10 Superstars to watch out for in 2013

Well, 2012 is in the books, and the WWE Universe rolls into 2013 with a whole lot to look forward to. The Rock will challenge for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble, CM Punk will chase the 500-day mark (and beyond) as WWE Champion, and if Triple H is to be believed, The Undertaker will return at some point in the days ahead. But we at WWE.com like to think of the New Year as more of a time for opportunity than certainty; a chance for a Superstar on the rise to truly make his or her mark in the squared circle, and cement one’s status as the guy (or gal) to beat.

The year 2012 was no exception – remember, this time last year Dolph Ziggler had just lost the U.S. Title, but he eventually parlayed that into a Money in the Bank contract – and we’re sure 2013 will be a banner year for some of the Superstars who broke through into the spotlight over these past 12 months. So, coming off a wild, wacky 2012, here are 10 Superstars and Divas we think are slated to have a very lucky ’13 indeed.

Team Rhodes Scholars

Team Rhodes Scholars say they are the best team in WWE.

The only thing on par with the I.Q. of this smarmy twosome is their wrestling abilities. The veteran-newcomer tandem of Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow wasn’t one that anyone really saw coming. However, after the former Intercontinental Champion united alongside “The Duke of Decency” in a bid for the WWE Tag Team Championships, the entire division was immediately put on notice. Rhodes hasn’t lost a step despite having surrendered his coveted Intercontinental Title last spring, and Sandow has proven in a pair of slugfests with Sheamus that his cultivated demeanor is mere window dressing for a primal ferocity in the ring. If there’s any reason more Superstars haven’t fallen victim to Team Rhodes Scholars, it’s that the two have zeroed in on Team Hell No’s Tag Titles with laser-like precision. If they ever do manage to pry the titles away from Kane & Daniel Bryan, though, we’re sure that will change very, very quickly.

And yes, they both have great facial hair. This is also important. At least, they think so.


Kaitlyn looks to get her hands on Aksana inside the ring on Raw.

Beth Phoenix may have left WWE in 2012, but pretty powerhouse Kaitlyn was right there to pick up the slack and take up The Glamazon’s mantle. A fixture of WWE NXT over the past few years, Kaitlyn found herself rapidly climbing the ranks of the Divas division when she became No. 1 contender to Layla’s Divas Title, but was hobbled backstage before she could challenge for the prize. Eve would take Kaitlyn’s place and go on to win the title, but Kaitlyn’s pursuit of the Divas Championship hasn’t stopped since. In the months that followed, she revealed herself to pack quite the punch, busting out power moves against her outmatched fellow Divas, and inching ever closer to netting the butterfly-emblazoned title for herself. A series of circumstances have kept Kaitlyn at bay for the moment, but as 2013 rolls around, expect her to break through again in a big way.

Antonio Cesaro

Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro clash on a Raw in a Champion vs. Champion match.

They call Rey Mysterio the “Human Highlight Reel,” but the reigning United States Champion has been making a strong case for himself as heir apparent to that title, racking up a sizzle reel’s worth of OMG moments thanks to his Herculean strength and no-nonsense style of competition. A chiseled, striking type when he first arrived in WWE this past spring as Aksana’s arm candy, Antonio Cesaro quickly refashioned himself into a brutally efficient wrestling powerhouse upon capturing the U.S. Title from Santino Marella. Since then, The Swiss Superman has unveiled one bone-rattling maneuver after another, from his earthshaking Neutralizer to his dreaded Very European Uppercut, where Cesaro tosses his opponents skyward and cuts them off mid-descent with a brick-like elbow to the face. Oh, we forgot to mention he speaks five languages, which is appropriate since we think his potential knows no borders, and his talent has no ceiling.

Tyson Kidd

The rivalry between Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd and 3MB heats up on WWE Main Event.

If you knew where to look, Tyson Kidd was one of WWE’s most entertaining Superstars in 2012. The Hart Dungeon graduate and former WWE Tag Team Champion grew into his own as a mat-wrestler/highflier hybrid, putting his own impossible spin on classic maneuvers and assembling a portfolio of jaw-dropping feats across the sport’s smaller stages like NXT and Superstars. Though he failed to capture the World Heavyweight Title Money in the Bank contract, Kidd made his presence felt in that contest, one of the match’s marquee moments saw him execute a wild springboard powerbomb that sent Dolph Ziggler tumbling from halfway off a ladder. Kidd shone again at Survivor Series, where he was the hero of the bonus 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match, but he has been relatively quiet since. Still, if WWE has taught us anything, it’s that hard work eventually pays off, and there are few Superstars who toil quite as hard as Tyson Kidd. He has proven that he’ll make the best of any opportunity given, and we have a feeling he’ll be getting a few more in 2013.

Wade Barrett

Wade Barrett gets one more opportunity at the Intercontinental Championship on Raw.

Arguably, 2012 was something of a lost year for the brawling Brit, whose promising ascent through the ranks of WWE was cut short in February following a severe injury to his elbow. Following a lengthy recovery process (and, from what we can surmise, some soul-searching across various dingy alleys in Old Blighty), The Barrett Barrage resumed with newfound ferocity and little preamble this past fall, and it hasn’t stopped rolling since. A series of gruesome contests against Sheamus proved Barrett still packs a punch, and the Englishman closed out his 2012 in the most dominant fashion possible: By avenging a loss to Kofi Kingston at WWE TLC and taking The Dreadlocked Dynamo's Intercontinental Championship for the second time at the Dec. 29 Raw taping in Washington, D.C. ( FULL STORY)


Ryback reveals to CM Punk that the two of them will be competing for the WWE Championship in a TLC Match on the first Raw of 2013.

How hungry can one man be? With Ryback, one assumes this is a rhetorical question. The man devouredeverythingin his path in 2012, mauling a metaphorical swath through the ranks of WWE en route to a pair of WWE Title Matches against CM Punk at Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series. Not to delve too deep into hyperbole here, but we’re relatively sure there isn’t a current Superstar in the locker room as feared as Ryback is, and for good reason. Since his debut in April, Ryback has suffered only three losses, and only one in a one-on-one contest at that (which, needless to say, came thanks to rogue referee Brad Maddox ambushing Ryback inside Hell in a Cell and leaving Punk to pick the bones). In fact, the only thing Ryback didn’t accomplish this past year was winning a title, but he marches into 2013 with a WWE Championship Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match already on his plate. It seems only a matter of time before the hungry man claims his prize. It’s what he might pursue after reaching his goal that has the WWE Universe most excited. Feed us more!

The Shield

The Shield promises that 2013 will bring a volatile continuation of their battle against "injustice."

If you had asked the WWE Universe who Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were in the first 11 months of 2012, there’s a strong chance you’d have gotten a blank stare and a raised eyebrow. Now, of course, it’s a different story. Ever since this triumvirate of NXT Superstars surged into Survivor Series and laid waste to Ryback, “The Shield” has inspired untold unease among the ranks of WWE Superstars, leaving them to wonder who will be next in their crosshairs. Claiming to defend “justice” in a WWE that allegedly lacks it, the trio was hardly shy in choosing its targets: John Cena, Ryback, Randy Orton, Team Hell No, and others who they believe embody a broken system that they swore to change before NXT. With Ambrose as the group’s mouthpiece, Rollins as its daredevil and Reigns as its bruiser, The Shield made its biggest statement yet by defeating Team Hell No & Ryback in a brutal Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match at WWE TLC, ensuring their reign of terror would continue well into 2013. And the scary thing is, they’re just getting warmed up.

AJ Lee

A serious conflict between Kaitlyn and AJ Lee turns into a backstage brawl between the two former friends.

Go figure that a slight, five-foot Diva would become the most feared figure in WWE whose name doesn’t include the word “McMahon.” AJ Lee began 2012in as unassuming a way as one can imagine, relegated to Daniel Bryan’s subversive, submissive arm candy. However, after her involvement in what inadvertently cost Bryan the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania and herself a boyfriend, a funny thing happened: AJ kind of … snapped. Suddenly, AJ wasn’t so meek, and she began engaging in mind games with anyone and everyone she could while experiencing radical, unpredictable mood swings.

Her machinations eventually turned Daniel Bryan, WWE Champion CM Punk and Kane against each other in a bizarre battle for her affections that would have made William Shakespeare blush. Things grew even more interesting when Mr. McMahon named her Raw General Manager, a decision which – among other things – led to the creation of Team Hell No. But AJ found herself embroiled in controversy when rumors of an affair with John Cena surfaced toward the end of the year, forcing her to resign while Mr. McMahon installed Vickie Guerrero as Raw’s “Managing Supervisor.”

AJ’s relationship with Cena had just begun to blossom when she betrayed him at WWE TLC and instead found comfort in the chiseled arms of Dolph Ziggler. She made her biggest power play yet on the Dec. 17 edition of Raw, summoning Big E Langston from NXT to further her agenda against the 10-time WWE Champion. What AJ has planned for 2013 is anyone’s guess, but to think she won’t be a major player in the coming calendar year? That’s just crazy.

CM Punk

With the help of Paul Heyman, WWE Champion CM Punk updates the WWE Universe on his condition following knee surgery and even challenges anyone to strip him of his title.

Ladies and gentlemen, the champ is here. Nobody in WWE had a more interesting 2012 than CM Punk, who began the calendar year still riding high on support from the WWE Universe, but went into business for himself at about the halfway point after deciding he was being overlooked in favor of “old guard” favorites like The Rock, Triple H and John Cena. Punk has rediscovered his mean streak since then, retaining his prized championship by hook or by crook since Raw 1,000, and even allying with his old mentor, Paul Heyman, in pursuit of vindication. But he has also grown somewhat desperately protective – some might say paranoid – of that same championship, and he enters 2013 with not one, but two potential defenses on the horizon: A Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match against Ryback, and, should he retain, a possible showdown with The Rock at Royal Rumble. Whether Punk is still WWE Champion in a month remains to be seen. However, given how his 2012 has gone, it would be folly to say his 2013 won’t be just as intriguing.

Dolph Ziggler

The Miz takes on Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler.

Is there anyone out there who really doubts 2013 will be The Year of Ziggler? Few Superstars toiled as tirelessly as The Showoff did in 2012. Each time Ziggler found himself outmatched by the likes of Sheamus or Chris Jericho, he bounced back stronger and harder for the rematch (one such contest actually sent Jericho packing from WWE). If he failed, he always failed at full speed, and he never made any victory easy for his opponents. A well-scouted contest against Sheamus at No Way Out nearly netted Ziggler the World HeavyweightTitle, he won the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract a month later, and dug deep at WWE TLC to retain the contract against John Cena. Ziggler will go into the New Year with the contract still in his possession, and a cash-in strategy known only to him. What is certain is that it’s coming, and with AJ Lee and Big E Langston now at his side, it’ll probably come sooner than later. In a nutshell, to paraphrase the theme music of Ziggler’s most recent rival: his time is now.

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