The WWE youth movement was in full throttle back in April 2014. New WWE stars were on ascending as fans got excited for a new era. A look back at the movement shows missed opportunities and disappointment over a year and a half later.
I have written two previous blogs on this class (here and here) as I have charted their progress since the movement began. If there is one common theme here it is the disappointment. It was bleak the second time I checked in at the beginning of 2015. Bleak has subsided for fail as we close out the year.
What’s interesting is that there is a completely different youth movement underway today, yet it was not that long ago this new class was just taking off. Today I want to look back at the six stars and pick up where I left off in January.
Bray Wyatt – I have always found Bray Wyatt too one-dimensional since he broke out in the winter of 2013. Ironically I remember getting into several arguments over that comment on social media back then, yet today most would probably agree with me. I said back in January that this was a crucial year for Bray and it was. Unfortunately, I don’t think he is in a better spot than he was when he came into the year. He is closing out the year feuding with The Dudleys. That’s not progress in my opinion.
Roman Reigns – Reigns is probably the most intriguing on the list. When I wrote my first blog back in April 2014, I predicted that Reigns’ star would shine brightest of the list. Boy has things changed. It’s really a reminder of how badly the company has squandered his momentum over the last year and a half. Reigns definitely evolved in the ring in 2015 and is consistently having the best matches of his singles career. Unfortunately the company’s lack of confidence in him to get the ball has shown and 2016 really is a make or break year for this guy in regards to being the top guy.
Cesaro – If there was anyone on here that I was personally rooting for it was Cesaro. I knew how talented he was the first time I called his matches back in my CZW days. Cesaro flirted with some big pushes in 2015. His win over Kevin Owens was probably his biggest moment on paper, yet I would argue his excellent match with Roman Reigns on RAW was probably Cesaro at his best. In addition to his great matches with Owens and Reigns, he had a hell of a match with John Cena on RAW. The time off due to injury may help him, allowing him to freshen up. I just hope the company shows more confidence in him in 2016 as I feel they are leaving money on the table by minimizing his talents.
Seth Rollins – Rollins definitely outperformed my outlook at the beginning of the year. I predicted that he would likely be moved to mid-card after his feud early in the year with John Cena, yet the opposite happened. Rollins was given the WWE world title and put in the main-events. I didn’t see it coming and it was a refreshing change to where things stood when he first started to break out in April 2014. He’s a player and while he may never be the franchise player some hoped he’d be, he’ll always be hanging out in or near the top.
Dean Ambrose – I was real high on Ambrose the first and second time I took a look at this roster. I even wrote that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a short WWE world title reign in 2015. Wow, was I wrong. Yes, he had a couple of headlining main-events against Rollins, but the company has clearly blown it with him. I think he had a ton of momentum last fall when Reigns got hurt. The company felt the same, thus they made sure he was booked to fail. Any time Ambrose has gotten a bit of steam with the fans, the company has made it a point to dial him back. I don’t see 2016 being much different.
Daniel Bryan – I include Bryan here since he was on the list in the first two blogs I wrote on the youth movement. Unfortunately, Bryan’s career is in jeopardy after suffering a major injury after WrestleMania, thus it’s impossible to analyze or predict where things for Bryan in 2016. One thing was clear is that Bryan was poised for big things if he stayed healthy and finished his run as intercontinental champion.