WWE Roster Analysis: Monday Night Raw

John CitizenContributor IIAugust 11, 2011

WWE Roster Analysis: Monday Night Raw

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    It's no secret that the WWE has issues in how it books its Superstars, rather choosing to place all focus on a certain bunch and not even capitalise on all their work by booking their entire pay-per-view card in advance to give each match proper buildup.

    They tend to throw a match or two on the card the night of the pay-per-view, or choose to announce matches via WWE.com and not on Raw or SmackDown.

    Where many WWE Superstars tend to be used every week and often appear on each pay-per-view, there are those that are frequently neglected and are given nothing other than the occasional Superstars match or brief backstage appearance in a segment completely unrelated to them. It's quite silly when you think about the fact the tag team division has no real meaning, but also that the two mid-card championships aren't given nearly enough significant focus.

    The WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship are the only two titles that have any significant meaning. The rest are basically just props.

    That's why I have decided to take a look at the talent on Raw and SmackDown and discuss what I feel should be done with them to liven up not only their careers, but also certain aspects of the WWE, starting with Raw.

    Not to be sexist, but I will not be looking at the Divas division, and the reason is because it's pretty simple what the WWE need to do there to improve it: use Divas that can actually wrestle, give them more television time and create some decent feuds. Sounds simple enough...

    Throughout this analysis, I will class Superstars in three grades—top mid-carder, mid-carder or tag team division. Top mid-carders are those Superstars that are more than credible as a mid-card champion, but aren't quite there when it comes to the main-event scene.

    A mid-carder is a singles Superstar that doesn't have much of a singles career to date and needs to build some credibility in the division.

    As for the tag team division grade, this is for those Superstars that have nothing going for them and would be ideal candidates to build up a division that lacks teams and any real competition.

    To begin, I will split the main-eventers away from the rest of the roster. I view the Raw main-eventers as being Superstars that are often used in the WWE Championship scene, or at least just outside it, and are more than credible around the title. They include Alberto Del Rio, Big Show, CM Punk, John Cena, John Morrison, The Miz, Rey Mysterio and R-Truth.

    Some people may disagree with Morrison and possibly Truth, but they're easily a step above those that I have yet to mention, so classing them in the main event is suitable.

Alex Riley

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    Now A-Ry may never have been a singles champion, but there is no denying that his split from The Miz and subsequent face turn has been impressive. It has all died down recently since The Miz came out on top in their feud, but that's just based off the fact that Miz won their last one-on-one encounter.

    Riley has now moved on to a feud with Dolph Ziggler, who we also know as the reigning WWE United States champion. If that is an indicator of things to come, Riley is in for a bright future.

    Grade: Mid-carder

    Reason

    I was tempted to actually class Riley as a top mid-carder, but in reality he has never won a singles championship. Other than two singles victories over The Miz in a feud that he abruptly lost, Riley doesn't have much credibility behind him.

    If he is to develop into a future main-eventer, Riley requires at least one mid-card championship reign to his name before he can move forward. Keep in mind, he wouldn't develop any credibility if it wasn't booked properly.

Curt Hawkins

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    The career of Curt Hawkins is at the crossroads, that's for sure. Ever since splitting from Vance Archer due to the WWE releasing Archer, Hawkins isn't even used on Superstars anymore.

    It's a bad sign for a Superstar if they're not used at all. Just ask DH Smith and Chris Masters.

    Grade: Tag team division

    Reason

    We all know that Hawkins is a former WWE Tag Team champion alongside Zack Ryder...so why not team them back up?

    The WWE are now putting Ryder on television, but making him Teddy Long's assistant just isn't good enough in my eyes. Ryder isn't even on SmackDown, so why not use his popularity to their advantage and kill two birds with one stone—give the WWE Universe what they want with Ryder, but also give Hawkins the opportunity he desperately needs to impress.

    Simple, yet somehow very complicated.

David Otunga

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    First of all, I am not a fan of Otunga. The only reason he is even in the position he currently finds himself in is down to two reasons: He has ties to the entertainment industry due to his marriage/engagement to Jennifer Hudson, but also due to his impressive physique.

    Face it, Otunga's mic skills leave something to be desired, and his in-ring ability is damaged by his physique. I will admit, Otunga has shown slight improvement recently, but I think that's due to the fact he's in a tag team.

    Grade: Tag team division

     

    Reason

    Recently Otunga and Michael McGillicutty have formed a tag team, even managing to become the reigning WWE Tag Team champions. At first I was a little sceptical, but they've shown more than enough to prove to me that this pairing works.

    Teaming them up makes sense as they're both former NXT Rookies and members of the Nexus, so they have similar backgrounds and can relate in that aspect.

    Otunga is now a two-time WWE Tag Team champion, and currently he just fits into the division nicely. He needs time to improve on his overall package, which is something he cannot do on his own as his flaws would shine through. Being in a tag team takes some of the spotlight off him and places it over the team as a whole, and that is what Otunga needs for now.

Dolph Ziggler

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    The career of Ziggler is a strange one to say the least, even disregarding his debut as Nicky in the Spirit Squad. He is the reigning WWE United States champion, a former WWE intercontinental champion, but he is also a former world heavyweight champion, albeit for only a few minutes and under controversial circumstances.

    Ziggler is very good in the ring, often putting on some great matches, but his mic skills have been his main flaw. Since becoming United States champion, I feel that Ziggler has improved on the microphone, but hopefully it's not just a temporary improvement.

    Grade: Top mid-carder



    Reason

    Being drafted to Raw killed any momentum he had gained in the SmackDown main-event scene, which is why he's currently classed as a top mid-carder and not as a main-eventer. It's unfortunate that he isn't that one step higher, but that can be said about a few WWE Superstars and it's a shame Ziggler is one of them.

    It has to only be a matter of time before he gets a little push towards something better, otherwise he'll toil away in the mid-card forever...and we don't want to see that.

Drew McIntyre

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    What the hell has happened to McIntyre? He has gone from being undefeated and WWE intercontinental champion, to being just underneath the SmackDown main-event scene and briefly becoming WWE tag team champion, to being drafted to Raw and not being used.

    I don't understand why he has been buried like this, but if it has anything to do with his now failed relationship with Tiffany, that'd be just silly. But hey, I've heard stupider reasons for why the WWE buries some superstars, so who knows.

    Grade: Top mid-carder

     

    Reason

    I don't think I'm stepping over any line by saying that McIntyre deserves to be above a mid-card championship. He was certainly a future world champion before he was drafted to Raw, so we all know that he has what it takes.

    His credibility has taken a big hit since moving to Raw, so if he is to be used again then involving him with the United States Championship would be a suitable option. McIntyre needs to regain the heat he used to have, but actually being used would be where to start...

Evan Bourne

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    There is no denying that Bourne is entertaining in the ring and is somebody that the WWE Universe can really get behind...but is he that credible? Bourne's major discrepancy is his size, and it'd take a lot of work for him to get anywhere near the credibility that Mysterio has.

    Grade: Mid-carder

     

    Reason

    I view Bourne as a Superstar that the WWE Universe pays to see for the impressive moves and daring feats he can pull off, but that's basically it. It's very tough to view him as a credible challenger for a mid-card championship, but it's even tougher to pick somebody suitable for him to tag with so he can spend some time in the tag division.

    Due to his lack of size, the general partner he would be given is a Superstar of opposite stature and build, playing off an odd-couple sort of storyline...but even then, who would you pick? If I was the WWE, I would put Bourne in the Cruiser...oh yeah.

Jack Swagger

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    Damn this man is athletic—not to mention he is fantastic in the ring. It's unfortunate that his main flaw is his mic skills, mainly due to his speech impediment, but that's something that he obviously cannot help. Swagger works very well on the mic regardless of his speech impediment, and combine that with his fantastic in-ring ability and he is quite a complete Superstar in my eyes.

    He is a former ECW champion, world heavyweight champion, and Money in the Bank briefcase-holder, so he has had a fair amount of success to date.

    Grade: Top mid-carder

    Reason

    Well, he would be a main-eventer had the WWE not booked him badly as world heavyweight champion. I found myself having trouble taking him seriously as the top guy on SmackDown, but that's the WWE's fault for giving him the briefcase when nobody saw him as posing much of a threat, having him cash in quickly and often losing random matches on SmackDown to somebody like John Morrison, who wasn't even near the title scene to begin with.

    There's such thing as a losing champion, and losing champions tend to pull out the victory when they desperately need it. The Miz is a perfect example of a successful losing champion (I know how that sounds), but Swagger is proof of when it's butchered.

    Swagger's currently stuck in mid-card limbo, but in this case he's above a mid-card championship but simply not credible as a main-eventer. He could be a prime candidate for an alignment change as his heel persona has run out of steam. Until a change is made to his character, he won't go any higher than he is currently.

JTG

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    Another victim of his lack of size. Many find JTG to not be very entertaining, myself being one, but that was until his recent heel turn. I feel it should only be a matter of time before he is released, but the strange thing is he recently lost his feud with Vladimir Kozlov, but Kozlov was the one that was surprisingly released.

    Personally I like his recent heel turn, but I don't see it going anywhere.

    Grade: Tag team division

    Reason

    The high point of JTG's career was when he was in the tag division alongside Shad, forming Cryme Tyme...Crime Tyme...Cryme Time? Whatever.

    My point is that although they never became WWE tag team champions, JTG was actually relevant and was considered a threat to a championship. Therefore, I feel as if the WWE need to partner him with some muscle and place him back into the tag team division as that worked so well for him in the past.

    You can rule out the WWE bringing Shad back as he left in the first place to pursue a film career, so I recommend the WWE elevate a talent from FCW and add another team to the division. Seriously, could it hurt them to do something like that?

Kofi Kingston

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    Ah, the case of poor Kofi Kingston. One minute he's involved in a high-profile feud with Randy Orton, then the next he finds himself drafted to SmackDown and stuck in the mid-card once more.

    Ever since Orton buried Kingston behind the scenes due to botching a move or something along the lines, Kingston hasn't been anywhere near the main-event scene on either Raw or SmackDown, rather becoming mid-card champion repeatedly. It may be the same thing with Kingston every week, but he is over with the fans and continues to put on decent matches every week, which is why he features regularly on whatever brand he appears on.

    Grade: Top mid-carder



    Reason

    Kingston is a two-time WWE United States champion, a three-time WWE intercontinental champion and a one-time WWE tag team champion, which is more than enough proof of somebody that has proven themselves time after time in the mid-card.

    Now what's the issue? To put it simply, the WWE don't have the stones to pull the trigger and give this man a worthwhile feud to build him as a future main-eventer. They had the opportunity to do so by giving him the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase, but they instead chose to give it to Alberto Del Rio, which is an absolute waste as Del Rio hasn't even won a single title in the WWE and is already more credible than Kingston.

    Until the WWE actually take that extra step with Kingston, he'll be a mid-carder for the rest of his career.

Mason Ryan

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    We haven't seen Ryan on WWE television for a little while now, but that's due to the fact he is currently out injured. What’s the injury? Nobody knows, but it was suffered outside of the ring and there's nothing to say he will be back anytime soon.

    Nonetheless, Ryan is a perfect example of the WWE elevating somebody from FCW too soon and refusing to do much about it. I think the WWE were too high on the fact he looks like Batista, but I have to admit that he was the shot in the arm that The New Nexus needed to keep things a little fresh.

    Ryan even went as far as being booked to go over both Kane and Big Show, which is a big deal for somebody relatively new.

    Grade: Tag team division

     

    Reason

    Does he have mic skills? Not really. Is he great in the ring? Not really. Does he have a great look? You're damn right he does, but his overall package needs huge work before he can even go near the main-event scene, let alone become a mid-card champion.

    When Ryan returns from injury, he must improve in all aspects, particularly in the ring before he can gain any real credibility. He has massive potential to be a future player in the years to come, but when he returns I think he is suited in the tag division.

    Having somebody to take the spotlight off his flaws (much like Otunga) would do wonders for his development, and it's something that being in the Nexus often gave him. So until he irons out his obvious issues, he should not move on to a singles career yet.

Michael McGillicutty

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    To this day, I still feel that McGillicutty deserved to win NXT2 above Kaval, and I guess an example would lie in the fact that Kaval left the company pretty quickly.

    Now many have wondered why McGillicutty was given such a strange name, often ignoring the fact he is the son of Mr. Perfect, but that right there is the reason why. He is the son of a legend, and just before McGillicutty debuted on NXT, I read that he was given the name at his own personal request as he wanted to build his own career on his own merit and have nothing to do with the Hennig name.

    I see no problem with that, but sooner or later it will come out, whether he likes it or not.

    Grade: Tag team division



    Reason

    Recently Otunga and Michael McGillicutty have formed a tag team, even managing to become the reigning WWE tag team champions. At first I was a little sceptical, but they've shown more than enough to prove to me that this pairing works. Teaming them up makes sense as they're both former NXT Rookies and members of the Nexus, so they have similar backgrounds and can relate in that aspect.

    I rate McGillicutty higher than Otunga, purely due to the fact I think he is better in the ring and on the mic. He too is often considered to be boring and not entertaining by many people, but I don't think that's the case at all. He was definitely far from that on NXT2, and because of that I see potential for him in the future for sure.

    At the moment he should stay in the tag division, but I'd love to see him have a run in the mid-card in the future. I think he has what it takes now, but the WWE need more tag teams.

Primo

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    The WWE career of Primo started quite brightly. He wrestled a few matches before he was partnered with his brother, Carlito, where the two began to make a name for themselves in the tag division.

    It wasn't long before the siblings became WWE tag team champions, eventually moving on to defeat The Miz and John Morrison for the World Tag Team Championships, unifying the two sets of tag titles. Over a month later they lost them, they lost their rematch, Carlito turned on Primo and beat him, and that's Primo's only career highlight right there.

    Grade: Tag team division

    Reason

    He showed a lot of potential when a part of a tag team so why not do it again? Primo is rarely used as is, so placing him back into the tag division could be a credible move considering his success there.

    I would be inclined to partner him with his cousin Tito Colon, who is currently in FCW. Don't have Primo appear at all until Tito is ready, and then debut them. It's the only way Primo can rebuild his career, as he doesn't have what it takes in the mid-card right now.

Santino Marella

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    It's often overlooked how clean Marella is inside the ring and how great he is on the microphone, mainly due to his comedic value. That's all Marella's career has come down to—providing entertaining moments that give the WWE Universe a laugh here and there—but he has also had some success inside the ring too.

    Marella is a two-time WWE intercontinental champion and a one-time WWE tag team champion, which isn't a bad resume by any stretch. It's questionable whether any of those championship reigns have any real credibility, but they go down in the history books nonetheless.

    Grade: Tag team division

     

    Reason

    It's very tough to take him seriously on his own, but he has proven himself to be more than capable of forming a legitimate tag team. The team of Marella and Kozlov was an absolute joke in the beginning, pairing them as an oddball couple due to them being total opposites, but I have to admit they actually moulded themselves into a decent team.

    Unfortunately the team suddenly split recently, with Kozlov now no longer with the company, but Marella has been trialing new partners that have included Zack Ryder, Chris Masters and now Evan Bourne. Marella belongs in the tag division, so hopefully he is given a suitable partner as he is a credible threat to the gold.

Skip Sheffield

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    Where to put Sheffield—that's the big question. It's a massive shame that he has had complications with his ankle injury, as he has bags of potential to be the next big thing in my eyes.

    We would've already seen him return to the ring if he didn't require a second and third surgery on his ankle, but he shouldn't be too far away from making a return.

    Grade: Mid-carder

     

    Reason

    Just to play it safe, I've placed him in the mid-card. We obviously haven't seen enough of Sheffield to gauge whether or not he can actually live up to the hype surrounding him (there's hype when McMahon rates you so highly), but I'm confident he can do so when he returns.

    Considering he has been out for about a year, he would be very eager to prove himself and give back to the WWE for keeping faith in him and his recovery.

Tyler Reks

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    I'm just going to put it out there right now: I don't like what the WWE has done with Reks. He has a great character, he is great in the ring, but he is never given any mic time, let alone a match at that. I wouldn't be surprised to see him future endeavoured soon, although I would very much hate to see it happen.

    Grade: Mid-carder

     

    Reason

    Just getting a run of singles victories is all Reks can hope for at the moment. There was a time where he managed to do so on Superstars, but then he entered a feud with Chris Masters and subsequently lost the majority of their matches.

    Reks has a fantastic look about him, but the WWE haven't done anything to capitalise on it. Throw him a bone and let him show you what he can actually do, or else just release him already.

Zack Ryder

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    Ryder and CM Punk are perfect examples of what happens when you take action regarding your career's direction. Of course Punk went about it in a much more direct and in-your-face way, but Ryder chose to instead make a name for himself on the Internet, doing so successfully.

    Ryder has begun to be used a little more frequently, actually winning some matches for once, but the current position he finds himself is one that I don't like. He finds himself on the other brand as the general manager's assistant. Really?

    Yes, it's great to see him on television, but that's just taking the piss.

    Grade: Tag team division 

     

    Reason

    This man is a former WWE tag team champion, so he has proven in the past that he can form a successful tag team. I want the WWE to use Ryder's momentum and newfound popularity to not only help boost his career and the tag division, but also assist Hawkins in rebuilding his. Giving him a singles victory here and there is all well and good, but that seems to have dried up the past two weeks.

    Ryder finds himself as the man whose role is to add some entertainment to SmackDown, but the thing is we don't want SmackDown to turn into Raw. Ryder is entertaining, that's a definite, but if he's on Raw...then have him appear on Raw!

Conclusion

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    So to summarise, here is how I've graded the Raw Roster:

    Main-Eventers: Alberto Del Rio, Big Show, CM Punk, John Cena, John Morrison, The Miz, Rey Mysterio and R-Truth

    Top Mid-carders: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger and Kofi Kingston

    Mid-carders: Alex Riley, Evan Bourne, Skip Sheffield and Tyler Reks

    Tag Team Division: Curt Hawkins, David Otunga, JTG, Mason Ryan, Michael McGillicutty, Primo, Santino Marella and Zack Ryder


    Hope you enjoyed the analysis of the Raw roster. Make sure you keep an eye out for my analysis of the SmackDown roster next.

    You stay classy, Bleacher Report.