The WWE completely transformed in the early 2000s. Vince McMahon changed the face of the wrestling business when he won the Monday Night Wars. He purchased the WCW, and a majority of the roster was brought over. We even saw the nWo in the WWE. The wrestling business was awesome in those times.
If you stop and really think about it, so many things have happened since the ball dropped on January 1, 2000. Stone Cold retired from the company. The Rock became the biggest Hollywood superstar alive. Shawn Michaels returned to the business and then retired. The Undertaker's undefeated streak was broken by Brock Lesnar. Sting debuted and then retired. The list literally goes on and on.
As the WWE changed over the years, one thing remained the same, and that's the talent. Without the WWE Superstars, Vince McMahon would be nothing more than the president of a traveling circus. While we are currently stuck in the PG era, there are still some Superstars who push the limits of what's possible in the ring. Unfortunately, there are some wrestlers who absolutely suck, and that's why they won't be included in this list of the Top 15 Wrestlers of the New Millennium.
Before we get started, a shout out goes to AJ Styles who is not included on this list. Styles is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers on the current WWE roster, but he hasn't been in the company long enough to have a true impact.
So, without further ado, here is our list of the Top 15 WWE Wrestlers of the New Millennium.
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15 Dean Ambrose
The "Lunatic Fringe" is one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE today. Ambrose is a great wrestler who puts it all on the line each and every time he performs. Aside from being great in the ring, Ambrose is also extremely talented on the mic.
Although he hasn't won the WWE Championship just yet, I predict that he will one day hold the title with the support of the fans behind him.
Anyone who saw the 2016 Royal Rumble would be able to tell you how popular Ambrose truly is. The "Lunatic Fringe" was so close to eliminating Triple H for the WWE title. Unfortunately, he fell a bit short. However, Ambrose is only 30, and his career in the WWE is only getting started. I expect big things for Dean Ambrose in the future.
14 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is one of the most beloved WWE Superstars of all time. The "Yes!" Movement still lives to this day, but it was in full effect on the night of WrestleMania XXX. Bryan defeated Triple H, Batista and Orton all in the same night to become the WWE Champion.
Bryan's popularity level was through the roof in 2014. Unfortunately, he was sidelined due to an injury, and his championship run was stopped dead in its tracks.
Daniel Bryan eventually returned to action, but he would continue to battle injuries in 2014-2015. One of his final accomplishments was winning the Intercontinental Championship in a memorable ladder match at WrestleMania 31.
Sadly, Bryan's injuries continued to pile up, and he was forced to retire from the WWE in 2016.
13 Chris Jericho
Y2J made one of the greatest WWE debuts of all time. In 2001, Jericho became the first Undisputed Heavyweight Champion by defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in two separate matches on the same night.
The early 2000s were some of Jericho's best years. He had awesome matches with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Triple H.
As the years began to pass, Jericho's skills only improved. At WrestleMania XIX, he stole the show with Shawn Michaels. In 2008, Jericho and Michaels battled in a year long rivalry that culminated in one of the best ladder matches of all time.
Today, Chris Jericho is 45 years old, but he is still one of the best wrestlers on the roster. He recently defeated AJ Styles at WrestleMania 32, and he just entered a new feud with Dean Ambrose.
Y2J is a skilled veteran, and he's undoubtedly earned a spot on this list.
12 Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake is one of the most popular WWE Superstars that has ever lived. In the late 1990s, Austin was a beer-drinking badass who fought against the establishment. His feud with Vince McMahon might just be the most famous rivalry in wrestling history.
If this were a list of the top 15 greatest wrestlers of all time, Stone Cold would probably be in the top 5. However, the focus of this list is on the best wrestlers of the new millennium, and Stone Cold retired in 2003. With that being said, the "Texas Rattlesnake" starred in some great matches in the early 2000s.
In 2001, Austin defeated the Rock at WrestleMania 17. He also joined forces with Vince McMahon in an unexpected turn. Unfortunately, Austin battled legal issues and injuries before retiring. His last match was at WrestleMania 19, where he lost to the Rock.
The last time we saw Stone Cold was at WrestleMania 32. He joined forces with HBK and Mick Foley to decimate the League of Nations.
Edge was a true pioneer. He participated in some of the most incredible matches from 2000-2011.
At the SummerSlam pay per view in 2000, Edge and Christian defeated the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz in the first TLC match to become the Tag Team Champions. The match was truly amazing, and many fans still consider it to be the best TLC match of all time.
While his partnership with Christian was entertaining and awesome, Edge did even better on his own. The Rated-R Superstar had one of the most successful singles career in recent memory. He won the WWE Championship 11-times.
Edge was no stranger to controversy either. His real life affair with Lita in 2005 led to an intense feud with Matt Hardy.
In 2006, Edge fought in an epic TLC match for the WWE Title against John Cena. The list goes on and on. Edge has done it all in the WWE. He's taken on Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. Edge has even main evented WrestleMania with the Undertaker.
In 2011, The Rated-R Superstar was forced to retire from wrestling due to severe neck injuries. In 2012, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Christian.
10 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the most dominant Superstar in recent years. He is the only man to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania, and he's yet to be pinned since his return in 2014.
The "Beast Incarnate" is a former UFC Champion. Brock's real life accomplishments in the sport of MMA have allowed him to carry an aura of invincibility that has yet to be broken.
Lesnar is the ultimate WWE Champion, and he could be the centerpiece of the WWE if he chose to be. However, Brock only works part time, and I don't think that will change anytime soon.
Nonetheless, Brock Lesnar has left his mark on the WWE forever.
9 Randy Orton
Randy Orton is a 12-time WWE Champion. He debuted in 2002, and it didn't take long for Vince McMahon to realize that Randy Orton would be just as talented as his father who had wrestled before him. Randy was paired with Triple H and Ric Flair almost immediately.
Orton was born to be a great wrestler, but he didn't make it to the top with his last name alone. Randy Orton is one of the most talented workers in recent years. He's had great feuds with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan.
Today, Randy Orton is out of action due to an injury. Luckily, he is set to return in the near future. His time away from the ring has reminded me how important he truly is to the WWE.
8 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle made his WWE debut at just about the turn of the year 2000. In his first year, Kurt Angle became a grand slam champion and won King of the Ring. He would stay in WWE for seven years and became a five-time champion and headlined WrestleMania XIX against Brock Lesnar.
Angle was the best in the business at the point of his WWE departure, which came after Angle wasn't granted a reduced schedule. Even though he only spent seven years in WWE, he's one of their most decorated wrestlers of all time and was undoubtedly deserving of a spot on this list.
7 CM Punk
CM Punk holds the longest WWE Championship reign of the new millennium at 434 days.
The thing that made CM Punk so great was his versatility. Punk had the ability to make the fans hate him or love him. His mic skills were far superior than anyone else on the roster. Punk's infamous "Pipebombs" garnered an incredible amount of attention from people who weren't even fans. Who else in WWE history has openly mocked Triple H, Kevin Nash, The Rock, and John Cena right in front of their faces?
CM Punk definitely had the gift of gab, but he was extremely talented in the ring as well. Punk had some great matches against Daniel Bryan, John Cena, and The Undertaker.
It's quite unfortunate that CM Punk decided to leave the WWE in 2014. He was at the top of his game, and he was only getting better. However, Punk felt that Vince McMahon and the WWE did not treat him fairly.
Today, CM Punk is training to become an MMA fighter. His first matchup is expected to take place this summer against Mickey Gall.
6 The Rock
The Rock is the most famous WWE Superstar of all time. He is currently Hollywood's hottest action star. However, he hasn't forgotten his roots, and that's why the WWE fans still love him.
Before he ever became a Hollywood big shot, The Rock was one of the top Superstars in the company. He had a number of great feuds, but the Texas Rattlesnake was his greatest rival. With that being said, the most iconic match of The Rock's career took place at WrestleMania X-8 against Hulk Hogan.
In 2011, The Rock returned to the WWE. He had an interesting feud with John Cena. Their rivalry led to two Wrestle<ania main events.
Although he doesn't really wrestle anymore, The Rock makes several appearances on WWE television each and every year.
5 Triple H
Triple H is known as the "King of Kings," and it's for good reason. He is one of the most technical wrestlers in the history of the WWE. Ric Flair once said that Triple H reminds of him of himself. Flair's stamp of approval is hard to deny.
Hunter is a 14-time WWE Champion, and a 2-time winner of the match of the year award. In 2000, Triple H was in a heated rivalry with Cactus Jack. Their matches were violent and intense. Hunter and Mick pushed each other to the limits on a number of occasions, but it was their street fight at the Royal Rumble that took things to the next level. Hunter was in his prime in the early 2000s, but he had a number of great matches later on as well.
The "Game" is an innovator. He was a founding member of D-Generation X and Evolution. He was also the main guy when Stone Cold and The Rock left the company. His feuds with Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit were great as well.
He can perform under any circumstance. The Cerebral Assassin has fought in nine Hell in a Cell matches and countless Hardcore matches. While he has the ability to perform in any match type, he shines the brightest in straight up wrestling matches.
Hunter has been in the WWE for more than 20 years. Today, he is the Executive Vice-President of Talent, Live Events and Creative. It's obvious that Triple H will be in the WWE long after he retires from performing in the squared circle. However, his place in wrestling history cannot be denied. He will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Shawn Michaels as soon as he retires.
4 The Undertaker
The "Deadman" from Death Valley has been kicking ass for nearly 30-years. The Undertaker is a 7-time WWE Champion, and he's won two Match of the Year awards.
The "Phenom" is without a doubt the most talented big man that has ever competed in the sport of professional wrestling. At 6-foot-10 and 305 pounds, The Undertaker is a monster of a man. However, don't let his size fool you. The Phenom is extremely athletic. He can dive over the top rope or walk on it. Taker is a true freak of nature.
The Undertaker is the most successful wrestler to have ever competed at WrestleMania. He only has one loss at Mania, and it came against Brock Lesnar.
Nonetheless, The Phenom's greatest matches were against HBK at WrestleMania XXV and XXVI. He also had great matches against Triple H at WrestleMania XXVII and XXVIII.
Sadly, time stops for no one, and The Undertaker is well past his prime. There is only so much he can do at his age, but it seems that Vince McMahon is pushing for one more match for the Undertaker at next year's WrestleMania.
While his career is nearing its end, The Undertaker is still one of the most beloved wrestlers in the history of the WWE. It will be a sad day in hell when the Deadman from Death Valley hangs up his wrestling boots.
3 Shawn Michaels
It is my personal belief that Shawn Michaels is the best wrestler on this entire list. Unfortunately, he is no longer a Superstar in the WWE, and that's why he isn't number 1. With that being said, HBK had a hell of a career, and his run in the first decade of the 2000s was legendary.
The Showstopper won seven consecutive Match of The Year awards from 2004-2010. He also headlined WrestleMania three times in that period as well. His feud with Chris Jericho in 2008 was one of the best storylines in modern wrestling history.
Shawn Michaels revolutionized the wrestling industry throughout his career. In 2002, he won the first ever Elimination Chamber match. In 2008, he retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV.
In his final two appearances at WrestleMania, HBK once again stole the show. His opponent for WrestleMania XXV and XXVI was The Undertaker, and together, they put on two of the greatest matches in wrestling history.
Shawn Michaels is truly The Icon, The Showstopper, and The Main Event. There will never be another wrestler like him. But, I think we can all agree that he needs to come back for one more match.
2 Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is the greatest wrestler in the WWE today. While he was out of action for eight months due to a knee injury, it won't be long until Rollins reclaims the title.
Before he was injured, Seth Rollins was pulling off incredible matches. The triple threat matchup between Rollins, Cena, and Lesnar at the 2015 Royal Rumble will never be duplicated. Although he lost the match, Rollins showcased just how talented he truly is.
At WrestleMania 31, Rollins captured the WWE Title by cashing in his Money in The Bank briefcase to defeat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. As the champion, Rollins did everything in his power to retain the title.
He defended his belt against the toughest competitors including Brock Lesnar, Kane, and Sting. However, his best singles match was undoubtedly against John Cena at SummerSlam. Rollins and Cena absolutely tore the house down.
Seth Rollins was on one of the greatest WWE Championship runs until his unfortunate injury.
1 John Cena
I realize that you probably hate John Cena, but just hear me out. First of all, I'm not the biggest John Cena fan either. In fact, I didn't appreciate him until Roman Reigns became the WWE Champion. With that being said, there are several reasons why John Cena is at the top of this list.
Whether you hate him or not, you have to admit that John Cena is a company man. He's always put the business first, and he pushes himself to be the best Superstar in the company. John Cena is a work horse, and not even injuries can keep him out of the squared circle.
Cena is a 15-time WWE Champion and a four-time Match of The Year winner. He sells more merchandise than anyone in the WWE, and he earns more money for charities than most Superstars.
John Cena has been involved in a number of great feuds over the years. His matches with CM Punk, Kurt Angle, and Daniel Bryan were great. But, Cena's all time best match was against Shawn Michaels on an episode of Raw in 2007. Of course, John Cena also had memorable matches against The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII and XXIX.
Cena is returning on Memorial Day, and I honestly cannot wait! I hope Vince McMahon gives Cena the WWE Championship immediately. Anything is better than having Reigns as champion!
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