Brian Damage, Craig Wilson and Jamie Lithgow
Following on from last week’s Top Five looking at superstars who have benefited from the brand split, this week we flip it around and look at the WWE athletes who haven’t had a change of fortunes since Raw and Smackdown Live became separate brands.
When Curtis was drafted as the very last pick and dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant”, you would think the WWE would try to make him Raw’s answer to Smackdown’s Heath Slater. Instead, he is barely used let alone seen.
4. Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler
From Raw to Smackdown to relegated to panel discussions. I think Jerry has been one of the hardest hit by this brand split
You would think a brand split would give her more of an opportunity to shine as one of the most technically sound wrestlers on the roster, think again. Nattie is an afterthought.
2. Dolph Ziggler
He started off strong getting to challenged for the WWE title. Now, he is right back where the WWE feels he belongs: a mid carder.
Is there any doubt this should be the #1 selection for this top 5? Cesaro continues to thrill and excite fans with his uncanny strength and agility and all they can come up with is teaming him with Sheamus? Cesaro should be wrestling main events for the WWE world title and was better suited for Smackdown Live, instead, he is wasted on Raw.
5. Dolph Ziggler: The early signs were bright as Ziggler was thrust into a main event programme with Dean Ambrose over the WWE title. However, since that loss he’s found himself on the losing end of a seemingly never-ending feud with The Miz over the Intercontinental title. A brand split and a change of look and attire isn’t enough to change Ziggler’s WWE fortunes.
4. Baron Corbin: With his victory in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, I thought the company would strap a rocket to the back of Corbin. Instead, he’s been stuck in an angle reminiscent of bullying with Kalisto and then an in-ring programme with the diminutive high flyer. Not what many hoped or expected…
3. The Vaudevillians: We’ve discussed the plight of this pair in the past. Since their promotion from NXT, the team have been directionless. The brand split offered the WWE the chance to establish the duo as a competitive team on Smackdown Live. However, the team are still glorified jobbers and going nowhere. Sure, you could point at the backstage fight between Simon Gotch and Kalisto as the reason behind their struggles, however it’s done nothing to hamper the masked superstar.
2. The Club: The WWE appear to be unsure how to book this tandem. After their huge levels of success in Japan, are they destined to be the tag team equivalent of Tensai? Brought in by the WWE by quickly relegated to a more comedic act? It’s starting to look the case. Tragic, considering the quality of the team. The brand split could have been used as the chance to get them over as a dominant force in the Raw tag team division. Shame it’s not been.
1. Cesaro: Like Ziggler, but to a greater extent, WWE fans have been crying out for years for him to be a breakout superstar. I wondered if the brand split would allow more focus on the Swiss superman and thus a boost in his profile on WWE TV. Alas, it hasn’t been the case and he still appears to be struggling to smash through the glass ceiling.
5. The Club: Since joining WWE earlier this year it has been a steady downward spiral for Gallows and Anderson. Sadly the brand split came too late for them, they lost all credibility beforehand. Rather than be reborn as a dominant team, they remained on the same brand as The New Day and are now really, really lame instead of just really lame.
4. The Vaudvillains: Are these guys still employed? The benefit of the brand split was less guys on each roster thus more TV time on your respective show. Problem is, it’s still less TV time to compete for. Thus, if Vince and/or Triple H don’t like your gimmick then you’re screwed.
3. Renne Young: Two shows, two separate three person announce teams; surely this was WWE’s big chance to step into the 21st century and have a female commentator, and a good one at that? Nope, David Otunga had nothing better to do and he has a penis, so…
2. David Otunga: Odd choice given my last entry, but here’s my reason; the brand split forced WWE to actually look at their roster, thus someone discovered that David Otunga was still under contract. He has now been given a job to do, and he’s shit at it. When the next round of job cuts comes around our Dave will no longer be able to pull a JTG and hide in his living room.
1. Nikki Bella: Nikki Bella in 2016 is just a reminder of what women’s wrestling used to be in WWE. She hasn’t evolved her gimmick and while she has improved in the ring, her new peers are noticeably better than her. Once the undisputed queen on the Divas division, she now can’t even get a look in on the B-Show’s women’s title. If I didn’t dislike her so much I’d say it was almost a shame…
You can read all previous ‘Top Five’ pieces here.