It doesn't take long for an act to grow stale. Some of the best characters run their course and some of the most popular wrestlers get stuck in no man's land as the fans find a new flavor of the month. In fact, the most successful Superstars are often people who've been knocked down in terms of their personas and bounced back up.
Redefining oneself is crucial to longevity in the WWE. Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Kane and The Undertaker (who went back and forth with his character) are just a few of the names who almost entirely reinvented themselves. Many became bigger Superstars than they could have imagined.
Others couldn't do it. Below is a list of 15 current WWE Superstars who may be at a crossroads in their career. Some of their issues stem from terrible booking and writing by the company. Others Superstars should take responsibility for their own decisions.
Should these 15 Superstars not make a quick and immediate change, they run the risk that the WWE Universe will tire of them. Many are not in jeopardy of losing their careers, but some might be in jeopardy of losing their coveted spots. They run the risk that the company will not find them profitable and in some cases, a few of these Superstars run the risk they'll be moving closer to the "soon to be released" category than the bankable megastar one.
Who did we miss? If you see any that should be on the list but aren't leave your comments. Disagree with our take, share the post and let others be heard.
15 Bray Wyatt
Wyatt is one of the coolest characters to come into the WWE in years. For a while, he had everyone's attention and was headed toward being the biggest heel character in, well, forever. What happened? A lot of things actually.
First, the WWE and Bray Wyatt got too wrapped up in the character. Instead of being mysterious, they tried to turn the creepy-meter all the way up. It hasn't worked. The House of Horrors match and the projected images on the ring mat are far too overboard and proof you can give the audience way too much of a good thing. Second, the WWE took the Jake Roberts approach with the character and followed the model that it didn't matter what titles Wyatt held (if any) or if he won or lost. His character was cool enough that he didn't need titles. That may be true, but he definitely needs to be backing up the odd words he spouts with some actual proof he can win a match. If the company doesn't plan on getting behind him and making him an in-ring threat, they might as well change it up.
14 Finn Balor
The WWE has plans to make Finn Balor one of the top singles competitors in the WWE. He recently shot down any rumors of The Club reuniting, citing the fact that his time now is focused on his single's career. Why then, would they not take more advantage of his very cool entrance, his demon warrior gimmick, and his unique look? I'm not suggesting that he come out with face paint for every match. But, the WWE hasn't put him in anything prominent enough to even tease the idea that his alter-ego will show up. That's a mistake.
Perhaps some of this is due to the terrible timing that was his shoulder injury. But, if the company wants to maintain his forward momentum, they need to set a big-time match for Balor that would allow him to reach for his darker side. He's going to be a star, but how big a star is still up for serious debate.
13 John Cena
Since the plan is to use John Cena as a free agent that can travel between the two brands, it's going to be difficult to try and maintain fanfare for the multi-time champ. As it is now, Cena is a fan favorite among kids but almost universally loathed by the rest of the WWE Universe. The main reason seems to be too much Cena and not enough of everyone else. Putting him on both shows is only going to exponentially escalate the issue. Since most fans will be unhappy anyway, why not go all the way?
Make Cena the WWE's top heel who can go anywhere he wants because he's just that good. He "knows" everyone wants him, he "knows" he's worked hard enough to earn it and he doesn't care what the fans think. He's John Cena and he'll do what he wants. So too, it would be wise to play on the fact that he's had to answer questions about trying to bury younger talent in the mainstream media. Let him come out and tell everyone in the WWE Universe he thinks the new guys suck.
12 Sasha Banks
The WWE had an unbelievable heel on their hands in NXT. Sasha Banks offered a double-dose of effective as not only could she hang as well as any wrestler, she was a character people loved to hate — she was "The Boss". She was a heel, but she earned the fans respect. That respect got her cheered. As a result, what did the WWE do? They took the fact that Banks was getting the applause and admiration of the fans and decided to make her a babyface. It hasn't worked.
Today Banks is stuck in some sort of edgeless, happy-to-be-here purgatory. Instead of being a boss, she's spent most of her time pumping Baley's tires or hanging with the Cruiserweights. She's second-fiddle in almost every angle she's involved with and if the WWE isn't careful, she'll be useless quickly. This change is less about completely starting from scratch but more about letting Banks be "the Boss" character that played so well earlier in her career.
There really wasn't anything wrong with Rusev as the Bulgarian Brute, but since the WWE has pulled Lana away from him and placed her in a terrible gimmick that seems to be half Fandango and half Eva Marie, it only makes sense to repackage Rusev as well. What the WWE needs to caution away from is any character that requires Rusev to be goofy, personable or witty. If they're going to play up his Bulgarian angle, he needs to be a monster, one who's angry at the world. One who is specifically angry that the company took his wife and turned her into a sideshow act.
Rusev can come out and crush everyone until he gets an explanation. He can even take on a different mentor or manager until Lana comes back to him. One that will truly understand the brutality that is required to be on Rusev's page. There's really no chance that this phase Lana is going through will last. Until she's back, Rusev should take his frustrations out on everyone.
Otherwise, move Rusev completely away from the whole international angle and play up his mic skills. He's a pretty good talker and his stints on Total Divas has shone a different light on him.
10 Luke Harper
It would be bad enough if the WWE broke up the Wyatt Family and had no real plan for them as single's competitors. Instead, it appears there was a plan. That plan was to make the Wyatt's as useless and unimportant as possible. Bray Wyatt has been used as the company's most popular jobber (we explained that one earlier). Eric Rowan is about as close as any WWE Superstar to being released and Luke Harper has separated from the family only to change the color of his tank top.
If the Wyatt's are not going to be the Wyatt's, break Harper off completely from any semblance of the family. Change his look, his attire, his attitude. Let him stand on his own. JBL seems to want to refer to Harper as a reincarnation of Bruiser Brody, so why not play that up? Harper is actually one of the most talented wrestlers of all of the Wyatt family. He deserves a chance to prove it. If he doesn't get that chance, he's doomed to stand completely still and not be relevant at all.
9 Titus O'Neil
Am I the only one who thinks that this "Titus Brand" gimmick is awful? I know not everyone believes that a manager has to be smaller than the wrestlers he manages, but c'mon. The connections the WWE is trying make between wrestlers like Apollo Crews or Akira Tozawa is beyond brutal. It's an awful place to ask O'Neil to be and it's going to spell doom for his proteges.
There isn't really a scenario where Titus and any of the combination of wrestlers he takes on will have a dramatic impact on the roster. Titus needs to be repackaged, Apollo needs to go back to NXT and Tozawa needs to focus on the Cruiserweight Division matches. The sad thing here is, Titus O'Neil has been repackaged so many times that it's probably better to cut ties than it would be to try something new.
8 Dolph Ziggler
Perhaps it's time to take a note from the days of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall or any other performer who used his own name to get over. The Dolph Ziggler character is so tired that completely repackaging Ziggler into his real name might make sense.
By day, Ziggler goes by the name Nicholas Theodore Nemeth. "Nick Nemeth"... has an interesting ring to it. Interesting enough to finally take his words at face value and believe him when he says he's not going to take losing anymore. Nemeth can come out and be brutal in his attacks on other wrestlers. He can claim that it's not about how good a wrestler he is (understanding he still believes he's the best) but that it's all about sending a message. The WWE Universe will finally get to see the real person behind the Ziggler character. Change his music, his ring gear and everything else too.
7 The New Day
It's perhaps not going to be a popular opinion, but The New Day has become one of the stalest and most boring acts on WWE television. That they've moved to SmackDown Live isn't about to change that. It's become painful to watch a team who is using precious programming time trying to find new ways to deliver their slapstick style of comedy and without belts to chase or legit feuds to be involved in, their appearances are far too lengthy and they have an ability to suck the performances out of other performers.
But, suggesting they should break up the New Day is like suggesting they turn John Cena heel. It probably isn't going to happen and for the same reasons. The New Day sells boat loads of merchandise. Everything from cereal to unicorn horns. Keeping them together and dragging them out to become a goofy spoof of themselves will continue to sell merch like hotcakes. Instead, I'd settle for a little less stupidity and a little more in-ring action where the New Day acts goofy during the matches.
6 Dean Ambrose
If you had to pick one wrestler a year ago that would get votes as the wrestler to go the most downhill, you probably wouldn't have selected Dean Ambrose. Yet, here he is. Ambrose is the guy who killed the momentum of the Intercontinental Title. Ambrose is the guy who dresses in a bear costume to try and put one over on The Miz. Ambrose is the guy who's become more popular for being Renee Young's husband than he has for being a former multi-time champ and member of The Shield.
If you're going to call Ambrose unhinged or a lunatic, he needs to act like one. But, not in a goofy, comedy sort of way. Ambrose needs to push the boundaries of the PG product the WWE markets. He's best when he teeters on the edge and that's where the company should let him roam freely. He's being wasted in his current role and things like the Ambrose Asylum are just over the top ways of trying to get the WWE Universe to see he's not all there. He doesn't need a show to do that. He just needs to act not all there.
5 Gallows and Anderson
To repackage Gallows and Anderson wouldn't take much. In fact, it wouldn't take anything at all. They simply need to be free to be more like they were in Japan. That is, a bruising team that ran over their opponents and were part of a larger faction. Sure, the mainstream WWE audience doesn't know this version of the team as well as hardcore wrestling fans do, but why not introduce the WWE Universe to them?
Cut back on the "broskis" and the "too sweets" and just go out and rock matches in a bit more of a hardcore style. Let them team talk, but don't try to get them over by being funny. They can be cocky, confident and mean. Very different than they are right now. Right now, they're not relevant at all and are being used as filler. This was probably not the plan when the WWE brought them over but it appears the company doesn't know how else to book them. Give them a leader and let the leader talk while they do the dirty work. They're good at it and they should leave people in their wake.
4 Jeff Hardy
It is taking very little time for the Hardy's to lose their steam. It's not terribly unexpected if you look back at the successes of returning tag teams. The Dudley's failed and they were one of the most decorated tag teams in wrestling history. The Hardy's are bound to do the same. Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy is a natural single's star.
In an interview with Corey Graves, Jeff Hardy mentioned that he still has on his bucket list competing in a Hell in a Cell match. This is exactly where the WWE should start to send him and just in time for next year's WrestleMania. He's different enough that any facepaint or craziness that comes out of his uniquely creative mind won't interfere with Finn Balor and as you'll see later, breaking him off from Matt won't hurt Matt in the slightest. The Hardy's as a team won't last. It's not what people want.
3 The Ascension
If the WWE is going to keep Viktor and Connor employed, they need to either make them the scarier version of the duo fans got used to when they first found out about the team in NXT, or they need to repackage them completely.
The Ascension's time in the WWE has been overshadowed by comparisons to Demolition or the Powers of Pain, but in reality, nobody is scared of a team who never wins a match. As glorified jobbers, The Ascension is nothing more than very dressed up losers (in the literal sense) and there even becomes a point that you can only lose so much before your services are no longer needed. Their gimmick still could work, but it needs to go all the way. Think back to the Brood when the entrance made their in-ring skills stand out. The Ascension needs a kick-@$$ entrance and possibly a third member.
2 Curt Hawkins
Hands down, Curt Hawkins has the worst gimmick in the WWE. In fact, it's difficult to tell exactly what his gimmick is and considering he was supposed to be an ex-WWE talent the company was hiring to fill their shows with quality talent, Hawkins and the WWE have proved he's anything but a quality talent.
The WWE brought him back and he lost in mere seconds. They moved him to RAW and he lost again. His presence on both shows is actually confusing. They give him quality time to say pretty much nothing important and then they use him as an enhancement talent. If you're going to job him to everyone, give him a gimmick people want to see get defeated. If you plan on having win a match or two, find a way for people to stomach watching his character. Hawkins may be the shortest-lived return WWE Superstar post brand split.
1 Matt Hardy
He's the character everyone wants to see change, but he's among the least likely to actually make the switch anytime soon. As much as it was great to have the Hardy Boys return at WrestleMania 33, almost everyone would agree that it's not what the WWE Universe truly wanted. They wanted "Broken" Matt Hardy. They wanted to chant "Delete, Delete" and have it mean something.
Fans want to see the WWE work a way around the legal disputes that are halting Matt from using the "Broken" gimmick. The WWE brought them back because they were the hottest thing on TNA and that's the character people wanted. Until that happens, fans won't care much for the Hardy's.
If you can't take the name broken, at least give Hardy a chance to come up with a different name but a similar style.
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