When John Cena was forced to miss some television time due to a recent long overdue elbow surgery, Monday Night Raw turned in its lowest rating in 15 years. Granted, that wasn't entirely due to the absence of the biggest star the company has but his presence certainly would have made a big difference.
This has forced everyone to take a long, hard look at the WWE roster and the state it's currently in.
Assuming Cena will eventually come to terms with the fact that he's human and his body can only put up with so much wear and tear, the promotion will have to find another star to take his place at the top of the pro wrestling world. The question is whether or not that guy is currently on the roster.
We'll examine as much ourselves with a two part series breaking the two major sides, the babyfaces and the heels, into tiers to see where WWE stands as of right now.
Let's get it.
The Top Stars
- John Cena
- Randy Orton
- Rey Mysterio
The obvious issue that pops off the page is the collective age here. Orton is the youngest of the group at 32-years-old but he's a ticking time bomb thanks to his multiple Wellness Policy violations. The same can be said for Mysterio, who not only has those drug test failures hanging over his head, he's also the oldest at 37 and has to be winding his career down after having more surgeries than the rest of the roster combined.
It's been widely speculated that WWE is high on Sheamus as the possible replacement for Cena as the top star but the flaw in that line of thinking is Sheamus is 34-years-old, just one year younger than Cena. If healthy and drug-free, this is a formidable group that can make plenty of money for the company but how much longer can that last?
- Sin Cara
- Santino Marella
- Kofi Kingston
Most of this crowd has seen the main event at one time or another but what's alarming is the general perception of each one of them.
In short, even with careful planning, there isn't a legitimate headlining attraction among them.
Remember Survivor Series 2011? Remember the main event? Remember how it included R-Truth? Oh, you don't? Well, he was there and a big part of the narrative was how small he looked standing next to John Cena and The Rock and not just in physical stature. He didn't belong there and it was clear as day.
You could substitute any one of these names for Truth and get the same result. Ryback is being primed for a push and is already flirting with the main event scene but it's not being received well, despite the chants you hear in arenas when he shows up (the non-Goldberg chants, I mean).
Christian is a guy you can sell as a headliner but he's not a true main event attraction and at this stage of the game, it's fair to say he never will be. The fear is none of these guys will be. But that's where the next tier comes in.
- Ted DiBiase
- Tyson Kidd
- Zack Ryder
- Justin Gabriel
- Brodus Clay
The "Potentials" are those on the roster who seemingly have what it takes to break into the next level and maybe reach that main event ceiling but have yet to do so.
And, as you can see, it's not a particularly strong group.
DiBiase has been injury prone in his young career and failed miserably to separate himself from the pack when he was paired with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes in Legacy. His "DiBiase Posse" gimmick has done good things for him but he'll need some help to take the next step.
Kidd would have benefited from being around in 1994 when being a good, smaller wrestler with no charisma would have helped him. Now? Doom and gloom. Still, the potential is there and if given the chance, he could be something special.
Clay and Ryder tasted success and showcased that they can get over to the WWE audience but there have been forces beyond their control holding them back from their true potential. The Funkasaurus is fun but he'll never main event a PPV. Ryder has used the Internet to his advantage and worked social media as hard as anyone but character tweaks are necessary.
Gabriel's finisher alone puts him here.
- Alex Riley
- Evan Bourne
- Derrick Bateman
- Ezekiel Jackson
- Great Khali
- Jimmy Uso
- Jey Uso
- Mason Ryan
- Michael McGillicutty
- Alex Riley
Not a lot to work with here. In fact, it's staggering how little there is to work with here.
Bateman is about to get a big push as "The USA Guy" whenever that happens but until it does and he showcases that he's worth his salt (I think he will but you never know) he belongs here, mostly because a casual viewer probably doesn't have a clue who he is or where he's from.
Riley was briefly pushed but is injured and out. Khali is also out after having serious surgery. Jimmy and Jey Uso are still a tag team and that should help them but their ceiling isn't high beyond that.
The rest might as well be called "The Battle Royal Bunch."
In conclusion, the babyface side of the WWE roster is thin and greatly lacking in interesting or compelling characters. Then again, as C.J. Bradford once tried to convince the world, everyone works better as a heel.
But does that side look much better off? We'll find out tomorrow in part two.
In the meantime, feel free to discuss whether or not you agree with the assessments made here as well as give your own. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.