In recent weeks, we've seen several WWE wrestlers move up the totem pole and secure better places on the card. After not being taken seriously by creative at first, Rusev Day looks to be a thing for fans and WWE officials alike, considering the Bulgarian Brute's 30-minute stint in the recently-concluded Royal Rumble match, and his number one contender status for the United States Championship. Despite losing to John Cena in an Elimination Chamber match qualifier, Finn Balor is fresh off iron man status at the Rumble match, and his Balor Club partnership with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson has saved the duo from increasing irrelevance. Of course, how can we forget Royal Rumble winners Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka?
Then you've got wrestlers whose pushes have seen better days, though chances are they may not be aware of it, either in character, but especially in real life. In many cases, that's not the end of the world, but there are also times when a "demotion" in terms of push could lead to months, or even years of slipping further down the card. But we're not here mainly to predict which of these wrestlers may likely recover from their demotion. Instead, we're here to list 15 current WWE wrestlers who may not even realize that their push isn't what it used to be in the months prior.
15 Randy Orton
While he may be fairly high up in the SmackDown Live card, Randy Orton appears to have reached that point in his career where he's more likely to put over an up-and-coming talent than win a main event title. And we say it's about time. Though he won't necessarily be that ancient when he turns 38-years-old later this year, he's been around for more than 15 years, wrestling in the main event far more often than not, and while his opponents can expect more than a few RKOs out of nowhere going forward, it's fair to expect that he'll mostly stay out of the WWE Championship picture.
Then again, when it comes to a guy like The Viper who's spent most of his career in the upper reaches of WWE's card, we may only believe it when we see it. Maybe his rather quick stint in the Royal Rumble match is a sign of things to come.
Given her penchant for in-character (and sometimes out-of-character) rants on social media, Lana is probably one of the most oblivious WWE personalities out there when it comes to losing her place on the card. Inexplicably, WWE tried to give her a good push as a singles wrestler, despite her sheer lack of in-ring experience, and when that didn't work, she was separated from real-life husband Rusev and made to manage Tamina, in a move that hasn't helped either woman.
Although she still plays a prominent role on Total Divas and is one of the most recognizable women in WWE, the only time she benefits from Rusev Day is when she and her hubby are off-camera. In other words – he's back on the rise, while she's a creative afterthought, may it be as a manager, which is, and always has been her main forte, or as a wrestler.
It wasn't too long ago when Tyler Breeze and Fandango appeared to have gotten a stay of execution as far as their WWE employment is concerned, as fans totally ate up their Fashion Files skits, which featured many on-point, and oftentimes legitimately funny pop culture references. But with Fashion Files now mostly relegated to YouTube and Breezango now back to whipping boy status in SmackDown Live's tag team division, it looks like WWE is content to lock up the Fashion Police in the penitentiary (no, not the one run by The Usos) of irrelevance.
By the looks of things, Breezango's run as a rising, albeit comedic tag team was very much of the flavor-of-the-month variety. With Rusev and Aiden English now making sure that every day is Rusev Day, the WWE Universe has pretty much forgotten that brief period when the Fashion Police was the most over mid-card act on the blue brand.
12 Bray Wyatt
To quote the late Sean O'Haire, we're not telling you anything you don't already know. But Bray Wyatt, at least if you consider his character, is one of those wrestlers who may not realize they're falling down the pecking order. The Wyatt character, after all, never seems to be fazed by mounting losses and increasing fan apathy. He just keeps popping up at random and making foreboding threats, but when push comes to shove, the Eater of Worlds oftentimes finds himself eating another pin. His character has long been stale, and to make things worse, a lot of us can't unsee that image of him as Sister Abigail.
At this point, Wyatt's only hope may be a team-up with the similarly bizarre "Woken" Matt Hardy – in almost five years on the main roster, Bray has never had an honest-to-goodness babyface run, and that just might be the only thing that can save him from complete and utter irrelevance. (Or obsolescence, if you ask "Woken" Matt.)
11 Baron Corbin
The last time we saw Baron Corbin on SmackDown Live, we saw him decimate Tye Dillinger in a match that benefited neither man. Prior to that, he spent all of 66 seconds in the Royal Rumble match, eliminated by someone who ended up as the match's iron man (Finn Balor) but is, at the end of the day, from another brand. He won the United States Championship late last year, though his reign was brief and mostly irrelevant. Then there's the fact that he became Mr. Money in the Bank last year...only for John Cena to distract him en route to a failed cash-in against Jinder Mahal.
Looking at the events we mentioned above, it's apparent that WWE is slowly giving up on the Lone Wolf after giving him a good few chances last year, though you won't instantly notice it if you're looking at that quick-and-painless squash match on SmackDown Live. We're not saying Corbin is a candidate for future endeavors just yet, but he's as far removed as you can get from being a future WWE Champion.
If you appreciate quality women's matches in the WWE, you probably cussed at your monitor after reading reports that the company had allegedly "given up" on Bayley. Not that that's going to do anything to change Vince McMahon's mind about the Hugger, but this lovable underdog had gone through so much negativity in 2017, and had most recently had a quick and forgettable women's Royal Rumble, where she was eliminated by Sasha Banks. If inflatable tube men can shed tears, they'd be crying rivers.
It's as clear as day that Bayley now finds herself in the lower half of the Raw Women's Division's power rankings. But since the title of this article deals with wrestlers not knowing that they're being demoted, we'd say that it's nice in this case that she's going about her business as usual and not complaining about her recent misfortunes. After all, she probably doesn't want to end up like Emma, whose public gripes about her push reportedly contributed to her firing late last year.
From first-ever Cruiserweight Champion in the revived division, to just another guy in a division that suffers from a severe lack of fan interest. It's been a hard fall for TJP since he won the Cruiserweight Classic, but things arguably went from bad to worse during the whole Zo Train vs. loose babyface alliance storyline, as he was one of the few heels not to join forces with Enzo Amore during his abruptly interrupted reign of terror as Cruiserweight Champion. With Amore now fired and a tournament having kicked off to crown a new champion, the former CWC champ is now firmly in dark horse territory, despite the fact he beat Tyler Bate in the first round.
It doesn't help either that there's a good chance the recently-signed Ricochet may go far in, if not end up winning the aforementioned tournament, and that the likes of Bate and Roderick Strong have further bolstered the Cruiserweight Division. Don't be surprised if TJP is among the roster cuts, should WWE decide to trim some fat from 205 Live.
8 Everyone In Absolution And The Riott Squad (Except Their Leaders)
You never were going to mistake Absolution and The Riott Squad for the New World Order. It's been over two months since both stables debuted on the same week, with Paige leading Absolution to run roughshod over Monday Night Raw, and Ruby Riott doing the same with The Riott Squad on SmackDown Live. But now that the dust has cleared, it would seem that the women on those factions who aren't calling the shots have quietly started taking the pin in tag team matches. (And getting quickly eliminated in the women's Royal Rumble.)
Granted, reports have suggested that WWE is very high on Mandy Rose, but other than Rose and her natural charisma, none of these faction members (again, save for the apparently retired Paige and Ruby Riott) are showing any of the tools a top-level female Superstar should possess, except for above-average in-ring skills for most of the ladies in question. You can even say the same for Riott, who sometimes sounds lost on the mic when she's not screaming her throat out at her babyface rivals.
7 Big Cass
In a span of a few months, he lost several months due to an ACL injury, he lost the respect of the locker room due to his outspoken political beliefs, he lost his real-life girlfriend Carmella, and it also looks like he lost his longtime friend, Enzo Amore, assuming Enzo's recent comments are 100 percent shoot or close to it. It hasn't been too fun to be Big Cass as of late, and if you're expecting him to come back strong from his injury, you might not want to get your hopes up.
For starters, Cass didn't set the WWE Universe on fire during the brief period of time he was tried out as a singles heel. Due to Amore's firing, any (slim) possibility of an Enzo and Cass heel reunion is now out the window. And he may likely come back at a time when WWE is calling up a number of stars from NXT, not to mention possibly welcoming back Bobby Lashley, who improved tremendously in all those years away from WWE. While he's got the look that could convince WWE management to give him multiple chances, he's likely looking at an uphill struggle to move up the card upon his return.
6 Zack Ryder
With his mildly successful tag team alongside Mojo Rawley, The Hype Bros, officially dead, as Mojo put it, it looks like Zack Ryder is officially a lower-tier singles star on SmackDown Live. Never mind that he was included in the US Championship number one contender match on the last SmackDown Live. Long Island Iced Z is right where he was before Hype Bros, and before his surprise Intercontinental Championship win at WrestleMania 32 – a pure jobber to the stars who's right down there alongside Tye Dillinger and the barely-utilized Mike Kanellis.
It's quite obvious that creative has nothing left for Ryder, and while it's been a memorable decade-plus run for this surprisingly tenured veteran, WWE can't keep saving his butt come spring cleaning time, only to feed him time and again to everyone from established main eventers to rising mid-carders.
5 The Revival
Good news for fans of The Revival – they defeated The Club during the Royal Rumble pre-show, less than a week after Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Finn Balor, and DX humiliated them on Raw's 25th anniversary special. The bad news? Well, the whispers of WWE turning the Top Guys into bottom-of-the-barrel guys haven't exactly died down. Yes, it seems as if Vince McMahon is still miffed that Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder took a crap on his beloved sports entertainment, worked as that promo may have been, and they might be paying for it by being turned into the red brand's version of The Ascension.
Not helping matters is the fact that Dawson and Wilder both struggled with injuries in 2017, and were barely together as a team following their explosive debut on the Raw after WrestleMania 33. We don't want to see The Revival become the latest former NXT Tag Team Champions to flop on the main roster, but that still appears to be the path their pushes are taking as of the moment.
4 Kevin Owens
Yep, this one's bound to be quite the controversial entry. But consider the circumstances behind this "demotion." With Shinsuke Nakamura having won the Royal Rumble match (thereby saving him from making this list), the stage is now being set for what could, and should be an epic WWE Championship match against AJ Styles at WrestleMania. So where does that leave KO, given that Styles likely won't lose the title any time before 'Mania? Right at the back of the line once the AJ vs. Kami feud draws to a close.
That said, we're fully confident that Owens still has a lot of championships (main event belts included) left to win in the WWE. But with the confusing nature of the Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan power struggle dulling Owens and Sami Zayn's "Yep! Movement," KO arguably isn't as hot as he was when he attacked Vince McMahon on SmackDown Live.
You've heard it time and again. At 35-years-old, with over a decade's worth of experience in the WWE, Natalya is the quintessential female veteran. She doesn't seem to have any plans of hanging up the boots just yet, despite recent rumors that she's giving it some thought, but since there's a good chance she may have won her last Women's Championship (before losing the SmackDown Women's title to Charlotte Flair last year), that has to count as a demotion of sorts.
It will never be as bad as her farting gimmick, or her comedic onscreen relationship with The Great Khali. But Nattie deserves better, even for someone who'll likely focus on putting over younger, newer women in 2018, than to make numerous feline references in line with her "crazy cat lady" persona, or to bring back memories of that awfully-named, short-lived faction of hers, The Welcoming Committee.
2 Jack Gallagher
The stats don't lie. Head over to ProFightDB and check "Gentleman" Jack Gallagher's record for yourself. He has not won a single match since turning heel and joining forces with the currently injured Brian Kendrick. Normally, a heel or face turn can be a positive development, one that could turn a stale character fresh and lead to some big, often unexpected wins. But in Gallagher's case, his heel turn has pushed him down the 205 Live card, which is definitely not what we would have expected when he was one of the few pseudo-surprises in last year's largely surprise-free Royal Rumble match.
With Rockstar Spud now known as Drake Maverick and running 205 Live as its new general manager, one would think that Gallagher would have a chance at a revived push, should Maverick turn heel and blatantly favor his countrymen. Instead, that potential spot might now belong to Tyler Bate, the inaugural WWE UK Champion who was recently called up to the Cruiserweight Division.
1 Jinder Mahal
It is all over, as former UFC commentator Mike Goldberg used to say. WWE tried to become a bigger deal in India by giving Jinder Mahal a six-month reign as WWE Champion, but it ended up doing diddly squat for the company's business. Now that he's failed to regain the title via the obligatory rematch and even failed multiple times to become number one contender to Bobby Roode's United States title, it's safe to say that the Modern Day Maharaja has been busted down to the mid-card. But does Jinder even know it?
We're not too sure about that, but we, as fans, can clearly see the writing on the wall. No, we're not expecting Mahal to return to the pin-eating duty he was so accustomed to before getting ripped and getting a surprise main event push. (At least not yet.) But we'll legitimately be surprised if he gets another WWE Championship shot in the near future, considering how so many SmackDown Live wrestlers have leapfrogged him in the power rankings.