It is something that is talked about almost constantly by pro wrestling fans: The need for new talent at the top of the card. And it is something that the WWE almost always seems to screw up one way or another. There have been times where it looks like the next breakout star is right there for the WWE and they find a way to make a total mess out of it. You can go back to Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett a few years ago. And of course, Dolph Ziggler this year.
This is the one thing I brought up when unifying the WWE and World Title came into the picture. The WWE absolutely cannot go into a state where the WWE Title picture has the same revolving door of 4 or 5 guys. If the WWE goes through all of 2014 with the likes of Randy Orton, John Cena, Batista, CM Punk and Big Show in the WWE Title picture, then 2014 will be an automatic fail. The World Title was always considered the Title given to new talent in the main event scene. Guys the WWE wasn’t ready to give the WWE Title to yet. Eliminating that Title means the WWE can’t be afraid to push new talents to the WWE Title scene.
When you look at the WWE’s current roster, they aren’t lacking in potential new talents that can be pushed to the main event scene. If the WWE wants to have a successful 2014, a handful of these guys need to at least get a sniff of the WWE Title scene. I’d like to see one or two of these guys win the Title. But just having a WWE Title match on PPV would be successful for me. Considering the lack of new guys in those types of matches the last few years, I’d be happy with just a match.
The Top 3
-These are the guys who, if I were a betting man, would place money on winning their first WWE Title in 2014.
1. Bray Wyatt
-If you ask me, the Wyatt Family hasn’t had as big of an impact as I thought they would after their initial debut. Once their program with Kane was over, they did pretty much nothing for two months until their program with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Now there’s talk that they may end up in a program with John Cena heading into Wrestlemania. It doesn’t matter if it is the main event or not. Just being in a program with John Cena, the WWE’s top dog, heading into Wrestlemania is big time for the Wyatt Family. It means that the WWE brass still think highly of them and that they can succeed in the WWE.
That alone puts them at the top of the list for me. With The Shield more than likely breaking up in the near future, the Wyatt Family would become THE group of the WWE (sorry 3MB fans). They would become the defacto #2 heels in the WWE behind Randy Orton. And if Orton is dropping the Title to someone at Wrestlemania, I could see The Wyatt Family stepping up in the early summer months to a main event program. I think Erik Rowan and Luke Harper will become Tag Team Champions, and Bray gets a push to the WWE Title. The mystique of The Wyatt Family alone will keep the audience interested. Bray is a good enough worker in the ring that I would have no problem with him being WWE Champion.
2. Roman Reigns
-Here’s a guy that has been getting a lot of hype in recent weeks. If you read my stuff on a regular basis, you know that I am a big supporter of Roman Reigns. I think that he has improved tremendously since debuting with The Shield. Everyone knew about Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Reigns was the unknown. Working with Ambrose and Rollins definitely helped Reigns out. As time went on, he grew more and more comfortable in the ring as the enforcer of The Shield.
The WWE has been throwing hints out for weeks that a Shield breakup is coming. From Reigns spearing Ambrose at TLC, to Rollins and Reigns leaving Ambrose in a match on RAW against CM Punk, and even Ambrose interrupting Reigns during the Slammy Awards. Reigns is going to get the push out of this. When I did my Wrestlemania 30 card, I had Reigns winning the Rumble and facing Orton for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania. I’m sure that is a bit of a stretch. Although I still maintain it could work if the WWE gave him a Batista like push heading into the show. But I think Reigns will dominate the Rumble, only to be dumped in a sneaky fashion by Dean Ambrose. That’ll lead to a Shield three way match at Wrestlemania with Reigns winning there. Now if the WWE decides not to go with the Wyatt Family on top, I could see Reigns getting that push instead. And maybe by SummerSlam he could be a threat for the WWE Title. I think Reigns will get over with the crowd. They already pop for his Spear whenever he hits it. If it was me, I would still go with my plan of Reigns winning the Rumble. Realistically, I could see Reigns in the WWE Title match at SummerSlam just as much as I could see Bray Wyatt in it.
3. Big E Langston
-Here’s another guy who the WWE pretty obviously has big plans for. Langston won the WWE Title from Curtis Axel on the RAW before Survivor Series and has looked dominant ever since. Not only that, but the WWE has paired him in teams with the likes of CM Punk and John Cena. They just won’t do that with anyone. That shows the WWE has confidence in said wrestler and want them to get over. And what better way for someone to get over then to pair them with two of your most over stars in the company?
If you watch NXT then you know what Big E can do if given the opportunity. He is pretty funny to follow on Twitter. I still think he could improve a little in the ring. There’s work to be done there. The WWE hasn’t really given him enough promo time to show the WWE audience. But I expect him to have a long run with the Intercontinental Title. I still think the WWE would be better off unifying the two mid-card Titles as well. That would put Big E in a good match at Wrestlemania. I don’t know if Big E could be in a WWE Title Match at SummerSlam. I think if Roman Reigns turns face, he passes Big E in terms of who gets the next push. But Big E should definitely be in the main event spot come the fall of 2014. The guy is over with the crowd and I think he can maintain that, unless the WWE screws that up.
The “If Things Break Right For Them” Group
-This is the group of guys that have the talent to get to the top, but certain things would have to break right for them in order to win their first WWE championship in 2014.
4. Dean Ambrose
-I wouldn’t go as far as calling Ambrose a “total package” when it comes to what you want in a pro wrestler, but he is pretty darn close. He is one of the better workers the WWE has. His mannerisms in the ring add even more to his game. And he is a great promo. He knows how to cut a good heel promo. I think he will be a mainstay on the WWE roster for a pretty long time.
The problem is that Roman Reigns will get the big push out of The Shield breakup. So that means the WWE will have to find the right way to keep Ambrose relevant to the viewing audience without him getting lost in the shuffle. I think Ambrose is a cut above the rest of the mid-card, so I don’t think that will be a problem for him. With Ambrose, it all comes down to what the WWE sees in him as far as potential. If the WWE thinks Ambrose can be a credible heel for them down the line, then he could get a big push right away because the WWE is lacking top heels. If they just see him as a good-hand to have around, then he will be stuck in mid-card purgatory for a long time. To me Ambrose reminds me of a Chris Benoit like wrestler with more charisma and a better promo ability. I think Ambrose will eventually break through as a singles star. If the WWE didn’t believe in him, they wouldn’t have put him in The Shield.
5. Cody Rhodes
-I usually try to do this list at the end of every year since I started writing. And I’m pretty sure Cody Rhodes is the only guy who’s been on my list all three times I wrote them. Every year there seems to be a point where it looks like Cody Rhodes is going to be a future main event player in the WWE. And every year it just doesn’t happen. In 2011 it looked like his mask gimmick was going to catch on but the WWE dropped that. Then in 2012 he had to drop the IC Title to Big Show so he could have his Wrestlemania moment. He hasn’t had a bad 2013. He was over huge at Money in the Bank but the WWE didn’t capitalize on it. Now he’s helping to rejuvenate the tag team division.
The one problem with that, however, is that Goldust has over-shadowed Cody in the team. That means that when the team finally breaks up, the WWE will have to do a good job of solidifying Goldust as the heel. That is at least the road I would take. They could always have Cody turn and have him say Goldust over-shadowed him. But I see Cody as a face going forward after the break-up. The crowd has shown before that if pushed the right way, they will get behind Cody. If he gets a lot of momentum coming out of his Wrestlemania match with his brother, then the WWE needs to ride that the right way. Cody would be the perfect candidate for the World Title if it was still around. But for some reason, the McMahon family likes to put the Rhodes Family down. So I don’t think Cody gets to the WWE Title scene this year.
6. Antonio Cesaro
-Antonio Cesaro might be the most under appreciated worker in the WWE. The guy goes out there and busts his ass every single night. He goes to NXT weekly and puts on consistently good matches when he is there. He had a tremendous match with Sami Zayn and another good one with William Regal this past week. You would think that one of these days the WWE will appreciate the constant hard work that Cesaro puts in on a regular basis.
It amazes me that Cesaro never got a push because he has the look Vince likes. He’s a bigger guy and obviously is a workhorse in the gym. But Vince apparently found him boring if you believe reports from a few months back. If given time to get over, I think Cesaro could show that he is not boring in the very least. The Cesaro Swing is getting over with the audience. If it was up to me, I would try to keep Cesaro heel. You already have Reigns and Big E lined up for potential pushes as a face. Cesaro should stay a heel and get pushed up the card as one. Cesaro’s work in the ring warrants a push alone. Hopefully with the work put in this year he finally gets one. But just like Cody, this is a longshot.
7. Seth Rollins
-I contemplated putting Seth Rollins in my next group of guys, but I added him to this list because he is a step above the guys on the next list in terms of in ring work. Rollins was the first NXT Champion for a reason. He may be a better in ring worker than Dean Ambrose. He had a great match with John Cena this week on Smackdown. As my colleague Matt Harrak always says, and I agree with him, Seth Rollins is the WWE’s current version of Jeff Hardy. He can work in the ring and his offense will get him over like Hardy did. He has the long hair and a similar move set. And I could see the young girls in the audience getting behind Rollins like they did Hardy.
Now, if Rollins gets that hot after The Shield break up then maybe that happens. Maybe he’s in the WWE Title hunt at the end of the year. But I just see Rollins as the #3 guy in terms of pecking order when it comes to The Shield. I don’t think he gets a big push before Reigns or Ambrose. But with that said, I could easily see Rollins being someone who is in TV matches against John Cena, CM Punk or Randy Orton and not be out of place and getting over because of his work.
The Longest Of Longshots
8. Damien Sandow
-Almost every wrestling fan thought Sandow’s time was coming when he won Money in the Bank. Looks like we were all wrong. Sandow lost to a one armed John Cena and never regained any momentum. He appears to be stuck in mid-card purgatory for life.
9. Wade Barrett
-When Barrett debuted in Nexus, we all thought he was a future Champion in the making. Now he’s lucky to get on TV. If you haven’t yet, listen to Chris Jericho’s most recent podcast with Edge. Both men talk about going to bat for Barrett to get a push. Not only that, they tried to get Cena to change the finish of the big 7-on-7 tag match at SummerSlam but Cena squashed that. Basically, everyone saw potential in Barrett except Cena and the WWE brass. Now if you are waiting for Barrett to become WWE Champion, I’ve got some bad news.
10. Brodus Clay
-Brodus Clay had promo videos hyping up as a monster heel for his re-debut. Then he ended up being from Planet Funk and it all went downhill. Maybe he could finally get a big push as a dominant force, but I find it unlikely.
So what do you think viewing audience? Will we have a first time WWE Champion in 2014? And if we do, who will it be?
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka