After the disastrous Royal Rumble, it’s clear that Vince McMahon‘s idea of the best wrestlers in his organization has zero relation to who the fans are actually rooting for. And while we won’t even get into what’s going on with Daniel Bryan right now, let’s take this time to acknowledge the other severely misused and underutilized wrestlers right now.
6. Dean Ambrose: Since The Shield disbanded, all three members have been getting main events. Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble. Seth Rollins has had multiple WWE championship opportunities and currently holds the money in the bank briefcase. But Ambrose hasn’t won a Pay-Per-View match since the split in June and recently even lost to an exploding monitor. Ambrose is charismatic, has his own distinct style and is one of the best wrestlers on the mic. McMahon even mentioned him as a standout superstar on Steve Austin’s podcast. But despite all this, Ambrose is still in danger of being forced into a meaningless feud or filler match come WrestleMania.
5. Luke Harper: Harper is easily one of the best big man wrestlers in the past five years. But ever since splitting from the Wyatt family earlier this year, he’s lacked direction. Harper has an extremely unique background, as a formerly brainwashed cult member who’s trying to be his own man, but this history has yet to be mined for a good story line. What does he want since getting free? His memories back? Titles? Who knows at this point. He has great matches (particularly with Wyatt), but he’s talented enough to deserve more.
4. Cody Rhodes/Stardust: Last year, it seemed Cody Rhodes was poised to break out, but instead he got roped into a tag team with his brother Goldust. Despite embracing his new character Stardust, the move seemed like a step back since the tag team is unlikely to bring him any real personal success. However, if Goldust does retire following WrestleMania, Rhodes might be able to turn the momentum he’s gained as Stardust into a profitable singles career, no matter what character he decides to be.
3. Natalya: Natalya is one of, if not the best female wrestler in the company. She’s poised to be in a title position, but is currently bogged down in an arc that isn’t leading up to any big wins. Instead, she’s forced to deal with drama from Paige, who seems more interested in sexing Natalya up than actually having a good story or meaningful victory. And this isn’t the first time Natalya has been shoehorned into story lines rather than get the limelight herself. It’s time she gets some real character development of her own rather than rely on cheap tricks.
2. Cesaro: He might not be flashy, but Cesaro doesn’t need any glitz or glamour to dominate the ring. His near-freakish strength and ability to swing around even the largest opponents like a sack of feathers is more than enough to entertain. His alliance with Paul Heyman last year held great promise, but Cesaro split from the manager shortly after a painful losing streak. And his current tag team with Tyson Kidd – while often fun to watch – only moves him further away from the main event slot he deserves. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Edge are both public supporters of Cesaro, and commentators often acknowledge how close he is to breaking out, but sadly McMahon doesn’t seem to be listening.
1. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler is ready. That’s all there is to it. He delivers every match, he’s exciting to watch and he is hungry for it. Yet the WWE remains hesitant to pull the trigger. Ziggler’s unceremonious elimination during the Royal Rumble rightly elicited outrage from fans, some of whom even demanded refunds, and even he has begun publicly voicing his frustration with the company. “WE signed our lives away… repeatedly forced to prove why WE belong, told the sky was the limit yet knowing there was no chance … 1 broke through that ceiling after an unprecedented fight, 1 has been banging his head against it for years,” Dolph tweeted, repurposing the lyrics of Motley Crue’s “Saints of Los Angeles” into a lament about the careers of himself and Daniel Bryan. Though it’s unlikely the WWE will allow Ziggler to steal the WrestleMania spotlight with his proposed match against Bryan, Ziggler surely has earned it.
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