WWE Stars in Desperate Need of a New Direction Ahead of Summerslam 2021
With WWE back on the road and Money in the Bank out of the way, the company's Superstars are preparing for SummerSlam on August 21.
This is WWE's unofficial second-biggest pay-per-view of the year. In the past, management has even held Axxess events during the week leading up to the show, which is something usually reserved for WrestleMania.
With John Cena likely taking on Roman Reigns, and Goldberg showing up on Monday's Raw to challenge Bobby Lashley, it looks like we know what the two main events are already. But what about everybody else?
Even after all of the cuts this year, WWE still has a deep roster with a lot of people who are being underutilized right now. If the company wants to make the SummerSlam card special, it needs to start giving more people substantial pushes and storylines in the coming weeks.
The problem with this is WWE has not done well recently featuring certain people who could add a lot of value to the PPV with the right booking.
Let's take a look at some of the Raw and SmackDown names who need a change in direction if they hope to end up on the PPV card at The Biggest Party of the Summer.
Damian Priest had one of the most high-profile storylines in WWE during the leadup to WrestleMania 37. He and Bad Bunny took on The Miz and John Morrison in a match that was good enough to surprise most of the WWE Universe.
Since then, though, Priest has been almost directionless. He may have been dealing with a short-term injury that kept him out of the ring for a few weeks, but WWE has failed to capitalize on the momentum that comes with performing next to a breakout celebrity like Bad Bunny.
The last few weeks have seen him show support for Humberto Carrillo in his feud with Sheamus, but that's it. He's not actively pursuing a title or trying to start a fight with anyone. He's just kind of there.
His gimmick can't be that he's every other Latino Superstar's friend. The New York-born, Puerto Rico-raised Superstar should be one of the breakout stars in Raw this year, not the guy who helps another guy win a title.
Maybe WWE will have him go after Sheamus once Carrillo is out of the picture? A match between The Archer of Infamy and The Celtic Warrior would be a great addition to the SummerSlam card. But if that is what management wants to do, it needs to start building the feud right away.
Remember when Elias was one of the acts getting the biggest live reactions before the pandemic? Nabisco may remember but even Pepperidge Farm forgot about that by the looks of it.
Elias has been stuck in a program with Jaxson Ryker for months. It began with Ryker as his sidekick and tag team partner before WWE made the strange decision to turn the former Forgotten Son babyface and have them feud.
The musical maestro should have been the one to turn face because the crowd already loves chanting for him and seeing him smash guitars over the backs of his rivals. It would have been a slam dunk, especially during these first few months back on the road when every city is a fresh crowd.
Monday's Symphony of Destruction match needs to be their final encounter. Both men need to move on from a feud that nobody cared about in the first place.
Elias is a good hand in the ring and even better on the mic, but if he doesn't get a good rivalry soon, he could become one of those guys who is always chasing the 24/7 Championship before too long.
Jeff Hardy is a former WWE champion and one of the most consistently popular Superstars in all of pro wrestling. No matter what he does or how long he goes between matches, the crowd still loves him.
Monday's Raw saw him score a quick roll-up victory over NXT champion Karrion Kross. This seemed weird, pointless and confusing to most people watching at home, especially since it does not look like WWE plans to follow up with it.
Kross is back in NXT feuding with Samoa Joe and it's doubtful Hardy will head to the black-and-gold brand to face him again.
It almost felt like this match happened just so WWE could show people that Hardy had his old entrance music back, but if that was the case, he could have beaten any number of jobbers instead of a guy who is supposed to be a dominant monster in the ring.
The Charismatic Enigma could elevate just about any midcard feud with his presence. If WWE booked a Fatal 4-Way with Hardy, Sheamus, Priest and Carrillo for the U.S. title, it would have the potential to steal the whole PPV.
You have to wonder if Hardy is satisfied with his current role or if he is looking at what his brother, Matt, is doing in All Elite Wrestling and wondering if he should join him when his contract expires. Only Jeff knows for sure.
Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander
The Hurt Business existed entirely within the confines of the WWE ThunderDome. However, instead of allowing the group to continue to shine when live crowds returned, the company split the group in half.
MVP and Bobby Lashley remain as the only two members, while Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander left to pursue their own goals. Then, for some inexplicable reason, WWE broke up Benjamin and Alexander.
The tag team division on Raw is sparse and could use a tandem of two talented individuals to add some variety. Instead, we lost a stable and a great tag team, and neither guy appears to have any direction.
Alexander had a short feud with Jeff Hardy for a couple of weeks, but that was it. WWE has done nothing of substance with him or Benjamin in months.
At this point, WWE should just have them make up and reform their team so they can battle The Viking Raiders or AJ Styles and Omos. They could have great matches with Lucha House Party or align with Drew McIntyre to become foils for Veer and Shanky during the Scot's feud with Jinder Mahal.
When you have two athletes like Benjamin and Alexander on your roster, keeping them on the bench is just leaving money on the table.
WWE has been pairing up Naomi and Asuka in recent months but with The Queen of Glow heading back to SmackDown, The Empress of Tomorrow is left with nothing to do.
A hard truth we have to live with is that WWE clearly does not put as much effort into the women's division as it does with the men's. It probably never will, but that doesn't mean popular stars should be wasted.
It hasn't felt like Asuka has been given a fair shake in quite some time. Even when she was the Raw women's champion and co-women's tag team titleholder with Charlotte Flair, it seemed like she was playing second fiddle to The Queen despite being the only double champion in the company.
Despite WWE's start-and-stop booking, The Empress of Tomorrow has always given her all in every match. Whether she's trying to get a laugh or kick somebody's head off, she gives 100 percent every single time.
If the company isn't confident in her promo ability, then it should find her a manager. If it doesn't think she is working as a babyface, she should turn heel. WWE needs to do something with her soon or she may decide to return to Japan or see what other U.S. promotions are willing to offer for her services.
Even putting her back in NXT to work with women like Raquel Gonzalez, Xia Li and Dakota Kai would be better than what she has been given to do in recent months.
Did you know Mia Yim, aka Reckoning, is part of the SmackDown roster? If you didn't, it's probably because WWE hasn't used her once since moving her to the blue brand.
Not only did she have the smallest role in Retribution, but she was also the first member punished by Mustafa Ali after she lost a match or two. Since the breakup of the group at Fastlane in March, it feels like WWE has forgotten that she works for the company.
In NXT, Yim was a standout member of the women's division who seemed destined for greatness on the main roster. She has in-ring talent, mic skills, the ability to connect with the crowd, a unique look and 12 years of experience. She's basically WWE's version of a five-tool player.
It shouldn't be this difficult for her to get screen time. As a heel or a babyface, she could help enrich the SmackDown women's title scene and give us several original feuds.
It makes no sense why WWE can't find something for her to do. None.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are both veterans with great reputations for being reliable in-ring workers and having the ability to work as heels or babyfaces at any time. It shouldn't be difficult to find ways to use these guys.
The Dirty Dawgz lost the SmackDown tag team titles to Rey and Dominik Mysterio at WrestleMania Backlash and have been used sparingly ever since. Their most recent appearance was during a quick backstage shot of Bianca Belair walking toward the entranceway on last Friday's edition of the blue brand.
With teams like The Street Profits, The Usos, Alpha Academy and the Mysterios on SmackDown, Ziggler and Roode should be in regular rotation putting on great matches every week. Even if they are going to be used to put others over, they would be great at it.
The WWE tag team division has been booked hot and cold for years, so it shouldn't surprise us that some teams end up on the sidelines for a while, but SmackDown's tag division is thin and running on constant rematches lately.
Ziggler and Roode can help shake things up again, especially if they are booked as a threat to The Usos' reign as champions.