Keeping up with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) roster could be frustrating at times. Fans were thrilled when champion Daniel Bryan finally hoisted the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30 after a year of uncertainty, yet this isn’t always the case with top-level talent in a world where John Cena rules and Randy Orton stays afloat.
There are some magnificent superstars who are finally getting the recognition they deserve, either with big pushes, feuds with the wrestlers at the top of the heap, or from burgeoning interest among fans. We often see major players in WWE flunk once they are brought to the main event scale, yet with the right booking and time to fine tune their skillset, it becomes apparent they have a place with the company for the long-term future -- even if they are pegged down a notch and forced to compete on the mid-card.
With that being said, there are a lot of promising youngsters and incredible athletes on the WWE roster today who are destined to excel once they find themselves competing in the main attractions. Promising doesn’t necessarily mean these competitors will be larger than life superstars, but they are expected to shine if they continue the grind.
Here are WWE’s 10 most promising talents in the company right now:
10 Sami Zayn
For those of you unfamiliar with the Canadian standout, try to look for his matches against Cesaro. They tore the roof off on NXT with a Two Out of Three Falls contest in 2013 (widely perceived as the Match of The Year) and continued their rivalry on NXT Arrival this past February with another breathtaking bout.
The innovative superstar is nobody new to hardcore fans, who witnessed Zayn’s previous moniker El Generico shine on the independent scene, where he won world titles in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and Ring of Honor (ROH), not to mention participated in the Wrestling Observer’s feud of the year in 2010 against Kevin Steen.
It’s a little odd Zayn hasn’t gotten the call up before someone like Adam Rose or Xavier Woods, and that decision is downright baffling. Either way, he should be on the main roster very soon.
9 AJ Lee
CM Punk’s bride-to-be had a great year in 2013, which was pivotal when thinking about her immediate success. She holds the record of the longest reigning Divas champion (295 days), her pipe bomb against the stars of Total Divas was legendary, and since her position as a Raw General Manager and borderline psychopath, she’s backed it up by being a phenomenal worker in the ring. She’s shown expertise in submission wrestling and is able to have a good match with any competitor who’s able to keep up with her rhythm.
Until Lee honed the division with her presence, the fandom wasn’t exactly enthralled every time there was a Divas match. The seats would be empty in arenas and the observers at home saw it as a good time for a break. It’s safe to say she really brought excitement to the class.
Having said that, will she make a quick return after her wedding date, or take more time off?
8 The Usos
The current tag team champions seem to be enjoying a good run lately, with no real reason to take the titles off of them. The Usos aren’t the best set of wrestlers we have ever seen, but the work ethic brought forth from Rikishi’s sons indicate they could have a bright future under the WWE lights. The technical wrestling by both Jimmy and Jey has been improving, and they are some of the best high-flyers in the organization today.
It’s been a while since the tag team division has been as good as it is right now, and although we can’t solely thank The Usos for making the shift, there’s no doubt they have done their fair share of work to make it happen. They need a little more time to appeal to everyone, since they have their skeptics. But, keep in mind they both have achieved great lengths at only 28 years of age.
Sky’s the limit.
The pride of Norwich, England has been on a tear lately, beating AJ Lee to become the youngest Divas champion in history one night after WrestleMania 30.
The 21-year-old wrestler stole the hearts of everyone in England after she was profiled in a documentary titled, “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family,” where onlookers learned more about her upbringing in a wrestling household and saw her team up with her mother Saraya Knight (nee Julia Hamer) while they worked under her father’s (Ricky Knight, nee Roy Bevis) wrestling promotion.
The fans couldn’t contain their excitement when Paige won the title (holding both the Divas and NXT Women’s Championships), and now, she’s as over as ever. She’s successfully defeated Emma, Alicia Fox and Tamina Snuka in impressive matches, and alongside AJ Lee, she’s the most promising talent in the Divas division. Her move set is incredible, using a Scorpion Crosslock to submit her adversaries.
You have to give the promotion credit for repackaging Rusev into the “Bulgarian Brute” he is today. When Alexander Rusev emerged on NXT, he looked more like a Taz rip-off from the New Yorker’s early days as The Tazmaniac. He had a mesmerizing figure, although there were not many talking points other than his powerlifting body.
Rusev is a little more interesting now that he has a stunning valet to accompany him to the ring (Lana), and WWE has been marketing him as an unstoppable force. He’s destroyed the likes of Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, and he’s going to look good if they keep on feeding him superstars to do the job.
He’s shown us glimpses of what he can do in the ring, yet it would be nice for him to engage in a feud against someone he can have a 10-minute match with.
5 Bad News Barrett
One of the hottest superstars on the roster today, Wade Barrett has finally brought a sense of prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship. In the golden age of wrestling, the title wasn't held by wrestlers with no direction, but more so competitors who were just inches away from being a main eventer. After Big E and Curtis Axel, it seemed like what once was the second most important singles title in WWE histor was losing its touch.
Not only is Barrett’s “Bad News” gimmick relishing under the spotlight, he’s proving to be one of the most important attractions on television as of late. Let’s not forget about his accolades, either; Barrett is a four-time Intercontinental Champion, he won NXT season one and was the original leader of the Nexus.
Now, that’s good news.
4 Cody Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes’ youngest son is already a force in WWE, even if his time has yet to come. He certainly has all the pickings to be a huge star in the near future. Cody seemed like the weak link of Legacy, alongside Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr., however, it was DiBiase who couldn’t quite hack it after the group disbanded.
The Georgia-born wrestler has already won seven titles in WWE, earning the Intercontinental Championship twice. It’s only a matter of time Rhodes disbands from his brother Goldust and tries to work his way up to the main event somehow. Right now, WWE seems a little stuck when it comes to Rhodes’ future plans. Since he’s showing signs of anger when he and his brother lose matches, or when he loses on his own, it’s obvious their team won’t last.
What does the creative team have in store for the youngster?
3 Bray Wyatt
For starters, he made us completely forget about Husky Harris. Wyatt has taken the audience by storm, invading WWE with The Wyatt Family and partaking in feuds against the top stars in the company, Daniel Bryan and John Cena. He brings an unorthodox style to the ring, bouncing from rope-to-rope and showing impressive agility for a behemoth of his size.
The most interesting facet about Wyatt is his potential, since the promotion trusts him enough to engage in warfare with their beloved top draw. If you think about it, Wyatt hasn’t been around that long on the main stage and he already has the best promo out of everyone -- not to mention the fans’ backing. A real test is going to see how he emerges out of the Cena feud. If the West Newbury-born juggernaut defeats Wyatt with ease and casts him aside, it would deem their feud pointless.
Although, the fans are siding with Wyatt and depending on their reaction, it wouldn’t hurt his appeal moving forward.
“The King of Swing” isn’t far away from the main event picture. He gained some steam with Jack Swagger in The Real Americans, and since he’s the newest Paul Heyman guy, that could only be beneficial for his career.
Cesaro worked under his real name, Claudio Castagnoli, for promotions such as ROH, PWG and Chikara, winning world titles and tag team titles alongside independent scene favorite Chris Hero. It’s about time Cesaro is receiving the push he deserves, since he’s by far the most impressive wrestler under contract when it comes to his strength (versus his size).
There’s no need to rush the plans. Cesaro has only won one singles title in WWE (United States Championship), and it would be foolish for the company to book him against someone like Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro may have to do some dirty work first, losing to top stars and that’s where a potential feud against Daniel Bryan could come in. They both worked together in ROH, and having Cesaro do the job to Bryan wouldn’t damage his reputation whatsoever. It gets him into the title picture, and it saves us from having to watch Bryan participate in a meaningless and frustrating feud against Kane. However, this potential matchup will have to wait for Bryan's return from injury.
1 The Shield
Obviously, The Shield has already convinced nearly everyone they are beyond fascinating and exceed promising talent because of their ability to wow crowds across the globe with their charisma, work ethic and backstage segments. As a group, nobody needs any further convincing they are one of the strongest stables in professional wrestling today.
On the flip side, we haven’t seen either member reach their full potential as singles competitors, and that’s where they can become promising athletes individually.
Dean Ambrose was thought to be the leader of the pack when the group first emerged, and his singles matches against The Undertaker, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan was something to see. He competed as the controversial Jon Moxley before joining WWE.
Seth Rollins enjoyed huge success under ROH, being one of their most popular champions ever when he wrestled under Tyler Black. He had fascinating duels against Bryan, Nigel McGuiness and Austin Aries, to name a few. WWE likes to call the inaugural NXT champion the “architect” of The Shield, but they haven’t quite used him properly.
Roman Reigns is by far the most popular member of The Shield right now, using his sheer power and muscle to convince fans he would be a force to be reckoned with when the band breaks up. Reigns has shown signs of marketability, and he’s even rumored to be headlining WrestleMania 31 against The Rock, even though there’s a dire need for him to improve his limited move set.
We can argue all day as to which member deserves to shine above the rest, but we can all agree these three amazing talents will be each be highly successful when their respective chances come.