Wrestling is a funny old business. You can go from being a main event level Champion to the mid-card in a matter of weeks, just because the creative team has decided to go in a different direction. This has happened to a number of WWE stars over the past few years and it seems that it is just the company’s way of dealing with new recruits, because they have no idea how to bring in new talent and allow them to be on par with the ones who are already there. It’s been WWE’s problem for a long time and it seems that even in 2017, the creative team is no closer to fixing the issue.
There will always be talents that are wasted. The sad fact is that five hours of live WWE TV a week isn’t enough for the company to be able to showcase everyone and involve all their stars in storylines. Of course, some superstars have huge fanbases who will often have to vocalize how bad they think the treatment of their favourite star is, while there are others who remain under the radar and their absence goes unnoticed.
The following list looks at just 15 stars who have been affected by this trend in 2017. The company knew that these 15 stars had the talent to be one of the main event level stars, but they have been wasted over the past 12 months and been forced to wait on the sidelines for an opportunity they already deserved.
15. The Club
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have become Tag Team Champions all over the world, so when WWE signed the two former members of The Bullet Club and the WWE Universe witnessed their impactful debut back in 2016, it was thought that there would be a new dominant team in town.
This obviously wasn’t the case, since The Club has become another wasted team on WWE’s Raw roster over the past year. The duo has been relegated to being jobbers ever since they dropped their Championships to The Hardyz back at WrestleMania in April, which is unfair, considering the potential that this team obviously has. Could this be Vince McMahon purposely keeping the duo from becoming huge stars just to send a message to NJPW? Vince’s pettiness has definitely been a main factor in a number of superstars careers over the past few decades, so it could be the reason for The Club’s shortcomings in 2017.
14. Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick returned to WWE as part of the Inaugural Cruiserweight Classic and was supposed to be the man to add some legitimacy to the competition, given the fact that he has already been a Cruiserweight Champion before.
Following the competition, Brian was used on the Raw roster a number of times and was even able to become Cruiserweight Champion last years, until the reign of Neville took over the division following The Royal Rumble. Brian has been a huge part of the 205 Live division over the past year and has been a mentor for many of the fresh-faced stars who have joined the roster, but with the show struggling so much that WWE has been forced to send Enzo Amore over to help with ratings, it seems that Brian could have done with a change of scenery. The Raw roster would have benefitted from his ability earlier this year, but instead, he’s been wasted on a show that’s only aired on the Network.
13. The Hardyz
The Hardyz WrestleMania return was one of the biggest comebacks that the company had over the past year and even though The Hardyz went on to win the Raw Tag Team Championships that night and step into an incredible feud with Cesaro and Sheamus, it seems that they have been lacking something extra throughout their current run.
Many of the WWE Universe have noticed the fact that The Hardyz don’t actually have a gimmick. The company has been holding out for the rights to Matt‘s Broken gimmick from Impact, which has left Hardy unable to pick up another gimmick throughout his stay. Jeff‘s shoulder injury has definitely forced the duo to take a step back since they returned but it isn’t the main reason why they have fallen out of the title picture. It seems that their lack of character or a decent gimmick are two of the biggest reasons for this.
12. Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose has caused a lot of problems for himself over the past year, with his stunt at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony gaining him a lot of unwanted attention backstage. That being said, Ambrose is one of the best stars that the company has when it comes to his work on the mic and they have decided to relegate him to the mid-card along with Seth Rollins so that they can fight over the Tag Team Championships.
These are two men that tore the place down on a regular basis back in 2014 and 2015, they main evented pay-per-views and were even locked inside Hell in a Cell but the company has decided to send them after the Tag Team titles over the past few months, so that Roman Reigns can return and overshadow his Shield brothers. It seems like a waste of talent and a complete waste of the ability that the two have against each other.
Mick Foley made the decision when he was Raw General Manager to put Cesaro and Sheamus together as a tag team. Over the past year, it seems that Foley’s plan has worked since the two are the reigning Tag Team Champions, having held the titles three times this year.
Cesaro isn’t a tag team wrestler; even though he has become a champion now with two different partners, it seems that the Swiss Superman was always cut out to be a main star. Vince McMahon‘s issues with his promo work and connection with the WWE Universe have definitely been why he has been held back over the past few years, but keeping him on the mid-card in tag team matches is just a waste of the talent that he possesses. Cesaro deserves to have a singles push into the main event picture and it seems that everyone in WWE is aware of this except the Chairman.
10. Tye Dillinger
At the beginning of the year, Tye Dillinger was the shock entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble in the number 10 spot. Fast forward a few months and Dillinger has just become another star making up the numbers on the SmackDown brand.
Dillinger proved himself in NXT and when he was given the chance at the United States Championship picture a few months ago, he once again proved that he was a superstar that deserved to be pushed into a storyline. It seems that many former NXT stars are finding it hard to adjust on the main roster, but this is through no fault of their own. Their biggest issue right now is the fact that the creative team has no idea what to do with them. It’s like WWE officials don’t pay attention to NXT so they have no idea who these stars are when they are called up to their roster.
9. Becky Lynch
Considering Becky Lynch was crowned the inaugural SmackDown Women’s Champion at Backlash back in 2016, the company hasn’t decided to capitalize on this fact over the past 12 months. If any woman in the locker room has been overlooked this year then it would have to be The Lasskicker.
Becky has been used as a talent enhancer for most of the year, which has seen her jobbing out to many of the women she defeated while she was Champion. She was recently put out of action by The Riott Squad so that she could be written off WWE TV to be part of Marine 6. When she returns to WWE, it is hoped that Becky can be given a fair chance in the Women’s Division, but since there are three new arrivals on the roster and rumours that more could be on the way, it seems that Becky could be waiting a long time for another opportunity to do what she does best in the ring.
8. The Ascension
The Ascension hasn’t been used effectively on the main roster for a number of years now, despite being the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in NXT history. Konnor and Viktor have been forced into the background over the past year, so much so that they are now only used on WWE TV as part of satire segments involving Tyler Breeze and Fandango.
The two have had a number of matches on SmackDown over the past year, but this was only to help other teams to get over with the WWE Universe or to make up the numbers in tournament style matches. Why is WWE keeping this team together if they have no interest in giving them a fair shot? The company hasn’t even tried to repackage them and given them a chance. It seems that they just don’t care about the future of the former Champions, which is unfair, considering the potential that both of these stars have.
Rusev was once an undefeated superstar on the main roster, but ever since he was put out of action by The Big Show at Fastlane back in March, it seems that is career has gone downhill.
Rusev returned to WWE back in July after being drafted over to the SmackDown brand but this time he was without his wife Lana. Instead, Rusev was left to go it alone and managed to lose to John Cena and then Randy Orton a month later in less than 10 seconds. It seems that things still aren’t improving for the Bulgarian Brute, who has recently been aligned with fellow jobber Aiden English to create an unlikely tag team who are now the dark horses in the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match at Clash of Champions next weekend. Rusev is a far cry from the beast he once was and it is now unknown if he will ever be able to become that superstar again.
6. Dolph Ziggler
As a former two-time World Champion, it is hard to see the level to which Dolph Ziggler has been forced to sink to over the past year. WWE has definitely run out of things for him to do and decided that a gimmick change where he doesn’t even have an entrance video anymore would be the perfect option.
Dolph isn’t suited for this character and it has left him in a position where he hasn’t been a part of many events on SmackDown this year because WWE just couldn’t add him to the shows. Aside from an interesting feud with Bobby Roode a few months ago, it seems that Dolph has had a year that he would rather forget, which could be why speculation currently suggests that he is unhappy with the position that he has in the company and is hinting that his departure could be coming in the very near future.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura is a former two-time NXT Champion and was chosen to join the SmackDown roster following WrestleMania this year after John Cena went on hiatus following his match against The Miz and Maryse.
Nakamura’s first feud was against Dolph Ziggler, which was perhaps the perfect way to introduce him to the main roster, but it has seemingly been downhill ever since. Nakamura was pinned clean at SummerSlam when he faced Jinder Mahal, which obviously brought any feelings of hope about his future as Champion to an end before he was one of the first men eliminated from the Survivor Series match and was then missing from WWE Tv for two weeks afterwards. Nakamura hasn’t been able to deliver as well as he did in NXT, which has led to many fans asking the company to allow The Artist to go back to developmental because the SmackDown creative team has no idea what to do with him.
4. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt was once the patriarch of The Wyatt Family and a superstar that many fans thought had a bright future in the company. Bray finally lifted a singles Championship in WWE back at Elimination Chamber when he became WWE Champion, something that was cruelly ripped away from him just months later at WrestleMania.
Bray has never been someone that WWE has been able to get behind; while he’s fantastic on the mic it seems that WWE has no idea what to do with him in the ring. His House of Horrors match was a disappointment and when he was finally set to unveil Sister Abigail to the world at TLC, he fell ill, which just added more misery to a bad year for Wyatt. A feud with Matt Hardy is seemingly beginning right now, but with just three weeks until the end of the year, it could be too little too late to save Bray’s year from being a complete disappointment.
3. Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews was someone backed throughout his time on the NXT roster and it seems that he could have been promoted before he was ready. Apollo is talented, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s unknown what his gimmick actually is, which could be why the company has had such a hard time booking him over the past few months.
Right now Apollo is one of the only members of the Titus Worldwide Brand, something that Titus O’Neil created earlier this year, before recruiting Crews and following through on none of his promises. It seems that Titus has just turned Crews into a jobber like himself. He hasn’t helped him be taken seriously or to win gold on the main roster, so why is Apollo still part of this brand? It seems as though it’s a waste of Apollos’s ability to have him stuck with someone like Titus moving forward.
2. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks was making history every other weekend alongside Charlotte Flair back in 2016, but it seems that ever since Charlotte was moved over to the SmackDown roster, Sasha has become old news on Raw.
Banks has just an eight-day Raw Women’s Championship reign to her name this year and has been part of some of the most pointless feuds, including one where she was demoted to 205 Live for a number of weeks to feud with Alicia Fox. Banks has most recently been the target of the roster’s newest stable called Absolution, but she doesn’t look to be getting an advantage in this rivalry for a very long time. It is definitely a stark contrast to the experience she had back in 2016, but it seems that not every year can be a record-breaking one and 2017 has been nowhere near as successful for the woman who calls herself The Boss.
1. Finn Balor
The Demon King is a former NXT Champion and the Inaugural Universal Champion but after almost a year on the sidelines following his injury back at SummerSlam in 2016, Finn’s return to WWE has been much more underwhelming than many of the WWE Universe had hoped.
The first decent feud that Finn was put into following his return was against Bray Wyatt but WWE stretched it out for too long and then when Bray fell ill there was no real ending to the feud, which has just left the gimmick match between the two men up in the air. It is thought that once again McMahon is behind Finn’s current issues because he’s the one who doesn’t think Finn is over enough to be pushed into a Universal Championship match with Brock Lesnar, despite the fact that Finn never lost that Championship fully deserves a chance to reclaim it.
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