How The 8 Released Superstars Could’ve Been Used
I speculated a few months ago about which Superstars would be released this year. It’s an inevitable part of the wrestling calendar, and with independent stars being snapped up, the NXT ranks swelling, and the call ups coming thick and fast, there’s not much room on the roster for dead weight. The latest bunch to join the queue for unemployment benefits will be joined by former colleagues before the turn of the year *cough* Ryback *cough*, but with some decent writing and storytelling by creative there could certainly have been a place for everyone on the list to claim social welfare payments.
Barrett’s grievances with the company have been well publicised, and although there are men better than him between the ropes, the big Brit kind of had a point. He’s a decorated mid card champion and, thanks to his promo skills, could’ve stepped up a notch given some actual dedication to character. For no reason other than pure apathy, WWE had Barrett flip gimmicks and pushes like an overzealous pancake chef. You’d think winning the King Of The Ring would have given the Bull Hammer wielder some sort of elevation, but these days, being laden with a crown and sceptre is more of a hinderance than a help. What’s most baffling is that the Bad News Barrett gimmick was entirely ignored. It was entertaining as hell, and gave Barrett a well needed catchphrase that could’ve really taken off. If Wade had stuck around, having the League Of Nations turn on him and repeatedly beat him down, combined with some decent promo work, could’ve built him back up as a babyface. Reverting to the Bad News gimmick and bringing up some face NXT recruits a la Apollo Crews or even Big Cass and Enzo to aid him in his quest against the Lads would’ve been a whole ton of fun. From there, there’s no reason he couldn’t have gone on to bigger and better things. Well, there are reasons, and their names are Ambrose, Owens, Zayn etc.
I had absolutely no idea Santino was even still employed by the company. He announced his retirement almost two years ago and had only made a handful of appearances since, so to see his name on the list of releases was particularly shocking, considering in my mind he’d already been let go. Now I’ve no doubt that the Milan Miracle splits opinion, but holy melted mozzarella, the guy was funny as hell. It’s not often I laugh out loud during WWE segments, but Marella could make me lol coffee out of my face. His mispronunciation of words, his incredible comedic physicality, his facial expressions, his overall idiocy… He put the ‘entertainment’ in ‘sports entertainment’. There’s a place for comedy wrestling in today’s product and Santino was a purveyor of it. Presuming his injury and subsequent retirement keep him from the ring permanently, the master of the Cobra would be a hugely compelling manager. Providing bumbling encouragement to wrestlers lower down the card would utilise his skills immensely. Imagine him being put with a heel who hated him. Genius.
Zeb’s alliance with Alberto Del Rio was absolutely ridiculous. His entire schtick with Jack Swagger revolved around him being a xenophobe and hating predominately on Mexicans. A moustachioed Donald Trump, if you will. Then on his return, Coulter aligns with a Mexican to set up the glorious nation of MexAmerica. That’s if “glorious” means “endlessly stupid and ignorant of your own programming”. Regardless of a union about as successful as a Shockmaster entrance, Coulter still has value on the mic, and with the right pairing could really aid an up and comer like Baron Corbin, or even a flailing lower card like a repackaged and frustrated Titus O’Neil.
There is absolutely no use for this woman on the roster beyond being a dancer. She was great at that. And her catchphrases on Total Divas. That’s it. At least Eva Marie gets heat.
With Los Matadores re-debuting as part of the Puerto Rico Tourism Board, there’s no room for a little guy dressed as a bull. The Colon cousins are underrated workers, but it’s saying a lot that more often than not it was El Torito who got the pop during their matches. He’s a solid worker, and had the hilariously awful Smackdown Juniors Division still been kicking around, he’d be top of the pecking order. As it stands, El Torito is out of the company, but there’s one very clear and obvious gimmick he could’ve garnered a massive reaction for… If New Day introduced him as their unicorn mascot, the crowd would go absolutely bananas. El Unicornio, the fourth member of New Day. My head is spinning with glee.
The second little person on the list, it seems harsh that Mr McMahon would fire his own son and former Anonymous General Manager of Raw. Hornswoggle had a bewilderingly long WWE career so it’s remarkable he was still employed up until this week. Despite being the last reigning Cruiserweight Title holder, he couldn’t exactly wrestle when compared with the likes of El Torito. He was predominantly exploited as nuisance, leprechaun or elf, and in these modern times the latter two are probably considered un-PC. Hell, with Finlay he was known as Little Bastard, which, in honesty, is priceless. As for how he could be used now, let’s face it, he should clearly be in the running with brother Shane and sister Stephanie for control of Raw. He already has the experience as former GM for christ’s sake.
Who remembers when Riley accompanied the Miz during his main event days? Ah, memories. Following the surprisingly enjoyable feud with his mentor, Riley dropped off the radar like a stealth submarine. He found himself commentating on NXT in a role he was well suited to, but decided to get back into competition as fodder for Kevin Owens. What an ill fated move that turned out to be. He’s now in that weird position of not being employed any more despite having a match left to air (see Bull Dempsey), but after getting super jacked after his initial main roster run, Riley looked the part. Weird final backstage promo apart, he could’ve been a solid heel on Wednesday nights, feuding with all the newcomers to the promotion and citing being overlooked as his motivation to beat them all up. Alas, it was not to be.
I’m so sad about this one, I could go all Ric Flair and cry my eyes out non-stop. I predicted it, but that makes it no less devastating. Sandow epitomised the idea of turning crap into gold. Ritually punished for no apparent reason whatsoever, The Saviour Of The Masses got over in roles he had absolutely no right to. Having seen Damien Mizdow live, the crowd reaction was deafening. He committed to mimicking the action in the ring like a wrestling version of Daniel Day Lewis. It was comical, artistic and beautiful, and it pissed Miz off no end which made it all the more relishable. Sandow could so easily be in the US or Intercontinental Title pictures, but having been wildly misused it shouldn’t come as a shock he’s decided to part ways with WWE. He’ll be a star of the indy’s, but we’ll all be left to wonder what could’ve been.
Tags: Alex Riley, Break The Walls Down, Cameron, Damien Sandow, El Torito, Hornswoggle, King Barrett, NXT, Santino Marella, WWE, Zeb Coulter