Starting with the mighty Brock Lesnar, we pick the 10 WWF wrestlers who are primed for a breakout

The future: starting with the mighty Brock Lesnar, we pick the 10 WWF wrestlers who are primed for a breakout

Kevin Eck

THE WWF HAS ASSEMBLED perhaps the most impressive roster in the history of wrestling. With last year’s purchase of WCW and the folding of ECW, the WWF has been able to integrate the top talent from the two aforementioned companies with its own performers to form the wrestling equivalent of an all-star team.

But despite all that talent, the WWF seems to have become a bit stale since achieving a monopoly on the industry. It could be that fans are fired of seeing the same wrestlers on top and they have been conditioned not to take the mid-carders seriously.

For the WWF to regain ifs spark, it needs to begin elevating some familiar faces and introducing some fresh ones that the fans can get behind and follow on their way up. Having split the roster in late March into separate crews–one for “Raw” and the other for “Smackdown”–the WWF now has the opportunity to do just that.

We have compiled a list of 10 performers under contract to the WWF who are capable of making an impact if given the chance.


Probably to the surprise of some of the WWF brass, Van Dam has been over with the fans since the moment he debuted last July. The masses saw Van Dam as a star, which gave the WWF no choice but to break him away from guys like Tommy Dreamer and Raven and put him in the company of superstars like Steve Austin and the Rock. But after the ECW invasion angle quickly came to an end, the WWF didn’t `seem to know what to do with Van Dam. Within a matter of a few months, he went from headlining a pay-per-view with Austin and Kurt Angle to being involved in an angle with Goldust.

There’s still time for RVD to regain his momentum, although that window won’t be open forever. Just ask Chris Jericho. When Jericho debuted with the WWF almost three years ago, the fans reacted to him like he was a superstar from day one. But with one false start after another, the fans lost confidence in him. So when the WWF actually decided to make Jericho the federation’s champion, the fans didn’t buy into it.

Let’s hope the WWF doesn’t make the same mistake with Van Dam. RVD has his shortcomings–he works stiff, his matches lack psychology, etc.–and they shouldn’t be discounted, but neither should the reaction he gets from the crowd. As the fourth-round pick of Ric Flair’s “Raw” team, it looks like the future is now for RVD.


It appeared the WWF had a major push in store for Test with the 1999 storyline that saw him getting engaged to Stephanie McMahon. But somewhere along the way the plans changed, and it was Triple H who benefited from the angle, while Test came off looking like a chump.

Test finally began to climb his way up the totem pole this past summer during the invasion storyline, although he has only scratched the surface of his potential. In retrospect, Test probably wasn’t ready for a big push in ’99. But his ring work has improved significantly since then, and he’s starting to come out of his shell on the microphone.

Beyond that, he’s 6’7″ and over 300 pounds–and in the WWF, size does matter. If the WWF creative team invests some tithe in developing his character, it could have a potential monster heel or badass babyface in Test.


There are a number of attractive women in wrestling, but Keibler has a leg up on the competition. You won’t find any breast implants, hair extensions, or nose jobs here, just 42-inch, shapely legs and a girl-next-door look that makes her unique in the wrestling world. At 22, she’s the dream girl of the young male demographic the WWF tries so hard to reach.

The WCW creative team was onto something when they broke her out of the Nitro Girls in 1999 and cast her in the role of Miss Hancock, but it dropped the ball after that. From pairing her with Los Fabulosos to putting her in an ill-advised pregnancy angle, WCW never properly used Keibler.

The WWF at least put her with a high-profile tag team in the Dudleys, but that association never seemed to make sense either. The WWF has a propensity for soap opera-type storylines, so how about a love triangle involving Keibler and two young stars whom are at or near the top of the card? It’s puzzling why the WWF hasn’t invested the time in her that they did in years past with Sunny and Sable, neither of whom had as much to offer as Keibler.


Wilson’s career has been similar to Keibler’s in that she has never been paired with the right person. Hooking her up with “the Franchise” Shane Douglas in WCW had promise, but Douglas was never given a significant push and Wilson was eventually released in a cost-cutting move.

The WWF putting her with Tajiri is the latest–and, quite possibly, the worst–booking blunder concerning Wilson, as the pairing has done nothing to further the careers of either one of them.

Like Keibler, the good-looking and charismatic Wilson deserves a higher spot on the card. She certainly fills the bill if the WWF is looking for marketable “eye candy,” but she’s proven to be more than that when given the opportunity. She surprised a lot of people with her ability to cut a heel promo while with Douglas in WCW, and, while not an actual wrestler, she’s willing to mix it up in the ring, too.


It’s a shame that a wrestler as skilled as Storm hasn’t been given more of a chance to shine in the WWF.

He received a nice push shortly after his arrival in WCW in 2000, as he held the U.S., cruiserweight, and hardcore titles simultaneously. He even had a couple WCW world title shots against then-champion Booker T. that were arguably the best matches on WCW television that year. But then Storm was stuck in programs with guys like General Rection and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and his momentum was stalled.

Although Storm held the WWF Intercontinental title for a month last summer, he hasn’t had any storyline to speak of since. His detractors cite his smallish size (5’10”, 230 pounds) and lack of charisma, but Shawn Michaels couldn’t have weighed much more than 200 pounds when he was WWF champion, and Storm’s “if I could be serious for a minute” persona gives him a sort of “anti-charisma” that actually is entertaining. Moreover, Storm is a student of the game; he understands ring psychology and is an excellent mat-wrestler as well as a high-flyer. Quite simply, he’s too talented to be a bit player.


For months, Jim Ross has been saying in his column on that a significant push for the WWF cruiserweights in imminent. If and when the WWF does revive the cruiserweight division, Helms, a.k.a. the Hurricane, is one of the wrestlers they should build it around.

In WCW, Helms clearly was the most talented member of 3 Count, and he showed what he could do as a singles wrestler during his reign as WCW cruiser-weight champion. Just as he was starting to get over in WCW, though, the company was purchased by the WWF, and the first thing his new employer did was take away his “Sugar Shane” moniker. (Apparently, you can’t have two Shanes in the WWF.)

Searching for a new nickname and gimmick, the real-life comic-book fan adopted a superhero persona. It’s a funny shtick, especially the “What’s up wid dat?” catchphrase, but it’s a gimmick with a short shelf life. Helms needs to leave his Hurra-cycle and Hurra-cape in the Hurra-cave and abandon the comedy role. He has too much upside to be a modern-day Doink the Clown. [For a closer look at the Hurricane, turn to our profile of the WWF’s resident superhero starting on page 40.]


Lesnar achieving superstar status in the WWF is about as close to a sure thing as there is in the federation right now. Fans who follow the business closely have been anticipating his arrival in the WWF for some time.

For the past year, the former NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and All-American out of the University of Minnesota has been honing his skills in Ohio Valley Wrestling (a WWF developmental promotion) and wrestling at WWF house shows and in dark matches at WWF television events.

Lesnar has the potential to make an immediate impact the way Goldberg did in WCW five years ago. In fact, Lesnar is far more ready for his debut on the big stage than Goldberg was. With his freakish physique and tattoos, Lesnar certainly looks like a monster, but his ability to execute a shooting star press and his array of suplexes make him more than just an imposing presence.

As the eye-opening eighth-round pick of the “Raw” faction, Lesnar should be a household name by year’s end.


As the son of former WWF star “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. and the grandson of 1950s and ’60s wrestler Bob Orton Sr., there’s no disputing his pedigree. With a background in amateur wrestling and having learned the tricks of the trade from growing up in the business, Orton entered the industry with a solid foundation. And at 6’2″ and a solid 265 pounds, Orton has a more impressive physique than either his father or grandfather had in their primes.

Like Lesnar, Orton has been gaining experience in Ohio Valley Wrestling and at WWF house shows and dark matches. He’s been impressive not only because of his athleticism, but also because he has the fluidity in the ring of a more seasoned grappler. Since he doesn’t have the size and presence of Lesnar, he probably won’t make as much of a splash at first. But Orton is someone the WWF Can gradually groom into a major player for years to come.


If the proposed sale of WCW to the Eric Bischoff-led Fusient Media Ventures group has gone through last year, O’Haire reportedly would have been given a huge push as a world-title contender. Instead, the deal collapsed, the WWF bought WCW, and within months of making his WWF debut, O’Haire was unceremoniously sent down to Ohio Valley Wrestling.

According to sources within the industry, the WWF felt O’Haire not only needed to improve his ting work, but he also needed a dose of humility after his rapid ascent in WCW. If O’Haire can get back on track, he’s still a potential superstar. He has size (6’6″, 270), agility, and a good look, but he needs to learn ring psychology and realize that there’s more to making a match than a series of high spots. At 29, O’Haire needs to start showing significant progress soon, or hell be one of the “can’t miss” prospects who did.


Maven’s plight is unique. By winning a WWF contract through the MTV wrestling reality series “Tough Enough,” he has become a household name in the sports-entertainment business almost overnight. The question for the WWF concerning Maven is: Now what?

He doesn’t have enough experience to be on the WWF roster, and his presence there could create a lot of resentment among wrestlers who had to pay their dues for years on the independent circuit before getting to that level. On the other hand, the audience seems to be behind Maven, and he is a marketable commodity because of his exposure on “Tough Enough.” While starting Maven out slowly by sending him to the Heartland Wrestling Association (another WWF developmental promotion) for seasoning and working him into WWF programming on occasion, the federation now seems solidly in the newcomers corner after an appearance in Wrestlemania, a subsequent hardcore rifle, and being picked in the 10th round of the federation draft.

Maven appears to be a natural in the ting, and, although he has a lot to learn, he’s better at this stage of his career than anyone could have predicted. He also has charisma and is poised on the microphone. Once he gains more experience, Maven could develop into a bonafide superstar.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group