Mojo Rawley blindsiding Zack Ryder on the Nov. 28 edition of WWE SmackDown Live marked the end of The Hype Bros after a two-and-a-half-year run, though promising singles runs don't appear to be too likely for either of them going forward.
To their credit, Rawley and Ryder have achieved some success by themselves. Before returning to the tag team ranks in 2016, Ryder had held the Intercontinental and United States Championships. Rawley became the fourth man to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal earlier this year.
However, it should be noted Rawley's big victory at WrestleMania 33 was quickly forgotten about despite receiving a significant amount of mainstream publicity because of NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski's involvement. What should have served as a launching pad for him was instead treated like an afterthought within a week.
Ryder sat on the sidelines for six months with an injured knee, and in that time, Rawley did nothing to prove his worth as a singles star aside from the aforementioned WrestleMania win. He has shown some signs of improvement in the ring, but Ryder largely carried him while they were together.
His promo skills aren't anything to write home about, either, so he clearly doesn't have much to offer as a performer from what we've seen. That was why pairing him off with Ryder in the spring of 2015 was the best thing for both of them.
However, save for winning the tag titles in NXT or on the main roster, they achieved everything they could together. A breakup was therefore inevitable so SmackDown could make room for fresh faces in the tag team division.
Now the question is not necessarily where Ryder and Rawley will go from here but rather, how Rawley will be able to survive on his own?
The ex-tag partners are bound to do battle one-on-one on the Clash of Champions Kickoff. Although Ryder is obviously the more established of the two, it is imperative Rawley goes over in that outing to at least attempt to get his singles career off to a solid start.
Regardless of whether he wins, he will struggle to maintain heat long term because he has been a babyface for so long. He did do well with his most recent backstage promo on SmackDown, but it will take more than that to convince viewers that he is a top prospect on the program.
Perhaps the heel turn will light a fire underneath Rawley that we haven't seen before, but he is already doomed to fail. He was just another wrestler on the roster for the first half of 2017 during last singles run, and with the show stacked with star power, that won't change this time around.
Beyond Ryder, the only other logical opponent for Rawley is Tye Dillinger. Someone such as The Perfect 10 could help bring Rawley to a passable match, but he needs a significant gimmick overhaul in order for this renewed push to go as planned.
Given he is a former football player and friends with Gronk, WWE's desire to feature him more prominently on SmackDown should come as no surprise, but the blue brand has enough undercard acts, (such as Mike Kanellis and Dolph Ziggler) these days. And Rawley won't be any better any off than them.
Mojo Rawley @MojoRawleyWWE
Whole life? 😂😂😂 that’s cute. I won my first Mania. PS: who rescued you from obscurity and brought you back to relevance? Oh yeah...that was me. Shut up and fade back to nothingness. #SDLive https://t.co/zISlQypI3a2017-12-6 02:09:13
With Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin competing over the United States Championship, there doesn't seem to be a spot for Rawley in the midcard scene anytime soon. If nothing else, a return to NXT could be his best bet at making strides given how overshadowed he will be on the main roster.
Then again, prior to his SmackDown debut in 2016, he spent three years down in developmental and didn't evolve as a performer all that much. Saying hope is lost for him would be a bit of an exaggeration, but he does not bring a ton to the table other than his enthusiasm, which won't work for him as a heel.
Rawley's stints on SmackDown, as well as on NXT, have given us zero reason to be hyped about his upcoming singles run. But for his sake, let's hope he can overcome the odds and emerge from The Hype Bros as a bigger deal.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.