Hello! Today, we will look at 10 WWE Superstars who are struggling to find a meaningful place in the current Thunderdome landscape. And this comes after being kept on the books after the releases in April. Will they find a spot? Or are they likely to move on to new horizons by 2021? Let’s take a look.
#1. Bo Dallas (SmackDown)
If you’re a BO-liever, you’ve been praying hard for over a year now. His absence remains a mystery, as he has only competed in (at least) 23 matches since late 2018; all of which happened in 2019. When his B-Team buddy Curtis Axel was released in April, Dallas didn’t join him. Dave Meltzer speculated the only reason he didn’t get cut was because he “didn’t complain” about his position in the company. He hasn’t made a tweet since July, when he asked fans to vote on his sister’s health and fitness competition. However, Bo retweeted Liv Morgan in August, after she asked WWE why they hadn’t advertised her latest shirt.
The last time he mentioned his WWE character was almost a year ago, when he made this tweet:
— Bo Dallas (@TheBoDallas) December 20, 2019
Many fans have speculated that Bo Dallas would eventually join his real-life brother Bray Wyatt in the Firefly Fun House, but with Alexa Bliss’ recent pairing with him it seems unlikely.
He is going through a similar phase to what Zack Ryder and JTG experienced before. When you see and hear absolutely nothing of a superstar for a long time, then they are well and truly buried. It makes little sense though, as he has the ring & mic skills to be a solid mid-card heel for years. What happens to him next is anyone’s guess. We just have to keep BO-lieving?
#2. Mickie James (Raw)
What went wrong? Just as it looked like Mickie James was back in the spotlight where she belongs, the referee stops the match and that’s it? She did a poor job of explaining what really happened in the media, and WWE chose not to comment on the situation. It’s a little strange, but since losing to Zelina Vega last month, it hasn’t stopped her from being super active elsewhere.
How does a six-time WWE Women’s Champion struggle so much to get airtime? It’s been over ten years since her last title reign, but is as popular as ever. Management’s attempts to keep her down has not deterred the WWE Universe from getting behind her. If she decides not to renew her contract when it’s time, I’m sure AEW & Impact will be keenly interested in her experience. But something tells me WWE will want to keep her on as a trainer and producer, which is why they have seldom used her since returning in 2016.
#3. Drew Gulak (Raw)
Gah! Just as it looked like Drew Gulak was getting somewhere. They partnered him with Daniel Bryan on SmackDown; it looked like Chad Gable could join them to form a promising three-man stable. But no… WWE moved him on to Raw and what’s the first thing they do? Slot him back in to the 24/7 title scene with R-Truth.
What’s the point?! We’ve seen how great of a worker he is. Why not have him produce classic matches? He’s already done the comedy thing, and it feels like a waste. Many fans may not have noticed, but he was one of the biggest losers in the latest draft. He & Daniel Bryan had chemistry, and it’s a shame we won’t get anymore of that. Gulak is better than the 24/7 Championship.
#4. Aleister Black (SmackDown)
The character of Aleister Black is lost. When he moved up to NXT he didn’t lose much of his presentation. And the issue was WWE didn’t reintroduce the character like how he arrived in NXT. This made it difficult for those who hadn’t seen his NXT work to attach to this quietly intense individual. Instead, they had him in a dark room doing promos similar to the old Bray Wyatt; asking superstars to “knock on his door”.
They rarely led anywhere, which made Aleister Black’s words hollow. Paul Heyman started him down this route, but when he was ousted from creative, Black’s direction went with it. He was left in a boat without a paddle, drifting down a river hoping he could land on a beach sometime soon. So when he returned as a heel a couple of months ago it seemed promising. Yet, after one of the longest winning streaks in recent history, he began a losing streak against Kevin Owens.
This month, he was denied a return to NXT. Add Zelina Vega’s firing to the mix. If anyone’s likely to walk out the door he keeps asking everyone to knock on… it would be him. With his mental health issues, it will not help matters. He needs her to be his rock, so I guess he’s lucky WWE can’t tour at the moment. But when touring can happen again, if he hasn’t left already… I’m sure he will be seriously considering it.
#5. Billie Kay (SmackDown)
What was wrong with The IIconics? In a strange turn of events, WWE decided they didn’t want this team anymore and split them up to push Peyton Royce. And although the breaking up of the team happened via stipulation, Billie continued to help her friend for a short while as a manager. That was til Peyton buried her, and the pair were later separated entirely in the 2020 draft.
Since then, we have rarely seen Peyton with Lacey Evans (who is another having a strange year), while Billie has had only one match on SmackDown since being picked up as a free agent. It seems her stock has dropped so dramatically this year, she may be even lower on the totem pole than Tamina Snuka! That’s the opposite of IIconic. Does she belong there though? Let me know in the comments.
#6. Shinsuke Nakamura (SmackDown)
Ok, so I wouldn’t say he is “struggling”, but many fans would agree he’s being “underutilized”. As a big draw in Japan, many followers of NJPW were of the impression that WWE would treat him as the superstar that he is. And for a while they followed through by making him NXT Champion, and then had him face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship in a Wrestle Kingdom rematch at WrestleMania.
Almost immediately after, he became just another talent wallowing in mid-card hell. Since then, he has become a two-time United States Champion, one-time Intercontinental Champion, and a SmackDown Tag Team Champion with Cesaro. What I’m thinking is, Vince McMahon needs something extra out of Shinsuke. Vince needs to know that if he pushes him as the next WWE or Universal Champion, that the fans will get behind him like they are doing with Asuka. The problem though, is that Nakamura is 40-years-old and is unlikely to carry the company for years over a Roman Reigns or Drew McIntyre.
So the question is whether Shinsuke is content in doing what he can for WWE in its mid-card, or if he may decide to return to Japan, or even make an AEW debut before his time is up? Either way, I think Nakamura is best served as a singles wrestler much like his partner Cesaro. But WWE is more about the entertainment factor, and Vince isn’t seeing big money in Nakamura like other companies would. Which means he & Cesaro will continue complementing each other as they struggle to usurp the comical teams of the Street Profits & The New Day.
#7. Tucker (Raw)
When you’re being labelled the “Marty Jannetty” of the team as far back as 2017, you know it’s not going to last. And finally, WWE broke up Heavy Machinery after it was clear Tucker had been buried forever, while Otis enjoyed playing around with Mandy Rose and Money in the Bank contracts. Seriously though, the difference between Otis & Tucker was staggering back in their NXT days, nevermind on the main roster when Otis’ antics were taken to the next level.
When Tucker tried to explain his actions (betraying Otis), The Miz & John Morrison stood there crapping all over it; I almost felt sorry for the guy. Here’s a dude who can see the writing on the wall. He has done everything in his power to keep his job, and knows that he’s unlikely to cut it on his own. I don’t know what to say about him, other than he’s a fantastic worker… but doesn’t have the star power in this competitive environment. Dearly wish he can prove me wrong though, because he seems like a good guy who has punched above his weight as much as Otis did Mandy Rose. If he can’t? I’m sure he won’t have much trouble finding work elsewhere.
#8. Jaxson Ryker (SmackDown)
I’m not getting in to US politics because I’m English and had no say at all in the election. So do with this as you will, but since Jaxson Ryker shared his support for Donald Trump, he & The Forgotten Sons have well… been forgotten. Why though? No one should have their status decided over the way they side politically. Vince McMahon and Donald Trump are good buddies, so there must be something else going on? Yes, in fact there is.
Ryker also made some some anti-Black Lives Matters & mask comments shortly after the stable was called up to the main roster. As you can imagine, this wouldn’t have sat well with some of his co-workers and management. What’s more annoying about this situation is that Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake have been punished for something they weren’t involved in. So it’s not just Ryker struggling with his place in WWE, as he’s also brought his stablemates down with him.
#9. Mojo Rawley (SmackDown)
Ok, so Mojo Rawley has been buried, and the reason seems fairly obvious; although it doesn’t make sense. Remember when it was reported that WWE didn’t want talents tweeting about their COVID-19 health status? Well, it seems Mojo showed us how unobtrusive it is to get a test done on June 16th with this tweet:
Precautionary #COVID19 testing! Gotta make sure we’re healthy and safe to entertain the globe every week!
— Dean Muhtadi (@MojoRawleyWWE) June 16, 2020
This was posted exactly one day after a match with Shorty G on SmackDown. And why does that matter? Because it was his last known recorded match. Since then he has not been booked, and hasn’t been shy in tweeting. While looking around, I come across this post about a shocking “$1 Check”.
Just received a check for $1. Do I even bother cashing it?!?
— Dean Muhtadi (@MojoRawleyWWE) August 12, 2020
At least WWE are paying him, right? Seriously though, Mojo Rawley could go the same way as his old tag team partner. Let’s get hyped!
#10. Robert Roode (SmackDown)
Sigh. I’m a big Robert Roode fan since his TNA days, but he seems stuck in the Rusev mold. What I mean by that is WWE will sometimes book him against bigger name guys, but he’s never going to be anything more than a glorified mid-carder. Some will say he signed with WWE too late in his career, and he probably moved up from NXT too soon. But to look at him, you wouldn’t believe he’s 43-years-old. I’m sure some would love it if he left to reunite with James Storm in Impact Wrestling, seeing as the Motor City Machine Guns are back and we would see much more from Robert Roode.
Either way, his skills are so severely underutilized it’s criminal; much like his former Team Canada buddy Eric Young. WWE doesn’t know what they have with this talent, and it’s sad for me to know that there are fans in the WWE Universe who have only seen this version of him… the guy who stands quietly next to Dolph Ziggler or King Corbin doing absolutely nothing else but follow their lead. With that said, are there anymore WWE Superstars who you think is struggling or being underutilized? Please let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!