Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt are among WWE's potential headliners who lie cramped inside a cannon waiting to be shot out toward the horizon.
To best make use of these emerging stars, WWE needs to insert them into memorable rivalries, construct big moments for them and protect their win-loss record. It's not a complicated formula, but one that has worked for men like Daniel Bryan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
That's how to allow Cesaro, Reigns, Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Big E to slide into the spots currently occupied by John Cena, Randy Orton and WWE's top tier.
Establishing new marquee stars is key to continued success. If WWE relies too much on those who are already big names, it risks creating staleness and fan disinterest. The audience craves new faces, rising talent grabbing the baton.
Talented athletes and magnetic performers need WWE Creative to cut a path in front of them before they start sprinting, though.
Every hero needs his archenemy and vice versa.
Great feuds are required to best showcase one's personality and ability. Pro wrestling history has taught us that several times over.
It's hard to imagine Sting's rise without him clashing with Ric Flair, Austin reaching the heights he did without first overcoming Bret Hart and Orton becoming a major star without Mick Foley shooting him forward. In each of these cases, classic matches and engaging stories helped to build an emerging star's resume.
In 2004, Orton was a promising talent with the Intercontinental Championship in his grasp.
A collision with Foley gave him the opportunity to work with a former world champ. By just choosing Orton for this spot, WWE elevated him. It wasn't as if Mark Jindrak or Rene Dupree were being asked to battle the legend.
When Orton cracked Foley with a low blow and attacked him on Raw, it meant far more because of who Foley was. Fans watched as someone they loved writhed on the mat. A hero suffered and that made the attacker more prominent, more memorable.
Had Orton done the same thing to a midcarder like Jamie Noble, it wouldn't have had nearly the same effect.
The feud also led to an unforgettable meeting at that year's Backlash. In that Hardcore match, Orton proved to be a merciless predator, able to outlast Foley in his own signature bout.
It lifted Orton to a new tier. It showcased him, added a classic to his resume and created the image of him toppling a future Hall of Famer.
Austin took a similar journey when he went through The Hitman on his way to the top. The sight of a blood-soaked Austin gutting it out while trapped in Hart's Sharpshooter, refusing to tap, is the kind of moment that helps create a legend.
A 45-minute draw against Flair on March 27, 1988, served as one of Sting's first major WCW achievements.
He would then face the world champ again and again. The Nature Boy was the benchmark, the man who one had to beat to become "the man." That's what Sting did over time, playing Batman to Flair's Joker.
For today's rising stars, finding feuds that have a similar impact is key.
Cena sits in a place much like Flair did in the late '80s. He can be what Flair was for Sting to Reigns, Cesaro or whoever WWE anoints. A rivalry against him, or other major stars, brings increased spotlight and the chance to walk away with career-changing victories.
Reigns is heading for a collision with Triple H. Wyatt is entangled with Chris Jericho at the moment.
Those feuds have great potential, offering the chance to best an elite member of the roster. Each of those will likely result in at least in one classic match.
WWE needs to find more feuds like these for its emerging stars, as well as for Reigns and Wyatt once those stories are complete. Their Paul Heyman connection makes Cesaro and Brock Lesnar an intriguing pair of rivals. Big E taking on Cena would be huge for him, as would Rollins colliding with Bryan once he returns from injury.
During the course of these rivalries, there have to be lasting images in addition to standout in-ring action. Memories stay with wrestling fans like scars.
Over time, a wrestler's run blends together. Classic matches and moments that stray from the norm usually manage to survived getting blurred together with everything else.
This is what WWE needs to provide for Reigns, Wyatt and company.
Bryan's feud with Triple H featured a moment that will make many future greatest hits collections to come. On March 10, Bryan stood in the ring and refused to leave until Triple H accepted his challenge. That would have been everyday wrestling fare had it ended there.
WWE found a creative route, though and had a horde of Bryan supporters clog the ring area in protest.
It fit Bryan's "champion of the people" persona perfectly and was something that fans hadn't seen before. The excitement of seeing something that new and interesting gave Bryan momentum in spades.
Before Austin made it to WWE's mountaintop, he was delivering a sermon at King of the Ring 1996.
It punctuated his tournament victory and gave him a catchphrase that would soon be seen on T-shirts in arenas around the country. This is the kind of flash of greatness that fans are awaiting to see each night. When one arrives, it makes whoever is at the center of it a bigger star.
There need to be more of moments like these for Reigns, Wyatt and the rest of the next generation of top stars.
An especially creative cash-in from Rollins would have him stand out from others who have held the briefcase. The WWE writing team should focus on finding a way for Wyatt to execute some heinous plan or Reigns to attack The Authority in as memorable as fashion as when Austin sprayed his enemies with beer.
Should one of these moments shoot sparks off the way that Austin's speech did in 1996, these emerging wrestlers will receive increasingly passionate support from fans. What's Ambrose's equivalent of Austin 3:16? What's Reigns' version of the beer bath?
That's what WWE has to answer in its meetings in order to best propel its promising young talent.
Going undefeated isn't an option, but the more difficult WWE makes it for one to defeat a Superstar, the more powerful they appear. Should the company treat Reigns and Wyatt like unstoppable warriors, the audience will eventually buy into it.
Ryback was at his hottest when he was getting the crowd to chant "Feed me more" and charging at CM Punk. It's no coincidence that he had racked up a number of wins at that point. A battle with Punk at Hell in the Cell gave him his first loss.
He has since been pinned on many occasions. On July 1 of last year, he even called off a match, giving up because of a pained knee.
That's the exact opposite of how to build someone into a believable threat.
The focus should be on adding momentous wins to a rising star's resume. Bryan's victory over Orton on the June 24, 2013 Raw made him look like a man capable of winning the company's top championship. Lesnar left Hulk Hogan out cold in 2002 before taking on The Rock at SummerSlam.
It's a triumph like this that forces fans to pay attention.
Lesnar can do the same thing for someone else's career that Hogan did for him. Should Cesaro defeat him at WrestleMania, it would shoot the Swiss strongman like few wins can.
Victories over Bryan, Cena, Orton or Sting boosts an emerging star's resume as well.
Along the way to those wins, loses will come, but they must not come with little resistance and not against lower-level stars. Foley spent much of his career watching someone else raise their hand in victory. The list of names who toppled him is mighty impressive, though.
There's no shame in losing to Shawn Michaels, Undertaker or Triple H.
It's when wrestlers staring losing to a man with Scooby Doo in their corner or a ballroom dancer meant to be a novelty act that it starts to affect one's aura.
WWE has done a good job of that with Reigns and Wyatt so far, but Cesaro is struggling to get wins. He's lost to Kofi Kingston twice in a matter of weeks and lost his only singles pay-per-view bout so far this year.
His losing streak could be turned into something positive, but he's going to need big wins to be taken seriously as a potential world champ.
The Royal Rumble offers a great way to catapult a star on the rise as fans saw in 2005 with Batista. WWE would be wise to pick Reigns, Wyatt or one of its younger talents as the 2015 Rumble winner.
Major wins at SummerSlam, Survivor Series and next year's WrestleMania would be beneficial as well.
Crafting a top star requires a talented wrestler, a connection with the crowd and something that's in WWE's control—his story. Should that story contain moments that adhere to the crowd's brain—rivalries that bring out one's best and major wins— the chances of making it to the highest rungs of the ladder are far greater.