Gone are the household names of Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and The Rock entertaining the wrestling world with their signature moves. They have moved on, The Rock has become a movie star, Hulk Hogan has long gone and The Undertaker has a similar schedule to Santa.
There is now a new breed of wrestlers tearing it up all around the globe. Although many will be not be known to the casual wrestling fan, to the hardcore fans, these are the guys trying to put wrestling back on the map and make it cool. Here are 10 wrestlers changing the wrestling landscape.
10. Will Ospreay
No major titles to his name, but Will Ospreay has redefined with his style of wrestling. His match with Richochet at NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Day 2 causing huge controversy in the wrestling world due to the wrestling on show. Some saying it was an over-choreographed spotfest (flippy stuff) and unrealistic while others called it the best match they have ever watched. Whatever is thought, Will Ospreay brought this style to a mainstream audience.
He has continued impressing the globe ever since this performance, competing all around the world for promotions such as NJPW, WOS, Defiant, ROH and many others.
9. Charlotte Flair
Major Titles: 2
The daughter of one of the greatest wrestlers to ever grace the ring, Ric Flair, Charlotte Flair has continued his legacy in being the best pure women athlete on the planet. Voted PWI rookie of the year in 2014, she has only got better, reaching the heights of PWI women of the year in 2016.
She has helped what women wrestling is today in WWE with her athletic performances and competing in the first-ever woman’s Hell in a Cell Match. There are no more bra and panties match and three-minute matches (toilet breaks), as Charlotte has helped women’s wrestling rival the men with show-stealing matches alongside her three other horsewomen, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch. Women’s wrestling future is bright in WWE.
8. The Young Bucks
Two talented brothers, Nick and Matt Jackson make the due of the Young Bucks, the most over tag team in the world. Helping bring independent into the mainstream with their fun high flying matches and their nostalgia factor. Their gimmick essentially being the 90s wrestling scene viewed from a kids point of view, an example of this is how they use an insane amount of Superkicks as a homage to Shawn Michaels.
They rival the Hardy Boyz as one of the most decorated tag teams racking up tag teams title reigns wherever they go, including the PWG, ROH and IWGP tag team championships. They are also marketing machine, showing why they do not need to join the WWE.
7. Cody Rhodes
The grandson of a plumber, Cody Rhodes, Dusty Rhodes son has changed the world of independent wrestling forever with his All In PPV selling out a 10,000 arena. All In a PPV outside the mainstream promotions feature all independent wrestlers sold out in under an hour. Thanks to Cody Rhodes, former WWE regular, and his vision.
Cody has become a mainstay on the independents, wrestling all over the world alongside his wife, Brandi Rhodes after he left the WWE. He has improved his mic skills, learning from his late great father Dusty Rhodes and also is a passionate performer also.
6. Roman Reigns
Major Titles: 4
Headlining over three consecutive Wrestlemanias and Vince McMahon’s heir to John Cena’s throne. Roman Reigns, of the famous Anoa’i family, which includes The Rock and Rikishi, has become one of the biggest stars of wrestling today. The Big Dog, has completed many great wrestling scalps in his short career, defeating John Cena, Triple H and The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33.
A controversial figure in the wrestling world, loved by children and the casual fan, while hated by hardcore fans, Roman gets a massive reaction wherever he goes.
5. John Cena
Major Titles: 16
The most decorated wrestler on this list with currently 16 major titles and countless other title reigns. John Cena has come nearest to reaching the heights of his predecessors, The Rock and Hulk Hogan with his mainstream appeal. His career is slowly winding down as he has been the franchise player for the WWE for the past decade earning ever major accolade there is.
He has won sixteen world titles, two Royal Rumbles, a Money in the Bank and headlined countless Wrestlemanias. John Cena deserves all the respect, as he has put in his heart and soul into the business, even though he garners a mixed reaction from the fans.
4. Seth Rollins
Major Titles: 2
Either as a cocky heel or a babyface, Seth Rollins always provides an epic in the ring with stamina and a surprisingly powerful arsenal for a smaller performer. He has improved so much since coming to the WWE from ROH, and he was already great at ROH. He was the inaugural NXT champion and the architect of highly popular stable The Shield with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. He would later betray them and complete the heist of the century cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 31 pinning former partner Roman Reigns.
Major Titles: 4
The Rainmaker, The Ace of Japan, Okada has taken over Hiroki Tanahashi, as possibly the best Japanese wrestler ever. He is overall the smoothest wrestler in business making wrestling looking effortless with every move he does. He adjusts his moves to control the audience and create drama and suspense whether it be a ten-minute match to an hour long iron match with Kenny Omega. He can tell a different story with any opponent he faces creating all of his matches to have an uniqueness to them. His gimmick of being the best wrestler and knowing it, creating a great heel character which fans could hate but appreciate. He is a product of Brett Hart and Ric Flair with the way he wrestles and his charisma he ensues.
2. Kenny Omega
Major Titles: 1
Kenny Omega has put on countless 5-star matches and mastered the art of storytelling in the ring. If Okada is Bret Hart, Omega is Shawn Michaels with his heart, passion and reckless abandon between the ropes. His suicide dive to the outside of the ring is a work of art. Omega and Okada earning a 7-star rating out of 5 I might add, from Dave Meltzer for their match at the NJPW Dominion in 2018.
Kenny Omega has made wrestling cool again, leading the Bullet Club to new heights. Just like NWO t-shirts, it is hard not to watch wrestling or walk around without seeing someone wearing a bullet club t-shirt. He appeals to the gamers with his video games reference also, with his finishing move, the One-Winged-Angel and even wrestled an entertaining match with a 9-year-old girl.
1, AJ Styles
Major Titles: 7
First conquering TNA, then NJPW and now the WWE, AJ Styles is arguably the best wrestler in the world, who only seems to be getting better with age. Holding the top titles of each promotion, his in-ring skills cannot be matched and seems incapable of putting on a bad match. He makes anyone who is across from him look like a million bucks with his expert selling and his breathtaking arsenal of moves from the Pele kick to the calf crusher.
He has faced the best wrestlers in the world, win or lose, including Brock Lesnar, Nakamura, Okada, John Cena, Kurt Angle and many more. AJ is the peoples champion earning over twenty championships over his career, throughout all the promotions he has wrestled in, going from indy darling to international superstar.
AJ Styles is thoroughly phenomenal!