Over the past few years, WWE's ultra-thick glass ceiling has prevented numerous young and talented superstars from rising to the top and getting over with fans as true main-event players.
Erratic stop-start pushes, backstage politics and on-air burials are all factors that make a paranoid, stifling working environment. It is virtually impossible for any new stars to reach the next plateau.
The result of all this has been, unsurprisingly, a main-event scene that feels stale, repetitive and woefully dull. Come on, just how many times do we need to see John Cena feud with CM Punk? Or Sheamus take on Alberto Del Rio?
No wonder ratings are down (via Wade Keller of Pro Wrestling Torch). The product is so frustratingly stagnant with the company seemingly having nothing new to offer.
We reckon things desperately need freshened up so, with this in mind, here are seven under-utilized wrestlers who deserve a shot at their brand's top belt.
While WWE management seems more comfortable placing Rey Mysterio in a midcard spot—he’s currently teaming with Sin Cara in the company’s revitalised tag team division—we reckon Rey’s popularity should allow him to have one more run on top.
Indeed, there is a great deal of potential in a CM Punk/Rey feud over the WWE Championship—both are great talkers and could likely churn out amazing matches if given the chance.
With his great in-ring performances, superb mic work and an amusing new talk show, Miz TV, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has established himself as one of the company’s best heels in recent months.
He has proven to management that he’s worth considering for another run on top. Certainly, a Miz/Sheamus feud on SmackDown over the World Heavyweight Championship sounds like a fun and entertaining program that could make the blue brand worth watching again.
One pleasant surprise in 2012 is how former Ring of Honor star Daniel Bryan has emerged as WWE’s most entertaining character.
His catchphrase (“Yes! Yes! Yes!”) has caught on massively with the fans. He does the funniest promos around, his wrestling is top-notch and his new team with Kane—the highly dysfunctional Team Hell No—is single-handedly reviving the once-stagnant tag team division.
With this in mind, management should reward Bryan’s hard work by giving him a shot at either Punk’s WWE Championship or Sheamus’ World Heavyweight Championship.
No doubt the fans, whose strong support has single-handedly turned the heelish Bryan babyface, would love to see it, too.
Since returning to WWE two months ago, former Nexus leader Wade Barrett has shown previously unseen personality and charisma with his new Fight Club-style babyface character.
With his new look and new attitude, he's really catching on in popularity with the fans. So much so, we think that management should consider him for a run at CM Punk's WWE Championship, when Punk is finished dealing with Ryback and John Cena.
While Sin Cara has had a patchy couple of years, the former Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) worker seemed to have finally adjusted to the WWE style.
He is well on his way to becoming one of the company’s next big babyface stars, partly thanks to his new tag team with Rey Mysterio. He just needs a little extra shove. Perhaps a title shot—and potential run—could help get the masked star to the next plateau?
While his newly formed tag team with Damien Sandow has a tremendous amount of potential, we'd still like to see former Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes mixing up in the main event scene instead.
Indeed, with his natural charisma, promo ability and entertaining heel character, he really should be challenging for a world title on either Raw or SmackDown
Despite his non-existent push on WWE television in recent times, YouTube icon and former United States champion Zack Ryder remains hugely over with fans in the arenas wherever he goes. They don't care how marginalized and under-appreciated he is by the company, they adore him anyway.
So maybe it's time the company listened to its fanbase and gave the charismatic star a title shot against CM Punk on Raw? He wouldn't win, of course (it's way too soon in Ryder's career for that), but such a storyline would surely heighten his profile and help revive his struggling career.