Andrade "Cien" Almas
Almas was the inspiration for this article, as he is someone who is awesome to see in person but he hasn't really translated that to NXT TV yet. At house shows, he consistently puts on the best wrestling match of the night (his match against Sami Zayn was the best match I've seen at any NXT house show). I'm glad he's a heel now since he has a natural arrogance that I think will serve him well. He's the most well known guy on this list, but he's been middling around since debuting, and I think by the end of the year he will have had at least one main event run.
I really didn't like Patrick on Tough Enough. He seemed like kind of a tool, and after seeing him at NXT, he might be a tool, but it's starting to work for him. I still miss his USA pants, because I fully support anybody who brings back the Rick Rude airbrushed tights. And I'm not sure if his Prince gimmick is going to work, but it's one of those things where he's making weird shit work. That's tough to do. He's not boring, and I don't know how far he's going to progress this year, as he's probably still years away from anything involving the main roster, but I think he can become a consistent presence on television by the end of the year, likely as somebody you love to hate.
Formerly Kenneth Crawford, he now has a cool new name, gold chains, and Angelo Dawkins as a buddy. Oh, and most importantly, he has imitable dance moves. Now, they are going to be badly imitated, but white people are going to love badly imitating his dance moves. White people love the feeling of looking cool without the actual execution of looking cool. Also, Ford is just fun in the ring. Him and Patrick Clark had a really fun match at the last show that I went to, and that's not easy when the fans don't have any real characters to latch on to. They are two unknowns and had the whole crowd into it, and two other lesser known NXT wrestlers had a match later that night and the crowd was completely dead. I think Ford and Dawkins will be showing up soon on NXT TV and doing some good work this year.
I wanted to pick a female wrestler, but I didn't want to go with an obvious choice like Nikki Cross or Ember Moon. That really didn't leave me a whole lot of options. That's not to say that there aren't talented women, just that picking out who is going to be the one to take a big step forward from their current position is difficult. I'll go with Mandy Rose, because not only is she incredibly good looking, she's also showing some aptitude for wrestling. I have a hard time believing she's not going to get a pretty big push this year.
And I figured I should also take a cruiserweight for my picks. For this, there are plenty of guys to choose from since they've only really acknowledged the existence of like four guys. I think there are some obvious ones like Cedric Alexander or Jack Gallagher, but I figured I'd go a little deeper. I almost went with Noam Dar, because I laugh out loud every time he talks about Alicia Fox, but I'm going with Tozawa based off seeing him live at the last show I went to. He's a guy who is going to chop the crap out of guys and is willing to take it right back. A lot of times foreign wrestlers struggle getting over with crowds, but him yelling "ACH" during his matches will definitely catch on. It caught on with the three kids (probably ranging from ages 3-10), as they were doing it through his match and for the following five minutes. Their parents seemed terrified at the new fun thing they had learned. I just hope that adults can be as open minded as those children were. If so, Tozawa could have a big impact this year.