The brand split is all about change and WWE’s hope of the new era succeeding. NXT’s growth and an overall youth movement in the WWE have led to new stars being established. The main roster has been met with injuries and retirements causing the company to need younger talents to step up faster than expected. The Shield, Kevin Owens, Charlotte and Sasha Banks have been some of the names to thrive in the new environment. There are also top stars like John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar hoping to add more great moments to their rich legacies in pro wrestling.
The most important thing about the brand split is it is opening up opportunities for new stars. Two rosters making the playing field even is what many talents have been wanting for a long time. We will absolutely see new names in the title picture as the company needs both depth and new Superstars to become top draws. New opportunities for former top stars relegated to the midcard may also play a factor. The top names will obviously still be in the conversation. We’ll look at talents all across the board with eight wrestlers that we want to see win the World Championship and another seven we do not in the brand split.
15 Want: Finn Balor
The speculation on Finn Balor being called up from NXT to the main roster has been going on for about a year now. Balor evolved into the face of NXT and was needed to keep the momentum of the smaller brand growing. A brand split between Raw and SmackDown provides the perfect time for him to make a move to the main roster. The call-up and impending drafting of Balor should work out best for his career.
14 Don’t: Randy Orton
WWE has always valued Randy Orton more than the fans have. Orton was treated with kid gloves from his early days in WWE with the opportunity to become a star in Evolution and various pushes despite questionable results. The face character of Orton rarely connects and it seems like that will be his role when returning against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. A brand split means everyone has a bigger responsibility to step up with the rosters split in half.
13 Want: Cesaro
Cesaro's career feels like the same story repeating itself over and over again. Cesaro finds a way to get over, appears to be moving up the card, and gets stuck in a pointless midcard angle. Everyone hoped he would be finally on the way to better things when the crowd treated him like a king following his return from injury on the Raw after WrestleMania 32. The Swiss Superman is already a background player once again instead.
12 Don’t: The Miz
Don’t get it wrong. The Miz is great in his role as the Intercontinental Champion right now. The return of his real life wife Maryse to appear in his corner has given the character new strengths to play off and he has put out some of the best work of his career. The Miz’s success comes from being in the perfect position as a midcard champion. His chances of success in the main event are very slim.
11 Want: Any Member of New Day
The New Day are still among the most popular acts in the WWE. Most would have expected the love to die down but fans are still cheering and buying merchandise. You’ll be stunned at the amount of unicorn horns and Booty-O shirts being sold if you attend a WWE live event. The trio is dominating the tag team division with a near full calendar year holding the titles. Each member is credible and entertaining enough to reach singles success in addition to the faction.
10 Don’t: Bray Wyatt
Timing is among the most important things in wrestling and the WWE has missed the boat on Bray Wyatt. The character was one of the most unique and special in recent memory, but it has been damaged near the point of no return. Wyatt has lost every major feud to the likes of John Cena, The Undertaker and Roman Reigns. The Rock also humiliated him at WrestleMania 32.
9 Want: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn's journey in NXT proved he can be capable of reaching the World Title level, but it will take some time. Aside from being introduced as Kevin Owens’ enemy, Zayn has not been able to showcase who he is and why NXT fans loved him as the underground underdog. The talent and strengths of Zayn are very similar to Daniel Bryan. If booked correctly and put in noteworthy storylines for an extended time period, Zayn is a special performer.
8 Don’t: Alberto Del Rio
Vince McMahon has a soft spot for Alberto Del Rio and it has caused the Superstar to enter the main event picture far too often. Del Rio is absolutely talented and showed signs of greatness during his first few years in WWE, but has devolved into one of the least interesting performers in the business. The crowd is completely silent every time Del Rio walks to the ring and the excitement for the show disappears.
7 Want: John Cena
The fans are finally starting to appreciate and respect John Cena’s legendary career. Sure, fans still heckle him with the “John Cena sucks” singing, but that is more of a fun interaction like the old “you suck” chant at Kurt Angle. The legitimate hatred of Cena has died out following him delivering superb matches against all of the new stars in the company. WWE’s experiment of pushing Roman Reigns as “The Guy” also opened up the eyes of fans, as they saw how great they had it.
6 Don’t: Sheamus
Sheamus is the definition of a loyal employee with hard work over his entire career and no complaints. Most fans find him completely uninteresting, but he clearly has a great deal of talent. His lack of personality and WWE pushing him way more than he should have been caused fans to form resentment. No one wants to see Sheamus ever return to the top of the mountain after his horrendous World Title program with Roman Reigns towards the end of 2015.
5 Want: Seth Rollins
The best all-around performer in the WWE today is Seth Rollins. Following his return from injury, Rollins looks more confident than ever on the microphone with great promos. His character work is at a new level to match his always excellent work rate. Aside from maybe A.J. Styles, no one can match Rollins in the ring. The next decade will be full of classic matches from one of the faces of the new era.
4 Don’t: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns dropped the ball during the biggest push in recent memory when he violated the wellness policy as the WWE World Champion. The company spent years trying to make him the biggest star in the industry and he completely failed them when needed most. WWE has to wake up and put Reigns on the backburner for now. There are so many exciting new talents that deserve even a small fraction of the opportunity given to Reigns.
3 Want: A.J. Styles
It only took a few months for A.J. Styles to find his footing in the WWE and he is already one of the top performers in the company. Styles had unbelievable matches with John Cena and Roman Reigns over the past three PPV's. The reformation of The Club in the WWE gives Styles his old New Japan Bullet Club partners Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows by his side. Styles is arguably the best wrestler in the world today and has a huge chance with the brand split.
2 Don’t: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is alluring and he always brings a great attraction feel to the WWE, but he should never hold the title again. A champion has to appear on television at least once per month for the PPVs. The brand split makes it even more pivotal. One show having an active World Champion would just expose the other having Brock on the sidelines. We also can’t ignore the recent anti-doping violation Brock may have had during his UFC fight testing.
1 1.Want: Kevin Owens
WWE has been preaching the ways of the new era dictating the future of WWE with the brand split. No one exemplifies the changes in the company more than Kevin Owens. His non-traditional look is overshadowed by his unique talent, making him one of the most popular stars today. Owens dominated NXT within a few months and found a spot on the main roster faster than anyone could have predicted.
The most impressive stat about Owens so far on the main roster is realizing he has appeared on every single PPV in his first year. No one else has done that in WWE history other than The Undertaker. Owens has the personality, the intensity and the skill to make every match he is in a joy to watch. WWE will have to take a chance on a wrestler or two in the World Title picture for the brand split to work. Kevin Owens always delivers when put in a big spot and winning the big one would go a long way for helping the new era of the WWE.
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