A new year means new opportunities for all of us. In WWE, that means anyone could be on the verge of having that special stretch of months that vaults them into the upper echelon of the business. Whether it’s a winning streak in NXT, getting moved over to RAW or SmackDown, winning a coveted first, second, or third title, or perhaps main eventing a major pay-per-view, there are a number of ways to measure breakout success.
With all of that in mind, this is our best effort to pinpoint who among the rosters of NXT, RAW, and SmackDown might be poised to make a massive impact in 2020. Some of these Superstars have barely made a mark so far; some have had success but never quite on the level they’re capable of. Either way, they’re ready to put their name out there and cement their place atop the WWE hierarchy in this new year.
5. Chelsea Green
Chelsea Green only recently made her debut on NXT but has already had both a high-profile match against Charlotte Flair on RAW and her women’s Royal Rumble match debut. Anyone who’s followed her career up to this point knows that she has a ton to offer in terms of talent. She has the potential to be like so many Superstars who’ve debuted and made an immediate impact, from Kevin Owens to Shayna Baszler. Look for her to push the already crowded, talented women’s division to new heights in 2020.
Okay, hear me out. Rusev has been stuck for a long time. Ever since losing his United States Championship to John Cena a few years ago, Rusev has struggled to find his place in WWE. He’s had some success here and there—”Rusev Day” remains delightful, and he was notably a crowd favorite in the 2018 Royal Rumble match—but he’s been stuck in a holding pattern for some time now. Plus, Lana left him for Bobby Lashley, which certainly stings. I sense Rusev having a truly motivated 2020, ready to move on from this mess with Lana and Lashley and find his championship groove again.
3. Drew McIntyre
Ever since losing his NXT Championship, it had been a tough go for “The Scottish Psychopath” Drew McIntyre. He’d been playing sidekick to other wrestlers and failing to capture big victories at opportune times. Now though, he’s finally struck out on his own, and he’s not just starting to find some success: He’s going to the main event of WrestleMania 35, after winning this year’s men’s Royal Rumble match. It was only a matter of time before he put all the pieces together, as he’s a talent like few others in WWE. His mix of size, speed, and agility are a thing to behold, especially on the Road to WrestleMania. The Royal Rumble match was (hopefully) only the beginning.
2. Candice LeRae
Candice LeRae has been hanging around NXT for quite a while, and she’s had a few spotlight moments along the way, but she’s never really managed to break through and find herself at the top of the division. To be fair, so many women fell short during the dominant reign of former NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, but LeRae has staggered more than most. But she’s also a workhorse who’s clearly never going away, and I think 2020 will see her challenging for, and maybe even winning, that NXT Women’s Championship.
1. Keith Lee
You could argue that Keith Lee had his breakout at the end of 2019 when he stole the show during Survivor Series weekend. But 2020 is bound to be the year where the “Limitless” one really takes off. He’s already dethroned The Undisputed Era’s Roderick Strong to capture the North American Championship and had an impressive showing against WWE Champion Brock Lesnar in the men’s Royal Rumble match, and those both happened just a month into this year. There’s no way Lee stops there. This is going to be a big year for him, and we can’t wait to see what that means.
Speaking of breaking out, you should check out Ronda Rousey’s reaction to her fellow Four Horsewoman Shayna Baszler’s breakout performance in this year’s women’s Royal Rumble match!