At the moment in the WWE, we are going through a 'Changing of The Guards', as pointed out by Aaron C in this brilliant article.
Guys like Kane, Undertaker and Triple H are now well into their fourties, which usually signifies their careers slowing down and them sitting back and letting the younger guys take the spotlight.
The younger, but experienced Superstars like Edge, Chris Jericho and Christian are also expected to slow down in the coming years, with Jericho currently taking time off to tour with his band, Fozzy, and Christian on the shelf at the moment due to injury.
The current faces of the WWE like Randy Orton, John Cena and Rey Mysterio have been leading the show for years, and it is almost like tradition for the torch to be passed on at some point, as all three of these men have had several WWE title reigns and great careers already.
So who is this torch going to be passed onto?
Well, there's been an influx of young Superstars across both rosters recently, giving us new talent and more recognisable wrestlers from the Indy scene. Even if they aren't being used properly at the moment by Creative, great things should become of them, and in this article, I will try to figure out which wrestlers on the current roster deserve most to be the biggest stars of the WWE by the end of 2011.
Possibly the most obvious choice. If you haven't been paying attention, Wade Barrett won Season 1 of NXT after dominating the show (for the most part) with his impressive in ring ability, look, and mic skills, being one of the only rookies of the show who had this whole package.
After winning the contest, Barrett and the seven other rookies invaded RAW, with him as the leader of the pack. For months, the group, christened the Nexus, took charge of Monday Night RAW, destroying everything in their path and beating the sh*t out of John Cena on several occasions. Although Barrett did not wrestle much during the beginning of the Nexus angle, he cut several tremendous promo's. Speaking of his mic skills, who can forget his amazing Winds of Change promo?!
At Bragging Rights in a couple of weeks, Barrett will go up against The Viper, Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Can you imagine the impact if he is to successfully win the title?
The brawling Brit proves to us week in week out that he is most definitely ready to be a Main Event player. He has the whole package, and by the end of next year, he will certainly be one of the WWE's biggest Superstars, if not by the beginning of it.
And while we're on the subject of the Nexus...
The first South African in WWE history to recieve a contract, Justin Gabriel joins Wade Barrett as a member of the Nexus and a future WWE star.
Gabriel placed third in season 1 of NXT, and prior to this was FCW's Heavyweight Champion. His father was the Pink Panther, a South African wrestler and promoter.
Now let me state one more fact;
Justin Gabriel is the best wrestler in the Nexus, and behind Daniel Bryan was the best wrestler on the NXT Season 1 roster.
He became known in the WWE as a talented high flyer, ending almost every Nexus attack with his 450 Splash. Apart from this, he's displayed some impressive mat wrestling too. Even though Gabriel is usually overshadowed by Wade Barrett, he has the best ring skills in the Nexus, and could easily put on great matches with the likes of Evan Bourne and John Morrisson. The only thing holding him back however, are his average mic skills, which can easily be improved in time.
After Nexus ends, I can see Gabriel coming back as a babyface, which is what he is naturally, and going after a mid-card championship and taking part in feuds with other mid-carders. However, I believe he could easily hold his own with one of the main-eventers, as he has shown in matches with John Cena and Randy Orton. I would be a very very happy camper if the WWE Championship was put on him in the future.
Once his mic skills improve, he could be huge, as the fans love a good high-flyer. And this guy is more than good.
Say what you want about Mike Mizanin's in ring ability, but no one can deny that when it comes to the mic, The Miz is probably one of the top 10 talkers in the WWE right now. Maybe even one of the top five.
He's cut many a decent promo, coming across as a natural every time he gets on the mic. When he teamed with John Morrison, most said he would be the Marty Janetty of the pair, fading off into obscurity once they disbanded.
Boy, were you guys wrong.
Following his move to RAW during the 2009 supplemental draft, The Miz feuded with John Cena and then went on to win the United States Championship and a Money In The Bank contract. This means he could win a WWE Championship at any time, which I find pretty impressive from a guy who was written off as a nobody.
His improving in ring work shows he IS working hard, and he deserves this push he's getting right now because of that.
I guarantee that by the end of next year, The Miz will be on top, maybe not as the WWE Champion, but as one of the WWE's best talkers and most charismatic Superstars.
The Shaman of Sexy, John Morrison undoubtedly has a spot on this list. I'm not too big a fan of JoMo, but even I recognise how impressive he is as an athlete and as a wrestler.
On RAW for the past few weeks, he has displayed some amazing Parkour moves involving jumping off of things like Spiderman.
Even though he has not been used to his full potential lately, John Morrison beat Chris Jericho just a few weeks ago in what was a great match, just showing us all what he is capable of. If given a good feud and even better, a heel turn, he could begin working his way up. As a face, his mic skills are nowhere near the level they were as a heel, and a lack of decent mic skills can hold a guy back in the WWE. Just ask Lance Storm.
Morrison is on Team RAW for Bragging Rights in a couple week time which gives him a chance to shine, hopefully.
Plus, kids love him, women love him, what else do you need Vince? Give this guy the push he deserves!
It appalls me that this man has spent the last few months jobbing to the Big Show on Smackdown, given that he is one of the best all-rounders the WWE has right now.
A good look?
Check, check, a thousand times check.
The WWE is extremely lucky to have CM Punk, especially considering the amazing promo's that happen every time he gets on a mic. Even from his time on the Indy scene and in TNA, he amazed everyone with how sharp he was on the mic and in the ring.
I don't think I could ever stop singing this guy's praises, he's so good. In addition to this, his Straight Edge gimmick isn't just a gimmick- it's his life. And this really shows, as the character is played so well, you'd be shocked if it WAS just kayfabe.
Now that he's back on RAW, I really hope Creative gives him a chance to shine, and gives him another WWE Championship, seeing as he lost the last one due to ridiculous backstage problems.
Let's face it, CM Punk can wrestle, talk and is always a joy to watch. If he's not in the main event scene again by the end of next year, I'd be pretty disappointed.
Now what would this list be without Natalya Neidhart, WWE's best female wrestler at the moment? Yep, that's right, not Diva, wrestler.
Despite being extremely gorgeous, Nattie Neidhart has proved to be more than just a pretty face. Being the only woman to train in the Hart Dungeon, it's inevitable that she would go on to be an amazing technical wrestler. Daughter of Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and niece of Bret Hart, Natalya delivers in the ring every time she is put into it (which unfortunately, is not often) and can carry any of the WWE's less than able Diva's to a good match.
Natalya started off as a heel on Smackdown in 2008 and by early 2009 was on ECW, managing her real life boyfriend Tyson Kidd and then her cousin Harry Smith also, in what is now known as the Hart Dynasty.
Unfortunately, while valeting for the pair, Natalya rarely wrestled as a singles competitor until becoming the number one contender for the Unified Diva's Championship in September. She and Michelle McCool had a match at Night of Champions for the belt, but McCool retained due to a DQ. Natalya will be facing LayCool again at Bragging Rights in a rematch, during which she should rightfully become champion. It's a shame that she never got to hold the Women's Championship. It would've been great to see her name alongside those of former Diva's of her calibre like Trish Stratus, Lita, Alundra Blayze, Rockin' Robin, Sensational Sherri, Ivory, The Fabulous Moolah, Mickie James and even Beth Phoenix.
In a time where women's wrestling matches are 3 minute toilet breaks in the WWE, Miss Nattie Neidhart deserves so much more, and by the end of 2011, should by right be the main Diva in the WWE.
Let's hope Michelle McCool and the Undertaker split up by then, eh?
Take one good look at this man. Just your plain old Average Joe right? Plain looking, relatively small and all that jazz?
Now take another look at him and do you want to know who you're looking at? Bryan Danielson, now Daniel Bryan in the WWE, one of the greatest professional wrestlers alive.
He's one of the most adored people in the IWC and the King of the Indys. Saying Daniel Bryan can wrestle is an extreme understatement, he is nothing short of amazing. He is agile, a great technical wrestler, and a superb submissionist, as shown in his finishing move the LaBelle lock.
He began his WWE career in the first season of NXT, and the months following were strange for Daniel Bryan. He had an unfortunate losing streak throughout the season; was eliminated early; came back with the rest of the rookies as a part of Nexus; was released only a few day after due to 'Tiegate' and returned at Summerslam, taking The Miz's place as the 7th member of Team WWE against Team Nexus.
Right now, he is the WWE's United States champion, having made The Miz tap out at Hell In a Cell in a triple threat match for the United States also involving John Morrison.
Although the WWE will not let him use his full move set, I believe he still has a lot to give, and I believe he will give it to us. His size, unfortunately, is the only thing holding him back, as we all know how much Vince McMahon loves smaller wrestlers, right...?
During the next year, if Creative has any sense, they'd put him in more decent feuds and give him a lengthy run with the United State Championship.
Come on, this one is inevitable.
Despite only debuting on Smackdown a few months ago, Alberto Del Rio has already made a massive impact and has proved himself to be main event material. He can cut a great promo, put on a great match and is just believable. The character pisses people off, but not in a go away heat sort of way, which is good.
He IS the Latino JBL, and there's no problem with that because the legitimate JBL was amazing to watch anyway.
In Del Rio's first few months on Smackdown, he (kayfabe) put both Christian and Rey Mysterio out of action, and he even has his own ring announcer!
Now that Randy Orton is being pushed as a top babyface, the WWE definitely needs some new top heels, and along with the likes of Wade Barrett and CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio is going to be one of them.
If he's not in the Main Event scene by next Summer at the very least, I'd be very surprised.
Let's face it, Sheamus has the whole package.
In ring ability, great on the mic and a very good look. Maybe that's why he's already been the WWE Champion twice, despite only being on the main roster since the middle of 2009.
Although his two title runs aren't seen to be that credible due to the fact that most of his wins are not clean, Sheamus has done nothing but impress me since day one. He's interesting to watch and is a natural at what he does.
There's no doubt in my mind that Sheamus will be one of the main players by the end of next year, as he is already on his way there. I just hope he doesn't get the Jack Swagger treatment- a massive Main Event push and then de-pushed to the mid-card after losing the title. He's already been involved in several great bouts with Triple H, Randy Orton and John Cena, what more could you ask for?
Ginger hair and Irish heritage?
Wait, he already has that, say hello to the future of the WWE.
Come on Creative, this is getting ridiculous. Do you not realise how talented Evan Bourne is?!
Oh yeah, he suffers from the same curse as Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan and Kaval- the Light-Heavyweight/Cruiserweight curse.
Vince McMahon rarely treats the smaller guys well, often leaving them to be jobbers/mid carders their whole careers.
Evan Bourne is another Internet favourite, making his name known in the Indy scene like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. He does the Shooting Star Press extremely well and can do things with his body I did not even know was possible.
He received a short term push earlier this year, pinning Chris Jericho cleanly several times. This push was abruptly cut short for some reason, and Bourne was reduced to being a Nexus punching bag.
It'd be great if after he returns from his injury, Creative finds someone decent for him to feud with and pushes him to the heavens.
Son of the Million Dollar Man, two time WWE Tag Team Champion and former member of Legacy, one of the biggest tag team of 2009.
Ted Dibiase Jr really has got a lot going for him, including The Million Dollar Championship and the valet services of Maryse at this moment in time.
He started out as one of Randy Orton's proteges along with Cody Rhodes, which is a pretty good advantage to have. It's not like he needed the help anyway, as this Fortunate Son can wrestle, fairly well actually. The problem he has however, is average mic skills, and it looks as if he's improving anyway.
He hasn't been put to much use on RAW lately, despite being given his father's old gimmick and a gorgeous valet in the form of Diva Maryse. Possibly some of the most vital months in his career were the ones following his match against Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes this year at Wrestlemania, as breaking away from a stable can usually only go two ways- you either make it as a singles competitor or you don't.
Unfortunately, he spent those few months taking part in random and insignificant mini feuds and was eventually given an actual gimmick- pretty much a watered down Million Dollar Man.
It's a good thing WWE placed him with Maryse, as she has enough personality for the both of them anyway. If Creative gets it right, these two could be one of WWE's best power couples and by this time next year, he could be a Main Eventer if given the right gimmick and chances.
I hope this feud with Goldust benefits the two of them, as it could potentially be great.
How can I put Ted Dibiase Jr. on this list without mentioning Cody Rhodes- his former tag team partner?
Like Ted, Cody is a second generation Superstar, his father being The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. In addition to this, he has a half brother in Goldust, so his life has been full of great wrestlers.
Cody's new gimmick is very unlike his dad and brother, which is good as it gives him a chance to break out on his own. "Dashing" Cody Rhodes may be a recycled gimmick, but Cody does it damn well. He has shown some impressive mic work ("I can literally HEAR you getting fatter.) as well as being a gifted wrestler.
After Wrestlemania this year, Rhodes was drafted to Smackdown. Here, he received a decent push, being given this new gimmick as well as new entrance music, a special digital mirror on the ramp during his entrance, the weekly "Grooming Tips" segment and more recently, a fourth Tag Team Championship reign, with Drew McIntyre. I'm still not too thrilled with this decision, as it seems pointless to take him out of a tag team just to place him in a new one, not to mention a waste of his talent. Hopefully, this alliance ends soon and he becomes a contender for the Intercontinental Championship.
If given more time to develop as an all-round performer, Cody Rhodes could be amazing. He has the talent, the look, the charisma and the dedication to be one of the new breed of WWE Superstars. By next year, I expect great things from him.
And hey, he brings us one step closer to Dashing every Friday night on Smackdown!
I cannot believe how underrated Jack Swagger is as a wrestler. He is a tremendous talent, possibly one of the best technical wrestlers the WWE has right now. He also has a great look/gimmick, which, although has been done before, he does very well.
He is also decent on the mic, I mean, how can you NOT enjoy that "All American, American, American..." drawl?!
Swagger had a blink-and-you-miss-it World Heavyweight Title reign not too long ago which he achieved by winning a Money In The Bank contract. After dropping the title, Swagger was delegated to jobbing on the lower midcard, an unbelievable waste of his talent. Seriously, Hornswoggle got more face time than this guy.
On Smackdown's SyFy premiere a few weeks back, Swagger began a feud with Edge, who is on a one man mission to rid the WWE of all things stupid. I can't wait to see the matches these two put on, as both are capable of doing great things.
By the end of 2011, Swagger would've hopefully been pushed again as one of the top heels. Even if he doesn't go after the World Heavyweight championship, it'd be great to see him as the Intercontinental, or better yet, United States Champion, feuding with fellow mis-used Superstars.
For the love of God, WWE, PLEASE DON'T LET JACK SWAGGER'S TALENT GO TO WASTE!
One half of the Hart Dynasty, another team WWE Creative has ruined. Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith seem to be on their way to a break up, and since neither men were given much time as a team to speak and develop personalities, it'll be extremely difficult for them to breakout as single competitors. The only saviour they have is Natayla, who will most likely stick with Kidd and at least give him SOME personality.
Or Creative could like, not break them up. That would be great.
Kidd is another member of the WWE Cruiserweights club. He is small and agile and very athletic, three thing which SHOULD work to his favour, but we all know how Mr McMahon's mind works.
As a singles competitor, I don't see Kidd as a main eventer any time soon, but he could definitely be an upper mid-carder, if given a decent angle and some time to connect with the ~WWE Universe~ through the mic.
Like Natalya and DH Smith, Tyson Kidd was trained in the (in)famous Hart Dungeon, which gives him a great advantage over many other current Superstars. Kidd is a very skilled wrestler and I would love to see him wrestle with the likes of Justin Gabriel, Evan Bourne, Kaval, even Rey Mysterio for a good 20 minutes.
If the WWE decides to keep The Hart Dynasty together for the long run, I could see them becoming the Tag Team of this Era, because they both have the potential to be amazing. Hey, if Teddy Hart gets himself together soon and is re-hired by the WWE, I'd love to see him join the Dynasty too, make the stable even bigger.
More Diva's? Why not.
If you're paying attention to Season 3 of NXT (which you probably aren't), you'd recognize AJ Lee as one of the best in-ring workers of the season, her only rival being Naomi. On the mic, however, to truly be propelled into Diva stardom, she needs a little bit of work.
Small in stature, big in heart, AJ made a big impact on FCW, as one of the top Diva's there. Her character on NXT is extremely annoying, but don't let that bother you, as this girl can wrestle. Hell, she could probably outwrestle half of the current Diva's on the main roster.
Whether she wins NXT or not, I have no doubt that she will be called up to the main roster, and if she doesn't, I will be very shocked. Vince McMahon is said to be unhappy with many of the current Diva's, and wants to shake things up. What better way to do this than hire girls who can ACTUALLY wrestle!
I'd love to see AJ hold that ugly butterfly belt at some point in 2011, and by the end of 2011, she could be one of the top WWE Diva's.
Continuing all the talk of NXT Season 3, here's another rookie Diva who can hold her own in the ring.
Naomi Night, as she was known in FCW, is extremely athletic, as she shows weekly on NXT. She definitely knows what she's doing, and with a bit more training could become one of the Diva's of the decade.
When it comes to talking, although she still needs a bit of work, Naomi is decent on the mic. She appears natural when speaking, and not as if she's just playing a part.
She's another one who I'm sure will be called up to the main roster, and competing for the Unified Diva's Championship by the end of next year. Hopefully, women's wrestling in the WWE becomes a more credible division again, giving girls like Aj Lee and Naomi and real chance to shine.
I'm sure we're all aware of the 'f*cking stupid' incident resulting in Kofi Kingston's de-push last year. Unfortunately for him, it left him in the mid-card, just not doing much.
Over the past few months however, Kofi has slowly begun dropping his Jamaican gimmick, and has become more aggressive than he ever has been. Hopefully, this means good things for him, and he can finally achieve his full potential because as a wrestler and athlete, this guy can knock it out of the park.
He is also very family friendly and kids love him, perfect for Vince McMahon's PG Era.
Kofi Kingston has worked hard from day one, and deserves a push more than Hornswoggle deserved that kick in the chest from Michelle McCool.
It'd be great to see him turn heel, as I believe he could pull it off well. I could easily see him play the role of the frustrated babyface, turning heel to gain recognition. It could put him in the Main Event scene and see him earn the WWE Championship he deserves.
Hi, here's Dolph Ziggler.
Formerly known as Nicky in the Spirit Squad, Nick Nemeth was brought back up to the main roster as Dolph Ziggler in 2008 after about a year of training at OVW/FCW.
It wasn't long until he aligned himself with Vickie Guerrero, Smackdown's resident Cougar, and became Intercontinental Champion. Just like Sheamus, despite his talent, it's very rare for Ziggler to pick up clean wins when it comes to defending his championship. Just think about that lame feud with Kofi Kingston.
Hopefully, Ziggler breaks away from Vickie soon and goes on to become a more credible Superstar, and a top heel by the end of 2011 because he is a talented wrestler and acceptable on the mic.
Nick Nemeth is no longer Nicky, the male cheerleader, he is now Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Champion and a great wrestler, who has enough potential to be a top heel one day.
Come on WWE. Are you being serious? Not letting him win ONE match since winning Season 2 of NXT? I really hope this ridiculous losing streak actually has a purpose behind it, or else it'd be an extreme waste of his talent.
Kaval, real name Brandon Silvestry, is probably better known as Low Ki, the name he went by in the Indys, or Senshi as he was known in TNA.
Wait... TNA you say?
I think Kaval's lack of a push is beginning to make some sense, at least in the mind of Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
He is not a homegrown talent, and in the WWE, having roots at a rival Wrestling promotion, especially TNA usually means you are going to be put on the backburner behind the homegrown WWE talent, even if they aren't as good as you.
It IS a bit of joke to watch, someone with as much in ring ability as Kaval/Low Ki being used to job on Smackdown week after week, especially after being on the recurring joke known as NXT during its second season.
Come on, give this guy the shot he deserves, I don't care about WHERE he made his name, and neither does anyone else apart from Vince McMahon. Despite the lack of a Cruiserweight division, there are countless things you could do with Kaval. One of those things would be to actually start to take him seriously as a competitor, although, that could be asking for too much.
This choice may seem as a bit of a shock to some, as Tyler Black, one of the biggest ROH names ever, isn't even on the main roster yet.
But he will be soon, maybe even by the beginning of the new year.
Tyler Black, now "Seth Rollins" (oh god) in the WWE was given a developmental contract in August and quickly joined the FCW roster. At the same time, negotiations between Black and TNA were going on, along with the offer of resigning with ROH, but Evan Bourne, another former ROH wrestler, convinced him to join the WWE.
The problem "Seth Rollins" has however, is that his move set is perhaps too exciting for the WWE, and he could face the same problem as Daniel Bryan where he would not be allowed to use several of his best moves and possibly lose his edge. I hope this is not the case, and he gets to show his full potential.
If done right, Tyler Black debuting on the main roster could be huge, and he could make a massive impact within months. Who knows, by the closing of 2011, he could already be a contender for the WWE title. Now this COULD be expecting too much, too soon of WWE Creative and Vince McMahon, but this list is full of wishes, not predictions.
The WWE now have a great wrestler on their hands, and if they don't go about it the right way, they could lose out big time.
Comments and Criticism is welcome.
Any names I missed out?