(Please keep in mind while reading this slideshow that I wrote it on December 31, 2010 hoping to post it on the eve of New Year's Day. However, I never quite got around to it since I have been busy since with examinations. As you can probably tell, much has happened since December 31 in the WWE Universe. So please, while reading, maybe keep in mind that you're reading it on December 31. With that said, hope you guys had a great New Year's and enjoy reading my first publication here at Bleacher Report!)
What a year it has been for the WWE. One year ago, if you told me that Miz would be WWE Champion this time around, I would have said that you were crazy. One year ago, if you told me Shawn Michaels would be retiring, I would not have believed you. One year ago, if you told me that Triple H would be taken out by Sheamus for over eight months, as well as filming a WWE Studios movie, I would just laugh at you.
My point is, a lot has changed in the WWE since one year ago. Emphasis on the “a lot” bit. In 2009, we were witnessing dull feuds and recycled storylines that had happened years prior. Come in, 2010.
It was no doubt a youthful year for the WWE, as well as a breath of fresh air in terms of new stables, superstars and gimmicks. Speaking of Superstars, in this slideshow, I will be ranking the top Breakout Superstars of the passing 2010.
Breakout can mean anything, including the impact that those superstars made in the WWE, the gold they’ve worn over the year, the quality of matches they’ve put on and the skills they’ve developed and/or improved on.
So, without saying “further adieu,” let’s list the breakout stars of the WWE in the year of 2010!
A great deal of time has elapsed since the disintegration of Legacy, and who would have ever guessed that Cody Rhodes would become more successful then Ted DiBiase.
I cannot tell you how many people and members of the IWC thought that Ted DiBiase was going to go straight to the main event after Legacy broke up, and that Cody Rhodes would be stuck in “Mid-Card Misery” for the remainder of his career or even subsequently be released.
Much to the surprise of the IWC, Cody Rhodes was given a new gimmick and persona, the classic “Narcissistic self-absorbed ego maniac” which he played rather, quite nicely.
Ever since he acquired this gimmick, his mic skills have increased dramatically and his in-ring abilities have gotten better (although it wouldn’t hurt to wear a couple of knee-pads, now would it, Mr. Rhodes?).
And although this gimmick has been used over and over throughout the years, Rhodes, to me, looks like a natural and seems at ease with his new gimmick.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rhodes, the only bit of gold he’s held this year were the Tag Team titles for a short bit of time with Drew McIntyre, a team that I thought would have worked extremely well. But we all know Vince McMahon's hatred for tag teams.
Anyways, expect Rhodes to wear a secondary title, probably an Intercontinental Title in early to mid 2011, with an impressive reign and a “launch” into the main event scene similar to Dolph Ziggler this year.
Swagger was lost in a direction after the end of ECW; however, he still had quite some talent that accumulated him fans from the IWC, including myself. As soon as he unhooked that briefcase at Wrestlemania XXVI, the IWC was caught in a civil war, with some people supporting the win, some people going against the win since he was not ready a title reign and some who frankly did not care.
Nonetheless, Swagger cashed in his briefcase against a much-weakened Chris Jericho after he suffered a spear from the hands of Edge.
As soon as the referee counted to three, Swagger’s persona changed completely. He went from a cocky, arrogant individual to being much more insipid and plain dull. And we all know how his championship reign was booked. No need to get into much details there. After Swagger lost his championship, he was led astray again, even jobbing to Chavo on an episode of Superstars.
However, it seems now that Swagger has been after the Intercontinental Title held by Ziggler and finally gained some momentum and direction. Anywho, expect Swagger to have another World Title run mid to end 2011, as I believe his first reign was nothing more than a test run by WWE to see what kind of champion Swagger would make.
We all know that his matches are worth watching, and given the right type of booking, Swagger would make an excellent champion.
There’s no doubt Dolph Ziggler has had an amazing year in the WWE. 2010 has definitely been the year of the Zig-zag (I know I’m lame).
He’s won his first piece of gold in the WWE, the Intercontinental Title, along with having a, thus far, extremely impressive reign as champion, astonishing the viewers day in and day out with his matches.
Although I personally believe he would make a much better face, he plays the part of an arrogant champ well with his heat magnet Vickie Guerraro. Also, the fact that Ziggler has been competing with the company’s biggest draw, John Cena, and actually putting up entertaining matches, surely speaks to the impression Ziggler has made on McMahon and creative.
No doubt Ziggler is a favourite for this year’s Money in the Bank, launching him into the main-event scene. No complaints here about Ziggler. He’s been one of my favourite superstars this year, and I would love to see him headline Wrestlemania soon.
Although he could definitely work on his mic skills, Ziggler has everything a champ needs. The looks, the facial expression, the in-ring ability and the charisma. Hopefully Ziggler will get the heavier gold in 2011.
The internet sensation. The IWC’s darling. Did I mention how much I hate when somebody calls John Morrison “JoMo”? It makes him sound absolutely weird.
Nonetheless, it’s been an impressive end of the year for John Morrison. In the beginning of the year, it seemed as if creative lost direction with John Morrison; however, he soon regained it after his brilliantly contrived matches with Sheamus. Much to the IWC’s delight, John Morrison won the No. 1 Contender’s match for the WWE Title in a gruelling, yet compelling ladder match at TLC.
Now, while it should be known that John Morrison probably won’t win the title from his ex-tag team partner, the Miz, just yet, the IWC delighted over the fact that Morrison received a long overdue push by the WWE.
I personally think Morrison is an extremely bland character when he is a face, and he shines the most as a heel. He has no in-ring presence that most of all main-eventers have as a face, but as a heel, he truly brings out his best. Nevertheless, expect big things from John Morrison in 2011. Maybe even a bit of World Championship gold.
What a year it has been for Daniel Bryan. He went from being completely buried on NXT to joining one of the most devastating stables in WWE history, to being released and bought back again and to having an extremely prestigious United States Title reign. Not many can say they were released and bought back again by the WWE in the following months.
Personally, I am glad that Bryan was released, because if he wasn’t, he probably wouldn’t be United States Champion this time round. He was always better as a face then a heel.
His matches with Dolph Ziggler, John Morrison and the Miz prove that Bryan can hold his own against anyone in the WWE, as well as be a breakout main-eventer in the WWE, despite his size. I believe everybody will agree with me when I say that Daniel Bryan has had one of the best United States championship reign since the likes of when Benoit, MVP, John Cena and Matt Hardy held this very title.
I very happily applaud The WWE booking team for booking Bryan as a firm and unyielding champion. I expect Bryan to continue on his title reign in 2011 and hopefully get involved in more RAW main-events.
Miz shut up many of his nay-sayers when he won RAW’s Money in the Bank ladder match, including me. No doubt Miz was a bit shaky in the beginning of the year while teaming up with the Big Show and the Big Show making him look extremely weak in comparison, and even in the middle, during SummerSlam—Night of Champions time, due to his losses to Daniel Bryan.
Even though Miz had very strong showings with Bryan that proved he can put on an entertaining wrestling match given the right opponent, I couldn’t help but feel that WWE was going to make Miz lose his briefcase due to the enormous loss of momentum since winning it.
Nonetheless, Miz cashed in on a very weak Nexus, brutalized Randy Orton the night after Survivor Series and surprised the world. Well, he surprised me, damn it!
Other than his latest encounter with Jerry Lawler, I haven’t got a problem with the Miz, as I think WWE is booking him decently well for a new champion. What Miz pulled out at TLC was brilliant and portrayed his character in a really splendid manner. Now while I don’t see Miz going into Wrestlemania as champion, definitely expect Miz to shine in 2011.
I wouldn’t mind Miz having a lengthy WWE Championship reign because first of all, it would open many new feuds and many new possibilities for pay-per-view matches, and second of all, mid-carders such as Daniel Bryan, Alex Riley and John Morrison, as well as many others, can burst into the main event scene by challenge Miz for the title because of the history involved between them. So in the end, I believe everyone wins in this situation.
Alberto Del Rio is the only superstar in this list who you can feel that WWE Officials are just high on him. Well, besides the fact that Alberto Del Rio’s bio on WWE.com plain out said that “he was supposed to become a big deal real quick,” you could tell that WWE Officials just had a liking to him.
With that being said, Alberto Del Rio has no doubt made a huge and immediate impact on WWE, defeating Rey Mysterio on his first appearance CLEAN. CLEAN! CLEAN! Can you believe that?
I was a fan of this man the minute he appeared, because he had everything a main-eventer needed. He shined in the ring, his mic skills are good enough for me and even though he has JBL’s Mexicanized gimmick, I’m willing to let that pass just because this guy is just a breath of fresh air on SmackDown.
His heated feud with Rey Mysterio is still ongoing, and one of the best feuds in the WWE right now, may I add. Del Rio is already launched into the main-event scene after his match at TLC, as well as the major bumps he took throughout the match. The fall he took into the table truly established Del Rio as a star in my eyes.
Without a shadow of a doubt, expect Del Rio to glorify the main-event scene in 2011, as well as having a World Heavyweight Championship or WWE Championship reign considering he moves to RAW during the draft.
I was very close to putting Alberto Del Rio as the breakout star for this year at No. 1. However, I then realized that Wade Barrett made an immediate impact on RAW, the minute he stepped foot in the building.
Yes, Alberto defeated Rey Mysterio in his first appearance in the WWE, clean, may I add, but his impact to me was not as strong due to the vignettes being shown every week for months. Alberto Del Rio was expected to show up at SmackDown! sooner or later. Nexus was totally unexpected.
With that being said, none of the superstars listed before this have had a bigger impact than Wade Barrett has in the WWE.
Wade Barrett has the size, the look, the in-ring ability, the mic skills and a definite in-ring presence, all qualities that could have launched him in into mega main-event stardom. Barrett could have easily been the best heel in the WWE since Triple H in his Evolution days, but WWE wasn’t confident enough to give him the title belt.
Still, within three months of his WWE RAW debut, Barrett was main-eventing for the WWE Championship. And the fact that he had John Cena in his control for a full two months is telling something as well.
Alas, Barrett will never be the exact same again after his chair burial by John Cena at TLC. He will never get the same amount of heat and will never be looked at the same way by the WWE fans again.
Barrett was the perfect Kryptonite to John Cena’s Superman, but WWE’s lack of faith in Barrett ruined it. Even so, Barrett has had an extremely impressive first year in the WWE, and even made a fan out of me as well as many other people. Hopefully WWE believes in him enough to actually put gold on him in 2011.
Tyson Kidd—Kidd has been on somewhat of a right track after his split from David Hart Smith and hiring his bodyguard, Jackson Andrews.
Natalya—This diva certainly had a great year, winning her first Divas title as well as a strong fan favourite with the crowd.
David Otunga—The co-leader of Nexus, if you will, Otunga has been the second member of the Nexus in the spotlight after Wade Barrett.
Justin Gabriel—Another Nexus member who the crowd gets electrified by due to his splendid aerial finisher, the 450 splash.
Here we have it folks! The breakout starts of 2010 in the WWE.
“Youth Revolution” is definitely the right word to describe most of what was happening in 2010, since there was a great loss of main eventers in the WWE that forced them to utilize new talent.
After all, it was the exact same Youth Revolution that turned around the ratings for the WWE in the 1990s. No complaints with the ongoing youth revolution from me!
Expect big things out of these superstars in 2011 and look for them to finally prove themselves as credible main-eventers.
Anyways, hope everyone had an amazing Christmas, and have a happy new year! Remember to celebrate responsibly.
This has been Ray Samuels, signing off, with his first article here at Bleacher Report.