Tomorrow's Champions: Ten WWE Superstars Who Could Hold World Title Gold By 2013
Welcome to what is sure to be a controversial piece, designed to draw the ire and interest of all who choose to look upon it.
Rather than waste your time with a long and drawn out introduction, I'll begin with a forewarning:
This is a concept that has probably been done numerous times before, each time with it's own twist. The people on this list may seem obvious but the beauty of any Top Ten anything is the order. The order listed is usually what draws either the most praise or most criticism.
Most of the Superstars I've included here are simply designed to be future World Champions, while some of them seem to be groomed as midcarders for life. But I have no doubt in my mind that each of these men deserves a World Championship within the next three years.
Please keep in mind that this is a subjective piece. The order of the list, as well as the selection of each of the ten wrestlers has been based on numerous variables.
Strength of character, ability to connect with the crowd, marketability, entertainment value, ring awareness and the intangible "X" factor, a term that meant a lot more before it was tossed around so carelessly on TV. (Thanks a lot Michael Cole and NXT)
Also keep in mind that one of the most important factors considered when determining the order of this list is the likelihood of winning a World Championship.
So, without further ado, please enjoy a list that is sure to both enlighten and infuriate you, your parents and the girlfriend you soon won't have afterwards.
10. Daniel Bryan
There could be a debate entirely on it own about Daniel Bryan, known better to indy fans as Bryan Danielson, as number 10 on this list.
That debate could stretch anywhere between Bryan deserving to be higher up to questioning his inclusion on the list altogether.
As I stated on the introduction slide, this list was compiled subjectively, based on the multitude of variables that I deem important for World Title contention.
It's no secret that Vince McMahon and his trained monkeys in creative do not eye the talent pool objectively.
In this day and age, the popular thing seems to be forgoing wrestling ability for entertainment value. Someone like Santino Marella, who can wrestle better than half the RAW roster was used sporadically as a comedy jobber for years before being put in his current tag team role with Vladimir Kozlov, in a tag team division that is a joke unto itself.
The same argument can be made for Chavo Guerrero, who has slipped so far into obscurity that most fans seem to forget he's even still employed by WWE.
Keeping on track here, Daniel Bryan has almost everything one needs to be a WWE or World Heavyweight Champion.
The man can wrestle, he can fly, he's got a good attitude backstage, he's not on drugs, and despite the constant jabs at his charisma by Michael Cole and company, he's emotionally connected with the crowd on a good level.
It is perhaps his very obvious lack of a gimmick that makes him so endearing to the average wrestling fan. The WWE Universe looks to Daniel Bryan as a beacon of hope. Hope that an average, likable and hard working guy can be a success.
Controversially, it's the same kind of success story that rallied people behind the notoriously charisma-less Chris Benoit.
The two variables that Bryan does not possess also happen to be two of the most important, at least in WWE.
Size and origin.
Bryan is a 5"10, 195 pound, hard working guy who made himself outside of WWE, on the independent circuit. He was not created by the WWE machine, which will make it much harder for him to prove himself worthy of Vince's nod as a World Champion.
However, many people also said the same thing about CM Punk, who now boasts several WWE World Heavyweight Championships to his impressive resume.
Those who say this is impossible need only look to CM Punk and realize that one can never fully predict the abstract and unique machine that is World Wrestling Entertainment.
Kaval. Low-Ki. Senshi.
No matter which name wrestling fans may know Brandon Silvestry by, anyone who has seen him in the ring can attest to one thing: The man is exciting.
Bringing an explosive and unique style to the ring, Kaval has most recently debuted on WWE SmackDown! after winning Season 2 of WWE NXT, a show that most experts agreed would be won by either Mr. Perfect Jr., Michael McGillicutty, or the loud and braggadocios Alex Riley.
Kaval finds himself in much the same situation as Number 10, Daniel Bryan. He possesses most of the tools needed to be a WWE or World Heavyweight Champion.
An exciting in-ring style, marketability, entertainment value and the ability to seamlessly fit into WWE's current PG rating.
And just like Bryan, Kaval is held back by the same two factors. Size and origin.
Kaval is even smaller than Bryan, standing at 5"8 and weighing 174 pounds and also made himself outside of WWE, traveling the world and impressing fans worldwide on the independent scene.
The advantage Kaval has over "The American Dragon" is his high flying ability. The WWE will always be looking for suitable replacements for Rey Mysterio and Kaval is an easy consideration.
Unfortunately, he also had a run with the competition, TNA wrestling, and that could be what keeps him in the midcard for the duration of his WWE career.
While there is no doubt that Kaval deserves to hold at least one World Championship within the next three years, the unlikeliness of this happening is enough to keep him, and Daniel Bryan, at the bottom of this list.
8. Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston is the perfect example of a Superstar who is stuck at one level when he should be at another.
Coming off what many said should have been feud of the year in 2009 with Randy Orton, Kofi seemed to be perfectly positioned for a main event run.
He dropped the goofy Jamaican accent, showed more aggression and attitude and connected with the crowd on an even bigger level than before.
And in typical WWE fashion, this momentum was left to fizzle out and nothing was accomplished as a result of it.
Fast forward to present day, Kofi has just finished a lackluster feud with another SmackDown! stand out, Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler.
Coming off the losing end of a feud that saw Kingston win repeatedly through methods that prevented him from obtaining the Title, Kofi finds himself once again floating in midcard hell with no clear direction.
Kofi does indeed possess every notable thing needed to be a World Champion. From look and size, to character, crowd reaction, merchandise and mic skills. All that's needed is the effort and support from the writers.
Will Kofi Kingston be a World Champion by 2013?
The only thing holding him back is WWE Creative.
7. Alberto Del Rio
This is undoubtedly one of the choices that will cause a bit of controversy.
Alberto Del Rio has been on TV now long enough to have a few cups of coffee, yet he's Number 7 on the Top Ten list of Future WWE World Champions.
But lets think about this.
Alberto Del Rio, better known as Dos Caras Jr., is the son of Mexican wrestling legend Dos Caras Sr. This makes him a second generation star, a heritage that Vince McMahon greatly covets and appreciates.
He's a big guy with a well built physique, he's drawn impressive heat in a short amount of time, he's good in the ring and on the stick and he's essentially a younger, more durable, and better looking version of John Bradshaw Layfield.
And JBL's gimmick made him a perfect candidate for WWE Champion.
When you factor in all of this, not to mention his natural connection with the Hispanic fanbase, which is something of value to WWE, and there's no reason that this man should NOT be a World Champion by 2013.
Whether or not he achieves this is all up to Vince McMahon, of course, but I'd wager that Alberto del Rio will be World Heavyweight Champion as early as mid to late 2011.
That might be going out on a limb but every single guy on this list receives an extra point thanks to Rey Mysterio, because WWE putting the Championship on him was one of the most out of character things the promotion has ever done.
That, in and of itself, should remind the WWE Universe to never count out prospective Champions, and certainly not one who seems tailor made for the title like del Rio.
And just as a bonus, overly observant fans were witness to one of the worst blunders in WWE.com history when Alberto's bio went up too early, with a big fat editor's note on it that promptly read:
"..I heard he's supposed to be a big deal fairly quick."
I rest my case.
6. Ted DiBiase
Ted DiBiase on his own draws very vocal opinions from most wrestling purists, as will his positioning on this list.
While there hasn't been a tremendous amount of doubt about his future as a main event player, many have called into question his standing as a future World Champion.
The argument is usually divided fairly evenly, with one side being that his lineage and look alone are enough to ensure him a spot as a future Champion and the rebuttal claim of his recycled gimmick and mediocre mic skills being enough to prevent it from coming to fruition.
Ted DiBiase is an enigma of wrestling booking.
The guy is a third generation Superstar, he's got a great look, good size, and is plenty capable in the ring, the same as most of the other people on this list.
For the detractors that claim he has little charisma and is nothing special on the mic, look no further than the "season premier" (there was a season finale?!) of Monday Night RAW last week.
The RAW roulette special gave us something we all knew would be a wasted segment in a "Song and Dance" match (or something of that nature) pitting R-Truth and Eve against DiBiase and his arm candy, Maryse.
While it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Truth and Eve would dominate, thanks to Truth's impressive and legitimate musical talent, DiBiase surprised many, including myself, by getting on the stick, keeping a straight face and serenading the crowd with a timeless classic tune that was sure to get him booed out of the building when put up against Truth's explosive new rap-rock song.
Not only that, but he did a damn good job with it too. He's not hopeless on the stick. Most guys aren't if you give them a fair chance.
The only thing keeping him from being higher on this list is his gimmick.
I just cannot buy him seriously as a true main eventer as long as he's running with the exact same gimmick as his father. I had no problems with the Million Dollar Championship but the introduction of Virgil, and now Maryse, has just soured it for me.
He comes across like a less influential and less impressive version of his father. Not to mention, his father was original and did it much better.
DiBiase needs to either shed the gimmick or do something unique and creative with it to make it more his own.
On the flip side, his partner Cody Rhodes, who does not make this list simply because I can't see WWE putting the championship on a guy with an overused gimmick who doesn't wear knee pads, is getting over more than Ted is.
Why? Because Cody has not only added a unique flair (and lots of effort) to a repeatedly recycled gimmick, he's also done everything in his power to be everything that his father wasn't.
DiBiase, take notes. As JR once said, "Potential won't always bring home the groceries."
5. Dolph Ziggler
One of my personal favorites on this list and a man I feel still doesn't get the recognition he deserves, Dolph Ziggler previously suffered from what I listed in my last article as "The Sheamus treatment".
The man couldn't earn credibility as a champion to save his own life. Vickie Guerrero and WWE's bizarre love for her heel gimmick, took a valuable amount of heat away from Ziggler and the constant "Dusty finish" style endings to his title defenses against Kofi Kingston made him harder to watch.
At WWE: Night of Champions, Ziggler did exactly what I said he needed to do, though I didn't think it was possible. He got the clean pin on Kofi Kingston and established himself as worthy of the title. Now, if only Sheamus could do that...
Staying on track, Ziggler is like Ted DiBiase before him. An enigma of booking. Everything is there except the confidence of the writers in creative.
Compare Ziggler to 2009. The man lost as many as 4 Intercontinental Championship matches to the likes of Rey Mysterio and John Morrison, then drowned in midcard hell before having a semi-impressive showing at WrestleMania XXVI in the Money In The Bank ladder match.
Dolph Ziggler in 2010 finally managed to win a single's title, becoming Intercontinental Champion for the first time with a win over Kofi Kingston. Keep in mind that Ziggler needed about 6+ months and numerous matches to accomplish what Drew McIntyre did in one shot.
WWE, take notice of this man. If he hasn't held a World Championship in some capacity within the next three years, something is seriously wrong in the creative department.
4. John Morrison
My personal favorite on this list lands in the Number 4 position. This is, once again, a ranking that some may find controversial.
John Morrison is both loved and despised by wrestling purists. He's considered the closest thing to a young and less experienced version of Shawn Michaels in the ring but ask any member of the heel-happy IWC and they'll tell you that Morrison is like the unholy demon of ass suckage on the mic and that he needs a heel turn.
Of course, if the IWC had its way, everyone on the roster would be a heel, John Cena would be jobbing to Zack Ryder and Daniel Bryan and Kaval would be trading the WWE Championship back and forth while Triple H and Sheamus worked in catering.
All of that aside of course, I remember mentioning on the last slide that most guys can be good on the mic if given time to improve and a fair chance.
JoMo is a crowd pleaser and is a natural fit as a babyface. As entertaining as his gimmick was as a heel, his moveset is definitely more becoming of a face and he loses a lot of originality in the ring when he is limited to a heel's antagonist style repertoire.
Some will argue his run in ECW as the champion and as a heel but the majority of the attention went to him being placed against CM Punk, a bonafide crowd favorite at the time and JoMo never got that title back after he lost it, thanks to his suspension.
Following that was his partnership with The Miz and though he carried Miz in terms of ring ability, there's no doubt that Miz carried Morrison in terms of heel heat.
My point here is that babyfaces don't all need to be masters of the mic. Aside from doing the DX bit, what did Shawn Michaels bring to the mic? His best mic work, like JoMo, was as a heel, and Michaels was saved by the fact that he was adaptable enough to work as a heel without missing a step in the ring.
John Morrison hasn't reached that point of evolution in his career. Yet. He's still changing and growing, and most people forget, he hasn't been tagged as a future World champion for all that long.
From his looks to his incredible athleticism, to his connection with the crowd, nothing will keep Morrison back from being a World champion. If Michael Tarver (I really don't care for him, do you?) can improve on the mic, there's no reason Morrison needs to be tarred and feathered for his speaking.
Detractors of his finisher claim it's botched frequently but have you seen that move? The law of averages alone dictates that it's not going to hit perfectly every time and I've yet to hear of anyone being seriously injured by it.
Starship Pain is a unique move, unlike anything being done currently by anyone else on the roster and it's the perfect crowd pleaser.
Given that the men on this list have three years to accomplish World title gold, I see no reason why Morrison hasn't held at least one by 2013.
3. Drew McIntyre
Why isn't this guy main event already?
McIntyre is my other personal favorite amongst the prospective wrestlers on this list and there's no reason he shouldn't already be in the main event scene.
Compare him to former WWE Champion Sheamus. Sheamus was basically thrown the championship, way earlier than most people felt he was ready for and has only gotten over thanks to his ability to keep up with the pressure and improve along the way to where he is now, a realistic albeit uncredible WWE Champion.
Drew has had longer to build himself up, has gotten majorly over with the crowd as a heel, he's believable, and believe it or not, has more credibility than Sheamus, thanks to his ability to defend a title cleanly.
Yet Sheamus has a World title on his resume and McIntyre doesn't?
While I'm not saying that he needs it thrown on him, my argument stands that if Sheamus can be made champion so quickly, why hasn't McIntyre at least challenged for the title with the time he's been around?
There's a reason this guy is endorsed by McMahon (that's not just a catchy gimmick mind you). He's got everything Vince looks for in a champion and is over.
I mean, so over that he could pin World Heavyweight Champion Kane clean in a non-title match on the next SmackDown! and it probably wouldn't seem like too much of an upset.
It's unbelievable to me then, that they booked Drew in a very pitiful storyline with Teddy Long which had him looking like a whiner before losing his title to Kofi Kingston.
Following this, he bounces around in random feuds, none of them noteworthy before being put in an abrupt team with Cody Rhodes just long enough for them to take a picture or two together and then having the Tag Championship stuck on him.
So, take a guy who's already ready to be a World Champion and stick him in your dying and under-maintenanced Tag Team division.
Drew sits at Number 3 on the list, only because the top two are more likely to get World Title runs before him. If McIntyre hasn't become World Champion by 2013, Vince McMahon has officially lost his mind.
2. Wade Barrett
One look at this man's image, and one listen to one of his promos, and it's easy to understand how he makes it all the way to Number 2 on this list.
Despite still being wet behind the ears as a relative newcomer in the Sports-Entertainment world, Barrett is a rare example of someone with all the raw tools, who actually gets booked in a beneficial manner.
Barrett is best known to the WWE Universe as the winner of NXT: Season 1 and for good reason. He's a solid in-ring worker, he's the size that Vince adores most (6"5, 265 pounds) and is by and large the most talented member of Nexus, with Justin Gabriel being his only competition.
While the man is an abundance of raw talent, it would have been extremely easy for him to debut on RAW and get lost in the clusterf*ck that is the midcard on the flagship show.
However, WWE pulled out a rare gem of a storyline by aligning him with his fellow NXT Season 1 rookies and calling them the Nexus.
The Nexus ran roughshod over Monday Night RAW and the excellent booking in the early stages of this storyline made Wade Barrett.
Thanks to this, rather than being another big man lost in the shuffle, he's shining as the leader of the best stable WWE has seen in years and combined with his natural ability, he is perfectly positioned to be a WWE Champion, much sooner rather than later.
The only thing holding Barrett at Number 2 on this list is the one man in WWE more likely to become a World champion faster. And I'm sure most of you can guess who it is...
1. The Miz
This is a no brainer. This was something many people became apparent of, even before his documented and vocal endorsement from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
The Miz started out as just a reject from reality TV and made it all the way up to the level of "the next John Cena" and that is saying something.
He's worked tirelessly and devoted every waking minute of his spare time to WWE and done all the extracurricular promotional work. He's proven himself to be a valuable company front runner, a dependable workhorse, and someone that the WWE can place it's biggest prize on and benefit for it.
He's improved by leaps and bounds in the ring constantly since his debut a few years ago, he's quite possibly the best promo in the entire WWE, he's got the crowd eating up his heel character and is over enough to have them repeating his catchphrase.
He's free of the midcard championship that he held for a lengthy reign (easy to hold it when you don't defend it) and holds the Money In The Bank briefcase.
All of this considered, it just doesn't make sense to put The Miz anywhere except at the top of this list.
Though it's a very arguable point that he's most deserving, (all of the men on this list have a legitimate claim to that), there's no questioning that The Miz is the number one most likely superstar to be a World Champion by 2013.
In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a World Champion before the end of 2010.
And that...is AWESOME.
And That's a Wrap
That wraps up this writer's thoughts for the evening. I hope you've enjoyed my insight into a controversial and entertaining subject.
Feel free to leave your love, hate or other opinions down below. The more discussion created, the better it is for all of us. Tell me who YOU think should have been on this list that was not included, or tell me why certain Superstars don't belong here.
Reorder the rankings if you don't find them appealing to you. Whatever suits your fancy. Individuality will always be what drives professional wrestling and what drives us, the fans, to spend our money enjoying it.
Till next we meet...