When many WWE superstars make their main-roster debuts, they make their way to the top of the company almost instantly.
Take, for example, someone like Sheamus, who won the WWE championship within six months of his debut, or Alberto Del Rio, who won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank match and two WWE titles within a year and a half of his. Heck, you can even look at a guy like Ryback, who found himself challenging for the WWE title within six months of being back on the main roster.
For every up-and-coming star who quickly rises up the ranks of WWE, though, there are two or three stars who should do the same thing but don’t.
Exhibit A: Damien Sandow.
Essentially from the moment that Sandow made his debut last April, many fans have wondered when he would make his presence felt in the main event picture. Plenty of fans think it’s inevitable because Sandow has quickly impressed with his promo skills, his gimmick and his all-around talent as a performer.
Yet, roughly a year after his debut, what once seemed like a certainty (Sandow rising to the world title and main event picture) no longer seems like a given anymore.
It’s definitely not because Sandow isn’t talented. After all, anyone who has watched Sandow since his debut or even during his time in FCW can see that the man has all the physical tools to solidify himself as a top guy and become a main eventer down the road.
But the booking of Sandow over the past several months has been rather odd.
Much like many of WWE’s top up-and-coming heels who lose way too often (Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro, etc.), Sandow—whether as a singles competitor or with Cody Rhodes as Team Rhodes Scholars—has gone from someone who was being pushed to a rather directionless star who loses far more often than he wins.
When Sandow first started out in WWE, he did what so many other debuting stars do: squashed jobbers. It was nothing extraordinary and certainly nothing new, but it made Sandow look like he was on the fast track to the main event picture—much like Ryback.
But Sandow’s career has stalled somewhat since the squashes stopped and he formed Team Rhodes Scholars with Rhodes. While Sandow’s tag team with Rhodes has been quite entertaining throughout its run, the duo never managed to win the tag team titles (even though they probably should have) and really aren’t much better off now than they were before the team first formed.
In fact, it's been a bit of a whirlwind ride for Sandow since he first teamed with Rhodes. He’s bounced back and forth between tag team and singles action, and in both roles, he’s failed to participate in many real meaningful feuds or win any major matches.
While it’s not at all surprising to see a heel—no matter how talented he is—be booked like this, it has been disappointing. Sandow is someone who—in the mold of Del Rio or Sheamus—could have benefited from a very strong push upon his debut but hasn’t really gotten one.
Where will Sandow be by this time next year?
Although it’s probably best that Sandow wasn’t rushed to the main event scene too quickly (a la Sheamus), there is a happy medium between being pushed too fast and not being pushed enough. Sandow should have fallen somewhere in the middle of that, but instead, he hasn’t gotten the push that his talent merits.
Naturally, that has many worried that Sandow will never reach the level that many expect him to. Even though I think that he will get there eventually, there is certainly cause for concern.
Sandow is obviously talented, but when you think about the way he’s been booked and how many heels there are in WWE, it doesn’t seem like a given anymore that Sandow will rise to the top of the company. He’s a heel in a company that’s suddenly loaded with them, and it’s going to be really hard for him to rise above the Dolph Zigglers and CM Punks of the world to reach the top.
In a perfect world, WWE would recognize Sandow’s amazing talents, stop with the petty booking of its heels and push Sandow like many think he should be pushed. But as we all know, WWE isn’t exactly a perfect world.
Ten months ago, Sandow seemed to have a very clear path to the top of WWE.
But today, it’s still bright—just a little foggy.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!