On Monday night, we saw the WWE bring back names like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair in an attempt to boost what had been anemic ratings. In the process, it exposed the greatest flaw in the WWE’s development over the past several years.
The WWE has failed at creating new mega-stars. It’s truly a shame, considering the current roster is stocked with talented performers such as Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, and King Barrett. In terms of ability, this may be the most well equipped roster the WWE has fielded in decades.
So, can they turn it around? These performers make up the five greatest assets for the future of the WWE:
5. Bray Wyatt
The Wyatt Family, as a whole, is crucial to the development of the WWE’s future main event faces. The group is showing right now how valuable they are in providing a credible opponent for the likes of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
Look at what the Undertaker did for so many years without being the WWE Champion or being the flag-bearer for the program. Wyatt is in that same sort of position here.
The gimmick is so unique that it practically gets itself over. At just 28 years old and approaching the prime of his career, Wyatt is a valuable instrument that the WWE can utilize for years to come.
4. Finn Balor
At 34 years old, it’s hard to imagine that the WWE will make Balor the face of the company. Unless a performer is given the Kevin Owens-style expedited path to the main roster, it usually takes a solid two-three years to develop a character and earn a spot at the top of the card. If that were the case, Balor would be in his late 30s by the time he was competing for the WWE Championship.
Expect more of the Daniel Bryan route. He’ll find his way, be a mainstay on the main roster, and eventually have his signature moment.
All that being said, Balor is still going to sell a ton of merchandise and attract a ton of new viewers to the show with his unique look and growing popularity. Some already assert that Balor is the greatest wrestler in the world today.
Essentially, the WWE has a character who is marketable and can work anyone in the company. Though career longevity is the biggest question mark regarding Balor, he’s still a gem waiting to break through.
3. Apollo Crews
Crews may not have the prototypical height of a WWE Champion, but he has the build and the look of a champion in abundance. He has the right combination of a flashy, high-flying style and natural presence and charisma. It’s something that the WWE has yet to replace since Rey Mysterio left the company.
Once he’s fully exposed to the WWE Universe, the younger demographic will get behind him because of his exciting repertoire in the ring. Given his background on the independent wrestling scene, he has the pedigree to keep the older fans appeased as well.
It may seem a bit of a stretch to make this assessment so soon, but if you think I’m alone in thinking this, just watch NXT. He’s been on the show for just over two months now, and has already earned an NXT Championship match.
I’m not the only one who sees the star potential in this man.
2. The Four Horsewomen
Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch laid the foundation for a revolution in women’s wrestling. They started a movement to remind the world that the women can wrestle five-star matches and deserve respect just like the men do.
These four women transcended their division and made the NXT Women’s Championship a viable prize in the wrestling landscape…not just the women’s wrestling landscape.
If WWE is smart, they will continue that path throughout the main roster.
Aside from that, we live in a day and age when the objectification of women is inexcusable. Having the ladies compete for a pink butterfly belt and refer to them solely as “divas” is something that needs to be ushered out.
These four could bring the division up to date. Maybe then, there would be less bathroom breaks during women’s contests.
Look at the success that Dana White is having with Ronda Rousey in the UFC. She has essentially become the face of the brand, and is generating a veritable ton of revenue and attention for the world of mixed martial arts.
There’s no reason the WWE can’t follow suit.
1. Dean Ambrose
Seth Rollins is the present. He’s established himself as the next great beatable heel in wrestling history, but you don’t build the company around beatable heels. You build the WWE around a hero.
The greatest potential hero in WWE is Dean Ambrose. With all due respect to Roman Reigns, he just hasn’t been given the chance to succeed. Ambrose, on the other hand, is connecting with the fan base despite not always having the most intriguing program to work.
It’s quite simple – Ambrose is the “wrestler of today.”
He’s edgy, unique, interesting, and great on a microphone. At the same time, he isn’t a cartoonish, overinflated, seven-feet tall mountain of muscle.
This is the face of wrestling in 2015 – he connects with all facets of the audience thanks to his in-ring ability and quirky charisma. Most importantly, he moves merchandise.
If I’m lining up the plans for the next few years, I’m planting Ambrose firmly as the cornerstone of the company.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, and is the Tennessee Titans Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.