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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Top Ten Superstars for 2004
November 26, 2004 by Avi Krebs



Now that Armageddon is over and done with. Some might be daring enough to consider Armageddon as a fine choice to define the success of the WWE over the past year. 2004 did bring many things. Including first time title reigns for some grizzly veterans, some deserving (Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero) and some not so deserving (John Bradshaw Layfield). One cannot forget Triple H's continuing strangle hold of the World Championship Title. Then there was Randy Orton's surprise jump to the top of the mountain. We saw some impressive debuts, and some extensive cuts and departures. (Come back Goldberg!) Yet, the WWE looks to be steamrolling along into 2005. For the first time ever, the Royal Rumble will not be the first event of the year, but a RAW brand only first called New Year's Revolution. So using New Year's as a theme for this article, it's time to take a look back ten years ago. We're talking 1995 here, the era of garbage men, clowns, and race car drivers and a whole bunch of other crazy characters. If one was to compile a top ten going into 1995. It might look something like this.

1) Diesel
2) Shawn Michaels
3) Owen Hart
4) British Bulldog
5) Bret Hart
6) Lex Luger
7) Jeff Jarrett
8) Crush
9) Tatanka
10) Marty Jannety

You certainly have some interesting names listed there. Now getting back to the present, it is time to look at who should be making the biggest impact for 2005. Keep in mind, these top tens is solely based on one writer's opinions. I welcome everyone out there who checks out these articles like I do, to comment and compile their own top tens. In fact, for this article only I have included the opinions of a fellow wrestling fan Mark "Big Mac" Maguire. (No relationship to the baseball player)

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire (friend of article writer Avi Krebs): First of all I'd like to say that the "World Heavyweight Title" on Raw has a two year history and was created by Eric Bischoff in the fall of 2002 because the then WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar refused to defend that title on Raw therefore making both himself and that title exclusive to Smackdown. Simply because the "raw world title" is essentially the old WCW Championship belt with a couple alterations (plates curved and WWE logo added) does not mean it's a continuation of the WCW Championship title history. The "Raw world title" is a new title with a new history and new stipulations. The WWE Championship title (formerly the WWF Championship) remains the same. The only difference is that it's now exclusive to Smackdown. Because of that, in my view, Chris Benoit, Goldberg and Randy Orton have never won "The Big One".

So without further ado let's start the countdown.

#10, Kane (Raw)
Avi Krebs: The Big Red Machine had a noteworthy 2004. Considering he did get married to Lita and was preparing to see his first little red machine be born into the world. The whole love triangle thing along with Matt Hardy looked pretty absurd at first. However, as the storyline played out, and a new wrestler was introduced (Gene Snitsky), it showed a few sides of Kane that looked like an entirely different character. Plus he did a fine job of putting Snitsky over at Taboo Tuesday. He's got a good feud set when he makes his return and who knows" A potential shot at the heavy-weight championship certainly isn't out of the question.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Personally I think the Gene Snitsky thing is stupid. Kane could be a great main eventer if they used him properly. Giving him the "world title" would be something I'd like to see (not to say no one else deserves it). I also think him "marrying" Lita was pretty dumb too. I think it would be cool to see Lita and Matt Hardy genuinely get married on Raw. Get rid of Gene the Goon and put Kane back in the title hunt.

#9, Chris Jericho (Raw)
Avi Krebs: Jericho seems to always be consistently near the top tier of established superstars. Although he is certainly not in the decline stage of is career yet, it seems that Jericho's window of opportunity to be the top dog again is closing quickly. Another year without at least a genuine title shot seems insane. His highlight reel has gone from being a complete waste of time to something to look forward to in between all the overdone diva segments. He's probably a notch under a few other superstars who are more deserving of the big prize (and you will see them on this list), but if Jericho gets reduced to just doing the highlight reel every week, then tell me when it is safe to turn on my television again.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Ah Jericho...one of my favorites. The first ever WWF(E) Undisputed Champion winning the title when the company was still called the World Wrestling Federation (I hate the name World Wrestling Entertainment). I believe Jericho should be moved back to Smackdown and first go for the US Championship. Then give him his over due run as WWE Champion. He is arguably the best in my view winning the IC Championship more then anyone else. Give him his due. His time has come long ago.

#8, Rob Van Dam (Smackdown)
Avi Krebs: If this list had been done since Van Dam made his way over to the WWE via the invasion angle, he would have been a perennial candidate for the top ten every year. This time around, Van Dam was pushed out of the title picture on RAW, and was moved to Smackdown and became a tag team specialist. As good as he has looked with Rey Mysterio, Van Dam still continues to be poorly used and it makes one wonder if he'll ever get his first WWE championship title reign. There's no doubt about it that R.V.D has the makings of a great champion. If his time doesn't come in 2005, keep holding your breath. A Chris Benoit or Eddie Guerrero style title victory is in the cards. Now will anyone even care when and if it happens" Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: The making of a great WWE Champion, put him in a match with Jericho for that title (maybe a ladder match) and you'd have one of the greatest matches in history. RVD is way over due to be WWE Champion. His time has come as well.

#7, Gene Snitsky (Raw)
Avi Krebs: Every top ten list has to have a sleeper pick. This one is no different and now it is up to Snitsky to prove he's worthy of the # he's been given. His debut as Kane's punching bag spiraled into a hot and heavy feud. His complete dominance over Kane gives Snitsky a tiny amount of credibility and a large amount of potential for 2005. So he kicks babies and attacks women, he doesn't seem to know a wrist hold from a wrist watch, but let's not write him off just yet. He's the typical big guy who may take longer to develop, but like most of the big boys, should enjoy a significant shelf life in the WWE while more proficient wrestlers are let go. Snitsky is a scary guy to look at. Get use to seeing that ugly mug because it's bound to run wild all over RAW in 2005.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Well what can I say other than that he's one of the stupidest competitors ever. A waste of TV time, kick him out now before he makes me even sicker. What kind of a wrestler kicks babies, honestly" Get rid of him.

#6, Rene Dupree (Smackdown)
Avi Krebs: Here's what needs to be done, lose the France flag, lose Fifi, and lose the French tickler. In other words, does that mean a complete character change" Heck No! Unfortunately it is hard to take a wrestler seriously when his gimmick revolves around all of the aforementioned. For those who can look past it, there's a young talent that is just oozing to breakout in 2005. Considering that by the time Wrestlemania XXX rolls around (Yeah, you know the WWE will use that excessively) Dupree will barely be in his early thirties. The sky is the limit for this young Quebecker. Yes you read that right, here's hoping he can do something with that awful looking U.S custom-made for John Cena title. Then again, maybe he should at least keep the French tickler.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Great talent but a waste of character, he can still be great without being a "snob". Get rid of the French flag and such and give him a US Title run. But do this while making him a face.

#5, Shelton Benjamin (Raw)
Avi Krebs: It is now official. Mr. Benjamin has surpassed his former Team Angle partner Charlie Haas by leaps and bounds. While Haas is involved in pointless soap opera dramas, Shelton has truly shown what he's capable of. Out of all the superstars who were involved in the draft, it seems pretty clear that Shelton has gotten the most out of his new opportunity to strut his stuff on RAW. Anyone who has multiple wins over Triple H (and isn't named the Rock or Stone Cold) deserves his due. His Intercontinental title win was well earned and there is a possibility that he could go down as one of the greatest IC champs of all time. Is a World Heavyweight title out of the question" Perhaps it isn't going to happen this year, but rest assured that Mr. Benjamin will take his rightful place as a top notch superstar. He has only begun to reach his prime.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Another one of my favorites, he's making quite a name for himself on Raw. Unless he goes back to SD he'll never win "the big one". He would make an excellent US Champion and WWE Champion but you can't win either on Raw. As long as he stays a face I'm happy.

#4, Batista (Raw)
Avi Krebs: Well he or won't he" This is referring to Batista's long overdue face-turn. Currently playing the role as Evolution's animal (or Triple H's whipping boy), the WWE decided to give Randy Orton the face treatment and consequently the World Championship Title in 2004. This is not to say that Batista hasn't looked dominant or intimidating but a World Tag-Team Title reign with Ric Flair being his only claim to gold since his debut shows that Batista might very well never compete for the biggest prize in the industry. 2005 is the year for Batista to really breakout. First take out Triple H, and then focus on destroying the rest of the competition. The payoff could be a very successful title run that a former big man by the name of Diesel had a decade ago. He could either be the Diesel of old, or just an old Diesel.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: The big beast could be an excellent face. Would love to see him "kill" Triple H. Batista vs. Kurt Angle would be a great match too. Make him a face and get him out of Evolution. Give him a shot at the IC Title. He deserves it. It's time to let him loose.

#3, Randy Orton (Raw)
Avi Krebs: This was the year that Orton should have broken through; this should have been the year that Orton established himself as one of the next great champions. Leave it to the WWE to just surprise everyone and give Orton a stellar 2004. For what it is worth, Orton did look pretty good as the champion, but he did just keep the belt warm for Triple H while he was doing his movie business. Orton is still young and although he could compete for the World Title again, a move to Smackdown for a chance at the WWE championship would look pretty good as well. He's already surpassed both his father and grandfather as far as personal achievements and titles are concerned. The jury is still out though on whether Orton could etch his name as one of the greatest champions of all time. He's an R.K.O or two away from becoming more than just another wrestler who held the World Championship only once and for a brief time. (Think Sgt. Slaughter or Psycho Sid)

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: I'm glad to see he's a face. He's better as a face in my view. I believe he should move to SD. Maybe trade him for Kurt Angle (I'd like to see him (or John Cena on Raw. Randy could be a great US Champion as well as WWE Champion. But I think he could be teamed up with someone and go for either the World Tag Team Titles (formerly the WWF Tag Team Championships) or the WWE (SD) Tag Team titles. Either way Orton is on the rise. A push to the top too fast could ruin him but do it right and he could become a genuine "legend".

#2, John Cena (Smackdown)
Avi Krebs: All things considering, Cena had a pretty impressive year. He had a DVD released, worked on a rap album, and topped it all off with an appearance in a Vince McMahon directed movie. Does anyone care to point out that none of this was accomplished in the squared circle" He did manage to capture the U.S title, lose it, and regain it again. What's in store for 2005" Depending on whether he chooses to follow the Rock into Hollywood or choose to further solidify himself as one of the stop stars in wrestling is anyone's guess. If he stays, expect a chance for him to win his first WWE championship (Anyone is better than J.B.L). If he doesn't, well he'll always be #1 in those battle raps if that mean anything to anyone. In the words of Paul E. Heyman, here's hoping John Cena does the right thing.

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: Ah John Cena, he's got skills in various areas. He's a great in ring competitor. I believe he should be traded to Raw for a while and give him runs at both the World Tag Team Championships and IC Championship. After that move him back to SD for a run at the WWE Championship. Then he'll have won all the genuine titles that were around before the Brand Extension in 2002. I'd personally like to see Cena vs. Orton.

It's been a long wait and for those of you who have read up to this point then good for you. Those who chose to just scroll all the way down, well then the #1 superstar for the year 2005 is...

#1, Edge (Raw)
Avi Krebs: Edge-heads rejoice! It's time for the man also known of Adam Copeland to take that last step to greatness. The process has been painfully and agonizingly slow to the World Championship Title. I mean, just looking at him get screwed week in and week out for the title. Just looking at his facial expressions is more than enough to see how this man is suffering. He's made quite the progression from being just another Canadian wrestler to one of the premier men in the business. All the injuries, bad storylines, and countless missed opportunities are all a thing of the past. (Or at least until he becomes champion) His career patterns that of another wrestler who had to claw tooth and nail to make it to the top. You may have heard of him, his name is Shawn Michaels. The time for Edge to win the title would be perfect at Wrestlemania 21. From then on get use to hearing the phrase. "For those with the benefit of flash photography, here is your new World Champion."

Mark "Big Mac" Maguire: If Edge does win the "Raw world title" he still won't have won "the big one". He's grown up watching the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, the Rock, Stone Cold and Triple H all win the "real deal" (which is now exclusive to SD). In my view he still won't be the best unless he goes to SD and wins the WWE Championship. Benoit made the mistake of going to Raw after winning the Royal Rumble in 2004 and challenging for (and winning) the Raw "world title". Both superstars need to return to SD if they want a chance at winning "The Big One".

There you have it, the Top 10 for 2005. In closing, everyone have a happy holiday season and see you all next year for more wacky happenings from the WWE and Mr.Vincent K (for Krazy maybe") McMahon.

by Avi Krebs and Mark Maguire..


Hardrock wrote:
I couldn't help but notice that most of these so called "top ten" were faces. In my view, a top ten list should be made of superstars who made the most achievements. As far as the year 2005, no one can say anything. If fans way back saw Hunter Hearst Helmsley losing the Intercontinental title to Ultimate Warrior in record time, no one would have said that he had the makings of a world heavyweight champion, much less multi-time world heavyweight champion. So with this, I enclose my choices of 2004 top ten superstars. Maybe later I'll post my predictions of 2005 top ten.

2004 Top Ten | These superstars of proven that they had what it takes to stand out in 2004.

#10-- Triple H (Raw) | Yes, Triple H makes number ten in 2004. Throughout 2004, Triple H either kept the World Heavyweight title or as been going for the Worl Heavyweight title. He kept himself metally prepared for night after night of competing in main events. Only question is, how lon can he hold up for being a top contender"

#9-- Eugene/Christian | I tied these two up for simple reasons. Both superstars are getting more and more entertaining every week. Eugene made a big hit with his, playful, antics and showed the world that "there's nothing wrong with living a dream." Well put, J.R. As for Christian. CAPTAIN CHARISMA make a successful night at Wrestlemania by defeating the first Undisputed Champion, Chris Jericho. Even though he often uses Tyson Tomko as an effective problem solver, Christian remained a shining star in the world of Raw. Yes.. I'm a peep.

#8-- Snitsky | Snitsky, whether you enjoy his segments or not, definately stood out in this whole "Kane/Lita's baby" thing. It wasn't his fault.. that this story at first seemed ridiculous, I mean, the only pregnant storyline that was successful was Mae Young's.. which was.. disturbing. Thing is, put YOURSELF in their shoes. how would you ladies feel if your baby, whom was made by some guy threatening to damage your boyfriend, has suddenly been taken away" How would you guys feel if someone came along and killed your unborn child, then taking you out for a period of time" See" If you put yourself in it, it makes a slightly believable storyline.

#7-- John Bradshaw Layfield | Ah.. JBL, the great.. well.. great something. I respect people's opinions so I want them to respect mine, JBL is one of the best champions I've ever seen. He may not have the great athletic ability we're used to seeing Smackdown champions have(i.e. Eddie, Kurt, etc.) but look at JBL's past. He spent years as a tag team specialist with few runs as the Hardcore champion. Getting rid of Farrooq and changing his actual lifestyle was the best career move. He HAS to be doing something right if he became champion shortly after making a new change. He may seem boring at times, but he draws in crowds. How" Well.. a lot of people are wanting to watch him lose the title.. unfortunately. None the less, in 2004, JBL had his first lengthy run as WWE World Champion and that's something to be proud of.

#6-- Batista | Batista is my number six mainly because throughout 2004 he remained a destructive force behind Evolution. No matter who it was he was fighting, you were sure that they would taste that Double A spinebuster and soon meet the devastating powerbomb. Even though Batista only held the tag team titles, it's clear that if it wern't for his loyalty to Triple H and Ric Flair, he would be the champion to this day.

#5-- Shelton Benjamin | Mr. Benjamin is perhaps currently the most athletic superstar on Raw, with exception of Randy Orton, Jericho, and Christian. Shelton made a jump from a tag team specialist to singles superstar in one very big leap. Shelton beat Triple H on I believe two occaisions and later became the fan favorite at Taboo Tuesday and won the IC title from Jericho. When Shelton's music hits, people are awakened and await to watch one of the best matches of the evening. Shelton never would have made it in Smackdown, where most wrestlers were in his style range, but in Raw.. an arena more dominantly filled with brawlers and grapplers.. Shelton sticks out as the man who jumps around. There a few on Raw who can compete with Benjamin's physical fittness.

#4-- Edge | I have to put Edge at number four because never have I seen a man more determined to get the heavyweight title. Edge's passion for the top is rivaled by few and the crowd can see that. Even though it's a shock for most that Edge, the Smackdown superstar whom always seemed so friendly, has turned for his own good. At the first stages of his heel turn, the crowd wasn't sure how to react, however, they soon found out. At Taboo Tuesday, Edge was runner up as a no.1 contender for the Heavyweight title and perhaps with good reason. With Triple H being the top flagship basically ever sense he first recieved the title, Christ Benoit, whom may be the best technical wrestler today, but is being pushed too much, and Shawn Micheals who had a knee injury and could barely walk, Edge seemed to be the best pic to take WWE into a new future. In 2005, he may end up becoming a geat Heavyweight Champion.

#3-- Chris Benoit | One of my favorite superstars. I was overjoyed when I heard Chris Benoit won the World Heavyweight title at WM. He deserves to be in the number three spot, because it took him EIGHTEEN YEARS! to become the World Heavyweight champion. Even if he never gets the world title ever again, the year of 2004 should belong to Chris Benoit, if no one else.

#2-- Eddie Gurerro | Almost the same as Christ Benoit. Eddie Gurerro has been given true talent of professional wrestling. I've seen his matches from Mexico, WCW, I think one ECW, and of course, WWF(E) and I can honestly say that it was about time he became champion. Eddie Gurerro I believe was an Intercontinental Champion, Tag Team Champion, Cruiserweight champion, and the list goes on. The thing that made it exciting though, was that Gurerro's personal life almost got in the way of such a great run.

#1...... Randy Orton | Yes, the "Big O," as Lawler called him, deserves this spot for 2004. Who else this whole year has people been watching" Whether it's the eight month IC title reign suddenly coming to a stop, winning the World title, getting kicked out of Evolution, or simply being the most watched star on Raw. Randy Orton has done all this.. at only 24 years of age! He's lived practically an entire wrestling dream in the course of one measly year(with some of 2003 for the IC title reign.) Despite the set back up the IC title lost against Edge, Orton has a natural drive within him to be the best. Edge may have beaten him for the IC title, but no one remembers that Edge started the "You Suck" chant on Kurt. Not many remember exactly WHY Kurt lost his hair. Edge never really made any change except with his personality, however, EVERYONE remembers that Randy Orton ame as a Legend Killer and became a Killer Legend. To set your head spinning.. this is only step one in Randy Orton's life long plan.
Troy (Hopkinsville, KY) wrote:
I agree totally with all of Avi's picks. I also wouldn't be surprised to see a push in 2005 for Christian especially if Edge receives a title run. I also must add that Mark sounds to me like a complete idiot with his constant referral to "The Big One". Give credit where credit is due. All the titles have had facelifts in the past. The World Title is still the World Title
Dan VanTerminator wrote:
nice column and everything, but I have to disagree with Mark's assessment of the World Heavyweight Title not being the "real deal". Unless I'm mistaken, that title has the lineage of the WCW/NWA Heavyweight Championship, which has had a similar lineage to that of the WWE Championship. Edge may have watched Hogan, Flair, and Hart win the WWF Championship, but those guys also went on to win the WCW Title. Also, great champions like The Funks, Dusty Rhodes, and Harley Race have laid claim to that strap at one point or another, so I would definitely place the World Heavyweight Title on the same pedestal as the WWE Championship.
A.J. Velarde wrote:
I don't think is accurate to say that the "raw title" is not the big one. The title is made by competition not history or how the title is similar to another. History and records are not important but the people (wrestlers in this case) who make that history. According to your point of view (Maguire's) neither Triple H, Randy Orton or Chris Benoit have any importance on winning the Raw Title which in my opinion is not a fair comment to those wrestlers in the Raw brand that achieved winning that title. That's why I think Maguire's point of view is not fair nor correct.
Sam Tindall wrote:
With Benoit and Guerrero holding the two main titles at WrestleMania XX, the biggest show of 2004, I don't see why they weren't on your list...not to mention the most dominant man of 2004 on SmackDown!, JBL...hello"!
Navin Panesar wrote:
look i dont agree with all of your views on "The Big One" as both titles mean nothin as they cannot replace the original WWF(E) championship which has acctully been held by the True Champions, And The list is full of absolute losers too, look JBL is the worse champion that could have ever won the championship and his persona is absolutly ridiculous as he cannot even defend his own title legitamitly without somebody like orlando jordan interfereing. its discrasful that the WWE are trying to use the same tactics that they used to make Eddie Gurerro a big superstar, but as for Batista he has the total package but as he is Triple H's lackie he will never overcome that image and will always be seen as the one who Triple H made big and all that hes learnt seems to reflect on Both Ric Flair and Triple H in the process
RuthlessGattman wrote:
JBL isn't a great champion" HELLOOOOO!" Is anybody in there" How could he not be a great champion if he's held it for almost a year. Not really a year, but the point stands. So what if he only wins by cheating, it's the other person's fault for allowing him to cheat. You can't tell me that if you were champion, you wouldn't do what it takes to win. I know everyone sits at home on their little Raw vs. Smackdown game and use weapons whenever they have the chance. I know people enjoy cheating, because if they can pull it off then they're happy. If they witness someone else doing it then they're mad cause they saw it coming. "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!"

No, they're not trying to push him the same way they did with Eddie. They're pushing him the way he wants to be pushed. No one has ever held the title through these many matches simply by cheating. Usually there's a Hulk Hogan or a Rock who pops around the corner and catches the cheater. I enjoy watching JBL, he's funny and pretty smart. I think that everything is his idea. From dressing up in bogus armor in Iraq to making Shannon's name on every piece of paper to every cheating situation he does. With maybe the exception of Heidenreich. Fact is, JBL is YOUR champion and you're not. Deal with it!
wrote:

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