What a difference a year makes.
For better or worse, ECW, Shawn Michaels and Guest Hosts are no longer with us. With the WWE finding themselves losing stars, such as Batista, Jericho and HBK to retirement and Undertaker and Triple H to injuries, management realized they had a void to fill.
While I believe the WWE has done a better job building young talent in the past 365 days than before, five guys in my mind seemed to have been groomed to take over the proverbial reigns from the biggest and brightest.
So, without further ado, let us take a look at last year's brightest stars, the past year's brightest, each month's star and where that leaves us from here.
While most people thought Swagger would be soon on the future endeavored list, he surprised us all by winning the Money in the Bank and cashing it in on the very next Smackdown.
While his reign was far from noteworthy, he was the first, first-time champion of 2010.
The only full season of NXT I found watchable, NXT season one featured some great talent (Bryan, Barrett, Gabriel) some boring guys (Slater, Young) and some guys that no one even knew why the hell they were there (Otunga, Tarver).
On a side note, Michael Tarver's career has been so unsuccessful and irrelevant that I had to go to Wikipedia to look up who the eighth contestant was.
The biggest impact of this season was the major curveball WWE threw us with their invasion, and it's perhaps their freshest angle in years.
While his second title reign was not much different from the first, Sheamus did something no one else has done: win two world titles in his first year with the company.
He would eventually lose the title to Randy Orton. But, at the time everyone thought that second win had cemented his place in the main event scene. (Thanks for proving me wrong Kevin Dunn.)
The only multi-month winner is the Miz.
Can anyone argue that another wrestler had a better year then the Miz? A United States title, two-time NXT pro, Money in the Bank winner and current WWE Champion.
He has also improved his ring skills exponentially (watch his recent matches with Daniel Bryan, John Morrison, and Against the Corre as a tag team).
I see bright things in the Miz's future and think it wouldn't be too far fetched to have him beat Cena.
August 12th, 2010, was my markout moment of the year.
I'm not going to pull a Rachel Miller and give everyone a history lesson and tell everyone the story of tiegate because if you're here, you know it!!
Anyway, Bryan looked superb in this match. I also think if he can lose the divas and become a down-to-business, let-nothing-get-in-my-way, cold-blooded champion he could be superb. I think his mic skills could fit that too.
The kind of thing that says I will make you feel pain, then backing it up. Watch his exchange with Michael Cole when he was on NXT—it was great.
While he won his intercontinental championship in August, many people like myself thought this would be a transitional reign, perhaps to get the belt on a new face.
Dolph Ziggler would seize September to prove us all wrong. He also established himself as one of the top workers in the WWE.
Do yourself a favor and watch his exchanges with Rey Mysterio.
While no one jumped out at me from October, Future World Champion Alberto Del Rio competed in his first pay-per-view.
This will be the match in which 10 years from now when they make the three-disc DVD about seven-time world champion (these are all predictions) that guys in his tag match swear they saw something special in this kid.
What a roller coaster John Morrison's career has been on.
He went from one of the longest reigning intercontinental champions in the past few years to being continuously buried on Raw. He looks to be going in the right direction, anyway; I, along with most other people, dreaded the upcoming Sheamus-John Morrison match.
I assumed this would be the match that got Sheamus back in the title picture. But, creative finally listened! They had Morrison win, lose, then win a classic ladder match.
I predict he will be world champion come 2012.
Was there any contest?
The Miz finally cashed his money in the bank contract in on Randy Orton. WWE also played with us by giving us some semblance of a match rather than him hitting his finisher and picking up the title.
I have been pleasantly surprised in the Miz's reign. He has gotten a couple clean wins mixed with dirty ones. He has also lasted much longer than expected by me.
I believe he may be the future face of the WWE.
I said Miz was the only multi-winner right? Well, I lied. Sue me.
What a high Del Rio has been on. He and Santino Marella had an epic finish at the Royal Rumble. On a side note, what do you think would have happened had Del Rio botched and actually fallen out of the ring when he came close? Would Marella been recognized as the winner?
Anyway, I think Edge-Del Rio has the potential to be a terrific match at Wrestlemania, a show stealer if you will. Del Rio will also have his Wrestlemania moment.
This tells us that the WWE is the complete opposite of TNA in terms of new superstars. TNA will do anything for a quick rating ex. Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Hogan, Bischoff, ECW, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, etc., etc, etc..
WWE is much more patient. Look at the youngsters WWE has themselves a hold of.
Alberto Del Rio
The list is very impressive. Vince knows this may be a down year, with a lack of big names. But these young fresh faces will soon be the big names, and they all have ample talent. Maybe the WWE is in pretty good shape.