Underrated WWE Stars Who Deserve Push in 2nd Half of 2018
The WWE roster is as extensive as it has ever been, incorporating Superstars from all over the world and from all backgrounds of sports entertainment.
As such, it is a given that there will be men and women whose talents go underappreciated and underrated, leaving fans to insist that so-and-so deserves a push.
There are those performers, though, who are so effective at what they do that it is hard to argue they have earned a more prominent role on WWE television.
From NXT exports to a former universal champion whose role on Monday nights is not necessarily reflective of his star power, these are the competitors who have earned pushes in the second half of 2018.
Mustafa Ali proved with his performance against Cedric Alexander on the WrestleMania Kickoff Show and in matches with Buddy Murphy thereafter that he is a strong worker with an inspirational story whom WWE Creative should be making time for beyond 205 Live.
His social media promos, such as the one above, have given fans a look at the man behind the light-up mask and inspired others. His official Twitter profile is an account of his journey and quest to help others and spread a message of positivity.
In the world in which we live, he is a guy the company should be proud of and push to the forefront of its programming.
Like Drew Gulak, someone we will get to in a few moments, Ali has the stink of the cruiserweight division on him.
While the 205 Live brand has improved significantly under the guidance of Triple H, there is still a perception that the men on that show are afterthoughts. Thus, many of Ali's finest performances have gone unrecognized by fans.
Until he is allowed to break out and receive something resembling a push on either Raw or SmackDown Live, something his work has earned him, he will remain one of the company's most hidden gems.
Andrade 'Cien' Almas
Andrade "Cien" Almas has been one of the best wrestlers on either the NXT or WWE main roster in 2018, as evidenced by his NXT Championship defenses against Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black in the first half of the year.
Now a member of the SmackDown roster, he has yet to leave an impression on the brand thanks to an ill-timed injury suffered by opponent Sin Cara and a lack of creative direction.
That he could be as hot as he was, alongside associate Zelina Vega, and arrive on SmackDown without much to do is an indictment on that brand's creative team.
He should be warring with Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura for championships. Instead, he has been relegated to a nothing-happening program with Sin Cara, whose injury has derailed Almas' momentum.
As the second half of the year arrives, it is imperative WWE officials utilize Almas and Vega in a way that enhances their stars and keeps them busy with significant work. If the Mexican-born Superstar's run in NXT taught us anything, it is that a motivated Almas is nearly unparalleled. As a result, so too will be the in-ring product on Tuesday nights.
Chad Gable has been the recipient of several opportunities to showcase his abilities against top-level talent, including John Cena and Jinder Mahal, but he has not been able to parlay any of his superb performances into a push.
When he defeated Mahal on a recent episode of Raw, it appeared as though the jump to the flagship show may come with just that. Instead, he was beaten by Mahal the next week. And since then, he has inconsistently appeared on the flagship.
The 2012 Olympian has the skills between the ropes to be a star but it is his charisma, not really seen since his NXT run, that is his biggest asset going forward. Gable has the personality former partner Jason Jordan does not, leading many to believe he should have been positioned as Angle's illegitimate son instead.
The question is, will he be allowed to showcase that personality?
If not, the likelihood he gets over on a roster full of tremendous in-ring talent decreases significantly.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce arrived as part of the post-WrestleMania influx of talent but have yet to get on a roll on the SmackDown brand thanks to the emphasis placed on other Superstars and a lack of television time for all of the talented women who call the blue brand home.
Kay and Royce are by no means the strongest workers on the roster. They are more character-driven Superstars who get over based on their Mean Girls-like personas and, at times, shrieking heel promos.
Like SmackDown women's champion Carmella, they have a way of turning fans against them that makes them valuable villains, even if their ring work is not at all comparable to that of Charlotte, Becky Lynch or Asuka.
It is the fact that they are not as good but still manage to score underhanded wins over more talented wrestlers that endears them to fans. They are great, loudmouthed baddies whose roles on a wrestling show will never go out of style.
They just need an opportunity to display their skills and become the stars they can be, as evidenced by their character work.
A feud with the resurgent Lynch could be just what the doctor ordered to help earn Kay and Royce a little momentum this year.
The Revival is the best tag team in WWE, even in the midst of what has to be considered a monumentally disappointing run.
A throwback to teams of the 1980s, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have repeatedly proved their greatness, both in NXT and in the limited amount of opportunities they have received on the main roster. Most recently, they delivered in a big televised tag team victory over Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley.
With in-ring psychology rivaled by none and a skill set not seen since Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were beating the hell out of Barry Windham and Lex Luger in the late 1980s, they have established themselves as the measuring stick by which all other teams should be judged.
Unfortunately, they have yet to receive a push that coincides with their undeniable skills.
Part of that can be attributed to the duo's injury history.
Shortly after being called up to the main roster, Wilder suffered a broken jaw. A knee injury to Dawson after their return to the ring only added substance to the injury-prone label they earned.
It will take time to prove they can get on a roll without any injury-enforced upheaval, but if that happens, the second half of 2018 should coincide with a return to prominence for a team that, when healthy and at the top of its game, rivals any other tandem in the sport.
If Drew Gulak were three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, he would be a prominent member of the main roster.
Already recognized for his incredible technical prowess, he has demonstrated character work in WWE as part of the 205 Live roster that fans likely did not know he had in him.
The biggest problem facing him despite his talent is the stigma that comes with being a cruiserweight.
That should change during the second half of 2018, for no other reason than the fact that he is in his athletic prime and there is no better time for him to accomplish big things in WWE. Push him while he is in the midst of his best in-ring work and while he is still in tune with the character handed to him, and reap the rewards creatively.
Ember Moon arrived on the main roster on the Raw after WrestleMania, and since then, outside of a spirited performance in the Money in the Bank ladder match, she has become lost in the shuffle on the loaded red brand.
The Shenom has presence, a cool nickname and the in-ring ability to be a major star for Vince McMahon's company and a significant contributor to the Women's Revolution, which has become such a major part of WWE.
As the year moves into its second half, management should reassess its use of Moon and push her to the forefront of the women's division. Her work in NXT proved that she is not just another competitor to pad an already overstocked roster.
She is a star waiting to break out. Shoving her to the background on Raw is not the way to maximize her value or get her over in a day and age when women's wrestling is more important and popular as it ever has been.
Is it possible for a Superstar to be on television every week, sharing the ring with high-profile opponents like Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman, and still be underrated and deserving of a more substantial push?
The answer is yes. For evidence, note the curious use of Finn Balor over the last year.
The former NXT franchise star and first universal champion consistently draws one of the largest ovations of the night in arenas across the country but has yet to be given any worthwhile storylines or a push that reflects his enormous skill.
Balor has the potential to be a star on the level of AJ Styles, a wrestler who carries a brand based on his perceived coolness and in-ring output alone. He has that sort of credibility with fans and could be heated up instantly with a big win over a legitimate star like Roman Reigns or Strowman.
It may take a move to SmackDown for Balor to achieve the success and enjoy the push his talent deserves. Regardless, a push in the second half of 2018 is warranted.