WWE Midcard: The Case for Pushing Heath Slater
Heath Slater has, for a while, probably been the most underrated and over-hated star on the roster. The reasons mainly boil down to the fact he's got red hair, and I suppose some people find that funny.
In all seriousness, though, the former FCW champion brings a lot more to the table than just the classical ginger look.
Heath Slater is a student of the game, and by that I mean he's someone who has an ever-changing moveset with moves that fit and don't quite fit (but look all the more impressive for it) his look, and I believe the WWE is wasting an opportune time to create a new midcard star.
Now, I'm writing this for two reasons. One, I'm a fan of The One Man (Southern) Rock Band. Have been since the original Nexus was alive. And two, I'm noticing a lot of Slater on my television in recent weeks. Granted he's jobbing, but he does his job well, so what can you do?
That said, there's more that can be done with Slater if only the WWE would look to capitalize on it.
You wouldn't know it if you've watched for the past few months because Slater hasn't had a lot of matches on television. That said, for those of us who got to see him progress through NXT, RAW, and Smackdown it's apparent that there's something about Slater in the ring that's innately impressive.
From the way he throws his punches to his kicks, to his patented neckbreaker, I honestly think Slater is one of the smoothest in-ring competitors in the WWE today on par with some of the IWC favorites like Dolph Ziggler. A good thing about him is Slater can be pretty stiff when he wants to as well.
Slater is a former Three-time WWE Tag Team Champion with Justin Gabriel and during his time as Champion, Slater showed he can go not just as a singles guy, but in a tag team as well.
Honestly, Slater's got a lot of moves to show off in the ring. Neckbreakers, Spine Busters, DDTs, etc. and each one looks as good as the move following it. Don't believe me? Then check him out against Trent Barreta on NXT.
If you can't talk, WWE doesn't make a habit of giving you a microphone. That said, they seem fine in doing just that to Slater and letting this young man speak and while his accent detracts from it, I'd say he's a good talker for the midcard.
I know some people have cited his voice as annoying, but that could very well be what he's shooting for. If that's the case then it's safe to say Slater is smart enough to know where he wants to go with his character and how to get there.
Heath is no Rock, but would anyone think twice about a mic battle between Santino and Slater? Kingston and Slater? I mean, it's not like it would take a lot to make him a prominent fixture in the midcard on SmackDown anyway, considering how thin the division is.
Before turning heel as a member of The Nexus, Slater was a face on NXT:1 and was well received for the most part, which leads me to think that Slater, while playing the heel role well enough, could also pass for a face if need be.
Slater is often criticized for his look, but he could use it to his advantage to get the crowd behind him by using the simple trick of laughing WITH people that laugh at you. People make fun of him for being a ginger, so why not join in on the fun and make a joke at your own expense. Eventually, the audience begins to look past the outward appearance, you can show a bit more humor on the mic, and people can become invested in you, and who's to say Slater couldn't be viewed as a hero to gingers worldwide...probably pushing it a bit their, but you never know.
The WWE roster is getting pretty thin as of late, so I think it's about time we push some of the undercard and their are few people in the undercard more deserving than Heath Slater, and the best thing about his placement is that he'd make a great addition to the midcard title scene on SmackDown (or RAW).
On the flipside, considering Slater is a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion, it's also very easy to call him a tag team specialist. Something that would allow the WWE to push not one, but two individuals (or if I had my way, just pair Gabriel and Slater back up,) into prominence. It worked for the Prime Time Players at least.
I could see a heel Slater feuding with someone like Santino (who he's had some interaction with in the past,) Ted DiBiase, or Zack Ryder just to name a few. Even Christian if he does well enough.
Or if WWE chose to turn him face, he could feud with the likes of Antonio Cesaro (who's in need of something to do,) Hunico, David Otunga, among others.
And as for tag team partners, I could see Slater teaming with the likes of Christian or Barretta as a face. Alex Riley could also work. As a heel, Jack Swagger is the only person that comes to mind, though Trent could easily turn heel.
Currently, Heath plays good in a humorous role but I think WWE could do more with The One Man Rock Band. Considering the WWE has become more injury prone in the last couple months, I honestly don't think it would be a bad move to push Heath. At the very least, the man can get a pretty good (heel-wise) reaction.
To show just how good he is, I leave you with one of my favorite matches featuring Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel going two-on-two with Jimmy and Jey Uso. These two teams honestly tore it up for awhile in a series of encounters and I think this was one of their better matches. Well-paced, evenly matched, and interesting from beginning to end.