WWE is currently pushing the "New Era" on fans, and while there is the same old problems within the company (for example, not being willing to push new stars to an extent, over saturation of the product and the dreaded 50/50 booking), there is no doubt that there is a plethora of new stars ready to carry the company on their backs. While there are already established young guys who have won several titles on the main roster, like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Charlotte and Sasha Banks, there is a whole host of stars who have not yet tasted gold on the main roster, both active and waiting down in NXT.
The following 15 performers have not won a championship with WWE for one reason or another, and are poised and ready either right now or with small improvements to win championship gold. (Note: this is just a prediction of the next 15 wrestlers who will win their first championship on the main roster, meaning for this article, NXT Championships do not count, as even though it falls under the WWE umbrella, it is seen as a different promotion altogether.)
15 Nia Jax
Nia Jax may have be called up prematurely from NXT, but she is the most physically dominating & intimidating female performer since Kharma, despite still being quite young in the wrestling business. Since her arrival, Jax has been presented as a dominant monster with continual squash matches, and while someone like Braun Strowman thrives in this way, Jax has run out of steam, as it sometimes seems like she is going through the motions, rather than dominating like Strowman. Despite this, there is a certain aura and intimidation that comes with Nia, and although the Women’s Championship picture looks quite full at the moment with Bayley, Charlotte & Sasha, someone as impressive as Jax will eventually force her way into the picture and become a dominant champion.
14 Shinsuke Nakamura
No one in the world of professional wrestling has the level of overwhelming charisma like the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, who has dominated NXT since arriving, and is already quite possibly the most popular performer in the promotions history. He has had amazing matches with Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Austin Aries and Samoa Joe in his short time with NXT, and has now become Champion, and it is only a matter of time until the hard-hitting Swagsuke makes his way to the main roster, where it would be no shock to see him straight into the main event Championship picture. Whenever he lands on the main roster under the brightest lights, Shinsuke and his Kinshasa knee strike are ready to take over, and it would be no surprise to see the Japanese veteran competing for a WWE Championship well before WrestleMania 34.
13 Apollo Crews
Few performers in the world, let alone WWE have the athletic ability of Apollo Crews, even for a man of his size, who rivals stars like Triple H, Batista or Bobby Lashley in sheer size and physique. What Crews possesses in size and athleticism however, he lacks in personality, as his quick run in NXT and short time on the main roster, he has failed to connect with the crowd in a big way. Whether this is from a lack of charisma or poor writing from the creative team, which have failed to give him anything meaningful (or when they try, they give him horrible lines and bland stories with the Miz) is up for debate. There is absolutely 0 doubt in anyones mind that Crews possesses the ability in the ring and the look to be a future World Champion, he will need lots of time to develop, but when he does could be a star on the level of any others in the current new era.
12 Eva Marie
Whether you, I or anyone else in the world thinks Eva Maries deserves to be a Champion in WWE, or even in the company doesn’t matter, as long as Vince McMahon sees money, Marie will keep her spot on the Smackdown roster. While it’s true that All Red Everything is the IWC’s worst nightmare, as she is the greenest wrestler on the roster, she has nuclear heat with the crowd, especially since the brand split with her new and improved entrance, and it’s clear that when she returns from her suspension, she will be a big part of the women’s division. If Marie could improve in the ring, and learn to tell a story in between the ropes, she could be absolute money for WWE, as fans would pay to see stars like Becky Lynch and Nikki Bella give Eva what she deserves. Expect her to be in the Women’s Championship picture before long.
11 Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin put in loads of work in his 3 years with developmental, and it paid off for the former Gold Gloves Champion when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his first main roster match at WrestleMania 32. While he has been stuck in terrible feuds with the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Kalisto since, there is no doubting the potential Corbin has in the midcard in the near future. With a heel Miz running the mid card on Smackdown currently, it is unlikely that Corbin will be crowned Intercontinental champion any time soon, but developing his in ring work will see him be a key in the future of Smackdown. The former NFL star definitely has a clear grasp of his character, passable promo work and a definite presence in the ring, now it is up to WWE to give him the time and meaningful matches to successful develop into the star he should become.
10 Samoa Joe
When Samoa Joe debuted in WWE mid 2015, it was a massive deal, as the company often steered clear of former TNA talents, and it opened up the door for guys like Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, James Storm and AJ Styles. After a mediocre baby face run, Joe channeled his Samoan Submission Machine character from TNA, culminating in some amazing story telling, and his first reign as NXT Champion, after an amazing rivalry with Finn Balor. Rumor has it, Joe was signed specifically for NXT, with no main roster run in sight, but management has been that impressed with his monster heel run, that a main event spot in WWE could be on the horizon, even more so now that he lost his NXT Championship to Shinsuke Nakamura.
9 Alexa Bliss
Although she doesn’t come to the main roster with the fan fare of someone like Sasha Banks or Bayley, Alexa Bliss was steadily becoming one of the best performers on the NXT roster, regardless of gender, due to her amazing character command and ever improving in ring ability. She is now featured on Smackdown, and while no one quite expects her to win the 6 pack challenge at Backlash, she has the all around talent to be able to combat the top baby faces on the roster which include Nikki Bella, Naomi and Becky Lynch. With good character development and time to build meaningful rivalries, there is no doubting that she could have a career rivaling that of the Four Horsewomen of NXT that came before her.
The Huggable One has been an underdog her whole career in NXT, and after an amazing run at the top of the Women’s division, she is now on the main roster pursuing Charlotte and the WWE Women’s Championship. An amazing response in both of her first appearances on the main roster has her positioned as a star the level of most men on the roster (the goal of the women’s evolution), which will no doubt see her have a long, successful career on Monday Night RAW. Despite the injury to the Boss, it seems like WWE is intent with the Charlotte/Sasha rivalry, so don’t expect Bayley to be winning the title any time soon, but it rumors are to be believed (and are always subject to change), WWE could be planning on a Sasha/Bayley match at WrestleMania 33, in NXT’s home down in Florida, which could be the perfect way to put their mark on the Women’s Evolution.
7 Enzo & Cass
When Steve Austin is raving about your potential, you know you have a bright future ahead of you, and after a hot opening to Summerslam in their backyard of Brooklyn, it is obvious that Enzo & Cass are stars in the tag team division, despite never holding any kind of gold in WWE. After spending 3 years in NXT honing their in ring abilities, the charismatic duo have found themselves as already one of the most popular acts in WWE, and contrary to their early years in NXT, they can put on amazing matches as well as entertaining the fans. Because these improvements in the ring are still happening in front of our eyes, the duo probably will not find their way to the title picture in the coming months, but expect by WrestleMania of next year (in NXT’s home of Florida no less) the tandem to be thrilling the huge crowd in a WWE Tag Team Championship match.
6 Sami Zayn
No star since the brand split has been more underused than Sami Zayn, as he was left off the Summerslam main card, despite stealing the show at Battleground in a victory over his bitter rival, Kevin Owens. With no immediate plans in story for Zayn, it is hard to see which title he could go after, but with Reigns now being thrust into the title picture (or a hopeful heel turn in a double turn with Seth Rollins), Rusev is without a credible challenger for his U.S title, and no one plays underdog better than Sami Zayn. While Rusev is being pushed as an unstoppable monster, Sami Zayn would be a great candidate to take the title off the Bulgarian after a long rivalry, which he could then defend against stars like Cesaro, Sheamus and Roman Reigns.
5 The Club
The Club have been treated horribly since their huge arrival from Japan, and have gone from being treated like AJ Styles’ lackeys to comedy characters, when their niche in wrestling is as big, rugged, tough performers, which they played perfectly with New Japan Pro Wrestling. This culminated at Summerslam when they were involved in a purely comedy segment with New Day, which did them no favors, so hopefully WWE will see the error in their ways very, very soon. Having them assert their dominance over the New Day (who are due to split up soon, with Big E going on his own WWE Universal Championship pursuit) and win the Championship soon would go a long wait in rectifying this, as they are two big men who can put on great matches with all comers. Expect them to win the titles from New Day very soon, and once they have dispatched of the New Day, WWE should thrust Enzo & Cass into the title picture.
Neville has been on the main roster for a while now, and despite having nothing for him to do in recent times, the announcement of the RAW Cruiserweight division is a perfect way to show Neville’s strengths and have him replicate the success he had while down in NXT. Working with stars like Cedric Alexander, Kota Ibushi and Brian Kendrick will no doubt give Neville some importance which he has lacked, and who better to hold the Cruiserweight title for the first time than a veteran like Neville? Perhaps this is also a chance for WWE to show some of Neville’s personality, and give fans the opportunity to get to know the Geordie a bit better, as that has been a big criticism of his in his time with the main roster. However long it takes him, look for Neville to become a key of the cruiserweight division in the near future, as he will definitely be one of the first men to hold the new Championship.
3 Becky Lynch
The Irish Lass Kicker has often been forgotten or overshadowed in her year on the main roster, as the other 3 members of the Four Horsewomen have all tasted championship gold, and are featured in a major way on Monday Night RAW. Her opportunity however is now as she has been separated from Sasha, Bayley & Charlotte, and has found herself as one of the key pieces of the Smackdown women’s division, who will battle in a 6-pack challenge for the first ever Women’s Smackdown Championship. Rumor has it that the recently returned Nikki Bella will win the title at Backlash, but there is no doubting the fiery Lynch belongs at the top of the division, where she can help build it with new stars like Alexa Bliss and Carmella.
2 American Alpha
American Alpha are the newest tag team on the main roster, and have been setting the Smackdown tag team division alight in the past month, showing why they were the most popular NXT tag team in history. The electric duo of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are already two of the most polished performers on the Smackdown roster, and should be featured in the finals of the tournament to crown the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions at Backlash, presumably against the Uso’s. While WWE might make the decision of giving the win to the experienced brothers, as there is traction in a heel turn from the stale duo, there is no doubting that in the near future, American Alpha should rule the division with a New Day length title run. The former amateur standouts if handled properly by the company should be the future of the WWE Tag Team division, whichever show they are featured on.
1 AJ Styles
When AJ Styles made his grand debut with the WWE at the Royal Rumble 2016, many fans who have seen Styles work around the world were anxious to see the success he would go onto with the one company he hadn’t yet conquered. WWE reportedly however only had a vision of Styles being a mid card act who could put on a great match (ie. Dolph Ziggler), but the amazing matches and overwhelming crowd support pushed Styles to the title picture, and even a 2-0 series win over John Cena, where he has become the biggest star in the company. This has all led to a WWE Championship match with Dean Ambrose at Smackdown’s first exclusive PPV, Backlash, where the Phenomenal One, or ‘New face that runs the place’ should undoubtedly be crowned champion, which could truly push the idea of Smackdown as the superior wrestling show.
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