At the end of the year, society looks back and reminisces about the good memories of the year. And even more so this year as it is the end of a decade. And it’s in that reminiscent spirit that I look back on my Top 10 Wrestlers of the Last Decade. (Note: This is a personal list, and I encourage you to make your own list.) Also, this list will be in no particular order.
We begin with the “Voice of the Voiceless,” CM Punk. Punk can sometimes be seen as a divisive entity in the wrestling world. However, I find the straight-edge wrestler entertaining. Punk was out of the wrestling business for more than half of the decade, his name never stopped being mentioned. And with Punk back associated with the wrestling business, many fans are booking what most people believe to be an inevitable return to in-ring competition already. (We also threw out some names for CM Punk’s potential in-ring return.)
When it comes to Women’s wrestling, there has been a ton of progress made over this past decade, and our list will reflect that. (More in a moment.) But for my money, one of the most consistent women to bring, not just Women’s wrestling, but wrestling as a whole to an “evolution” is that of Ivelisse. I have made no secret about my fandom for Ivelisse, but it’s not out of any particular bias but instead on the skill, merit, and heart. Ivelisse has battled a ton of adversity over the past decade, but it has lead her to become the first-ever (and currently as of this writing) three-time Shine Wrestling Champion. Ivelisse has gone to war with both genders and put her stamp as one of the best wrestlers over the last decade.
As we just stated, Women’s wrestling had advanced exponentially over the last decade. And in WWE, the women’s division (especially the main event scene) has been much more entertaining than their male counterparts. Becky Lynch wasn’t selected by “the office” as their designated champion, but the fans forced the hand of the company. When Becky was supposed to be the heel against Charlotte, fans revolted. We choose our champion, and Becky Lynch was that Champion and our hero. Becky’s run would begin rocky, but like all good underdog stories, she rose up to claim her prize. And that crowning moment was main eventing Wrestlemania in 2019.
BRAY WYATT/THE FIEND
While the latest incarnation of Bray Wyatt with the Firefly Funhouse hasn’t been on WWE TV very long, it has been quite impactful. His interactions with other WWE Superstars allow them to change. But it isn’t just The Fiend that has Bray on my list. The initial “Waylon Mercy” cult leader type was one of my favorite characters in WWE. And yes, undoubtedly, WWE botched the entire premise of the character by not truly understanding it’s power and also how detrimental 50/50 booking can be on a wrestler’s momentum. But as the decade closes out, we see arguably the best character in WWE since the Undertaker’s debut in 1990.
As the women’s revolution turned to evolution, one woman gets let’s out by WWE, but she definitely makes my list, and that’s AJ Lee. AJ gets left out because of her husband, CM Punk. Lee would bring in a different flair and style to a “Divas Division,” which was an absolute joke at the time. And when you know the backstory of April Jeanette Mendez, you have to be taken aback even more. And all of that leads to AJ’s inclusion as one of my favorite performers over the last decade.
When it comes to Chris Jericho, the man is timeless. Jericho has been able to reinvent himself so many times it’s been a wonder to watch. Over this past decade, Jericho has been able to get the most from the least. Let us not forget that Y2J got a Clipboard over more than half of the Monday Night Raw roster at the time. Chris Jericho’s ability to adapt is second to none. And when Jericho made the jump to New Japan to tangle with Kenny Omega, the wrestling world was set on fire. And following that up with joining and helping build AEW and there’s little doubt that Jericho wouldn’t be on this list. So Chris Jericho, “You just made the list.”
This decade indeed saw the emergence of The Cleaner, Kenny Omega. And when it comes to Omega, I had to put him on my list. Omega is someone that has turned himself into one of the greatest ever in the wrestling business. And that’s why he is on my Wrestling Mount Rushmore. Kenny Omega can do everything in a wrestling ring, and that was proven time and time again over this past decade. And as we enter a new year and a new decade, I think that Omega will ascend to an even higher echelon in the wrestling business. I believe the “Best Bout Machine” will become an almost mythical entity in this new decade of pro wrestling.
No list of the top 10 wrestlers of the decade would be complete without the inclusion of the Phenomenal One AJ Styles. Styles is a master in the ring, and his ability to rise to the occasion is fantastic to witness. AJ Styles is called the Phenomenal One for a reason. And watching over this past decade some of the best matches they included AJ Styles. What makes it more impressive is the fact that AJ isn’t a spring chicken anymore but yet he’s able to outwork men 10-20 years his junior. AJ Styles is Phenomenal and merits a place on everyone’s list.
When it comes to Daniel Bryan, we have seen many different versions from the YES movement to the General Manager to the environmentalist threating the planet’s demise and more. Daniel Bryan is one of the greatest technical performers to ever step inside the ring. And again, this is a personal list, and I encourage you to make your own, as trying to limit the list to just ten wrestlers. Daniel Bryan’s in-ring prowess, along with his character ability, is why he ranks on my list. Many people will try to knock Daniel, saying that his promo game is weak. But when he was the “Planet’s Champion,” he delivered fire with every promo. And for all those reasons, I say, “YES, YES, YES.”
ADAM COLE (BAY BAY)
When it comes to the past ten years, we have seen the emergence of the new face of WWE (NXT specifically.) Adam Cole (Bay Bay) has developed his signature style and put on some serious classics. Cole is a man akin to the Shawn Michaels of the world, and he honestly gives me those vibes. Watching Adam Cole, especially in his ascent to NXT Champion, has been a fun experience. And when you think about the amount of damage the man has continuously received inside of the War Games structures, it’s no wonder why Adam Cole makes my list, Bay Bay!