When it comes to passionate fans, the WWE’s rival even the fiercest comic book diehards. What’s even better is when both industries cross over, as per the recent launch from BOOM! Studios. The publisher kicked things off by detailing the WWE run of The Shield, one of the most dominant factions in the company’s history, as well as its eventual break-up, which saw each member catapulted to individual glory.
Fans were also treated to a back-up story featuring The New Day to illustrate that WWE stories aren’t just about brawls, but about humor as well. With so many diverse characters, allegiances and feuds, it was a very smart choice to capitalize on the high traction that the WWE garners. That said, CBR decided to look at 15 WWE comic book titles we want ASAP!
15. THE WYATT FAMILY: WORLD EATERS
Since graduating from the developmental NXT to RAW in 2013, the Wyatt Family have struck fear with their ominous presence. They have already laid waste to most of the WWE roster, but what makes them so appealing isn’t just this sinister essence, but the veil of mystery behind it. Husky Harris was reborn as leader, Bray Wyatt, fueled by an invisible entity called Sister Abigail, to marshal the cult-like faction into the depths of fans’ imaginations, which is a great starting point for a comic book story.
Bray’s cryptic speeches, the sheep masks on Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, the lamp he carries and Abigail’s rocking chair, all of these paint an eerie story that later roped in the behemoth, Braun Strowman, and the conniving Randy Orton, in an ever-revolving stable. With the WWE universe (or as Bray calls them, his fireflies) eating out of his hands, it’d be great to get insight as to who Abigail is. A person? A ghost? Also, how does Bray keep luring people to the dark side? This mystery would best be brought to life by “American Vampire’s” Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque: a duo whose knack for horror is ideal for those wanting to follow the buzzards to their origins.
14. STING: FROM THE SHADOWS
In the early ’90s, Sting was the poster-boy for WCW through battles with the likes of Ric Flair and Vader, before changing his disposition into a gothic one, hidden in the rafters a la “The Crow.” Sting would later oppose Hollywood Hogan’s white-and-black nWo faction before joining the stable’s red-and-black unit, continuing his dance with names such as Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Lex Luger.
When WCW was bought by Vince McMahon, Sting didn’t head to the WWF, breaking fans’ hearts. That is, until 2014, when he once more took on his vigilante mantle to stand up to HHH in Wrestlemania 31, as well as Seth Rollins, culminating with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Sting’s storied career as a beacon of justice is tantamount to the heroes we comic lovers read about in the shadows, wielding a dark altruism (and a baseball bat) for the greater good. That’s why we’d love to see his legend told through “Nighthawk” scribe, David Walker, and “Dead Letters” artist, Chris Visions, who both know how to meld style with substance to breathe life into the face of WCW’s “franchise.”
13. A.J. STYLES: PHENOMENAL
After failing to make the cut in WCW and the WWF, A.J. Styles garnered cult status on the indie circuit in Ring of Honor, TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling, leading to an astounding 2016. “The Phenomenal One” began his rapid ascension in the WWE via the kind of athleticism we saw from the Hardys and CM Punk, meshed in with the attitude of the great Shawn Michaels.
Styles eventually became the WWE Champion and a key figure on Smackdown after the split from RAW. Feuds with the likes of Chris Jericho and John Cena were done and dusted, and he now seems to have earned his self-proclaimed (and stolen) billing as the “face that runs the place.” Styles’ epic in-ring ability, his rejection as the stereotypical mainstream star early on, and his subsequent resurgence, are all priceless stories that would make a great read. As a sneaky heel, he’s certainly lived up to the hype, fueling our desire to have Brian Bendis bring Styles’ Tony Stark-esque narcissism to life, with his much-traveled career painted by former “Flash” artist, Francis Manapul, who has a flashy, kinetic style that matches Styles perfectly.
12. THE MCMAHON DYNASTY
If it’s one thing you’ll never be short of when it comes to these owners, it’s entertainment. Vince has always tried to assert control, outside of appointing subordinate general managers like John Laurinaitis, and that’s where The Corporation comes in as well. He’s always stacked his squad of lackeys up against rebels like DX, which ironically boasted his future son-in-law HHH, who in turn took Vince’s mantle up and did the same with The Authority more recently. Stephanie’s been crucial in the latter, too, but they can’t hold a candle to Vince going toe-to-toe with Stone Cold.
Other McMahon family antics include Shane, now back as a face (good guy), running Smackdown with new legend Daniel Bryan, and recently getting embroiled in a slobberknocker with The Undertaker. That’s how much this business means to them. They’ll lay their bodies on the line, and put the drama, theatrics and power-wresting in the background, all to see who truly usurps Vince. That kind of story is something we want former wrestler and accomplished scribe Mick Foley to write; after all, he’s already penned the “WWE Superstars” comic. His words would be great when brought to life by the incomparable art of “Saga’s” (pun intended) Fiona Staples.
11. RISE OF THE LUCHADOR
WWF never really had a blossoming Cruiserweight Division until they bought WCW and got a bunch of luchadores such as Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio Jr. to go with the likes of Chris Jericho, Kidman and the late Eddie Guerrero. Of these masked fighters, only Mysterio managed to lift the ultimate gold and carve a main event name for Mexican pride as the WWE evolved. These fighters, though, are on the upswing once more through Sin Cara and Lince Dorado, a Puerto Rican now lighting the revitalized Cruiserweight ranks afire.
The mysticism of these fighters is undeniable because of their superhero agility as well as their competent in-ring acumen, which often have crowds backing them as underdogs. They’re flashy, innovative and full of heritage, which WWE recognized and decided to bring to the light once more. Kalisto, another Mexican wrestler, is arguably the brightest light at present, having won the NXT Tag Team titles with Sin Cara, and also claiming the US Championship twice. With the shadow of Mysterio now gone, writer Brandon Easton (“ThunderCats” reboot writer) and another avid wrestling fan, artist Ramon Villalobos (“Nighthawk”), are our picks to let the luchadores loose!
10. THE NEW DAY: BOOTY MEN
The New Day honestly came off like one big joke when they hit television screens, but they have since managed to draw fans in with their over-the-top and purposefully obnoxious humor. Big E had successfully shaken the tag of being Dolph Ziggler’s enforcer while Xavier Woods was now finding a way to channel his backstage reputation of being a clown, nerd and music geek into the squared circle. Seeing how they came together would be quite a fun ride, especially with how seamlessly they incorporated the talented Kofi Kingston, who badly needed a new gimmick.
We’d love to see their daily activity, from training to pranks to, of course, the inspiration for their Booty-O cereal, drawn by Skottie Young in his alluring cartoon style. They’re not a team to be taken lightly, though, and amid all the unicorns and laughs, they do get very serious when it comes to trying to get their WWE Tag Team titles back, adding another dynamic which we’d love to see “Deadpool” writer Gerry Duggan fiddle with. They’re kids at heart, but when it’s time to kick ass, well, let’s just say that New Day rocks!
9. HHH: KING OF KINGS
HHH conquered everything the WWE had to offer and ended up with the keys to the McMahon kingdom. Not only did he prove to be one of the business’ best performers, lifting a multitude of titles, but he transformed NXT into a breeding ground for talent while reinvigorating the Cruiserweight division and envisioning the UK Championship. He also oversaw new blood such as The Shield, Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura.
From his brash DX days to rivalries with The Rock’s Nation of Domination, Stone Cold and a bone-crunching affair with Brock Lesnar, the sledgehammer-wielding HHH has accomplished a lot. His entrances at Wrestlemania alone are worth writing about, but it’s his recent scheming as head of The Authority that has fans accepting him even more as royalty. Whether it’s revamping his Evolution stable with Batista and Randy Orton or making superstars out of Rollins and Kevin Owens, HHH remains “The Game!” Our picks to helm the dramatic tales of the empire he’s adding to are frequent collaborators Mark Millar and Leinil Yu, and if you’re not down with that, we got two words for ya…
8. JOHN CENA: HUSTLE, LOYALTY & RESPECT
John Cena remains a polarizing figure for fans. Half the crowd — especially the younger demographic — cheer him while the other half chants “Cena sucks!” Nonetheless, he remains that kid that went from annoying rapper to the all-American boy scout of the WWE. This Superman-like goody two-shoes grew into a key player who’s just one world title away from breaking Ric Flair’s record and is undoubtedly the face of the company. This transformation, as well as his mantra of “hustle, loyalty and respect,” are what make him WWE’s corporate social spokesperson, driving fans to stand up to adversity in a way similar to Hulk Hogan’s heyday.
Cena’s story, as well as the idea that his time has come and gone, would definitely make great reading material. He’s also got the Hollywood career (even linked to Mark Millar’s “Superior”) and WWE diva Nikki Bella at his side in what appears to be a fairytale romance. However, he’s had multiple injuries while standing up to destruction from the likes of the Wyatts and Brock Lesnar, reiterating that Cena’s all about never giving up. As a result, we can see him (and his story) written by “Batman” writer, Tom King, and “Justice League” artist, Ivan Reis.
7. THE FIGHTING IRISH
It’s no secret that the fighting Irish are a big part of modern WWE. Sheamus kicked things off en route to quite a decorated career, boasting multiple WWE World Heavyweight titles, the US title, the 2010 King of the Ring crown, the 2012 Royal Rumble win and the 2015 Money in the Bank prize. He frequently switches from heel to face but remains a respected brawler. The same could be said for his countrywoman, Becky Lynch, who graduated from NXT to become a WWE Smackdown Women’s champ. They’ve got that resilience and fire to match their red hair!
But what completes this Irish trifecta is the scary figure called Finn Balor. He scaled the summit of NXT and then had to relinquish the RAW Championship due to injury. Balor made his name in New Japan Pro Wrestling with the infamous Bullet Club, but what makes him so revered in WWE isn’t just his amazing tenacity and skill-set in the ring. It’s his “Demon King” persona, hauntingly painted like Eddie Brock’s Venom, and boasting one of the most amazing entrances ever. “Uncanny X-Force” creators Rick Remender and Jerome Opena are the best tag team for this job, to show that it’s more than just the luck of the Irish that makes these superstars tick.
6. RANDY ORTON: VOICES
Randy Orton has been called “the legend-killer” in his prime, and while he may not be a main event draw anymore, he’s still worth the price of admission. From his days as HHH’s protege in Evolution to his current role as member of the Wyatt family, fans know how sadistic and relentless he can be. Known as “The Viper” for his lightning-quick RKO finishing move — which usually comes from… outta nowhere — he’s one of the most lethal and emotionally complex wrestlers in the game.
Remember him punting people in the head at his most unhinged? That’s the kind of ferocity we enjoyed from the man who claimed voices were constantly driving him over the edge, a la Marvel’s Moon Knight. Everyone, from John Cena to Brock Lesnar, has gotten a piece of him and Orton is one of the few superstars that doesn’t need gold to shine. His unpredictable persona and dark charisma make the son of legend “Cowboy” Orton a crowd pleaser… anywhere, anytime. We’re envisioning a trippy, fractured psyche for Marco Rudy (“Doctor Strange”) on art, with Nick Spencer as our pick to write some of his HydraCap magic in!
5. CHARLOTTE: ROYALTY
Charlotte Flair isn’t just Ric’s daughter. She isn’t just is the epitome of Amazonian beauty and brawn in the WWE. She’s also the competitor who has ushered in the Women’s Revolution and WWE Women’s Championship, away from the campy WWE Divas era. In 2014, Charlotte won the NXT Women’s Championship, and took swings at the likes of Bayley, Becky Lynch and most notably, Sasha Banks, which spilled over into RAW as one of the most heated and historic battles ever (leading to the first Women’s Hell in a Cell in 2016).
Charlotte’s never shied away from taking on anyone — even bigger names such as Paige or the Bellas — because as she’s made it clear, whether as a heel or face, she’s genetically superior and was born to rule the Women’s division. Charlotte even kicked her own dad to the curb to show how ruthless and determined she is to stay at the top. Her Banks feud alone is worth a comic run and who better than veteran writer Gail Simone (“Batgirl”, “Wonder Woman”), and artist, Becky Cloonan (“Southern Cross”), to detail this meteoric rise about the most cutthroat of all WWE female superstars.
4. KEVIN OWENS VS. SAMI ZAYN: BROTHERS NO MORE
Along with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens is one of four men to have held a world championship in both WWE and Ring of Honor. It was there he (as Kevin Steen) began this high-octane feud with Sami Zayn, whom he had a brotherly bond with when the latter donned a mask as El Generico earlier in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Their broken relationship and subsequent war would spill over into NXT in 2014 when the selfish Owens halted the rising Zayn with a barrage of attacks, reigniting their dislike for each other.
What makes this a grand story isn’t the theme of betrayal alone, but how the fan-favorite, good-guy Zayn actually saw the heel, Owens, lift the WWE Universal Championship as the anointed one by HHH. Zayn is definitely the nice guy that finished last in this rivalry, but WWE knows that these two will forever be on a collision course, as inseparable as the Batman and Joker. As best friends torn asunder in a civil war, we need a revered writer like Warren Ellis (“Thunderbolts”), and talented artist, Lee Bermejo (“Batman: Noël”), to do this rivalry true justice.
3. THE SHIELD: ORIGINS
BOOM! Studios is dealing with The Shield, as we already mentioned. This stable of three is one that ran rampant when they boarded the WWE, taking on the likes of The Undertaker, The Wyatt Family, John Cena, CM Punk, Ryback and Evolution, until they splintered after Seth Rollins’ betrayal. Most fans focus on the aftermath of their breakup, but to see how three polarizing and different characters came together in the first place would be priceless. The origins of the “Hounds of Justice” deserves its place in the comic book origin story spotlight.
Rollins made his name in Ring of Honor while Dean Ambrose roughed it up in Florida Championship Wrestling. Roman Reigns also clawed his way up from the developmental territories as they ended up assembling like the Dark Avengers, thrown together by a malevolent force. They destroyed what they deemed to be injustice by powerbombing their enemies through tables, but we ask: what really inspired them to link up and move from NXT to wreak havoc in the WWE? There’s a lot of background history we’re not privy to and we’d like this brotherhood explained by the esteemed Mark Waid, and the extraordinary art of Mark Brooks.
2. UNDERTAKER: DEAD MAN WALKING
From the time he first made his appearance on a 1990 edition of “WWF Superstars,” you knew that there was something special with this character. He’d take on the Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels, HHH, CM Punk and every other big name the WWE threw his way as the years rolled by. Vince McMahon had his prizefighter and we lapped up the ashes, the urns, the lightning strikes, the Ministry of Darkness and the entire supernatural aura that he was crafted as under his manager, the late Paul Bearer.
Shockingly, he’s still kicking (not to mention slamming), and his journey has been nothing short of legendary. Over the years, he’s most remembered for going to the fiery pits of hell with his demon brother, Kane, and taking his body to the limits in the mindblowing Hell in a Cell clash with Mankind. While all these make for an amazing read, another mammoth feud is with Brock Lesnar, who broke his 21-match unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania. Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill (“Locke and Key”) and Clayton Crain (“Necrosha”) are the guys we think can bring the darkness known as the Deadman to life!
1. BROCK LESNAR: THE BEAST INCARNATE
Brock Lesnar was a wrestler and football player in his youth, but no one could foresee the South Dakota native as the man who’d eat, sleep, conquer and repeat when it came to the WWE, with consummate ease. He has lifted various versions of the WWE Championship on multiple occasions, held the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship at New Japan Pro Wrestling, and did the same as a UFC heavyweight, before coming back for another gold-winning WWE stint. Throughout it all, Lesnar has proven to be more beast than man. He broke The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania and showed HHH, John Cena and Randy Orton why he was more than a part-timer.
His marriage with former WWE diva, Sable, his feisty history with wrestlers like The Rock, and the controversial way he left the company the first time are all samples of what built his mystique. A story about Lesnar would be one about the ultimate fighting athlete. Who better to helm the story than his eloquent advocate and spokesperson, Paul Heyman? Oliver Coipel (“Siege”, “House of M”) is the artist we’d also like to see shaping this freak of nature as mayor of Suplex City!
Let us know in the comments below which WWE stories and characters you’d like to see get their comic book comeuppance!
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