The internet is a great place to complain about the direction that some wrestlers have been taking. You either think that some wrestlers are being pushed way too hard, while some of those farther down on the card deserve a better chance. For every person that has booed Roman Reigns during his run from this year’s Royal Rumble to WrestleMania, that same person has likely wanted to see Cesaro make a big run.
It’s only natural, and it appears that the WWE executives have at least started to listen to some people’s complaints, leading to Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins walking out of the last two WrestleMania main events with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Other times, these complaints just fall on deaf ears as some of your favorite stars continue to get buried.
But which wrestlers deserve more of a shot than they have gotten recently? Here are 15 wrestlers that need a little something else, whether it be a new gimmick, new feud or just more time on camera. Some of these wrestlers have been in the main event, while some have barely gotten out of developmental.
15 The Ascension
The team of Konnor and Viktor was given a big chance when they were in NXT, winning the NXT Tag Team Titles and holding them for just three weeks short of a year. Now that they have been called up to the main roster, the WWE doesn’t seem like they know what to do with them. The Ascension has not done much talking at all, and the casual fans just think they are a Road Warriors rip off. The talented team hasn’t gotten many notable matches since being on the roster despite their dominant developmental run.
14 Erick Rowan
Now that Luke Harper has rejoined Bray Wyatt as a member of the Wyatt Family, it might be time for Erick Rowan to follow suit. Either that, or Rowan needs to get a new gimmick altogether. With limited microphone time, we haven’t seen much of what Rowan can do with a promo, but he either needs to be part of the Wyatt Family or his own man. The fact that he’s still doing the creepy sheep thing outside of the family is just confusing, especially when he acts as a babyface.
13 Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston’s athleticism is among the best in the WWE currently, and they have tried different avenues to make him a star, but it just hasn’t worked. Kingston has been with more tag teams than seemingly everyone else on the roster. Although The New Day has gotten over with the fans due to their heat, Kingston would still be better suited for a successful solo run. Everytime he would get momentum against a big-time opponent, he would disappear from television inexplicably.
12 Curtis Axel
Third generation wrestlers usually get preferential treatment, but that hasn’t been the case for Curtis Axel. Axel has a fun personality that should be able to get over with fans, but he hasn’t been given much of a chance. Sure, he stumbles on his promo sometimes, but practice makes perfect. Axel received a pretty big push when he was teamed up with Paul Heyman, but it fizzled out without much of an explanation. Axel might need to be repackaged again, or at least be given more time with a microphone to establish some personality.
11 Bo Dallas
The younger brother of Bray Wyatt, it seems like the executives at WWE have much more hope for the future when it comes to the older Rotunda brother. Bo Dallas was a big star in NXT that absorbed heat like crazy from the Full Sail fans, but it hasn’t translated into main roster success. Dallas is a talented worker that is great with a microphone, but it might be time to ditch the faux motivational speaker gimmick, since it didn’t get much of an origin story outside of NXT. Some time off and in the gym might also help Bo Dallas right now.
10 The Miz
For those that didn’t tune back into wrestling until after CM Punk and John Cena had their infamous feud in 2011, you missed a time when the top heel in the company was The Miz. It’s pretty clear that The Miz knows what he’s doing with a microphone, but his lack of notable feuds over the past couple of years have been far too obvious. WWE seems like they don’t know what to do with The Miz when he’s not promoting a B-level movie, and he is likely just one good feud with a main eventer away from getting back to where he used to be.
9 Jack Swagger
Remember when Jack Swagger was in a feud with Rusev, and it produced one of the loudest crowd moments ever with a resounding “We the people!” It seems like WWE doesn’t remember that, as Swagger has been buried badly since that feud ended with a couple of losses. Zeb Coulter is a great manager, but it appears that the era of having a manager (outside of Paul Heyman) is pretty much dead. They don’t need a repackaging, they just need to get involved with a feud that actually means something again.
8 Wade Barrett
In the past, winning the King of the Ring tournament has been a launching pad for careers that include Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Sheamus and Brock Lesnar. When they brought the tournament back, it seemed like it was a good opportunity for Wade Barrett after his win, but he hasn’t even done much on the midcard since the victory. Barrett has a good way of connecting with the fans, pleasing the smarks with his style of wrestling and has the right look, but like many others, he needs to win a meaningful feud.
7 Titus O’Neil
Former football player? Check. 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds of menacing muscle? Check. Good charisma and an ability to cut a promo? Check. So what’s missing with Titus O’Neil? Granted, O’Neil is 38 years old and the WWE might be afraid to give someone that close to 40 their first push, but O’Neil definitely deserves it. Instead, O’Neil (and also talented Darren Young) have been floundering in the tag team scene. They are currently the tag champs, but that doesn’t mean much these days.
6 Heath Slater
Heath Slater has been put in so many factions during his career, that it’s hard to keep up. Between the Nexus, Corre and 3MB, Slater has never really been given a chance to be a solo star. Slater’s best work as a solo act came when he was getting buried by “Legends” or when he scored a roll-up pin over Seth Rollins on Raw this year. Slater is fun with a microphone and solid enough in the ring to where a good repackaging might get him over with the fans.
5 Damien Sandow
Talk about someone that has had little to no direction since they debuted. Damien Sandow might personify that more than anyone. Sandow started out as the “Intellectual Savior of the Masses”, then teamed with Cody Rhodes, then became The Miz’s stunt double, then started a carousel of gimmicks that didn’t make much sense. Through all of that, Sandow was still able to get over with the fans, so it’s clear that he’s talented and over. Sandow is in dire need of a new gimmick where he can be more than a comedy act.
Speaking of Damien Sandow, it’s his former tag team partner Cody Rhodes (now known as Stardust) that deserves more. Rhodes has been in the WWE since 2007, and it still seems like WWE doesn’t have much direction for him. The son of a legend, Rhodes has been given a few gimmicks that got over as a heel, but never really got the main event shot that he deserved. Now that he’s toiling away as Stardust, it seems like that opportunity will never come. Rhodes may like the Stardust gimmick, but it’s unlikely that it will ever bring him a meaningful title.
3 Big E
Much like Titus O’Neil, Big E has an athletic background and the type of size that Vince McMahon seems to like so much. Big E is in The New Day with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, but he wasn’t given enough of a chance in the solo scene. He did win an Intercontinental Championship, but his promos and size alone should have given him a longer run. Big E never really got the chance to cut a promo outside of the WWE App before, but maybe it’s time he gets another chance, because he can bring it as evidenced in his NXT run.
It seems like everytime you log onto a professional wrestling forum, there is someone asking if this is finally the time that Cesaro is going to be getting a main event push. Cesaro has shown that his in-ring ability and strength might actually be the best on the entire roster, and the smarkiest fans love him dearly. Cesaro has been described as missing the “it factor,” according to Vince McMahon, which has drawn the ire of wrestling legends such as Steve Austin. Hopefully one day Cesaro gets his push, and it will make a lot of people happy if it happens.
1 Zack Ryder
There haven’t been many wrestlers out there that have gotten themselves completely over with the crowd, only to be completely buried. At least most of those people that get knocked down the card still end up in the middle of it. Ryder used social media and the internet to connect with fans and become a favorite, using his signature call “Woo woo woo, you know it!” Ryder had a United States title run, but flamed out quickly in his feud with Kane. Ryder doesn’t necessarily need a new gimmick, but he needs more time on air to reestablish his fanbase and get into a meaningful feud.