4 WWE Stars Who'll Break out from the Pack This Year
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I’ve been a fan of the wrestling business for over 20 years now and have watched all promotions from WCW and WWE to TNA and ROH.
There’s been times where it was all I watched, and times where I thought I’d never watch again.
The last 18 months have been somewhat of a transitional period for the WWE and, for a while at least, it seemed like the main event scene of the WWE was more stale than it had ever been.
However, superstars like The Miz, Alberto Del Rio and Mark Henry have become main-eventers, with each having held either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship. The last few months have seen me start to love watching wrestling again.
I’m going to spend the next few minutes looking at four guys who I feel can make a difference in the next 12 months. I've picked two superstars from RAW and two from Smackdown. Let's get to it.
First Pick from the RAW Roster: Zack Ryder
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Casual fans tend to move towards entertaining guys, wrestlers that can pop the crowd.
All you need to do is take a look at guys like Hogan, Warrior, Rock and Cena to see that you don’t have to be a ring general to get over. You need that little bit of something that very few people have, an X-factor, and Zack Ryder's got it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one minute suggesting that Ryder could be as popular as any one of those guys, but if you’ve never seen him, check out Z! True Long Island Story on youtube.com.
Ryder's used social media in a way that no other superstar has before. He got his fans behind him to the point where WWE couldn't afford to ignore him anymore.
He got a huge opportunity after winning the US Championship at TLC in December, but he's been booked like a jobber again since losing it. The only saving grace of that is that he's still getting TV time.
As long as the "corporate machine" gets behind him and gives him a chance, there's no reason why he can't be a breakout star in the next year or so.
Second Pick from the RAW Roster: Dolph Ziggler
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My other choice from RAW is someone who I firmly believe will be a WWE/World Heavyweight Champion before the end of 2012. He's the show-off, Dolph Ziggler.
In the last six months, Ziggler’s mic skills have been better than ever and he’s really stepped up to the mark. A friend of mine said to me the other day that Ziggler reminds him of a young Curt Hennig. Thinking about it, that makes "perfect" sense.
I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw Dolph have a bad match. Whether it’s been against Zack Ryder, who got a huge rub by beating Ziggler, or CM Punk, Ziggler has had consistently good matches on TV and PPV over the last 18 months.
Remember his feud with Mysterio from a couple of years ago? It seems like not winning the Intercontinental Title then was actually good for Dolph, because now he’s had a couple of mid-card reigns under his belt.
He's benefited from working with veteran talents, which has helped him to become an even better wrestler. Ziggler hosts a clip show on WWE's YouTube channel called "WWE Download," where he's charismatic and funny.
If we can see that Ziggler on weekly TV, and his alliance with Vickie Guerrero comes to an end, he's got the potential to have a career-defining 2012.
First Pick from SmackDown: Cody Rhodes
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Moving over to Smackdown now, and the first person in my book who could be elevated to the next level is already halfway there. That man is Cody Rhodes.
Cody's feud with Mysterio early in 2011 was great to watch. As much as I hate to admit it, I've loved the way Michael Cole has put Cody over in commentary. He actually draws you in to "Cody's story."
Cody reminds me of an old-school type of wrestler, similar to a Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton. He can work a wrestling match at a very slow, methodical pace, which helps him to tell a story in the ring.
He's obviously benefited from working with Orton, HHH, HBK and John Cena as part of Legacy in the last few years, and you can tell that he's beginning to believe in his own ability. Lately, he’s been working with Randy Orton, the returning Booker T and Big Show.
Add these feuds together with losing his ridiculous see-through mask, and he’s turned into a believable heel with so much more credibility.
He's come such a long way in the last 12 months and he’s beginning to show that he belongs in that main-event mix with champions like Mysterio, Orton and CM Punk. I’m excited to see what his future holds.
Second Pick from SmacDown: Wade Barrett
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You could say that my last pick is somewhat biased because I’m from the UK, but I’ve gone for the standout performer from the first season of NXT, Wade Barrett.
He has the look that Vince loves. He’s 6’7”, 250 lbs and can throw hands with the best of them. He’s proved it in his matches with John Cena and Randy Orton over the last 12 months.
What I’m about to say might shock some of you, but just bear with me: I think that Wade Barrett is well placed to be the man that ends the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. Just hear me out.
Before Taker’s match with HHH at WM27, Wade took out Taker with the rest of Nexus in the Buried Alive match with Kane. We’ve never had a followup to that and it would give the Englishman a huge amount of heat if he was the one to end the streak.
Throughout the entertainment world, the British are generally portrayed as villains, and ending the streak would do wonders for Wade’s career.
He's injured at the moment, but when he returns, I think he'll be put straight in to the main-event scene, possibly to feud with Sheamus.
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I know that these four guys might not be everyone’s pick, but I believe that they’re the four who can have a breakthrough year in 2012.
I’d love to get your thoughts on it, so feel free to leave a comment below or send me your feedback via Twitter (@georgec1982).
Thanks for reading.