Over the past year or so, WWE has built an impressive stable of independent stars and has been developing them as part of NXT Wrestling. One of the biggest names coming through the pipeline is Kassius Ohno, who was previously known as Chris Hero. The million dollar question, however, is when can we expect to see him on the main roster?
The future is most definitely bright for WWE, as Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are both awaiting the call as well, but Ohno may be the most polished of the bunch. Ohno starred all over the world as Chris Hero, competing in Chikara, Ring of Honor, TNA, CZW and pretty much any promotion you can think of, so he's ready to be a WWE Superstar.
Ohno competed as a tag-team wrestler for much of his time on the independent scene with his partner Claudio Castagnoli, now known as United States champion Antonio Cesaro. It doesn't appear as though there are any plans for a Kings of Wrestling reunion, so Ohno will have to get over on his own accord when he makes the leap.
If everything was based on talent alone, then Ohno would have bypassed developmental altogether and been placed on the active roster immediately. The WWE appears to be taking a calculated approach with the independent stars that it has acquired, though, and Ohno is the perfect example of that as the company is going to pick its spots.
Most wrestling fans would love to see Ohno on WWE programming, but it shouldn't happen until he has a purpose. Simply throwing Ohno into the fire right now would probably result in him failing to get over and it could very well ruin his WWE tenure. I want Ohno to succeed, so I'm perfectly fine with the WWE taking its time.
Realistically, Ohno is probably behind Rollins and Ambrose right now in the pecking order. I prefer Ohno, but Rollins and Ambrose have been working WWE house shows for quite some time and Rollins is NXT champion, which is a telltale sign that he's the next man up.
With that in mind, I doubt that Ohno will be in the mix until after WrestleMania at the earliest. Post-WrestleMania is usually a time when the WWE likes to introduce new stars since a lot of new storylines are being cultivated, so that would be the ideal time for Ohno to debut. Tensai made his debut the night after WrestleMania this year, and I'd like to see something similar done with Ohno.
Rather than just having him appear, air some vignettes for a few weeks, as was the case with Tensai, and make the fans care about him. While many of the hardcore wrestling fans are fully aware of Ohno and what he accomplished prior to signing a WWE contract, the casual fans need to be introduced to him and given a reason to react to him.
A quick look at the WWE roster would seem to indicate that there is a severe lack of depth when it comes to mid-card faces, so that is the role in which I would place Ohno upon his debut. Kofi Kingston went from being a tag-team wrestler to immediately competing for the Intercontinental Championship and Cesaro has no opponent, so the WWE is dire straits in that regard.
I can envision Cesaro dominating the lackluster mid-card from now through WrestleMania and holding the United States Championship during that entire time frame. After vanquishing his opponent at WrestleMania, he can announce the next night on RAW that there is nobody left for him to defeat.
Enter Ohno as he makes his highly-anticipated debut the night after the biggest event of the year. Ohno could make reference to the fact that he and Cesaro were partners on the independent scene, but that they broke up because Cesaro got too big for his britches. It would give the feud purpose and it would make Ohno look legitimate from day one.
There are several ways that the WWE could introduce Ohno, but the most important thing is doing so in a way that gives him a ton of momentum from the start. Having him debut the night after WrestleMania and go straight after the United States Championship would be the perfect scenario and it's something I would love to see happen.