15 Superstars to watch in 2015
A new year brings new opportunities and a clean slate for making an impression. But as the calendar turns, which Superstars have the most potential to take advantage of this fresh start and mark 2015 as their breakout year?
Looking ahead, WWE.com shines the spotlight on 15 that look to be destined for great things in ’15. From a bona fide icon to the fastest rising star in NXT, and everybody in between, these are the Superstars to keep your eye on in the coming 12 months.
He’s not just the best stunt double in the business; he’s also one of the most surprising fan-favorites of the past year. Mimicking The Miz on the microphone, in the ring and even when the “A-lister” is writhing on the ground in agony, Mizdow has mastered the entertainment in “sports-entertainment” in a major way, and it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off The Miz’s doppelganger. Whether alongside the bearer of “The Moneymaker” or on his own, 2015 will be the year of Mizdow.
Although The Miz would argue otherwise, it was Mizdow who was instrumental in capturing the WWE Tag Team Titles for the duo at Survivor Series, and those “We want Mizdow!” chants have kept getting louder ever since that night. We wouldn’t be surprised if Mizdow wears more than mere “stunt championships” on his shoulders in the very near future. — JAMES WORTMAN
Pint-sized NXT Diva Alexa Bliss may be new to the scene, but if her early outings are any indication, she will be a pivotal part of the Diva roster for many years to come. Still in her early 20s, the dazzling Diva, who comes to NXT with a stellar and varied sports background, is the closest WWE has to a real-life Disney princess. But don’t get it twisted; the bright-eyed, spirited and seriously sparkly butt-kicker doesn’t need any prince to save her, and she offers way more than seemingly endless marketability.
Alexa is insanely athletic, having busted out lightning-fast sunset-powerbomb reversals and, if internet footage is to be believed, even the occasional 450 splash. She’s tough, too, not backing down one step in the face of more seasoned talent, like Sasha Banks, whose pulverizing attack against Alexa on a recent NXT episode drew blood. Combining the grace and elegance of Miss Elizabeth with the fearlessness of Team Extreme-era Lita, the future doesn’t just look bright for Alexa Bliss — it sparkles. — JOHN CLAPP
From somewhere between The Jersey Shore and a long-lost “Sopranos” episode came Enzo Amore, the so-called “realest guy in the room” who has trash-talked his way to becoming one of NXT’s most beloved personalities. At less than 6 feet tall and barely weighing in at two bills, Amore makes up for his lack of size with a tough guy mindset and razor sharp tongue. Like a modern-day Mad Dog Vachon, his bark has attracted a cadre of much larger rivals, including Mason Ryan, Rusev and the cocky Francophones of The Legionnaires, which Amore has battled alongside longtime friend Big Cass. How ya doin’?
Few in NXT — or on WWE’s main roster — possess the charisma and unique personality of Hackensack, N.J.’s own “Certified G,” and if Amore’s bite can continue to match his deafening bark, Enzo will be running the yard before you know it. And you can’t teach that. — ZACH LINDER
Tyson Kidd is the last graduate of the renowned Hart Dungeon … fact. Kidd is an in-law of the legendary Hart family … fact. Kidd has his cats airbrushed on his ring gear … fact. OK, so the last statement may not be as vital to Kidd’s potential success in 2015, but it’s still a fact.
It’s also a major part of the arrogance that has helped Kidd finally break through as something more than just a reliable performer, or, worse yet, “Nattie’s husband.” In fact, Kidd has gone a step further by straight up stealing the attention generated by his wife’s accomplishments. While this hasn’t exactly endeared Kidd to the WWE Universe, it has finally begun to establish him as one of WWE’s best all-around performers. With the spotlight starting to shine on Kidd, 2015 may prove to be the year of the cat. — SCOTT TAYLOR
Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy
They may not look like comic-book superheroes or mustache-twirling no-goodniks, but Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy are the NXT tandem everyone will be raving about in 2015.
After coming together in summer 2014, Blake & Murphy impressed against experienced duos like NXT Tag Team Champions The Lucha Dragons and The Vaudevillains, and left fans buzzing with their displays of pure power mixed with uncanny agility. The duo has also shown remarkable chemistry for a fairly new tag team, executing a number of intricate and breathtaking double-team maneuvers.
Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy have been mesmerizing in the ring, despite the fact that they only have a few matches under their belts. They’re only getting better with each bout. Don’t be surprised if Blake & Murphy take the spotlight — and the NXT Tag Team Titles — for themselves in 2015. — BOBBY MELOK
Luke Harper is most certainly the Superstar to watch in 2015. Building on the tremendous path of destruction he helped unleash as part of The Wyatt Family, the bearded Superstar has already separated himself from the pack by capturing his first Intercontinental Championship — an illustrious prize with a history of being a gateway to the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
Harper exudes both brute force and natural ability. Moreover, his unique persona and overall presence will not only continue to intimidate any opponent in the coming year, but will also remain a major subject of curiosity among the WWE Universe. That’s money in the bank.
Fans may hate Luke Harper, but they will, no doubt, love to hate him as his prominence continues to grow in the coming year. — MIKE BURDICK
At first glance, an old-timey tandem of goonish gentlemen looks like something out of WWE’s eccentric, early-1990s doldrums, or at least fodder for a future episode of WWE Countdown where Booker T shakes his head over gimmicks gone wrong. But the indomitable duo of Aiden English & Simon Gotch doesn’t just work, it thrives. Even in NXT, where outlandish personalities run the roost, the so-called Vaudevillains have emerged as a particularly entertaining staple among WWE’s up-and-comers.
The combination of English’s operatic arias and Gotch’s glorious, carnival-barker mustache makes them some of sports-entertainment’s most distinct heirs apparent, and they ain’t bad in the ring, either. The wiry English looks like a human boa constrictor and moves like a high-flyer, while Gotch’s brutishness makes him a heavy hitter to be reckoned with. They display more chivalry than Sir Lancelot on his best day, they exude more manliness than an Old Spice commercial, and they’ll give you a beating that’s more of a throwback than their Ragtime-themed entrance video. Come one, come all. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Bad News Barrett
Bad News Barrett’s biggest rival in his four-year career has been luck. He always suffered the bad end of it at the worst time, with injuries halting his momentum in 2012 and 2014.
As he returns from a shoulder injury that cut his fourth Intercontinental Championship reign short, The Bare-Knuckled Brawler aims to live up to the lofty career trajectory he created when he led The Nexus’ invasion.
It doesn’t take Barrett long to get into his groove of busting noses and breaking news, so when he steps back into the ring, expect him to force his way into the main event quickly. Once again, the winds of change are blowing. — JEFF LABOON
They said it would never happen. Then came Survivor Series 2014. Just as Triple H thought victory was in hand for his Authority, Sting made his long-awaited WWE debut. WCW’s face-painted franchise confronted The Game, took him down with his patented Scorpion Death Drop and shifted the course of WWE by ousting The Authority.
Since that night, the question on everyone’s mind is simply, “When will Sting strike again?” Could he be a surprise entrant in the 2015 Royal Rumble Match? Will Triple H seek vengeance for what Sting cost him at Survivor Series? Will The Stinger actually compete inside a WWE ring and at WrestleMania? The questions surrounding the enigmatic figure only mount anticipation for the coming year.
But as The Man Called Sting always says, “If there’s one thing sure about Sting, it’s that nothing’s for sure.” — KEVIN POWERS
Renee Young has the brightest future of any WWE announcer right now. From backstage interviewer to host to color commentator, the fabulous and funny Toronto native connected instantly with WWE Superstars, Divas and fans. When Renee took the position of “WWE Superstars” color commentator, she became the first woman to do that job full-time in 10 years and the only one to do it well (haters can tweet me @JoeyStyles).
Youth and appearance are as important as talent when it comes to being a sports-entertainment announcer and Renee scores the highest marks in all three categories. Sooner rather than later, Renee will be SmackDown’s color commentator and, soon after, Raw’s. Truth be told, she could do so now for SmackDown, Raw and pay-per-views on WWE Network. If her ascension doesn’t happen, it will equal hiring Mike Adamle when it comes to embarrassing WWE announcing personnel blunders. — JOEY STYLES
Not since Kurt Angle made the move from the Olympic wrestling mats to the squared circle has a competitor been as good as fast as the daughter of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. If ever there was an argument for nepotism, you’ll find it in Charlotte, an athlete so uniquely suited for the art of the canvas you can’t help but believe she inherited it the same way most of us adopt nearsightedness or male pattern baldness.
So far, the NXT Women’s Champion has already competed in what is arguably — although the person playing opposition here would be fighting an uphill battle — the greatest women’s match in WWE history. Where do you go from there? The Divas Title? WrestleMania? The WWE Hall of Fame? None of these things seems out of reach for the single most promising female competitor ever. — RYAN MURPHY
Those who witnessed Finn Bálor compete alongside Hideo Itami at NXT Takeover: R Evolution saw exactly why the Irish-born Superstar is one to keep an eye on in the coming year. For those who haven’t, stop what you’re doing and check out the match on the WWE Network or this clip right here.
Bálor has already emerged with one unique and unforgettable entrance, and the budding Superstar’s in-ring work is hard-hitting, energetic, athletic and, most important of all, innovative. Bálor’s been so impressive down in NXT that he’s gone from debut to marquee spot on a live special — against the brand’s most dominant tag team of all time, mind you — in less than two months.
If that’s what he can do in such a short amount of time in 2014, then you better believe Bálor will be contending for the NXT Title — and maybe even a spot on the main roster — before 2015 comes to a close. — MIKE MURPHY
If you’re looking for a Superstar to follow in 2015, the line starts behind Roman Reigns.
The WWE Universe can’t take their eyes off him. That became clear when, despite being sidelined for nearly three months due to injury, Reigns was voted as the 2014 Superstar of the Year. The people have spoken; they see his potential to one day become “the man.”
Dissecting the year Reigns had, however, isn’t as important as studying the building blocks of what could be a historic WWE career. From his rapid recovery to his Royal Rumble and Survivor Series records to his dominating efforts against Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and others, the former Shield strongman has proven he can overcome nearly any obstacle.
Can Reigns build upon those past successes to reach the summit? The WWE Universe’s gaze will undoubtedly remain upon him in 2015 until the answer comes into focus. — MATTHEW ARTUS
Two powerbombs on the edge of the ring apron, two sickening thuds, and two elite NXT Superstars taken out of the arena on stretchers. That's what Kevin Owens has swiftly delivered since stepping into the spotlight to kick off NXT TakeOver: R Evolution on WWE Network.
If you weren't already buying into the hype surrounding Owens' debut, K.O. made sure you at least were taking notice that he is a man of a different breed, if you can even classify him as a "man" and not a beast who will stab his longtime friend in the back and mercilessly pick the bones clean. Owens didn't come all this way — battling across the globe since the age of 16 against the independent scene's absolute best — to simply fill another spot on the NXT roster. The 6-foot, 266-pound brawler is here to pummel the competition en route to WWE Superstardom. And if you dare to doubt it, just ask Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville how their battered backs are feeling. — TOM HERRERA
Chris Jericho, Edge, Triple H … Dolph Ziggler.
In 2014, The Showoff joined that elite list of Superstars, who have captured the Intercontinental Championship on four occasions. Ziggler didn’t mark the milestone with confetti or a cake made in his image. Instead, at WWE TLC, he simply stole the show. Like he does. Every single night.
To give Dolph his due, it’s worth recalling that early in 2014 The Showoff appeared to be questioning his motivation and his very role in WWE. It was the WWE Universe, however, that knew precisely where Ziggler belonged — at the top. Fans refused to throw in the towel, and that support began to pay dividends when Dolph played an instrumental role in ridding WWE of The Authority at Survivor Series. Ziggler debuted with WWE in 2008, making him a seasoned veteran among the roster, but he’s still young enough to remain a vibrant and relevant force among the current crop of newer Superstars. It’s an exciting and advantageous position for him to find himself.
Evidence that this will be The Year of The Showoff only continues to mount. And in the words of Dolph himself, “I set out to set the bar and what it means to be the best in this business.” For 2015, that means the best is yet to come. — GREG ADKINS