canadian Destroyer, Williams is pretty much an afterthought at this point. Still, he deserves credit for ushering in a new kind of finishing move, as well as being a prominent part of a promotion that at one time was seen as a viable alternative to WWE.
2 Daniel Bryan
Given that Bryan was a prominent main event talent in WWE relatively recently, it's not that everything he's ever done inside the squared circle has been forgotten. But a portion of his career has, for the most part.
When he was in the ROH ranks, along with a ton of other indy-level promotions, Bryan (then known under his real name, Bryan Danielson) was putting on more 5-star matches than just about any wrestler in the world. He was the gold standard of in-ring excellence. In the wake of his runs in WWE, many people have disregarded this (or were unaware of it all together), but the best quality of his work has been relegated to just a few who had the chance to see it. There's probably not a better overall wrestler of the 2000s, and the best of it came outside of the realm of WWE.
1 Jeff Jarrett
One of the most maligned wrestlers/bookers/personalities in the history of the business, most wrestling fans have simply tried to put Jarrett's image out of their memory for good. His ego and inflation of his talent has ruined several promotions, and hindered worthwhile talent from making the next step into becoming a superstar.
Jarrett was always destined for this, however. His father, Jerry Jarrett, was a main figurehead in the Memphis territories of the '70s and '80s, so Jarrett has always had the silver spoon in his mouth. While he was a solid in-ring wrestler, his matches never warranted main event status. He was a poor draw in that role, and he always tanked as a headliner, compared to the best names of his era.
After being one of the major death knells for WCW, and ruining TNA, Jarrett has gone on to create a new promotion, GFW, in recent years, and everyone seems to have finally learned to tune him out. The promotion is essentially irrelevant, and finally it seems that the wrestling world has stopped drinking the Kool-Aid that Jarrett has been feeding them for the better part of 20 years. Even if he's now back in Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA) as Executive Producer.
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