WWE Battleground 2017: Overlooked and Underused Stars Who Deserve Big PPV Moment
Sunday night, SmackDown Live will present its Battleground pay-per-view, live from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. A raucous, wild, rabid fan base will welcome Superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens for what has the potential to be a strong show—surprisingly so given some of the questionable booking decisions and lack of legitimate heat surrounding the card.
Those booking decisions have prevented some of the most deserving stars from earning a place on the show.
They are underused and overlooked, their talents wasted as they watch from the sidelines while others showcase their abilities on WWE Network.
One is a champion; another is a beloved babyface from NXT. There are two immensely entertaining tag teams and, arguably, the most underrated big man to lace a pair of boots in the last decade.
For a number of different reasons, they continue to suffer from a lack of creative direction at a time when SmackDown Live should be replicating Raw's determination to create intriguing and compelling stories for its talent up and down the roster.
Since his main roster debut just 48 hours after WrestleMania 33, "The Perfect 10" Tye Dillinger has wandered aimlessly throughout the undercard of SmackDown Live, the support of the fans apparently not enough to earn the support of WWE Creative.
Dillinger is a beloved babyface, the type of performer fans desperately want to throw their support behind. Why, then, can WWE management not find something better or more effective for him to do than square off with Aiden English in the opening match of live events or job for Jinder Mahal on free television?
Is there not a rivalry that can best support his talents that would keep him busy and in front of the WWE Universe?
A hard-working veteran whose relationship with the WWE dates back over a decade to his time spent in developmental, Dillinger has put in the time and effort. He got himself over when there was little attention shown him by those in charge in NXT.
Dillinger has weathered the storm, is immensely over and is in need of just one opportunity to prove his worth to those in charge on Tuesday nights.
A spot on the Battleground pay-per-view would be just the opportunity he deserves.
Unfortunately, it does not look like he fits anywhere, except across the ring from English in what would be the latest in a never-ending series of matches between the NXT exports.
Is it possible for a current champion to be "overlooked" or "underused?"
The answer, if you have been paying close enough attention to Naomi, is a resounding "yes."
The SmackDown women's champion captured her title back at WrestleMania 33, tapping Alexa Bliss out and completing an emotional return. Rather than riding a wave of momentum into the summer and establishing herself at the top of the SmackDown Live women's division, Naomi has been left to watch from the sidelines as management struggles to develop clear No. 1 contenders for her.
Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella have been intertwined in a series of repetitive multi-woman matches that never seem to solve their issues. Meanwhile, Naomi has been left to run over Lana in a series of squash matches for the most coveted prize SmackDown Live has to offer its female talent.
With no legitimate program to speak of, or any high-quality matches to point to, Naomi's reign is in danger of becoming one of the most disappointing in recent memory.
Considering the hard work and dedication to her craft that went into her finally getting the opportunity to soar as a singles competitor, she has earned more than that.
If not at Battleground, Naomi is certainly in line for a high-profile title defense at SummerSlam, if only to elevate her title reign beyond the depths of despair it currently resides in.
The Fashion Files have been the single most entertaining element of WWE programming since their inception, and a great deal of that can be contributed to the manner in which Tyler Breeze and Fandango have embraced the Fashion Police gimmick and made it their own.
In recent weeks, the theme of those pre-taped vignettes has been Breezango's attempt to uncover the culprits behind a cowardly sneak attack on Tyler Breeze and the trashing of their office weeks earlier.
While they have not come any closer to revealing who the dastardly evildoers are, they have captivated audiences and gotten so much more over than they would have been just by going to the ring and winning matches.
The team figures to appear on the show, most likely in another edition of The Fashion Files, but solving the mystery on pay-per-view would make for a greater and more memorable moment than doing so on a forgettable episode of SmackDown Live.
It would also add a bit of legitimacy to the prospective feud and kick it off with a bang, something a secondary tag feud needs to succeed in today's WWE.
American Alpha was once the hottest tag team in professional wrestling, particularly coming out of NXT in 2016. They exploded onto SmackDown Live and should have been the centerpiece of a revamped tag team division.
Instead, they descended into mediocrity quickly, lost in the shuffle as WWE Creative opted to push Heath Slater and Rhyno, then Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. By the time they finally won the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, the damage had been done.
Their television appearances had been inconsistent, their characters had undergone zero development, and they had no credible competition left. It should be no wonder that they dropped the titles in relatively short order and disappeared from relevance.
Recently, Chad Gable returned to television, working strong matches against Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. That he was featured in that manner has created questions about American Alpha's future as a team. The complete lack of Jason Jordan other than a brief appearance in the Independence Day Battle Royal only helps fuel speculation.
American Alpha should be ruling tag team wrestling on Tuesday nights. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee they will be together well beyond Battleground at this point.
Luke Harper is one of the top 10 best workers on the SmackDown roster. Unlike AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, John Cena and Sami Zayn, though, he cannot buy television time at this point. When he makes a rare appearance on a Tuesday night, it is typically as fodder for a Superstar in the midst of a push he should probably be getting.
Most recently, he has appeared in both the Independence Day Battle Royal and as opposition for Jinder Mahal.
Beyond that, he has done nothing of note. His character has not been worked on, he has not been booked in a single feud beyond the weeks-long yawner with former tag team partner Erick Rowan, and he has been beaten down to the point that his credibility is essentially nonexistent.
Considering the agility, strength, speed and size, one would assume he is the epitome of what Vince McMahon would look for in a main event athlete.
Instead, he has been wholly wasted at a time when he should be running wild on a brand recognized as The Land of Opportunity.