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Best U.S. Workers of the 00s?


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As I'm editing in thoughts for my top ten list for the nineties, I'm noticing that the usual suspects are popping up. I will definitely finish it, but I'm thinking the consensus here will be within tolerance. Hence, my curiosity to expand this unto a different decade - 2000-2010.


I was contemplating Japan in the nineties, but I think that'd be too easy, and I haven't really followed puro since the split of All Japan, and the eighties are covered by DVDVR.


So from January 1st, 2000 to December 31st, 2009, who are the best US workers?

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It's an interesting question, given the demise of WCW and how useless TNA was ring wise. Then you have Ring of Honor working a style completely different to WWE, so you have to take into account people's preferences for that. ROH in ring from 2003-2006 was a fantastic run, though I've not gone back to see if any of it held up.


Since 2007 I've really only seen the really pimped stuff, but the people that spring to mind are:


1. Samoa Joe - I saw a bit TNA the other week and his fall off has been dramatic. That makes people forget that as his peak, he might have been the best monster out there, that eighteen month title reign was superb, you had this dude destroying people yet there was still always a chance he might lose. A lot of credit goes to the booking here, which was excellent for the period. Punk v Joe II was absolutely incredible for many at the time, and in ring there is just tons of stuff to recommend him,


v Jay Briscoe in the cage, 2003?

v Danielson (MXR, 04)

v Punk, last two matches was their series are all top class

v Necro Butcher, insane match, holds up, one of those legitimate "WTF this is fucking awesome" matches

w/Lethal v Homicide/Low Ki (2005/2006?), one of the best US tags of all time as I recall

Then there's the TNA stuff with Sabin, Styles and others, and more divisive stuff like the Kobashi matches, the Ki match from 02, Morishima stuff


2. Bryan Danielson - Pretty much a lock in pick for most people's top ten I would have thought, astonishingly consistent worker, his heel run with the belt 06-07 really added to it, there was some funny stuff in there with all the 30+ minute matches. Too many matches to talk about really, I tend to think Joe's best matches are better whereas Dragon has a greater body of work


3. Rey Mysterio - I don't Rey as much as some, but for someone who's been active the whole decade and been always at a top level, you can't really ignore him. I tend to disagree with the current tide of opinion and think 2002 was his best year of the decade, when he was fresh and athletic and trim, he looks physically in the best shape of his life and all the matches are crisp. The Smackdown 6 stuff is all pretty good, the Summerslam match with Angle and the match with Benoit especially stand out. Other than that, it's hard for me to pick individual matches as I can't remember much, but the key is I can't remember any bad matches either.


4. Chris Benoit - Had a fabulous run the first few years of the decade. The feud with Rock was fun, the feud with Jericho produced some amazing matches, some great tags like the 2/00 Raw 10 man and the Power Trip v him and Jericho. Smackdown 6 stuff holds up as alluded to, the 2003 feud with Lesnar and Cena was fun, the title win was not a great match but a great moment and him dropping the belt to Orton is highly underrated. Plus he had a load of good TV stuff.


5. Chris Jericho - Great promo guy, great character guy, and there's also some great matches in there as well. Has longevity, which really helps him, I haven;t seen the series with Michaels but I gather it's pretty good so he's still got it today by most accounts. Did well to change his character from the catchphrase Attitude-era face to the reasoned heel, and was pretty influential in that regard if you watch Punk's recent promos.


Other guys who are in the top ten mix are,


- Eddie Guerrero - Had a two or three great years, but only lasted half the decade and was missing in action for 2001 as well, so you've only got four years to pick from

- CM Punk - Consistent, good interview, only maybe one world class match but a load of very good stuff to go with it

- Kurt Angle - Hated by the DVDVR/PWO crowd...yet still consistently over (if at the expense of overkilling moves for the cheap pop), at the top for a long time and was a consistently solid, if repetitive worker with the odd really excellent match (v Rock at No Way Out, v Rey, v Benoit)

- Low-Ki - A guy who had something special about him and a real charisma...probably never developed into a truly world class worker like a lot of people thought he would at the turn of the decade

- John Cena - Solid worker, I'm not seeing the great matches but someone who's higher on him than me may disagree with that

- Steve Austin - 2001 was the best year of anyone in the decade, but he has nothing else really, so can't be top ten contention for me

- Undertaker - Consistently delivered in big matches

- Necro Butcher - repetetive, garbage wrestling, I fucking love it, he's got some highly entertaining stuff

- AJ Styles - Not a fan myself, but he's been on top having 'workrate' matches for years so someone must love him


Personally, I prefer watching more 'fun' guys like Jack Evans and emo-period Jimmy Jacobs to a lot of these guys. I also think 2001 RVD was a great run from the decade. However the guys listed above are the only real legitimate candidates to me, unless I've missed anything out.

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Rey Mysterio, top to bottom. Most variety in opponents, good to great matches in amazing consistency. He was great in the beginning of the decade as a cruiserweight working your Chavo Guerrero, Tajiri, Noble types... made the transition to a more traditional main event Steamboat/Morton type babyface while still keeping what got him over and adding layers of psychology and selling to his game, producing a vault of good to great matches, hidden gems, long matches, gimmick matches, brawls, angle heavy matches, sprinty matches and so on with the most varying list of opponents of maybe anyone ever. Like Austin in the 90s, you watched Rey transform through the decade, but I'd argue he adjusted to his injuries and remained a great worker even better than Austin did (actually it's not even arguable). Every year he was no less than a top 3 guy in the company, most of the time the best guy. Got the very most out of his environment while still working within the confines of it... Probably the best WWE worker of all time in that sense. The premiere babyface of his era.


Bryan Danielson is the second best....but Rey was more consistent and versatile.


I like Samoa Joe but his peak is too short. Eddie Guerreros peak in this decade (03-05) was better than Joes and I'm not 100% sure Eddie would break my top 5 2000s guy.

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Christian had one of the best single years imaginable in 2009, but I haven't seen any of his TNA run so I can't really judge it. Honestly, I don't feel super confident making a list like this because I didn't watch much from 2005-2007, and then I REALLY didn't watch anything at all from 2007-2008. I might have seen 4 TNA matches in my entire life and I haven't seen very much US Indies past FCW since 2004 or so.

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w/Lethal v Homicide/Low Ki (2005/2006?), one of the best US tags of all time as I recall

HUH? There were two Joe/Lethal vs. Homicide/Ki tags, and either was really anything all that special. The first one in May was just a backdrop for the Rottweilers to show off the Diving stomp/Cop Killa combo and put Lethal on the shelf for a few months. The second was in August and is a good match, but it's most remembered for the crazy ass brawl that took place afterwards which caused "ROH officials to put the feud on hold and not book any matches between Samoa Joe and the Rottweilers."

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John Cena

Eddie Guerrero

AJ Styles

Rey Mysterio


Bryan Danielson

Brock Lesnar

Chris Jericho


Jay Lethal


He won't get mentioned by anyone else. But I want to throw James Storm out there as someone who deserves a little love for the decade. He went from being considered the weak line in America's Most Wanted to being a top flight heel and really proved people's assumptions of him to be incorrect.


I'll throw Jeff Jarrett out there as well. I don't think you'll find anyone that's had the kind of consistency that Jeff Jarrett had throughout the decade. His 2004-2006 run especially. He had good matches with Monty Brown, Jeff Hardy, Kevin Nash, DDP, Raven, Jay Lethal, Christian, Sting, Samoa Joe, Ron Killings and AJ Styles. It should also be noted, he had a great match with Raven in 2006 when Raven wasn't even capable of being luggage anymore.


Chris Benoit. I love Benoit, but he was getting really bad the last couple of years before his death. I remember tuning in and thinking he was really losing a step and his matches were just getting bad and repetitive at that point. Plus, Eddie kind of overshadowed him.


John Cena. I think he would be my no. 1 pick for the decade. Great matches with Umaga, JBL, Angle, Jericho, Edge, Orton, Batista, HHH and a ton of other guys. Always delivers on the big show, great brawler, knows his role and to me is the natural evolution of the Sting archetype from the early 90s. I think he's kind of the icon of the 00s as much as guys like HHH like to think they are.

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06 was the really great Benoit/Finlay series, the underrated series with Orton in early 06 when he subbed for Booker in the Best Of series, including a really great street fight on SD.. He also had those sub 10 minute tv matches Regal and made MVP into a wrestler. In 07 he had a really good singles match with Edge that isn't the easiest task in the world, and was really finding himself in the ring again as the utility vet bringing good matches out of the new/green guys, which would've been his ECW run had he not dined on the fam. Benoit/Pope was really good and Pope isn't a guy who is ever good.

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Oh, I know. Benoit was my favorite wrestler for a long time. I haven't watched a Benoit match since it happened and I really doubt I ever will.


I'll throw Dustin Rhodes out there. He had a really great run in the WWE in 2002. The Smackdown Six got all of the hype but I think BookDust was the best tag team in the company and it was all because of him.

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The only Benoit/Finlay match I've seen was the Judgment Day one, and I didn't think it was particularly good. And I maintain that Benoit was as responsible as Angle for the development of the WWE Main Event Workrate Epic style.


Anyway, Rey and Danielson are the clear #1 and #2. Other than that, I can't think of anybody who was consistently good over the course of the entire decade. One of the big problems as I see it was that there were way too many smoke-and-mirrors gimmick matches that blurred the distinction between good workers and mediocre ones.

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I think Benoit v. Finlay from Judgment Day is a great match as was the SD match from the same week. Those are two of maybe a half dozen Benoit matches that I wouldn't have to think twice about calling great.


Rey would be my number one, though I could see an argument for Danielson and wouldn't even contest it.


I really think Finlay has an interesting case to be three. Yes he's only got four years in the decade, but during that period he was perhaps the most consistent week-to-week wrestler I've ever seen. He was given absolute dog shit to work with at times and still had good/solid matches with everyone. That on top of stuff like the Hardy, Rey, Benoit matches which I would label great helps him. He was unique as hell which makes him stand out more than most from the era.


I could see Cena as three also as he was a true big match worker at his peak and I think going back to 03 you can find a surprisingly deep volume of good matches. The best stuff, like the Orton SummerSlam match, the Shawn matches, the Umaga match from RR07, the Edge TLC are all things I think stack up well with the best stuff from the decade.


Not sure he is a rock solid candidate for 3 or not, but Matt Hardy strikes me as an almost definite top ten guy.

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Shawn is a love him or hate him type guy this decade. Arguably even more so than Angle.


I think he had some good performances this decade, lots of stuff I don't care about and some outright dog shit including some matches that people really, really love. I can't see him making my U.S. top fifty for the decade. Some people would probably have him number one.

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For what it's worth, I found it was Finlay's performance that dragged down the JD match. I was pretty shocked at how pedestrian he was at the things he's supposed to be great at, like selling. One minute he's eating a German on the floor, the next he's popping up fresh as a daisy to knock Benoit off the apron. Kurt Angle rightfully gets crucified for stuff like that, so Finlay shouldn't get a free pass. And on the "playing one's role well" front, it was kind of jarring to see a supposed tough-guy bruiser working Memphis heel spots. Real tough guys don't fake injuries or beg off at the knees.


Totally agree on Cena. He's my working #3. I can't think of anyone who would obviously go ahead of him even though I don't think he got really good until about 2006. Truth be told, this past decade was pretty weak.

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I didn't think those Benoit/Finlay matches were particularly good at all. They were decent exhibitions, but there was no tension, adrenaline, excitement. It was just a decent stiff workrate match with nothing behind it. OK if you like that sort of thing, but calling them 'great' is a real stretch, to me a truly 'great' match has a certain edge or intangible factor that gets you involved and tense. The only interesting thing about that match was that it was Benoit against Finlay. The live crowd was bored shitless as I remember, and that surely has to count for something.


The second was in August and is a good match, but it's most remembered for the crazy ass brawl that took place afterwards which caused "ROH officials to put the feud on hold and not book any matches between Samoa Joe and the Rottweilers."

This is an almost perfect tag team match if you ask me. They all bring the hate, there's a great angle going in and a reason for the grudge that goes beyond Ki just being an angry cunt. The heat segment on Lethal is fantastic, brilliant FIP work and then Joe with the hot tag is electric, the crowd are loving it which isn't something you can always say about the ROH audience. The near fall period is gripping and once again they're bringing the real hatred, and the subsequent brawl is out of this world good, coming across as chaotic and violent without having to use crazy stunts. No 'this is awesome' or 'this is wrestling' chants, just people captivated by a wonderfully worked match. Pretty underrated.

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Bryan Danielson


vs. Takeshi Morishima 8-25-07 ROH (My #2 match of the decade)

This narrowly missed the number one spot on my list. Danielson takes an ever-growing Morishima, and lays out a masterpiece of a match…with a freshly broken face that Morishima targets and works over. Just an epic David versus Goliath match-up that delivers on all of the expected hype and payoffs marvelously.

vs. KENTA 9-16-06 ROH (My #7 match of the decade)

While they showed some indie-rific moments, like the lack of selling, the match was off the charts incredible. This match occurred when Danielson’s shoulder was all screwed up and he showed what kind of man he was working through it and delivering an epic contest.

vs. Nigel McGuinness 6-9-07 ROH (My #8 match of the decade)

These two had already delivered classics in 2006, now they’re upping the ante by delivering all-time classics in 2007. The match lasted a little over 30 minutes, but they didn’t do the stupid indie crap of excessive no-selling and bomb throwing that leads nowhere like what Davey Richards and Tyler Black love doing.

vs. KENTA 6-23-07 ROH (My #9 match of the decade)

Danielson continues his epic rivalry with KENTA in another epic battle of East versus West. The Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask revolutionized junior styled contests in the 80s, Jushin Liger and Chris Benoit pushed the envelope further in the 90s, and now, in the 2000s, we have the replacements in Bryan Danielson and KENTA…which in my opinion, is a much better matchup and series of matches.

vs. Paul London 4-12-03 ROH

Danielson shows early in his career that he is a superworker as he carries a stoner like London to a marvelous, psychologically sound epic match. This was Ring of Honor’s finest match until Danielson outdid himself later on.

vs. Nigel McGuinness 8-12-06 ROH

Nigel made this match terrifyingly brutal with his sickening headbutts to the ring post. His head was swollen like a prizefighters after a grueling fight. They did lots of awesome work throughout and some particularly awesome hatred spots and pro like selling of damage.

vs. Low Ki 3-30-02 ROH

The main event of the second ever Ring of Honor show displayed these two extremely talented, and bitter old rivals to the rabid Philadelphia crowd…and they loved ‘em.

vs. Nigel McGuinness 4-29-06 ROH

Lots of awesome matwork with very few big bombs and no-selling exchanges that mare a lot of ROH matches.

vs. Ki vs. Daniels 2-23-02 ROH

The first main event for the first Ring of Honor show…and it’s an epic three way match between the three musketeers of the indie scene.

vs. Nigel McGuinness 11-22-08 ROH

Another chapter to their awesome ROH feud and barn burning matches.

vs. Low Ki 2-24-01 ECWA

I first saw this match after downloading the file, the VQ sucked, but the match was incredible. Both dudes are still young to the business, but that doesn’t stop them from annihilating each other with gruesome kicks and strikes.

vs. Low Ki 7-21-01 ECWA

Another epically stiff and gruesome match between two of the most talented young performers at the time – it also has Ricky Steamboat as the special guest referee.

vs. Samoa Joe 8-6-06 ROH

Joe’s performance was absolutely match killing.



When I did a Best of 2000's poll at another forum, I did the normal statistical breakdown seen in other polls.


Statistical Breakdown of Top 100 Matches


34 WWF matches 34%

25 NOAH matches 25%

18 ROH matches 18%

6 AJPW matches 6%

6 TNA matches 6%

4 NJPW matches 4%

2 IWA MS matches 2%

2 ECWA matches 2%

1 CZW match 1%

1 PWG match 1%

1 Zero One match 1%


• ROH appeared four times in my top ten, with one in the top five, and seven times in my top twenty. ROH also secured the #2 spot on my list. Thirty-five percent of the top twenty matches were ROH.

• WWF appeared three times in my top ten, with two in the top five, and five times in my top twenty. The WWF also secured the #1 spot on my list. Twenty-five percent of the top twenty were WWF matches.

• NOAH appeared twice in my top ten, with both in the top five, and four times in my top twenty. NOAH also secured the #3 spot on my list. Twenty percent of the top twenty were NOAH matches.


• Bryan Danielson appeared in fifteen matches, four matches in the top ten, one in the top five at the #2 spot, and seven total matches in the top twenty, which is thirty-five percent.

• KENTA appeared in fifteen matches, with four matches in the top twenty, and two matches in the top ten.

• Chris Benoit appeared in twelve matches, three are in the top twenty, with two in the top ten, while one of those in the top five at #4.

• Triple H appeared in eleven matches, with two inside the top twenty, and one in the top ten.

• Kenta Kobashi appeared in eight matches, with two matches in the top ten, which happened to be in the top five as well, and the #3 match overall.

• Kurt Angle appeared in eight matches, with only one match inside the top twenty, which is in the top ten and five, at #4.

• John Cena appeared only three times in the list. He is in the #1 match, but is not on the list again until #85 and then #97.

• Umaga appeared in only two matches on the list. He is also in the #1 match, but he did not return until #70.

• Mitsuharu Misawa appeared in three matches, one of which is in the top five at #5, but he didn’t return to the list until #96 and then the final match, #100.


• Ten wrestlers who appeared in the top ten also appeared in the bottom ten.

• Bryan Danielson versus KENTA appeared three times within the top twenty, twice in the top ten, and a total of four times in the top forty.

• KENTA vs. Naomichi Marufuji appeared once in the top twenty, but in all, three times in the top sixty matches.

• Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness appeared twice in the top twenty, with once in the top ten, and a total of four times in the top sixty.

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Chris Benoit


vs. Kurt Angle 1-19-03 WWF (My #3 match of the decade)

I think this is the best representation of the WWF’s “Main Event” style. I have adored this truly memorable match since I first watched it. People have criticized this match to hell, but to each their own…this is one of my favorite matches of the decade and all-time even though Benoit is a cold-blooded murderer and Angle is a domestic violence inclined sociopath.

& Jericho vs. Austin & HHH 5-21-01 WWF (My #6 match of the decade)

A truly memorable tag team match between the Vanilla Midgets and the Two Man Power Trip. The heat for this match was absurd, the work was terrific, and HHHoldmedown got hurt and missed burying all of the WCW rejects in the failed Invasion program.

vs. HHH vs. Michaels 3-14-04 WWF

Even though I despise (not a strong enough word) what Benoit did to his family, I choose to remember the man as a superworker. This is probably the best three way match of all-time, as everyone steps up their game and delivers an epic tale of shortcomings and an inescapable glass ceiling that is finally pushed aside. Add in the fact that Benoit wins a World title, at WrestleMania 20; by making Triple H submit in the center of the ring cleanly to the crossface.

& Angle vs. Misterio Jr & Edge 10-20-02 WWF

This is one of the better WWF tag team matches ever held, which actually might be the second best of all-time, as the 1980s and 90s aren’t ringing any true masterpieces.

vs. Jericho 1-21-01 WWF

This is the singles ladder match to remember from the WWF, and in particular, the tope suicida that is met with a chair to the skull.

TLC III 5-24-01 WWF

Benoit’s suicidal table bump, and then taking a con-chairto to the mid-section afterwards made this match. I think Mr. Benoit broke his neck here.

vs. William Regal 10-8-06 WWF

Everything a Benoit and Regal fan could ask for: solid matwork, stiff exchanges, forehead knife edge chops, slow and methodical build, physicality, unusual intensity, and a clean finish.

vs. Steve Austin 5-31-01 WWF

I loved this match as a sixteen year old mark, and didn’t fully understand the significance of the screwy non-finish. Now that I am older and wiser to the business, I understand the finish, which makes me hate Vince McMahon even more…exactly as it’s supposed to do. I’m such a mark!

vs. Kurt Angle 6-11-01 WWF

This was an awesome cage match; off the cage moonsault and diving headbutt, second rope German suplex, and Austin on commentary.

vs. HHH vs. Michaels 4-18-04 WWF

Watch as Benoit gains revenge for Bret Hart as he makes Shawn Michaels submit, in Canada, to the sharpshooter. Repent ye sins!

vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Edge vs. Angle 12-5-02 WWF

Fantastic match that is once again, given away free. This match, had been on a PPV, with a few more minutes, would be a 5* match.

Ten man tag 2-7-00 WWF

The work wasn’t as great as it could have been, only if Eddie hadn’t gotten injured, he could have been on the team instead of X-Pac, and Rikishi and Too Cool are all terrible in their own suckiness. It’s the heat the match got is what makes it so memorable…off the chains.

vs. Finlay 5-21-06 WWF

A good match, but I disliked the quickness of the submission victory – I think there should have been some more struggling and refusal to quit.

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Only covers 2 years and not that many people voted so not a huge sampling of taste (though a surprising # of ppl that participated are now posting here) but I went back and checked the Smark's Choice best wrestler of 05 & 06 poll results


Eliminating the international guys


The top 10 US guys for 05 were from lowest to highest













Joe, Eddie & Rey were 1, 2 & 3 overall respectivly, Angle was 5 with Kobashi in the #4 slot


The top 10 for 06 were













Finlay got #2 overall including 2 #1 votes and only lost out to Takeshi Morishima by 6 points

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How do guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Homicide rank? I have a ton of matches of their's on my want list, mostly from smaller Indy feds like IWC or 3PW, but have never read a review, or heard anything about them on this message board. But they do have some other work that is widely distributed. Styles was an entertaining worker, a spot monkey, yes, but he was pretty crisp in his execution of the moves, more so than a lot of notable spot monkeys. Daniels had some good stuff in the early rise of ROH. As well matches against Styles in TNA, as well Samoa Joe. And Homicide has a batch of good-great matches on his resume too - notably against Steve Corino.


WWE guys -

Hunter, Michaels, Taker, Edge, Batista, Orton.


Mad Dog has Cena at #1. I'm not sure of Cena's placement yet because of his match against Umaga being my #1 favorite of the decade. Thoughts on Cena?

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I know he only made it about half of the decade, but how well do y'all think Eddie would do? The three years or so from his WWE return in 2002 until his passing in 2005 the man was ON. The SD6 period, the '04 PPV matches with Brock, Angle, and JBL. The feud with Rey, the Los Guerreros/Team Angle and Eddie/Tajiri vs. WGTT tags. The U.S. match with Benoit, the mini feud with Cena in the Summer of '03, complete with the awesome promo when SD was in El Paso.

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