Twelve to Watch in 2012
It’s easy to argue that 2011 was the year of CM Punk, who not only captured two WWE Championships last year but ushered in a new era of change as the self-appointed “Voice of the Voiceless.” Others, however, contend that 2011 was the year of Daniel Bryan, who used his prized Money in the Bank briefcase to catapult himself to World Heavyweight Championship glory last month at WWE TLC.
Whoever’s year 2011 might have been, it’s time to look ahead. Who will we all be talking about in 2012? Which up-and-coming Superstar will break out this year? Which ring warriors will reclaim their former glory? Who will we all be tweeting about in the months ahead? Check out our list of 12 competitors we think will change the landscape of WWE this year.
Dolph Ziggler – This blond blowhard never resists the opportunity to show off, and as much as it pains us to say it, he backs up his boastful words with undeniably remarkable in-ring ability. In fact, Ziggler managed to cling to the illustrious United States Championship for nearly six months last year – no easy feat.
Sure, Ziggler also held the World Heavyweight Championship for 11 minutes in 2011, but something tells us this talented young Superstar will have a more substantial World Title reign to brag about before the final bells of 2012 begin to chime.
Eve – With her stunning combination of beauty, brains and in-ring prowess, Eve will no doubt go down in WWE history as one of the most impactful Divas of all time. This bronze-skinned beauty’s continued study of Jiu-Jitsu has kept her at the apex of the Divas division, earning her a Divas Championship victory in a highly competitive Fatal 4-Way Match at the Royal Rumble last year. Will Eve net her third butterfly-emblazoned Divas Title in 2012? She’s made beliEVErs out of us.
Ted DiBiase – Ever since this third-generation Superstar abandoned his notorious wealth-flaunting ways, he’s been on the best roll of his career – due in no small part to the support of a growing legion of WWE Universe members calling themselves the “DiBiase Posse.” Outside WWE live events across the country, the former holder of the Million Dollar Title tailgates with his Posse in the parking lot. But he’s not just getting better at grilling: DiBiase is a force between the ropes.
Chris Jericho – Following weeks of cryptic viral videos that both confused and captivated keen-eyed members of the WWE Universe, Chris Jericho made his monumental return to WWE on Jan. 2, 2012, re-emerging on Raw as thousands of WWE Universe members inside the FedEx Forum chanted his name.
His response to the jubilant throngs? Well, verbally he said nothing, which only fanned the flames of speculation as our fans wondered why WWE’s first ever Undisputed Champion had come back to WWE. Regardless of what “began” that night, Jericho set the wheels in motion for what could be his most monumental year yet.
Hunico – Little is known about this former bearer of the “Sin Cara” mantle, but Hunico’s rugged offensive style and awe-inspiring arsenal of aerial maneuvers has helped him make a name for himself on SmackDown in a relatively short period of time. With the equally mysterious Camacho by his side, Hunico is poised for greatness in 2012.
Wade Barrett – He masterminded The Nexus’ assault on Monday Night Raw and united with The Corre on SmackDown, but this former Intercontinental Champion is finally forging his own path as his one-man “Barrett Barrage” rolls on. In the past year, Barrett has impressively stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Randy Orton, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan – all of whom have at some point held World Championships. If the Barrett Barrage continues, joining their ranks will be inevitable.
Rey Mysterio – After attaining his first-ever WWE Championship back in July, only to lose it to John Cena the very same night, Rey-Rey’s 2011 took a steep downturn when his archrival Alberto Del Rio took him out of action for the remainder of the year.
In an exclusive interview with WWE.com reporters at the 2011 Slammy Awards, Rey revealed that he was hoping to be back in the ring and thrilling the WWE Universe in time for WrestleMania XXVIII. Can we expect a fully healed Ultimate Underdog to heat up Miami at The Showcase of the Immortals?
Zack Ryder – Will Zack Ryder continue to flourish in 2012? #AreYouSeriousBro? Using his smash-hit YouTube show and the power of social media to cultivate a passionate fan following, the 2011 Trending Star of the Year capped off last year with an incredible U.S. Championship victory over Dolph Ziggler – a bout made possible thanks to the thousands of Broskis who signed Ryder’s online petition. Now that he’s joined the ranks of such ring icons as Bret Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Sgt. Slaughter and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper by attaining the illustrious star-spangled prize, the “Ryder Revolution” is finally in full effect.
Cody Rhodes – Plumbing the deepest recesses of his twisted mind following a disfiguring nose injury, the formerly “dashing” Cody Rhodes underwent a startling psychological metamorphosis in 2011 that fueled his innate desire for championship gold. After soundly defeating his rival Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania XXVII, this multi-generation competitor went on to capture the Intercontinental Championship and embark on a mission to restore the illustrious prize to its former glory. Whether or not the WWE Universe agrees with his self-aggrandizing quest is of little consequence to this unruly loose cannon, who will no doubt continue putting the entire SmackDown roster on notice in the New Year.
Sheamus – After standing up to a rampaging Mark Henry last summer, this hot-head has been a major player on SmackDown. Cutting a swath through the competition with his feared Brogue Kick and his formidable High Cross, this two-time WWE Champion has already vowed to win the 2012 Royal Rumble Match. On Jan. 29, there will be blood in the water as The Great White attempts to sink his teeth into a guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship opportunity at WrestleMania XXVIII.
Kane – Through hellfire and brimstone, Kane returned to his more monstrous roots in late 2011, targeting John Cena and tempting the Cenation leader not to “Rise Above Hate,” but embrace it as the evil 7-footer does. Donning his signature red mask for the first time in eight years, The Devil’s Favorite Demon is arguably more terrifying than ever as he casts his chilling gaze on the year ahead.
R-Truth – One month after being taken out of action by his former tag team partner The Miz with a Skull-Crushing Finale onto the stage, this rhyming renegade returned to Raw SuperShow in late 2011 to humble The Awesome One with a ferocious beatdown that had even “Little Jimmys” standing up and cheering. As he told WWE.com moments after the incident, that initial attack was “only the beginning.” We certainly wouldn’t want to be The Miz – or anyone else that crosses Truth – in the coming year.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?