It seems like every generation or so, a new crop of young professional wrestlers is poised to make the next step in the industry. They come from far and wide to stake their claim as one of the world's best.
Like the circle of life, when the old guard finally steps away, they are inevitably replaced by a bigger, stronger, and faster group of talent. Perhaps one of the great past times of the sport is when fans try to surmise which talented youngsters will 'make it' in the industry.
With the rise of NXT, along with independent and international promotions, the light has never shined so brightly on young wrestlers who are looking to make it to the next level. The internet subscription service, the FloSlam.com network. has begun to showcase talent that normally may not get mainstream attention. Now, WWE appears to be headed in that same direction in 2017.
Talented prospects like Kenny Omega, Jay Lethal and The Young Bucks get discussed quite frequently by the Internet Wrestling Community. So, we decided to dig a little bit deeper to see who else might be out there and on the rise.
To give you a heads-up on some of the names that you might me hearing in 2017, 2018, and beyond, here's a list revealing 15 Upcoming Unknowns in professional wrestling.
These are the names that will be coming soon to a wrestling ring near you...
14 Bin Wang
This past June, Bin Wang became a trailblazer when he was the first Chinese wrestler ever signed by WWE. The move initially drew sprinkles of criticism, as some observers felt that Wang's contract was more of a gesture of goodwill to the company's new partners.
The 6'3", 220 lbs international star made his debut at a WWE Live Event in Shanghai in September, defeating Bo Dallas. He continues to train at the company's performance center, with high hopes that he will carry the WWE banner in the Far East.
Make no mistake, the thought of having a champion from an international market of over a billion people is financially enticing. Don't be surprised if Wang is given every opportunity to be a superstar. He could be the bridge between China and the rest of the professional wrestling world as a representative of his people. And that could mean big dollar signs for WWE.
13 Evan Morris
Evan Morris (Pictured Right), just 24 years of age, is already a two-time Missouri Heavyweight Champion and nine-year veteran. He was trained initially by Shawn Somers and then later by the legendary Harley Race and World League Wrestling.
Morris' resume also includes the NWA Illinois State Championship and the NWA Central States Heavyweight title. Morris also wrestled at the 2016 Parade of Champions in Fort Worth, TX, during the weekend of WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.
Known for his technical ability, Morris has been working with Dynamo Pro Wrestling, NWA Central States Championship Wrestling and High Risk Wrestling as he hones his craft. He also previously wrestled for Windy City Pro Wrestling in Chicago.
For now, Evan Morris is a name fans in the midwest are quickly getting to know. But it may also be one that industry observers take notice of on a national level in the years to come.
12 Allie/Cherry Bomb
Have you ever seen a Barbie Doll that's tough as nails? Well, that's Allie.
With Hollywood good looks and a fantastic ring presence, Laura Dennis established herself on the indy scene under the name, Cherry Bomb. She was one of the stalwarts of the revolutionary SHIMMER promotion, which re-wrote the rules on womens' wrestling.
Since signing with TNA, she was re-packaged as Allie, and immediately jumped into the fray there. She captured the TNA Knockouts Championship, but dropped it a week later. Currently, the Canadian cutie can be seen hanging with her real-life husband, wrestler Braxton Sutter, and feuding with veteran diva Maria Kanellis.
With the recent surge in the popularity of ladies' wrestling, Allie would be a perfect fit for WWE. The thought of her matching up against Charlotte, Sasha Banks, or other members of the Women's Revolution, is not only pretty... it's pretty fascinating, as well.
11 Todd Letterman/Kevin Lee Davidson
The 6'4" and 345 pound Kevin Kwiatkowski trained in St. Louis at the famed South Broadway Athletic Club before receiving further tutelage from former Ring of Honor World Champion Michael Elgin.
After making his debut on the midwest indy scene as Kevin Lee Davidson (KLD), he was signed by upstart regional promotion, the National Wrasslin' League.
With the NWL promoting out of Missouri strongholds St. Louis and Kansas City, the powerful prospect will now showcase his mat skills under the name, Todd Letterman. Mixing sheer strength with surprising agility, Letterman is sure to catch the eyes of bigger promotions. However, word is there are big plans for him in NWL, so he'll have time to mature for a couple more years before he makes a jump. At just 26 years of age, the upside is enormous for the popular big man.
Currently, the National Wrasslin' League is in the midst of an Interstate 70 rivalry between its two major cities, with fans in both KC and the STL ready for a good ol' fashioned 'rasslin war. Letterman will be right there in the middle of the action, as the NWL begins to establish itself as a midwest promotional powerhouse.
10 Marty Scurll
This English bad boy doesn't like anyone to get in his way.
Currently the ROH World Television Champion, Scurll recently also competed in the WWE's UK Championship Tournament. That shouldn't surprise anybody, as this world traveler is known for getting around.
Scurll has wrestled from coast to coast and pole to pole for the following promotions: Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Total Non-Stop Action, Progress Wrestling, Insane Championship Wrestling, Global Force Wrestling, Revolution Pro Wrestling, International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom, All Star Wrestling, and Combat Zone Wrestling, among many others.
On top of all that, from 2014 to 2015, he was one of the hosts of "Wrestle Talk TV" in the UK. So, he's been a busy guy.
With his ever-present sunglasses and fur coat, 'The Villian' has an established character to go along with his limitless ring ability. His eccentric presence and superb style make him one of the many members of wrestling's "British Invasion" to keep your eye on.
9 Cody Hall
At 6'8'', 265 lbs, the son of former pro Scott Hall is not as unknown as some other names on this list. His size and surname alone are enough to illicit a response from the average person. But, there's a little bit more to the so-called Kliq Kid.
Just like the 'Bad Guy,' he moves well for a big man. And another thing he has in common with his Pops is that he seems to grasp the psychological aspects of the game. At 25 years of age, he's already had the chance to learn from Razor's experience... and his mistakes.
Recently, he's been plying his trade in New Japan Pro Wrestling as a member of wrestling's current, coolest clique, The Bullet Club. However, earlier this month, Hall's profile was removed from NJPW's roster page, and it's been verified that he has left the company.
Despite being raw and untested, the younger Hall's size, power and pedigree have him on WWE's list of future stars. There's no doubt he'll get a shot with them when the folks up in Stamford feel he's ready.
8 Matt Riddle
Like something out of a kung fu movie, Matt Riddle can strike you in a variety of ways. This legit tough guy has been a professional MMA competitor since 2008, and even appeared in season seven of SpikeTV's The Ultimate Fighter.
Since climbing into a professional wrestling ring in February of 2015, Riddle has won the Monster Factory Heavyweight Championship and signed with upstart conglomerate The World Wrestling Network. He's appeared in several independent promotions across the United States, including Pro Wrestling Guerilla.
Riddle has wrestled for the EVOLVE promotion and in October, he lost to Cody Rhodes at a House of Glory show, Unbreakable.
At just 31, Riddle is still young enough to make the transition top sports entertainment, and he's already on the radar. He's had one tryout with WWE in late 2016. Hopefully, he has a little more pizzaz than some of the crossover combatants that have come before him. If so, there's no reason we won't see this tough guy in the spotlight for a long time to come.
7 Will Ospreay
Literally flying up the list of potential prospects is Will Ospreay. This 23-year-old from Great Britain has not only found success in his home country, but in the New Japan promotion, as well. He showcased his space age moves en route to capturing NJPW’s Battle of the Super Juniors tournament. Since signing with Ring of Honor, Ospreay has held that company's television title, while still making appearances overseas.
Ospreay has faced off against fellow prospect Ricochet in what was considered an instant classic to fans of their high wire act. While it left wrestling traditionalists scoffing, the viral effect of the bout has given a boost to both men's careers.
Ospreay is still incredibly young and needs to grow into his body a little more before moving to the big time. Once he fills out and gets a little more experience, expect Will Ospreay to join the WWE sometime in 2018.
6 La Sombra/Andrade 'Cien' Almas
At 5'9" and 200 lbs, Manuel Oropeza is almost tailor-made for the WWE's Cruiserweight Division. He also brings a fantastic pedigree (the bloodline, not the wrestling move). His grandfather, father, uncles and cousin are all lucha libre performers.
After signing with CMLL in 2007 at age 17, he took on the moniker of “La Sombra,” Oropeza has held several titles in CMLL including the Trio, Tag Team, Welterweight, Middleweight and NWA Championships.
Oropeza debuted with WWE at an NXT show in Tampa on January 8, 2016, wrestling as "Manny Andrade."
He was eventually given the ring name Andrade "Cien" Almas. At the NXT TakeOver event on June 8th. 2016, Almas made his onscreen debut defeating Tye Dillinger. If you're a gambler, you can lay the house money that this high flyer from south of the border will make an impact in the cruiserweight division in the near future.
5 Willie Mack/The Mack
A 5'10'', 280 lbs combination of brute strength and awesome agility, Willie Mack is as impressive a physical anomaly as you'll ever speed. His high-speed, high impact style has quickly captured the attentions of wrestling fans and promoters, despite the fact that he doesn't have a traditional bodybuider's physique.
Willie Mack (sometimes known just as, The Mack), quiet frankly, looks like a wrestler. His powerful build is evident when he delivers a lariat or drives home a bodyslam. Mack is one of the many wrestlers who established his name in Pro Wrestling Underground.
Mack has had a chance to showcase his skills for an even bigger audience recently. Since early 2015, he's been wrestling as The Mack in Lucha Underground, and was named #288 of the top 500 wrestlers in Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2016.
WWE has previously had a deal in place for Mack, but he was released before even starting at NXT. As he continues to add to his in-ring accolades, it may not be long before Triple H comes calling for his services again.
4 4. Adam Cole
For some fans, Adam Cole may not qualify as an 'unknown' up-and-comer. The year old youngster is the ROH World Heavyweight Champion, currently in his third reign. So, he's certainly gotten the attention of the die-hard fans out there.
But in comparison to names like Kenny Omega, Jay Lethal, and The Briscoes, he is often left out of the conversation, at least initially. When discussing stars in that middle tier that might make the big leap to WWE, Cole is sometimes an afterthought amidst the sea of current indy talent.
In other words, unless you're an absolute turnbuckle head, you may not be familiar with his work. But make no mistake, he's ready for prime time.
With his movie star good looks and slick ring style, he often draws comparisons to great champions of the past. He can play the cocky heel to perfection, but is respected enough by fans to be a sympathetic babyface.
With his defeat of Kyle O'Reilly at Wrestle Kingdom, Cole captured the ROH crown for the third time. What more is there left for him to prove?
He may be a member of Mt. Rushmore 2.0, but it's time for Cole to conquer other mountains... in WWE.
However, he's gained more mainstream attention by wrestling as Prince Puma for Lucha Underground on the El Rey Network., He is the inaugural and two time Lucha Underground Champion.
At 5'10" and 200 lbs, Ricochet could fit into a classic Cruiserweight mold. However, many observers agree that he could add size to his frame and be a player in the heavyweight class, as well. However, his aforementioned match with Ospreay was mostly high spots, so Ricochet will have to show that he can work a more base, mat style if he hopes to advance.
Having said that, there's no doubt that Ricochet has the skills to reach his ultimate goal. His terrific look and amazing ability will more than likely find this high flier landing in WWE sometime before the end of 2017.
2 Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne's rugged ring style isn't always pretty, but it's certainly effective. The British grappler, who finished as the runner-up in the tourney to crown the first WWE UK Champion, is well on his way to worldwide recognition.
Dunne began training in 2006 at the age of 12, and is now terrorizing his fellow British wrestlers. Having now signed with WWE, he may not have won the UK title, but he'll surely be a thorn in the side of inaugural champ, Tyler Bate.
Dunne has a bit of the look of William Regal, but with the heart of a devil. That tenacity appears to be serving him well.
Dunne certainly made a name for himself, stirring up controversy and making himself the center of attention during WWE's event. Their cameras seem to think this little British devil has the makings of a star.
And, quite frankly, they're right. Dunne has the personality and potential to be the a landmark British performer over here across the pond. Hopefully, his foray into the UK tourney was just the start of a long relationship between Pete Dunne and WWE.
1 Kazuchika Okada
Recently, a lot of American wrestling fans have been talking about that big match between Kenny Omega and 'that other guy.'
Well, that match was the main event of New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom 11. And the 'other guy' happens to be the puroresu star known as Kazuchika Okada.
The current IWGP Champion is high on the WWE's wish list. For over two years now, he has heard offers from the United States, but has chosen to stay faithful to his promotion. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Okada went so far as put his feelings on the record, "I don't want to leave Japan. I'm not interested in WWE at all."
But, things have changed since then. The buzz from his classic battle with Omega has made the pair a hot topic on the internet. And while much of the speculation centers around the North American-born Omega, there seems to be just as big of a desire for the 'E' to sign Okada, as well.
A recent internet story made the rounds saying that Triple H is hoping to top the Wrestle Kingdom match at this year's 'Mania. What better way than to sign the same two stars involved?
The smart money says that Omega will be in WWE before the end of the year, but Okada will likely stay in Japan.There's certainly no shame in that, as he is already making a case for being one of his country's all-time greats.
But fans on this continent will always clamor for the next big thing. Whether it's Okada, Cole, or another young talent, the audience loves to see a wrestler have their breakout moment. From the first match to the main event, there's always something special about seeing an unknown become a household name.
And for the names on this list, the future of pro wrestling starts right about... NOW.
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