We all grouse and complain in our “Dignified Discussions” about talented men (and women) who just aren’t used to their potential. Given the social media outcry surrounding Finn Balor (oh, we’ll get to him), we know that we aren’t alone in our thoughts in these parts. To whit, here are, in my opinion, the Top 5 Most Misused Workers currently working for WWE:
Why waste time, right? Finn was used to absolutely perfection in NXT. When he debuted in NXT in 2014, we were all excited. “Prince Devitt in WWE?!?!?”, we thought. People lost their minds that Fergal could be…in WWE! After various feuds, he defeated Kevin Owens a little over a year later at “Beast in the East” to win its title and held it for 292 days – losing it to Samoa Joe at a live event in Lowell, Massachusetts – establishing a record for longest NXT Title reign.
In July of 2016, he was drafted to “Raw” and at first, things seemed to be working out incredibly well. He was positioned to be just as dominant as he was in NXT. After winning a fatal four-way match to determine a contender to face Seth Rollins for the newly-minted Universal Championship, he faced him at SummerSlam…and won – becoming the inaugural WWE Universal Champion.
Then, he got injured…
He tore a labrum during the match and he was scheduled to be out for 4 months. Mick Foley took the title from him shortly thereafter and so ended an incredibly short reign. From that moment forward, WWE has continually stopped and started on him – seemingly having no idea what to do with him at all. He moves from worker to worker – having no meaningful feud with any of them.
Will social media win out where he’s concerned? Is WWE using it as a ploy because they finally have some clue regarding what to do with him? Can all of this turn him into a Daniel Bryan-esque underdog? We’ll definitely know in time. As of now, it’s not looking promising. He did have a match with Kane to end this evening’s edition of “Raw” but it became apparent that the match itself wasn’t the point of the segment. It was really all about creating an opportunity for retribution for Braun Strowman – a very talented worker who really is being used properly. As such, I can’t totally be mad at it. Still, it leaves Finn caught in the afterburners once more and that hardly thrills me.
Finn (as Prince Devitt) was already a huge star in NJPW before he got to WWE. That was what got him noticed by WWE. If he went back there, the heavens would part and he would be absolutely huge!
Ziggler has had a very long career with WWE dating all the way back to his Spirit Squad days back in 2004. Since then, he’s had a variety of gimmicks and pulled them all off with a grit and panache. He’s done the cheerleading thing (as Nicky), the caddy thing, the angry heel thing, the babyface thing – all of it masterfully. He has everything. He’s great on the mic and can pull off incredible matches. He has also had crowd support for a very long time.
He’s also had title reigns. He won the Intercontinental Title from Kofi Kingston in August of 2010 on a “Smackdown” episode and held it for five months until Kofi got it back from him in a rematch. In January of 2011, he beat Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and The Big Show to become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. He didn’t beat Edge for it then but in a match where Vickie Guerrero banned Edge’s use of his Spear, Dolph won! Edge used the Spear and Vickie crowned Dolph the champ. He would lose it in a rematch with Edge shortly thereafter. Ziggler would cash in “Money in the Bank” to win the championship again – this time from Alberto Del Rio. Sadly, Del Rio had concussed Ziggler during the match and it forced him out of action for a month. When he returned, he faced Del Rio for his rematch and lost – ending his 69 day reign. At 2014’s “Tables, Ladders and Chairs”, PPV, he managed to pick up the Intercontinental Title once more.
Since 2015, he’s been stopped and started on again and again – sometimes being in very important matches. Yet no matter what he does or how well he does it, he just can’t seem to get ahead anymore. He even performed brilliantly during his feud with Bobby Roode. They gave him the “gimmick hater” gimmick – complete with no theme. He completely nailed it.
So what happened? Well, his mouth has gotten him into trouble on Twitter a time or twelve too. He noticed how he was being held back and he voiced on a Twitter numerous times. Vince noticed it (of course) and it got him residency on the doghouse on more than a few occasions. He hasn’t done that in a long time – appearing to have resigned himself to his lot in WWE life. He’s already 37 years-old – certainly not old but not exactly young either. He might be better off in ROH or NJPW at this point. There’s no way he wouldn’t be treated as a star if he decided to check out of the WWE hotel.
He began his career under a variety of names (even winning FCW Tag Team gold under the name Duke Rotundo with his brother, Bo) but eventually landed on the worst ring name in WWE history: the wretched Husky Harris. It was with that name that he debuted on the main roster as a part of “The Nexus” stable headed up by Wade Barrett and featuring other invading NXT stars. While promising at first, exactly no one ultimately benefitted, least of all Husky Harris. After a time, he was punted in the head by Randy Orton and sent back down to developmental to come up with something else.
From 2011 – 2012, he continued to work – even picking up the tag belts again with his brother, Bo. Then, in April of 2012, it all changed.
He became Bray Wyatt
A dark character taking more than a little from Waylon Mercy (remember him?), he got together with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper and the white family was born. Vignettes began running in May of 2014 signaling the arrival of “The Wyatt Family” to the main roster. In July, they arrived and wreaked havoc on all they saw. Bray had finally found his groove and he made the most of it. The entrance of the Wyatts was one of the most captivating in WWE history and it never got old. The brilliant theme supplied by Mark Crozer did him many favors as well. No one was like Bray and every promo he gave reminded us of that. He was dark as midnight and smart. He seemingly never ran dry. This character was set to take the entire WWE by storm and become a main event character for years to come.
The only problem was that while the character had come to life brilliantly, WWE had no idea how to move it forward. They also decided that wins and losses meant nothing to Bray Wyatt.
Any big match Bray is in, he loses. It’s almost a guarantee. In fact, any time he wins, that’s almost more shocking. He gives these great promos about what he’s going to do to his opponent du jour and then loses the match – making good on none of the promises he makes.
Now, he’s basically Dolph Ziggler with brown hair. They move on him a little, then pull it back. His promos are the same repetitive “I know you better than you know yourself / I see the real you” schtick with added snickering used for an effect he can no longer achieve. There’s been zero change in his character since it debuted. He has suffered immeasurably for it.
He’s only 30 years-old and he’d be a steal for ROH, NJPW, Evolve, or any indie who could score him. Heck, tour the indies like Cody did. He’d make a killing and be able to widen his artistic palate all at once.
Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention…
Tyler is a lot of fun on Smackdown Live! as one half of Breezango but the comedy gimmick was not the original intention. It also isn’t the most interesting. He spent five years in FCW/NXT and by the time he began working as Tyler Breeze in 2013, he debuted an “I’m so gorgeous, I can’t stand it” gimmick complete with furry ring attire and selfie stick and he was off to the races. He had a great look but he could also wrestle…I mean really wrestle. If you go back and look at some of those NXT matches, he was spectacular. His shining moment (okay there were many but the one that really sticks out to me) is when he faced the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. If you haven’t seen that match, you need to…now. He spent a little more time in NXT and would finally debut on the main roster in October of 2015.
Things looked promising at the start. He debuted with Summer Rae at his side during an episode of “Miz TV” and attacked the aforementioned Dolph Ziggler and instant feud initiated. That feud carried on through the end of the year with each trading wins.
Then, the wheels fell off.
By January, Summer Rae was gone and he started losing…a lot…like 20 times. He lost to everyone. Thankfully, he ended up with the similarly-flailing Fandango and things began to look up. Of course, as Breezango, they’re mostly in a comedy gimmick that’s yet to turn into much of anything substantial on the ring work side of things. I suppose it still could but I’m pessimistic given how much time has passed since they’ve been together.
While I honestly do love the skits they do, Tyler is being completely and utterly wasted in them. He’s a fantastic in-ring competitor and I’d love to see him get back to doing that. Can you imagine him in NJPW? I can and I think it’d be fun to see him go with the stars out there.
You remember Bayley, don’t you? The hugger? The one who wowed us in incredible match after match in “NXT”? The one who, with Sasha Banks, gave us the best wrestling match I’ve ever seen in the first-ever “Iron Woman Match” at “NXT TakeOver: Respect”? The one who basked in “Hug Life”? She signed to WWE in 2012 and actually began working under a mask. Of course, hiding that face was a bad idea so the mask came off, the ponytail surfaced, and we got the Bayley we all know and try really hard to love. She then went on to wow us for a few glorious years in NXT. Then she was called up to the main roster…
…and things got ugly quick.
She began botching in matches (not horribly but they happened) and instantly became less interesting on the mic. She seems to have gotten the botching under control but she’s still completely unbelievable on the mic. It’s as if she just can’t make the transition effectively. All of her girl-next-door charisma is gone and it’s been replaced with pure vanilla. She’s currently in a sort of “no woman’s land” where she’s neither successful nor failing. She’s just…there.
Interesting to note that she was part of an episode of “WWE Ride Along” a few weeks ago. During that episode, she rode with Sasha Banks, a woman of seemingly endless charisma. Together, they really came off like sisters. Of note is how much fun Bayley was during that episode. She was the NXT girl again! That’s what’s so annoying. She needs to bring that girl to TV. If she could do it, we’d love her to death and she’d be as unstoppable on “Raw” as she was on “NXT”.
Someone of her obvious talent needs to be more than just there. It appears that she just isn’t cut out for WWE’s huge audience. She might be better off hitting up the Indies I’ve already spoken of. Maybe a smaller audience would make her feel freer to let go?
Okay, those are my picks for “Most Misused Worker”. The floor is now open for what I hope is a really fun debate. Let me know your thoughts. I promise to play too.