Wrestling has always been about characters. A wrestler's character can make or break their career. The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin wouldn't be nearly as iconic if they had stayed Rocky Maivia and The Ringmaster their whole careers. Even in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Kazuchika Okada wouldn't be nearly as badass without his Rainmaker gimmick. Characters matter, and they matter more in the WWE than in any promotion on the planet. The annals of WWE history are filled with vibrant characters: some have been awesome, like "Macho Man" Randy Savage or every version of Chris Jericho, some have been ridiculous, like Doink the Clown or The Demon, WCW's weird KISS cosplayer, and some have been just plain awful, like The Shining Stars, Simon Dean, or The Shining Stars.
A great character can even make up for a wrestler's deficiencies in the ring, like with Hulk Hogan or The Ultimate Warrior, whereas a mediocre character can derail the career of a great ring worker. So, without further ado, this list seeks to identify the superstars in the WWE right now that desperately need to tweak their characters. In some cases, this calls for a complete and total repackaging, because some characters are just such trash that they need to go away forever, while other instances just require something as simple as a face or heel turn. Hopefully, the WWE sees this list and uses it as a guide to better SPORTS ENTERTAIN us (Not likely, but shoot your shot).
15 Stephanie McMahon
Let's get one thing straight: Stephanie McMahon is never, ever, ever going to change her character. She's going to run the company one day, so she'll do whatever she wants onscreen. However, it would be foolish to pretend that the Billion Dollar Princess doesn't need to make some serious adjustments to her character. Mainly, she needs to fully commit to being either a face or a heel. If you go by crowd reactions, she's a heel, through and through, but her mood and actions change seemingly at random. Sometimes, she'll try to pal around with the crowd or chastise heels for whatever felony they've committed that week. Other times, she'll deride Mick Foley, the heel-est of actions, or run down face superstars. She definitely acts like a heel more often than not, but at least once a week, she does something confusing and out-of-character. Ideally, Stephanie, and every other authority figure, would be on TV less often, but since we know that's not going to happen, the least we can hope for is clarity.
14 Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt doesn't need a new character. Honestly, he may have the best character in the WWE right now. He plays his demented cult leader gimmick to perfection and few wrestlers are as committed to their character as he is (His Twitter account is super weird and low key hilarious). In a WWE where many wrestlers struggle to connect with the crowd or formulate any kind of unique character whatsoever, Wyatt has set himself apart from the rest of the pack. However, there is one quick tweak the WWE could make to maximize his potential: a face turn. At the moment, Wyatt is technically a heel, but he's tremendously over with the crowd. What's more, he doesn't treat the crowd like a traditional heel: instead of mocking or deriding them, he treats them like his flock. As a face, or even as an anti-hero, he could be one of the most genuinely over wrestlers on the roster. If the WWE tones down the supernatural aspect of his character, and lets him work with his stellar in-ring skills, promo skills, and connection with the crowd, they could turn Wyatt into a legitimate megastar.
13 Randy Orton
Consider this entry the inverse of the previous, Bray Wyatt-centric entry: Randy Orton is currently a face, but he needs to be a heel. Simply put, face Randy Orton isn't good Randy Orton. You know it, he knows it (He really does), and the WWE knows it, deep down in their heart of hearts. The best Randy Orton that has ever existed has been as a heel: during his Legend Killer days, when he was decimating old people that we loved, and during the late 2000's, when he was kicking John Cena's dad in the face and torturing Triple H. Face Randy Orton is a boring, wannabe Cena clone, but heel Randy Orton is a despicable bastard and excellent at turning the crowd against him. Considering he recently burned down Bray Wyatt's house and desecrated Sister Abigail's remains (Holy crap, wrestling), now would be the perfect time to turn the Viper over to the dark side; the WWE could even do a double turn with Wyatt and Orton during their upcoming WrestleMania match. Please, WWE, make Randy great again.
12 Sasha Banks
Another entry, another wrestler who could benefit greatly from an attitude adjustment (Random thought: John Cena vs. Sasha Banks would probably be an awesome match). Sasha Banks may very well be the most popular woman on the WWE's roster. Fans love her, she's one of the best wrestlers on the roster, male or female, and she's possibly the best seller in the company. However, like Randy Orton, she's currently being miscast. She's a natural heel. Her heel work in NXT is what endeared fans to her in the first place and made her such a badass character people wanted to see. Almost by design, her Boss gimmick demands she be evil to some degree. There are reasons why the WWE wouldn't want to turn her heel: she's immensely over with the crowd and if she did turn, that would leave Bayley as the only face on the RAW women's roster. While that wouldn't be ideal, her current face run clearly isn't the best Sasha Banks. A well done heel turn could send her back into the stratosphere.
11 Andrade "Cien" Almas
What's the problem with Andrade "Cien" Almas? The man formerly known as La Sombra in Mexico and Japan seems to have it all: he's excellent in the ring, with eye popping athleticism, he has a ton of charisma, and he has a unique look. But ever since he arrived in NXT, it's seemed like there's something off about, like he's missing something. It could be his lack of English language skills, even though he's good at communicating with the crowd via body language and facial expressions. The WWE has reportedly tossed around the idea of forming a stable around Almas, similar to the Los Ingobernables de Japon in New Japan Pro Wrestling, which would allow him to be a nefarious badass in the ring and let someone else deal with the mic work. At the very least, he could benefit from working with a manager while he hones his English. The WWE has to try something to unlock Almas' potential, because it's a shame that a man of his talents isn't more over.
Natalya is... what is Natalya, exactly? Over the past few years, she's bounced aimlessly between face and heel so many times that she's entering Big Show territory. Make no mistake, she's an excellent technical wrestler, but she's rarely given enough time to ply her craft in the ring. On the mic, she's a mixed bag. As a face, she's bland and relies too heavily on her lineage, and as a heel, she's often too hammy and obnoxious. It doesn't help that the WWE serves her crap time after time. Her recent feud with Nikki Bella was an endless stream of cringe worthy bombs about how Nikke will die alone, her storyline with Charlotte last year was more a showcase of Ric Flar and Bret Hart than the two women, and she once literally actually had a gimmick where she farted a lot in public. For real. That happened. Natalya needs a complete gimmick reset. She would be great as a badass heel, similar to Beth Phoenix or Nia Jax, relying on her excellent in-ring skills to speak for her, instead of letting her speak for her. In a women's division still blossoming, the WWE can't afford to waste a talent like Natalya on drivel.
9 Noam Dar
Lukewarm Take Time: most of the cruiserweight division is a mess. Some things are working: Neville is perfect, Jack Gallagher is bafflingly good, and Rich Swann is finally finding his footing, but pretty much everybody else needs some tweaking. Fixing Noam Dar should be an immediate concern for the WWE. Dar is an extraordinary in-ring competitor, he's brimming with charisma, and he's one of the few cruiserweights with any mic skills, even though he speaks with a heavy Scottish accent. However, the WWE has basically made him a glorified jobber and stuck him in a perpetually awful storyline with Alicia Fox (Even though the way he says "Alicia Fox" is wonderful). The obvious first step in fixing Dar is to separate him from Alicia Fox. The entire division will benefit from that decision. After that, give him more time to wrestle. He can still be a douchey, cowardly heel, in fact, he's great at it, but he needs to be allowed to show how good he is before fans will take him seriously as a major player. The cruiserweight division is still way too raw to be wasting a young stud like Dar on rotten relationship storylines.
8 Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins may be the worst thing on Smackdown. James Ellsworth is awful and the tag team division is painfully lost, but Curt Hawkins seems like the biggest, most confusing negative on the blue brand right now. They built up his arrival for weeks with vignettes, albeit very goofy vignettes, but ever since he's arrived, he's been a huge joke. He gets beaten down every time he appears on screen. Has he even had a real match yet? It seems like he only gets squashed. The problem with this is that Hawkins is actually a pretty good wrestler. He could be an asset to the tag team division or the midcard as a dark horse contender to the Intercontinental title. Instead, he's a ridiculous jobber. The WWE needs to pull the plug on his whole weird gimmick. Let him lose the cane and go back to being a wrestler. He could reunite with former partner Zack Ryder as a member of the Hype Bros, or they could form a new team, if the WWE wants to have Mojo Rawley be a singles competitor. Literally anything would be better than this nonsense he has going on right now.
7 Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke is green as hell and it's not entirely her fault. The WWE called her up to the main roster for no reason other than Charlotte needed a goon and Dana has some pretty goon-like qualities. She's very limited in the ring, she's robotic on the mic, and instead of coming off as condescending or intimidating, she's grating and irritating. The only real remedy for her issues is to send her back to NXT, perhaps by having Charlotte freak out and fire her or something, and let her continue to develop. She has the potential to be a bruising monster heel, with her physique and power, but she needs to improve as a wrestler and find a gimmick that works for her. Being a cheeky, cowardly wise cracker simply doesn't work for her and the longer the WWE sticks her with it, the more unlikable she's going to be. These kinds of situations can be turned around, Braun Strowman is evidence of that, but the WWE needs to do it soon.
6 Titus O'Neil
Titus O'Neil had a very, very not good 2016. He was suspended 60 days for a weird altercation with Vince McMahon and missed WrestleMania as a result, lost a feud with Rusev for the US title, had an awful, unnecessary feud with former tag partner Darren Young, gave one of the worst promos of the year, and now he's saddled with an almost impossibly pointless "Titus Brand" gimmick, where he yells a lot about his fictional brand and loses all the time to everybody. Like many other people on this list, Titus is actually a pretty good wrestler, a totally believable brawler and power wrestler, who has been painfully misused by the WWE. The best Titus has ever been was as a member of the Prime Time Players, with Darren Young, but it's safe to say that reuniting them isn't in the cards anymore, as they've feuded twice now. The best way to salvage Titus would probably be to let him run with a variation of the Prime Time Players gimmick, but as a singles competitor. He would be a good midcard title challenge and maybe even a dark horse contender for the Universal title, if he pans out.
5 No Way Jose
This entry is tricky, because No Way Jose's current gimmick, silly as it may be, is pretty over with the fans. Down in NXT, he has lots of fan support and gets a sizeable ovation whenever he shows up. The problem is, as we've seen with guys like Tyler Breeze, Adam Rose, and the Vaudevillains, gimmicks that work in Full Sail don't always work on the main roster. No Way Jose's gimmick feels like one of those gimmicks. He's not going to survive in the WWE with a dancing gimmick, because no one does, so he needs to retool. He's surprisingly talented in the ring for someone of his size and experience level, he has a solid connection with the crowd, and he's not awful on the mic. He could excel as a solid midcard face along the lines of Kofi Kingston or Dolph Ziggler. He could also be a fun tag team wrestler, if paired with either another big man or a smaller guy, like Rich Swann. Jose has tons of potential, but he needs a more serious gimmick if he's gonna realize it.
4 TJ Perkins
As we've already established, the WWE's handling of the cruiserweight division thus far has been poor, but come on, how did they mess up TJ Perkins? He won the Cruiserweight Classic and should have been positioned to be the top face in the division. Instead, they gave him no character besides "guy who likes video games and dabs" and insisted on his showcasing his subpar mic skills. As a result, he's actually getting booed. That's a travesty. The best course of action right now is to turn him heel and use the crowd's disdain to his advantage. He could play up on the more irritating aspects of his character: the dabbing, the 2006 era Miz hair cut, and the show off nature he displayed in the CWC. The best he's looked on the main roster has been when's talking down to his opponents, telling them how much better he is than them. Let him dial all that up to 11 and maybe add a dash of cowardice, and he'd be better than ever.
3 The Shining Stars
Stop it, WWE. Stop what you're doing with Primo and Epico right this second. It's just so terrible. It's actually baffling that the WWE managed to come up with a worse gimmick than Los Matadores, but wow, did they ever. The Shining Stars make Los Matadores look like Bullet Club. If you're unfamiliar, the Shining Stars started out as dudes who really loved Puerto Rico and quickly evolved into time share salesmen, for some reason. The gimmick was dead on arrival the second they appeared on TV, so the WWE responded to make it even worse. What did Primo and Epico do? Who did they hurt? This gimmick needs to be scraped as soon as physically possible. Just let Primo and Epico wrestle as themselves, like they used to do, when they defeated Miz and Morrison to become the Undisputed Tag Team Champions. It worked well then, why can't it work now? The tag team division on RAW is too shallow to have a perfectly good team going to waste like this.
2 Apollo Crews
At the moment, Apollo Crews is one of the WWE's biggest failures. He's an extremely talented and versatile in-ring competitor, but the WWE has done him no favors in connection with the crowd. They pulled him up to the main roster far too early, for no apparent reason, before he could develop an actual character. His whole gimmick seems to be "really good guy who smiles all the time for no reason." He doesn't get nearly enough time to showcase his considerable skills in the ring. As a result, the Smackdown Live crowd has turned on him, recently cheering as he was assaulted with a steel chair. The WWE needs to give him some kind of character, literally any at all. Make him a badass who wants to prove he's better than everyone else on the roster. Let him develop a winning streak, against real talent, like Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. Have him talk less and let him connect with fans via his work in the ring. Let him come along slow and start building something, rather than sticking him in ridiculous, go nowhere feuds he always loses. And for the love of wrestling, let him stop smiling so much.
1 Roman Reigns
Come on, you knew this was going to be number one. There was never a chance it wouldn't be. Roman Reigns is the future face of the WWE, handpicked by Vince McMahon himself to replace John Cena as the brand's leading man once Big Match John hangs up his boots. However, there's one slight problem with that: fans are overwhelming against Reigns. No matter what city the WWE goes to, fans boo Roman Reigns out of the building. The only time he really gets any love from the fans is when he's with Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose, which is more a result of Shield nostalgia than anything else. Despite this complete and utter defiance towards Reigns, the WWE has refused to make any changes to his character or booking. He's cringe worthy on the mic, but he still gets ample promo time and constantly spouts awful catch phrases, and he rarely loses, and when he does, he often comes out looking stronger than the man who beat him. The obvious play would be to turn Reigns heel and let the fans hatred for him be organic. They could also pair him with a manager so he can stay as far away from the mic as possible. Contrary to popular belief, Reigns is a good wrestler and having him display that more could help people like appreciate him more. It may also help to strip away some of the more Shield-esque parts of his identity to help separate him from the group, like Rollins and Ambrose have done. There are plenty of things the WWE could try to fix Reigns and his character, but they don't seem willing to make any compromises. They need to do something soon or else Reigns may become unsalvageable to fans.