Dolph Ziggler – Debut 2006 (as Nicky in the Spirit Squad)/2008 (in current persona)
Dolph is the closest man on the roster right now to breaking into the Main Event scene full time. He has been a part of the company for 6 years in all (longer if you count his time spent as the caddy of Kerwin White), and has been plying his trade in the Midcard for the last few years. He has held both the United States and Intercontinental Championships, and has had some universally praised TV matches with Upper Card talent over the last 12 months. If the length of time CM Punk has taken to cement his place atop of the card is anything to go by, accompanied with Dolph’s recent shot at the Championship at No Way Out 2012, Ziggler’s time will seemingly be very soon.
The Miz – Debut 2006
The Miz has been there before. The WWE’s push of the the Miz was quite full on at the start of 2011, but despite appearing in the Main Event of Wrestlemania 27 and even retaining the Championship he was never really seen as a Superstar who would be there for the long term. Like CM Punk, Miz rose to title contention via the Money in the Bank, and perhaps like Punk this route is what made it seem too early when he held the gold.
Cody Rhodes – Debut 2007
Cody Rhodes has yet to see any time at the top of the card, but he has been heading in the upward direction for a while now. His lengthy reign as Intercontinental Champion has certainly made him stand out in the last year, after previously spending his time successfully as part of Tag Team combinations, winning Tag gold 4 times in total. It seems that WWE have taken a more patient approach with Rhodes, allowing him to hone his skillset during the years he has been on weekly programming. This can be viewed as a plus for Rhodes, as like others who have taken a bit longer to get there, once he makes it to the bigger matches history would dictate he stays there.
Jack Swagger – Debut 2008
Swagger is another man who is lingering in the Midcard despite already having held the World Championship. He was another who achieved his title run through the fast track route of the Money in the Bank briefcase, and again this could be seen as the reason he hasn’t been back in that spot sooner. Swagger arguably hasn’t really been involved in many memorable feuds since losing the World Championship, and only now through his on air association with Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero has he began to be seen by fans on a more regular basis. With Ziggler seemingly being booked to head to the Main Event soon, you would expect WWE to also look to elevate Jack Swagger once more also.
Kofi Kingston – Debut 2008
WWE have seemed happy to let Kofi Kingston stay in his role in the Midcard for a few years now, never really being pushed any further despite a brief feud with Randy Orton that got some traction on TV in late 2009/early 2010. He has since gone on to win Intercontinental and United States Championships, as well as the Tag Team Championship with multiple partners. There hasn’t been any signs recently that Kingston will make his way to the Main Event any time soon, rather being used in the WWE’s attempt to reignite the Tag Team division. Kingston is often left out of conversations when talking about the next Main Eventers in the WWE, but perhaps his loyalty and willing performances will see the WWE book him in that direction down the road.
So does it always take this long to get to the top of the pecking order? It wouldn’t seem so. Randy Orton and The Rock made it to Main Event level in 2 years in their respective careers, although Orton did spend time after his initial Championship run back in the Upper Midcard. Batista and John Cena reached the top of the card after 3 years, and these were the two faces of the WWE in the mid to late 00′s. One thing all of these have in common is the route in which they arrived at the top spot, competing along the way in Midcard feuds with a lot of TV time assigned to them. This parellels the journey of CM Punk back to the top after losing the World Heavyweight Championship for the second time, although the majority of the aforementioned Superstars held a Midcard Singles Championship on the way (with the exception of Batista).
If the time it takes to make a Main Event Superstar can differ case by case, why not just throw Superstars straight to the Main Event and solve this lack of new stars problem immediately? Can catapulting someone to the Championship scene from their debut work?
Recent attempts would suggest not. Vladimir Kozlov was pushed very quickly into a program with HHH for the Championship in 2008. After this feud never really took off, Koslov immediately found himself back down the card and continued wrestling in Lower Card positions until he departed WWE in 2011. Alberto Del Rio debuted in 2010 and had won the WWE Championship twice by October 2011. One of these wins was also aided by a Money in the Bank cash in, similar to CM Punk, Jack Swagger and The Miz. Both of Del Rio’s Championship reigns were relatively short in duration, and although it is now looking like he is making his way back into the Main Event scene, it remains to be seen how the WWE books the character this time around.
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