WWE can be a tricky place to succeed for a certain kind of wrestler. The emphasis on a specific style or demeanor can make some talents thrive there, while other wrestlers who are equally skilled get buried. It’s happened throughout the entirety of the company’s history, and it’s not going to stop now. We know that for some, WWE is a place where backstage politics reign supreme, and naturally this is going to hinder the progress of some wrestlers who deserve better. It may be a necessary evil, but everyone knows that it has its share of consequences.
Looking around the WWE landscape right now, we can observe some clear-cut cases where the wrestler in question would be better off somewhere else. There’s a lot of young talent on the roster, and some of it isn’t doing any good in the stagnant position that they’re in with the company right now. The best option would be just to cut ties all together, and try to make a new home in the Indys, or in an international promotion. Let’s take a look at which wrestlers could benefit from this right now.
Ranked below are 15 wasted WWE talents that could save their career if they left the company.
15. Finn Balor
The injury that Balor suffered last year really came at the worst time, and killed all of his momentum. His then-ascension with the company has been replaced by a clear lack of a plan as to what to do with him for the long-term. He’s kind of in no-man’s-land right now, and he doesn’t have time to spare. Balor is in his mid-30s, and another period of success needs to begin soon.
Using some well-applied foresight, he could jettison himself from WWE right now, and then have the pick of the litter as to where he goes next. Balor caught a bad break with his injury, and it ruined his push in just about every way imaginable. He should cut his losses, and consider a run in Mexico or Japan (again), where he would no doubt flourish on a consistent basis.
14. Dolph Ziggler
So even though he’s essentially been a WWE-lifer in his wrestling career, Ziggler could stand to benefit from some new scenery. A bevy of title runs earlier in his career has given way to nothing more than a mid-card status at best, and it’s clear that he isn’t in the long-term plans of the company whatsoever.
Not that he should be. Ziggler is in his mid-30s, and he’s certainly had his opportunity over the years to make an impact. He could still be productive with any number of other promotions, even if it’s just testing the waters to see what works. One thing is for sure; he’s not gaining anything from staying in WWE anymore, as far as his career is concerned. He’s made his mark, and now it’s time for him to seek out new horizons.
13. Tyler Breeze
Sure, Breezango may be a reasonably good tag team with a defined comedic edge to them, but there really isn’t a future in that role for Breeze if he wants to ascend in the WWE ranks. Despite being a talented in-ring worker, and having tons of charismatic potential, Breeze has been continually cast aside in WWE in favor of other talent; sometimes talent that was lesser in overall quality.
In the past five years in WWE and NXT, Breeze hasn’t held a single title. He’s going nowhere right now, when he’s in the prime of his career. He should be using this time to excel elsewhere, at the roughly half-a-dozen or so other promotions that would afford him greater opportunity to succeed. At just 29-years-old, Breeze still has plenty of time to re-establish himself in another promotion. He should pack his bags soon.
12. American Alpha
While the team has been recently been disbanded by both Jason Jordan and Chad Gable being on separate brands (and Jordan having been revealed as Kurt Angle’s storyline son), the best option for both of them is to keep it going, albeit outside of the WWE realm. Jordan and Gable don’t have the makeup of WWE superstars on an individual level; their best chance of success is to keep American Alpha alive.
For one thing, it’s a quality tag team in an era where that is no longer a guarantee, which immediately increases their value. They could go to NJPW tomorrow, and immediately be vying for the IWGP Tag Titles, no questions asked. They’re young, and have plenty of productive years ahead of them. With the split of the team, however, they seem destined for mediocrity in WWE, only to be buried behind other wrestlers in the mid-card scene for years to come.
Admittedly, this one is a long-shot, as Ron Killings is in his mid-40s at this point, but it’s still an interesting thought experiment. He’s been in either WWE or TNA for the entirety of his career, and been very successful on the whole of it. Still, it’s intriguing to think about what he could accomplish in a run in Japan. He would definitely have the pick of the litter for new matchups, and billing him as a former NWA Heavyweight Champion would only help him even further.
So it’s not really about “saving his career” at this point, but just trying to explore some new ground. It’s pretty clear that R-Truth is just collecting a paycheck at this point in WWE, as he’s firmly entrenched in the lower mid-card ranks right now. If he wanted to, he could have a string of great matches to finish out his career, with another promotion.
Rusev’s days as the United States Champion are well behind him at this point, and he’s not getting out of the mid-card ranks anytime soon. His entire wrestling career has been spent in WWE, and their affiliate promotions, so to say that a change is needed is an understatement, particularly considering the fact that he’s almost 32-years-old, and still running in place.
The unique thing about Rusev’s skill set and character is that he’s a throwback to an earlier era of wrestling in just about every way. This kind of skill set, combined with Rusev’s general look, always does well in Japan. It would be a good career move, and have the potential to elevate Rusev far beyond what he’s currently doing in WWE; playing second-fiddle to other veterans in the company.
9. Lince Dorado
While he’s had some considerable success on the indy circuit in the United States, most notably Chikara, Dorado clearly doesn’t fit what WWE looks for in a rising star. His luchadore style, and masked demeanor puts him at a disadvantage already, and he’s clearly just fodder for the cruiserweight division. That’s not likely to improve anytime soon, and he should be looking for a way out of this stagnant situation.
Needless to say, there are tons of other promotions that actually appreciate technical high-flyers like Dorado. Given his career resume, the most logical step is to make a run in Mexico, probably with CMLL or AAA, where his style fits to a tee. It’s not a stretch to say that he’ll have more success with those promotions than he ever will with WWE. They’ve made it clear that he doesn’t fit the mold.
8. Aiden English
Formerly one-half of the Vaudevillians, English is now back to singles competition, and that doesn’t bode well for his future in WWE. The Vaudevillians weren’t a particularly successful tag team to begin with, so there’s little incentive for him to get any kind of a push in the singles ranks. He has “garden-variety mid-carder” written all over him if he stays with the company, and that’s not a good place to be at for a wrestler below the age of 30.
English has time to build his career in the American indys before deciding what his next step is. Considering how marginalized he was in WWE, he won’t be a household name to anyone yet, and will have to work to become a draw. It may be a difficult road ahead, but it’s better than remaining in WWE, where there will be a cap on what you can accomplish. If he does it right, within a few years English could be one of the better wrestlers on the indy circuit, and have his choice on where he wants to go after that.
7. Rich Swann
Though Swann has already had a run with the WWE Cruiserweight Title, there’s no guarantee that he’s in their future plans. The company has mismanaged the cruiserweight division for years, and a talent like Swann is a candidate to be buried sooner rather than later. He’s a phenomenal in-ring talent, and could draw in just about any promotion in the world.
That’s why he should keep other options in mind. Even if he does get another run with the Cruiserweight Title, he could probably be having better matches elsewhere, simultaneously continuing to expand his resume. He’s spent brief time in Japan, but another run over there could benefit him greatly, or a run in CMLL or AAA. He has the talent to make it happen, and doesn’t need WWE to be successful at the end of the day.
6. Shinsuke Nakamura
An established veteran who has been a staple of NJPW in the past, Nakamura is playing second-fiddle in WWE. This is exactly the kind of wrestler that the company has no problems marginalizing, and they’ve done so with other Japanese talent before such as Take Michinoku. The fact is, Nakamura’s resume demands that he be more a focal point of the company, but that’s not likely to happen.
Simply, there isn’t much opportunity for Nakamura to expand his role in WWE right now. He’ll continuing wrestling nothing matches, and will be involved in nothing storylines until he makes the switch to a promotion willing to put his skill on display. He has the choice of where he wants to go, considering his veteran status, and could enter into a new chapter of his career at the drop of a hat.
5. Kofi Kingston
Kingston has been one of the most important wrestlers on WWE’s roster over the past decade, but it’s time to move on to greener pastures. The New Day is definitely an entertaining gimmick, but they’re running their course as far as their entertainment value is concerned. Kingston definitely isn’t over the hill; he’s only 35, and has the ability to succeed elsewhere if he wants.
He’ll certainly have the name recognition, which will allow him to face quality opponents right away. The alternative is stay in WWE, but now that The New Day has been mostly relegated to a comedic gimmick and little else, it’s only going to get worse for Kingston. If he’s at the point where he doesn’t want to make the switch to another promotion, he’s better off retiring all together.
4. Heath Slater
Having teamed with Rhyno for the past year or so, Slater is clearly being marginalized on the roster right now. He’s had his success for sure, winning his share of titles over the years in WWE, but he isn’t making any headway into the upper echelon the company right now. And he hasn’t, since his 2010 debut alongside the rest of the Nexus.
A good move would be to test out the indy circuit again, which he hasn’t done since he was in training. Slater would be a draw in more places than you might think, and could re-establish himself in a new territory, without the commitment necessary to be part of WWE. It’s not a surefire guarantee, but something for him to think about as he’s already reached his peak in the WWE ranks.
3. Apollo Crews
Crews has a ton of talent, and it’s simply being squandered right now in WWE. In a combined three years with NXT and WWE, he hasn’t received a single title run, and hasn’t been given an angle or storyline that can progress his character beyond the mid-card. He’s still below the age of 30, and his best option is to get out now, still leaving plenty of career in front of him to flourish in.
He could succeed in equal measure on the American Indy scene or in Japan, and both would be better options than what he has in front of him now. Once Crews finds the right situation, he’ll stand an opportunity to be one of the biggest stars in the business. It’s just a matter of finding it, before he sees his career pass him by in WWE, who won’t capitalize on his talent.
2. Bo Dallas
One of the most underrated wrestlers on the WWE roster right now, Dallas has been hampered by poor gimmicks for a significant amount of time that he’s been in the promotion. Dallas did win the NXT Title when he was there, but since then he’s been mainly cast aside on the main roster, always being used improperly, or as a supplement to another wrestler.
He has the name recognition, and the pedigree to succeed elsewhere, as a member of the Rotunda family who has been in the business for generations. Dallas has more talent than is being recognized right now, and a move to a promotion like ROH would really boost his stock.
1. Tony Nese
Nese is the best wrestler in WWE that nobody is talking about. Unfortunately, he’s destined to stay in the cruiserweight division with little hope for any kind of ascension. Nese is well-versed in the indy scene, and has experience in TNA, but a run in Japan may be exactly the kind of move that could make him into a superstar.
He’s still young enough to excel with another promotion for a long time. He just doesn’t have the make-up of a WWE star, and the longer he stays with them, the longer he remains in a dead-end situation. Since joining the roster in November, he’s done very little that has actually been noteworthy. The booking simply isn’t in his favor, and he should look to move on to greener pastures.
If Nese signs with NJPW, there’s a good chance he could be a frontline star there within the next year.
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