Mojo Rawley Primed to Climb WWE SmackDown Ladder Following Split with Zack Ryder

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterNovember 30, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

The brass ring is set to swing Mojo Rawley's way, and the powerhouse is poised to wrap his hands around it.

The WWE SmackDown star is once again a solo act after attacking Zack Ryder. His heel turn and return to singles action represents a big-time chance to change his place in the blue brand's hierarchy.

After The Hype Bros' latest loss, this time an over-before-you-know-it defeat at the hands of The Bludgeon Brothers, frustration boiled over for Rawley. He blasted Ryder from behind and barked at him on the mat. It was a clear, violent signal that their tag team is done. 

The duo had long teased a split. Infighting followed every failure in the ring for the past several weeks.

And now, Rawley finally ended it, marching away from the partnership looking more focused, angry and compelling.

The first flash of the former NFL defensive lineman's new persona was promising. Gone was the smiley, hyped, gung-ho babyface.

The folks from the The New Age Insiders podcast liked what they saw in its place so far:

As a heel, Rawley will get a chance to explore new sides of himself. That's something he sorely needed, as his old act was a one-note song. 

That may be a big part of why WWE hadn't done much with him since he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania this year. When Ryder was out with injury, Rawley hovered around the midcard with little direction. When his tag partner returned, the energetic Superstar remained a low priority. 

It was obvious WWE didn't believe in them as a pair. They only fought in one two-on-two pay-per-view match—not counting pre-show bouts—per CageMatch.net.

While Rawley is no blue-chip prospect, it was surprising WWE didn't make more of an effort to see what it had in him. He's big. He's a good athlete. He's magnetic.

Wade Keller of PWTorch was among those who believed he was capable of more.

"I've long thought there was more potential with Mojo than being in a lower level tag team," Keller wrote. "I think he has something more in him to have more of an edge and more credibility."

We're now set to see that at work.

Rawley will likely feud with Ryder in his first chance to prove himself with this new character alignment. He'll be at the center of a story, get to bear his fangs and hopefully catch fire in the process.

If he hits it off opposite Ryder and charges into the new year with solid momentum, he could put himself in line for a signature match at WrestleMania 34.

Heel turns have worked wonders for Neville, The Usos and Sami Zayn in that past year or so, and now the door is open for Rawley to add himself to that list.

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