If there’s one good thing to be said about WWE these days, it’s the size and versatility of its roster.
Not only are there dozens of wrestlers from different weight classes, there are dissimilar styles, from big powerhouses to high-flying cruiserweights dishing out the action every week on television. The main event scene, which is the most important for every wrestling company, is currently thriving with familiar faces but also mid-carders that worked their way up. On the other hand, main eventers Daniel Bryan and John Cena were holding secondary titles like the Intercontinental and United States Championships not too long ago (Cena is still holding on to his U.S. title, defending it almost every week on Monday Night Raw.)
But when it comes to the roster as a whole, some aren’t as fortunate as others. Pro-wrestling has always been this way, reminiscent to other sporting leagues where there’s a divide between the elite and average. Only in pro-wrestling, there are cases where extremely talented superstars are forced to adopt childish gimmicks and characters, causing their careers to fall into a downward spiral.
Some characters, though, become stale over short periods of time, and in this day and age of sports entertainment, that can be detrimental if there is no sign of improvement.
As interesting as WWE has become over the past few months, some superstars can’t catch a break, simply because they aren’t being booked properly, or storytelling isn’t one of Monday Night Raw’s strong suits. On the flip side, there are a handful of stars that have enough skill to dazzle on a nightly basis, but find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. In spite of that, some have overcome distressing shticks and became something greater.
Here are 10 WWE stars that are in desperate need of a makeover:
10 Los Matadores
Diego and Fernando are some of WWE’s most gifted junior heavyweights. As heels, they had a hard time getting over with Rosa Mendes by their side (as Primo & Epico), and years later, they were repackaged as Los Matadores. Trading the Diva for a bull named El Torito, it’s hard to care for Los Matadores when they make their way to the ring, even if the tag team action proves to be fast-paced and exciting. The matador gimmick has been done before (see Tito Santana), and these two real-life cousins could benefit from something different in the now-thriving tag team division.
The bodyguard gimmick is an interesting one, yet Tamina has served her purpose for her fellow Divas for far too long. Acting as muscle for Naomi, the 37-year-old wrestler was given the chance to make an impact on her own, but wasn’t able to connect with the so-called “WWE Universe.” Whether that was her doing or WWE’s inability to market women wrestlers without a plasticized look remains a mystery. Still, Tamina has a general sense of how the business works, considering her father is WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka, and if the likes of Eva Marie and Cameron are still employed, then Tamina should be given another opportunity to make a meaningful run instead of serving as a manager.
8 The Ascension
It wasn’t long ago Konnor and Viktor -- two men who had undergone makeovers from unsuccessful WWE pasts -- were repackaged as The Ascension. The team wasn’t terrible during their time on NXT, still holding the record for the longest NXT Tag Team Championship title reign (364 days), though it’s hard to imagine a dozen people actually liking them.
It may not be entirely their fault, since they were told to cut promos insulting legendary tag teams of the past, like The Legion of Doom, when looking exactly like L.O.D. It made the Ascension look as if they were wrestlers made in a factory, which isn’t going to bode well with the hardcores and smarks.
As mentioned before, the tag team division is looking bright these days, and there is no need to slap a recycled gimmick on these two. Sure, they’re a bit green, yet if both Konnor and Viktor were billed as two brick walls, that sort of thing could be masked as they continue to grow.
7 Jack Swagger
As a “Real American,” Jack Swagger was a decent mid-carder whose success was largely due to Zeb Colter’s presence as a manager, complete with the latter’s astounding mic skills. Swagger has been under contract for nearly a decade now, winning three major titles with WWE, as well as a Money In The Bank contract, which lead to a World Heavyweight Championship.
His last meaningful feud was against Rusev, used as food to the lions, considering Rusev’s rise as a major player. Something’s got to give with Swagger, but it’s difficult to pinpoint what the problem is. He isn’t great on the mic, and considering he’s one of the bigger boys on the roster, the brass hasn’t used his size accordingly. It may sound surprising, but Swagger could benefit from a short run helping the younger guys over at NXT, and hopefully, something can arise from nothing.
6 Curtis Axel
The third generation superstar has hit a fork in the road with his Axelmania gimmick. It was working, though, only because he was set to do the job for whomever he would challenge. Not officially being thrown out of this past year’s Royal Rumble was a comical angle. Now, it’s becoming hopeless.
WWE decided to go full-fledged with the gimmick, having Axel dress up as Hulk Hogan alongside his partner, Damian Sandow as The Mega Powers. Maybe an Intercontinental Championship run didn’t work for Axel, and neither did being a Paul Heyman guy. His partnership alongside Ryback was short-lived, yet it was an indication that Axel, who is very underrated in the ring, works best when the pressure isn’t on his shoulders. Much like New Day, Axel can benefit from having a mean streak beside one of his stable mates, which can be a breath of fresh air for his career.
If WWE dropped the Mega Powers gimmick, it would be a start, and a wise choice, too.
Still trekking as a ballroom dancer, Fandango’s recent face turn has been an improvement. Some crowds love to sing along to the superstar’s theme song, while others head for the concession stands or outdoors for a smoke.
Other than winning his WrestleMania debut against Chris Jericho, Fandango hasn’t been in a relevant feud since. He’s battled countless opposition, yet nothing ever came from it. His breakup with Summer Rae was widely publicized, but it got the valet over more than him. He’s recently been in a program against Adam Rose, but that’s because his most recent flame (Mendes) left him for the South African.
If WWE dropped the dancing personality for something natural like Johnny Curtis, and had him compete in longer matches against rising stars like Neville or Sami Zayn, there could be light at the end of the tunnel.
4 Adam Rose
Speaking of the “Rosebud,” fans fell in love with Rose when they caught a glimpse of his personal life on the NXT E:60 documentary on ESPN, seeing how hard the 35-year-old superstar works to support his family.
The leader of the “Exotic Express” has gone through quite a bit in the wrestling world, first embarking on the NXT trip as Leo Kruger to feuding with his bunny that was costing him important matches. Rose is flirting with a heel side as of late, yet something interesting came up in his match against Tyler Breeze on NXT a few weeks back. The crowd started to chant for Kruger, who was a failed gimmick. Kruger had a creepier side, and was more of an ambiguous character.
If the fandom wants Rose to return to his roots, then why doesn’t WWE try the idea? Rose can’t continue to have programs that lead him nowhere.
Believe it or not, R-Truth has won over a dozen championships in his wrestling career. Under WWE, his most meaningful title run was with Kofi Kingston, holding the Tag Team Championship while dragging around his imaginary friend, Little Jimmy.
Over a decade after competing in TNA Wrestling (the best years of Truth’s career), the 43-year-old superstar isn’t getting any younger or more refreshing. His rap gimmick is as stale as Snoop Dogg’s, without any direction as to where he could go next. It may be harsh to suggest a release for Truth, yet maybe he’s an influential veteran for the youngsters in the back.
Truth was on a mean streak as Ron Killings in TNA, and it seems like a heel turn could be the only possible solution to turn his career around. He’s not getting any younger, and even though he can be useful in gimmick matches (like WrestleMania 31’s Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match), he’s not any better, either.
2 Damien Sandow
When Sandow was unleashed from being associated with The Miz, he reiterated he was his own person, and not some type of wannabe or parody.
Weeks later, Sandow became just that (again), coming to the ring as one half of the newly assembled Mega Powers as Macho Mandow. The saddest part about Sandow’s career is that he was always good in the ring, capable of having a fine match with anyone willing to give it his best.
Also, Sandow is one of two Money In The Bank winners that had unsuccessful cash-ins, and ironically, his attempt saw him lose against John Cena, the other wrestler who couldn’t claim the gold. It’s safe to say Sandow, one of the most over wrestlers on the roster, shouldn’t be forced to resort to mimicking the legends that came before him. He’s good enough on his own, and despite only winning tag titles, it’s time for a significant singles run, and one that sees him challenge for some secondary championships.
A former partner of Sandow’s, Cody Rhodes is arguably the most underutilized wrestler on the entire WWE roster. Ever since his brother, Goldust, drifted off into obscurity, Rhodes still had to live in Dustin’s shadow as Stardust, an offshoot from his older brother’s successful gimmick. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to move on.
When you look at Rhodes’ accolades, you’ll notice he’s a two-time Intercontinental Champion, and held six tag titles with four different partners. He’s got the talent to be featured in high profile programs, instead of doing the job every week on television. Hopefully, WWE officials have noted his gimmick ran its course, and he’ll be on to something far greater. With that said, it’s not difficult for Rhodes to get over while being different. He was just fine as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, and as a heel, he had more natural charisma than his compatriots.
Plus, with the way WWE is rebranding its lower weight classes, Cody could be part of a cruiserweight revolution, and even compete in some stellar encounters on NXT if they ever needed him.
But if Cody continues to wear the face paint and costume his brother made famous, expect his diehard followers to be dejected, forced to watch him lose against guys he could easily overmatch in the squared circle.