Happy New Year one and all! I hope everyone has greatly enjoyed their holiday and new year’s season. I’m not entirely positive why people become so simultaneously reflective and forward thinking when a new year hits, but add me to the list of culprits. It’s hard to not think of the year that was and the year to come. In the world of wrestling, 2008 brought us the elevation of CM Punk/Jeff Hardy/Mark Henry/the latest incarnation of Chris Jericho to championship level, Kovzlov to main event challenger status, The Brian Kendrick/Evan Bourne to the new upper mid card, Michelle McCool to a perch atop of the Diva’s division, and brought us Glamarella as the best comedy pairing to hit the WWE in several years. However, I’d prefer to look ahead at the year to come. Here’s a handful superstars that will take the jump to a higher station on the card in 2009:
KELLY KELLY is likely the hottest, freshest young diva to come along in years and with her continued development in the ring, I can see her continuing with cross-over storylines that elevate her out of the women’s division and result in her becoming more of a regular focal point. THE BELLA TWINS are simply too great of a novelty for creative to pass them by. Whether it’s a love triangle, a threesome storyline, a feud between them, or any of the other obvious choices…they will be a big part of women’s wrestling this upcoming year. I believe EVE is set to take the biggest step up though. She has been avidly training to get in the ring and WWE loves to shotgun the belt onto divas rather quickly. So from only wrestling in 16 diva novelty matches to champion will be a huge boom for the uber sexy Eve.
The Upper Mid-Carders (and this one will surprise many)
Looking for this year’s Brian Kendrick…the unexpected bottom of the card guy who takes a completely unexpected, shocking climb up the ranks? Trust me, you’re going to have to look long and hard before you ever come up with this one, but I know the answer. JESSE. For those of you who don’t know this, Jesse is portrayed by Ray Gordy, the son of the late legendary Fabulous Freebird Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy. In turn, he has an enormous advocate high up in the company, in the form of Terry’s former tag team partner and close friend, Michael Hayes. In turn, expect Jesse to abandon his biscuits and gravy for the high life this year. I believe he will end up as a permanent fixture of The Legacy. Suits and a slicked back pony tail here he comes. Ironically, this move may probably open the door for FESTUS to take it up a notch as well. Figure he’ll become unhinged without Jesse to keep him in line, and we all know how much WWE loves monsters as foils to their main event faces.
You know that they say…fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Well, I’ve let MR. KENNEDY fool me a bunch of times. And this year is going to be his last chance. Color me gullible, but I think he’s going to pull it off this time. Fans seem to hold it against him that he tends to be "injury prone," but I don’t think that should be a major knock against him. Many of his injuries have been of a freak nature, and let us not forget that Cena, HHH, Edge, and many other top notch guys have missed big chunks of time with injury in the past few years. Kennedy has a charisma that simply can not be denied and that is the number one trait in creating a mega star. However, much like Randy Orton, he MUST be a heel. This goofy, half face persona is not right for him. He can be arrogant, self promoting, and even cheered…but he needs to be going against the good guys, not teasing MVP.
CODY RHODES is one of the few guys on the entire roster who we can expect to be seeing on our televisions eight years from now still starring on RAW. When he premiered earlier last year, he was appallingly vanilla. A fellow wrestling afficianado and friend of mine would always speak out on Cody’s behalf and I always laughed at him. I just didn’t see it. Now I do. He has the pedigree, the look, and he’s slowly working on the character. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but things are clicking for Rhodes. With wrestling in his blood and several higher ups going to bat for him, Cody will both put in the necessary work and be rewarded for doing so. We all know Orton will eventually splinter off from The Legacy, at which time either Rhodes will become the kingpin or be pushed into a feud with Randy or both. Either way, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Cody Rhodes this year. He will main event a PPV in 2009.
If you’ve read my columns this year, you’d know that I’ve been very high on the last two guys on my list. One could argue that they already pretty close to the top of the card, but THE MIZ and JOHN MORRISON are going to soar even higher this year and the sky is the limit. I view them as still being towards the beginning stages of a long transitional phase. Triple H went from Hunter Hearst Helmsley to the crazy, nutty member of DX. I bet many people thought that was the pinnacle for him. Yet he transitioned from silly to serious and took his career to far greater heights. The Rock went from Rocky Maivia to the leader of The Nation. Once again, seems like a pretty big jump in its own right, but then he went on to get a million times bigger. So yes, these two have already taken a big step up, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. We all know that eventually these two will split and we all know that it will be Morrison who becomes the true breakout star. I don’t think we’re up at that point yet…I think they will still be a pairing for most of 2009 and will continue to ascend upward together.