In modern-day WWE, there really isn’t a face of the company like there was prior to that. When you think of WWE’s franchise players throughout history from the Golden Era, there are only four names that really stand out – Hulk Hogan, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena.
There have been people in between who WWE tried to build the company around but the truth is their tenure on top wasn’t as impactful as the four mentioned above, which is why they’re in a league of their own. However, WWE is always looking for the next big star to carry the company, regardless of how long the tenure of a top guy is.
More often than not, they may have thought that they struck gold but really didn’t. In a lot of these cases, they tried and failed. However, the cream always rises to the top and they have been lucky wth some incredible talent they never really thought would reach the heights they did.
An honorable mention goes to Tom McGee – an Adonis-looking rookie who Vince McMahon thought would be Hulk Hogan’s successor. But that in itself is another story.
#5.) Randy Orton
Before John Cena rose to the top the way he did, it was Randy Orton who WWE put their focus on. Coming from wrestling royalty, Orton was naturally given a big spot and viewed as a future World Champion right off the bat. He was carefully pushed and protected and Evolution was to serve as his big breakout.
He would achieve a lot of singles success with Evolution and it culminated in 2004 when he became the youngest World Champion in WWE history. Triple H and Evolution turned on him right after and that was supposed to be the start of his big babyface run culminating at WrestleMania 20.
It didn’t work out as fans didn’t view Orton as a top babyface. They chose to go with Batista instead on RAW and John Cena on SmackDown and Cena’s rise to the top would see him become WWE’s franchise player for the next decade.
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