You've heard of the WWE trying to police "CM Punk" chants. Even those "one fall" chants haven't gone unnoticed by the WWE, and it would appear that the powers that be don't like them either. Now, the latest buzz behind the scenes suggests that Tye Dillinger is being kept off SmackDown Live for a very strange reason— the WWE apparently is not a fan of the "10" chants that have been synonymous to his character for the longest time.
Don't let SmackDown Live's new "Top 10 Superstars" list deceive you—the only reason why Dillinger occupies the number 10 spot is because of his "Perfect 10" gimmick. And while he was an entry in the recently concluded Royal Rumble at #10 (where else), he didn't actually get to compete, as a beatdown at the hands of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn allowed the latter to take Dillinger's place in the Rumble match. The truth is, Tye is completely irrelevant at this point in his main roster run, and he only seems to exist so that Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley, or any other lukewarm heel can look strong despite being nowhere near the mid-card title picture, much less the main event.
That, in itself, is a shame for someone as talented and as hardworking as Tye Dillinger. Despite being new to the main roster under that name, the man known in real life as Ronnie Arneil has actually been with WWE on-and-off for over a decade, initially appearing as a random employee named Stan who got super kicked backstage by Shawn Michaels, and eventually enjoying a brief run on the ECW brand as Gavin Spears. After his WWE release, he returned in 2013, upon which he spent over three years in NXT, where the fan-favorite "Perfect 10" character was born.
Despite getting over with the fans in developmental, Dillinger's main roster run has, to be blunt about it, hardly been better than the aforementioned stint as ECW "New Talent Initiative" product Gavin Spears. Sure, he's been an also-ran a couple times for the United States Championship, but other than that, it seems as if WWE has no idea how to book him, especially these days. He is criminally underutilized, but if you come to think of it, he just might be what SmackDown Live needs as an antidote to any fan getting tired of the Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan power struggle storyline overshadowing the AJ Styles vs. "Kami" feud.
One thing WWE can do with Tye Dillinger at this point—if they really can't stand those "10" chants—is to turn him heel. It's been experimented with at house shows, but if WWE wants to give Tye a chance to shine, they might as well pull the trigger on a heel turn, and have him challenge Bobby Roode for the United States Championship. WWE may not have big plans to capitalize on Rusev Day's massive popularity among smart fans after all, but instead of having Randy Orton seemingly step up as Roode's next challenger, how about Dillinger? Sure, it's nice that the Viper is finally easing into an upper mid-card role as an elder statesman on SmackDown, but there are so many other alternative options, wrestlers who deserve more exposure on the blue brand. And Dillinger is certainly among the better ones among them.
As The Usos are babyface champions in SmackDown's tag team division, with The Bludgeon Brothers apparently next in line for their titles, this next idea might not yield any gold as of yet. But it could be a good idea to team Dillinger up with someone in the tag team division. The options here are quite plentiful, but if I may suggest a couple "fantasy booking" scenarios, WWE can turn him heel and have him join forces with Dolph Ziggler in a pairing of arrogant d-bags, or keep him in a babyface role and team him up with Zack Ryder as two plucky underdogs out for redemption after all those months of irrelevance.
At the end of the day, we're not looking at someone who could be a top-tier member of the SmackDown Live roster once the year is over. In fact, Dillinger is honestly looking like a prime candidate for future endeavors. But the least WWE can do for him at this point is to feature him on television, "10" chants or none. Not only is his talent a given, but the WWE needs to stop featuring the same old guys week in and week out. And since Dillinger is turning 37 in a week's time, he's no spring chicken— he needs to show his stuff on TV while he's still got a solid chance if given the opportunity, to be a productive mid-card talent on the main roster.
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