With the return of Sting and the Dudleys and the continued use of guys like The Undertaker and Big Show (case in point: this past Raw’s main event featuring Sting VS. The Big Show) who should be put out to pasture, World Wrestling Entertainment is swollen with under- and misused talent.
Don’t get me wrong, apart from those listed above, I’m a fan of most of their Superstars and Divas. However it makes me wonder how call ups from NXT are supposed to be sufficiently put to work on the main roster when so many talented wrestlers are relegated to Superstars, Main Event and house shows which have much smaller audiences and garner much less exposure. All we have to do is look at Erik Rowan’s demotion in favour of new Wyatt Family disciple Braun Strowman or the #DivasRevoltion that rightfully features Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks (#queen) at the expense of Natalya to know that something is wrong with this picture.
So, I thought I’d do a survey of the current WWE main roster and see who could potentially do better on the indies.
A controversial choice, no doubt, but Ziggler has been floundering in WWE for years. Every now and then the powers that be will have an epiphany that Ziggler should be given all the titles and slap the championship on him (he has been World Heavyweight Champion twice and Intercontinental Champion four times), or have him be the sole survivor at Survivor Series, but then drop the ball on him entirely and put him in one of the oddest feuds in recent memory against Rusev.
With his acting and stand up comedy, Ziggler has his finger in more than one pie, and that would serve him well in his future endeavours. Imagine how much of a draw he would be for smaller promotions should he choose to continue wrestling outside of WWE. (Full disclosure: I used to work for an indie promotion in Melbourne, Australia and remain close friends with the owner, who is related to Ziggler by marriage, once removed.)
While he is seeing success in NXT, as so many Superstars who can’t quite find a niche on the main roster have done, I think he would be far better served by working the indies. Ryder has proven he can get himself over in the face of enormous skepticism with his web series Z! True Long Island Story and his endearingly earnest gimmick, which would see him promote the shit out of his indie gigs and sell up a storm at the merch tables.
Fans love this kid but WWE continues to screw him over. His partnership and subsequent feud with The Miz was gold, but that storyline fizzled out after only a month. And if this year has taught us anything about Legends it’s that they’ll probably uningratiate themselves, as with Hulk Hogan’s racism and Jimmy Snuka being charged with third-degree murder, so Sandow’s turn as Macho Mandow is probably ill-fated. Indie fans would eat his eventual release up.
WWE had the perfect opportunity to turn Rose face after the ESPN E:60 documentary on NXT aired, in which Rose’s struggle to get to WWE and support his sick child were front and centre, but they were again blind to what their audience wanted. Rose is one of those wrestlers who you can see has a plethora of ideas bubbling under the surface but isn’t at liberty to use them. This is evident in his former FCW character and two time FCW champion Leo Kruger. And he can always join his former tag team partner PJ Black (formerly Justin Gabriel) who is taking the indies by storm.
If there was ever a wrestler whose WWE fate hung in the balance, right now it would be Slater. He recently expressed disdain at WWEShop’s lack of Slater merchandise on Twitter which we all know can get Superstars into trouble. Slater, like his former Three Man Band teammate Drew Galloway (formerly McIntyre), seems like he has so much more to offer than what WWE sporadically lets him do. I, for one, would like to see it.
Yet another Superstar whose name alone would indicate far more talent than what we’re currently seeing on our TV screens, if at all. The second generation Superstar started off strong with Paul Heyman in his corner but even that couldn’t get him over. It would seem his Axelmania gimmick was starting to get him there, and a Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal win at WrestleMania 31 would have been an unexpected and, in my opinion, welcomed victory to close out his Royal Rumble storyline. But, like Sandow and Slater, Axel seems only to be used for comic relief or as "enhancement talent" when, given the chance, I believe he could blow us away. Maybe on the indies he’d get it…
There was a time when being released from WWE meant the death knell of a wrestler’s career. With TNA’s fate still up in the air, the next best employer to WWE may not be around for much longer, but the indie scene is flourishing in the U.S. and across the world. Former floundering WWE Superstars such as Galloway and Black are proving that not only can you succeed on the indies, oftentimes the exposure and opportunity there is far beyond what WWE could offer. And with former World Champions such as Alberto El Patron (known as Alberto Del Rio in WWE) and Rey Mysterio now free agents, the future of independent wrestling—and independent wrestlers—has never been brighter.
Which WWE Superstars do you think would do better on the indies?