My Two Centsss - Reigns and Wyatt Are Great, But Ambrose and Harper Are Even Better
By Super Chrisss
Jan 4, 2014 - 2:35:40 PM
(Tom Jenner is the man!)
First and foremost, Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all partied responsibly (as in, you got so wasted like I did that it would have been impossible to walk, let alone drive home) and enjoyed your time off work/school/whatever. For those of you who were looking forward to the rest of my year-end columns, I apologize for leaving you hanging. I had so many parties the past two weeks and take it from me, you have ZERO desire to stare at a laptop while hungover. So here's a quick run-down of my picks for top seven WWE breakout stars of the year:
6. Bray Wyatt
5. Seth Rollins
4. Big E Langston
3. Roman Reigns
2. Luke Harper
1. Dean Ambrose
...and my top seven WWE stars of the year:
7. Chris Jericho
6. Dolph Ziggler
5. Randy Orton
4. Alberto del Rio
3. John Cena
2. Daniel Bryan
1. CM Punk
I think it goes without saying that both The Shield and The Wyatt Family are two of the most fascinating groups we've had in years. Ambrose, Reigns, and Rollins flat-out dominated 2013, as they were constantly booked in Raw and SmackDown main-events, tearing up the tag team division, or being a solid asset to the midcard. Simply put, The Shield were everywhere last year, and whether wrestling singles matches, standard tag team matches, or six-man tags, they were consistently involved in one of the better matches every show. They're still one of the best things going in WWE right now, as their feud with CM Punk has been great so far.
The Wyatts burst onto the scene after months of vignettes airing all over Raw and SmackDown and despite getting off to a bit of a rough start (WWE seemingly had no idea how to book them between SummerSlam and Survivor Series), they've found themselves engaged in a major storyline with one of the top stars in the company, Daniel Bryan. WWE has brilliantly limited Bray Wyatt's in-ring time to the point where it feels like it's a big deal anytime he steps inside the ring to compete. Harper & Rowan have proven themselves as major threats in the tag team division, and came really close to defeating The Brotherhood for the titles last Friday on SmackDown. Now, with Daniel Bryan seemingly 'one of them', The Wyatt Family has a lot of momentum heading into the new year.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, especially in WWE-land. I'm still holding out hope that we'll get The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Wrestlemania XXX (that match would definitely be "best for business"), but with WWE stirring up on-air dissension between The Shield in recent weeks, and the company getting anxious to push Reigns as a huge babyface, I'm not holding my breath. Therefore, you have to start thinking about who's going to shine brightest once each stable ultimately falls apart. It could be at Wrestlemania. It could be at SummerSlam. It could be in 2015. But sooner or later, both groups will go their separate ways...
When that time comes, most people (including WWE, if you listen to the rumours) see The Shield's Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt from his family being the big winners. A large portion of WWE's fanbase - both the Internet Wrestling Community and the more casual fan - see the "it" factor in the two men, and I don't disagree. Reigns has a great look and could very well be a younger, modern-day Batista. Wyatt plays his character to a tee, and being a third-generation wrestler is further incentive for WWE to push him up the card. WWE cameras are always focused on Reigns, moreso than Ambrose or Rollins, and Wyatt gets promo time seemingly every other show. I'm sure 2014 and 2015 will be very kind to Reigns and Wyatt once they venture out into singles careers.
But if we're discussing long-term plans, I firmly believe that Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper have loads more potential than their stablemates. Think about it. Both Reigns and Wyatt have their flaws, which even their biggest fans will be quick to confess to. Reigns has the "look" and the business flowing through his veins, but he's still pretty green as far as in-ring abilities go. So far, his entire moveset consists of a 'Superman Punch'/Leaping Clothesline, a Spear, a Gorilla Press Slam, another Spear, a BodySlam, and, you guessed it, a Spear. Now, I realize that WWE has never relied on a wrestler having an extensive moveset before pushing them to the top (see: Hulk Hogan, Batista, John Cena) but Reigns doesn't stand out much on the mic either. Thus why I said earlier he could very well be a new version of 'The Animal, so to speak.
Ambrose trumps Reigns in pretty much every way imaginable. He's awesome on the mic, hilarious on commentary, a fantastic in-ring worker, and has the tools to be one of the best heels in the business. Unlike Reigns, WWE has trusted Ambrose to wrestle one lengthy singles match after another, and he does most of the talking for the trio, whether it's an in-ring promo or joining the announce booth (the dude was AWESOME last Friday on SmackDown, by the way). There's a reason why WWE put the United States title on Ambrose and not Reigns or Rollins (and it's not because they view him as a mid-carder, trust me). Reigns may get the initial push once The Shield dissolves, but I think Ambrose will go farther in the long-run.
Truth be told, I haven't been too impressed with Bray Wyatt up to this point. I heard great things about him in NXT, and as far as his creepy character goes, he has more than lived up to the hype. But damn, his matches haven't exactly been epic. The Ring of Fire match with Kane at SummerSlam was arguably the weakest match on the card, and his follow-up matches with R-Truth and Kofi Kingston have been mediocre, at best. As previously mentioned, I applaud WWE for making Wyatt an attraction of sorts, where his matches feel important simply because he doesn't wrestle very often, but the payoff has been extremely disappointing thus far. I'm just not sold on Wyatt as an in-ring competitor, and I'm worried about him having a singles match at Wrestlemania XXX, no matter who his opponent is.
One member of The Wyatt Family who has impressed me is Luke Harper. When he first started tagging with Erick Rowan, I didn't pay much attention to the master of the Gator Roll. I assumed he and Rowan were your standard, big-man team. But then WWE started booking Harper in singles matches. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Harper's one-on-one matches with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk the past few months have been really, really good. Not only that, but Harper is so damn believable when he plays his crazy character who hears voices in his head (no Randy Orton). Someone - I forget who - made a comment that Harper never breaks kayfabe anytime he's on television, and the more I think about it, the more I see the truth in that statement. The man is constantly on his A-game and even though we have yet to hear him speak, I think Harper has the tools to be extremely successful with or without The Wyatt Family.
So, just to recap, I feel Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt will be stars once The Shield and The Wyatts go their separate ways, but I have a suspicion it's Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper who will be even more successful over the years. Regardless, the question remains...where does that leave the third man from each group, Seth Rollins and Erick Rowan?
I know a lot of people are worried that Rollins will be trapped in the midcard once The Shield disbands, but I'm not one of them. Rollins still has a ways to go when it comes to cutting promos, but he's proven to be one of the best in-ring performers not only in his team, but on the whole roster. The dude bumps like a maniac, understands in-ring psychology just as much, if not more than Ambrose, and has had two amazing TV matches in 2013, one with Daniel Bryan, and the other with John Cena. A lot of signs seem to point to Rollins having a career similar to that of John Morrison, in which he gets cracks at the main-event but never cements himself as a top guy, but give Rollins a few years, and he could be main-eventing Pay-Per-Views. Keep an eye on the former Tyler Black...
Sadly, the future doesn't look so bright for Erick Rowan. I hate to use the same, tired cliché, but Harper is clearly the Shawn Michaels of their tag team, while Rowan will end up being the Marty Jannetty. Like Harper, Rowan has been booked in singles matches in the past, and in my opinion, has disappointed every single time. The guy is slow, and seems to have a very limited moveset. Why do you think Harper and Daniel Bryan wrestled for nearly fifteen minutes this past Monday on Raw, while Rowan vs. Bryan barely went a third of that? I'm starting to think the only reason WWE put Rowan with Luke and Bray is because of his size and beard. Once The Wyatt Family is no more, I don't see Erick Rowan being a member of the WWE roster for much longer.
Two groups, six men. All of them made an impact in 2013, and they're heading into the new year with plenty of momentum on their side. An argument can be made for almost any one of those guys making it big once their respective group disbands, but I for one would rather see that happen later instead of sooner. Like I said, there's money to be made in a huge six-man match between The Shield and The Wyatt Family at Wrestlemania XXX. Let's just hope WWE plays their cards right with both trios rather than ruining a good thing by trying to push one or two members too hard, too fast.
Your Two Centsss: What would be your pecking order in terms of potential for both The Shield and The Wyatts? Mine would go something like this:
Ambrose > Reigns > Rollins
Harper > Bray > Rowan
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