02nd Jul2014

The WWE Main Roster Report: Part 3 – The Mid-Card

by Chris Cummings

wwe

The WWE main roster is always changing, some wrestlers leave for whatever reason happens to cause their departure, some wrestlers move up the card because management wants to give them a push and some wrestlers move downwards, or stay still, sometimes merely because the creative team has a lack of ideas for their television character.

The last twelve months have been memorable and a lot has happened to the main WWE roster since June of 2013. So, let’s take a look at the main superstars who are on the main stage of WWE, rate them, and look at how their future in WWE looks at this moment.

The grading system is as follows:

A+ – Is/Should be one of the main faces of WWE. A true star.

A – Should be/Is in the main event scene and has the talent to stay there.

B – Should be being pushed as a future top contender. Needs some spark.
C – In their current role they’re not meeting their potential. Should be used better.

D – Needs work and help from creative. Highly lacking as a worker.

F – Why is this person here? No amount of booking magic can help.

The Mid-Card

Bad News Barrett

The Northern British Wade Barrett has had an up-and-down career since he debuted as the leader of the Nexus faction a few years ago. The typical WWE stop/start push has hindered Barrett’s career on more than one occasion. Barrett is great on the microphone, top class in the ring, and gets a good reaction from the fans, so it is anyone’s guess why he hasn’t been a regular main event worker in his run. Debuted as “Bad News” Barrett on the WWE’s online “JBL & Cole Show”, a character that delivered bad news to other workers in a comedic way. Somehow, through his talent and passion for the business, Barrett has managed to make the “Bad News” gimmick work, and has entered some top-class matches with the likes of RVD, Sheamus and others as well as defeating Big E for the Intercontinental Championship. Barrett is one of the best all-rounders in WWE today, and I only hope he doesn’t suffer the attention deficit that has hindered so many wrestlers in WWE in recent years. Grade: A

Sheamus

Since making his return to WWE television during January’s Royal Rumble PPV, The Great White of WWE has been treading water in the mid-card as a bland babyface whom the fans react to with increasing apathy as each week passes. As a heel, Sheamus could offer a fresh bad-guy hooligan character to oppose the likes of Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and others in feuds that would feature some good matches. A talented in-ring worker, Sheamus is in desperate need of a character overhaul and a fresh feud with someone who he hasn’t worked long programs with previously. He has worked some great matches with Cesaro, Randy Orton, Bad News Barrett and others this year, but the fans are tired of his smiling babyface shtick, and I’m sure Sheamus is as well. Grade: B

Cesaro

“The King of Swing” and “The Swiss Superman” spent much of the last year in a tag team with Jack Swagger, The Real Americans, managed by Zeb Coulter. The team never held tag gold but still had some marvellous contests with most of the tag roster including Cody Rhodes & Goldust, The Uso’s and Los Matadores. Split with Swaggs at WrestleMania during the pre-show and went on to win the “Andre the Giant Invitational Battle Royale” later in the night to a monster pop from the New Orleans crowd. The night after WrestleMania he dropped Coulter as his manager in favour of Paul Heyman and has since been treated to a solid high mid-card push, working many matches with Sheamus, RVD and other babyface mid-carders. The fans want to cheer for Cesaro, but at the moment it seems like WWE are focused on keeping him as a heel alongside Heyman. If rumours are to be believed, his partnership with Heyman should end in the next year and result in a feud with Brock Lesnar. If Cesaro is allowed a win over Lesnar it could really help solidify him as a headliner. One of the best workers in WWE, it would be criminal if Cesaro didn’t pick up World Championship gold in the next year. Grade: A

Rob Van Dam

The ECW original made another return to WWE in 2014 and hasn’t done much of note since he came back. RVD gets a warm reception wherever he goes and still has much to offer in the ring, but he has been doing the same thing in the same way for most of his career. A haircut, a change of attire and a slight alteration of character could reinvent RVD and add a much needed intrigue to his future as a performer. He has had some fine matches since coming back but is always just the laid-back babyface who fights the heels and holds a mid-card title once in a while. It’s time for a change. Grade: B-

Dolph Ziggler

“The Show-off” has taken a swan dive since winning (and losing) the World Heavyweight Title from Alberto Del Rio last April. Suffered concussions that kept him out of action and caused WWE to second guess his main event push, Ziggler has spent most of the last year (while active) on the losing end of mid-card matches, putting over people who need to look good in the process. A fantastic seller and someone who the fans obviously love and want to see succeed, Ziggler has suffered similar treatment to Barrett with the stop/start booking and lack of solid character development. There seemed to be a time when it looked like there were plans to put together a faction of guys who thought they were being “mistreated” by WWE, with The Miz, Damien Sandow and Ziggler himself, but that doesn’t seem to be happening now. I hope Ziggy gets a chance to shine again, at least as a high mid-card player, he is a fantastic and energetic performer who is always a joy to watch. Grade: B+

Big E

The big man won the Intercontinental Title and held it for quite a while before dropping it to Bad News Barrett. Doesn’t seem to get much of a reaction in his current babyface character. Big E is strong and capable of having okay matches, but is often sluggish and dangerous in the ring. I would prefer to see him in a tag team with a smaller guy, a thing that could hide Big E’s flaws while allowing him to shine in short bursts as a powerhouse. Currently, he is one of the guys I don’t get excited about seeing on television. Grade: C-

Kofi Kingston

Kofi has always been a solid hand for WWE, a worker they can count on to have a good match with most people. He is plodding along now though, and hasn’t adapted his character, except for dropping the Jamaican accent, since debuting years ago. It is time to change the Kingston character and give this talented worker something to bury his teeth in. Someone who has never worked on television as a heel, it would be interesting and very refreshing to see Kofi thoroughly shake things up by becoming an arrogant and ruthless bad guy. His high flying spots are always fun, and he is often the one to keep an eye on during Battle Royale’s and The Royal Rumble due to his creative ways of avoiding elimination, but there needs to be more to Kofi’s career than that. Let’s hope WWE see that too, and soon. Grade: C+

Damien Sandow

Damien Sandow, much like a lot of WWE’s current crop of mid-card talent, has been a victim of WWE’s frustrating way of changing their mind and lacking focus. Sandow won the Money in the Bank briefcase in 2013, a victory that should have seen Sandow enter the main event scene and show his abilities off on a bigger stage, but instead we saw Sandow cash in the contract on an episode of RAW and lose to John Cena. This was terrible booking, and Sandow hasn’t recovered since. Often placed into comedy matches and scenarios that have him acting like a fool, WWE are squandering a talented performer who can talk brilliantly. There looked to be a change in momentum when Sandow cut a couple of worked-shoot promos on RAW and Smackdown in 2014, but that ended abruptly and Sandow has since gone back to acting like a clown and losing every night. It’s such a shame, and further shows the inability of WWE to push the right people, and protect its workers from being damaged irreparably by their poor creative choices. Grade: C

Bo Dallas

Bo Dallas worked most of the last year in NXT as the NXT Champion. Changed from being a bland and saccharine babyface into a delusional and cocky heel, Dallas became the top heel in NXT and honed the character brilliantly, while improving vastly in the ring. Made his main roster debut as an adapted version of his NXT character, a motivational speaker of sorts, Bo Dallas has yet to find his feet on the main roster. The adaptation of his character is strange and, in June 2014, doesn’t seem to be working too well. Has picked up plenty of victories on television, Bo seems like just another mid-card worker among a sea of superior ones. Hopefully this young superstar will find his way and make his main roster run a success, just like he did in NXT. Grade: C

Jack Swagger

Swagger, along with Cesaro, had a good run in The Real Americans team, managed by Zeb Coulter. Entered some great performances with other top teams such as Cody Rhodes & Goldust. Split with Cesaro at WrestleMania and kept Coulter as his manager, it was a shame that we didn’t get a nice program between Cesaro and Swaggs after the split, the matches could have been very good. Swagger hasn’t done a great deal since his April split from “The King of Swing”. It seems like his main event days are behind him, and it is probably a fair bet that he will be thrown into another tag team soon enough. In my view he works better with a partner at his side (Cesaro, Ziggler) and hopefully he will find a new tag team ally sooner rather than later. Grade: C-

Adam Rose

This veteran worker spent a long while in NXT as Leo Kruger, a hunter gimmick, before being repackaged as the partying rock and roller, Adam Rose, in 2014. Got a positive reaction in NXT due to his original entrance, which features a dozen or so people, dressed up in various bright and weird outfits, carrying him to the ring, Rose was brought up to the main roster following WrestleMania XXX. Very talented in the ring, Rose has sadly become one of the comedy relief workers in WWE, finding himself in mixed tag matches and comedy encounters with the likes of Fandango. The Adam Rose character surely doesn’t have longevity and it’s a shame that this talented performer will probably never get a chance to show his true ability on the main roster. I can see him being sent back to NXT, or even released altogether, by this time next year. I hope I’m wrong though. Grade: D

Rusev

Another NXT graduate, Rusev debuted on the main roster alongside his loud and outspoken valet and spokeswoman, Lana, and spent the first few weeks standing on the stage while Lana hyped him up to the audience. Trained by Rikishi, this Bulgarian big-man has only really been on the winning side of squash matches so far. Being promoted as a super-athlete that can easily defeat whomever is thrown at him, Rusev has easily beaten the likes of Zack Ryder, R Truth, Xavier Woods, Big E and others in recent months. It is likely we will see Rusev eventually feud with John Cena, and though I would like to be wrong, I imagine Cena will win, destroying the unbeatable aura of Rusev in the process. A solid power worker who is much more agile than many think, I am unsure what the future holds for him. It all depends on how he is booked and who he is booked against. Grade: B-

The Miz

The former WWE Champion has taken a swan-dive over the last couple of years in WWE. Went from being one of the biggest heels in the company to being a listless babyface who is rarely booked on television or PPV. Was given the torch by Ric Flair and began using the figure-four leg lock last year, nobody cared. Miz is in dire need of a heel turn and a fresh character change, perhaps even a manager of some point to bring some extra attention his way. A good heel talker and a guy who worked hard to improve in the ring, it’s a shame to see him at such a low point right now. Hopefully he will have a new burst of life on WWE TV soon enough. Grade: C

Mark Henry

Henry has been a part of WWE’s roster for almost twenty years and, in my view, has done very little to warrant such a long run in that time. Cut a great retirement promo last year that resulted in a swerve turn on John Cena, but that was all he has done of note recently. Offensively boring when he appears on television it is undoubtedly time for Mark to step away from wrestling now. Used as an enhancement talent in 2014, Mark offers nothing to WWE television in the current era, and is still best remembered, by me at least, for his “Sexual Chocolate” gimmick during the Attitude Era. Time to get off the train Mark. Choo, choo. Grade: D-

The Big Show

Much like Mark Henry, Big Show has had a very long run in WWE. Signing with McMahon Incorporated in 1999, Big Show has been, on and off, a major part of WWE storylines ever since. He is agile for a man of his size, and entered some top notch performances in 2012 against the likes of Daniel Bryan, but I think it is time for Show to hang up the giant singlet and take a permanent break from wrestling. Used sparingly, and as a special attraction, perhaps Big Show could offer something, but keep him out of the title picture, and stop pushing him against young workers in need of wins. In my view, his best days are behind him and he has turned heel to face so many times that the fans are pretty indifferent to seeing him on TV much of the time. Grade: D

Christian

The veteran former World, Tag Team, I-C, US and Light-heavyweight Champion hit a brick wall in WWE over the last year or two. He still has plenty in the tank and puts in great performances when he is given the chance, but without the management behind him (apparently Vince McMahon “doesn’t like” his “face”) he is destined for mid-card jobbing and the odd “upset” victory for the time being. A worker willing to put over younger talent in energetic and entertaining matches, Christian is being used poorly and has much more to offer. A delight as a sneaky-villain, both on the mic and in the ring, it’s a shame to see this future Hall of Famer being treated like a member of the “J.O.B Squad” in 2014. I hope WWE see the error of their ways and give him more respect before he retires, he has earned it. Grade: C

Rey Mysterio

Rey Mysterio has spent much of the past year or two on the injured list. Plagued with injuries to various parts of his body, especially his knees, Mysterio’s high flying and risk taking past in the ring has finally caught up with him. A veteran of 25 years, Rey-Rey is one of the best workers in wrestling’s rich history, but in 2014, and after seeing the obvious pain he was in during the few matches he has had, it is time for the masked man to offer his services as an agent and retire from in-ring competition. An absolute astonishing worker in his prime, and a great worker in his later years, it is a shame to see Rey going to the ring unable to do what he used to do. With a mind for the business that he has been in for well over half of his life, he has much to offer as a backstage hand and brain. Grade: C

Santino

Santino, or Stale-tino, that is the question. Another worker who is in dire need of a character overhaul, Santino has been doing his silly shtick for years, and it is time for him to get aggressive, turn heel and become a serious hard-nut, a character he could pull off, due to his real-life martial arts experience. Santino was fun as a comedy character years ago, and still had gas in the tank in 2012, but two years on he is treading water and entering embarrassing performances that reek of WWE-comedy-lite and make nobody laugh. I mute the channel or fast-forward when he comes on television now, not a good sign. Change can be a good thing, and WWE need to get that into the skulls, ASAP. Grade: D

Fandango

Fandango is in the same boat as Santino, only not quite as stale. A smug, arrogant and greasy character, it still has potential to be more than just a comedy act, but likely it won’t. As Johnny Curtis in NXT, Fandango played the creepy stalker gimmick well and he should tweak his current character to be more like that. The dancing thing got people’s attention initially, but now no one really gives a damn. Seemingly only ever involved in terrible mixed-tag matches, Fandango is a victim of poor writing and lack of development. Yet again. Grade: C-
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Check back tomorrow for Part Four of our WWE Main Roster Report, which looks at the WWE Divas…

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