Inside Harrak’s Head: The Top “Fantasy” Picks Of 2015

Inside HH Logo Draft

{Ed. Note: The majority of this article was written last month and it was only now that I realized some of my comments echoed more popular sentiments over the last couple of weeks. I promise to you that all of this comes from my own voice and I am not repeating the words of other men in the wrestling business. – MJH}

Its been a long while since I took to HTCwrestling.com to write a true editorial. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had free time to sit down and write for fun & not for assignment. Two toddlers and two jobs can do that to a guy. But when I went searching for the more popular articles over the years, there was one clear winner & it was an article published in October of 2011:

The Birth Of The CEWA

CEWA Logo

It was my take on “fantasy booking” and while I don’t usually like to indulge in the practice, it was one of the more fun articles to write and it spurred a great debate among readers, which is what we always strive for in this crazy internet world. The rather coincidental part of this introduction is that only a few days ago I was roped into a lively debate surrounding fantasy booking scenarios and that very morning I was deciding on a topic to write about. It’s been practically 4 years exactly (Oct. 10th 2010) since the “CEWA” was unveiled to Inside Pulse & HTC (then Creatively Endeavored) so let’s look back quickly & see how that roster would stand up in today’s wrestling landscape:

#15 – Eddie Edwards
#14 – Austin Aries
#13 – Samoa Joe
#12 – Matt Morgan
#11 – Daniel Bryan
#10 – James Storm
#9 – Wade Barrett
#8 – AJ Styles
#7 – Cody Rhodes
#6 – Dolph Ziggler
#5 – Bobby Roode
#4 – Sheamus
#3 – The Miz
#2 – Randy Orton
#1 – CM Punk

Not a bad roster but not spotless either (Matt Morgan/The Miz). And remember, I filled my roster with veterans and budding stars & I think I’d still be in business today with this group of guys (TNA somehow still is). But the wrestling landscape is completely different today – only four years later! Guys have retired (even my #1!), been released, dropped down the card or off the radar and some are in the exact same position as they were 4 years ago (not good).

With all that said, I think it’s time to look at the pro-wrestling landscape has we head into 2015 and just who would be the best group of men to launch a promotion with.

 

EWA temp


1 - Sami Zayn

If you know Sami Zayn & what he brings to the table, then you’re half a step ahead of most of the world. A lot of wrestling fans are just getting to know Zayn through NXT but there are still quite a few people out there that remember this lovable red-head as El Generico from his days roaming ROH, PWG and Japan among many others. He’s won championships in almost every organization and even captured the coveted 2010 Feud of The Year title (given by the Wrestling Observer) for his Ring Of Honor battles with fellow NXT member, Kevin Steen. Zayn only removed the mask when he entered the WWE’s training system and his career has only gotten better. Zayn burst onto WWE television with an astounding match against former adversary Cesaro on Zayn’s debut show for NXT. The match would be looked at as a Match Of The Year candidate and he’s almost been in the main event scene ever since. A worldly veteran of almost 15 years at 30-years-old, Zayn could easily be the lovable babyface of the company while performing fantastically in the ring night in and night out.

 

2 - Dean Ambrose

With what we’re seeing on WWE TV right now, how can you NOT start a wrestling organization without Dean Ambrose! He’s insane in all the right ways and obviously can step up when called upon. This past summer the WWE was floundering on the babyface side once Roman Reigns went down with a freak injury. Enter the “Lunatic Fringe”, straight off the set of his new movie & into the main event scene, rubbing elbows with John Cena, Triple H & Randy Orton. His work with Seth Rollins & The Authority was so good that his feud splintered into a side feud with THE John Cena. That’s a lot to throw at a guy who is in the first major singles’ feud of his WWE career (not including his FCW feud with William Regal). Ambrose proved that he can withstand whatever’s thrown at him and thrive both on the mic & in the ring.

 

3 - Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns is everything you want in a heavyweight babyface. He’s got the look, the charisma, the athletic ability and the “It” factor. He steps into a ring and the crowd is immediately behind him without him having to say a single word. Not many people possess that presence and very few ever will. The fact that Reigns is only 29 and still willing to learn & grow adds immensely to his value. He may not have the experience of indy veterans Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose but he also doesn’t have mileage on his body that an independent wrestler attains either. Roman Reigns can carry a company into the foreseeable future and may very well be the next Hulk Hogan. Only time will tell but I have a feeling it won’t take too long.

 

4 - Randy Orton

Not a popular choice in many circles but Randy Orton is absolutely my go-to veteran. Shawn Michaels retired at the age of 45 in good health thanks to somewhat modifying his in-ring work to lengthen his career. Randy Orton has all the luxuries afforded to a main event star in today’s wrestling world (own bus, lighter schedule, time off when needed) that should lengthen his career. Especially when you consider many of his contemporaries have said that he wrestles a very similar style to HBK. Oh and he’s 34-years-old. It doesn’t seem possible since he’s grown up on WWE television and has been a major star the whole time but it’s true. He’s got the same tenure as John Cena with half of the stress of carrying the entire company and being able to have a good match with almost anyone you put him in the ring with. Sort of makes you think that maybe the transgressions from earlier in his career were just nice groundwork for his current state as a star.

 

5 - Daniel Bryan

While Daniel Bryan has moved up on my list since 2010, he’s probably not as high up as some people expected him to be. As much as I love Bryan, he’s damaged goods now. The years of independent pro-wrestling are catching up with the former American Dragon & I’m wondering if he ever returns to the ring; or if he even wants to. Sure Bryan left the WWE at the height of his popularity and as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion but that also lends the reason of what else does he need to accomplish? If you’ve watched Total Divas you’ve seen how this injury has been affecting his daily life with wife Brie Bella. Does he really want to return to wrestling where he may get hurt worse & his quality of life diminishes drastically? At 33, Bryan has more than half of his life to live and part of that includes having a family. Is he willing to risk being able to play with his kids to wrestle for the WWE for a few more years? I have to believe this is a discussion that is truly happening in the Danielson household and whatever his decision is, I hope its the best for Bryan Danielson.

 

6 - Luke Harper

Luke Harper will surprise the majority of the WWE Universe with how his singles’ run plays out. Sure he might not be off to the greatest start if WWE focuses in on a “crazy eyes” gimmick. But the former Brodie Lee was one of the first guys the WWE signed after CM Punk & Daniel Bryan that really had an underground following. Wrestling everywhere from CHIKARA to Ring Of Honor, Harper’s ability and move set are far wider than what we’ve seen so far on WWE TV. His first singles’ push on the main roster should showcase a lot of what Luke Harper has to offer and I’m looking forward to it.

7 - Seth Rollins

Part 3 of the former Shield and probably the best all-around athlete out of the three. What can be said about Seth Rollins that hasn’t been said already? Rollins’ heel turn and run was surprising to me as I see Rollins as WWE’s next coming of Jeff Hardy. His wrestling style and look scream babyface but WWE threw a microphone into his hands and the WWE Universe began to love booing him. His range is impressive and should serve him well in what should be a long career.

8 - Adrian Neville

“The Man Who Gravity Forgot” is a big nickname to live up to but not for Adrian Neville. Standing at “reportedly” 5 foot 10 inches, the Newcastle-native had to find a different way of making an impression since his size wasn’t intimidating many opponents. The former PAC dazzled on the independent scene with his high-flying moves and fluidity in the ring. Sometimes called the next Rey Mysterio, Neville has all the tools to excel on the big stage as long as his size isn’t looked down upon.

9 - Cesaro

Many might be wondering why Cesaro isn’t higher on my list. One word: promos. Inside the ring, Cesaro oozes athleticism, attitude and an old-school approach to the sport we all know and love. But all of that seems to disappear when a mic is put in his face. Sure he’s good at the interview-style 2-minute promo but give him the stage and he just can’t sell his character. Once that final piece falls into place, Cesaro is built to be a World Champion.

10 - The Usos

A little cheat here but they’re twins, dammit, they can count as one! Jimmy & Jey are the most exciting true-tag team to anchor the tag team division in YEARS. They have the look and intensity to be successful. Plus they always look like they’re having fun! Don’t discount that factor when it comes to making a connection with the fans. Obviously we haven’t seen what these two can do on their own if they choose to go that route but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the both of them work their asses off to succeed.

11 - Finn Balor

You may not recognize the man in the picture above as the former “Prince Devitt”. How about in some of these photos:

Yea Finn Balor is one damn creative guy. While Balor might not be able to utilize his body painting skills in the WWE (he debuted without any), I doubt his creative style will be stifled inside the ring. The innovative Irishman is responsible for some of the finest wrestling moves in wrestling today. His top rope double foot stomp, his backbreaker into a gut-buster and his vicious “Bloody Sunday” Impaler DDT are just some of the few maneuvers that set this man apart. Look for Balor to make a tremendous impact once the WWE instills some trust in this creative mind.

12 - Bray Wyatt

Bray Wyatt might have lost a little luster since his debut on the main roster 2 years ago, he still remains one of the most unique performers on the WWE roster. Now free of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Wyatt is now allowed to showcase how dangerous he can be without two monsters standing behind him. Many people believe that he might have peaked with his feud against John Cena and their WrestleMania match. I believe that was just Wyatt getting his feet wet. He’s a tremendous talker and remarkable athlete for his size so don’t think this man is a “one-hit wonder.”

13 - Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett’s pro-wrestling career has taken an unusual path. Billed at 6’3″ and 225 lbs, Bennett was raised on the east coast & was named as one of the top 75 wrestling bodies in the world by Muscle Men magazine. And yet he’s never worked for the WWE. Never in OVW, FCW or now NXT. Bennett has been the rare WWE-prototype star that’s made his home on the independent circuit. Sure he had a couple WWE tryouts but honestly I’d say he’s been doing pretty damn good since he’s married Maria Kanellis and been riding the upper-midcard with Adam Cole & (sometimes) Matt Hardy in Ring of Honor. This 29-year-old is FAR from hitting his prime & can only get better from here.

14 - Wade Barrett

Wade “Bad News” Barrett has had one hell of a roller coaster career since his main roster call up in 2010. NXT “rookie”, leader of Nexus, the Corre, the Barrett Barrage and now “Bad News”, Barrett’s seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows the WWE can provide. But yet the Englishman somehow always stays a strong hand to win either the United States title or Intercontinental championship. He’s one special match or character run away from stepping into the main event spotlight and becoming a World Championship contender.

15 - Hideo Itami

Here’s where the hard choice really comes in. Who is the last guy to make the cut? Who are you sure deserves a spot in a budding new organization? Who will bring fans to your shows and eyes to your PPVs? And who will be able to entertain those fans for the long haul? Why not choose the man who’s already done it for years? Even if you’ve never seen Hideo Itami wrestle, you’ve seen his fingerprints all over the sport. The “YES Lock” and running knee of Daniel Bryan to the GTS made famous by CM Punk were all first used by the man formerly known as KENTA. After seeing his signing to NXT and subsequent debut, the WWE knows what a special talent they have with Itami. Now it’s up to him to connect with a WWE television audience the way he was able to in arenas across the world.

 

THAT’S IT! That’s my roster! You may love it or you may hate it but this is the group of guys I’m betting on. Who do you have on YOUR roster? I’m immediately challenging Justin Czerwonka and CB (as well as every reader!) to respond to this post with their own rosters. I look forward to all of you dismantling my EWA and presenting your own 15!

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