Big E is getting his first taste of life as WWE Champion after breaking through into the main event in WWE this year. And with just over a month left in 2021, some are wondering who will be the breakout stars of pro wrestling in 2022.

“There’s been a lot of talk for people who are plugged into NXT with Bron Breakker,” Big E told The Illuminerdi. “Seeing him do the things he does. And what I love is he’s a guy of this era who’s only been training for about seven months.”

Despite his lack of in-ring experience, Breakker quickly became a main-event player after the launch of NXT 2.0. He challenged Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship in the main event of last month’s Halloween Havoc special. More recently, Breakker was part of WWE’s European tour. That’s where he and Big E met for the first time.

“When he said he’s only been training for seven months, it kinda blew my mind,” Big E said. “He’s been playing football. I think he dabbled in the NFL for a little bit. But I love that he feels like a part of this modern era but he reminds everyone so much of his dad (Rick Steiner) and uncle (Scott Steiner). And the singlet? Man! You get that Steiner Brother nostalgia! One of the greatest tag teams of all time.”

Big E also named two women who are already on WWE’s main roster as ones to watch in 2022: Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair. Big E feels Belair has already earned a place among the very best female performers in WWE.

“For so long it was the Four Horsewomen who really reigned atop the women’s division,” Big E explained. “But now, I feel like Bianca is…right there with all of those established stars.”

Belair already has a WrestleMania main event under her belt, where she won the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Ripley won the RAW Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, and Big E says he sees the promise of even more in Ripley.

“Rhea Ripley is definitely already a star,” Big E said. “Already a name. But I really think that she has another level that she’s on the cusp of really getting to.

“I think Rhea definitely has the talent,” Big E continued. “She has the look – like, everything. All the tools she needs to be on that very same level where you’re seeing her main event live events. You’re seeing her possibly main eventing pay-per-views too. So I feel like she really has that ability to push through and I think 2022 should be her year.”

Big E knows firsthand that climbing the ranks in WWE is not always easy. He and the rest of The New Day struggled to find their footing after the group first formed. But Big E says they drew inspiration from one of the most successful stars in WWE history.

“I’m not gonna say we’re like The Rock or we’re chasing The Rock,” Big E said. “But I will say…we really drew inspiration from the turnaround because in much the same way he comes out as this…white-meat babyface [in his debut match 25 years ago at Survivor Series] and people didn’t like it. They rejected him, and it reminds me too of us coming out, doing that happy-go-lucky, preacher-inspired, gospel-singing gimmick with The New Day in 2014 and it did not work. And people rejected it. And the beautiful thing is The Rock was so just undeniable that he found a way to push through that to become the absolute megastar and icon that he became and still is, and we were able to turn it around as well.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Illuminerdi with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.