Coming up with a top 5 list for WWE icons is virtually impossible. Now keep in mind, iconic doesn’t mean champion or even the greatest of all time, it means someone who is thought of when someone mentions WWE. Who do you go with? Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, HHH, Shawn Michaels, Randy Macho Man Savage, Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Rowdy Roddy Piper? You get the picture, impossible; so we narrowed it down to the most iconic WWE figures in the modern PG era of the wrestling giant. In no particular order here we go!
5. The Big Show
An instantly recognizable figure, The Big Show (Paul Wight), stands at 7′ tall 440 lbs. he’s kind of hard to miss. Wight first came on the scene in 1995 for World Championship Wrestling under the ring name, The Giant, where he was billed as the son of Andre the Giant and even had the same wrestling gear as him for awhile. Having held every major championship at both WWE and WCW, Wight’s face has been plastered everywhere from cups at 7-Eleven, to video games, and other licensed products. Wight has been seen in TV shows (Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and Saturday Night Live) and movies (Jingle All the Way, The Waterboy, MacGruber, and Knucklehead) and has done charity work for various organizations.
4. Roman Reigns
Love him or hate him, Roman Reigns (Leati Joe Anoa’i), is a hot commodity right now. There are not many women that I talk to that could tell you what’s going on in WWE right now but they know who Reigns is. A member of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family, Reigns has high expectations of himself and would be coming along just fine if WWE brass would quit trying to force him on their fans…but that’s a topic for another time. His bloodline consists of: Sika Anoa’i (Father), Rosey (Brother), Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga, Tonga Kid (Cousins), Jimmy & Jey Uso, and The Rock (Second Cousins). While not being the most popular wrestler on the roster (He is constantly booed regardless of who he’s fighting) he is one of the current icons thanks to WWE pushing him so hard.
3. Daniel Bryan
The recently retired uber-star had a relatively short WWE career and didn’t have any really lengthy title runs. So why is he an icon? He was charismatic and a phenomenal wrestler, not to mention he’s married to Brie Bella and featured in the Total Divas show on E! He also is one of the most heralded indie wrestlers to hit the WWE and proved that you don’t have to be a big muscle-bound beast to be successful in WWE. Daniel Bryan’s (Bryan Danielson) fans were so fanatical that they caused WWE to change the Wrestlemania main event and put the Heavyweight Title on him! He also was able to be the favorite superstar of one Connor “The Crusher” Michalek, the young boy who was diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer at age 3 and passed away at age 8. Connor was ringside while his hero won the WWE Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania XXX. The Yes! Movement, his signature chant/taunt has become a staple of WWE shows and even made its way into mainstream sports, notably being a rally cry for the San Francisco Giants 2014 championship run.
2. Brock Lesnar
Speaking of muscle-bound beasts, Brock Lesnar is hands down one of the most intimidating men in sports entertainment, and quite possibly the world. Listing his accomplishments is a list unto itself, but we’ll try to keep it brief.
- NCAA Division 1 All American 1999 & 2000
- NCAA Division 1 Heavyweight Champion 2000
- UFC Heavyweight Champion
- IWGP Heavyweight Champion
- OVW 3x Tag Team Champion (w/ Shelton Benjamin)
- WWE King of the Ring 2002
- WWE Royal Rumble Winner 2003
- WWE 4x World Heavyweight Champion
- The Ultimate Fighter 2011 2 episodes
- The only athlete to appear in 3 different sports video games (WWE 2K Series, Madden ’06, and UFC Series)
He was the youngest WWE Heavyweight Champion at age 25, that is until Randy Orton won it a little while later at age 24. Lesnar has been the most dominant superstar on the roster and has become a babyface (good guy) most recently not by choice but by the crowd being fully behind him. He is one of WWE’s few crossover stars. His game-changing 4 year run in the UFC completely redefined what their Heavyweight division was and has become. He may not do all of the charity work that the others do but he is hands down one of the most recognizable faces of WWE.
1. John Cena
One of the most divisive superstars on the WWE roster, John Cena IS WWE. He gets booed everywhere he goes and yet he gets cheered just as much. He never wavers in his good guy persona and that rubs some fans the wrong way. Cena is very much the icon that Hulk Hogan was in every way. How is John Cena #1? Let’s see:
- Does tons of fan appearances for WWE
- Is the first to volunteer for charity events
- Loves the military and does special shows for the troops
- Granted over 500 wishes for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the most in the charity’s history
- Acted in several movies (The Marine, 12 Rounds, Legendary, The Reunion, Trainwreck, and Daddy’s Home)
- Had endorsement deals with Gold’s Gym, YJ Stinger, Subway, American Body Builders, Gillette, as well as was featured on a box of Fruity Pebbles
- Is also a 15 time World Champion in Wrestling, 1 shy of tying the record with Ric Flair’s 16
Love him or hate him, John Cena is the WWE icon. He may even be more associated with professional wrestling than Hulk Hogan.