WWE has a problem. The company currently offers six hours of prime-time television every week, and ratings are down. How far down? Since Raw went to three hours, ratings have steadily declined, and now rest at historic lows.
The problem, aside from possible overkill, is that WWE isn't making use of its entire talent roster. While it's good business to focus more attention on the top of the card than the bottom, it's also important to make new stars as often as possible. As the current headliners leave the company, become stale, get injured or simply age out, there have to be replacements standing by.
WWE has begun attempting to make some new stars. Newcomers Ryback and The Shield have gotten monster pushes out of the gate. Other wrestlers, such as The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow and R-Truth have visited the main-event scene from time to time. It's a good start.
However, there are a number of talented workers on WWE's roster that don't see much, if any, time on television. WWE would do well to give these guys some screen exposure. If nothing else, it would cut down on appearances by Great Khali and Hornswoggle.
Here's a list of 15 WWE superstars who are currently Missing In Action (MIA).
Tensai only gets an honorable mention here because he still gets the occasional match on Raw or SmackDown. What's gone MIA for the former Prince Albert is his push.
When Tensai first returned to WWE, he was positioned as a monster heel. He even picked up wins over John Cena, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. For some reason, the WWE creative team soured on his act, and he began to job to the likes of Brodus Clay and Tyson Kidd.
Toward the end of his push, Tensai's gimmick was to lose a match, and then take out his frustrations on his valet, Sakamoto. Maybe WWE should bring the valet back, and start a feud between Tensai and his footman.
In Japan, "Tensai" means natural disaster. So far, the biggest disaster has been Matt Bloom's lack of impact on the WWE since his return.
Unlike Tensai, Yoshi Tatsu is a Japanese import that never really got a push in WWE.
Instead of developing a personality, or becoming involved in any significant feuds, Tatsu has been fodder for squash matches almost constantly since his debut.
WWE must see something in Yoshi. Otherwise, why keep him on the roster? Perhaps Tatsu could be teamed with Tensai to form a Far East-themed tag team.
Otherwise, Tatsu would fare well in a cruiserweight scenario. Rumors have circulated that WWE is considering a cruiserweight-only show for it's still-not-on-the-air television network.
Maybe Yoshi should pray for Vince McMahon and Co. to get their network off the ground. It may be his only chance to change his fate.
While JTG has had a few brief runs on WWE TV, most notably as half of the Cryme Tyme tag team, he's spent most of his time exiled to NXT or off TV altogether.
Currently, JTG is supposedly rehabbing a rotator-cuff injury. While he may have injured his arm at some point, he's been missing longer than most workers would be with that type of injury.
JTG needs a new gimmick. He could feud with R-Truth, citing his disgust at Truth's infatuation with an imaginary friend. There's also the possibility of a match with US Champion Antonio Cesaro, who boldly proclaims that no American can beat him for the title. If nothing else, there's always the tag team division.
JTG has solid mat skills, and he can work the mic effectively enough to get some TV time. He needs repackaging in the worst way.
Derrick Bateman is one of several wrestlers on this list that fell into the dark pit of NXT and simply never really re-emerged. He's currently rehabbing a knee injury, but his prospects for a push when he comes back seem dim.
Bateman's biggest problem is that there really isn't anything about him that stands out. He has a John Morrison-type body, but not the parkour skills to go with it. He reminds some of Dolph Ziggler, personality-wise, but doesn't have nearly the same talent on the mic, nor in the ring.
Bateman needs an angle. WWE's creative team needs to think of something to make him stand out from the crowd, or he'll eventually end up as one of those guys that never really made an impact.
Perhaps Bateman could join The Shield, or start a faction to oppose the WWE's latest group of NXT refugees. There's potential in Derrick Bateman. Somebody needs to find a way to utilize it.
Camacho had a brief run in the tag team division with Hunico, and the two seemed as if they might be able to make a dent in the tag team scene. However, neither man has been heard from lately, and maybe it's time to split them up and give them a shot at singles glory.
If Camacho and Hunico can't get back into the mix in the newly-revitalized WWE tag team division, maybe Hunico could get some run as Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard.
Del Rio's act is growing a bit stale lately. The best part of his gimmick is his ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. If the Mexican aristocrat were to add a bodyguard to the mix, maybe Camacho and Rodriguez could eventually feud over Del Rio's attention.
Alex Riley hasn't been seen in WWE since September, when he tweeted that he'd be out of action for a while for elbow and knee surgery. As is the case with a few guys on this list, Riley's departure from significant TV time preceded his injuries.
Riley has a good look, and very solid mic skills. When he returns, a feud with a babyface Miz would be a natural. Riley's first exposure on the main WWE programs was as Miz's lackey, and the two had a brief feud before Riley disappeared.
Having him come back bent on revenge would be a good way to re-introduce Riley. Since Miz is doing well with his babyface turn, Riley would have to come back as a heel. That suits him well, as his Varsity Villain persona was his strongest character thus far.
First came the many video vignettes. Then came....the end of the many video vignettes. What in the world happened to Fandango? WWE could use a ballroom dancer right about now.
There's been no explanation as to why Johnny Curtis' new character hasn't made a TV debut yet. Usually, the video packages come just before a star is introduced, not before he disappears.
Maybe WWE's legal department is in a dispute with a certain web site that sells movie tickets. They've lost these web site battles before...
Even though I'm not sold on the idea of a ballroom dancer as a WWE superstar, I'm willing to give Fandango a chance. Hopefully, somebody in WWE feels the same way.
Percy Watson was one of those rare NXT wrestlers that seemed to come with a built-in gimmick. He wasn't the standout of his initial season on the show, but his big glasses and his mic work at least gave him something of a hook.
Watson made a few appearances on SmackDown, and then returned to NXT, never to be seen again. He has decent in-ring ability and is better than average on the mic. Maybe he could return as a manager for The Prime Time Players or some other WWE tag team.
Otherwise, maybe Watson could join up with Bateman and some other NXT alums to face off with The Shield. There's too much potential in Percy Watson to relegate him to Hulu Plus for the rest of his WWE career.
As previously mentioned, Hunico made his biggest WWE impact as part of a tag team with his friend Camacho. Since then, he's mostly disappeared from the scene.
Hunico also had a run as Sin Cara, when the original masked man was serving out a suspension for a violation of WWE's Wellness Policy. When the original Sin Cara came back as Sin Cara Azul, Hunico briefly feuded with him as Sin Cara Negro.
It might be time to revisit that feud. Hunico could go after Sin Cara individually, or could re-emerge with Camacho, and go after Sin Cara and his current tag team partner, Rey Mysterio.
Hunico has excellent in-ring skills, and should be utilized in some way by WWE. If he and Camacho can't come back as a tag team, Hunico needs to establish some singles rivalries and demonstrate why he was a star in Mexico.
Do you remember The Dudebusters? That's the point. Neither does anybody else. At one time, Trent Barreta was a member of this tag team along with Caylen Croft (and briefly, Curt Hawkins). The two were like Bill and Ted having an Excellent WWE Adventure.
The Dudebusters spent some time battling with some of the more high-profile tag teams in the WWE during their run on the main roster. Then, in 2010, Croft was released by the company, and Barreta has been MIA ever since.
Since Trent is a tag team specialist, maybe a reunion with Curt Hawkins would be in order. WWE is revitalizing its tag team division, and needs as many pairs as it can get. There's no reason that Barreta couldn't find himself a partner and get back on television.
Speaking of tag team specialists, Curt Hawkins is overdue for another run on WWE TV. Currently nursing a knee injury, Hawkins is the ultimate tag team wrestler. His return could help keep the momentum of WWE's tag division moving in the right direction.
In the course of his WWE career, Hawkins, as Brian Major has teamed with Brett Major (later becoming Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder), to win the tag titles. He's also been paired with Vance Archer and Tyler Reks. All of these teams had at least some success in WWE.
WWE needs to find Hawkins a partner, any partner, and get him back on TV.
Michael McGillicutty had a run on the second season of NXT, and a brief run on the main roster as a member of Nexus. He even spent some time as half of the WWE Tag Team Champions.
The problem with McGillicutty is that he's Joe Hennig, and has spent his entire career trying to avoid letting anyone know. McGillicutty is the son of former WWE legend Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) and the grandson of AWA legend Larry "The Axe" Hennig. Instead of trying to hide this from audiences, he needs to embrace his heritage and use his lineage to his advantage.
WWE should repackage McGillicutty as Perfect 2.0 and get him on television. He would have built-in rivalries with any of the other "legacy" stars in WWE. He could do worse than to hang out with Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase.
Mason Ryan is another wrestler who debuted to much fanfare, and then summarily disappeared from the WWE scene. Ryan debuted as part of the New Nexus, under the tutelage of CM Punk. He was the muscle of the group, but was lost in the shuffle when it disbanded.
Ryan has an incredible build. He was featured as "Goliath" on American Gladiators, and provides a threatening presence in the ring. He would be excellent as a foil for current WWE hotshot Ryback. The two could have pose downs and some amazing physical matches.
It also helps that Ryan looks very much like former WWE Champion Batista. If Vince doesn't want to pay the huge amount that it would take to bring back "The Animal," he could have another version of the same thing for a fraction of the cost.
Ted DiBiase seemed to be a big part of WWE's plans as recently as two years ago. His rise started as part of the Legacy stable, along with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. While the other two have continued to make a mark in WWE, the son of "The Million Dollar Man" has largely been MIA.
DiBiase has good in-ring skills, and has done some solid mic work as a heel. He could easily turn face, as he seemed to be doing before his latest injury sidelined him.
Maybe the best use of DiBiase would be to have him tag with Michael McGillicutty, and form a new Legacy stable. They could feud with Orton, Rhodes, Rock, the Uso Brothers or just about anyone with WWE lineage.
At one time, Ezekiel Jackson seemed to be on the fast track to WWE superstardom. He was the last ECW Champion, and held the Intercontinental belt for a while, as well.
He became part of Wade Barrett's Corre faction, and then got injured. He hasn't returned, and is still apparently recovering from what WWE lists as "upper body injuries."
Jackson could fill a valuable role in WWE. As a powerhouse, he could be positioned as a heel to face the likes of Ryback and Sheamus. As a babyface, he could work against The Big Show or renew his conflict with Barrett.
There aren't many men on the planet with a physique like "Zeke." WWE needs to find a way to use that great look to its advantage.
For the life of me, I can't figure out what went wrong with Jack Swagger in the WWE. He has fantastic mat skills, a killer look, and impeccable amateur credentials. He is passable, and was improving, on the mic, and got good heel reactions wherever he went.
Then, suddenly, Swagger faded into the background. He was linked with Michael Cole, which didn't really help "The All-American American," and later hitched his wagon to Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler, only to get left in the dust.
Swagger has great size, like Sheamus. He has fantastic ring skills, like Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan. He has at least as much personality as Ryback and The Big Show. Swagger could even make a babyface turn and challenge Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship. Who better to take on the man that boasts that no American can beat him?
What is keeping WWE from pushing Swagger up the card? Part of me wonders if it's got something to do with the fact that he was discovered by Jim Ross. Call me a conspiracy theorist.
That's my list of 15 MIA WWE superstars. Did I miss anyone who needs to be on TV? Are any of these guys better off being "future endeavored?" Make yourself heard in the comments section.