WWE Superstars Who Could Benefit the Most from Shane McMahon's Raw Underground

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2020

WWE Superstars Who Could Benefit the Most from Shane McMahon's Raw Underground

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Shane McMahon made his surprising return to WWE this past week by premiering a new concept for Monday nights called Raw Underground.

    While a fight club featuring grittier action than your standard matches in the ring may seem straightforward enough, details are still scarce on what this league is all about.

    So far, we've only seen a few Raw wrestlers throw fists and some enhancement talent tossed around, but there may be serious potential to create breakout stars with these contests.

    Let's take a look at some Superstars who may receive significant pushes or become big players as part of Raw Underground.

The Ones We've Already Seen

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It would be unwise to skip over the few Superstars we've already seen take part in Raw Underground, as for all we know, they may be the only featured acts period.

    Dabba-Kato has already stood out. This is the first look most people have had of him, as he's only ever appeared as Babatunde a few times in the Greatest Royal Rumble and at Evolve 131.

    Dolph Ziggler was a surprising addition for this. He's more of a standard sports entertainer, but this could bring out a new side in him.

    Erik and Ivar have the Viking spirit in them to fight on a regular basis. They're natural fits for this if there ever were any, especially if they're not in the tag title picture.

    But above them all, there's Bobby Lashley.

    The Hurt Business took charge at the end of the night to claim Raw Underground was under their management going forward. We've yet to see how that will play out, but if someone with Lashley's stature, power and MMA experience continues to show up, he should quickly dominate.

    Associating with MVP has helped his career tremendously. This could be the other missing piece of the puzzle that makes Lashley a main event champion.

Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Prior to Raw Underground, WWE's most recent venture in the MMA side of things was the NXT Fight Pit match between Timothy Thatcher and Matt Riddle.

    Because of their backgrounds, styles and characters, it was a natural fit for those two to lock horns inside what felt like a more UFC-style cage.

    Ignoring how Riddle is on SmackDown and Thatcher is making waves in NXT, if they were to move over to Raw at any point, it would be criminal to keep them out of this league.

    Both could believably wipe the floor with all their challengers and become standouts, if not figureheads of this concept.

    In fact, the success of the Fight Pit match may have even been what inspired this whole idea. Perhaps WWE looked at that and began brainstorming ways to expand on that formula.

    Both seem poised for greatness, and this could be how they're put on the map.

Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak

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    Credit: WWE.com

    While Daniel Bryan has already firmly established himself in WWE over the years, there's nothing wrong with adding layers to one's character.

    We know he's tough, competitive and can handle himself in the ring. If he wants to play around with this new toy, he could have some fun.

    The same applies for his friend and coach, Drew Gulak, who would stand to benefit considerably more.

    The two biggest peaks of Gulak's career so far have been his time as cruiserweight champion trying to make 205 Live a better place and his association with Bryan, which has turned him from something of a jobber into a bona fide mid-carder.

    He has all the tools necessary to be a bigger star, but WWE just hasn't given him the ball.

    Maybe a good run in Raw Underground where he can showcase his technical skills is just what he needs to go from the cusp of something big to actually becoming intercontinental or United States champion down the line, if not more.

Akam and Rezar

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It's been many months since we've seen The Authors of Pain, with no indication of when they'll return.

    If and when they do, enough time has passed that it would be strange for them to reunite with Seth Rollins, as that faction has gone in a different direction. They wouldn't fit in as well as disciples anymore.

    Instead of trying that out and ruining their potential to start over again, WWE should put them in Raw Underground and let them be monsters of the league.

    Both Akam and Rezar look like they could take anyone in a fight. Let's see that happen!

    This isn't the type of concept that facilitates flashy characters, so it's OK for them to not be great at promos or flamboyant on the mic. All they have to do is come off tough and beat people up, which is the duo's speciality.

Akira Tozawa

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE strangely fluctuates with Akira Tozawa's character every few months.

    Sometimes, he's a calculating striker who can take out anyone, become cruiserweight champion and be a dangerous threat on the roster.

    Other times, he's a goofball parodying Vince McMahon or running around with a clan of ninjas.

    Eventually, the pendulum will swing back toward a more serious side, and he could be Raw Underground's resident Stamina Monster in a different way.

    It would be nice to see Tozawa's energetic performances applied to scenarios where he can be framed more as a lethal striker and less of a silly clown, even though he does the latter well, too.

Baron Corbin and Shorty G

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    Credit: WWE.com

    While everyone who wins King of the Ring can always say they won that tournament, no one keeps the crown forever.

    Eventually, King Corbin will have to ditch the regal attire and adjust his character in some fashion, reverting back to regular Baron Corbin.

    With Raw Underground, this may be an opportunity for him to tap more into his amateur boxing background. He is a former three-time Golden Gloves champion, which is often overlooked.

    His new ally, Shorty G, shouldn't be overlooked for a spot in this fight club, either.

    Chad Gable is a former Olympian, having competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics Greco-Roman style 84 kg event.

    So far, Raw Underground has focused more on brutal fists, rather than technical wrestling, but if there are truly no rules, amateur wrestling should more than have its place.

    Perhaps getting involved in this could turn him around from his Shorty G character and back to the serious, ultra-competitive and more than capable American Alpha athlete.


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    Credit: WWE.com

    Even when he was at his most cowardly, Sheamus hasn't been known for shying away from a fight.

    Over the years, The Celtic Warrior has scrapped with some of WWE's best and biggest, such as Triple H, John Cena, Big Show, Mark Henry and more.

    His most recent feud with Jeff Hardy even culminated in a bar fight. That in and of itself acts as an audition tape for him joining Raw Underground.

    He'd likely have to ditch the more pro-wrestling style Brogue Kick for some more generic brawling, but WWE could possibly still get away with that being his signature strike.

    If WWE has someone as tenured as Sheamus and doesn't go with a fighting Irish story for him at some point, it would be a major missed opportunity.

Women's Division Superstars

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    Credit: WWE.com

    For Raw Underground's debut, no female Superstars were spotlighted. There's been no indication they will take part, nor that WWE is keeping them away from it, either.

    But that hasn't stopped Dana Brooke and others from throwing their names in the hat to compete in this league.

    If WWE does allow the women's division to join in on the fun, there are a handful of Superstars who could fit in extremely well.

    On the Raw side of things, Asuka has already proved herself to be one of the toughest warriors over the years.

    Natalya was the first woman to ever graduate from the famed Hart Dungeon. Taking on a more brutal side reminiscent of her grandfather Stu could breathe new life into her character.

    Of course, Shayna Baszler would be a natural fit because of her MMA background. This might be a place where she could bring Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke back into the limelight, too.

    As far as the SmackDown roster is concerned, the only real standout is Sonya Deville for her own MMA experience, but anyone could be a surprise hit.

    NXT also has Mercedes Martinez, Mia Yim and Xia Li who would make believable competitors. Martinez and Yim are branded with a tough attitude, and Li is proficient in martial arts she can incorporate into her fighting style.

Honorable Mentions

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Anyone could pop up in Raw Underground and be a surprising hit, but even some on this list would still be shocking for WWE to utilize in this way.

    It's extremely doubtful Brock Lesnar would ever show up and do this. It could come off as parodying his legitimate UFC career. But if he were to absolutely destroy everyone in the building some random night, it would be one of the most believable fights, for sure.

    Samoa Joe was born for this, but his injuries have sidelined him for the foreseeable future. Until that's in the past and he's able to step back in the ring, we shouldn't expect him to do anything but entertain at the commentary table.

    Cesaro of The Artist Collective has proved his raw strength and amazing athleticism for his entire career. Imagine what he could do if this were his canvas.

    Aleister Black doesn't need repackaging, but if WWE wants to lean more into his kicks as devastating, Raw Underground could be a platform to show that off.

    NXT has some viable candidates, too, but it's unclear how many black-and-gold roster members WWE is willing to use in these fights as anything but jobbers.

    This could be a good vehicle for Arturo Ruas, who practices jiu-jitsu.

    Oney Lorcan from NXT and 205 Live is a ferocious fighter who has given Thatcher a run for his money. One appearance here and The Star Destroyer could become a smash hit for his enthusiastic, smashmouth style.

    Could this be how Killian Dain gets a new lease on life in WWE after struggling the past few years? It's at least worth a shot and has more of a chance of working than continuing to put over Damian Priest, Dexter Lumis and others on NXT.

    The Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne, would surely love to bend some fingers in this league when the travel ban lifts and he can fly out to Florida.

    The same goes for Tyson T-Bone from NXT UK. His look alone screams for his involvement in this. That might not translate to major wins, as he could be one of the go-to guys to beat, but even that's a step up from what he's done so far.

    What's great is that this is so fresh that anything can happen. Anyone could step up into the ropeless ring and make a name for themselves.


    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.