WWF had proved they were the strongest force in wrestling when they overcame WCW and were proclaimed the winners of the Monday Night Wars, but a battle with the World Wildlife Foundation in 2002 led to WWF deciding to change their acronym and logo to WWE. Coincidentally, this was the beginning of a new era.
This era saw WWE trying to push out all of the things that the Attitude Era had become famous for, as a way to allow more children to enjoy the product that had once been deemed too vulgar for youngsters.
New blood was allowed to come through the company ,and the year also saw the debut of a young Randy Orton and John Cena, who would go on to become the two biggest and best known WWE superstars of the next decade.
2002 was the dawning of the Ruthless Aggression era, and it led WWE into their PG era, where it was made apparent that the product was becoming more and more aimed at children. But during the era that ran from 2002-2007, the wrestling was a lot more edgier. The women were still involved in matches that were not rated PG, and there was still some foul language.
These superstars played a big role in WWE’s first real entertainment era, and have since left the company to explore other avenues of employment. But where have they ended up? Here are 10 of the most memorable superstars and what they have been up to over the last decade:
10. Spike Dudley
The smallest member of The Dudley Boyz was arguably the firm fan favourite when The Dudleys reached their peak in WWE. When the Dudleys eventually turned on Spike, it allowed him to step out of his comfort zone, forming teams with the likes of Kane and The Big Show.
Spike was released from WWE in 2005 as a cost-cutting measure, since he hadn’t appeared on WWE TV in almost a month. He has since spent the last decade touring the Independent Circuit before sporadic short stints in TNA. As of July 2012, it is reported that Spike is a financial planner with MassMutual.
Goldberg was one of the defining wrestlers of this generation, and after a lengthy WCW career, he enjoyed a short stint with WWE. He did, however, manage to become a WWE World Heavyweight Champion in that time.
He left the company in 2004 after a putrid WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar, and enjoyed the life of a commentator for mixed martial arts before starting his own podcast. In early 2016, he appeared in a documentary film titled Nine Legends, alongside Mike Tyson.
8. Shelton Benjamin
The athletic superstar was a main part of WWE’s mid-card for many years, and became known as The Gold Standard. Benjamin will mostly be remembered for the times he spent partnering Charlie Haas as The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
This partnership continued after his departure from WWE in 2010, as Haas and Benjamin reunited in ROH and won the promotion’s Tag Team Championship as well. Haas turned on Benjamin in 2013, and this lead to Benjamin leaving the company for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
7. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam has become one of the best known wrestlers in the world. He is the only wrestler to have ever won the ECW, WWE and TNA World Heavyweight Championship. RVD officially arrived in WWE when he won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 18. He also reached the mountain top at ECW One Night Stand in 2006 when he was crowned the WWE Champion in controversial fashion.
RVD joined TNA in 2010, almost three years after his WWE release and became World Champion in a matter of months. He opted to return to WWE in 2013.
6. Kenny Dykstra
Kenny was thought to have been one of the stand-outs of The Spirit Squad, the five person troupe that at one time worked for Vince McMahon. When the group was shipped back to OVW in 2006, Kenny was the member that retained his place on WWE TV (where he remained until he was released from his contract in 2008).
Kenny has since enjoyed a lengthy run on the independent circuit, and it was reported in 2012 that he had enrolled at Nichols College where he played football as a tight-end and linebacker. He also released his first children’s book in 2013, titled Billy’s Bully.
5. Scott Steiner
Following a brief stint with WWE in the early 1990s, Steiner made his return in 2002, but wasn’t used as effectively as he could have been. Following an injury, he was released from the company less than two years later.
Steiner went on to make a name for himself in TNA after two stints with the company until 2012. He then headed back to the independent circuit and became one of the first names unveiled for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion. He was also banned from the 2015 Hall of Fame ceremony after threats to Hulk Hogan were reported to police.
4. Rey Mysterio
The master of the 619 was one of the biggest stars in WWE. He became both WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion before he was allowed to leave on his own terms in early 2015.
Rey Mysterio returned to AAA in Mexico, but due to financial issues, this adventure was short-lived. Instead, Mysterio joined Lucha Underground the following year, and that’s where he continues to wrestle to this day.
3. Kurt Angle
The Olympian was one of WWE’s main attractions in the early 2000s, and enjoyed many WWE Championship reigns before he apparently quit the company due to issues when he asked for some time off.
Angle has become a superstar on TNA’s roster, where he remained for almost a decade until he announced his “Farewell Tour” earlier this year. Angle has since come out of retirement for URFight and is scheduled for a match against Zack Sabre Jr. on June 12.
2. Lance Storm
Storm had a brief but memorable stint with WWE from 2001-2005, where he managed to hold both the Intercontinental Championship once and the Tag Team Championship three times with just as many partners. Storm left the company in late 2005, and headed to the independent circuit where he had varying amounts of success.
He currently still writes a column for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and published his own e-book titled Storm Warning in 2011, as well as continuing to update his own website.
The Rated-R Superstar was one of the most successful wrestlers of all time, and is now a WWE Hall of Famer. His career came to an end in 2011 when it was announced that Edge could no longer wrestle due to a neck injury.
While Edge has continued to appear for WWE and is part of the successful Edge & Christian Show on the WWE Network, Edge has also landed a recurring role in TV series Haven and has been a part of WWE released movie Bending The Rules. He is currently filming Interrogation, set for release later this year.