This past year can’t claim to be one of the greatest in WWE history. It has been fairly bland in approach and execution but to its credit, there have been some seriously surprising stand out achievements placed in the past 365 days. RAW 1000 obviously, Big Show finally showing some true character, CM Punk being the champion for its entirety and for John Cena not winning a belt for an entire calendar year. That in itself is pretty huge.
But most importantly for the future of the ‘E is the talent they have pushed and introduced us to who will go on to be staples in the company for years to come. WWE is going through a transitional stage at this time. Some of its bigger stars have left or become stale and its WWE’s own fault that a yearlong transition has been required. Their lack of pushing and scouting for main eventers over the past 5 years whilst relying on the likes of Cena, Orton and Edge etc has resulted in a flat main event scene now that everyone hates Cena, Edge left through injury and Orton is, dare I say it, boring!
The reason that CM Punk has been pushed so hard is down to his own hard work as well as the aforementioned dry period we are experiencing. But he has truly shown that the old Indy workers can really make a huge name for themselves if they are allowed a little bit of time and freedom. The same also applies for Daniel Bryan. The guy was absolutely nowhere a little over one year ago, holding his little blue briefcase gingerly but look at him now. A true fan favourite with both the marks and smarks and could be the next Benoit when it comes to intensity and skill.
But I digress, WWE have done things wrong in the past in relation to introducing new characters, but this past year they have truly sown some great little wrestler seeds that, in my humble opinion, will truly pay off over the next year.
What follows are 4 select guys who have shown there quality over the past year, who were only introduced to us a short time ago and who I believe could form a great template for WWE in the future and will really start their push in 2013!
Not only does he not quite qualify as he’s actually been around for longer than I originally thought, I just can’t see him replacing Rey Mysterio even if that is quite obviously big Vinnie’s plan. With his total lack of grasping the English language, how can anyone really grow a connection with the guy? If he could speak, maybe, but right now I think he’s just there for the merch sales as Rey’s partner in team “Carsterio”. AND GET RID OF THE STUPID MOOD LIGHTING.
The interwebs favourite little Canadian darling. He’s got some seriously good skill in the ring of that there is no doubt, but without a notable feud with a serious contender, having some well delivered story driven matches, he will remain where he is, in undercard hell! Perhaps if WWE reintroduced a lightweight division again guys like Kidd, Gabriel, Primo and Epico wouldn’t be fodder for the rising stars and lumped in the tag division. Like Cara he’s also been around for longer than you’d think in WWE so doesn’t quite qualify.
As much as I’m enjoying the Shields involvement right now and even though there match at TLC was something a bit special, I can’t judge how effective they will be going forward. As much as the internet has reported it would appear Ambrose will be getting the considerable rub from management. Rightly so as well, there’s definitely something about him and his Joker inspired promo’s. Rollins doesn’t have “the look” in my eyes but does have the technical merit and Reigns might be a typical monster at best. BUT I could be very wrong and we will see how they perform going forward. Who knows, maybe we will see the Cult Of Punk run riot (Oh please Vince, let us see a great faction again!)
I’ve started with an obvious one but one in which I’m not too sure about. Hence he being first on the list. The fans do love to chant “Feed me more” but unless he gets something else about him and becomes less two dimensional, I don’t see him going far as I think that’s all people actually like about him. He’s capable enough on the mic as a monster granted but he needs that little more to get over. An actual feud with a worthy opponent would go down a treat. Something I feel WWE missed the ball in regards to his “feud” with Punk. Punk has been champion so long, how could people not believe he could defeat anyone. Instead we now have a cowardly champion “using” refs and “The Shield” when a year ago, we had a take on all comers champion.
But enough about Punk. Ryback has the presence to make it in the short term, his move set is suitably hard hitting and just by looking at him, you feel he really could destroy just about anything, Would the WWE championship look right on someone who, regardless of his actual experience, does appear quite green in the ring. We have had some champions in the past that weren’t great technically but they always made up for it with charisma. Funnily enough the exception to this rule is Goldberg and Ryback aint the Gold man! (So stop chanting it!!!)
This year we will no doubt see quite a bit of Ryback. How they use him at Wrestlemania will show us his future potential. If he has his “Mania Moment” by either lifting, say, Big Show up for the “Shellshocked” or is placed in a high profile match for one of the 2 major titles for the win I think he could be a star. If this ‘Mania he’s haphazardly swept under the rug in a no where match, I think you can probably say by by to the star power of the former Skip Sheffield.
2. Titus O’Neil
That’s right; the big man of the Prime Time Players has forced his way into my tough wrestling heart even though I was initially very against the team. To their credit they have delivered after AW’s twitter demise and have flourished into one of the few tag teams these days with any form of credibility. A lot, if not all, of this is down to the big man who barks.
Vince loves a big, powerful guy at the best of times but he likes them even more if they can talk and have some personality. He’s brutal, has some serious presence and seems to understand he needs to pay his dues. Overall a good worker! I can honestly say I can see great heel storylines being developed around this guy.
Tag teams split up and create great singles stars. Edge, Hardy, JBL, Bully Ray, Billy Gunn are but a few. Big Paul (Triple H) Levesque knows this, hence why the tag division is getting a long overdue overhaul. But if I’m honest, Titus is the only guy who I believe could make it to IC champion right off the bat of a tag team exit from the current crop. And I tell ya what, he’d be dam more entertaining than Kofi “I Smile A lot” Kingston.
His downfall, however, might come with his rough around the edge ring style. He’s not a natural wrestler that’s quite obvious. There are better technicians, bumpers and athletes in the “E” of that there is no doubt, but of all the home brewed talent that pour out of the developmental territory, this guy makes up for it with charisma. And if Dave Baitista can make it (words won’t do justice on how much I think this guy sucked), this guy most definitely can. It’s a shame Darren young would be sacked soon after.
3. Damien Sandow
You can’t help but look forward to the time when Sandow graces us with the mic and spits out all the heelish quips he’s most famous for. He’s an artist at humorous put downs and delivery and has charisma by the bucket load.
My love of stables automatically makes me think of him as a great heel leader of a gentlemanly group who violently take apart their opposition on TV but will try sarcastically to help you better yourself whilst doing it, but get their comeuppance on PPV, A group you would love to punch right in the pants but wouldn’t want to see leave your TV. Think the RTC but dramatically watered down. If his gimmick were tied back just a tiny bit so he wasn’t JUST the character and had some more realism to him, he could really go places.
In the ring he’s competent enough. We are yet to see him really stretch his wings against a serious opponent with much on the line. A nice feud with an intense Daniel Bryan wouldn’t go amiss as I feel he could have a steller match with the right guy.
He doesn’t have a great look however. I think he might need to look a bit more athletic before he could make it big. Oh and lose the cheap looking tights! I think some simple, all black Heel tights and boots would go down a treat on the man.
Some fashion Advice!
4. Antonio Cesaro
For months I haven’t been able to understand why the crowd hadn’t taken to this guy. He looks great, is a superb wrestler, has insane strength and pulls off great matches given the small amount of time he’s usually given against some of the weaker talent on the roster. I always found it strange they distanced him from Aksana? What’s wrong with a guy having a hot woman escort them to the ring nowerdays?
He’s also a pretty good talker. I’m not saying he’s the next Stone Cold or Y2J but he gets his point across well, thankfully they have toned down his bilingual tendencies a wee bit. It’s just a shame about his 2 dimensional gimmick. The Anti-USA thing has been done to death. It’s almost like creative think “oh he’s foreign, let’s make him hate America, that’ll work!”. Yeah it did, 20 years ago! But to the current fans credit, they know they have seen it all before and would rather have some creative personas nowadays than tired characters whose stars have potential to be the next Triple H.
Oh that’s right my friends, I think Cesaro could be a superstar. Much like the aforementioned Triple H; he is big and powerful, works his ass off and has, in this day and age, a memorable finishing manoeuvre that doesn’t involve a strike in the Neutralizer! But evenif you like strikes he has a simple, versatile strike in the European Uppercut which is brutal and he uses creatively. He looks great and with his extensive Indy background can make anyone look good. Who else in the WWE has been able to allow a cruiserweight to perform a double head scissors cleanly? (it’s a daft move I know but dang it looks sexy)
The lack of a crowd response I alluded to earlier is the only concern for him i have. Is it the gimmick or do the casual fans not see how awesome this guy is? I would say his reaction is getting louder but only gradually. Let him join the Cult of Punk (I know I keep going on about it but BY JINGO PLEASE HAPPEN) and we would have the Indy faction of doom! Several great workers who made a name in the “minor” leagues, merging to create a modern day faction as popular (maybe) as DX. I mean, who wouldn’t watch that? Especially if they were to grab Bryan as well!
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This article was first posted on December 18, 2012