Hi folks. As we head towards the latter part of the coronavirus pandemic, let’s take a look at the WWE superstars making names for themselves, despite the difficulty of performing with no crowds. Here are my personal top 3 WWE Breakout Stars of 2020 up til the end of spring. Before we do though, let’s go through the honorable mentions:
WWE Breakout Stars Of 2020 — Honorable Mentions
He started the year in a heated feud with Buddy Murphy, in which he came out the clear winner. Some may not know, but Black had not lost a singles match in WWE since losing the NXT Championship in early 2019 to Tommaso Ciampa. When he was defeated by AJ Styles on an episode of Raw in March, it marked the first time he had lost a singles match in over 13 months. He was dangerously close to making my top 3.
Since opening the year as Cruiserweight Champion, only to lose out to Jordan Devlin at Worlds Collide, his loss became a springboard to join Zelina Vega on Raw. He has since been compared positively to his uncle Hector Garza (workload), and Eddie Guerrero (charisma). Some fans will say he has more potential than Vega’s main client Andrade. We know Charly Caruso has the hots for him, as will many others.
While Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne had already broken out in NXT & NXT UK, it’s the team of The Broserweights which broke out in entertaining fashion. Since being announced as a team on 10th January, the two contrasting superstars went on to win the Dusty Tag Team Classic and the NXT Tag Team Championship. They have recently had their momentum stifled due to Pete Dunne returning to the UK to look after his family during the pandemic. Shame about Timothy Thatcher, bro.
The man formerly known as Trevor Lee in Impact Wrestling, has been exceptionally impressive. Since the turn of the year, Grimes has moved up the card to wrestle the likes of Keith Lee, Dominick Dijakovic and Damian Priest. Since losing out in a North American title match to Lee, he has since picked up wins over Dijakovic and Finn Balor! He is the biggest surprise for me personally.
While he’s currently having to sit at home and endure NXT crowning an Interim Cruiserweight Champion, the real champ has been one of the best workers in NXT & NXT UK since claiming it at Worlds Collide. His in-ring performances have been top dollar, and when possible, I’m looking forward to him becoming the undisputed champion. Can he finally get out of Finn Balor’s shadow?
While he has been used as a lackey, his run on Raw has been a far cry from a) being on 205 Live, or b) not getting any airtime at all. The powers that be can see some great potential in Murphy, otherwise he wouldn’t have joined up with Seth Rollins. And he got to become a tag team champion with The Messiah, which is something nobody expected; even more so when the stable had the Authors Of Pain.
Her rising popularity and challenger Charlotte Flair saw them contest over a NXT Championship for the first time in WrestleMania history. It seemed right that Ripley would get her moment over The Queen, but Flair took it away and now she’s having to earn back her momentum; with Io Shirai breathing down her neck. She’s only 23, so there’s plenty of time yet.
The Street Profits
Another entry getting super close to the top three, are the ever vocal, fun loving tag team who can’t help but ‘want the smoke’. Some may find them annoying, others will think it’s bit much too soon, but the main thing is they are succeeding despite WWE having so many options. They are unlikely to lose the Raw Tag team titles any day soon. Adding Bianca Belair to the mix is very welcome; although I kinda’ wish she could’ve won the NXT Women’s title at least once.
The biggest winner of the no-crowd episodes of Raw is probably Vega. She’s had a ton of TV time to sell her stable of clients Andrade, Angel Garza and Austin Theory; and doing so against the likes of Drew McIntyre, Aleister Black, Rey Mysterio, The Street Profits, Humberto Carrillo & more. Having lost her three matches this year, she’s here more for the extra airtime she’s enjoyed as a manager. I do enjoy her insults at the commentary table, and the selling at ringside.
#3. Keith Lee
Since winning the NXT North American Championship in January, ‘Limitless’ Keith Lee has defended his title more than any other. However, it’s not just his run in NXT, but what he’s done on PPV. Since pinning Seth Rollins at Survivor Series and gaining Roman Reigns’ respect in late ’19, Lee opened the year tangling with Brock Lesnar & Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble. No other current NXT star has been given such limelight.
He’s since seen off challengers in Roderick Strong, Cameron Grimes, Damian Priest, and main rival Dominick Dijakovic several times. It’s rare in modern wrestling for babyface stars to have the majority of fans behind ’em, but Lee seems to be doing it. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find his way to Raw or SmackDown in the next year or so, where the WWE Universe will enjoy basking in his glory. Do you think he has the limitless potential to usurp Booker T as the most successful African-American in WWE history?
#2. Drew McIntyre
I think his placing is fair, considering how far he has come in the last few years. At this time in 2019, McIntyre served as a heel along with Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley. When it looked like the group wasn’t getting over, they shifted McIntyre’s focus to former Shield members Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (getting wins over both) on the way to WrestleMania. While he lost to Roman Reigns on the biggest show of the year, it served as a vital step up.
Not at first though, as it took several months til he was partnered up with Shane McMahon. Getting a victory over Reigns in a handicap match with Shane, and losing to The Undertaker & Reigns at Extreme Rules, was another step up the ladder. It told fans he could finally be taken seriously at the top of the card; although the real push was yet to come.
While he was still playing the heel leading in to the Xmas period, this is when his push began, unbeknownst to many. He went on a run of wins on Raw, going over Akira Tozawa, Matt Hardy, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder (handicap), No Way Jose, Randy Orton, and a triple threat against Orton & AJ Styles. While he was being slated to go on and win the Rumble, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
This changed, however, the second McIntyre eliminated Brock Lesnar from the Rumble with the Claymore Kick. The turning point ensured he’s destined for greatness, and it happened at WrestleMania when he became the first-ever British WWE Champion. It’s been a long time since the fans have been legitimately happy for a push like this. They haven’t tired of his continued winning streak… at least, not yet.
While it may seem like his push has come out of nowhere, Otis has been in WWE since 2016. Originally going by his real name Niko Bogojevic, it didn’t take long til he found long-time tag team partner Tucker. Together, they had their first title shots against The Revival in NXT in the summer of 2016; but were unsuccessful. Later that year, his name changed to Otis Dozovic and their team christened Heavy Machinery. This gimmick has been forgotten, but they initially got over by being extremely in to eating meat and training hard to the phrase “Steaks & Weights”.
Tucker’s like his big brother/interpreter, looking out for Otis and ensuring he didn’t get in to trouble. They failed to claim tag team gold at least seventeen times (some untelevised) before being called up. Also, Otis fell short when challenging for Adam Cole’s North American title. On Raw/SD, Heavy Machinery have failed to win the gold at least four times. However, this can be attested to the fact Tucker is often considered the weak link. While he’s good on the mic, he just doesn’t have the same appeal. Otis has always stood out as the more entertaining of the two.
It’s taken a little longer than expected, but the story with Mandy Rose has propelled him to super stardom. The Money In The Bank win is confirmation of WWE finally realizing that Otis is a lovable guy who everyone wants to get behind. He’ll have detractors, but he has proven to be an entertaining guy who doesn’t need titles to get over. All he needs is a good story. To confirm, a recent Facebook post asked our users who they thought is the biggest WWE Breakout Star thus far in 2020, and Otis was the overwhelming winner.
There’s plenty more time for the WWE Breakout Stars to prove their worth. When the WWE Universe finally returns to their seats, we’ll have a better gauge of who is getting over and who isn’t. Going by social media, as Triple H recently stated, isn’t the easiest thing to do. Everyone’s got an opinion and it’s challenging to make full-fledged babyfaces or heels; but what’s more important is there’s some kind of reaction.
Had Drew McIntyre won the WWE Championship and no one cared, that would’ve been a massive flop. If Otis won Money In The Bank and no one could be bothered to say they loved or hated it? Then that again would be a failure. So the main thing to take away from this, is that fans are taking notice one way or another. Do you think anyone sitting at home will return and become a WWE Breakout Star? Check the link below to see who is absent.
The talents need to keep up their momentum and end the year on a higher note from where they are. Do you think anyone else will break in to my top 3? Or is my list of WWE Breakout Stars a complete shambles and you would’ve gone with an entirely different lineup? Please let me know in the comments and thanks for reading! I may do an AEW & Impact Wrestling version in the coming week. See you next time.