Rapper Cena definitely has a shot. That gimmick would have been crazy relevant in pop culture at the time. This current incarnation of Cena? Not a fucking chance of that shit getting over. At all. SES Punk is a midcard gimmick at best back then. Punk getting over though whining about his spot and shit that happens backstage with the likes of Rock, Austin, HHH, Taker etc running the show and flat out killing IN kayfabe? Don't make me lol. His size is also an issue here. Orton is too hard to call. His mic ability holds him back a little but his ability to portray a character (Legend Killer, Viper Orton) can be top notch. Again, his size and look would help him out big time back then. Seamus would have been perfect for the New Gen Era imo. Bryan would have ended up in the mould of Benoit/Guerrero or never would have got a shot at all because of his size. Whether you like it or not, size was most definitely a significant issue back then. It still is but to a lesser degree given how society, the industry and the fans have changed.
, Cena with that gimmick became stale in it's debut after just few months and JR imo owned him on commentary just like when Angle owned him. It's not a gimmick that will last that long.
Are you for real? Did you just bring this whining thing as a gimmick? It was a storyline in 2011, and used it again as a heel in 2012 because that's what heels mostly do. Anyway I will rather take that because he owned them HHH, Taker, and will obviously held his own against Austin since he likes him and already proved himself against Rock without even cursing like a fag plus every time Rock was trying to make a joke Punk smartass responds buried it with the following ones. I think Punk will be an upper midcarder with guys like Jericho, Foley, Angle, Rikishi, Benoit, etc. getting some mainevent spots against the likes of Rock and obviously Austin. Punk SES thing will have worked greatly and also his early days in IWA was edgy "The People person" video in YT if you wanna watch it.
I think the following ones will have a chance:
1. CM Punk
2. Damien Sandow (His gimmick is really working, and is very entertaining with great delivery and catchphrases)
3. Bray Wyatt (If Foley made it with that gimmick, than Wyatt will obviously work greatly because of his mic skills and creepy character alone)
4. Antonio Cesaro (He has unique skills in the ring he might have a slight chance and the writers back than would have give him a very fitting gimmick, he will fair just like Benoit did with his unique skills)
5. The Shield (Dean is the mic skills, Rollins is the ring skills, and Reigns is the power, and the strongest point of theirs are great)
That's who I can really think that will fit in that era, maybe I forgot few but that's who I can think of.