Remembering Current WWE Stars
On Thursday night, Impact Wrestling wanted you to remember the stars of the past. AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, and a handful of others were mentioned as guys who helped build TNA before leaving for greener pastures.
That’s all well and good. I’m not writing anymore about TNA. But it did get me thinking about WWE, which I’m pretty sure was the entire goal of Thursday’s episode given how often they mentioned WWE. It got me thinking about guys who are still in WWE, who we don’t remember.
Remember these guys?
Remember Rusev? Remember when he was undefeated going into Wrestlemania 31 against John Cena? Remember when he made his entrance on a freakin’ tank? It looked like Rusev was poised to be a top heel for years to come. He was a good, brute, worker, had a gimmick guaranteed to draw heat, and could hold his own on the mic.
Then he lost to Cena and hasn’t done anything noteworthy since. He had that terrible feud with Dolph Ziggler that never got a conclusion due to Rusev and Lana breaking kayfabe and announcing their engagement. He took part in the League of Nations, which might be the worst “major” stable in wrestling history. He won the United States title again, and then proceeded to feud with Titus O’Neal and Zack Ryder before getting punk’d out at every turn by Roman Reigns before losing the title to Reigns. Then he was in some cuckhold storyline with Enzo Amore and Big Cass, randomly teaming with and breaking up with Jinder Mahal.
And remember when The Rock made him look like a bitch by claiming that he slept with Lana, Steve Austin gave him a stunner, and Goldberg easily dispatched of him?
Rusev is the perfect example of a missed opportunity in WWE. He came in with a big winning streak gimmick, destroying everyone in his path, and the moment he lost, he was simply forgotten about. While we complain about Cesaro or Sami Zayn never receiving the push we believe they should have, at least they are getting an opportunity to do something. Cesaro is part of a successful tag team and Zayn is on TV and taking part in meaningful feuds. While Sami might be bishop in various feuds, Rusev has been nothing but a pawn for over a year now.
Cedric Alexander, TJ Perkins, Rich Swann, and Gran Metalik
Remember these four cruiserweights? Remember when Cedric Alexander stole the tournament and fans turned him into the biggest star of the first two rounds? Remember how TJ Perkins won the Cruiserweight Classic? Remember Rich Swann slowly getting over and winning the cruiserweight title? Remember Gran Metalik at all?
It’s no secret that the cruiserweight division has been a pretty big miss since debuting on the main roster. The matches don’t feel special, and they have so little time for them in a three-hour show, that they gave them their own one hour show. Things have picked up a bit as of late thanks to the insertion of Neville, but it could have been a hit right off the bat if WWE utilized the four wrestlers mentioned to the best of their abilities.
No one made a bigger impression in the Cruiserweight Classic than Alexander. He got a “Please Sign Cedric” chant from the crowd following a loss, and the Triple H stamp of approval. A lot of good that did him. He got lumped into some heatless feud with Noam Dar over Alicia FUUUUUUUUUX before eventually breaking up with her after a few weeks. Without a crazy woman to fight over, Cedric hasn’t been relevant.
Perkins won the Cruiserweight Classic and became the first ever purple belt cruiserweight champion. It didn’t exactly mean a whole lot. He immediately became a video game geek on the main roster, lost his first major feud against Brian Kendrick, and has been playing video games ever since.
Swann has at least found a bit of success on the main roster. He slowly got over with his theme song, dancing, and wrestling ability. He won the cruiserweight title, but was in Neville’s way of the throne. Hey, that’s wrestling. Guys have to lose eventually. But it never felt like Swann was given a real chance. When the title changes hands three times in two and half months, it’s tough to be a big deal. At least Swann is currently recognized as the longest reigning champion. People do recognize him as that, right?
Gran Metalik stood out in the Cruiserweight Classic with his performances against Akira Tozawa, Zack Sabre Jr., and TJ Perkins. Believe it or not, he was the runner-up. He was also on the first cruiserweight episode of Raw. But that’s all we’ve seen of Metalik, as it’s more important to get Davari and Dar on television.
These four guys could bring personality and excitement to a currently dead cruiserweight division. Neville has done great work as the champion, but everything below him as felt pointless. They have four-minute matches, work in rest holds, and don’t do anything to differentiate themselves from the rest of the main roster. Except for the purple ropes, of course. 205 Live is a show that simply exists only to piss off fans of Talking Smack, who want to watch it immediately after Smackdown and not an hour later.
Remember this great tag team? Remember all the great matches they had in NXT? Remember when they were the first tag team drafted by Smackdown? Remember when they beat Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton for the tag team titles? American Alpha should have been the next great tag team in the WWE. Tag team wrestling has gone by the wayside over the years, but Alpha were supposed to be the guys to bring it back, the same way they helped bring it back in NXT.
They are the current tag team champions. They haven’t been on television in weeks.
This has been the flaw in the brand split all along. By separating the tag team and women’s divisions, you’re weakening both. Both brands have done a decent job of keeping the women’s divisions important, but the Raw tag team division just treads water while the Smackdown tag division is drowning.
American Alpha are a great tag team. They proved that in NXT. It hasn’t translated to the main roster, because they haven’t been given a chance to have it translate. Their feud with Wyatt and Orton produced great matches and memorable moments. It should have elevated Alpha and the division to a whole new level. Instead, they’ve done nothing. There is a distinct lack of challengers on the Smackdown side. Breezango, The Ascension, Slater and Rhyno, and The Vaudevillians have all been treated like jokes for the most part. The Usos are the only compelling tag team that presents a challenge, but the stop and start nature of that feud has killed any interest and momentum.
Still remember these guys?
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