The wrestling business is filled with workers who are pushed above their abilities for a number of reasons. These are the top five.
There are a number of professional wrestlers who have made it to the top of their profession: grapplers such as Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Bruno Sammartino, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and The Undertaker. These are the names you think of when it comes to lasting legacies in this industry. But there are also names that are labeled as “overrated” sitting right next to them. That does not necessarily mean that these folks are bad wrestlers. It just means that they are overpushed to the point where fans are turned off by what the respective promotions are trying to push.
Today, I will list the top five overrated wrestlers that I can think of. I will also note that Hulk Hogan will not be on this list because he is on everyone’s list for the most overrated wrestlers of all time. It is like beating a dead horse with Hogan, so he is omitted.
I am a fan of Triple H, but even I cannot deny that his “Reign of Terror” during the early years of the Ruthless Aggression Era is one of the most polarizing periods of Raw I have witnessed. There were a number of times that year when I watched Raw and he would open — or close — the show with a lengthy promo that made me look all the more forward to SmackDown that Thursday.
When Triple H brings it, he has good-to-great matches. At the same time, think of the names that everyone saw Triple H defeat, derailing their momentum in the process: Booker T, Goldberg, Scott Steiner, Rob Van Dam, and even Randy Orton at the time (to be fair, he was not ready yet). It was The Triple H Show at that time and the feuds he had with all of them did not benefit them in the long run.
Years after this, Triple H was booked to defeat CM Punk at Night of Champions 2011. If that did not put a bad taste in your mouth when it happened, then I do not know what you were watching. I still stand by Punk being the right opponent for Triple H, but there was no reason for Triple H to defeat him at that show to only team up with him only a couple of months later on another major show. Things like this prove that Triple H, as an active competitor at the time, was insecure about his position and that he let his ego got in the way. Jim Cornette said it best: “He is the guy that works with the guy that draws money.”
The only time I ever tolerated Jeff Jarrett was his WCW run from 1999-2001. Even then, he was a prime example of a midcard act trying to be a main event card act. Jarrett had a moveset that has not evolved and is too old to even stomach to look at. It got worse in TNA when he was the central focus on the top of the card for the first four years of the company’s existence. What makes Jarrett overrated is that he does not know how to entice heat. I could never buy into anything he did in the ring, whether if it was his promos or in matches outside of Jeff Jarrett smashing guitars over everyone’s head. At least Triple H knows how to envoke heat at any given moment.
There is something that Crimson and my next selection had in common at the time of their runs: Both were obvious attempts to recreate Goldberg’s winning streak. TNA tried to make Crimson their version of Goldberg by having him go on an undefeated stretch. His streak went on for a whopping 470 days, which is almost two years! During that period, he had no matches that were interesting, no memorable promos or catchphrases, and was always sloppy in the ring. Overrated is an understatement when it came to Crimson’s first stint in TNA and he just did not have any reason for anyone to care that he had an undefeated streak.
When he finally lost his streak when he got pinned by James Storm, I can tell that the fans were relieved. A failed experiment that is remembered for the wrong reasons. Crimson eventually returned to Impact Wrestling under a new name, but his first run was never mentioned again.
Unlike Crimson, at least Ryback had fan support and a catchphrase. But his sloppy wrestling and the fact that he looks almost exactly like Goldberg with an RVD-style singlet just screams copy-and-paste, which is why Ryback is overrated. Look up the entrances side-by-side between Ryback and Goldberg and how his matches end, both are nearly identical. It did not help that he drew “Goldberg” chants during his entire career in WWE because the fans quickly caught on to what the company was trying to do with him. Like Crimson, Ryback also had an undefeated streak. I will argue that his streak should have went longer, but the fork on the road was his first defeat at Hell in a Cell against CM Punk in 2012.
WWE clearly had no idea what to do with him afterward because they turned him heel the night after WrestleMania 29. But his run will be remembered for being a carbon copy of Goldberg. I also find it amusing that Ryback left WWE months before Goldberg returned. As overrated as Ryback was, a match between Ryback and Goldberg would have been interesting.
Just like Triple H, I am a huge fan of Randy Orton. But within the last decade, I refer to him as the “Alex Rodriguez of WWE.” I say this because Orton is a great wrestler and he is very precise when he makes smooth transitions from one move to the next. I do not think that we will see anyone like him ever again. But I cannot ignore the number of times Orton has been unnecessarily pushed to the moon, especially at times when he has had wellness suspensions back in the day. For some reason, he got away with many of them after his suspensions were up. Anytime he is the top tier champion for whichever brand, I moan and groan to displeasure for another Orton title run.
His matches have been mediocre over the last few years. From time to time, he will have one or two great matches a year on pay-per-view. It seems like Randy Orton phones it in during those times and it really shows during his matches outside of the RKO finish. Randy Orton should have been in the conversation of the top 10 all-time greats. But in my book, he is on my top 20 and nowhere near close to 10.