2020 has been unique – for the first time, WWE superstars have performed without fans in venues. Those strange settings did not deter these five wrestlers from having their best year in the company.
In the absence of the WWE Universe at shows, it is difficult to gauge how over a wrestler is, however, some have grabbed the opportunity to shine under difficult circumstances.
WWE has been criticized for failing to create new stars – these five have shot to prominance over the past 12 months.
Here are the biggest breakout stars in the WWE this year:
5. Keith Lee
The year began with a surprise entry in the Men’s WWE Royal Rumble, where Keith Lee had a showdown with Brock Lesnar before being eliminated by The “Beast Incarnate”.
The “Limitless One” became the first man to hold the NXT North American and World Championship at the same time when he beat Adam Cole on night two of NXT’s Great American Bash in July.
The Texan made his main roster debut on Raw six weeks later – interrupting and challenging 14-Time world champion Randy Orton, what a way to make a first impression. While people on social media voiced their displeasure at Lee’s new music and ring attire – it was a good sign to see him face off against a legend like Orton on his first appearance on the red brand, he held his own against one of the greatest of all time.
Lee soundly defeated Orton, at WWE Payback, six days after their initial match. It was a victory that cemented Lee’s arrival, he looked strong on his pay-per-view debut, The Viper rarely loses so convincingly – Lee had the stamp of approval from his counterpart.
The next big match for Lee was against WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. Lee held his own against the Scot – the match ended in a double disqualification when RETRIBUTION interrupted proceedings. Despite the non-finish, it was another good showing from Lee, he was making strides on Raw.
As with most wrestlers – Lee fell victim to WWE’s nonsensical booking decisions. He lost his first match to Braun Strowman in October, the “Monster Among Men” did cheat to win, but Lee should not have lost this soon after being called up from NXT.
Lee has rebounded well from that loss. He was on Team Raw at WWE Survivor Series as they did a clean sweep of Team SmackDown, and he beat United States Champion Bobby Lashley.
The only thing that can stop Lee from reaching the top of WWE is Vince McMahon and his creative team. Lee is a star – hopefully WWE treats him like one in 2021 and beyond.