Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LoST in the Shuffle

Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity in the WWE Universe. The weekend kicked off with NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, and was followed by the second biggest show of the year- Summerslam. NXT is the future of the WWE, and Summerslam put all the current stars on display. But it begs the question:

Who will get lost in the shuffle?

WWE's roster is deep, despite what their booking makes you believe. While some wrestlers are put in floundering roles, don't let it fool you. They are all professionals with experience around the world, and can wrestle. Does that mean WWE will let them go out and put on a five-star classic? Of course not. There's only so much time they can devote to wrestling when there are many awful segments and non-wrestling related filler they need to stuff their shows with.

You would think having three hours would be more than enough to get exposure for the entire roster, but the E does stand for entertainment. Sometimes good, sometimes bad- the need to add more than just pure athleticism and competition is there. With the new influx of NXT superstars, there will be less time and storylines to devote to current WWE stars. Here’s who will suffer most.

Dolph Ziggler

Yes, we know he’s a worker and can put on a great match on any given night. We know he can bump out of the building and make any star look even better. Yet that has been a constant criticism of Ziggler over the last half-decade or so. His willingness to make everyone look good all the time is frowned upon by some in charge, and that ill-timed concussion after he beat Alberto Del Rio in 2012 didn’t help matters, either. Ziggler could help enhance NXT talent and put over new stars, but it’s been obvious in the last few years WWE doesn’t trust him to be a main event player. It also hinders him that he has seen zero character development in years. The NXT influx will only continue to push him down the totem pole.


“Wait, really? You mean the guy who won WWE’s Money in the Bank briefcase- the symbol of a likely future WWE World Heavyweight champion?” – You

Yes, I mean THAT Sheamus. He, like Ziggler, suffered for years to progress his character beyond “Hey, I’m Irish.” After returning from injury, it was thought a heel turn would do him good and add a little spice to the otherwise dull Irishman. Yet since that heel turn with questionable facial hair decisions, little has changed to make him seem anything than a good worker and journeyman to the stars. His recent feud (if you want to call it that) with Randy Orton has done nothing to change anything. His promos still lack any sort of conviction and are typically cheesy and forced. I cannot think of a reason why WWE would put their main title on him within the next calendar year- and that’s NOT the thought you want anyone having about your MITB winner. While Sheamus can put on a good match more often than not, his limitations will hamper him with the new crop of young stars.

Los Matadores

Yes, the team with the little guy dressed as a bull. That is the team’s claim to fame. While both are great wrestlers and technically sound, WWE hasn’t let them showcase it with any sort of great matches or even flashy moves. The duo gets no promo time, and gives the fans no reason to get behind them except “flying miniature bull”. This makes me wonder why they were in the tag title match at Summerslam instead of calling up Enzo and Cass in New York. The team’s exposure will only dwindle from here, as eventually El Torito- like Hornswaggle before him- will become stale and not relevant.

The Ascension

The most ironically-named team might even have it harder than Los Matadores. They get far less time on RAW or Smackdown, and haven’t accomplished anything of note since debuting and beating jobber teams. They do, however, come across as very likeable on the WWE Network show Swerved. But that’s about it.

They were treated as big fish in the small pond of NXT- but the main stage has exposed their limitations both on the mic and in the ring. The fact they haven’t found a way to consistently get time every week as well as pay-per-view matches to vie for the tag titles is pretty telling. The Ascension is on the way down the WWE hierarchy, and the youngsters will only speed up that regression.

The Bellas

“The Divas Revolution” term has been tossed around so often by the WWE that if you made it a drinking game you would have been dead a month ago. It equates simply to “women get more time to wrestle, with no motivation or personality”.

The two females who are dearly clutching on to their spots are the Bellas. Yes, they move merchandise and are both tied to two company golden boys (John Cena and Daniel Bryan)- but would the division really miss much without the limited duo? Give all the credit to Nikki the last year or so, though. She has improved her game in the ring, which is far better than Brie. But both struggle on the mic, sounding rigid and rehearsed. The new crop of NXT Divas can wrestle circles around the Bellas, and all have giant chips on their shoulders. Once WWE gets past the tired female tropes of women only being jealous or crazy and treat the division similar to the men’s, the Bellas will fail to keep up.

Alex Reilly

Yes, he’s really on the WWE roster still. There’s not much to follow that up than with “lol seriously?”


The writing was on the wall after her role on Total Divas was massively reduced. Once her “feud” with Naomi was over last year, the most she’s done since then is offer a line or two of dialogue every few episodes of TD. With no outstanding in-ring or promo skills, as well as no male to tie herself to- Cameron will struggle to gain any traction and will likely be future endeavored before 2016.

Jack Swagger

Swagger’s high point was his feud against Alberto Del Rio heading into Wrestlemania 29. Since then, he was all but killed off by Rusev, and has only had a few televised matches in the last year or so. His character was strengthened by the uber-talented Zeb Coulter, but Vince McMahon has forgotten Swagger exists and the current NXT bunch will put the nail in his WWE career’s coffin soon.

Wade Barrett

This one pains me, because I truly like Wade Barrett and believe he was the best thing outside of Daniel Bryan to come from 2010’s alternate version of NXT. While some stars on this list are there simply because they lack certain abilities, Barrett is a victim of booking and injuries. 

His gimmick was simple: a British brawler who has no issue smashing your face and being charmingly arrogant about it. He was able to break through as leader of the Nexus versus John Cena- and we all know how that turned out. Injuries sidelined him multiple times, but he eventually caught fire again as Bad News Barrett. The gimmick was later scrapped out of nowhere, pulling the rug out from underneath the talented Brit. Winning King of the Ring did for him what the Intercontinental title did- nothing. He lost far more than he won, and would likely be booked for the pre-show of special events. 

While former Nexus members such as Ryback, Darren Young, Daniel Bryan- and even Heath Slater- have gone on to have standout careers in the WWE, it’s quite ironic their talented leader is treated like Marty Jannetty. The current iteration of NXT will do him no favors.


Emma caught fire in NXT as the awkward, quirky Aussie who did the arm thing. Since then, she’s accomplished nothing of note outside of being Santino Marella’s on-air girlfriend and stealing an i-Phone case at Walmart. Sure, she’s on Total Divas and seen most weeks on RAW, but has no direction and little room for leeway in a crowded Divas division.

R-Truth/Kane/Big Show

This is not a reflection on their talents, but more so their ages. The trio have done a lot of great stuff in their collective 47 years of WWE experience, but offer very little in ring in 2015. I see Show and Truth transitioning to road agents or trainers in Florida eventually, with Kane pursuing politics as he has stated previously. The amount of time devoted to them could be better served giving exposure to younger stars.

My thoughts are in no way infallible. There are still chances for some of these stars to redeem themselves and catch on with different gimmicks or improvements, but I don’t see it right now. With NXT setting the bar higher and higher, most of these WWE stars listed here should be feeling the pressure to perform. 

Did I leave someone out? Do you not agree with any of the selections here? Let me know @SeanNeutron.