Author: Lou Anguila
Kofi Kingston’s victory at WrestleMania 35 was nothing short of monumental. After staying for 11 years in WWE’s midcard purgatory, the man finally reached the pinnacle of professional wrestling by pinning Daniel Bryan to win the coveted WWE championship before a raucous crowd at MetLife Stadium.
Kingston’s journey to becoming a WWE champion wasn’t made possible without his late entry in the gauntlet match weeks leading up to WrestleMania. The fact that the New Day mainstay was a late replacement for the injured Mustafa Ali, nobody thought Kingston would pull off one of the greatest gauntlet match performances until it happened.
Without a doubt, it’s a feel-good story that will be remembered for a long, long time. Kingston’s rise from an underdog to a bona fide title-holder is a proof that anything can happen in this business as long as you ride the wave of opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, there are plenty of talented superstars out there who are still scratching and clawing their way to get one. These wrestlers, gifted with charisma and skills, are more than deserving of getting that big push but still can’t get the chance to shine until now because of backstage power-play.
No one would ever know when these wrestlers will have their breakthrough moments. Only Vince McMahon has the power to make someone’s career. It’s a sad reality that both wrestlers and fans alike were forced to swallow over the last four decades.
With that, as true-blooded wrestling geeks, we feel compelled to honor those wrestlers who worked very hard throughout their careers just to give fans the best wrestling experience they deserve.
Here are the five performers who badly need a big push, but they probably won’t.
We are starting the list with the first WWE Universal Champion and current Intercontinental champion Finn Balor. Around three years ago, Balor made an historic main show debut by winning a fatal-four way match to earn a shot at the inaugural Universal title. At SummerSlam, the Irish wrestling superstar stunned the wrestling world by beating Seth Rollins to become the inaugural top champion of the RAW brand.
Everybody expected Balor to have a long, meaningful championship reign until the bad news arrived just a day after. He announced on the first Monday Night Raw after SummerSlam that he suffered a shoulder injury that would require surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation time, thus leaving the Universal championship vacant.
Although Balor did make his return from the injury just several months after, he never recaptured the lighting in the bottle ever since. He was booked in a series of disappointing feuds with Elias, Bray Wyatt and Drew McIntyre. He got another title shot against Brock Lesnar at this year’s Royal Rumble but no one believed he would win against a guy already booked to face Rumble winner Rollins at Mania.
Yes, he finally got a solid lengthy program with Bobby Lashley and regained the Intercontinental strap at the Grandest Stage of Them All, yet deep inside fans know that Balor deserves better. He should be in the Universal title picture. He should be in the main event, not in the undercards.
Like Balor, another wrestler with a charismatic persona has been left in the dust the past few years. Bray Wyatt always has that Undertaker vibe ever since his main show debut in 2013. With his henchmen Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Wyatt looked really strong in his first run with an immense upside to become a regular player in the main event.
Unfortunately, WWE ‘mis-booked’ Wyatt over and over again to the point that he had to engage in a nonsensical House of Horror match with Randy Orton in 2017. WWE really botched the character that has the potential to replace the Undertaker in more WrestleManias to come.
His short-lived WWE championship run, entertaining feuds with Broken Matt Hardy and John Cena are perhaps the brightest moments of Wyatt’s career. Sadly, Wyatt turned into one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in WWE’s history. However, we are not closing the book on Wyatt just yet. We have high hopes that WWE creatives will get it right this time with a repackaged Wyatt set for debut soon.
Cesaro, the ½ of the successful tag-team ‘the Bar,’ is the most wasted talent in WWE. This guy has the complete package of wrestling skills, promos and charisma to go all the way to the top, and yet Vince McMahon and his creative crew have kept him locked in the mid-card territory all this time.
Outside his status as a six-time tag-team champion, the Swiss athlete has only the United States championship and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale trophy as his top individual accomplishments in WWE. It’s insane that the promotion never considers Cesaro as a legit main player.
We are willing to bet that he would be a better choice to lead the RAW brand than Roman Reigns if given an intriguing storyline. At 38-year-old, he might have only a few years left before calling it a career. If we were in charge of WWE, we would give this man his due by putting in a title picture as soon as possible. Heck, we are even confident that he would make some magic in a program with Kofi Kingston for the WWE championship strap even if he ends up not winning the title. That’s how good he is.
He has always been a fan favorite despite the mistreatment he experienced in WWE. The dude is walking flesh of charisma from head to toe. Remember when he won the United States championship few years ago? The wrestling world erupted that day as if Shawn Michaels decided to come back from retirement.
If only WWE views him as a top talent. Like everyone on the list, Ryder is another complete wrestler that doesn’t fit the mold set by Vince McMahon. He’s not a big hulking guy like Roman Reigns or a fast, edgy character like Seth Rollins. He’s just, well, Zach Ryder and fans still love him like crazy, even up to this day.
We honestly thought he would be the perfect fit to be Kurt Angle’s kayfabe son, not his former tag-team partner Jason Jordan. In fact, there’s no one on the roster that looks like a spitting image of Angle than Gable, a former Olympian himself.
Now that Jordan is already on WWE’s creative crew and Angle officially retired from in-ring competition, we feel it’s time to Gable shine even more. Nevertheless, in order to transform Gable into a legit main event player, he would need to come out as the winner from the feud with current tag-team partner Bobby Roode and an extensive program with Angle. That’s the only way he would emerge from obscurity.