Not since the attitude era have we seen fan elation over so many superstars like we see now in what’s known as the “reality era” of wrestling. A huge reason for that is numerous superstars have made a name for themselves before having set foot in the WWE, thanks to the independent wrestling scenes and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The most over stars today are from the outside, I’m talking wrestlers like A.J. Styles, Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe were all popularized by “smart mark” fans for their work in other companies. This has changed the landscape in terms of finding talent for the WWE, as there’s a larger field to pick out their next star. Today we don’t see many wrestlers start out their career underneath the WWE umbrella like we used to back in the day, before the boom of indie darlings. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be best for the company if they were able to grow their own stars organically by their own terms, you never know what turn this business might take.
That all being said, the homegrown talent the WWE does have on the main roster are currently both some of the largest names in the company, but completely over with the crowd regardless if they’re a face or a heel. When I say over with the crowd, I mean really favored by the audience. This is not like being “over” because the company puts you in a winning spot. For example, Roman Reigns and John Cena are “over”, but they come out to mostly boos when their entrance song hits, or 50/50 cheers to boos at best.
Here’s a comprised list of Raw and SmackDown homegrown stars who are red hot in acceptance.
Whether it’s dismantling the roster limb from limb by slamming opponents through tables and literally destroying Raw’s stage configuration or coming up with a t-shirt making worthy catchphrase like “catch these hands”, Braun Strowman gets your eyes glued to the television. His massive size and strength is one thing, but it’s his athletic ability that keeps people interested.
He doesn’t just beat people, he ragdolls them, causing destruction everywhere. Braun’s skill has seen him flip trucks, break steel cages and even take down all four turnbuckles from a top turnbuckle suplex. He even did a kip up for goodness sake! A kip up! No one his size can do that. Every time he raises his hands, you have the crowd yelling “BRAUNNNN!” along with him. His bit playing the large bass to counter Elias solidifies Strowman even more. Just wait until he wins a title.
He might be a heel but he’s now become a favorite to those in the crowd. The Miz has the uncanny ability to configure up such insulting arguments to his target, that it leaves everyone going “ohhh!” after it. His speaking ability and Hollywood bravado make you hate how much you like him. Before his wrestling time, he was on MTV’s The Real World, but the Miz has done well in shedding the stigma of being “that guy” and becoming a marketable WWE character. His previous working helped him with cutting promos in front of large crowds, and now he’s parlayed all his success into TMZ videos and future tv shows.
It’s clear the company is skyrocketing onto the back of Elias and shooting him to the top, but it’s all for good reasons. He is white hot nuclear with the crowd, who cheer him one moment and boo the next when he insults them during his concert. Over as he is with his musical gimmick, it’s now paying off in the ring as he just won a triple threat match by pinning John Cena. Elias guitar solo’s cant go more than five seconds without verbiage from the fans, it’s funny though how they get so aggravated with him once he starts talking, but yet still get excited whenever he first pops up on screen.
He does a great job pouring into the emotion by asking people to hold their applause until the end. When he asks “Who wants to walk with Elias?” It’s everyone. The wrestler formerly known as Sampson has done the most with his time on the main roster, benefitting from a push here that he never had in NXT. In fact, he’s learned on the fly mostly here, but he’s walking tall because of it.
Contrary to what some may believe in that her father Ric Flair is the reason she has stardom in wrestling, Charlotte earned every opportunity on her own from her first day at FCW. She certainly has glitz and glamour like her father, but Flair has taken the torch from Ric and ran with it, to become the biggest name in women’s wrestling.
Second Nature doesn’t even begin to describe her talent and athleticism. In just two years on the main roster, Charlotte has blazed a trail to become known as the best wrestler in women’s history. She’s already the best the company has to offer as a generational talent. Anywhere Flair goes she is followed by a WOOO!
You know what day it is? It’s Rusev Day. The Bulgarian Brute’s current run with his tag team partner Aiden English has fans chanting his name throughout the arena. His career path is an interesting one, going from hated destructive villain to seamlessly transition to a very funny and likable babyface.
Rusev is fantastic at both the heel and face role, his marriage to Lana and her help in a managerial role was part of why he was liked. Even now with Lana focusing on the women’s division, Rusev has kept that spectacular likeness of him. He’s been used as the fall guy at times in matches much to the chagrin of fans. Because of approval of the fans though with the Rusev Day slogan, he should be seeing a title relatively soon.
All of the tag team division is on lock thanks to these guys. Once a change in wardrobe and mannerisms to a street tough smack talking duo has shot this tag team to the moon. Their in-ring ability has made the Uso’s able to put on five-star matches with anyone, but it’s now constant promotional work that has won over all the fans.
They started off as heels with their “Day One Ish” gimmick but have gotten so beloved that they’re now in the creative bad boy phase of a face. The Uso penitentiary just adds to their bag of tricks. Combine that with their frog splashes and superkicks, and you get the best tag team in all of the WWE. It’s a guaranteed great segment when the Usos are on the screen. Doesn’t matter if it’s just verbally dominating a skit or taking place in a match.
That’s it for the list of homegrown talent who have won the hearts of the fans in the WWE. This should be a motivator for the company to build out more of these stars in the future to create crowd favorites that they can say were strictly their own.