Alexa Bliss, Cody Rhodes and 8 WWE and AEW Stars in Need of a Reboot
Virtually all wrestlers undergo a character change at one point or another in order to remain relevant. It's constantly happening in WWE and All Elite Wrestling, but some are in need of a reboot more than others.
That's especially apparent right now with Alexa Bliss, who recently returned to Raw in a series of pre-taped therapy segments. The hope is they will lead to WWE revamping her stale persona, but there has been little indication of that.
Although that could well prove to be the endgame with Bliss and her ongoing storyline, there are those who have shown zero signs of following through with making the appropriate changes to their character. Cody Rhodes and his bizarre booking over the last several months in AEW fall into that category.
A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for anyone on either roster, and the timing couldn't be better at the beginning of a new year. This should be when WWE and AEW evaluate everyone's current characters and determine whether an overhaul is needed.
The following eight stars could benefit big time from a fresh coat of paint as 2022 gets underway.
It's been just over a year and a half since Alexa Bliss embraced the dark side and was enchanted by The Fiend, but to some fans, the storyline feels like it's lasted an eternity.
To her credit, The Goddess has played the possessed character exceptionally well. It's well documented that she's a die-hard horror fan and has seemingly enjoyed doing something drastically different than what she was doing previously, but the time has come for her to move in a new direction.
Before Bliss' four-month break from WWE programming, her supernatural shenanigans had become too unbelievable and almost unbearable to endure. What the company had her doing made for terrible television, and the quality of her matches suffered significantly.
At this point, she would be best suited going back to being Little Miss Bliss, or at the very least ditching her current character and all of its over-the-top elements.
Since resurfacing on Raw last week, she has been involved in therapy segments. That could indicate there's a plan in place for her to return with an altered gimmick, as there's little to be gained from her continuing as the female Fiend beyond more merchandise sales for her doll, Lilly.
Some of Matt Hardy's best character work has come in the last decade, specifically as Big Money Matt. The heel gimmick was excellent in both Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, but it hasn't clicked in the same way in AEW.
That's mostly due to The Hardy Family Office being booked as an undercard faction and everyone in it being lower-level competitors. That includes Private Party, who have lost a lot of momentum since turning heel and aligning with Hardy compared to when they initially arrived in the promotion.
The iconic tag team wrestler made the comment last week on Dynamite coming out of his latest loss to Penta El Zero M that something will need to change. That immediately led to him forming some sort of a working relationship with the equally damaged Andrade El Idolo, but that won't be the answer to his recent woes.
With Matt's brother, Jeff, now a free agent, a Hardy Boyz reunion (assuming Jeff is healthy and in a good place following his abrupt release from WWE) would be a much better use of Matt at this stage of his career. The Hall of Fame-worthy duo definitely have one last run in them as a tandem and a wealth of teams they can work with in AEW's deep tag division.
Matt's reboot should involve him moving away from Big Money Matt for the time being and possibly tapping back into Broken Matt now that crowds have returned. That would also free up Private Party to branch back out on their own and lay the groundwork for a bout between them and The Hardy Boyz.
Considering what he's capable of in the ring, Ricochet should have been the easiest person for WWE to book upon his move to the main roster in 2019. Unfortunately, aside from a one-month run as United States champion that same year, his run has been extremely underwhelming.
That's entirely due to how he's been handled. There have been glimpses of greatness where WWE has allowed him to showcase his awe-inspiring aerial abilities, but he's been kept limited with what he can do before ultimately losing.
WWE needs to hit the reset button with The One and Only, and no, changing his awesome entrance music last week on SmackDown wasn't the answer. Rather, it only made matters worse.
Although he's a natural babyface, having him experiment with a heel turn would be worth a shot. At the very least, there should be video packages diving into the Ricochet character that give the audience a real reason to care about him again.
The 33-year-old is too talented to continue wasting away on the sidelines. If WWE doesn't plan on releasing him, then it would be foolish to not capitalize on what it has with him by starting from scratch and sticking with the basics (i.e. what got him over in the first place).
Cody Rhodes has never been more polarizing as a performer than he is right now. Some may say that makes him more interesting, but an argument can also be made for his recent segments on AEW programming being among the worst on the show.
Look no further than his return promo this past week on Dynamite. Its intent was to build toward next week's Ladder match for the two TNT titles, and while Rhodes got around to announcing that eventfully, it took him several minutes and a lot of self-indulgent rambling to get there.
The American Nightmare is without doubt supremely talented both in the ring and on the mic, along with having a connection to the crowd like no other. That's why it's such a mystery that he's been beyond directionless for the better part of the past year.
Fans have been begging Cody to turn heel and understandably so because he's a natural in that role. He can be a brilliant babyface, but the damage has been done and it's time for him to move on from pretending that he's the John Cena of AEW.
Sometimes it's easier to simply embrace the boos than to fight an uphill battle with the audience that is only going to cause the character and the overall show to suffer in the meantime.
It was a nice attempt, but the Nikki A.S.H. character didn't seem to pan out as well as WWE likely hoped.
The former Nikki Cross sat on the sidelines for the first half of 2021 before pitching her "almost a superhero" persona to WWE officials at the start of the summer. It successfully got her back on Raw regularly and was a fine idea in theory, but despite getting over with the younger audience temporarily, Nikki A.S.H. was never going to work for the long term unless it was presented properly.
Unfortunately, the execution was lackluster and the character gradually lost momentum following her one-month run as Raw women's champion. Her subsequent alliance with Rhea Ripley didn't do much to further either one of their careers, either.
Turning heel last week on Raw by betraying Ripley was the best thing that could have happened to the Scot. The key now is pivoting from the superhero stuff entirely, seeing as she will not be taken seriously until she does.
Making her more of a supervillain could work, but that would still entail giving her character another makeover. Returning to her roots as the unhinged Nikki Cross from years ago in NXT would be her best bet, but again, it's all about the execution because that will fail too if the booking doesn't improve.
Andrade El Idolo
Of the many top talents who arrived in AEW in 2021 and thrived, Andrade El Idolo was not among them.
It's genuinely a mystery how the promotion has managed to bungle everything he has been involved in thus far. He comes across like a total star with the way he carries himself, but the booking has been abysmal and he has quickly fallen by the wayside.
His program with PAC struggled to get going due to their infrequent appearances on AEW TV. Worse yet, he gained nothing from feuding with Cody Rhodes and wound up losing the Street Fight blow-off.
Above all else, the biggest tweak that must be made to Andrade's act is giving him a mouthpiece. He and Zelina Vega were a perfect pairing in WWE, but Vickie Guerrero was an odd fit for him when he originally debuted for AEW. He had better luck with Chavo Guerrero, but they were broken up within a matter of months.
The former NXT champion is far from damaged goods, but he's gotten off to a less-than-stellar start in AEW and needs a real reset to salvage his faltering run before it's too late.
Despite being one of the hottest commodities in all of WWE this time a year ago, Finn Balor is already back to being booked as a directionless midcarder on the Raw roster.
By mid-2021, the Irishman was long overdue for a return to the main roster. Although he was positioned toward the top of the card following SummerSlam for his feud with Roman Reigns over the Universal Championship, he was quickly bumped back down to midcard status once he moved to Raw in the draft.
He has done little of note aside from represent Raw at Survivor Series and rack up losses to the likes of King Woods, Seth Rollins and Austin Theory. From a character standpoint, he's been as bland as he was before he left for NXT in 2019, which is exactly what fans feared going into his second stint on the main roster.
Per Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co, WWE views The Prince as being in the spot Jeff Hardy was in before he got released. He's a credible veteran who can help elevate the younger talent, but it's apparent to everyone else that he's capable of so much more.
The easy fix for Balor would be to turn him heel, something he's never done on Raw or SmackDown. Having thrived in that role on NXT, he would have no trouble finding similar success on the main stage if the company put in the effort to get him over at that level.
Few people in the business can lay claim to being more of a master of reinvention than Chris Jericho, but the time has come for him to change up his tired shtick once again.
He was arguably hotter than anyone upon the inception of AEW in 2019 and was consistently one of the highlights of Dynamite every Wednesday. It was all downhill once his reign as AEW world champion came to an end, though, and most storylines he's had since then have been very hit or miss.
It's more noticeable now than ever before that the material he's using for his promos is subpar and pales in comparison to most others on the roster. It could be a case of him not jelling with 2point0 or Eddie Kingston, but aside from the weekly singalongs, he has offered little of substance to the show for some time.
The 51-year-old would greatly benefit from an extended break (i.e. more than a month) from AEW TV and a character change of some sort. He's always been in his element as a heel, but if AEW prefers to keep him babyface because he's beloved by the majority, then he needs to ditch the lazy comedy and crowd-pandering.
Either way, something drastic needs to change with Jericho if he's going to remain a fixture in AEW. Luckily, he has proved in the past that he is fully capable of revitalizing his career when necessary.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.