While these two were on the rise, many names and faces have come and gone. Superstars like Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Batista, Edge, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, and The Miz. People might ask then “What is their secret?” Because when you look at the previously mentioned names all of them drew money for the company in some way, got them ratings and drew attention to the company. But the difference between John Cena and Randy Orton versus those names mentioned is longevity. Granted, both Cena and Orton have suffered their respective injuries during their time at the top which made way for other Superstars to possibly grab the brass ring. Some have for a short time but like everyone else once one or the other returned they were back where they belonged. Let’s just take a quick peek at the names I have mentioned for a quick moment:
• Goldberg- The big baby face draw and one time WCW World Champion debuted for WWE in March, 2003. During of which time he spent with the company along with a couple of big marquee matches with such names like The Rock, he won one World Heavyweight Championship for a grand total of two months and change. Once he lost in December to Triple H he only stayed for another four months with final match being at WrestleMania XX with Brock Lesnar.
• Chris Jericho- Six time World Champion spanning from 2001 till his latest departure from WWE in 2013. He had the ability to be that top guy. Arguably, he is one of the best minds in wrestling. But he was a victim of circumstance. When he first came in to WWF/E in 1999 the top guys were The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin at the peak of WWF’s Attitude Era despite beating BOTH top guys in 2001 on the same night to become the first Undisputed Champion in 2001. It always seemed like that Jericho was always on the backburner between runs from Triple H, Brock Lesnar, and Kurt Angle then later from Cena, Orton, Batista and Edge. He drew money and gave the fans quality matches but I don’t think he was given a fair chance to the fullest extent.
• Kurt Angle/Brock Lesnar- These two were the number one and two guys at the beginning of the brand split era of WWE. Angle and Lesnar ran Smackdown! while Triple H ran Raw. Their matches always gave the fans quality, drew money for the company and was that next great feud that many were looking for. However, after three WWE Championship reigns Brock Lesnar up and left WWE after his match with Goldberg at WrestleMania XX to pursue other career aspirations leaving WWE with many questions to answer. Although Angle wrestled for the WWE Championship at the same event, the four time WWE Champion and WCW World Champion would only get one more run at the World Heavyweight Championship for three months in 2006.
• Jeff Hardy- The three time World Champion won his first WWE Championship in 2008. Hardy had always been a fan favorite and big draw even from the days in The Hardy Boyz tag team with his brother Matt finally got his big break after many mistakes with drug related issues. It was Hardy’s time to take the ball and run with it. Feuding in Edge for the WWE Championship and then later with CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship. Both feuds were great. Edge and Hardy grew up together in wrestling with their rises to the top very similar in path and with CM Punk having the straight edge versus drug addict storyline. Everything worked. But Hardy was let go for further drug issues during his feud with CM Punk. If he was able to keep his act together he could have been that other big star in the company to the level of Cena and Orton.
• Edge- Ten time World Champion from 2006-2011 before retiring due to a past neck injury. Although I’m not the biggest Edge fan, I do also have to say he was the victim of circumstance. He drew a lot of money with his continuous feud with John Cena and he drew a lot of money in merchandising. But at the end of the day, his reigns were so short and he always seemed to lose the title to the big stars such as Cena, Undertaker, and Triple H with the exception of the likes of Hardy and Punk. It was hard to take him as a credible champion with so many reigns in such a short period of time.
• CM Punk- We all know of his historic 434 day reign as WWE Champion, the longest reign in twenty-five years. Before that we won two other World Heavyweight Championships. Punk simply was another victim of circumstance. He lost the title to The Rock, a very part time talent at this point in his career then it was Cena again with The Rock. After this reign he had one big match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX and then nothing of great notoriety until his recent departure from WWE. He had the chance to be that transition main eventer while WWE sought out their next big star after Cena and Orton left. However, I feel he got boring too often too fast during the 434 day reign. WWE saw it, didn’t give him another chance.
• Sheamus/The Miz- Too much, too fast. Sheamus won his first of two WWE Championships in 2009 against John Cena. The WWE had the right idea to put over a guy like Sheamus for the title but it wasn’t at the right time especially at how soon he lost belt in both of his reigns. Even for his World Championship reign in 2012 it was too little too late at that point. I can name on one hand the people who cared for that particular reign. The Miz was the best bad guy on the microphone that that time. He won the WWE Championship against Randy Orton after cashing in his Money in the Bank in 2010 before losing it to Cena in May, 2011. Miz had the mic skills, he had decent enough wrestling ability to get him over, and the crowd was eating it up. However, after his awful main event WrestleMania title match against John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII I don’t think WWE saw a future with The Miz.
We come to the here and now. Cena and Orton are in theory on their way out. WWE needs to bring in that talent or develop that talent to be the next big thing for the WWE. Hogan left then Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were the transition top guys before the Attitude Era of Stone Cold and The Rock. After them was Triple H’s time along with Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle during the brand split. Then, on the heels of Vince McMahon's RUTHLESS AGGRESSION speech, came John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista. Unlike Batista though, Cena and Orton stuck around. It’s especially hard now because you can’t bring in big names from another competing company because there is no company the WWE views as competition that is main event ready.
Back then you had the NWA, AWA, and even WCW to look from. TNA is no competition to the WWE. In my opinion though, and I’m not a fan of TNA, the guys the WWE could bring in that would be main event ready are Bobby Roode, Magnus and Austin Aries. But now also with NXT its rare anymore that they ever let guys bypass the developmental system even if they don’t need it. It’s either WWE’s way or no way which is unfortunate because there are plenty of guys who can work but just aren’t given the proper chance. Even though those two are likely on the tail end of their respective careers I still think it’s too early to determine who the next breakout star to take WWE in the future is.
You have a lot of talent that have potential like Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro and who knows what kind of untapped potential the talent in NXT have? I for one like the journey of discovering that next star before our eyes. Right now though, I am worried because if the WWE don’t let the talent get the time on the main roster how can they expect the next generation’s big star to develop then take over?