The world of professional wrestling has often been based around how the fans react to a certain wrestler and their gimmick. We have seen wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Rob Van Dam get over largely due to the fans in the past. We also see certain wrestlers get a big push due to backstage support. No matter which route they go, the average year in WWE is bound to see a breakout star or two.
With Kofi Kingston having had quite the year so far, we’re going to have a look through 5 more potential breakout stars for 2019. Let us know who you think deserves a huge 2019 in the comments below.
5. Tony Nese
The current 205 Live Champion has quickly established himself as one of the better in ring competitors in WWE. With a mix of high flying, power, and personality, Nese has cemented himself as the top of the 205 Live brand. His physique is surely a topic of discussion for many higher ups in WWE and having both a marketable look and a high in-ring IQ isn’t often a combination found in most modern wrestlers.
We are just seeing the beginning of The Premier Athlete’s reign over the cruiserweight division, but so far, he has added a newfound freshness to the often under marketed show. Having put on great matches with Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander, it’s great to imagine the possible matchups with main roster superstars like Seth Rollins and AJ Styles. If Nese continues to bring more viewership to 205 Live, expect for a main roster call up in the next year.
4. Keith Lee
So far, we haven’t seen an incredible amount of Keith Lee on NXT. Part of this is due to an injury that he’s been trying to recover from for the past few months. There are very few wrestlers in the world who are built like Lee that can pull of some of the moves he can.
Lee, a former football player, has picked up so quickly on the art of wrestling in such a short amount of time. We have seen him wrestle in some of the biggest wrestling promotions like PWG and Ring of Honor, and he has flourished in these environments. Now that he is healthy, and looks ready to go, perhaps we can see some great feuds in NXT with the likes of Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, and Matt Riddle. Being a wrestler that has such a diverse move set, a good personality in the babyface department, and good a strong connection with the fans, we could see Keith Lee as the future of NXT in the next year.
3. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne has been under the radar since having his 685 day United Kingdom championship reign ended by Walter at NXT Takeover: New York. Mixing an array of brawling, technical wrestling, and the backing of Triple H has really catapulted ‘The Bruiserweight’ into being one of the most over superstars under the NXT umbrella. Many people expected Dunne to be destined for the main roster after dropping his title but so far we haven’t seen anything transpire. After losing the rematch for the UK Championship, maybe now is the time to launch Dunne to the main roster.
Pete Dunne already has the fan support, key backstage favour from Triple H and a unique gimmick, so it begs the question, “When will we see Pete Dunne on the main roster?”. We have already seen match of the year candidates on multiple occasions from him, given the right debut and feuds off the bat, it’d be easy to see Dunne as a top tier superstar within the next year.
2. Sami Zayn
Since coming to the WWE in 2013, it seems like Sami Zayn has always been just a few steps away from being a top level superstar. In NXT, Zayn became the champion and had a great program with Kevin Owens. Months went by and we then saw Zayn on RAW, being announced by Bret Hart in his hometown during his debut against John Cena. Unfortunately, injuries arose right after the match and the wait continued.
All these years later and the ‘Underdog from the Underground’ still hasn’t really moved much in the hierarchy. Zero title reigns, a current gimmick with no clear direction, and becoming increasingly frustrated. The mic skills are there, the in-ring skills are absolutely above average, and he has ground for a pretty good gimmick. He has all the traits to be a star that people either love to cheer or love to boo. He plays both roles really well and that is why he can thrive in any situation.
1. Buddy Murphy
Buddy Murphy has really earned his “Best Kept Secret” nickname. Going from NXT Tag Team Champion with Wesley Blake to being absolutely non-existent on the developmental roster, Buddy Murphy was reborn when given the opportunity at 205 Live. He is arguably the most successful wrestler to come out of 205 Live since the creation of the brand in 2016. Another superstar heavily promoted by Triple H, Murphy took advantage of the situation and created a new opportunity for himself.
With Buddy Murphy now a member of the Smackdown Live roster, we have yet to see anything other than a few promos from him. With his dedication to rebuilding his character, the ability to put on incredible matches, and improving his promos every day, it’s hard not to see this guy as a potential main eventer of Wrestlemania down the road. We have seen his great matches with Cedric Alexander, Ali, and Velveteen Dream and now we have the potential for even better matches with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, and Finn Balor.