The Top Young Superstars in Professional Wrestling
July 2, 2011
Written by: Anthony J. Valvo of
Ballots filled by: Wrestleview staff and readers


So far, I hope your summer is going well. During the summer, I (Mr. V) get a ton of downtime and I always like to be busy. So with that typed I have three special projects that I am going to work on throughout the summer.

The first special will be the one that you are reading, which is a list I like to call “The Top Young Wrestlers”. In this piece (in which I started the research on June 1, 2011), I searched and put on a ballot a list of professional wrestlers that were 30 years old (at the time I began this project) or younger that are on the active roster for World Wrestling Entertainment, Total Nonstop Action (or Impact) Wrestling, and Ring of Honor Wrestling. I kept it limited to these three promotions because they were on television this year (I know ROH’s TV deal expired in April, but they will return in September).

During the past month, I asked the WrestleView readers that support my column and the WrestleView staff to help compile a top ten list based on the names that I had sent them. I requested that they select ten professional wrestlers and rank them from #1 to #10 and here was how I calculated the scores:


If a wrestler was #1 on a ballot, they received 10 points. The #2 received 9pts and I counted down until the wrestler ranked #10 received 1 point. I consider this to be similar to an NCAA College Football Poll (which is the same scoring system to a future project that I will work on which is the Power Rankings).

Well, I collected twenty separate ballots. They all ranked their superstars based on talent, money draw, placement on the card, or however the ranked them. What I asked them is to not be biased and to be completely honest. What I got was worthy to post in my first project for the summer. So I would like to thank the people that are listed below for taking part of the first project.

A Special Thank You

Among the WrestleView Staff (I won’t thank myself, but I did fill a ballot):

Dave Stephens (Raw Recapper, That’s a Wrap columnist, Co-Host of The Teacher’s Lounge)
Darragh O’Connor (Co-Host of The WrestleView International Desk)
Evan O’Brien (Co-Host of The WrestleView International Desk)
Gregory Walek (WWE NXT Recapper)
Mike Tedesco (Friday Night Smackdown Recapper and moderator of the WWE Standings)
Matt O’Brien (Notes from the Nosebleeds columnist and WrestleView poll manager)
Ryan Rivera (ROH on HDNet Recapper)
Jose Marrero (Wrestling Rumblings columnist)
Josh Boutwell (Impact Wrestling Recapper)
Andrew Hayman (WWE Superstars Recapper)

Among the WrestleView readers (and/or VIP Members)

Sean Hurley
Jason Namako
Ken Konarzewski
E-mailer known as “Chris0407”
Frank McMahen
Freedom Marshall
Cam Henderson
Luke Bartlett
Travis Thomas

Keep in mind, this is a list of professional wrestlers who were 30 years old or younger once I started the article (which was June 1, 2011). So if someone turned 31 during the month of June, they were not eliminated from the piece (however next year they will be).

Oh, and one more thing if you do not like the list that we completed then you had plenty of time to make your voice heard. But instead, you decided to be lazy and just read the piece and opted not to participate. So just enjoy the article and be entertained.

Who did not make the Overall Top Ten

Overall, we had 39 professional wrestlers. Here are the 28 that did not make our cut (there was a 2-way tie for #10)

Point totals in (parentheses)

39) Richie Steamboat Jr. – FCW (1)
38) Madison Rayne – TNA (1)
37) Percy Watson – FCW (1)
36) DH Smith – WWE (1)
35) Heath Slater – WWE (1)
34) John Moxley (now Dean Ambrose) – FCW (2)
33) Amazing Red – TNA (2)
32) Justin Gabriel – WWE (3)
31) Robbie E – TNA (5)
30) Alex Shelley – TNA (6)
29) Tyson Kidd – WWE (7)
28) Ted DiBiase Jr. – WWE (7)
27) Roderick Strong – ROH (7)
26) Seth Rollins – FCW (8)
25) Michael Elgin – ROH (8)
24) Kenny King – ROH (9)
23) Mark Briscoe – ROH (9)
22) Trent Barreta – WWE (9)
21) Peter Orlov – FCW (10 w/1 first place vote)
20) Jay Briscoe – ROH (11)
19) Zack Ryder – WWE (15 w/1 first place vote)
18) Gunner – TNA (16)
17) Chris Sabin – TNA (23)
16) Evan Bourne – WWE (25)
15) Eddie Edwards – ROH (25)
14) Jack Swagger – WWE (26)
13) Alex Riley – WWE (26)
12) Chris Masters – WWE (27)

The wrestler ranked #11 was in a tie for 10th, therefore it qualifies that wrestler to be in the top ten in my book.

The Top Ten Young Professional Wrestlers

Obviously, here are the top ten (ok, eleven because of a tie) wrestlers that are 30 years old or younger. Please enjoy. There will not be special notes under each wrestler, but just five things on what we (the author, those who participated, and the reader) learned after check this portion out.

#10 (tie) – Kofi Kingston, WWE (40 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Kingston appeared on: 9
Highest ranked on one ballot: 3rd

#10 (tie) – El Generico, Ring of Honor (40 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Generico appeared on: 7
Highest ranked on one ballot: 2nd (he got that ranking on two ballots)

9) Claudio Castagnoli, Ring of Honor (49 points)

(Look to the fans of Castagnoli, I know it was his Chikara theme. So be it.)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Castagnoli appeared on: 8
Highest ranked on one ballot: 2nd (he got that ranking on two ballots)

8) Davey Richards, Ring of Honor (49 points) *won tiebreaker because of a first place vote

Ballots that had him #1: One
Number of ballots Richards appeared on: 7
Highest ranked on one ballot: 1st

7) Drew McIntyre, WWE (50 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots McIntyre appeared on: 12
Highest ranked on one ballot: 2nd (he got that ranking on two ballots)

6) Sin Cara, WWE (51 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Sin Cara appeared on: 9
Highest ranked on one ballot: 3rd

5) Cody Rhodes, WWE (64 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Rhodes appeared on: 11
Highest ranked on one ballot: 2nd

4) Wade Barrett, WWE (67 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Zero
Number of ballots Barrett appeared on: 12
Highest ranked on one ballot: 2nd

3) Dolph Ziggler, WWE (100 points)

Ballots that had him #1: One
Number of ballots Ziggler appeared on: 13
Highest ranked on one ballot: 1st

2) Daniel Bryan, WWE (113 points)

Ballots that had him #1: One
Number of ballots Bryan appeared on: 18
Highest ranked on one ballot: 1st

1) The Miz, WWE (184 points)

Ballots that had him #1: Fifteen
Number of ballots The Miz appeared on: 20
Highest ranked on one ballot: 1st (He got that ranking on 15 ballots)

So, what are the six things we might have learned after reading these rankings?

1) The WWE has the youth.

It was obvious to me that the WWE was going to have more professional wrestlers on this list than the other two. The company does a great job training their wrestlers and apparently they give them a chance to succeed. Sure there are some that were disappointing and fell out of the WWE’s good graces, but frequently the WWE will give a young guy a push to see if they really have “it”.

It worked for the top seven on this list. Let’s count the ways, shall we?

The Miz – If you were a supporter of the Miz since day 1, you are lying. The Miz has been presented with the ball and he took it home with him. What has he done since his debut? Well, actually what hasn’t he done? He was the Money in the Bank winner, WWE World Champion, WWE United States Champion, WWE Tag Team Champion (all for mere minutes but you get the point), and MAIN EVENTED WrestleMania (and won). That all helped in running away and the best young professional wrestler in the world as voted on by the smartest people WrestleView has to offer.

Daniel Bryan – Remember, they had a plan for him as well. He does not have the size to be the top star in the company, but his talent is the best in the world. They even gave him a personality on the 4th season of WWE NXT when he was partnered with Derrick Bateman. Also, he is getting consistent air time on Smackdown and a few months ago was the WWE United States Champion.

Dolph Ziggler – Again, another top young star that the WWE had in their system for years (even dating back to OVW). He had some pretty bad gimmicks, but his improvement in the ring and on the mic makes him one of the best in the company right now. He had a rough patch a couple months ago, but he is back on track and is the current United States Champion.

Wade Barrett – Well, the WWE helped him win the 1st season of WWE NXT. They assigned him to Chris Jericho and Barrett outshined everyone. The company trusted this young wrestler so much that they have him booked to be a leader of the Nexus revolution in which was one of the best feuds last year. Though he can improve in the ring he might be one of the best talkers in the WWE.

Cody Rhodes – He is keeping himself pretty busy the past few months. He dropped the “Dashing” gimmick and now focuses on wrestling. He is an underrated mat wrestler on the Smackdown brand and his stock really reached its high point with a victory over Rey Mysterio at this year’s WrestleMania.

Sin Cara – While he is still adapting to the WWE, he has the potential to be a top high-flyer and one of their biggest draws outside the United States. The WWE sees something in Sin Cara that we do not at this moment, but it is Sin Cara’s decision to adapt this style or the WWE may have made a mistake (and we know they are giving him every chance to succeed).

Drew McIntyre – No one has improved more as a wrestler recently than McIntyre. Last year, some considered him as an overrated superstar. Now the same people might be saying the complete opposite. When given time, he presents himself well on the mic and in the ring.

I will even throw Kofi Kingston (#10) in this as well. They have given him all the chances to succeed in the company. Is this the best we have seen out of Kingston? I don’t think so. Remember, he has debuted mere five years ago and he has yet to reach his full level. If Kingston can find a way to have better chemistry in the ring, perhaps he will be ranked higher next year.

2) Ring of Honor’s popularity has improved significantly.

While many were (and may still are) wondering about Ring of Honor, I will type this out. Please try and find clips or DVDs of any Ring of Honor show and watch it. Some of these wrestlers are really impressive.

Before their HDNet deal, hardly any of the WrestleView audience (with the exception of a few) only heard of some of the wrestlers on the roster. Now we are in 2011 and Ring of Honor will have a new television deal and they have some quality young talent that fans can react to.

There are some technical wrestlers on this list from ROH (Roderick Strong at #27 and Eddie Edwards at #15), some brawlers (Jay Briscoe at #20 and Mark Briscoe at #23), they even have some young high-flyers on their roster as well (Kenny King came in at #24 and El Generico even broke the top 10). Let me just give a quick rundown of those that did make the top ten.

Davey Richards (#8) – He is possibly the top draw for the company. If he was with WWE, he probably would not be ranked this high (former ROH Champ Tyler Black, now FCW’s Seth Rollins is at #26). But in ROH, the fans support the heck out of Richards because he is intense and kind of represents the underdog in all of us. His promo work is getting better and it was a bit emotional during his quest at the ROH World Championship (a title he recently won). When ROH got that new television deal with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, it was very smart to make Richards the face of that brand.

Claudio Castagnoli (#9) – He wrestles all over the world, but his is most known in Ring of Honor. He actually was in WWE’s developmental program, but was let go. If wrestling fans from around the world like to see power moves, look no further than Castagnoli. His power moves are realistic and he is one of the better technical wrestlers out there today. He is currently in a tag team called The Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero and might possibly be signing a deal with the WWE. If the WWE uses him correctly, they have a top-level professional wrestler for the next few years.

El Generico (#10) – When ROH got that new deal, it made perfect sense to give the ROH Television Championship to El Generico. He came off of who many state the Best Feud of the Year with Kevin Steen in 2010 and since then continues to tell amazing stories in the ring without speaking. He rarely cuts promos, as he lets his actions do the talking.

3) Lack of “Impact”

What really shocked me as I analyzed the data that I received was that no wrestler that is 30 years old or younger from TNA (Impact) Wrestling cracked the top ten (and even the top fifteen). To find the top-ranked TNA Wrestler you have to go all the way to #17. That is where Chris Sabin stands in these rankings and he is actually out with an injury. However, we do agree that they have something special in Gunner (#18). Everyone other TNA Wrestler failed to score on more than one ballot. So though Impact Wrestling may feature some big names and improved storylines, they are not doing so well in developing young talent.

4) If you were an “NXT Rookie” you might be doing well for yourself……

Sure, there were some young duds on NXT that were 30 and under and those guys were either sent back to FCW, but the NXT program introduced the fans to quite a few professional wrestlers since its start. Guys like Wade Barrett (#4), Justin Gabriel (#32), and Heath Slater (very underrated at #35). If not for the first season of NXT and the Nexus storyline, we may never have seen them succeed. Gabriel and Slater won tag team championships over the past few months, and Barrett was in the main event and got an Intercontinental championship reign under his belt.

5) …especially if The Miz was your NXT Pro.

To tie into the last statement, The Miz had two NXT rookies. He had Daniel Bryan on the first season and Alex Riley on the second season. I think both Bryan and Riley have established themselves quite nicely in the WWE. This is another reason why The Miz is one of the best professional wrestlers/entertainers in the WWE at the moment (long-term). Bryan was #2 in our rankings and his wrestling on Smackdown and foiling Rhodes and Ted DiBiase frequently. As for Riley (who just missed the top ten at #13), he instantly became a star since he split with The Miz and the WWE is really giving him a chance to succeed.

6) Who will step up in 2011-2012?

I ask this question because when I looked at the top ten, I noticed a number that stood out.

The number was “30”. When we do another list of top young talents next year, we have to take out The Miz, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, and Claudio Castagnoli.

The highest ranked wrestler who was not 30 years old was shockingly Cody Rhodes. Will he have enough steam to be the Top Young Wrestler? Or could it be someone that was outside of the top 10 like Chris Masters (#12) or Jack Swagger (#14)?

There are quite a few that we gave points to that were competing in WWE’s developmental territory (FCW). Will a guy like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, or Richie Steamboat debut in the WWE and take the world by storm?

What about TNA (Impact) Wrestling? Will they invest their time in developing Gunner or Crimson (who did not earn a point) and make them both top stars?

And what about ROH? They have so many talents that are under 30 years old. Could ROH have more wrestlers in the top 10 next year? Will Richards and Generico be ranked higher?


Well, that wraps up the first of many projects that I will be working on over the summer. If you are upset that your favorite wrestler was not on the list, it is not my problem. Besides, I gave the audience one month to compile a list. However if you have an educational thought to the piece you can send them to the following:

Twitter: @TheMisterV

That does it for now. Be sure to check out my column “From the Desk of Mr. V” every week on Wrestleview.