The WWE has had a problem that any promotion would love to have. They have an overload of talent that they sometimes don't know what to do with it. While criticism for that is deserved a lot of times, they don't get a ton of credit for the times they DO make the most of a lot of the great talent they have.
There's not much doubting that the draft extension was a necessity due to the talent in the WWE that was starting to get too crowded for a single three-hour show and a b-show that no one watched. It was becoming difficult to give everyone their due TV time and alas, the brand split happened. The draft has come and gone and some stars have settled into their new role, while others have experienced more of the same.
Some stars have been elevated from their state of obscurity and have gotten to experience different amounts of prosperity. Other superstars haven't had much happen for them since the draft, either by being disappointing or being disappointed by the lack of opportunity that they've received. So, this list is going to look into superstars that are on both sides of that scale.
However, focus in this article will be directed towards stars who have had the potential to do well and have exceeded or haven't been able to amount to expectations. Stars like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, John Cena and others were never in any real danger of losing their spots on the roster, as they would always be in or around the main event with or without the split. So, they will not be listed.
On the other side of the spectrum, stars like R-Truth, Goldust and others didn't have much hope to be elevated after the draft and will not be criticized for not reaching their potential, as there isn't much potential for them to reach at this point of their careers.
18 18. Hasn't: Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel was supposed to be “better than perfect,” however, he hasn't even had an average WWE career. While he certainly has the tools for success in the WWE, he just hasn't been able to get anything going for him.
The WWE made a decent effort by pairing Axel with Paul Heyman, but that pairing never picked up any traction. Axel would then work his way down to where he is now. He's been a member of The Social Outcasts and was a part of The Mega Powers parody with Damien Sandow, which was short lived.
The brand split hasn't changed anything for Axel. He was fed to Bo Dallas a month ago in his hometown and hasn't been used on TV since. While Dallas is just 26 years old and has plenty to time to get it going, Axel's time is running out. He is 37 years old and questions have to go around for whether or not Axel would be better in another role.
17 17. Has: Heath Slater
Heath Slater has made a career out of turning mediocre gimmicks into very entertaining gimmicks. That seemed to be all Slater would amount to in the WWE, as he would be left undrafted. Following the draft, rumors were spreading about Slater leaving the company altogether.
Slater would make appearances on both Raw and SmackDown Live, seemingly to eat up some time, as he was fed to the likes of Jinder Mahal, Rhyno, Brock Lesnar and others. However, Slater would make the most the time he had during these segments and won the hearts of the WWE Universe with his comical and charismatic personality.
Slater would ultimately earn a spot on SmackDown and just finished up a tag title run with Rhyno. He shouldn't have any problems taking care of his kids now!
16 16. Hasn't: Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger made his main roster debut for the WWE in 2008. Swagger seemed to be loaded with all types of potential. Since then, Swagger has won an ECW Championship, World Championship and had a run as the United States Champion. It's hard to believe that with all this taken into account, Swagger has been entirely mediocre over the past couple of years.
A portion of the blame is his own. Swagger was in the midst of a push going into WrestleMania 29 before he was arrested and charged with a DUI and a drug possession charge after a SmackDown taping. Swagger didn't see much growth after that happened and eventually worked his way down to where he is now.
After being drafted to Raw, Swagger was the first two switch shows, making his way to SmackDown. It seemed like Swagger was going to have somewhat of a career revival, but he was ultimately fed to Corbin and hasn't been seen since.
15 15. Has: Dolph Ziggler
In my opinion, Dolph Ziggler is still being somewhat misused, but he's been pushed enough to make it on the list. Before the draft, Ziggler's future was uncertain and it seemed like Ziggler had to climb mountains before he could get another title run of any sort.
However, since then, Ziggler had a very brief run with the Intercontinental Championship and, even though it was short lived, he was still in the title picture. He also participated in a SummerSlam match for the WWE Championship against Dean Ambrose, which would not have happened without the brand split.
It seems like a long shot for Ziggler to hold another World Title, but at least the company is using him in the upper mid-card instead of on the pre-show.
14 14. Hasn't: Darren Young
Before the draft, it seemed as thought the WWE was really trying to "make Darren Young great again," by pairing him with WWE legend, Bob Backlund, a former WWE Champion in his own right. However, he was a World Champion in the early 90s and fans weren't exaclty begging for him to return to weekly television. There didn't seem to be a ton of hope for Young until WWE inserted him into an Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz at Battleground.
However, that match was completely forgettable. Especially since Young hasn't been on WWE TV since last month. So, where there was once hope, there is no more. Hopefully, the company finds something to do for Young down the line, but it's more likely that they will cut bait with him in the near future after another failed run.
13 13. Has: Braun Strowman
When Braun Strowman made his main roster debut as a new member of The Wyatt Family, many felt he would be successful simply because of his size. The WWE has shown an affection for guys of his size in the past, despite their lack of in ring ability. However, Strowman is not one of those men.
He's proven as much after being drafted to Raw, showcasing his ability to throw around his size with absolute force. Strowman has elevated himself to an intriguing part of Raw and could see greater things down the line if the company doesn't drop the ball with him, which is still entirely possible. I would say he's in a better position now than he was as Bray Wyatt's sidekick and he's positioned to be a key piece of the Raw brand for the foreseeable future.
12 12. Hasn't: Titus O'Neil
Titus O'Neil has been given a couple of opportunities to get over with the WWE Universe. However, it hasn't really worked out much for him and he continues to be greeted with complete silence whenever he emerges from the back. The WWE now has O'Neil sporting a "Titus Brand" gimmick. It's not that great of a gimmick to begin with, but O'Neil is also sporting a losing streak with it, meaning fans will give it even less attention than they normally would.
Like his former Prime Time Players partner Darren Young, there hasn't been much hope for O'Neil since the brand split and we don't really expect that to change in the next few months. Perhaps O'Neil's WWE career has run its course?
11 11. Has: The Miz
The Miz has had an overall successful career. Based off his past accomplishments alone, he's definitely a future WWE Hall of Famer, as he was the fourteenth “Grand Slam Champion” in history. However, The Miz's career has certainly been far from perfect.
After his run as WWE Champion and main eventing WrestleMania XXVII, The Miz would fall from the top of the card, all the way down to a guy who didn't seem to fit anywhere. However, The Miz has been able to take advantage of the brand split. When the company decided to have The Miz's wife Maryse accompany him to the ring, it has done wonders for his WWE career.
Miz has gone from being a pre-show caliber star to one of the top guys on SmackDown. He's showcased his ability to be completely infuriating as a heel and is perfect at playing up his cocky character. Having a former Super Model as a wife, to rub in the face of everyone, doesn't hurt either!
10 10. Hasn't: Bo Dallas
During Bo Dallas's time in NXT, many believed that he would have a bright future in the WWE. Though none of those aspirations may have been for a World Title run, they certainly pointed towards the upper mid-card.
Fast forward two years into his main roster career and Dallas hasn't been able to muster up a title run of any sort and hasn't really been given a program to remember. Before the draft, he was a member of The Social Outcasts and that's just about all that can be remembered about him.
It seems as though WWE has given some minimal effort to revive his career, with the new aggressive attitude Dallas has displayed as of late. However, it's been difficult for Dallas to gain any real momentum with his new gimmick and difficult for the WWE Universe to take his new personality seriously.
Thankfully for Dallas, he's still just 26 years old and has plenty of time to find something down the line. As of now, however, Dallas hasn't been able to succeed after the brand extension.
9 9. Has: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has had a rough time getting it going while on the main roster. He certainly has all the tools to become a great star in the company, but has been on the wrong end of pretty much every feud he's been in with the WWE. This has hurt his stock in many eyes, as the threat of Wyatt has dramatically gone down and fans just expect him to lose whenever he's in a match.
However, since the draft, Wyatt has maintained a top spot on SmackDown. Though he certainly deserves to be the main event at some point, Wyatt doesn't seem to be too far away from that point and he's currently a Tag Team Champion along with Randy Orton. I don't think he would have been in his current situation without the brand split.
8 8. Hasn't: Neville
So far Neville's main roster career has been an absolute bummer. He is absolutely amazing in the ring and it seemed as though Neville would at least had a mid-card title run by this point.
An argument could be made that any plans of that sort were thrown out the window after Neville's serious leg injury. It's understandable that the WWE is hesitant to throw any major push at the superstar, but you'd think he'd at least get some TV time. Neville hasn't been seen since October 30th, as of the writing of this piece.
While Neville has been on the wrong end of the stick, he is still just 30 years old and has a lot of time to get it going. Let's hope it happens sooner than later.
7 7. Has: Becky Lynch
There is no question that women's wrestling has become a very strong commodity in the WWE today. It is no longer a milestone for the ladies to main-event a show, as stars like Sasha Banks and Charlotte have made it seem completely effortless and made us wonder why they haven't main eventing for longer!
Without the brand split, Becky Lynch would have likely been overshadowed by Banks, Charlotte, Bayley, and others. However, she's shown her worth, leading Smackdown's women's division to perfectly compliment Raw's division.
I could give the entire SmackDown women's division a spot on this list, but Lynch will take it on their behalf. Though she recently lost her Women's Championship to Alexa Bliss, there's no denying that Becky Lynch is the female face of SmackDown and will be for a long, long time.
6 6. Hasn't: Apollo Crews
When Apollo Crews crashed the main-event scene in NXT, though he wasn't there for very long, he turned a lot of heads with his unbelievable in-ring ability. With that in mind, Crews seemed destined for a huge push when the brand split arrived, especially since he was drafted to SmackDown Live, where he'd have more of a chance to make a difference. However, he hasn't even been able to score any type of feud since losing an Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam to The Miz.
Crews is only 28 years old and has plenty of time to find something. You have to hope that it's soon, as he has such special wrestling ability that it seems crazy if it doesn't. He might not be ready to be WWE Champion, but he should at least be in a mid-card feud at this point.
5 5. Has: Dean Ambrose
With or without the draft, Dean Ambrose would have had a stellar WWE career. He has a captivating personality in and out of the ring, though it can be over-the-top sometimes. However, without the brand split, he might've been more of an upper mid-card kind of guy. But, since the brand split, he hasn't been out of the main-event scene for SmackDown and is constantly involved in the highest profile feuds on the program.
Without the split, Ambrose would have likely been in and out of the main-event scene, but would have spent most of his time camped behind guys like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and John Cena. So, with that, Ambrose has certainly benefited from the brand split and will continue to do so, considering the lack of big names currently residing on the SmackDown Live roster.
4 4. Hasn't: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is a guy that will likely never be a WWE World Champion, in all likelihood. However, Zayn has the in-ring talent to be a multi-time mid-card champion and a tag champion if he is paired with the right guy (Neville?).
However, since the brand split, Zayn only has a victory over Kevin Owens at Battleground to brag about. He came up short in a feud against Chris Jericho and has been demolished by Braun Strowman over the past couple of weeks.
However, Zayn seems to be reaching a light at the end of the tunnel, as recent rumors suggest that he could be moving to SmackDown, which would give him more of a chance to thrive. This would be a good idea for Zayn, as SmackDown has proven to give stars like him an opportunity to thrive.
3 3. Has: A.J. Styles
When A.J. Styles jumped ship to the WWE after a hugely successful run with New Japan, there was concern that the WWE would hold him back because he was TNA's franchise man for over a decade. Those fears were quickly squashed, as Styles was made to seem like a big deal when he debuted at the Royal Rumble. So, even without the draft, it seemed like Styles was going to be just fine in the WWE.
Before the draft, Styles was kept relevant as he feuded with the likes of Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns, but he likely wouldn't have became WWE Champion as quickly as he did. However, since the move to SmackDown, Styles has been in the main-event and has been the show's top heel. He's certainly made the most of the brand split.
2 2. Hasn't: Baron Corbin
After Corbin won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, there was reason to believe he would find some success on the main roster by riding off that momentum. Corbin would also have a decent career start up feud with Dolph Ziggler before the split, so there seemed to be a chance of Corbin working his way up from there.
Once the brand split came about, it seemed to be inevitable that he'd get a big push. However, since the split, Corbin has mostly participated in an irrelevant five month feud with Kalisto. Corbin wasn't even able to participate in the SmackDown vs Raw Survivor Series match that he was originally picked to participate in because he was feuding with Kalisto.
You have to hope that Corbin gets something going for himself soon or he will be another wasted talent by the company.
1 1. Has: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens' has absolutely been the most successful star since the brand split. He was moved from the mid-card to the main event scene extremely quickly and the main reason for the huge push was thanks to Finn Balor's injury suffered at SummerSlam.
However, Owens has made the most of the opportunity. He's been over with the WWE Universe and hasn't lost momentum since winning the WWE Universal Championship at the end of August. Whether it's getting cheered or jeered, he's been thriving as Raw's World Champ and has solidified himself as a main event player. We've been lucky enough to enjoy The Kevin Owens Show over the last few months and we hope it continues well into the new year. We also wouldn't be upset if he kept being best friends with Chris Jericho.
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