10 Wrestlers Who'll Become WWE Champions For The First Time In 2017

Who'll grab the brass ring in 2017?

Big Cass Universal
WWE.com

2016 has been a year of huge upheaval for WWE. From the revived Brand Split to ongoing product diversification with the Cruiserweight Classic and United Kingdom Championship, the company's make-up has been forever altered by the past 12 months. WWE's methods haven't always worked, but they've left nothing on the table in their attempts at staving-off the ratings crisis, and this has been their busiest year in decades.

When 2016 finally draws to a close, AJ Styles will be remembered as one of its greatest success stories. At Backlash, 18 years after making his professional debut, Styles finally captured WWE gold. It was a moment many thought would never come to fruition, but it immediately made AJ one of the most important men in the company. He was minted, and in a year of outstanding individual performances, Styles shone brighter than anyone.

AJ wasn't the only man to capture WWE gold for this first time this year, however. Summer saw his former TNA cohort Samoa Joe become NXT Champion, Becky Lynch's SmackDown Women's Title win was her first belt with the company, and the Cruiserweight division gave former indie standouts TJ Perkins and Rich Swann the chance to call themselves a WWE champion.

Who'll follow them in 2017? The roster is brimming with candidates, and with plenty of up-and-comers staking their claim across the company, the year won't be short of first-time champs.

Here are 10 wrestlers who'll become WWE champions for the first time in 2017.

10. Cedric Alexander

Big Cass Universal
WWE.com

Three months removed from the Cruiserweight Classic’s conclusion and the WWE Cruiserweight division is finally heating up. Rich Swann is 205 Live’s most popular competitor, and the charismatic high-flyer makes for a far more compelling champion than Brian Kendrick. Neville’s heel turn heralds his long overdue initiation to the division, meanwhile, and with Austin Aries lurking at the commentary booth, Swann won’t be short of challengers.

Despite these recent movements, there’s a real need to build another solid babyface challenger on 205 Live. TJ Perkins has lost a boatload of momentum, Noam Dar has turned heel, and Jack Gallagher is but a novelty act at this point. Enter Cedric Alexander, who isn’t just one of the most exciting wrestlers on the roster, but one of the easiest to rally behind.

Alexander’s WWE career came to life with an excellent performance against Kota Ibushi in the CWC. He might be stuck behind a terrible romance angle with Alicia Fox at the moment, but he’s an excellent all-round worker who can adapt to any style. His talent deserves a bigger TV role than he’s currently getting, and with Akira Tozawa and Gran Metalik seemingly MIA, the brass ring is there for Alexander to grab.

Don’t expect him to challenge while Swann’s got the belt, but Alexander should make a charge towards the Cruiserweight Title by summer at the latest.

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WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter, Presenter and Editor. Formerly Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @andyhmurray.