For WWE Superstars like Kofi Kingston, their stagnant character is causing their wheels to spin.
While new prospects develop their fanbase and rising stars grow in popularity, Kingston, Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel and Damien Sandow are either struggling to get on TV or struggling to string together wins. Blame much of that on one-dimensional characters.
They are all highly talented wrestlers in need of a gimmick change to elevate them.
Husky Harris failed to stay on the main roster. After becoming Bray Wyatt, he battled John Cena in a high-profile match at WrestleMania 30. Mike Dalton was making a minimal impression in WWE developmental before becoming Tyler Breeze.
The following Superstars don't necessarily need as drastic a makeover as those men received, but they need new elements to their characters or will struggle to advance from where they are now.
Apart from a brief departure during a feud with Randy Orton in 2009, Kingston has mostly been the same character for his entire WWE run—the unassuming, nice guy with a charming smile.
This role doesn't give him much to work with during feuds and storylines. While Kane can explore his complex, damaged psyche and Dolph Ziggler can venture deep into his own frustrations, Kingston is forced to stand still.
The result is that he comes of as normal in a world of larger-than-life characters.
He's more Rocky Maivia than The Rock, placating to the fans, but not compelling them. Kingston doesn't need a heel turn to solve this as much as he needs a deepening of his character.
The audience needs to see new personality elements. More fieriness would help him, as would more backstory.
WWE has shared its own retelling of Daniel Bryan's path to success, but we know far less about Kingston. Whether the company paints "The Wildcat" as a family man a la Ricky Steamboat, reveals his training methods or aids his character with a sense of desperation, there needs to be an added layer to who he is.
Spectacular athletic ability and memorable Battle Royal spots can only take him so far.
When the WWE creative team puts together an episode of Raw or SmackDown, it often leaves Kidd out. After the champions, tag teams and Divas get their airtime, there's no room for Kidd.
That's not because of his in-ring ability. He's an impressive ring worker. It's more about the difficulty of inserting someone with such a lack of character into marquee storylines.
Other than his Hart family lineage, the audience knows very little about Kidd.
Ziggler is the cocky show-off, Miz the braggart and Dean Ambrose the wild-swinging nutjob. Who is Kidd exactly?
He needs more to his gimmick, more obvious character traits and a catchphrase or two to provide a way for him to better connect with the crowd. Otherwise, it's all too easy to keep him on the bench while letting more outlandish Superstars get their time on stage.
It's something WWE has reportedly been considering.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via PW Mania) reports that "WWE officials have been talking about possibly repackaging Tyson Kidd." That is the absolute right move.
Rey Mysterio said of Kidd in an interview with Sky Sports, "He hasn't really been given the opportunity, but when he gets it he will blow people's minds."
That opportunity won't come without a character change. There's a reason Evan Bourne has been a healthy scratch for months while Los Matadores keep getting matches. WWE doesn't need to turn Kidd into something ridiculous, but it has to have him stand out somehow.
Gabriel is suffering from the same issue that Kidd is. He can't seem to get on TV much these days, likely a result of WWE not knowing how to sell him to fans.
Being a high-flyer is exciting, but the audience demands more than that. The Usos' athleticism is part of a bigger package that includes their pre-match war dance and latest portrayal as gutsy, determined warriors.
WWE tried to give Gabriel the gimmick of being a thrill-seeker.
Announcers spoke about his love for skydiving, bungee-jumping and the like. The problem was that those aren't things Gabriel could do in the ring. WWE could, however, have him be the next Rob Van Dam or Jeff Hardy, two wrestlers who were willing to do anything to their bodies in order to win.
That's an element the company can start with, but there needs to be more.
Both of those Superstars had far more of a chance to show off their personalities. Gabriel has been often used as Battle Royal filler and the faceless victim.
Sandow has become a frustrated, scaled-down version of what he once was. Losing his Money in the Bank opportunity inspired him to be more angry than pompous, but WWE hasn't gone far enough with the transformation.
He hasn't done any heinous acts or torn apart the backstage area during his downward spiral.
When Bryan became filled with anger, he ended up having to go to anger management classes. Brock Lesnar broke chairs over Big Show's back, Christian attacked Sheamus backstage, while Sandow hasn't had his heel highlight as of late.
Sandow has just traded his shirt for a black one and lost just about every match he's been in recently. It's too understated of a change. WWE needs to either let the man go insane in front of us or have him go back to what worked best.
This current version of his character comes off as watered down.
He was at his most compelling when he held the mic like a wine glass, called everyone mouth-breathers and searched in vain for an apprentice. Having him revert back to his old self would allow him to use his mic skills more efficiently.
The old Sandow made folks laugh and irritated the crowd. The latest model is blander and less powerful. One has to go back several months to find a standout Sandow moment.
He, like Kingston, Gabriel and Kidd, can go from middling members of the roster to stars demanding our attention with character makeover.
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