Thursday, July 18, 2024
EditorialTop 20 Wrestlers & Teams With Potential In 2017.

Top 20 Wrestlers & Teams With Potential In 2017.

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Hi everyone. First piece of the new year .. so let’s start with looking to the future! Here’s a personal list of twenty wrestlers and teams who I believe have the potential to progress and succeed in 2017. I have not limited myself to WWE stars, so you’ll find a few upcoming stars from other promotions as well.

AJ Styles

“The Face That Runs The Place” is a line beginning to cement itself in WWE. He started 2016 with a bang as an entrant in the Royal Rumble, and almost a year later we await another epic encounter between AJ Styles and John Cena. This time the title is on the line, and Styles has the opportunity to beat his rival for a fourth time.

Last year was “testing the waters” for his WWE career. Following the brand extension, Smackdown turned to him to lead the blue brand, and prove he is the top draw in the company. With AJ as champion Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings for the first time in history, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The feud between them is likely to escalate over the coming months; making Smackdown the show to watch. Can he go to Wrestlemania as champion and retain in the main event? I wouldn’t put it past The Phenomenal One.

American Alpha

They have come so far so soon. The way they won the titles against The Wyatts memorable too. WWE has taken notice of their chemistry and wrestling ability, so this year should be one of getting to know them better. Come the end of December, as long as they avoid injury .. American Alpha will have an identity and more title victories.

Asuka

She’s already become the longest reigning NXT Women’s Champion this year, so what’s next for The Empress of Tomorrow? She moves on. The only reason she hasn’t is because there’s no one to replace her. There’s a few options, but I reckon she’s going to be champion going in to Wrestlemania weekend. I can’t imagine her losing it before the summer.

The question is which show will she go to? If she goes to Smackdown, she will face the likes of Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Natalya, and Mickie James, which doesn’t so competitive .. not when Raw has Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Bayley. Whichever show she goes too it’s going to be a major selling point for their women’s division.

Authors of Pain (Rezar & Akam)

You’re going to hate me for this, I am a fan of The Authors Of Pain. Yep, I said it. I enjoy their no-nonsense attitude and Paul Ellering’s direction. I enjoy their entrance, and the way they go about their business. It’s not cartoony .. they don’t pander to the audience. They do not care what you think, and they certainly don’t want to share their likes and dislikes.

They will improve in the ring .. if that’s what you’re thinking. They can’t be called up to the main roster for a while as they have a lot to do, but it’s fine as they are young with many years ahead. There’s no telling how long they will go undefeated, and DIY can’t avoid them forever. They are the uncrowned NXT Tag Team Champions, whether we like it or not.

Baron Corbin

I’ve been as high as a kite on Corbin since he debuted the Lone Wolf gimmick back in NXT. He’s had some stinkers here and there, but most of the time he puts on decent matches. There’s always a sense of danger, he’s adamant in his quest for success, and the scary thing is he’s getting better every week.

I love his attitude as well, when he says things like he was never a wrestling fan and doesn’t care about being a “wrestler”. He’s capable of getting crowds to chant “Corbin Sucks” in an age where everyone wants to cheer the bad guy to seem ‘cool’. That’s great work. He doesn’t pander, and he doesn’t care about you. He cares about fighting, making money, and winning championships. Screw the rest right?

Bobby Roode

It feels like a foregone conclusion that Roode will meet Shinsuke Nakamura and win the NXT title this year. It might not happen right away, but it has to at some point. And you know .. it’s going to be glorious!

Braun Strowman

Part of the reason Strowman has been booked the way he has is because he’s on Raw. What I would like to do though, is put any booking questions to one side and focus on his potential. I remember when he showed up on Raw and tried wrestling a singles match in the main event (might have that wrong, been a few months) .. and it was terrible. I can admit he was struggling. But since then I’ve seen him work hard to be more fluid with his style and it’s slowly paying off.

When you think of Strowman, you’re always going to see him as a giant monster. That’s his thing, he can’t help that he appears that way. What we should be remembering is that Strowman is still inexperienced. He’s like Big Show was back when he was The Giant in WCW, having to learn on the road with little training.

When you consider the fact, you have to appreciate how much WWE trusts him to work the way he does. 2017 is very important in shaping his future and character for the years ahead. He doesn’t need championships .. all he needs is to keep improving his ring craft, and winning as many matches as possible. Everything else will fall into place.

Cody

The digs at WWE have been so blatant lately. Cody left WWE frustrated as creative continued to give him nothing to work with. He’s always felt like he had the potential to be a main event star in WWE, but several gimmick changes kept him from being taken seriously. But now he’s gone from WWE, he’s started forming a “kingdom” and has adopted the nickname “The American Nightmare”.

Having already made appearances and worked matches in TNA, Ring Of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Cody is looking to unite the wrestling business by being a cross-promotional star his father would be proud of. And even if WWE won’t allow him to use the Rhodes name .. it’s not going to stop everyone calling him a Rhodes.

Eli Drake

Here’s another man who TNA picked up (after being dropped by WWE) and gave a platform to develop and achieve. He may be super loud, super arrogant, and a super dummy (Yeah!), but there’s no denying his potential. He needs to be around the main event scene, he needs to be challenging for the world title or all the work he and the company have done will’ve been for nothing.

Ember Moon

She’s still fairly new to the WWE scene, but the fact she has a dedicated gimmick, great entrance, and a killer finisher, means she will be NXT Women’s Champion eventually. She’s no Asuka, but perhaps in six months she will have proven her worth. The potential is there, but it’s up to her and NXT to bring that out of her preferably sooner rather than later.

Finn Balor

Last year was supposed to be the crowning of The Demon King but it didn’t work out that way. Raw would’ve been easier to watch had we not lost the creativity and passion he brings. To come back and not win the Universal title back would be a disservice to the fans, so expect a memorable return. 2017 is the year to prove he belongs in the main event.

Jack Gallagher

I’m English .. Jack is English. Only difference is he plays the stereotypical English gentleman and makes it work .. whereas I try and it comes across as insulting. Did you know he’s also a MMA fighter? He won his two matches by submission.

That’s not what we love about Gallagher though (really hard not pronouncing that second “g” by the way), what we love is his expressions. At 26-years-old, he has a character so refined you’d think he’d been playing the part for years. Vince McMahon loves talent like Gallagher, it’s so hard to find wrestlers who can work a match and play a strong character seamlessly.

He’s money. And I don’t want to be biased here, even if I wasn’t English I would say he’s money. The key for him is finding ways to keep it fresh so we can enjoy the gimmick for years to come. I’m sure they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it, but the good thing is he should be keeping us amused for a long time.

Kenny Omega

Last year was a breakthrough for Kenny as he moved up through the ranks and challenged Okada for the IWGP title yesterday at Wrestle Kingdom XI. He may have lost, but it’s the start of something special for the leader of The Elite and Bullet Club. He’s making a name for himself as one of the greatest gaijin wrestlers to work extensively in Japan; and doing it without the help of big American promotions. He could become IWGP Champion this year, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Neville

The “King Of The Cruiserweights” is the uncrowned Cruiserweight champion. He’s going to be the top heel on 205 live for the rest of the year, and I have to say it’s his best work in WWE thus far. Finally .. WWE found a way to use him properly.

Nikki Cross

Not many will know who she is, but by the end of 2017 they will. I think if anyone on the NXT roster could beat Asuka for the women’s title it would be Nikki Cross with the help of Sanity. Have you noticed the trend? She’s Scottish, so again that’s another UK resident.

Noam Dar

From a Scottish lass to a Scottish arse .. Noam Dar is the slimy, yet satisfying heel in the cruiserweight division. Again he’s a character, one that he’s worked on for several years on the indy scene. The thing about Dar is .. he’s a young veteran at 23-years-old. He’s been wrestling in indy promotions since he was 15 .. how awesome is that! He’s going to be around for a very long time, but first he needs to get some “Alicia FOOOOOOOOX”.Samoa Joe

It’s do or die time for Joe’s WWE career. After a memorable and lengthy program with NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Joe is in desperate need to move on and challenge the main roster talent. Will he debut at the Royal Rumble? And if he does, which brand will he go too? Perhaps we’ll see him mix it up with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar on Raw? Or maybe we’ll see another AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe match? Either way, the time to pull the trigger is now.

Tetsuya Naito

Who? Well, if you don’t know who Naito is I won’t be disappointed. He wrestles exclusively for New Japan Pro Wrestling and is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion and former Heavyweight Champion. Why is he here though? Because I watched Wrestle Kingdom XI and loved his encounter with NJPW super hero Hiroshi Tanahashi.

He’s been a controversial figure for some time. NJPW tried pushing him as a face, but the fans didn’t like that and booed him .. he was much like the Roman Reigns of NJPW. In response to that, the bookers turned him heel and he transformed into a deceptively lazy and uncaring individual. He showed blatant disregard for wrestling and Japanese traditions, and the fans didn’t know what to think at first. His arrogance and posing in the ring soon became synonymous with Naito, and it seems to be catching on in Japanese culture. In fact, his antics have become so cool that the crowd were split on him and Tanahashi (who’s like NJPW’s Cena, except everyone likes him normally) in their match.

I love the way he lazily walks to the ring and throws his title to the ground with no care in the world. I enjoy the way he starts matches .. where it seems like he doesn’t want to be there and has to be coerced into a lockup. He cares so little .. that it’s cool. He’s been playing the heel for a while, but he’s certainly changing into an anti-hero, one that translates into all languages. He doesn’t speak English .. but I get what he’s saying. He’s becoming one of NJPW’s top stars, and one could argue it’s because Shinsuke Nakamura left for WWE and Tanahashi is past his prime, but I think there’s more to it than that. He gives the Japanese fans something strange and unique to support.

The Revival

One of the best tag teams in the world is main roster bound. I’d be very surprised if they don’t go to Smackdown and take the titles off American Alpha, reigniting their NXT rivalry from last year. They are old school, intense, and don’t care what you think. What’s not to love?

Will Ospreay

His name keeps cropping back up, and when that happens to a young 23-year-old athlete you can bet he’s going to do something great one day. Yes, he’s another English wrestler on the list, but he’s more than that. He is a very talented high-flyer, and it seems he hasn’t found a way to relax his style for his own benefit yet, but when he does I’m sure he’ll adapt and rise through the ranks.

So far he’s wrestled for several independents, TNA, ROH, and for New Japan. He’s been nicknamed “The Aerial Assassin” for good reason. He won the ROH TV title last year, so there’s no telling what he’ll win this year. The sky is the limit for Will Ospreay .. remember that name, as WWE will pick him up one day.

And that’s all folks! Of course there were many other names I could’ve added here, but I wanted to keep it to twenty to keep it at a nice rounded number. I would love to hear about other wrestlers with tons of potential to succeed in 2017, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and see you again soon.

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