Daniel Bryan’s heir apparent: Sami Callihan

Daniel Bryan is arguably the hottest thing that WWE has had for a while. It’s undeniable. He’s more over than 90% of the roster and he’s in the top three technical wrestlers in the world. He’s worked for what he has right now. He went from being the only wrestler in the world who could get away with having The Final Countdown as their entrance theme, right back down to awkward flabby rookie, then up to surprising Money in the Bank winner, then World Heavyweight Champion, and now he’s reached the absolute peak of his career. Daniel Bryan is money and Vince McMahon recognises this. Vince McMahon knows, like all of us, that wrestlers have a limited time in the spotlight. Sooner or later, the pinnacle of greatness that is Daniel Bryan will start to fade, and the shrewd businessman Mr McMahon will have to find his replacement.

As if by magic, in comes Sami Callihan, fresh from the indies. Sami Callihan does not have the WWE look, by any stretch of the imagination. Neither does Daniel Bryan. They have long hair, unique facial hair and that Wildman-look in their eyes. They’re as far away from John Cena as you can get. But even Vince McMahon has to realise that that’s just the way things are nowadays. Fans nowadays value technical wrestling and workrate above the “look” and Callihan has workrate for days. He can wrestle death matches with the best of ‘em and he can go toe-to-toe with technical stalwarts such as Austin Aries. He’s a slightly bigger, slightly crazier Daniel Bryan, and that’s what fans want. Big and crazy.

CM Punk’s heir apparent: Kassius Ohno

It’s not July 2011 anymore. CM Punk isn’t cutting shoot promos or calling Triple H by his real name or saying hi to Colt Cabana anymore. It’s July 2013 and CM Punk is stuck in a holding pattern. After his WrestleMania 29 classic with The Undertaker, all of his edge sort of faded away. CM Punk works best as a heel. That’s not to say his face run isn’t working, and it’s certainly not to say that he needs replacing. But CM Punk himself has said it won’t be long before he hangs up the kickpad-laden boots.

Kassius Ohno, known to many as the former Chris Hero, has been making waves in NXT. Ohno is unique amongst the current NXT crop, in that he’s been on the independent scene for many, many years. He possesses pretty much the largest moveset of any wrestler; whether he will use it when he inevitably reaches the main roster is up in the air. If you’ve not seen Kassius Ohno, try and think Straight Edge Society-era CM Punk, only slightly taller and stockier. He’s almost purpose-built to replace CM Punk. He’s got the wrestling ability, he’s got the look; what he sort of lacks is mic skills. Of course, not many can compare to CM Punk on the microphone, but Kassius Ohno is getting there. His recent feud with William Regal in NXT proves that he’s one big moment away from superstardom.

Dolph Ziggler’s heir apparent – Adam Cole

For almost a whole year, Dolph Ziggler was World Heavyweight Champion-elect. It was inevitable. After every beatdown on the current champion, fans would instinctively look towards the entrance ramp and wait for the first throngs of Ziggy’s music. “I’M HERE TO SHOW THE WORLD”. He was ready to show the world. But when the time came to actually show the world, he fell flat. His championship reign never really got over with fans, and it ended just as quickly as it began. The Zig-Man doesn’t really need replacing right now, but if WWE overreact and pull the plug on his push, they have his replacement ready.

Adam Cole is a unique choice, mainly because he hasn’t actually signed with WWE yet. He’s reportedly been to tryout camps and there’s obviously interest from WWE, but it’s not a done deal yet. When it happens, expect him to stay in NXT for a while so he can learn the WWE style. The “Panama City Playboy” has a gimmick pretty similar to Dolph’s “Show-Off” schtick he has going on and he has a similar look. Granted, Ziggler is still young and probably isn’t even thinking about slowing down any time soon, but when he does, Adam Cole will be snapping at his heels.

Kane’s heir apparent

Now, for my fourth and final superstar; the Big Red Monster, Kane. Kane is a product of his time. Could anyone else get over with that gimmick in this day and age? Not likely. Kane, along with The Undertaker, are the last true remnants of the WWE’s golden age; a time when gimmicks were valued more than wrestling ability, and it wasn’t cool to like the heels. As such, Kane is getting pretty old and he’ll probably be looking to retire soon. A career in politics, maybe?

In steps Kane’s replacement…actually, no he doesn’t. I racked my brains and I could not think of a single wrestler, WWE-employed or otherwise, who could hold a candle to Kane. That’s not to say there aren’t some menacing big guys out there, but not one of them could pull off Kane’s gimmick or something similar. In a way, that’s a tribute to Glenn Jacobs. He’s adapted the gimmick over the years while still maintaining the core element: a big scary devil monster. Right now, the majority of WWE’s gimmicks are rooted deeply in reality; there simply isn’t a market for the straight-up occult. Creepy, maybe. But scary? Not in this era.

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