Since taking the reigns of WWE’s talent development and relations departments last summer, Triple H has shown a keen eye for talent, bringing in the likes of Sin Cara, a huge draw from Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre under the name Mistico, Adrian Neville who formerly thrilled audiences from America to Japan with his high-octane, high-flying style under the alias PAC, earning himself the nickname “The Man Gravity Forgot.” And most recently as last week, independent star El Generico, the Canadian born Luchador who can neither fluent English or Spanish and helps the children of a Mexican based orphanage.
The NXT brand which “The Game” heads has allowed young talents hone their style, characters and crafts as they edge closer to becoming quite literally, the Superstars of tomorrow. In recent months we’ve witnessed the debuting of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, collectively known as The Shield. Two of which are former independent stars, Rollins being a former ROH World Champion as Tyler Black, and Ambrose as the deranged and paranoid Jon Moxley, who himself has held independent championship gold.
On main WWE programming the current WWE Champion CM Punk, who broke out on the indies during his famous “Summer of Punk” angle in Ring of Honor, has rose to top tier star status over the past eighteen months and is less than two weeks away from his clash with one of the greatest of all-time, The Rock. Current United States Champion Antonio Cesaro has exhibited incredible potential, having shared the ring with the likes of Sheamus, Randy Orton, The Miz, Ric Flair and more, he of course formerly competed as Claudio Castagnoli, one-half of former ROH World Tag Team Champions Kings of Wrestling, alongside the now Kassius Ohno, formerly Chris Hero, another former independent sensation.
And of course Daniel Bryan. In his own words three years ago when he debuted on the inaugural season of NXT, he was a self made man. Having trained under the likes of Shawn Michaels and William Regal, Bryan Danielson captivated crowds across the world with his slick and precise technical wrestling ability, hard hitting fast paced style, and most importantly his natural charisma. Having followed Ring of Honor since 2004 the “bland” stereotype some labeled Bryan was nothing further from the truth. What he does now, he was doing then, but the stage is much larger and therefore he gains much more recognition.
Everywhere you look in the WWE, whether it be the trainers which contains the “Queen of Wrestling” Sara Del Rey, road agents where former ROH World Champion James Gibson, more commonly known as Jamie Noble operates and even in the Divas, Paige being the daughter of British wrestling legend Saraya Knight, a well traveled veteran who can be seen performing in Shimmer/SHINE Wrestling. It’s this mass amount on independent circuit talent which has reportedly altered Triple H’s perspective on what makes a “Superstar.”
The doors have opened up to those who don’t boast the largest frame, but who can compete at an impressive level. Don’t have bugling biceps or ripped abs? Neither does the current WWE Champion, or one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, they have a charisma that muscle definition can’t buy. Triple H seems to have accepted what Vince couldn’t; in the 21st century fans want talent with what they perceive as the “look,” and not large burly men who simply don’t have “It.” There will always be exceptions, but for the most part the ideal image of what a WWE talent should he has changed.
With that in mind, I have devised a top ten list of talent I feel WWE should take a close examination of. They range from Ring of Honor to Dragon Gate USA, one from Japan who makes sporadic appearances on the American independent scene and a woman who has gone far too long without attaining the credit she deserves. They’re difficult to place in-order, but here’s hoping I’ve done them justice.
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This article was first posted on January 18, 2013