Wrestling. The original Olympic sport. Ultimate fighting before UFC or MMA was even a dream. A challenge between two individuals who both stand in the middle of the ring proclaiming, “I am a king!” To get to the product we have today, professional wrestling has gone through many re-imaginings. From the cartoony 80’s, the hardcore 90’s, into the 2000’s where mainstream wrestling struggled to find its place. Moving away from the traditional wrestling scene into the Sports Entertainment world, WWE took charge of the market from 2001 on. Don’t tell us about TNA, AAA, ROH, etc. WWE is the king of the Sports Entertainment/Pro Wrestling industry right now.

What we are seeing from the current crop of NXT stars is men standing across the ring from each other, telling the whole world, “I am the next king!” Of these rising stars, who is going to be that next big thing? Who is going to step out of the fold to be considered THE guy? (Note: current main roster workers and/or anybody who was previously on the main roster is not on the list.)

Finn Balor

If you know me personally, you know my respect for this guy is off the charts. Finn Balor is an extraordinary talent. His commitment to character, his ring awareness, his body control, his psychology, Finn Balor is a Superstar even without the WWE stamp of approval. What holds him back is the same thing that has tried to hold back many talents in the past, and that is his size. He doesn’t fit the mold of the prototypical WWE star. True that the man has 12 pack abs and a chiseled physique, but his stature will more than likely keep him from being the next big thing.

Hideo Itami

The man once known as Kenta has been a well-respected competitor for many years now. When CM Punk was asked where he came up with the GTS, he replied that he “Stole it from Kenta. Not gonna lie. Stole it from Kenta.” Daniel Bryan’s flying knee? Kenta as well. Now branded Hideo Itami, he has been wrapped up in a feud with The Ascension. His in-ring prowess has not had a chance to really shine. Only when we finally see Neville vs Itami, Zayn vs Itami, or Owens vs Itami will we know how his style will translate to fans on this side of the globe.

The Ascension: Konnor and Viktor

If the old adage, “you’re only as good as the man you’re working with,” is true, then the Ascension has proven their ability time and time again. Every team that steps into the arena and sees that they’re facing Konnor and Viktor should thank their lucky stars. These guys have made a habit out of making absolutely everyone around them look good. The Ascension is THE premier tag team in NXT. Will that translate into Main Roster success? Remember when the E thought it was a good idea to break up the Dudley Boys? What would we see from a Konnor/Viktor breakup? We don’t know. That doesn’t stop me from dreaming about a Gold/Stardust vs The Ascension match.

via bleacherreport.com

via bleacherreport.com

The Vaudevillains: Aiden English and Simon Gotch

The gimmick is golden, and it couldn’t be done any better. It’s SO hokey, cheesy, and corny, and it works. Once the action starts, you believe that these guys are legitimate contenders. The only down side to these guys being the breakout WWE star that we’re looking at is that they are still a tag team. The tag division is only in recent years getting some respect. Are they right on time for that opportunity? Are they going to be too late?

Bull Dempsey and Baron Corbin

Can’t wait for these two bulls to hook it up. Stature wise, look wise, these two have all the right in the world to be in this conversation. Corbin has a great ring presence. His finisher is breath taking. He is just lacking experience. I got a feeling the production team is going to take care of this guy, so keep your eyes open.

Considering he was partially trained by Tazz, Bull Dempsey looks like a product of his training down to his gear. No knee pads, low cut chest, high crotch singlet, and an in ring viciousness that screams, “survive if I let you.” Bull Dempsey could very well be that unstoppable monster that the Machine has been missing….OH WAIT… Big E Langston? Rusev? Let’s wait and see if they drop the ball with Rusev. Then we’ll return to Dempsey.

Tyler Breeze

Don’t hold your breath if you’re a fan of the selfie master. Small. Little to no crowd interaction. He’d be an updated MNM style gimmick. Unless he can mentor like Mercury or evolve like Morrison, Breeze will stay in NXT mid-card purgatory.

Adrian Neville

The Man that Gravity Forgot has deeply entered into the hearts and minds of wrestling fans. What this man does just seems impossible. His innovation on offense is reminiscent of Kanyon or DDP. He carries himself like a Psychosis or Eddie Guerrero (yeah, I just related Neville to Guerrero). He has obviously bulked up since starting at the performance center which definitely helps his chances. Can I find a negative in Adrian being the next big thing? The cynic in me says he’s too obvious a choice, that he is simply RVD Jr. Will he be that guy? I could see great things in a match with Cesaro, Ziggler, Luke Harper, or Kofi Kingston. However…………

via f4wonline.com

via f4wonline.com

Sami Zayn

If Zayn gets the chance, with his rabid fan base and insane charisma, he could very well be THAT guy. Sami has also added some muscle mass to his frame. He could pass for, in the neighborhood of, 230 lbs. His weight is deceptive, which makes his agility and athleticism that much more beautiful to watch. He carries himself so naturally. Watching Sami Zayn, you sometimes forget that this is a gimmick. We hear about the “IT” factor. You can’t describe it, but you know it when you see it. Sami Zayn has IT.

Kevin Owens

A newcomer to NXT. An old favorite for wrestling fans. An old school heel. His work is brutal, crisp, clean, and people line up to work with him. He is also the aesthetic counterpart of Sami Zayn. Similar in that neither one is as big as they appear, which makes their high flying work that much more amazing. For the WWE fans who have not invested time into his library of work, you are in for something special very soon.

Smart money rests on Owens or Zayn, but any one of this pack could come roaring out of the pack as the next big WWE breakout star. Personally, I look for Sami Zayn to have that WrestleMania moment, sooner rather than later.

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