The average wrestling fan is in a peculiar place right now. With main organizations like WWE and TNA failing to impress loyal fan bases, other promotions are capitalizing on the lack of excitement. It’s simply a great time to be a wrestling fan, because the options seem limitless.
However, WWE is still the mecca of sports entertainment, and much like a wrestler who wishes to leave the smaller territories for WWE, it’s still the preferable place to watch wrestling based on history alone. Maybe some prefer the hard-hitting style of NJPW, or the spot-filled contests you’d find on ROH, yet it all comes full circle when WWE puts on a great event, or at least a highly anticipated one like WrestleMania.
That being said, it’s not like WWE can please everyone that watches. There will always be haters out in full force when the music of either John Cena or Roman Reigns hits the speakers, and maybe some fans don’t even like Seth Rollins, who is one of the best wrestlers in the company right now.
Over the years, many wrestlers have been either given the chance to shine and blew it, or had fans beg for their inclusions on the main event scene while the higher-ups keep them afloat on the lower card. When a wrestler proves they can hack it and the people beg to see them thrive on the highest level, you’d think it would make sense for that respective athlete to be a main event player or a top earner. But some decision made by the creative team are baffling, and in more cases than not, amazing wrestlers are held back for reasons that can’t be explained, or because they lack a certain something. You can say WWE has failed when it comes to pushing Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, yet those two have been in main events, and in their cases, it’s more about the booking decisions rather than how they are being used. We’re talking about the guys and gals who have been excelling at their jobs, but find themselves stuck in the lower tier.
Here are 10 current WWE superstars that deserve better, and more importantly, a boost:
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10 Luke Harper
When Bray Wyatt released Luke Harper and Erick Rowan from his eerie Wyatt Family stable, it was surprising that Harper would win gold (the WWE Intercontinental Championship) before the leader of the clan would.
While Harper’s booking has been fair, he’s not exactly moving crowds, despite his cult following. His position is reminiscent of Alberto Del Rio’s (even though they are worlds apart in terms of style), and how WWE dropped the ball with the Mexican superstar and pushed him a little too fast without giving the WWE Universe a chance to get behind him.
He may not be equipped to perform such daredevil-like stunts like he did as Brodie Lee years ago, nor does WWE really venture off in that department anymore, but he could be useful as one of The Authority’s mercenaries on a full-time basis. It’s not like he wouldn’t be a hell of a lot better than Big Show or Kane in that regard.
Ever since Emma was busted for shoplifting in the summer of 2014, her career has been pegged back. You can say the blame falls solely on her, but to be fair, let’s not forget the many arrests of successful wrestlers (some much worse, like domestic abuse, driving under the influence, and possession of narcotics).
It wasn’t long ago Emma was turning heads with her performances on NXT, more specifically her matches against Paige and Charlotte. Her main card push alongside Santino Marella in an awkward friendship didn’t help her cause, and now that that’s out of the window, maybe officials will realize she’s one of the top female wrestlers in the company, and shouldn’t be doing the job for Carmella and both Cameron and Summer Rae in tag action, who are all light years behind her in the ring.
8 Tyson Kidd
Don’t throw a tantrum just yet if you have his current tag team partner in mind, because we’ll get to that in a bit. While Kidd’s been in a fairly good position as of late under a fresh heel persona, it’s sad to think he’s been under the WWE banner for six years, if you exclude his time in the developmental territories.
Serving as someone who elevated the games of many NXT superstars, it was great to finally witness the Canadian slug it out against competitors of equal measure, yet he’s only been awarded gold twice, alongside David Hart Smith (now Davey Boy Smith Jr.). The obsession with cats and the headphones could only do so much when one realizes the kind of matches the Albertan can have with almost anyone.
There’s been an influx of wrestlers that would fall under the cruiserweight category, and here’s hoping Kidd, who is currently 34 years old, can snag some of the spotlight in singles competition sometime soon.
7 Big E
While The New Day isn’t exactly a stable worth keeping an eye on, it consists of talented wrestlers. Unlike some other entries on this listing, Big E was given a chance to become something greater than your average mid-card wrestler, and it’s hard to say if he was rushed too soon or failed to peak interests.
The behemoth is not even 30 years old, so there’s time for Big E to work his way back into a bigger picture. With that said, we’ve seen him compete as a face and heel, heard his subpar mic skills, and witnessed his utilization as muscle for the likes of Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. However, if Big E was repackaged as a monster billed to destroy everyone that stands in his way (like Rusev or Brock Lesnar), would it make a difference, or is it something we’ve seen before?
Either way, something’s got to give, and winning both the WWE Intercontinental Championship and the WWE NXT Championship are impressive accolades. Maybe the problem lies within his contributions inside the squared circle.
We all have our favorites, but if you had to make a list of the top three female wrestlers in WWE, Natalya’s inclusion would be a no-brainer.
Alongside such notables as Lee, Paige, and even Emma, Natalya has been at the forefront of the Divas division for quite a while now, yet the more glamorous types like The Bella Twins overshadow her in that regard. When it comes to the Canadian, she should be considered as the John Cena of her division, which means relatively unbeatable and hard to book in losing situations.
She’s done wonders for her peers, putting over talents such as Charlotte, Naomi and Paige, to name a few, yet we’re also talking about a 15-year veteran that has only held the Divas title once. In all fairness, WWE’s Total Divas isn’t where Natalya should do most of her work, and it’s just odd to see one of the best female wrestlers in the world resort to a played out and horribly scripted show about being a total diva.
5 Kofi Kingston
There was a time where some would have fought against Kofi Kingston being in a pay-per-view main event, and it still seems a little farfetched to believe it would ever happen. Then again, he’s also won 10 titles as a WWE competitor, which means he’s one of the most decorated wrestlers competing in the company right now.
But it seems like WWE just uses Kingston for specific spots, mainly in Royal Rumble and Money In The Bank matches, and he’s far better than that. You could compare him to guys like Rob Van Dam and Shelton Benjamin, who were tossed aside in favor of the bigger guys but still used to wow crowds by their respective patented spots.
The New Day is just not working, and it would be great if a WWE writer comes up with a marvelous idea to turn Kingston heel, and voice his frustrations with the lack of progress in his career. He shouldn’t be anywhere lower than competing for the Intercontinental or United States titles, and with the right attitude (and booking, of course), we can see a rejuvenated Kingston in a much different role.
4 Damien Sandow
Before you roll your eyes, WWE has done wonders for Damien Sandow. With immense help from the WWE Universe, Sandow has become one of the most beloved wrestlers on the roster, thanks to his role as a stunt double for The Miz. His presence alone generates excitement, not to mention his hard work outside of the ring as he sells for his partner’s misfortunes.
Seeing Sandow come out in various costumes before his new gimmick was starting to grow on everyone, yet now, it’s almost impossible to hate him. With WWE hinting a breakup, the time is now for Sandow to disband from The Miz and start being used as a babyface. His gimmick as a modern-day 'The Genius' (Lanny Poffo) would still work, as long as he doesn’t insult the fandom. It’s not like he’s a bad wrestler either, seeing how he competed against guys like Cena (remember the Money In The Bank Cash-In Match on Raw in late 2013) and Dolph Ziggler with not a lot of time to work, and even formed a great partnership with Cody Rhodes before their feud.
3 Cody Rhodes
Speaking of the young Rhodes brother, it’s finally time for WWE to realize the youngster's potential as a major player. Rhodes has been one of the better wrestlers in the company for over a while now, and despite his gimmick as Stardust being fairly amusing, it was almost bittersweet considering he would do best under his given wrestling name.
Cody finally turned on his older brother Goldust recently and since the feud can’t possibly last that long (at least not months after WrestleMania 31), it should help him elevate back into the singles spotlight with a snarky attitude. He’s improved leaps and bounds since his time in the Legacy stable, and his run as a two-time Intercontinental Champion was quite impressive. There’s no reason why Cody should be held back, since various stars like Ambrose, Rollins, and Wyatt were given main event spots on big cards (even though top draws like Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns were missing).
It’s time for Stardust to be left in the dark, and for Cody to continue his mean streak as one of the better in-ring performers.
When it comes to Cesaro, it’s really tough to break down his problem. Maybe he lacks charisma, yet the same wrestler who won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30 was one of the few that didn’t need charm to win over the audience. His brute force made up for the rest.
Ever since Vince McMahon voiced his concerns about Cesaro on an episode of The Steve Austin Podcast, everyone is watching the European like a hawk. He’s doing well alongside Kidd, yet he’s more equipped for main event stardom at this point in his career. There should be no reason why he’s losing to his counterparts in less than five minutes like he did in the latter half of 2014, especially when you consider his matches against Ziggler and Sheamus. He certainly wasn’t a good fit as a Paul Heyman guy, but it seems like WWE isn’t giving him a fair shake at the moment. He’s one of the most decorated and experienced wrestlers in the business, and aside from botching his promo earlier this year where he was venting his frustrations on 2015's premiere episode of WWE's flagship show, Cesaro needs to be a big player moving forward. If not, he would be better suited to compete abroad.
1 Dolph Ziggler
When Ziggler emerged as the sole survivor at last year’s Survivor Series after pinning Rollins, it was as if it was a dawn of a new era for him. For someone that's been over with the crowd for years now, rumors began to swirl about Ziggler winning the 2015 Royal Rumble Match, with hopes he’d headline WrestleMania 31.
It wasn’t exactly written in the stars, and based off WWE’s decisions as of late, it was just too unrealistic. The good news is the brass finally understands what Ziggler means to the fans, which is great. This comes after a great run with the Intercontinental title in 2013, featuring a handful of great matches against a handful of previously mentioned superstars on this listing.
Whether or not Ziggler’s reoccurring injuries are concerning for his employers, it shouldn’t be a reason to hold him back. “The Show Off” has been a champion multiple times before, winning all three major singles titles during his stay (he was a two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and a tag champ, too). Not only has he outdone himself in matches against Rollins, CM Punk, and even Del Rio over the years, he continues to put on the best matches on the card almost every week.
Obviously, WWE is a business with a plan, and maybe the numbers didn’t add up when he was on the throne. With a match against Bryan rumored for WrestleMania 31, it would be salivating to watch, but it’s time for Ziggler to stay on the main event scene for the duration of his career. A great wrestler will decent mic work and excellent selling spots shouldn’t be anywhere lower than that, even if he’s had his fair share of concussions.
He truly is the modern day "showstopper."
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