The world of professional wrestling is a fast-paced, ever changing environment. Wrestlers often fluctuate up and down the card throughout their career, from main event to curtain jerker. One year, a wrestler could be in a marquee match at Wrestlemania, and the next year, they could be jobbing to Baron Corbin. Even though the main event picture has been fairly consistent on Monday Night RAW, Smackdown Live, and 205 Live since the end of 2017, it seems like it is about time for that picture to change. Some big names might be starting their journey down the card in the very near future, which could leave a huge hole for a replacement.
While some wrestlers, like Scott Dawson, seem to be complacent with their almost non-existent spot on the card, countless others are patiently waiting in the background for their time to shine. For some of those patient superstars, their time could be coming very soon. WWE superstars that can capitalize on this opportunity, seize the moment and make the most of the opportunities that they have been given can certainly make a great career for themselves. Some of the greatest pro wrestlers from the WWE, like Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan, have been able to capitalize on the opportunity presented to them by a spot opening up at the top. However, when one person rises, another person must fall. This isn't to say that anyone on this list is going to become a jobber in 2019, but it is safe to say that their spot on the card might be a little lower this time next year.
16 Forget: Cedric Alexander
Cedric Alexander's time in the WWE has been bumpy, to say the least. During the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, Alexander tore the house down in a match against Japanese superstar Kota Ibushi, a match that many fans said was the best match of the night. Alexander's performance was so good, in fact, that the fans at Full Sail chanted for the WWE to "please sign Cedric" after his loss. After his signing, Alexander was a consistent fan favorite in the cruiserweight division. After months of being within reach of the Cruiserweight Championship, The Age of Alexander finally began when Cedric was crowned champion at Wrestlemania 34 in a severely underrated match with Mustafa Ali. He has since retained the title on two separate occasions, once against Kalisto at the Greatest Royal Rumble, and once a month later against Buddy Murphy.
However, through no fault of his own, Alexander's reign as champion has been, to put it bluntly, boring.
Despite Cedric's popularity with the WWE Universe at WreslteMania, he is a bland babyface that fans don't seem to care about one way or another anymore.
He was cheered when he won the title in New Orleans, yes, but the fans that attend WrestleMania are the most hardcore fans, and they are likely to cheer for "indie darlings" like Alexander. He gets a fair reaction from the fans that attend TV tapings, but the casual fan couldn't care less about Cedric. Whether hardcore fans like it or not, he will probably lose that Cruiserweight Championship sooner rather than later.
15 Replace With: Buddy Murphy
An 11 year veteran, Buddy Murphy began wrestling at the age of 18 and has been with the WWE since 2013. Murphy spent an unprecedented 5 years in NXT, competing in only 1 televised match in 2017. Murphy found success as a tag-team wrestler with his partner Wesley Blake and manager Alexa Bliss, but, when Bliss was promoted to the main roster and Blake and Murphy split, Murphy became just a background player in the WWE. It seemed like he would be future endeavored in 2018, with the WWE seeming to have no plans for him.
However, during 205 Live's tournament in 2018, Murphy made his debut for the purple brand in a striking fashion. He was a standout during the tournament, putting on fantastic matches against Mustafa Ali and Ariya Daivari. Though it was in a losing effort, Buddy Murphy faced Cedric Alexander for the Cruiserweight Championship in late May of 2018 in what many fans are calling the best match in the history of 205 Live. Ever since Neville walked out of a RAW taping, the cruiserweight division has needed a strong, dominant heel to lead the pack. Buddy Murphy's recent run in the cruiserweight division seems to have put him in the perfect position to dethrone the champion and make himself the new face of 205 Live.
14 Forget: Kalisto
Continuing with the 205 Live theme, Kalisto's time in the division has been less than spectacular. Chosen as a last minute replacement to face Enzo Amore after Neville's departure from the division, Kalisto won the belt from Enzo in October of 2017. However, this seemed to only be the traditional swerve that WWE likes to employ whenever a replacement must be selected, which is to have that replacement "unexpectedly" win. This is evidenced by the fact that Enzo won the title back two weeks later at the TLC pay-per-view.
Kalisto's latest foray into the title picture was only one month ago, in a losing effort against current champion Cedric Alexander.
WWE just seems to have lost faith in the former Lucha Dragon. Ever since joining the brand almost a year ago, he has remained a staple of the 205 Live main event scene, but it appears that he is on his way out of the title picture.
The Samurai of the Sun has accomplished a lot in his career, as, in addition to his reign as Cruiserweight Champion, he is a two time United States Champion and a former NXT Tag Team Champion. Perhaps it is time for Kalisto to move out of the title scene to make way for another shining light in the cruiserweight division.
13 Replace With: Lince Dorado
Like many other wrestlers who competed in the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, the Golden Lynx is a longtime veteran of the wrestling world. Dorado began wrestling 11 years ago at the age of 20, and has had many accomplishments outside of WWE. Before signing with the company, Dorado was known all around the world, winning multiple championships on the independent wrestling scene. He was one of the first wrestlers to sign with the WWE following the Cruiserweight Classic, and there were always rumors that there were big plans for Lince Dorado backstage. At one time, it was even rumored that the newly reformed cruiserweight division was going to split, with half of the roster on RAW and the other half on Smackdown Live, and Lince Dorado was going to be the face of the SmackDown Live cruiserweight division.
Sadly, those ideas obviously never came to be. Dorado has been stuck in the 205 Live midcard since the show's inception, but maybe his time is coming. He was paired with Kalisto and Gran Metalik in a pre-show match at the Royal Rumble this year, and WWE is always looking for the next Rey Mysterio. If Kalisto is indeed backing away from the main event scene of 205 Live, Lince Dorado would be the perfect masked luchador to replace him.
12 Forget: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has been a mainstay in the main event picture of the WWE for the past 2 years. Not only is he one of only four wrestlers to be WWE Universal Champion, but he is also a two time Intercontinental Champion, and a three time United States Champion. Directly after losing the Universal Championship, Owens entered an almost year-long feud with Shane McMahon. Kevin Owens has done it all, and, while that is great for him, that still leaves him in a strange situation on RAW. What is there left for him to do? He fell by the wayside in the Money in the Bank ladder match, and, after such a long stint in the main event, maybe it's time that Kevin Owens should step back and let others have a bit of the spotlight.
He is currently in the upper mid card of Monday Night RAW, feuding with Bobby Roode. This kind of position is exactly where Owens should be at this moment. While his run as Universal Champion was fun, his feud with Shane McMahon was absolutely abysmal, even though it did culminate in the return of Daniel Bryan. Owens needs a clean slate, and he needs to disappear into the mid card for at least a few months before making a move up the card later.
11 Replace With: Samoa Joe
With the two biggest heels on SmackDown Live in 2017 going over to RAW after the Superstar Shakeup, SmackDown needs a new monster heel. Who better to fill that role than the Samoan Destroyer himself, Samoa Joe. Joe's feud with Seth Rollins when he debuted was hindered by Rollins re-injuring his knee, and that killed any momentum that Joe had on his debut. While he was able to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at Great Balls of Fire in 2017, Joe hasn't been anywhere near the main event scene since then. He had a minor part in the story line that involved the reunion of The Shield and he kayfabe injured Dean Ambrose, but that was all upper mid card work at best.
With Kevin Owens out of the picture, Joe's new home on the blue brand should all but guarantee that Joe will have a main event run.
He was already in a marquee match against Roman Reigns during the main event of Backlash this year, and there are rumors backstage that Samoa Joe will be AJ Styles's next opponent for the WWE Championship.
Samoa Joe is a main event caliber talent, and, now that he is on Smackdown, he may finally get to show it.
10 Forget: Sami Zayn
Almost everything that was said about Kevin Owens can be said for Sami Zayn. Zayn was a mainstay in the SmackDown Live main event ever since he interfered in the Hell in a Cell match between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon. Zayn had been struggling to find his feet as a babyface ever since he had been promoted to the main roster. However, after his heel turn, Sami seemed to have finally found his role in the main event, a place where many fans felt like he always belonged. Zayn was even part of a match that was for the WWE Championship against AJ Styles.
However, now that he is on Monday Night RAW, Zayn no longer feels like the heel that he was when he had teamed up with his best friend Kevin Owens. He is currently stuck in a horrible feud with Bobby Lashley. This feud gave birth to a skit where Sami Zayn brought out men dressed as Bobby Lashley's "sisters" and many fans and critics alike are calling this the worst segment of the year. Zayn deserves better, especially since he is more than likely going to lose this feud to the returning former ECW Champion, but maybe this is for the best. Just like Kevin Owens, maybe Sami Zayn also needs a clean slate, and stepping into the background of the mid card is the way to do it.
9 Replace With: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura is perhaps the most promising prospect in the WWE right now. His heel turn at Wrestlemania 34 brought new life into his character, and he is doing some of the best heel work in the company right now. Just like Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura is filling one of the top heel roles that used to be held by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Specifially, Nakamura is filling the role of adored babyface turned despicable heel, and he is playing the role to perfection.
Regardless of the quality of his multiple title matches with AJ Styles, Nakamura has been playing the role of the dominant heel very well for months. Last year, he and Styles were both caught as pawns in the four way feud between Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. Ever since his heel turn, Nakamura has proven what a force he can be if given the opportunity to be in the main event against an opponent that he knows and enjoys working with. When looking at the SmackDown Live roster, it becomes pretty clear that Nakamura is one of the only heels on the blue brand that can go toe to toe with The Phenomenal One, and it looks like Nakamura will be trusted as the top heel.
8 Forget: The Bar
The team of Sheamus and Cesaro have been one of the most entertaining tag teams in WWE since they first teamed up. After turning heel and feuding with the returning Hardy brothers, The Bar truly have set the bar for tag team wrestling in WWE. They feuded back and forth with teams like the Hardys and Ambrose and Rollins for the RAW Tag Team Titles, so the move to Smackdown Live made a lot of since when it was announced that they moved during the Superstar Shakeup early in 2018. However, ever since moving to the blue brand, they have not really done a lot, or made much of an impact at all.The SmackDown Live tag team division is very full.
When looking at all of the teams and seeing people like the Good Brothers, The New Day, The Usos, and, of course, reigning Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers, it's understandable that a team might get lost in the shuffle.
The Bar have had their time in the spotlight. They headlined the tag team division on Monday nights for the better part of a year. Perhaps it is time for them to take a backseat and let other teams have a spot at the top.
7 Replace With: SAnitY
Speaking of other teams on SmackDown Live, even though they have been drafted to SmackDown Live during the Superstar Shakeup nearly two months ago, Sanity have yet to make their main roster debut. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain were one of the most dominant tag teams in NXT, with Wolfe and Young being former NXT Tag Team Champions. Though Nikki Cross does not seem to be joining her team, as she was not shown on the graphic when Sanity were announced as part of Smackdown Live, the groups is still just as solid as a three piece unit.
Whether Sanity is going to be a vehicle to get over Eric Young or Killian Dain, or just going to become a dominant faction on SmackDown Live, Sanity need to make their debut soon. They could go straight into a program with The Bludgeon Brothers for the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships, or they could even have a feud against The Bar to establish themselves as credible threats to the tag team champions. Sanity seems to be pulling an Emmalina, showing debut videos teasing their arrival for weeks on end. As long as they don't take seventeen weeks to debut, they can still make quite an impact on SmackDown Live.
6 Forget: Asuka
Whether a fan of Asuka's or not, it is not hard to argue that Asuka has not been the same since her loss to Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania 34. The Empress of Tomorrow took her first loss in the history of her time in the WWE, and all of her mystique vanished in an instant. Asuka was one of the most hyped wrestlers coming out of NXT, and, for months, she delivered on that hype. She showed the WWE Universe why she deserved her lauded undefeated streak. While having her lose to Charlotte could have been a great opportunity to develop her character, they failed to capitalize on any sort of drama or character development that they could have had with Asuka and now she just feels like every other woman on the roster.
She is currently in a feud with Carmella for the SmackDown Live Women's Championship, but it feels like she was just pushed away to Smackdown Live to make way for another woman on Monday Night RAW. Even if she wins the Smackdown Live Women's Title, Asuka just does not feel like Asuka anymore. Maybe it is her writing on Smackdown, maybe is just the fact that she is no longer undefeated, but something feels off. Maybe disappearing into the Smackdown Live mid card would be the best move for her, at this point.
5 Replace With: Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey's arrival in the WWE was probably the biggest moment for the Women's division in the WWE's history. MMA stars have made the transition to WWE before, like Ken Shamrock, but never someone of Rousey's caliber and level of fame. On her debut night, she shared the ring with Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka, while her debut match put her side by side with Kurt Angle. Her first singles match is for the RAW Women's Championship. It is clear that the WWE have big plans for Rousey's future in the WWE.
With both Asuka and Charlotte on SmackDown Live, Ronda Rousey seems set to lead the women's division on RAW.
She might not become the RAW Women's Champion anytime soon, nor should she. Rousey's in ring work is very solid, especially for someone so new, but her mic skills definitely still need some work. Despite all this, she is clearly being set as one of the new faces of the WWE. As shown on WWE television, she even went to the NBC upfronts as a WWE superstar. While Nia Jax is a good monster and Alexa Bliss is a very solid worker, RAW's Women's division needs a new dominant superstar after losing Asuka, and Ronda Rousey seems to be just the woman for the job.
4 Forget: Brock Lesnar
For better or worse, Brock Lesnar is perhaps the most successful part-time WWE superstar of all time. Everyone assumed he was on his way out of the company after Wrestlemania 34. When he stuck around, everyone then assumed he would drop his title at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Now, it is unclear when he will leave the company. His current reign as Universal Champion is only a few days shy of surpassing CM Punk as the longest reigning champion in modern history. On top of all of that, Lesnar is perhaps the most protected wrestler in the company on either roster.
One thing is clear, though: When The Beast Incarnate does finally lose, Lesnar won't be seen again in the WWE for a long time. While it is still unclear when he will drop his title, many are assuming that it will be at SummerSlam later this year. This means that, very soon, Lesnar will be gone and someone else will be the top guy on the RAW roster. Lesnar's eminent departure can only mean good things for the rest of the men in WWE, and the fans will enjoy finally having a Universal Champion that shows up on television every week.
3 Replace With: Braun Strowman
If it isn't clear by now, Braun Strowman is one of the WWE's top prospects. The Monster Among Men is set for big things this year. While he was unable to capture Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship, that seems to be the only thing that Braun Strowman can't do. He won the inaugural Greatest Royal Rumble, and, even though he didn't get anything for it besides a green belt that he's never worn, the WWE would have only given him the win if they had big plans for him.
He was cheered so excessively and loudly that the WWE had no choice but to finally turn him face at the TLC pay-per-view last year.
He is a babyface that fans genuinely like, both children and adults, and that is something that is truly rare in the WWE.
He also got over organically, without being shoved down the fans' throats. With Brock Lesnar on his way out of the company, the WWE have an opening at the top of the card for a new beast. While some may argue that Strowman is already at the top of the card, he has still yet to capture the title, and no one ever believed that he would beat Brock Lesnar. While he was unsuccessful earlier this year, 2018 might still be the year for the Monster Among Men.
2 Forget: Roman Reigns
I know it may sound crazy to think that Roman Reigns isn't The Guy in the WWE anymore, but hear me out. By now, it must be clear to even the top brass at WWE that the Roman Reigns Experiment is a complete failure. After being in the main event of the past 4 Wrestlemanias, Roman Reigns still can't get over. People are finally beginning to warm up to him at the TV tapings, but he still gets resounding boos from a majority of the audience at pay-per-view events. He missed the Memorial Day episode of Monday Night RAW and no one cared.
However, the nail that really sealed Roman's coffin happened at Backlash 2018. When the production team cut away to the crowd to show fans celebrating Roman's victory over Samoa Joe, what they instead cut away to was fans leaving the arena, trying to beat traffic. For years, people said the thing that will finally make the WWE change their mind about Roman Reigns is not booing him, but just showing him indifference. There is no bigger sign of indifference than leaving the arena during someone's match. If WWE don't remove Roman from the main event, it may actually start to hurt the company.
1 Replace With Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is undoubtedly the most consistent high-performing wrestler that currently works in the WWE. His reunion storyline with Dean Ambrose last year was one of the few storylines that the fans seemed to actually care about. Additionally, ever since winning the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 34, Seth Rollins has put on show stealing matches every night that he is on television. On a card that many are calling the worst pay-per-view card of 2018, Backlash opened with Seth Rollins vs The Miz, a match that was easily the best match of the night. He even carried Jinder Mahal to his best match yet on free TV in a match for the Intercontinental Championship. It seems that Seth Rollins just can't put on a bad match right now.
Just like Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins is someone who is genuinely over with the fans. He also has the talent to be the top guy in all of the WWE. He was the face of the company a few years ago, during his run as WWE Champion, but he was a cowardly heel that fans booed. Now, he is adored by all and he has proven his worth to the company. If WWE needs someone to replace Roman Reigns at the top of the card, Seth Rollins is the best possible superstar for the job.
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