Bayley and 7 WWE Superstar Acts Who Have Become Stale
After going through multiple weeks of what was supposed to be a two-night Superstar Shake-up that would solve all the problems of keeping things fresh, the WWE roster is still plagued by wrestlers who have become stale.
While the performers themselves may not be bland or uninteresting, their characters have had such little growth or change that they are no longer compelling.
And the first step in correcting any problem is identifying what needs to be fixed, so let's take a look at some of the WWE Superstars on the roster who have lost their luster.
Since her NXT debut in 2013, Bayley has essentially had the same character with only minor tweaks along the way.
Little separates the current incarnation of Bayley from where she was six years ago: She hasn't turned heel, her theme has been the same for years, and she hasn't changed her look much, either.
She used to be arguably the most popular female Superstar at one point, but even her Raw Women's Championship reign felt underwhelming, and the crowd hasn't been as passionate in supporting her since she feuded with Sasha Banks in NXT.
Bayley now comes off as fourth place in the Four Horsewomen, which says a lot since Banks has been off television the past several weeks.
Sticking with the same old Bayley all this time has yielded less and less of a reaction from the crowd, and it will only get worse the longer WWE drags this out. She is in desperate need of a character change.
Ideally, she will turn heel, completely change her look, ditch the bubbly entrance music and inflatable Bayley Buddies and stop cutting promos about how much heart she has.
It's been time to show us something different for the past two years, and the clock is just about done ticking.
Having not made an appearance for WWE since Royal Rumble on January 27, it's been a while since we've seen Dolph Ziggler, but he hasn't been truly missed.
That is hard to say, as The Showoff is one of the best in-ring performers the company has had in the past decade, but it's old news that has been spoken about far too often.
Ziggler's character for the past few years has been one note: telling everyone he deserves better because he's great.
It hasn't even mattered if he was a heel or a face, as the dynamic remained the same. The only thing that would indicate if he was a heel or a face was his opponent's alignment.
Ziggler has even twice done the shtick of leaving and then coming back at Royal Rumble, so when he does return, what hope is there he'll come back with something fresh?
The last thing he needs is to come back with the same promos about how good he is in the ring. We've known it since at least 2012 and it's time for something new, or else the last remaining fans holding out hope for more from The Showoff will have to agree he's stuck on the same broken record.
Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir
Shayna Baszler is one of the best champions the women's division of NXT has had because she is rock solid in the ring and knows how to play up her heel character during matches.
She's a joy to watch, particularly when paired with someone like Kairi Sane, who can battle back with a full-on babyface barrage to counterbalance Baszler's villainous tendencies.
But once Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir came into play, the trio fell into a trap where the only thing they do is attack people during or after their matches to assert their dominance.
Absolutely nothing else happens. While it's good that they're bullies—the perfect overall concept for the stable—seeing them only bully the roster in the same way over and over again has seen them lose their flair.
It's not surprising for them to beat down Io Shirai, as they've done it a dozen times or so; it's not thrilling for Bianca Belair to be unable to fight back the numbers in a three-on-one assault, because that's been happening for months.
Baszler had more nuance as a solo act, and now she is propping up Duke and Shafir—who are siphoning as much heat as they can to spread the wealth—one fantastic heel has turned into three boilerplate villains.
Duke and Shafir need to develop personalities for themselves so The Queen of Spades can be more than just their den mother and utilize more of her potential.
Despite Lars Sullivan only having a few weeks on the main roster under his belt, he's already become incredibly stale.
To be fair, this isn't entirely his fault. He hasn't been given any opportunity to showcase any character beyond the standard big monster heel who destroys people in order to look dominant enough for future babyfaces to take down.
WWE has given Sullivan nothing to work with other than the template countless Superstars have already used to varying degrees of success.
Why is The Freak attacking people? Because he's a heel and he's big and that's what WWE wants him to do.
Does he have any reason to target these particular Superstars? No, he's attacking at random, because the only thing that is important right now for the WWE Universe to understand is that he's a heel, is big and he can dominate people.
What makes him stand out from Ryback, Vladimir Kozlov, Rusev, Akam, Rezar, Rowan, King Kong Bundy and everyone else in the past who did the same thing? Nothing.
Until he becomes something more than just the next in the latest line of Braun Strowman types, he's as stale as can be.
Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura
When it comes to Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura, perhaps "stale" is not the best word to describe their lack of compelling characters; it's more about conceding they've been pushed aside and completely checked out.
Rusev Day was a surprise hit that WWE didn't capitalize on until far too late and then decided to throw away in favor of turning him heel again and reverting back to the void of nothingness he was doing before the crowd started supporting him.
Now, he and Lana are just shells of their former selves, no longer able to get the heel heat they had when The Bulgarian Brute was the United States champion.
With Nakamura, his heel turn first started out as an interesting 180-degree switch in direction when he low-blowed AJ Styles. Then, he did nothing but low-blows for months until WWE stopped using him altogether.
This makeshift pairing of two Superstars who were having a lackluster feud with each other only to team up and have even less to say or do should have been ended before it even began.
The only reason they're still together is because SmackDown's tag team division is in shambles, and if this duo is what the blue brand is supposed to lean on, WWE might as well consider merging the tag titles as a mercy kill.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Brock Lesnar has changed nothing about his character for so long that every crowd across the globe can recite half of every Paul Heyman promo about him: "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman and I am the advocate for the reigning, defending, undisputed universal champion Brock Lesnar."
At some point, Heyman will say "that's not a prediction, that's a spoiler" in the promo. He'll mention how great his client's opponent is, but how it won't matter because Lesnar is a beast.
Once you've mixed in a healthy doze of the words "victimized" and "brutalized" and "humiliated" in the recipe, the promo side of things is finished.
Then, that will either be the end of the segment, or Heyman will cower and apologize to the babyface threatening him, saying "I'm just an advocate" until Lesnar beats his opponent and walks away smiling.
It's the same thing every time Lesnar has been involved in anything, and this dates back to even when Heyman was repeating "I am the one behind the one in 21 and one" about The Undertaker's undefeated streak.
Having catchphrases is good, as they are recognizable things audiences can pop for. Copying and pasting the same segment for all appearances, including the cookie-cutter matches of German suplexes and F-5s, is just stagnant and worth fast-forwarding.
While most of the Superstars on this list are stale because they've been doing the same thing for a long time, Shelton Benjamin doesn't even have that luxury. Instead, he's grown stagnant because he's done nothing at all.
The foundation of Benjamin as an entertainer has always been his impressive athleticism, which hasn't gone away in all these years, but his variety of personas have all been thrown away.
No longer is he in Team Angle, for obvious reasons. His mother isn't hanging by his side. He isn't cocky as The Gold Standard as he was at his arguable peak. He's just Shelton Benjamin—a former WWE Superstar who is still on the roster.
When he does show up on any program, which is exceedingly rare, he's given nothing to do and might as well be a create-a-wrestler, as he's a blank canvas for someone else to fight.
Even when he was randomly chosen to face Seth Rollins on March 11, none of the spotlight was on him. Since The Architect was the focal point going into WrestleMania 35, he was the one to showcase, but Benjamin could have been anybody else and it wouldn't have made any difference.
Nothing came of the Rollins segment, though: Benjamin had no character moments or any changes to his persona, and he's done nothing since.
Benjamin is going to waste, but if the creative team can figure out a way to refresh his character, he'll have all the tools to become a great contributor to WWE programming again, instead of being a backup wrestler for house shows.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.