The Magnificent Seven 3.2.14: The Top 7 Most Bankable WWE Main Event Talents
Posted by Mike Chin on 03.02.2014
From Brock Lesnar to Daniel Bryan to John Cena and more, 411's Mike Chin counts down the top seven most bankable main eventers in the WWE today!
What does it take to be a WWE main eventer? The men who thrive in the role are not only talented in-ring performers or good on the mic, but also carry with them an aura of importance. From Hulk Hogan to Shawn Michaels to Steve Austin, the greatest main event talents in WWE history have been men who's every outing feels essential and whose every loss feels monumental. This week, I'm counting down my picks for the ten most bankable WWE main event talents wrestling today.
#7. Randy Orton
Personally, I'm not a huge Randy Orton fan, but he's been one of the most consistently booked big-deal wrestlers of the last decade. Every time he steps into the ring, he carries with him a legacy of having feuded with The Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena, and countless others. As such he's legit before he ever locks up with opponent or speaks a word on the mic.
On top of that, in the RKO, Orton has one of the most iconic finishers of his generation. As over as moves like the Attitude Adjustment or Go To Sleep may be, we're also somewhat desensitized to guys kicking out of these maneuvers in big match situations. The RKO remains untouched as a quickly executed move that is a complete game changer and is a big part of making Orton a believable contender in any main event scenario.
#6. The Undertaker
It's a real testament to The Undertaker's abilities, longevity, and persona that over 24 years after his debut, he remains one of the biggest threats WWE has to offer. Conventional logic would tell you that a star who wrestles scarcely more than once a year couldn't possibly stay over at the highest levels, and yet when that one time a year happens at Wrestlemania, and when you consistently steal the show there, it goes a long way toward furthering your status as a legend.
If Undertaker ever were to return to a full-time schedule, he would have instant credibility against absolutely anyone on the WWE roster. Hell, he can main event Wrestlemania without wrestling for the preceding twelve months and hardly anyone would question that he deserved his place at the end of the show. ‘Taker is the kind of special talent that can't come about by design and can't be replicated, but will remain, for as long as he stays active, one of WWE's brightest stars.
#5. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar marks a nexus point. First and foremost, there are the man's real-world credentials—a monster of a man who was the UFC champion, and thus has the pedigree to legitimately kick the ass of anyone in the WWE locker room. On top of that, he represents a link to the past, since he first rose to prominence in the period immediately following the Attitude Era, and thus has more casual fan recognition than main eventers to come up after that point. Add to all of that the mystique factor: at this stage, Lesnar only wrestles about three times per year, thus making it very special anytime WWE fans do get to see him in action.
Would Lesnar retain his mystique if he were a regular part of the WWE roster? It's a good question, and the way WWE books heels, I'm not sure it would work as effectively. Give him a dominant run at the top of the card, though, and I suspect WWE could rebuild his aura of unbeatability.
#4. Daniel Bryan
In the discussion of WWE main events, Daniel Bryan is the antithesis of Brock Lesnar—a guy who doesn't look so formidable, and doesn't disappear for long stretches, but rather heads to the ring on a weekly basis and delivers positively outstanding in-ring action. Moreover, since this past summer, Bryan has won the favor the crowd in earnest. No, he doesn't yet have John Cena's all-around marketability or tenure as top star, but I'd argue that the "Yes!" chants he's generated over the past six months matches the most pronounced crowd reactions Cena has ever gotten on a consistent basis.
At the moment, Bryan is still not entirely proven as a main event talent, but between match quality and the response he's earned from the WWE faithful of late, I have to believe if the WWE brass ever trusts him fully, they won't regret it.
#3. Triple H
Like so many IWC fans, I have a tendency to groan when I see Triple H back into main event level scenarios at the expense of younger talents or what I perceive to be more interesting situations. That said, WWE isn't wrong to put the man in this position. Every time he comes back, he carries with him all the credibility of The Attitude Era—arguably wrestling' s hottest period, and a time when Trips was the biggest name, excepting only The Rock and Stone Cold. Moreover, the man has remained in tremendous physical shape and works main event psychology as well as anyone from the past fifteen years.
I'm glad Triple H isn't a part of the permanent roster anymore because I prefer to see the Daniel Bryans, CM Punks, and Dolph Zigglers of the world in action. That said, there's no denying that "The Game" is big time and makes matches, if not entire shows, bigger for his involvement.
#2. CM Punk
Take everything I said about Daniel Bryan and add in to important qualities: the singular talents of the best promo man in wrestling today and the ability to work equally well as a face or heel (yes, Bryan has been an effective heel in WWE, but was more of a comedy act at that point than a serious menace).
CM Punk's 2011-2013 WWE title reign speaks for itself as the man worked his way through a full gamut of face and heel challengers, putting on good-to-great matches with every last one of them. Of all the guys on this list, Punk is a fresher face than anyone but Bryan and his pipe bombs put him in a class all his own among contemporary main eventers.
To address the elephant in the room, you can easily argue that Punk's walk out should make him ineligible for this list. Until his contract actually expires, or Punk is actually released, I won't count him out for a return, and the sabbatical is likely to only make him a hotter commodity if he does resurface.
#1. John Cena
In most circles, this would be a pretty obvious pick, though I imagine the collective IWC just threw up in its mouth a little upon reading that name. That said, John Cena remains the ultimate WWE star at this moment. He cuts good to great promos. Contrary to what some critics want you to believe, he delivers excellent matches. On top of all of that, he's a legitimate hero for the kids, a ridiculous physical specimen, and a terrific media ambassador, making him the greatest all-around star WWE can hope to have in its main event scene.
Don't get me wrong—much of Cena's status has to do with the way he's been booked and that booking has come at the expense of more than a few other stars over the years. There is going to come a time, sooner rather than later, when WWE is going to need to start transitioning away from Cena to the next "guy." Until then, though, Cena will remain the man in WWE.
Who do you think is WWE's top main event star? Let me know in the comments. See you in seven.
Read stories and miscellaneous criticism from Mike Chin at his website and his thoughts on a cappella music at The A Cappella Blog. Follow him on Twitter @miketchin.