Hello again! And welcome to my last piece of written work in the terribly received year of 2020. Going out with a bang, we are looking at 10 WWE Superstars most likely to connect, succeed and thrive in what is hopefully a healthier 2021.
Looking at the rosters, I found it really difficult to pick from the main rosters, mostly because it’s hard to predict and many of ’em have already found their place. Some are also too obvious, like current champions Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns. So to keep this light, I narrowed it down to 3 from Raw & SmackDown, and 7 from the NXT brands. As always, this is subjective and I have at least 5 other WWE Superstars I could talk about, but I’ll leave any honorable mentions up to you guys in the comments section.
Looking for the best of 2020? Check out the following:
Do you know what we were robbed of in 2020? A solid payoff between Edge & Randy Orton. After losing what was billed as the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” (we know it wasn’t and Edge does too), the WWE Hall of Famer had to endure being sidelined for months with a torn triceps. This was back in June and his latest recovery time is 8 months, so could he return at the upcoming Royal Rumble?
Sure, it wouldn’t be as surprising as this year, but I am sure the WWE Universe will be elated to see him. After all, his program with Randy Orton was one of the hottest things going on, and to reignite that in 2021 and go beyond is something we all want to see. The time is ticking away on his career and he wants to make the most of it. What would make it even better though, is if we reach a point in the pandemic where fans can return and give him the support he deserves.
I chose him specifically because there remains so much untapped potential. It’s a blessing that WWE has separated him from Andrade, because as good as he is in the ring… he’s a complete charisma vacuum. Garza has what it takes to be a top WWE superstar in a few years and 2021 needs to be one that makes him. At the moment, the way he is being used gives me major “Latino Heat” vibes, like when Eddie Guerrero and Chyna were together.
All Garza needs now is his “Mamacita” and the gimmick will be complete. The difference though, is that Eddie had plenty of experience at the top level when he joined the WWF, while Garza is still finding his way. Speaking good English is his only hurdle, but when he gets that down the sky is the limit, and he will make uncle Héctor Garza and Eddie proud. I don’t want him to be a cheap knockoff of Eddie though, I’d like to see him tweak things and make it his own. Be a heartbreak kid more than Shawn Michaels was? The girls would love to hate that.
God, I love me some Bianca Belair. Her bouncy swagger and super cocky demeanor is infectious, and I am so glad that WWE has finally noticed she has what it takes. What else do you need from a WWE Superstar? She’s athletic, charismatic, can talk, has more confidence than some find in a lifetime, and has a unique look.
The EST of WWE is the greatest, the sweetest, the best, and the goddamnedest future of any women’s division. Kudos to the Four Horsewomen and Asuka, they have done a stellar job of carrying things for a few years, but it’s time for someone new. I just know that if Bianca went anywhere else, she would be a champion in no time.
Wait what? Hasn’t he already had his time in NXT? Well, not quite. Johnny Gargano’s legendary feud with Tommaso Ciampa may be a thing of the past, but he has since reinvented himself. With the help of Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano has gone from a firm fan favourite to one of the most despised guys in all of WWE.
Segments shot from their home have been some of the most entertaining in 2020, and with a new stable in “The Way” adding Indi “Wrestling” Hartwell and Austin Theory to the mix, it serves as something fresh for NXT. I’m kinda blown away that this is the same guy fans were going crazy for, chanting “Johnny Wrestling!” at the top of their lungs only two years ago. Meanwhile, his former rival Tomasso Ciampa appears to be struggling as a face.
“TICK TOCK!” – There is something special about Karrion Kross, and if you’re not getting it just yet, then allow 2021 to open your eyes to what he can do. Because while 2020 crowned him as NXT Champion for a minute, it was only a preview of his malice. With Scarlett by his side, he will get plenty of attention for the right reasons, and yeah… he may not deliver 6-star classics, but what he brings is a character so deliciously evil and merciless that you will love the disdain.
He will destroy your favourite superstars and you will have no choice but to fall and pray. For Karrion Kross is destined to become NXT Champion again really soon, and when a full attendance of fans get the luxury of seeing their entrance in person… they will be so awestruck that the memory will tick over in their minds forever.
I have followed this kid since his Ring of Honor days, and it’s no surprise that he & Finn Balor rocked the house in one of the best WWE matches in 2020. Anyone who knows Kyle is aware he has what it takes to break away from the Undisputed Era and do it on his own, and they have sown the seeds for that to happen. I don’t think Finn Balor will be able to stop him, because O’Reilly is younger and hungrier… but watch out for Adam Cole, because there is a lot of history there.
Back in their early ROH career, they were a tag team together. But Cole turned on him and they feuded over the World Championship. What has been happening in the past few months smells of a repeat of that, so either Undisputed Era will disband entirely, or Kyle will get kicked out because of Cole’s jealousy. 2021 will be the making of O’Reilly, and not because of Kross, Balor, or anyone else, but because of the man he has followed in the footsteps of since they came to WWE together. It’s the Randy Orton in Evolution “thumbs down” moment all over again.
I’m going out on a limb here because it’s no secret how I feel about Timothy Thatcher. He’s such a pure wrestler in terms of mat working, submissions, selling, his expressions and storytelling, I cannot see a weakness in his game other than he has an ugly mug of a face. But that’s what we want from a wrestler, right? There are far too many pretty boys getting ahead, but it shouldn’t be that way. He has had a mixed 2020, but the important thing is he has enjoyed regular airtime.
Getting in to a program with Ciampa has made him look weak, but I think it’s a matter of testing how he deals with it. There’s going to come a time in 2021 when he has to start winning, but NXT is an incredibly competitive environment. He’s another heel in the crowd, but I will sit here hoping he finds a way because the way he works is so unlike what others are doing, and I love it when anyone dares to be unique by exceeding with the basics. A North American title win would be a great step forward.
This is the first time I am going to mention Raquel Gonzalez since way back when I wrote AEW vs. NXT Wednesday Night War reviews every week. She was incredibly green back then. Hulk green you could say… but something changed this year. She has found another level and her presentation is better too. She went from being a typical enforcer powerhouse to being someone who could stand up to Rhea Ripley on her own. And I admire that from Gonzalez, because if there is one thing wrestling is missing out on, it’s big women who can work as a WWE Superstar.
There are too many who are slow, dangerous, and outright dull. I think the last great big girl in wrestling was Awesome Kong, and that was years ago in the Knockouts Division; I don’t think WWE has had anyone like that since Chyna. Piper Niven is another they could use, but I think Gonzalez has jumped ahead of her. The only thing she needs is the time to grow as a character, which I’m sure 2021 will provide.
Some of the recent vignettes with Boa have been disturbing. And I’ve seen a lot of disturbing crap over the years, but never have I seen anything like what they are doing with Xia Li. Isn’t NXT a PG show? How are they getting away with her brutalizing Boa to a bloody pulp? It’s like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.
But you know… I like it. Maybe too much. For so long we have seen everything be so nice and clean, that it makes a change to see something dark. And I have no idea where it’s going, but I was a big fan of Xia Li’s before this, so whatever she transforms in to has to be something wicked? 2021 must be her year, otherwise this build and Boa torturing is all for nothing. Can she become the first Chinese WWE superstar to win a championship?
As a UK fan, a big part of me hates the fact we have to endure an Austrian as the UK Champion for so long, but another part of me would love it if the Russian Ilja Dragunov took it from him. Honestly, I think 2020 was his, but the coronavirus pandemic made sure it wouldn’t happen. He’s just… so good guys. Seriously, don’t be reluctant, I know NXT UK might not be your thing, but give his match with Walter a watch.
No exaggeration… it was THE best match in WWE all year. And yeah, I might be biased, but even if I wasn’t I’d be hard pressed to say otherwise. Dragunov was the #1 contender to Walter’s UK Championship and they were scheduled to meet at the next PPV. But the pandemic cancelled wrestling events indefinitely in the UK. When it was finally lifted, Dragunov got his chance to challenge for the UK title. It’s hard to describe what makes him an outstanding WWE Superstar, but maybe one day I will find the words. And with that said, have a Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for supporting me and the site throughout 2020.