As WWE meanders through the final days of spring with one more pay-per-view until the official start of the summer season, I have found myself giving thought to a notion all Cagesiders share:
Half of a year is in the books and there's another half to fill. Maybe now more than in the last 30 years, WWE is poised to embark upon a journey into a new frontier. What I believe we are witnessing is none other than the beginnings of the next generation of WWE superstars, the spectacular rise of performers that include but is not limited to: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, Fandango, and now Bray Wyatt and Curtis Axel. That's just to name a few.
The arrival of that new blood is juxtaposed with a generation of main eventers that are about to be or have already arrived at their expiration date. The proverbial passing of the torch is about to do just that -- get passed. It will get passed to a generation of superstars that are most certainly ready to take it and make it shine even brighter.
Sure, the men I've mentioned have been around the block a few times, some competing on the independent circuit, others having been repackaged by WWE, and some both. They are not exactly "new faces". Not in the wrestling sense of "new," anyway. Yet, they are new in the sense of being the main players involved in WWE moving forward.
I might draw the criticism of a few members here for grouping current non-main eventers into my cast of characters above. Though some of the men I listed may not populate the main event for a quite a while, if at all, they will be on the periphery of that scene, and almost assuredly will be the focal point of the mid-card. I'm sure other members here, and even myself, could add to this list. Names such as Wade Barret, Justin Gabriel, Big E Langston, Heath Slater, and Titus O'Neil spring to mind. Major stars such as Triple H, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and Randy Orton are willing to put over these new superstars more than ever.
Wyatt and Axel just got a glowing endorsement from Orton himself, actually.
Past legends Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin have lauded The Shield as the best new act in WWE in a long time. These goings on can only mean one thing: the current WWE main eventers are on their way out, and to promote and market the future, WWE has to start it now. With The Rock likely gone for good after WrestleMania 30, the limited dates of Brock Lesnar, and Undertaker and Triple H conceivably gone by next year, as well, this is the time of the season for planting the seeds of change. We are starting to see that happen now.
Axel is being pushed hard with the backing of Paul Heyman and he's on the verge of being put over by "The Game." Undertaker only added to Punk's legend with their match at WrestleMania. Fandango was put over by Jericho. Ziggler and Bryan seem to gain more popularity no matter what the circumstances of their character may be. The influx of talent WWE is witnessing is only rivaled by that of the start of the Rock 'N' Wrestling era when half the wrestlers across the country wanted to be a part of, and the other half were being courted by, the then WWF.
No this isn't a doom and gloom critique of the current PG Era, or how "Super-Cena" is ruining wrestling as we know it. It is the assertion that within the next year and a half or less, the WWE landscape will be completely filled with what are only now burgeoning "new" superstars as the main focus of all storylines and feuds.
Something to ponder on those sultry summer nights headed our way.
Now, however, I leave you with a couple questions, Cagesiders, as I so often do: Who do you think the future of WWE will be built around after Cena and the old guard are gone completely? Who will become a legend? Who will the WWE entrust as its champions? As the face of its product?
As the holder of the torch?