My previous article looked at the keys for repackaging a WWE Superstar. Among successful projects, the three common elements were youth, talent and programming.
Looking through the active roster, a number of wrestlers are underexposed, underappreciated and misused.
Here are five WWE Superstars who need to be repackaged immediately.
At 25 years old, Australian wrestler Tenille Dashwood is the youngest candidate for repackaging. Currently, she performs on WWE television as Emma.
Emma began in WWE Developmental in August 2012. At the beginning of 2014, Emma was called up to the main roster and paired with Santino Marella. Television viewers were subjected to numerous dance contests and mixed tag matches as Emma and Santino Marella battled Summer Rae and Fandango.
Then things got really bumpy.
First, there was an incident involving "misdemeanor larceny in the sixth degree" as Dashwood was arrested for allegedly shoplifting an iPad mini case from Walmart, per TMZ.com. On July 2, Emma was temporarily released by the WWE before cooler heads prevailed. Hours later she was reinstated by WWE.
Only a few days later, Marella announced his retirement. With Marella's departure, Emma lost her on-screen love interest and in-ring wrestling partner.
It's been a tumultuous summer, and Emma has been floundering.
Her television appearances have been mostly relegated to WWE Superstars (feuding with Alicia Fox) or quick losses to Paige on SmackDown.
It's important to remember that Emma's bubbly character and wacky dance moves connected with the audience in NXT. She clearly has charisma and wrestling ability. However, her abrupt introduction and klutzy persona didn't click on Raw and SmackDown.
It's time to repackage Dashwood.
Perhaps this requires acknowledging the legal drama. They could lean into the real-life events with a wink to the audience. With WWE's comedy face (Marella) out of the picture and another wrestler (Fandango) with the dancing gimmick, it's time to take Tenille Dashwood's wrestling character in a completely new direction.
As one of many graduates from Lance Storm's Calgary wrestling academy who is now on the WWE roster, she could be part of an international stable of Storm Academy graduates. Other candidates would include NXT performers such as Frenchman Sylvester Lefort and Canadian Tyler Breeze.
With a limited number of television segments devoted to women's wrestling, Dashwood needs to get paired with a group of male wrestlers. Otherwise, it's tough to compete with the cast of Total Divas for TV time.
Big E Langston initially debuted on WWE television alongside AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler in December 2012. After a split from AJ and Ziggler, Langston turned face and won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Curtis Axel in November 2013. In early 2014, his name was shortened to just "Big E" (similar to Cesaro and Rusev), and he lost his title to Bad News Barrett at Extreme Rules.
In recent months, the former power lifting champion seems rudderless. He lacks direction or purpose. Following a makeshift feud with Rusev (which he soundly lost) and start-stop faction with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, Big E is now languishing.
Keep in mind that Big E is only 28 years old. As a young, talented and very capable wrestler, WWE should be doing more with him. He's charming and possesses exceptional agility, power and quick wit.
Big E needs to stand out. One of the easiest fixes would be for Big E to adopt his NXT persona.
In NXT, Big E demands a "five count" when he pins his opponents. It's effective way to demonstrate how dominant he can be. It's also quite reminiscent of King Kong Bundy.
Certainly bringing back a wrestling trick from yesteryear has its advantages. As Jim Ross quipped on his website, "What's old can always become new again."
It can be hard to believe that after eight years wrestling on the main roster, Zack Ryder is only 29 years old. Originally one half of the Major Brothers (alongside Curt Hawkins), the pair became "Edge Heads" as part of the "Rated-R Entourage" in 2008. Ryder transformed into the familiar Long Island "woo woo woo" guy beginning in 2009.
It's been five years since then. Zack has introduced his "Internet championship" to WWE television and created the popular YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story. Still, Ryder's main role on television is just padding records of monsters like Rusev and being a perennial makeshift tag partner for other lower-card talent.
It's time to transform this stale WWE character. Ryder needs a new direction and an ultimatum.
Recently, a facet of his personality that has been explored is his passion for toy collecting. For instance, this year he appeared on Travel Channel's Toy Hunter. A repackaged Ryder might involve giving him a "collector" gimmick where he's out to capture the most exotic treasures (championships?) in the WWE.
While a wily veteran in the WWE, he's still young enough for a new direction in his career. Hopefully before his tenure in WWE is finished, the company will find a way to capitalize on his natural charisma and talent for connecting with his Internet fanbase.
South African wrestler Paul Lloyd Jr. joined WWE Developmental in 2008. He debuted on the first season of WWE NXT as Justin Gabriel with Matt Hardy as his mentor. As the son of a wrestling promoter and a former model, Gabriel has a combination of high-flying skills and good looks that seems like a surefire hit.
However, besides stints in the Nexus and the Corre, Gabriel's experience in the WWE has been unexceptional. He appears mostly on peripheral WWE programming such as Main Event and Superstars. Gabriel has spent several years struggling to remain relevant. Promising tag teams such as his pairing with Tyson Kidd was cut short due to injuries to his partner.
At 33 years old, soon Justin Gabriel will no longer be considered a young wrestler in the WWE. It's now or never. He certainly has the talent, but it's unclear whether WWE would bother investing the effort in rebooting and rebranding him.
In another age, Gabriel would have been a star competitor in a light heavyweight division. Sadly, WWE retired the cruiserweight title in September 2007 with Hornswoggle. Right now, it seems unlikely the company will be resurrecting that division.
Instead, Gabriel's rebirth could coincide with the addition of new acrobatic performers to the main roster from NXT. He'll shine on WWE television wrestling against Adrian Neville, Kalisto and Sami Zayn. Alternatively, perhaps it's time to form an alliance with fellow South African wrestler Adam Rose and venture further in a new direction.
At 40 years old, Christian can't be considered a young pup in the WWE.
Christian has had a storied career in WWE. He won prestigious titles in both tag team and singles competition. He should be proud of his legendary tag team with Edge (1999-2001) and his championship reigns as the ECW world heavyweight champion (2009) and WWE world heavyweight champion (2011).
It's time for Christian to transition to a new role.
In recent months, Christian's main role has been on pre-show pay-per-view commentary. It's clear that he has a gift for gab, and he should be doing more than just appearing on the WWE Network before NXT Takeover.
While Christian's current medical condition may prevent him from being an active in-ring competitor, that should not preclude him from being able to contribute meaningfully to the weekly television product.
Christian should become a manager in the WWE. He could give quite a rub to younger wrestlers.
Zeb Colter and Paul Heyman have proved that it's still possible to enhance the WWE product through the judicious use of a talented performer in the managerial role.
It's silly to waste Christian's experience and promo skills. He ought to be hosting "Peep Show" segments on Raw and SmackDown. He should be building a stable of young and hungry wrestlers. Maybe it's time to use his national pride and create a stable of talented Canadians.
We'll have to see. In the June 2, 2014 issue of the Wrestling Observer newsletter (subscription required), editor Dave Meltzer reported that there was talk of hiring Christian as a "product/agent" when his contract expires. Whether Christian transitioned to a new on-screen or behind-the-scenes role, it's clear that the WWE would benefit from having his experience and skills at WWE television.
In the end, it's not just about repackaging a wrestler. Success depends on programming these new characters with top talent and having competitive matches.
Right now wrestlers such as Emma, Big E, Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel are languishing. They're directionless. Their characters have become stale. It's time to spice things up and reboot these characters. It's more than just a name change. It's a complete overhaul.
There are plenty of potential angles for this talented bunch. Hopefully, they won't just be released in the next round of budget cuts.
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