Top 5 storylines in modern professional wrestling

John Cena appears rattled by this blow from Edge Lita during the WWE RAW Superslam event at Acer Arena, Homebush Stadium in Sydney on August 4, 2006. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
John Cena appears rattled by this blow from Edge Lita during the WWE RAW Superslam event at Acer Arena, Homebush Stadium in Sydney on August 4, 2006. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage) /

Wow! I mean how do you choose, right? If we had to go back to before the Ruthless Aggression Era, this list would probably need to be a list of 20 or even 30, but since we’re narrowing it down to only 5, I figure we’d go from the Ruthless Aggression Era onward. That being said, we’ve come up with the top 5 storylines in modern professional wrestling.

WWE dominated the airwaves of professional wrestling, really since it was the only major promotion for quite some time, but since the dawn of AEW that platform has now changed…so we’ve included one pivotal storyline from that company as well. I mean how could we have overlooked some of the creative stories that AEW has been putting forth?

But don’t worry WWE fans out there; there are 4 memories on this list that are absolutely seething in WWE lore as you’ll soon find out…. Shall we?

5. Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL

As a youngster who always had plans to write journalism as well as fiction, I didn’t think it was possible for me—who always kept a level head while watching pro wrestling—to hate someone as much as I hated JBL during this feud.

First, you have one of the top 5 best to ever do it in Eddie Guerrero here; a genius and charismatic individual that truly changed the game during his time in the business. Add to that what Bradshaw became during this time, and you have something special indeed.

Essentially Bradshaw played the part of heel perfectly thus the enduring feeling of hate. The feud culminated in many great matches, specifically at the 2004 Judgment Day event in which Bradshaw hit Eddie with a chair shot that opened up Niagara Falls on Eddie’s head.

A lot of boundaries were pushed with this storyline, but sometimes that’s the key to an epic story…

I remember wanting Bradshaw fired, which made no sense at all, but it’s funny how an epic storyline can bring out those feelings…even in someone as level-headed as I was about the pro wrestling business…even at the age of 22.

4. The Fiend vs. Randy Orton

This one is more recent and really it was the last time we saw The Fiend. Someone like this is so important in WWE. We had the Undertaker that pushed that horrific style of storytelling…pushed the envelope in that department, but when we started seeing him less and less, a void was placed into the product…a void that Bray Wyatt filled beautifully.

Now that he’s gone, that void is there once again…a void they’re trying to fill with Edge at the moment…and if I’m right about the video package they showed at MITB just last night about a mysterious creepy stranger on the horizon, then Edge will be coming back even darker than when he left after being betrayed by The Judgment Day…a faction he started most recently. But we’ll get to Edge in just a little bit….

About Randy and Bray…they played off of each other beautifully…chemistry to the rim of the glass, people, and with the added Alexa Bliss, it made for some entertaining and dare I say chilling segments and matches…culminating in the WrestleMania 37 moment in the ring…Wyatt’s swan song in WWE.

3. Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens

You put these two together and you have something special indeed. They were epic partners, but perhaps the moment when Kevin Owns turns on Jericho is perhaps one of my absolute favorite moments in pro wrestling in the last 10 years.

The pathos that Jericho establishes when he realizes that he’s on the “list” of Owens hasn’t been achieved by anyone else since; the subsequent feud and match were just as entertaining.

The only people who dropped the ball—as always—were WWE management and creative, when they changed the timing/slot in the card for that match. That match deserved to be the main event that year and it wasn’t. To this day these memories of an epic storyline are marred by that single garbage decision.

Chris Jericho has been very vocal about how disappointed he was about how that all went down over the years.

2. MJF vs. Cody Rhodes

AEW has made leaps and bounds in terms of providing an alternative to WWE’s oftentimes creatively lagging product. And a massive part of where AEW is today is because of The American Nightmare, Cody Rhodes. There’s no denying that.

His feud with MJF showed a little of how epic both of them are really. We haven’t seen MJF in quite a spell, but I believe another epic storyline is building from that and we’re all in for something special there as well…maybe even this generation’s Austin vs. McMahon.

But as far as this feud goes, it’s a little more of that Bradshaw type of thing. MJF pushes those boundaries and perhaps harder than anyone else ever did.

Add to that the element of Cody Rhodes, who brings the same classic type of babyface martyr we got in the rich eighties and nineties and you have something special for sure, as we saw throughout the length of this feud which culminated in a great match by my standards at AEW Revolution 2020.

1. Edge vs. John Cena

In previous eras we had Austin vs. McMahon, Austin vs. Hart and even Hogan vs. Savage (to name only a few)…and that was all before the dawn of John Cena.

This feud here had all the elements that put it in the aforementioned class of storylines. These two went at it for years…culminating in some epic matches and feuds between the years of 2006 and onward.

I mean…when Cena wanted his title back and crashed the little hotel celebration Lita and Edge were having back in 2006 on Raw…. And what about when he threw Edge into the Long Island Sound? Does it get any better? I don’t think so. I could have watched these guys feud even longer than they did.

To me, their chemistry was even greater than the chemistry that Cena and The Rock shared during their feud from 2011-2013, and although that was a great storyline, it wasn’t as layered as this one here was. And at the end of the day, an epic story is all about layers and how they all fold into each other.

They also had a great match at WrestleMania 25 with the added element of The Big Show. Great memories and just another example of the contributions that John Cena made to WWE…and another perfect example of that void we were talking about earlier…a void that still hasn’t been filled to this day.

But with developments at last night’s MITB, theoretically, it seems as though plans are indeed in motion to fill that void. Big shoes to fill indeed, though. Can Theory live up to it and fill them in? Will he be on one of these lists down the line? That remains to be seen, dear readers.

Next. The top 5 WWE championship title designs of all time. dark

*For the record, there have been great storylines over the last two decades at ROH, NJPW, and Impact Wrestling as well…storylines that deserve your attention for sure, but with the constraints of the list being so short, I had to leave some of those moments out. But rest assured, those products deliver as well and have big-time in the storyline department for sure.