As a hardcore wrestling fan, I enjoy wrestling of all kind, but with the WWE’s lack of creativity, inability to create new superstars and their plain lack of awareness when it comes to their superstars, how to book enjoyable storylines and patient payoffs, I can see why their ratings are down the drain, almost at an all-time low for the company. There are many ways to save these TV ratings, from changing up the formulaic structure of every show, changing to a more PG13 rating and not giving away PPV quality matches, especially first time bouts on throwaway weekly shows, which builds anticipation, but the biggest problem with the company is the Superstars themselves, and how they are handled.
While the booking is unlikely to change while Vince McMahon is at the helm, that leaves just the superstars to change, and let’s face it, some are stale and some are just terrible, so it’s time that a lot of changes are made. This article will look at 10 people the company should fire, and 10 from the independent scene that they should hire to help the ratings. While they might not help immediately, due to the problems outlined above, bringing in these performers and giving them freedom to be who they are will no doubt help, even if it’s just a little.
20. Fire – The Ascension
The Ascension are the perfect example of how WWE have no idea to book most NXT promotions, as well as promising tag teams, as this duo, consisting of Viktor and Konor were the most successful and dominant tag team in NXT’s history at the time, but have been treated as nothing more than a joke since their ascension to the main roster. From their arrival, it looked like the company might have another great tag team on their hands, but they were used to put over teams like the nWo, New Age Outlaws and the APA, which we should come to expect by now, as the WWE like to use young, promising stars to give older performers one last moment in the spotlight. It looked like Smackdown Live intended to do something with them after the brand expansion, but they also struggle to book great tag teams, and with The New Day, American Alpha, The Fashion Police and The Usos ahead of them, they are now useless, and should be released as soon as possible.
19. Hire – The Young Bucks
Depending on whom you ask, The Young Bucks, consisting of brothers Matt and Nick Jackson are either the best tag team in the world, or they are responsible for killing the wrestling industry. No matter which stance you take, you have an opinion on them, and you can’t deny that they are without a doubt the most entertaining tag team in the business today. While we can’t solely blame WWE’s inability to book a deep, consistent tag team division as the reason for the low TV ratings, it is certainly a problem, so signing one of the most consistently entertaining and brilliant tag teams in the world, and giving them the freedom to be themselves could definitely help that. It’s unlikely that the Bucks and WWE will come together anytime in the near future, as they are one of the hottest acts in all of the wrestling world, and make a ton of money from their merch alone. But if the WWE is serious about improving ratings, bringing in the Bucks for the big bucks is something they seriously need to consider.
18. Fire – James Ellsworth
James Ellsworth came into WWE as nothing more than a onetime enhancement talent during the months-long reign of Braun Strowman squash matches, and for some reason, he caught on with the fans, and ended up signing a contract to become a full-time wrestler for the company. What a mistake that’s turned out to be. Like always, the WWE found something that the fans made into a good story, and completely ran it into the ground, so the two-year contract he signed seemed like a huge mistake, as the fans began to turn on him as he was pushed down their throats on SmackDown Live’s main event scene for weeks on end. It seems he has found a niche spot for himself on the SmackDown Live roster as Carmella’s sidekick, but once that ridiculous story comes to an end, the company will have no choice but to let him go.
17. Hire – Kenny Omega
Ever since his historic G1 Climax victory and subsequent Wrestle Kingdom main event with Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega has been one of, if not the hottest name in all of professional wrestling, and he almost came to terms with the WWE before the 2017 Royal Rumble. If the company can snag him next time his NJPW contract is up, it would add some huge, much-needed star power to the main event of either RAW or SmackDown. WWE may unfortunately look to tone down his wrestling style, which is understandable for weekly TV, but if he is matched up with the likes of AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens or Shinsuke Nakamura on PPV, he could become an instant megastar if he is allowed free reign.
16. Fire – Carmella
Alongside Enzo & Cass, Carmella was a decent hand, but ever since being forced out on her own, Carmella has proven time and time again that while she may be a decent heel, she can’t have a great match on the big stage to save herself . With the Mae Young Classic coming soon, as well as NXT’s women’s division rising, it’s unlikely that the company will ever have the patience to wait for Carmella to grow into a star. Carmella could no doubt be that star one day, but it will take a long, long time, and with so many other women ahead of her, it would be in the best interest of Carmella and the company just to part ways, as she is probably on the lowest rung of a very deep SmackDown Live women’s roster. Perhaps she could return as a manager for Enzo & Cass, or back to NXT, but in her current iteration, I see no success for Carmella.
15. Hire – Will Ospreay
After the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016 was without a doubt the best thing WWE had put on in years, fans were understandably ecstatic that the cruiserweights were coming to RAW, but with Vince McMahon in charge, the “smaller guys” have failed as expected, for many, many different reasons. The purple ropes on RAW segregating them from the rest of the roster, the lack of character development and the limitations on their wrestling style have all hurt them, but most of all, it’s a lack of star power, and we’ve already mentioned how Ricochet would help the division. So why not add his most famous foe as well? The Aerial Assassin is the most impressive high flier in the game today, and at just 24 years old, he would be perfect to build the division around. His aerial assaults are a thing of beauty, and would no doubt bring some positives to the failing 205-pound division.
14. Fire – Byron Saxton
When Byron Saxton became a commentator for the WWE, it looked like he had quite a bit of potential, and could have been useful alongside the likes of JBL or Corey Graves. But in the three-man booths, Saxton fails to stand out, and when he does get the time to speak, he uses only tired, old clichés, and it has made the fans grow incredibly tired of him in such a short amount of time. We will talk later on in the article about another failing announcer, and the ways that the company could fix the terribly stale state of the commentary team. It’s unfortunate as he was never truly given a chance to stand out, but Saxton should bite the dust as well.
13. Hire – Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal may be overshadowed in ROH by the stars like The Young Bucks, Will Ospreay, Cody Rhodes and even Dalton Castle, but when you look at his body of work from ROH, TNA and even appearances with New Japan, it is clear that there may be no performer in the world who is more ready made for the main roster in the WWE. From his run as Black Machismo in TNA to the House of Truth in ROH, Lethal is capable of playing a brilliant babyface as well as an arrogant heel, and with the WWE lacking in both departments on the main roster, he would slot in quite nicely. It’s most likely that the company would send Lethal to NXT before anything, but even then he would provide a boost to ratings. Don’t be surprised if the company looks to bring him in within the near future.
12. Fire – Kalisto
Kalisto should have been a surefire hit in the WWE, akin to what Rey Mysterio had been for the past decade, but for some reason, Vince McMahon still struggles to book smaller guys, especially in the midcard. That’s why Kalisto has been relegated to nothing more than enhancement talent at this point (or a pawn in the terrible ‘Titus Brand’ storyline, and quite frankly, I’m not sure which one of those is worse). On the independent scene, he was known for breaking out some of the smoothest and most beautiful high-flying sequences you will ever see, and things looked promising in NXT. But despite him winning the U.S title on the main roster, it’s been all downhill since his promotion. At this point, the excitement levels when he appears should be off the charts for the athleticism he possesses, but fans respond with nothing, and the company should let him back out onto the independent scene where he can soar.
11. Hire – Ricochet
When you first think about Ricochet joining the WWE, you think about bringing him in to bolster the failing Cruiserweight division, but with guys like Sami Zayn and Finn Balor not have to join simply because of their weight, it shouldn’t force King Ricochet to do it either, as he has much more potential as a main event star than in the 205-pound division. Sure, he might be the most brilliant high flier in wrestling today, but Seth Rollins and many other main event stars in the world of pro wrestling are utilizing a more aerial based offense, and with the look of a chiseled star, he could succeed at the top of the WWE. Obviously, they will have to be more lenient with their boring match structures that we’ve seen for decades, and if they decide that’s a route they want to go, Ricochet will be a global star in no time.
10. Fire – Kevin Dunn
Many people that are aware of how the WWE operates behind the scenes would know that two of the most important men in the WWE are Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn, and while it would be unfair to shift the blame for poor ratings on one of these men, someone has to take the blame, and it isn’t going to by Vince McMahon, so why not Kevin Dunn? He has been serving as the most important producer backstage for years, so it’s unlikely anything will change while Vince is still in charge, but drastic measures need to be taken, as the show is getting staler by the week. The icing on the cake for Dunn’s career has been the recent move to showing close up shots of individual fans after big moments, and time and time again it’s taken away from the product, most notably with Tommaso Ciampa’s heel turn, as the camera was zoomed in on a fan laughing, which completely took away from the moment, so hopefully Triple H can gain more influence soon so we can see the end of Kevin Dunn.
9. Hire – Marty Scurll
It’s been said time and time again to the point of cliché over the past several years, but the U.K is truly the heart of independent wrestling at the moment, and this has led to stars like Will Ospreay, Tommy End (Aleister Black) and Zack Sabre Jr. making a name for themselves on a world wide stage, but perhaps the one with the most potential as a main event star for the WWE is The Villain, Marty Scurll. The newest member of Bullet Club has a character control during his matches that few in the world can match, and his in-ring work is as good as any, without the typical spot monkey style that has become famous on the independent scene. He may not be too well known by the casual fans of WWE, but if built up correctly in the way that his fans know he can be, he could be a key performer for the WWE going forward.
8. Fire – The Colons
It seems like the WWE will never let go of The Colons, as they have gone from Primo & Epico to a couple of bull fighters to a couple of time share salesmen to a pair of generic heels. It’s fair to say that since the Primo & Epico gimmick, not a thing for these two has caught on, and fans see them as nothing more than a joke after all tis time. The tag team division on SmackDown Live has been booked terribly, but even with perfect booking, nothing could save these two at this point, as they will never be a legitimate threat up against the likes of The New Day, The Fashion Police or The Usos. This could open up a spot to bring in a great tag team from the independent scene.
7. Hire – The Motor City Machine Guns
We will talk about another tag team later on in this piece, but fans have often complained about WWE’s lack of ability to book a good, deep tag team division. Hopefully that would be fixed by letting go of their rigid match structures and allowing a little more freedom to the teams involved, so if they did that and signed the MCMG, consisting of Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, their tag team division could become a strength for the company for the first time since the Attitude Era. They may be a bit past their prime, but there has been few tag teams in the history of wrestling with the smooth tag team moves and chemistry that the Guns have, and they could fill the void on the main roster that #DIY were no doubt going to fill before their breakup.
6. Fire – Titus O’Neil
If Vince McMahon had it his crazy way, Titus O’Neil would have been released quite some time ago, as McMahon wanted to let him go the night of Daniel Bryan’s retirement, as he grabbed Vince’s arm on stage after a farewell to Bryan. However, it was turned into a long suspension, and O’Neill still graces our screens week after week as a part of some of the worst storylines WWE have run in quite some time. His “Titus Brand” is by far the most annoying part of Monday Night RAW (yes, that incudes Enzo Amore’s now beyond-stale entrance), and he is just dragging down the likes of Kalisto and Apollo Crews at this point. Long story short, he needs to be let go. With his size, you can see why WWE dubbed him a future star, but with so many main eventers ahead of him and the fact he’s now 40, it’s unlikely he will taste any solo success at all. It’s better to cut their losses and give Titus’ time to the Cruiserweights or someone the fans actually want to see.
5. Hire – Matt Striker
A huge complaint about WWE today is their obsession with the three-man commentary booths, as it has led people like Saxton, David Otunga and even Percy Watson in NXT to be on our screens constantly, so for the hiring of Matt Striker to work, they would have to return to the traditional two-man commentary tables. With Michael Cole looking to move into more of a backstage role, it would be the perfect time to bring Striker back into the company, as he is a fantastic play-by-play announcer, who treats the action more like pro wrestling than sports entertainment, making him one of the best in the game today. This would be an opportunity to have Tom Phillips/JBL on SmackDown, Corey Graves/Striker on RAW and Nigel McGuinness/Steve Corino on NXT, which would be a little hard to pull off, but would definitely help the overall production value of the product.
4. Fire – Jinder Mahal
It’s easy to see why WWE pushed Jinder Mahal to the moon and gave him the WWE Championship, as they are using him as nothing more than a cheap marketing ploy to break into the lucrative Indian market (just at the time that Impact Wrestling tried to do the same, coincidentally), but it certainly hasn’t helped their current TV ratings. Even though we can see the reasoning behind it, it makes no sense from a legitimacy standpoint, as Mahal was nothing more than enhancement talent for the past six months. Having him at the top of the card is just pointless, and infuriates fans around the world. If the company don’t look to get rid of Mahal anytime soon, they better push him back down to the midcard, as the company isn’t fooling anyone by pushing Jinder as a legitimate threat. If he stays in the main event for too much longer, it could do irreversible damage to the ratings for the foreseeable future.
3. Hire – Joe Hendry
Most of the wrestlers on this list have made a name for themselves in America, the U.K and Japan, and their main strengths are their in-ring ability, but the opposite of both can be said about Joe Hendry, who is ready made to be a superstar in WWE, whether it be on their developmental brand NXT, or either RAW or SmackDown Live. The Local Hero is as charismatic and entertaining a performer as there is in the wrestling business, as he has made his name in ICW and WCPW most famously by parodying famous songs to mock his opponents, and they are all just brilliant. With a charisma in the vein of The Rock or Chris Jericho, he is ready-made for any stage WWE has to offer, and although his in ring work isn’t at the level of a main event WWE star, that can all change with a little bit of work, as Hendry could become a transcendent star in the company.
2. Fire – David Otunga
The WWE have a history of horrid commentators, but none of them are quite as bad as David Otunga, who is about as good behind the announce desk as he was in the ring during his brief, unsuccessful run with the company in a wrestling capacity. Although Booker T isn’t a fantastic replacement while Otunga is off shooting a movie, anything would be an improvement over David. Even Byron Saxton, whom we’ve already mentioned on this list, brings some energy to the commentary desk. But whenever Otunga speaks, no matter the quality of the work going on inside the ring, he manages to suck the energy and excitement from the entire broadcast. It’s unlikely that this will happen anytime soon, as it’s rumored that Otunga will return soon from his movie filming, but it will no doubt further drive away fans, as he will take time away from the more enjoyable Corey Graves and even Michael Cole.
1. Hire – Dalton Castle
Dalton Castle may not be one of the biggest names in the independent wrestling world, but he is easily one of Ring of Honor’s most popular superstars, as his flamboyant charisma and in-ring ability make him just too brilliant to dislike. With WWE’s rumored interest in him, it’s time to bring The Party Peacock into the fold, as long as he brings his Boys with him. Sure, it’s unlikely that a character so over-the-top as Castle is would be allowed to be himself in a PG era, but that’s part of the problem. WWE is being too strict and rigid with their performers, and the lack of innovation or true excitement is what’s turning a lot of fans away. I’m not saying the WWE should lose the PG label, but if they want to start bringing some fans back, moving towards a PG13 rating would definitely help, and someone like Dalton Castle would thrive under such confines with a little bit of freedom.
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