Spring cleaning was in full effect this past week as WWE went through a round of releases, getting rid of several performers who had outlived their usefulness or come to a point in their careers where they clearly weren’t progressing at the pace they should have. Sometimes, there’s a standstill when it comes to creative production as the writers can’t think of anything to do with a superstar, while other times it’s an issue of that person just not being good enough and coming to the realization that it’s not worth the effort to continue investing in them. Barring behavioral problems, injuries or anything else that might get in the way, every so often, we find that a talent has the tools necessary to do something better with their career, yet they lack the upward momentum needed for a change, because the main roster doesn’t allow them any room to grow.
This is where NXT comes into play. As a testing ground and a developmental system, the platform has allowed numerous stars in the past to strip down their characters, refocus, and restructure themselves in a new way—all this while passing along what they’ve already learned to the newer wrestlers in the process. It’s a win/win situation, as it gives someone a chance to help the young batch while also refreshing their own careers. With the newer additions to Raw and SmackDown (Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and The Vaudevillains), this has left a gap in NXT and less time to share on the primary television shows.
So who on the main roster could use a trip down to the minor leagues not just as a demotion for being less important than others, but as an opportunity to take things in a new direction? Let’s take a look at some options.
Fandango, Goldust, and R-Truth
Good lord. The quartet of these three and Tyler Breeze on television right now is just screaming of desperation. Notice that I don’t have Breeze on this list, though. The reason for that is how I think he hasn’t been given his fair chance on the main roster yet, so he hasn’t had an opportunity to fail or succeed. There are plenty of fresh matches and feuds for him to have if WWE just uses him as if they care, rather than ignoring him.
The same can’t be said for the other three. Fandango, for instance, had a good thing going for him when he was built up to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania. I was in attendance for that event, and I can speak to the volume of support he had from the audience. Look at how over his music itself got for proof that he could have been more. However, he went absent for too long and lost all momentum after WWE refused to commit to his babyface turn.
Goldust came back with a vengeance, looking better than ever and having a good stint with Cody Rhodes, but has struggled ever since their split. This whole tag team gimmick with R-Truth has gone on for months and has been nothing but groan-inducing with a few minor chuckles at best. Those two have nothing to do and are just lingering around waiting for something to fall into their laps or for this to get over, but it just isn’t working, and dragging Fandango into the mix won’t help anybody.
Obviously, all three of them couldn’t go down to NXT at the same time, but all three could be used throughout the span of a year for various purposes. They all have skills to impart and are at a level in their careers where they can lose to the younger crop without it killing their legacies (or lack thereof when it comes to Fandango, sadly) and perhaps they can even find tag team partners who can have better chemistry with them so they can move up to the main roster and be of service in that regard.
A repackaging of Darren Young is being teased, playing off Donald Trump’s election slogan “Make America Great Again” with Bob Backlund proposing that they “Make Darren Young Great Again.”
Question: when was Darren ever great?
He was one of the worst people in the first season of NXT and the group that would become The Nexus. He then did nothing for a while before hitting his best stride as one half of The Prime Time Players, which were at their best when they had Abraham Washington as the mouthpiece. Even without him, Titus O’Neil took the spotlight for himself as the standout of the team for their only Tag Team Championship reign, which was rather short.
Darren Young is someone who could be released at any moment and I wouldn’t be shocked. He has some value, but not enough that I could justify giving him too many more chances. This would be the final shot that I think could make the most drastic alterations and prove whether he can sink or swim. Moving him off the main roster doesn’t hurt Raw or SmackDown in the slightest bit, but it gives an extra person to NXT so those guys don’t run themselves into the ground with injuries. The former Mr. No Days Off could be best utilized as a sacrificial lamb for these guys with the threat of a release motivating him to really kick himself into gear and validate his contract.
Primo and Epico
I’ve stated before how I’m totally opposed to the idea of this team coming back and how I hate everything to do with their new attempt at a gimmick of travel agents who are supposed to be getting heat from loving Puerto Rico, as if I’m inherently going to hate them out of xenophobia. It’s just a bad idea in my mind, but clearly, WWE thinks differently, and they’re continuing to promote them as coming back.
If they’re not willing to abandon the idea, the least they can do is put them in NXT. Before fans jump to conclusions, this isn’t just to get them off the main roster, as there are benefits to this, too. There aren’t many heel tag teams in NXT at the moment who could contend with American Alpha, and with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows as well as The Dudley Boyz, The Vaudevillains, The Wyatt Family and more taking up space on Raw and SmackDown, what’s the better platform for Primo and Epico?
To reiterate a point I keep mentioning, half of this is about helping these people get a new start and the other half is about helping the younger, less experienced talent by taking these guys and giving them the role of teacher. While I don’t think Epico has much to offer, Primo’s been around a little longer and has more miles on him and could possibly be of some use.