Hi everyone! A few wrestlers have caught my eye as of late, and while some cannot be considered “new” to the business .. they’re new to mainstream television audiences. It’s illogical to appreciate them to the extent we hail them as future legends .. but it’s important to remember they need time to put in the ring work, and evolve their characters so we can be emotionally invested.
#1: Aleister Black – NXT
At the age of 31, the man formerly known as Tommy End has made a huge statement since debuting as Aleister Black. Despite lacking in stature, he makes up for it with a quiet intensity I ain’t seen for a long time. He finishes opponents as quickly as possible, which is a clear sign he will be NXT Champion down the road. Not only has he won championships around the world, he is known for having a martial arts style influenced by Kickboxing and Pencak Silat which he incorporates in to his move set. Also he’s from the Netherlands .. if that’s important to you at all. A dark character with so much to offer in the ring.
#2-3: Garza Jr. & Laredo Kid – Impact
Garza Jr. is the nephew of the late Héctor Garza. He started his career at fourteen years old in 2008 as El Hijo Del Ninja, and spent the past ten years working for AAA and other Mexican indy promotions before signing with Impact. Laredo Kid’s identity is unknown, but records show he worked in AAA as early as 2005, and worked as a jobber in WWE during 2015. As a team, they represent Lucha Libre as faces. While they have yet to win the Impact Tag Team titles, they’d make the perfect opponents for current champions LAX if they were to have a long-time rivalry.
#4-5: Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic) – NXT
(Otis left, Tucker right) I’m really digging these guys. On one hand you have Tucker who can tell a story, and on the other you have Otis who is just .. beef. I love how they play to the fact they are big dudes who need to eat a lot; whether it’s food or opponents. It’s like .. Ryback in tag team form, except it’s entertaining and doesn’t feel forced. I can see Otis flourishing on the main roster, while Tucker will only get there stood next to his partner. Don’t get me wrong, Tucker has improved a lot .. but Otis is the future.
#6: KM – Impact
He was introduced earlier this year as the cousin of Sienna. While he’s nothing special in the ring, I’ve found his recent vignettes amusing. He’s a 1st class jock bully; a guy who intimidates regular people in to embarrassing themselves. While some will find him underdeveloped, he’s got time to improve before Impact decides if he’s worthy of a push.
#7: Kimber Lee – NXT
She hasn’t had much success in NXT despite having the credentials to go far. For those familiar with Allie (working for Impact) AKA Cherry Bomb (indy name), Lee won many tag team titles with her. She’s won various singles titles, so at the age of 26 she’s accomplished a lot. What she needs most is a character to portray; only then will we see her true potential.
#8: Kongo Kong – Impact
Eww .. yes, I included Kongo Kong. I’ve read some fan comments saying they need to switch channel when this monstrosity shows up as he and valet Laurel Van Ness are too terrible to watch. I have to admit .. the moobs .. the wedding dress .. everything about it smells bad. So why did I include Kong? Because I like his wrestling. He’s way better than I expected him to be on first glance.
Kong debuted in GFW a couple of years ago at the age of 35. He’s a late bloomer, so much like DDP back in WCW .. he has to make an impression before it’s too late. Impact’s lacked big, unorthodox men, and Kong fits the description.
He needs a tweak though .. perhaps something covering his chest? Or he simply needs to put in the work and change our perception? An old school look, an old school name, a valet with maniacal tendencies .. it’s going to take time but it could work. I’m staying positive, but I won’t argue if you believe he will always be nothing.
#9-11: LAX (Ortiz, Santana & Diamante) – Impact
Always been a fan of LAX’s chemistry. With Konnan and Homicide leading the next generation, I have to say how impressive they are. They show urgency, athleticism, teamwork, ruthlessness, and they ain’t afraid to talk in backstage vignettes. The way the company put the titles on them right away speaks volumes on how they rate the new LAX.
Diamante adds another dynamic; allowing Knockouts to team with other stables so she can get involved. Homicide and Konnan at ringside is an essential component though, at least for the time being. Ortiz & Santana need to show everyone they can play the game without their mentors lurking at ringside, and that can only happen when the fans know who they are.
#12: Lacey Evans – NXT
I’ll admit to not seeing much of Lacey .. but I do like what I’ve seen. WWE is about promoting strong women for their Raw and Smackdown divisions, so NXT has become super competitive. Ember Moon is injured, so there’s a spot open for anyone to step up and become the next NXT Women’s Champion when Asuka moves on. Lacey is a former U.S Marine, and I’m predicting good times ahead.
#13: Punishment Martinez – ROH
Another late bloomer. I first saw Martinez during the ROH 15th Anniversary show .. and he left me nodding my head in approval. He’s strange though .. like, he’s Mexican, but he looks like a monster with a style similar to Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s 6’7″ .. yet can fly like a luchador. His entrance is pretty epic too .. so I wondered how I’d never heard of him before 2017.
He trained in the ROH dojo in 2014, and debuted in 2015. Since then he’s worked for ROH, NJPW and other Indy promotions; picking up a few minor titles along the way. At the age of 35, he’s another who needs to achieve soon or he’ll never reach the peak. I’m open to it, but I do admit I’ve only seen him wrestle a couple of times so I’m unsure of his match consistency.
#14: Ruby Riot – NXT
Formerly known as Heidi Lovelace, Ruby is a young, well-traveled, experienced, and accomplished wrestler from the indy scene. A 7-year pro at the age of 26, Ruby has her eyes set on the NXT Women’s Championship. Fierce competition from Nikki Cross, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ember Moon, and many others, means she has to turn it up a notch to stand above the rest.
She’s probably the second best wrestler (Kimber Lee is close too) in the NXT Women’s division behind Asuka, but thus far she’s had no character development. I have zero complaints over her ring work, but we need to find out who Ruby Riot really is. When we know .. her performances will illicit the desired reactions.
#15: Wilcox – Impact
(Wilcox left, Mayweather right) Formerly known as Jax Dane in the NWA and ROH, he joined Impact under the new name Wilcox. Crimson* dropped his ring name, instead choosing to go by his real surname Mayweather. Together, they make the tag team V.O.W (Veterans Of War), two men who served in the US military.
*Crimson had a run with TNA Wrestling a few years ago where he went undefeated for almost a year. He failed to get over with the audience, his streak was broken, and later the company released him from contract.
Honestly, I think it works great for Mayweather as it gives his character a much needed reset while Wilcox stands at his side looking the part. They will inevitably play faces, so as long as they work well together I can’t see any reason they wouldn’t win the tag titles. Wilcox is 36 and has wrestled since 2012, so he knows it’s time to make memories. And who knows .. he might be what Mayweather needs to get over after ten years in the business.
And that’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed it. I considered other names but didn’t want to make the list too long. How many of these men and women have you seen? If the answer is all .. did I miss anyone obvious? If the answer is none .. you need to watch more wrestling! I like looking forward .. so watching shows other than Raw or Smackdown gives good insight in to the future. Thanks for your time, I’ll be back soon with something completely different.