The WWE has made a habit of bringing back old Superstars to beef up shows and make huge, one-night epic matches and encounters recently, allowing the WWE Universe to take it's mind off of something far more interesting than Brock Lesnar coming back for a few nights; the future of the business.
While old, proven Superstars are great, I'm more interested in what will happen after they're too old for one-and-done comebacks. What happens when the Rock, HHH, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker can't go any more? With an aging upper echelon in the business, where will the WWE go from here?
For the near future, the WWE will use the Superstars that everyone is used to. We'll see Cena "rising above" bad guys, Sheamus dominating everyone and all of the usual rigmarole. Then, according to many, the torch will be passed to the WWE poster boys. The young guns brought up through the business like Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes. If you ask me though, you'll get a much different answer.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are the future of this business. Punk and Bryan have been at the top of the WWE for the past few years. Punk had his huge run last summer and is looking to follow it up with a fall full of dastardly deeds and anti-hero activities. Bryan isn't doing too bad himself. The former American Dragon worked a program with Punk throughout the summer in a few epic encounters and close-to-five-star matches.
There have even been whispers around the WWE Universe that the Punk will take on the Rock either at Rumble or Mania. He's arguably the top Superstar in the business not named John Cena.
While Bryan isn't necessarily in the title hunt at the moment, he's one of the best parts of Monday nights. The backstage promos and skits he's been involved in for anger management, are bringing viewers back to the tongue-in-cheek, funny skits of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras.
Both Punk and Bryan are a few of the best in the business in-ring. They both are great on the mic (especially Punk) and great in the ring (especially Bryan). They are the kinds of guys that can headline for the WWE for years to come.
While Punk and Bryan are 33 and 31 respectively, they won't be around forever though, and this is about the future, so how are Punk and Bryan the future? They've opened the door. A door that many thought would never be opened, at least not in the way it is now.
Vince McMahon and the WWE has opened it's doors (really cracked it's doors open just a little bit) to the independent wrestling circuit. Punk and Bryan both spent their younger years in independent promotions such as Ring of Honor, Ohio Valley Wrestling, NWA and other organizations. They have broken the mold of the usual cookie-cutter Superstars who come up through the WWE feeder programs like FCW under the microscope of WWE scouts from day one. Most of the guys scouted by the WWE have that "look". It seems like they're either giant, muscle-bound beefcakes, small athletic cruiserweights or Maxim models who might be able to stand in a ring without getting hurt.
Since Bryan and Punk found their way into the business, really because they were too good to pass up, or got chances from guys like Heyman while WWE and ECW were buddies, more and more indie wrestlers have shown up in FCW, NXT and even WWE on Monday and Friday nights. After the WWE found two rubies in a mountain of rocks, they've been willing to keep searching.
Since Punk and Bryan made their way, we've seen an influx of some of the biggest names in indie wrestling. Claudio Castagnoli is the first of the recent regime to find WWE gold, winning the US Title as Antonio Cesaro. Chris Hero, now known as Kassius Ohno, is on NXT with many of his other indie compatriots. Another huge indie name now in the WWE is Tyler Black AKA Seth Rollins, who recently beat Jinder Mahal to become the first ever NXT Champion. Heck WWE is even using indie wrestlers in their skits, showing Scorpio Sky as Harold last night in the Anger Management skits with D-Bry and Kane.
While guys like Ziggler, Barrett and Rhodes, who have been brought up through the WWE, definitely have a spot in the future of the WWE, Punk and Bryan have not only effected the business in the ring and on TV, but have also opened the door for independent wrestlers to come make it big in the WWE at the top of pro wrestling, which is why CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are the true future of the WWE.