5 Rising stars who can be genuine contenders for the WWE Universal Championship someday
WWE has long been known as the place that wrestlers go to in order to become Superstars. It's where a young up-and-coming athlete can blossom and become a worldwide success story.
Part of that development starts with the third brand, NXT. But there have also been free agent signings that have helped keep the WWE machine rolling. Without top tier talent, no wrestling promotion can sell its product. Fans have a difficult time buying into a guy at the top of the card unless he convinces them that he belongs there.
WWE has done a great job recently of elevating younger talent, and it seems to have a really cohesive system these days. The company has produced a lot of sports entertainers, but who are the potential champions? Who are some of the performers who could someday step up... all the way to the land of the Universal Championship?
Here's a look at five young men who - for a number of different reasons - could be the next to take that step to championship status.
#5 - Madcap Moss
Don't laugh. This choice isn't as 'madcap' as you think it is.
First off, in order to be taken seriously as a true contender, the big man has to change that nickname. 'Madcap' sounds more like a cartoon character than a champion.
Moss has surprised many with his exploits in the ring thus far. He's also pretty over with the audience, despite not having been involved in too many angles yet.
He's definitely got the look and the body of your typical title contender. And although it's doubtful he will ever wear the gold, he could be a main event performer given a few tweaks.
It would be a heck of a long shot, but with the right storyline, it could happen. Moss would be good for a Universal Championship match sometime down the road. Perhaps on a premium live event like Elimination Chamber or Money in the Bank.
#4 - Max Dupri, but only IF he switches back to his LA Knight persona
The wrestler formerly known as Eli Drake was a terrific IMPACT Wrestling World Champion at a time when the company seemed rudderless.
He's a great in-ring performer and all-around athlete. But his gift of gab might be his greatest weapon. That's what sets him apart, and why he's one of the best communicators in WWE right now.
As LA Knight, he delivered lines in NXT that were razor sharp, and he's clearly able to command the crowd. He can sometimes even sound like The Great One himself - The Rock.
Sadly, at 39 years of age, the current Max Dupri really got his shot in WWE about five years later than he should have. So, if he's going to take one shot at being a prime-time player, he's got to do a couple of things.
Firstly, lose the silly model gimmick and go back to his original name and persona. And the second one? Engage in a verbal war with whoever the titleholder is. Those exchanges alone could make a legitimate contender in the eyes of the WWE Universe.
#3 - Solo Sikoa
It's doubtful that this ferocious 29-year-old phenom will be challenging for the Universal Title anytime soon. He's firmly aligned with his cousin Roman Reigns and his brothers The Usos. So for now, his main goal will be to protect The Tribal Chief.
Sikoa has everything you can look for in a world championship-caliber athlete. Great size with uncanny agility, mixed with a double shot of tenacity. Throw in the fact that he is part of arguably wrestling's most successful family ever, and he's got the genetics to back it all up, too.
Most experts have already tabbed the current NXT North American Champion for a future spotlight. Now it will be up to WWE to develop his massive talent. And for Solo Sikoa to take his warrior mentality to the next level.
#2 - Gunther
As the Intercontinental Champion, many would argue that Gunther should be considered a main-eventer right now. After all, the titleholder has often been viewed as the automatic number-one contender to the big belt.
While technically that is all true, it doesn't mean anything if there is no push behind it. As of now, Gunther is yet to receive that type of push. But when he finally does... Whoever is holding those two belts should be ready for a war with The Ring General.
The awesome Austrian grappler displays a quiet vicousness in the ring. He stalks opponents like an animal, chopping them into oblivion. He slams and suplexes them like he's throwing around a sack of potatoes. Right down to his basic ring gear, Gunther is the epitome of the term 'old school champion'.
Of all the names on this list, Gunther is the most likely to get a title shot first, because he's already a decorated champion in WWE. His NXT title reign lasted an astounding 870 days and he's looking dominant with the IC belt right now. It's only a matter of time before he gets a main event program against a babyface champion.
He's also incredibly likely to win that match and bring home the biggest prize in WWE someday. Given his age (35) and the fact that he's pretty polished in the ring, it could be sooner rather than later.
#1 - Bron Breakker is currently WWE's number one prospect and a future Universal Champion
If you haven't heard of this kid by now, then you've been living under a rock. Bron Breakker is perhaps the most highly-touted WWE prospect since the famous 'Class of 2002' arrived. That group consisted of names like John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar.
Breakker could someday be in the same category with those guys. He's got that much of an upside.
The son of WWE Hall of Famer Rick Steiner, Breakker is the reigning NXT Champion. It comes as no surprise that he won the gold. It's just been a bit of a shock to many fans that he won the title for a second time; they figured he'd already be on the main roster.
Breakker will be given every opportunity to succeed, considering his talent and pedigree. But it's his connection with the crowd that will fuel him to incredible heights in WWE. Look for him to not only become a main-eventer, but a multi-time Universal Champion someday.