Time flies, as we are almost a third of the way through 2016 already. WrestleMania has come and gone, and May has two pay per views with Payback and Extreme Rules on the horizon. So far this year we have had the Royal Rumble, Fastlane, and WrestleMania. There have been some great moments and there have been some bad moments. The “Road To WrestleMania” this year was fairly lackluster, but the product has turned a corner since then.
For some wrestlers in the WWE, 2016 has been a big year. Roman Reigns won his third WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania by defeating Triple H, AJ Styles made his long-awaited WWE debut at the Royal Rumble, and just a few short months later he challenged Reigns at Payback for the championship. Also, The New Day have continued their lengthy tag team title reign – though there is finally now competition from two upstart teams originally from NXT.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be on top all at once, and this article is going to take a look at 15 WWE superstars who have not had the best start to 2016. This list includes one guy with a great WrestleMania moment, only for it to be taken from him the next night. It also includes some newer wrestlers from NXT who just have not gained traction. The list also includes a couple of wrestlers that had promising starts only to be derailed by injury. Take a look at the following list and let us know in the comments who you agree with and who I may have left out.
15. Zack Ryder
It’s odd that Zack Ryder is on this list because 2016 could be the best year of his career just because of one night. He was able to climb the ladder and win the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania in Dallas early last month in what many dubbed as a shocking victory. Unfortunately, the title reign lasted only 24 hours as The Miz talked him into defending the belt the next night on Raw. Since then he’s back to being the disappearing act that he’s been for the better part of the past five years. The crowd was completely behind Ryder for his big moment, and that should tell the WWE brass that he deserves to be pushed.
They dub Naomi as the most athletic wrestler in the women’s division, but being athletic is only one piece of the puzzle, and Naomi is looking to find those other pieces to try to climb in what has become a very competitive division now. As far as 2016 goes, Naomi has been pretty much used to take the pin for three of the Four Horsewomen who clashed for the new WWE Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32. In her career, she’s only had one title shot, but at least she’s part of a group now with Tamina in B.A.D., so her time may come with some patience.
13. Bo Dallas
There is good news and bad news with Bo Dallas being on this list. The good news is that he is still very young, and at age 25, he has a lot of career left in him. The bad news is that he has been on the main roster for almost two years and has never had a serious push whatsoever. Currently he is in the Social Outcasts stable led by Heath Slater, and much like 3MB, it’s more of a joke faction to take the loss. The group could be in jeopardy as well with the 60-day suspension of Adam Rose. The Social Outcasts have been on television quite a bit in 2016, but Bo Dallas wrestles the least out of them all. Eventually he’ll figure it out.
Paige is one of the best if not THE best wrestler currently in the women’s division . She rocketed straight to the top winning the now defunct Diva’s Championship on her debut night. Much like Naomi, Paige is currently lost in the shuffle of the Diva’s Revolution, and has not had any meaningful story lines or matches in 2016. Recently she lost a FOUR minute match to a returning Emma. This is definitely a case of you can’t push everyone at once, and Paige is a two-time champion, so her day in the sun will come soon enough, but she has definitely not had a great start in 2016.
11. The Ascension
For 2016, it cannot get any worse for The Ascension. Since they debuted on the main roster, they have failed to garner any sort of momentum (meaning they have failed to impress Vince McMahon). For being the longest reigning tag team champions in NXT history, you would have thought The Ascension would be at the top of the heap, but they have had zero push on the main roster. It only gets worse from here as Konnor was slapped with a 60-day suspension for violating the Wellness Policy this month. It appears that Viktor may have replaced Adam Rose in the Social Outcasts, but at this point that isn’t much of a promotion.
While he has had a couple of shots at the United States Championship, 2016 has not been a good year for “The Big Guy.” Last year, Ryback had reverted back to his old good guy persona with his ‘FEED ME MORE’ chants and it seemed like he was back on the same track he was a few years ago, but it eventually became stale and he turned heel. So far the heel run has just been in a feud with Kalisto for the United States Championship, and those matches have been relegated to the pre-show of WrestleMania and the following Payback pay-per-view. If he loses the next match against Kalisto, you’ll have to wonder if he will ever regain momentum again.
When Rusev debuted on the main roster in 2014, there was not a more dominant and villainous heel on the roster. He was unstoppable, until he clashed with John Cena and his undefeated streak and all momentum ended. Later in 2015, Rusev joined the League Of Nations with Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Wade Barrett. A group consisting of these great talents should have dominated the WWE, but instead they basically were the jobbers most of the time, and the group has since disbanded. The breakup of The League Of Nations is probably the best thing that can happen to Rusev.
8. Adam Rose
Much like Konnor from The Ascension, Adam Rose was suspended for 60 days due to violating the Wellness Policy. Ever since the promotion from NXT, Rose has not had a serious push of any sort, and eventually was put in the Social Outcasts. While that faction is entertaining, they have lost more than they have won. Another thing against Rose is the fact that they keep trying different things with him and nothing has worked so far, so one has to wonder if there will be much of a future for Adam Rose after his 60-day suspension is up.
7. Luke Harper
For Luke Harper, this is a case of the wrong thing happening at the wrong time. Just before WrestleMania (literally days before) Harper suffered a knee injury during a dark match following Monday Night Raw. The Wyatt Family was sort of pissing in the wind in 2016 after the feud with Brock Lesnar (that was supposed to lead to a WrestleMania match) fizzled out, but the night after WrestleMania, the Wyatts turned face to a huge ovation. Hopefully the momentum of turning face will pay dividends for the Wyatts, and hopefully Harper can become healthy during that ride because it could be huge for everyone involved.
6. Alicia Fox
Along with Natalya, Alicia Fox is currently one of the most tenured women in the WWE, but even though she’s been in the WWE for nearly eight years, she has only had one title reign – back in 2010. In the years since, it almost seemed like Fox was an afterthought in the women’s division, until she ended up teaming with Nikki and Brie Bella to form Team Bella. This was her greatest exposure since being Divas Champion, but unfortunately Brie Bella has retired and Nikki Bella is recovering from a major injury, leaving Foxy out in the cold in 2016.
5. Titus O’Neil
Outside of the Prime Time Players quietly breaking up late in 2015, Titus O’Neil had only been competing as a singles wrestler once before, and that was the horrible and poorly timed heel turn on his former partner Darren Young. Titus was witnessing his biggest push in his singles career late in 2015 and into 2016, however, an ill-timed grab of Vince McMahon’s arm led to a 60-day suspension and missing WrestleMania. He was almost fired, but thankfully Triple H talked Vince McMahon down. He’s back from his suspension now, but it’s hard to tell if he will get any sort of push.
Neville has been on the main roster for just over a year now and has been a fan favorite, although he has not yet held gold in the WWE (he now has the second longest reign as NXT Champion as Finn Balor just passed him a few weeks back). To start 2016, he faced Kalisto for the United States Championship, but lost. Just days before WrestleMania this year, Neville was supposed to be in the ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, but broke his ankle on a slide under his opponent Chris Jericho. Hopefully he’s not lost in the mid-card after his return later in the summer.
3. King Barrett
Ever since Wade Barrett was the first ever winner of NXT (back when it was a competition format), you had figured that he would be a multiple world champion by now. He was the leader of a great faction in the Nexus, he is great on the mic, and good in the ring. Nearly six years later, and Barrett has zero world championships to his credit, and that is embarrassing. Late in 2015, the League Of Nations was formed, but was poorly booked and disbanded just last week. Barrett never received any sort of significant time in the ring as a member of the League, and was given the boot the night after WrestleMania. Word is he is leaving the WWE this summer after his contract expires, and no one can blame him.
I’ve got to admit, the transformation of Cody Rhodes to Stardust has been entertaining and he has done a damn good job with the character, but that character has a very low ceiling. Rhodes has been under this persona for almost two years now, and only has one championship during this time- the WWE Tag Team Championship with his brother Goldust. While Stardust has had two matches for the Intercontinental Championship, they were multi-man matches where he was not even close to winning. Cody posted on his Twitter a photo of himself, Tyler Breeze, and Tye Dillinger in suits, possibly teasing a new faction and ditching the Stardust gimmick. That is the best thing that can happen to Cody right now.
1. Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze made his long awaited debut on the main roster in October 2015 after a great run in NXT. Though he was never NXT Champion, he was in the main event picture and had great matches on a consistent basis. No one has had a worse 2016 than Breeze, though. Starting from January 11th of this year, he lost over 20 straight televised matches, finally breaking the streak this week on Monday Night Raw. This was due to being in the doghouse for leaving a show early even though he was approved to do so. As I previously mentioned, there is the possibility that he will be in a faction with Cody Rhodes and Tye Dillinger, and anything is a step up from his start to this year.