Fallen off the road to Superstardom: WWE stars who should be a fixture in the main event scene
Before I start off with this piece, let me remind the Indian audience that the current WWE champion is Jinder Mahal. I say Indian audience because they are the reason he was picked out of obscurity and from under an avalanche of losses to be tossed into the main event scene.
On a whim, it was decided to make him the supposed biggest dog in the company. And then Mahal went ahead to win the sport’s biggest prize to perhaps signal a change in the pro wrestling landscape, especially with regards to wrestlers from the sub-continent.
While I am more than happy with the fact that the WWE has acknowledged a huge potential in the Indian market, one of the latest in a long line of companies to wake up to the opportunity that India holds, I cannot help but recall Mahal's cringe-worthy promos addressing his Hell in a Cell opponent, Shinsuke Nakamura.
Sometimes, the WWE crosses lines without maybe knowing it themselves. Think Booker T, Mark Henry and Funaki.
I do believe there is much to like about Mahal. The need of the hour is to make him look good, both in the ring and on the mic, instead of just hoping his projecting as champ will see Indians suddenly relate to him and start buying his merchandise, registering on their network etc - a-la the herd mentality.
Jinder may deserve the push, and may have worked his socks off to get to the position he is in today, but none of us, be it Indians, live audience or the ever-ready internet naysayers, are warming up to him. What I’m trying to say is perhaps the company could have chosen a more engaging, much more popular character to carry its flagship crown.
While the WWE has done a fantastic job with talents like Kevin Owens and AJ Styles (the latter having perhaps one of the best debut years in the company ever in 2016), there have also been those who looked ready to steal the main event show but have been shackled by the main roster management.
The biggest two stars I can think of are Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch. Both are arguably the purest babyfaces right now in WWE but sadly, have won a sum total of one title on the main roster, with the former enduring some hard times, especially. Even to someone like me, who only started looking and reading up on the talents outside of WWE maybe three years ago, Zayn is so relatable and lovable.
Simple yet effective, and with the heart of a lion, "The Underdog from the Underground" has a legion of fans from across the world, thanks to his time on the indie scene.
Every fan, including myself, wishes for a main event push for him. In my eyes, his win against Kevin Owens last year at Battleground was supposed to herald the Zayn era. But it saddens me that he has been used as a talent enhancement since.
Then there is Becky, lovable and all straight fire! Her accent may not be everyone's cup of tea, but her in-ring work and charisma are so captivating. Part of the much-hailed 'Four Horsewomen' of the WWE, who were responsible for bringing back prestige and name to the women's division (so unfairly termed Divas Division till they arrived), Becky has managed to garner more fans despite the limited props she has been given.
The inaugural SmackDown women's title seemed to have only been given to her to appreciate all her hard work, rather than any tangible or intangible belief placed on her. And since she lost the belt to 'Resident Goddess' Alexa Bliss, she has barely had a sniff of the title she so richly deserves.
There are other examples as well. Bray Wyatt, booked to look more foolish than a drunk man stumbling around the road shouting out loud about an impending Armageddon, while Bayley, perhaps the only competitor to Becky in terms of ability to be a more popular babyface, is made to look like she's way out of her depth on RAW.
Finn Balor, who received an almighty push on his main roster debut before an untimely injury, is also wandering at the moment, but it seems WWE creative has enough faith in him to sooner or later push him back onto the big time. The lesser said about Rusev, post his engagement to Lana, the better.
Also, is it just me or Roman Reigns — who has been forced on us since I can remember — is not able to connect with the crowd as much as management would want, however talented or merchandise pulling he may be.
Maybe we should let the characters generically and organically build, and then with each passing week's crowd reactions, decide what role a wrestler is better suited to. Clearly, Reigns seems better suited to being the heel, but alas, Vince McMahon and his love for big, sweaty, muscular behemoths is well known. Thank god for Braun Strowman and his manhandling ways.
The question to ask is: are the likes of Zayn and Lynch really so bad that they couldn't do a better job than the "Modern Day Maharaja" with their respective divisions to titles?