Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ten of the Most Underrated Superstars in WWE Today

There is a phenomenal amount of talent on WWE's roster just waiting to get their chance to shine, but it's a sad fact that most of them will probably be future endeavoured before they get a significant push.

As a tribute to the guys whose hard work goes largely unnoticed on NXT or SuperStars, or even on the undercard of Raw or SmackDown!, I present to you my ten most underrated superstars currently working for WWE.

10. Drew McIntyre

The former 'Chosen One' of Mr. McMahon, Drew McIntyre has gone from being an Intercontinental champion and Elimination Chamber participant to SmackDown's king jobber on a losing streak as long as time. To make things worse, it appears he's currently undergoing a gimmick change from 'none' to 'homosexual playboy', which is...different.

Drew's already had a lot of success, which is why he's sitting at #10 on my list, but if this new gimmick is thrown on top of a massive losing streak it may well be that the next time I decide to do a list like this he's a lot closer to the #1 spot. Hopefully, though, this losing streak will lead to a gimmick change (without the false homosexuality) and a return to the upper reaches of the company.

9. Hunico

Hunico arrived in WWE as the second Sin Cara (later Sin Cara Negro), and after a brief feud with the real Sin Cara he was forced to unmask and reveal himself as Hunico.

Since that time, Hunico has joined forces with Primo & Epico before moving away from the Colón's and bringing in his buddy from the barrio, Camacho, low rider and all. No matter who he's been alligning himself with, Hunico has been impressive in the ring, combining his obvious lucha-libre experience with solid mat work and good mic skills.

Unfortunately, Hunico has yet to find a proper feud to help further increase his stock, with his rivalry with Ted DiBiase (who almost made the list too) failing to generate much heat, probably because of the tenuous reasoning behind Hunico's hatred of DiBiase - an apparent anger at not being invited to any of the DiBiase Posse's pre-show parties. Until this changes, Hunico will be stuck at midcard level instead of challenging for the secondary titles, where he belongs.

8. Tyler Reks

Tyler Reks may not be as obviously talented as some of the guys I've already mentioned, but he's got a great look as well as being good in the ring and on the mic, and I feel that, as part of one of the few real tag teams in WWE, his mistreatment is more of an injustice.

WWE's tag division is in pretty poor shape at present, and they desperately need some more teams to pad out the division. As such, it is a mystery to me why Hawkins & Reks have not been given time on RAW or SmackDown to show what they can do. Instead, they have been used on NXT, campaigning for change and getting beaten most weeks.

If WWE would just give them a chance, Hawkins & Reks could be a real asset to the tag team division, and Reks has the potential to be a very good upper mid-card talent with the right booking, however I can't see it happening, and I'm afraid to say I wouldn't be surprised if Reks is one of the names on the list for the summer clearout.

7. Yoshi Tatsu

The token Japanese guy of WWE, Yoshi Tatsu barely even features on SuperStars these days, which is ludicrous. He's gone backwards since the demise of ECW, despite having a good cult following and a style that helps him stand out from most of the guys on the rest of the roster. He's technically sound and has excellent strikes, as well as being able to fit with the cruiserweight style of the WWE's smaller guys, and yet creative seem to have no idea what to do with him.

I'd have him as another candidate for a firing, but there has been speculation about the revival of the cruiserweight division lately, and if this were to happen I think Yoshi Tatsu would excel as one of the leading contenders for the title.

Oh, and his entrance music is awesome. That's gotta count for something.

6. Heath Slater

Yeah, for real.

When talking about Drew McIntyre I called him "SmackDown!'s king jobber", but, let's be honest, Heath Slater is the king jobber, not just of SmackDown!, but of the entire WWE roster. I mean, in recent weeks he's been beaten by guys on NXT, and lost to Hornswoggle in an over the top rope challenge. Alright, stop laughing now.

For pretty much as long as I can remember, the One Man Southern Rock Band has been stuck in the midcard putting guys over, and in that time I've come to think of him as the undercard Dolph Ziggler. Sure he's not as talented as Ziggler and he can't sell as well (who can, frankly?), but he makes other guys look good and that's what matters. He's got charisma and speaks well on the mic, but almost everyone I see talking about Slater considers him a joke.

I'm putting that down to his OMRB gimmick, which is awful, and his finisher, which looks like it belongs in the arsenal of a diva, not a multiple time tag team champion who was one part of one of the biggest stables in the history of the company. If he were to come up with a new gimmick and finisher, I feel he could be another good addition to the IC title scene once Cody Rhodes moves up to the main event. Until then, in the eyes of most fans he'll just be Heath Slater the jobber.

5. Trent Barreta

Anyone else remember him?

Like a many of the people featured on this list, Barreta is a smaller guy who would thrive in a cruiserweight division, but whose size goes against him in the current WWE setup, where there is no such division. Like the others, though, Barreta is an extremely talented and entertaining wrestler, who deserves a chance to show what he can do when put up against some of the more familiar midcarders. He could, for instance, give som entertaining matches against the likes of Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, or maybe even Zack Ryder.

It appears that he's about to join forces with Tyson Kidd, which is a promising start towards giving Barreta more opportunities to showcase his skills. He has already shown he can work well in the division when he partnered Caylen Croft in The Dudebusters, and should his partnership with Tyson Kidd prove fruitful it would be great to see them face off against Primo & Epico for the titles somewhere down the line, as I think they could provide matches at least as good as the current champs had with Air Boom, if not far better.

4. Johnny Curtis

I'm going to come right out and say it - I bloody love Johnny Curtis. His current gimmick is fantastic, and he plays his part in NXT superbly. The guy won NXT season 4, and now he deserves to be on SmackDown!, peering round corners and creeping out the divas.

For me, the only thing holding him back is that he isn't gettting much ring time at present, due to NXT being such a short show and having other angles that need to be furthered. If it were up to me I'd scrap the entire Percy Watson/Titus O'Neil angle and use that time to get Curtis more airtime.

He's a good worker in the ring, and he's able to draw heat, but it's his charisma and mic skills that lead me to believe he's a star of the future. Just give him a chance, WWE.

3. Derrick Bateman

I wanted to put Derrick Bateman & Johnny Curtis level, but that would've spoilt the list a bit, so I've gone Derrick ahead of Curtis because he plays a slightly larger part in NXT.

Like Curtis, I really enjoy watching Bateman backstage, and I think he's got a gimmick that fits him really well, to the point where I suspect he's just being himself most of the time. He plays the downtrodden boyfriend well when working with Maxine, without turning too far away from his 'regular' personality, and his work with Kaitlyn (and Johnny Curtis himself, actually) is also very good.

In the ring he's pretty talented, probably no better or worse than Curtis, but like Creepy Curty it's his charisma that could propel him right to the top, should he ever be allowed off NXT for more than a brief battle royal appearance. Hopefully that time will come soon.

2. Tyson Kidd

If anybody complies a list of the most underrated superstars in WWE and doesn't include Tyson Kidd, then quite frankly their list is awful (or it's the future and he got the push he deserves, in which case hooray - I'm ignoring the possibility of him being released, because that would be beyond disgusting).

Tyson Kidd is one of the most talented in ring workers on the roster. Whether he's been working as a singles competitor or in a tag team, he's shown that he has the skills to be a big player for the company. His mic skills could be the only thing holding him back, but they're decent enough for him to be working in the midcard, and anyway, with his ties to the Hart family it would be very easy to get someone in to manage him and handle most of the talking (did someone say Jimmy Hart?).

 Tyson Kidd should be challenging for the second level titles - after all, Justin Gabriel is, and he's less talented than Kidd and has comparable mic skills - and as long as WWE keep him hidden from view on NXT they're denying themselves the chance to develop a guy who could be a staple of their programming for years to come.

1. Curt Hawkins

So, coming in at #1 is Curt Hawkins.

Hawkins has been around a while now, but for some reason WWE still haven't realised quite what they have on their hands. I'm not going to say that he could be a future main eventer, but he certainly belongs in the upper-midcard chasing the secondary titles - if his former tag partner Zack Ryder is there, then Hawkins should be too.

Hawkins has become something of a tag team specialist during his time with WWE, having team with Zack Ryder, Vance Archer and now Tyler Reks, and I think he's the Shawn Michaels of all three of those teams. He's got good in ring skills as well as being excellent on the mic, but he continues to be used in the tag team division.

Whilst a career of tag team wrestling isn't a bad thing, especially in a company who seem unable to identify and elevate talent effectively, but what makes this even worse is that he and tag partner Tyler Reks were not even given a chance to shine when the division had a mere two other teams. Whilst Primo & Epico faced off against The Uso's and TWO different teams featuring Santino Marella - one of which was with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, for crying out loud - Hawkins & Reks have been restricted to NXT, campaigning for change from the Matt Striker regime.

I, for one, hope to see the change campaign roll on until everyone knows just how good Curt Hawkins is, not just the few of us who watch NXT every week.

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