WWE is currently two weeks removed from the company’s biggest event, Wrestlemania. Unlike in past years, there is much more buzz about the upcoming post-Mania schedule.
As I look forward to the upcoming months, I cannot predict exactly what WWE creative will decide to do with it’s roster, programing (Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown), or title picture. However, I feel that there are many choices to be made in order to have the best quality product for fans, such as myself, to enjoy.
WWE Champion, CM Punk
1. Allow CM Punk to be the face of WWE: Current WWE Champion, CM Punk, is hands down my favorite current wrestler in WWE. Bias aside, its hard to deny that Punk is, as he puts it, the best wrestler in the world.
Punk has the best combination of in-ring ability, mic skills, an entertaining character, the “it-factor”, and fan support of any full-time superstar on the WWE roster. One could compare Punk’s mic skills with the likes of John Cena or his in-ring ability with Daniel Bryan, but as far as encompassing every quality necessary to be a star, Punk is definitely the total package.
Many critics will argue that his character has lost some of his edge since his infamous “shoot promo” in July, but part of this could be blamed on WWE booking him incorrectly. Although I like that WWE has finally kept the title on a superstar for more than one month (especially with it being Punk), Punk’s anti-hero character may be more appealing chasing the title, similar to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the late ’90s.
Punk delivers the GTS to Raw GM John Laurinaitis
Either way, WWE needs to get behind Punk as their “main guy” as many fans (myself not included) believe that John Cena’s character has become very stale.
Zack Ryder holding up his custom made Internet Championship
2. Stop Making Zack Ryder a crash test dummy in matches: Zack Ryder is definitely one of the most popular superstars amongst WWE fans. Since the debut of his web-series, “Z! True Long Island Story” in February 2011, Ryder went from a rarely seen on TV jobber, to an internet phenomenon.
Due to fan support, Ryder took what seemed to be an inevitable firing and turned it into an opportunity to get over amongst fans to the extent that he appeared on Raw on a regular basis from the fall season going forward. In December, Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler (more on him later) at the TLC Pay-Per-View for the United States Championship.
Ryder after winning the US Title at TLC in December
This was the first singles title won during Ryder’s young career. However, since 2012, WWE has involved Ryder in storylines that make his character look extremely weak and gullible. During his storyline with Eve, John Cena, and Kane, Ryder played the gullible fool who was not only heartbroken and used by Eve, but also constantly getting re-injured at the hands of Kane.
Ryder has not only lost the US Championship since 2012, but also all but two singles matches on WWE on-air programming. I’m a big fan of Ryder and think he has the potential to grow as a major character in WWE.
Ryder fist pumping with Eve at Raw in December
At 26, Ryder has plenty of time to develop into a major player superstar for years to come. When he won the US title in December, I felt that it was WWE giving him a major push that would continue to grow. However, as the current program sits, I am beginning to have my doubts.
Dolph Ziggler with the US Title
3. Push Dolph Ziggler: As far as guys who are both the total package, as well as are up-and-coming superstars, Dolph Ziggler is at the top of the list. Not only has Ziggler vastly improved his mic-skills over the last year, but he is by far one of the best superstars at selling their opponent’s moves in WWE.
Ziggler’s in-ring ability can be traced back to his amateur wrestling career. Much like Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and others, Ziggler (real name Nick Nemeth) had an outstanding amateur wrestling career before signing with WWE.
At Kent State, Ziggler recorded 121 career wins and is second on the school’s all-time win list. This technically sound ability is displayed in his matches as a professional wrestler.
Ziggler is a major heel character in WWE
Ziggler also has the right look and charisma for his current character. As “The Show Off”, Ziggler embodies a “better than you” attitude and a cockiness that, despite being intended to gain heat, actually comes off as entertaining.
WWE needs to push Ziggler as a serious heel superstar in the main event picture. A move from Raw to Smackdown may be in Ziggler’s best interest as the annual WWE draft approaches.
Also, with newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus being a major babyface that WWE seems to be strongly behind, a feud with an experienced and talented competitor such as Ziggler would be a good way to put over either superstar.
Cody Rhodes entrance with the Intercontinental Championship
4. Push Cody Rhodes: The case for a Cody Rhodes push is more or less the same situation as Ziggler, but slightly different. Both superstars had long reigns with the mid-card titles for their shows, with Ziggler holding Raw’s United States Championship for 182 days, while Rhodes held Smackdown’s Intercontinental Championship for 236 days.
Much like Ziggler, Rhodes has the pedigree for success that explains his natural ability. Rhodes is the son of WWE Hall of Famer, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and the younger brother of former Intercontinental Champion, Goldust.
Rhodes celebrating with the IC title after a win
But since his defeat at the hands of The Big Show at Wrestlemania, it seems as though WWE is burying Rhodes. Not only has Rhodes lost every match from Wrestlemania on, but his character is looking extremely weak with The Big Show’s promos that have aired during his matches.
Now, its too soon to say this will be WWE completely giving up what seemed to be a sure push of Rhodes for the future, especially considering his current shirt is pretty much guaranteeing that with its tagline, but in my opinion, it would be within the companies best interest to continue to make Rhodes a major player.
Between improved mic skills, in-ring ability, charisma, and a great deal of youth and potential, Rhodes has all the makings of a major heel down the road.
WWE Tag-Team Championship, the ugliest belt in Pro Wrestling
5. Bring Back Credibility to the Tag-Team Division: Primo and Epico are the current WWE Tag-Team Champions. You may not have known that because they are usually seen on WWE Superstars, a show that is featured online and taped before the two major programs.
Also, as Tag-Team Champions, you would figure that Primo and Epico would be a part of Wrestlemania. Sort of. Their three way tag-team match was on the free-for-all preview aired before Wrestlemania’s official start up.
First of all, the title itself is the ugliest belt in professional wrestling. It looks like a giant penny with a trojan emblem for the logo.
Tag-Team Champs, Primo and Epico, enter alongside their manager, Rosa Mendes
Secondly, the division itself doesn’t have a consistent offering of competition. Unlike the Attitude era, where you had teams heavily involved in storylines that caught the viewers attention, WWE forgets to acknowledge the Tag-Team division. Not only do they rarely feature teams, but pairings of superstars that do occur frequently are usually diffused and broken up within a few months.
In past years, Tag-Team competition was very strong and even included superstars who would eventually gain main event status in singles competition. Now, the Tag-Team division seems like a dying (if not already dead) art form.
Tyson Kidd on NXT, not Raw or Smackdown
6. Put Tyson Kidd on TV: Many people who follow wrestling closely will tell you that Tyson Kidd is one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the industry. The Canadian-born Kidd was the last graduate of the legendary training facility, “Stu Hart’s Dungeon” in Alberta, Canada.
Kidd is also one of the last current links to the legendary Hart family, a childhood friend of Stu Hart’s grandchildren, including his girlfriend, WWE Diva, Natalya. So, it should be no surprise just how talented Kidd is.
The Hart Dynasty included Kidd, his girlfriend Natalya, and her cousin DH Smith, who is no longer with WWE
However, you probably didn’t notice this, as Kidd is rarely used on television. Kidd was used in a segment on the latest episode of Smackdown where he was the Tag-Team partner of the insufferably unappealing, Heath Slater. This must have been the first time Kidd actually had a match on TV in months.
Like Primo and Epico, Kidd was also featured in the Wrestlemania preview match and can be seen, if at all, on WWE superstars or NXT. However, the talented Kidd is getting underutilized by a lack of a solid gimmick and may see a similar fate as his former Tag-Team partner, DH Smith, if WWE decides to part ways with him.
Heath Slater being Heath Slater
7. Fire Heath Slater: I’ll make this short and to the point. Heath Slater is hands down the worst superstar in WWE. Period. He’s worse than Hornswoggle, the Great Khali, or any other dumpster fire of an excuse for a WWE Superstar.
Not only does he have the look of someone that is just plain difficult to look at, but his “One Man Southern Rock Band” character is just irritating. And not in the, he’s a bad guy and is a heat magnet, kind of way. More like the, this guy sounds like he has marbles in his mouth during every promo, kind of way.
Daniel Bryan celebrates winning the World Heavyweight Championship
8. Should WWE Continue To Push Daniel Bryan? YES! YES! YES!: When I watched Wrestlemania 28, I was more of a Daniel Bryan fan than a Sheamus fan, and was looking forward to finally seeing him compete in a title defense at Wrestlemania. As he lost within 18 seconds, I, along with others, was left extremely disappointed.
Bryan has been one of the most talented in-ring superstars in the industry for years. As one of the first graduates of Shawn Michaels’ Texas Wrestling Academy (along with Brian Kendrick), Bryan showed the technical ability needed for a guy his size to excell.
Bryan entrance which includes him yelling out his now infamous catchphrase, "YES! YES! YES!"
Bryan, billed at 5’10, 210 lbs, has a similar combination of speed, technical ability, and submission maneuvers to the likes of Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and perhaps most similarly, Chris Benoit.
His heel turn may have been the best thing for his career moving forward. The big knock on Bryan is that he lacks the proper mic skills to be over as a major superstar. To critics, where he excells in the ring, Bryan lacks on the microphone.
Bryan with fellow Ring of Honor Wrestling alumni, CM Punk, after both were victorious at TLC
However, that seemed to change as the real life vegan became a self righteous, conniving heel character. His trademark yelling of, “YES! YES! YES!” repetitively during his entrance seems to have picked up with fans as it is growing into one of the most popular chants at WWE live events.
WWE needs to continue marketing and acknowledging just how over Bryan is with the audience right now. Although he is supposed to be the heel in his matches, many fans are starting to get behind Bryan every week and are tuning into Smackdown to see his matches. Should WWE continue to push him? YES! YES! YES!!!
Ziggler could benefit from a move to Smackdown
9. WWE Draft Giving Superstars a Much Needed Change of Scenery: Although I will go into more detail on this as we get closer to the actual WWE Draft, this must be included. Multiple superstars could definitely use a change of programming to elevate them into the main event picture.
With Smackdown lacking star power, the ideal move for upper mid-card superstars would be to make a switch from Raw to Smackdown and reach main event status. As noted before, both Zack Ryder and Dolph Ziggler have seen a decrease in how they’ve been used in the past. Ryder could be a top babyface on Smackdown, while Ziggler could contend for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Miz, once a WWE Champion, now stuck at the Mid-Card level
Another Raw superstar that could benefit from a switch to Smackdown is The Miz. The Miz, a former WWE Champion, has been buried by WWE in the past few months. Going from the main event at Wrestlemania 27, to being involved in a storyline in which he barely made it onto the card shows that his stock has decreased over the past year.
Like Ziggler, the heel character of The Miz could benefit greatly if placed in contention for the World Heavyweight Championship.
John Cena sad, no seriously, that's what I googled
10. Stop Burying John Cena: This will probably be my least popular opinion amongst readers and bloggers who bash John Cena. However, in my opinion, the way Cena’s been used since Wrestlemania is basically as a punching bag for past superstars who haven’t wrestled consistently in WWE for several years.
Cena has looked weak against The Rock and has looked even weaker during his storyline with Brock Lesnar. Although I am a huge fan of The Rock and have been for years, I assumed Wrestlemania 28 would be a “torch passing” match similar to Hogan vs. Andre or The Rock vs Hogan.
Cena after losing to The Rock at Wrestlemania 28
I was somewhat disappointed that WWE didn’t give Cena this honor, but am more understanding if somehow they make this a series of matches, or use it as a buildup for a consistent return by The Rock, which I highly doubt. However, the burying of Cena vs Lesnar as it currently stands is far worse.
Not only did Lesnar walk out on WWE while under contract, but he bashed WWE during his time in the NFL, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and UFC. So now that Lesnar has finally returned, WWE decides to take the guy who picked up the ball and ran with it and bury him.
Brock Lesnar has gotten the best of Cena since returning to WWE
Lesnar looks far stronger than Cena in every altercation that has taken place thus far. People will criticize and say Cena rarely, if ever, loses a clean match. Newsflash, that’s the point of a top babyface wrestler. A face wins honorably and a heel cheats. That’s been textbook pro wrestling for decades.
But as far as being a glorified jobber to Lesnar and any superstar due for a big return, the best way to sum up WWE’s treatment of Cena recently is burying.