WWE Superstars Who Must Win Championships in 2021
One of the most obvious resolutions for a WWE Superstar every year is to win a championship of some kind. It's the most tangible goal to prove someone has made their mark on the industry.
There are a few names who must win a title at some point in 2021, based on the trajectories of their careers, the overall momentum for their characters or just sheer logic.
Who should win a belt in 2021 and why? Let's take a look at the men and women who should grab the gold on Raw and SmackDown over the next 12 months.
WWE cannot turn a blind eye to Keith Lee. He's far too fantastic of a performer to go through 2021 without achieving some major goals.
The Limitless One has a charisma about him that is undeniable. Combined with his genuine personality behind the scenes and mind-blowing athleticism for someone his size, he has all the ingredients WWE looks for in a top talent.
Lee started 2020 as NXT North American champion, which he relinquished after also winning the NXT Championship from Adam Cole. That showed he could make good on his promise to be a game-changer in the industry.
The same should apply to his main roster run in 2021. So far, he's managed to pin Randy Orton and earn some title opportunities but come up short.
It's still early in his time on Raw. but eventually he should be the one to take the United States title off Bobby Lashley and use it to build momentum for a world title.
Given how good he is, the only excuse for Lee not winning the WWE or Universal Championship in 2021 would be if he is scheduled to win the 2022 Royal Rumble and the world title at WrestleMania 38.
The longer Jey Uso goes without doing something worth impressing Roman Reigns, the more frustrated The Tribal Chief will get.
Eventually, the universal champion may make good on his promise to boot his cousin out of the family if this continues too far into 2021.
However, once Jimmy Uso is able to return to action, The Usos would be the perfect team to dethrone The Street Profits for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
This would be the most logical transition. The Usos are one of the most prolific tag teams in WWE history and can further cement their legacy with another title win, while The Street Profits would lose no steam having dropped the belts to such a high-profile duo.
Bringing more gold into the family is what would make The Tribal Chief proud and prove his tough love is actually working.
There are many different paths Riddle could take to winning a championship in 2021. In fact, if he doesn't capture a title this year, it will call into question just how high WWE is on him in general.
At the moment, he is teaming with Jeff Hardy as The Hardy Bros. Since WWE reportedly trademarked that name, their partnership will probably last a few more months and a tag team title run is possible.
Riddle could also be one of Bobby Lashley's biggest threats for the United States Championship. That's a title The Original Bro could work well with as it doesn't require him to have the most responsibility on the brand, but it still marks him out as a singles champion.
Technically, Riddle could even win the 24/7 Championship on a goof to play off his aloof character and give R-Truth a run for his money, but a more serious title run would suit him better.
Rhea Ripley had an atrocious 2020. For whatever reason, WWE decided to book her as the cocky rookie who bit off more than she could chew with Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36.
Having dropped the NXT Women's Championship and bawled her eyes out, she lost momentum and never regained it. Rather than rehabbing that loss with some big wins to position her at the top of the food chain again, the Australian continued to lose every important match and did little else.
This needs to change. She's too good for that sort of go-nowhere booking. Instead of having already peaked in November-December 2019, WWE must treat Ripley like the future of the company Triple H touts her to be.
In order to pull this off, she needs to beat Flair for the Raw Women's Championship, preferably at WrestleMania 37. Whenever The Queen wins the title from Asuka, the timer should start in preparation for Ripley getting her win back to right the ship.
The Nightmare can't sustain two years of nothing without the WWE Universe considering her just another failed experiment.
The SmackDown women's division hasn't been the most competitive in the past two years; it's revolved almost entirely around Bayley, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.
The latter two are now on Raw, and the blue brand feels even less stacked for female talent. But there is one standout on SmackDown: Bianca Belair.
The EST of WWE has "star" written all over her. The only way she won't succeed is if WWE doesn't let her.
Having her come up short at Survivor Series in November just to play off a gag with Lana as the sole survivor might have stung Belair's credibility, but the lack of a title will hurt her far more.
There are no better options for WrestleMania this year than Sasha Banks vs. Belair. And if WWE doesn't book the challenger to win the title from The Boss, it will leave the SmackDown women's division looking even thinner for talent.
Dominik and Rey Mysterio
Dominik Mysterio is still new to wrestling and shouldn't be pushed too far, too fast, but Rey's time in the ring is winding down so it would be nice to see these two have a run together as tag team champions.
The Mysterio family went through almost a full year's worth of torment from Seth Rollins in 2020. Hopefully, that is in the past now, but there haven't been any signs of what's next to come for any of them.
Theoretically, if The Usos were to beat The Street Profits for the tag titles, the Mysterios could be the next in line after that. In the meantime, they could work together to build up enough chemistry and momentum while Dominik gets more experience inside the squared circle.
A great story could be told of Dominik learning from his father and progressing to the point where he's the one holding down the fort while Rey takes a step back.
Even if it's a short title run, it's rare to have a father-son duo with the ability to pull this off, so WWE should capitalize while it's still an option.
Last year started well for Otis as he won over Mandy Rose and even managed to luck his way into the Money in the Bank contract. However, after grabbing the briefcase, everything went downhill.
For months, WWE failed to position him as a threat to the Universal Championship. Then, he dropped the briefcase to The Miz and hasn't bounced back.
This year is when WWE has to make a decision about why this happened. If he's not a project the company cares about anymore, all that will have been for nothing.
Is Otis someone WWE wants to invest in and push, though? Was the title of Mr. Money in the Bank simply too much for him to handle and everyone needed to take a step back before continuing with his ascension?
If not, he needs to win a midcard title. A run with the Intercontinental Championship is not above his pay grade and would do wonders to make up for his poor run in the latter half of 2020.
The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott)
Liv Morgan spent the entirety of 2020 struggling to figure out her identity.
Her character started the year as Lana's jilted secret lover, but the story was terrible, went nowhere and left her without a direction once more.
Occasionally, she'd cut promos about needing to find herself and reassess her career in one form or another, only to wind up exactly where she was before—as Ruby Riott's tag team partner.
The Riott Squad is down a member after Sarah Logan's release from WWE and seems like a shell of its former self, although Riott and Morgan are arguably better than ever before.
So, now is the time WWE has to put a stamp of approval on them. After all these years, Riott and Morgan have still to win the Women's Tag Team Championship while other makeshift partners have found success.
If Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler could do it, as well as Asuka and Charlotte Flair, there's no reason why The Riott Squad can't pull off a tag title reign.
They would make for a great team that isn't too big to not work with the NXT women's division. They could boost the black-and-gold brand's ratings if they popped up for a special title match here and there.
Members of Retribution and Ricochet
Retribution has been an unmitigated disaster since its inception. WWE never seemed to have a clear idea of what the group would be, what purpose it would serve or who would even make up its ranks.
Even after deciding on some talented Superstars to be part of the faction, WWE booked the stable to be weak and they lost most of their matches in 2020.
The best-case scenario would be for the stable to break up. The damage has been done and it's doubtful the group will bounce back from how silly it has looked.
But whether still in the group or split apart, some members deserve title reigns this year.
Mia Yim has more to offer as a part of the women's division than anything she's done as Reckoning. If she ditches that persona, there's nothing stopping her from being Raw or SmackDown women's champion in the future.
T-Bar is embarrassing, but Dominik Dijakovic has proved he is one of the best big men in wrestling today and could be a top-tier performer for years to come. WWE should give him at least a tag title or midcard championship to help push him further toward a main event spot.
Mustafa Ali should also get some gold to make up for his efforts. He's done his best with what WWE's given him and it's not his fault the Hacker gimmick went nowhere and Retribution was dead in the water before he was even involved.
At least a tag team championship reign would fit him—maybe alongside Ricochet if those two can see eye-to-eye again.
For that matter, The One and Only should be given another shot at a midcard title. His United States Championship run was cut short, and he's yet to get an opportunity to prove what he can do as a titleholder on the main roster.
How can it benefit someone like Ricochet, who has an abundance of talent, if his ceiling is perpetually being told he's not quite worthy of the gold?
More Off-The-Wall 24/7 Champions
The 24/7 Championship has endless potential for titleholders and how it can change hands, but WWE seems content with repeating the same names in the same circumstances.
R-Truth is the key to all this, so he should never be too far away from it. But as great as Drew Gulak and Akira Tozawa are, it would be nice to see some fresh winners to keep things interesting.
Whenever legends return or celebrities make guest appearances, they should be at least considered for a short reign.
Referee John Cone should not only win the title but also count the pin himself. He can even argue that pins from other officials are invalid against him as he's a senior referee.
Someone like Dabba-Kato could win the title and gleefully fight off all challengers. It's better than keeping him on the sidelines with nothing to do since Raw Underground caved in.
WWE has the most flexible title in history and does virtually nothing different with it. More people should be given temporary wins if only to change up the formula every so often.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.