After the longest column in the history of columns last week, thanks to the 29,378 people under AEW contract, it’s time to close the “Overpushed, Underpushed, or Just Right” series with the WWE roster.
The rules are the same as they were in the NXT and AEW columns. A wrestler qualifies as long as they have wrestled at least three times on television or pay-per-view in 2023, even if they’re currently on the shelf with an injury or something along those lines.
If at all possible, I want to focus more on Raw and Smackdown, as I’ve already done a column like this for NXT. So, if someone on the main roster has spent some time in NXT, I’ll mention it, but I will try to discuss their push as a main roster talent. Some cases will be easier than others, but that’s my goal, anyway.
With that out of the way, let’s rock and roll.
AJ Styles: His year has been marred by lengthy absences. He broke his ankle in the final days of 2022, causing him to miss the first four-and-a-half months of 2023. Now he has been out of action for the last three months with a kayfabe injury after being taken out by Solo Sikoa. When he has been around, it has been an average year, almost literally, with a 7-6 record on television or pay-per-view. All signs point to him returning soon, especially with Roman Reigns needing new fodder… pardon me, a new opponent… to bridge him to WrestleMania. Even at 46 years old, AJ is one of the most dependable performers on the roster, capable of having some really good matches against anyone he’s in the ring with. It’s crazy to think that he hasn’t held a title since he and Omos dropped the Raw Tag Team Titles to RK-Bro at SummerSlam 2021, a good 28 months ago. The last time he held a singles title was, coincidentally, exactly one year prior to that SummerSlam event, when he was the Intercontinental Champion but dropped the title to Jeff Hardy. You can make the argument that the ship may have sailed when it comes to him being a World Champion again (I disagree with that, by the way), but it has been too long since he has been a top guy. Underpushed.
Akira Tozawa: He has a 1-9 record on television this year, but he’s also a comedy wrestler, so his record isn’t supposed to be good. That’s my problem with the whole thing, though. He is great at the comedy thing, but he is also one of the most Underpushed wrestlers in the business today. If you’ve seen his work in Dragon Gate, or even his work in the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, you know exactly what he’s capable of in the ring. When was the last time he had the opportunity to show that off? Way too often, wrestlers who get the comedic stuff are treated like glorified enhancement talent, losing almost all of their matches. It doesn’t always have to be that way.
Alba Fyre: She’s had a bit of a roller coaster year. Her record to start the year was 1-3 through January, then she won her next six matches, including a reign (with Isla Dawn) as an NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion, followed by the champs losing to Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler (the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions) in a title unification match. That was almost five months ago, and we haven’t seen her wrestle on our screens since. Her pairing with Dawn was really starting to pick up steam, and then, just like that, they disappeared. The current state of the women’s tag division in WWE is, to put it nicely, not so good. They could use a team like Fyre and Dawn. Underpushed.
Angelo Dawkins: It feels like we’ve had a cloud of suspense hanging over the heads of both Street Profits for years now. Is the group going to split up? Will Dawkins turn heel, or will Montez Ford turn heel? Even when it looked like that suspense was ending when they aligned themselves with Bobby Lashley, we’ve already seen the trio look like they were going to split up on more than one occasion. For now, the Profits remain one of the best, and most exciting, tag teams in the business. With that said, we’re coming up on three full years since they’ve held any titles, largely because of the stranglehold that The Usos had on the tag division for the longest time. I like the push that the Profits are having right now, so I’m going to go with Just Right here, but I just think we’re approaching the time when they need to reach the top of the mountain once again.
Apollo Crews: Longtime readers of mine will remember that I was one of the first columnists (maybe the first?) anywhere to write about Uhaa Nation, praising him for the ridiculous combination of size, speed, strength, and athleticism that he possessed. Here we are, coming up on a decade later, and while his name and place of employment have changed, one thing remains the same… he still owns a ridiculous combination of size, speed, strength, and athleticism. It’s almost unmatched in the business, and yet, he hasn’t come close to meeting the potential he once had. He has a 1-9 record on television or pay-per-view this year, and most of that action came in NXT. The last time he won a televised match on the main roster was the January 10th, 2022 episode of Raw, when he teamed up with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to defeat Damian Priest and The Street Profits. If you want to find his last televised singles win, you have to go back to the June 4th, 2021 episode of Smackdown, when he successfully defended his Intercontinental Title against Kevin Owens. Strictly based on ability, he’s Underpushed. However, I think you can make an argument that he has been beaten down for so long that he might be in the Just Right category, as the average member of the WWE Universe isn’t buying him as anything more than he is, if they even remember who he is.
Ashante Thee Adonis: Hit Row has had a bit of a rocky stint, haven’t they? They started building themselves up on NXT, showing a lot of potential for the future. They were called up to the main roster during the 2021 WWE Draft, moving to Smackdown. Unfortunately, B-Fab was released a month later, and the rest of the group was released two weeks after that, all of them victims of the numerous layoffs that WWE decided to pull the trigger on during the pandemic. Nine months later, the group (minus Isaiah Scott aka Swerve Strickland, who had already signed with AEW) returned to WWE, under the direction of Triple H, who was in power and was bringing a lot of “his” people back to the company. Without Swerve, who was easily their most talented member, the group floundered in their return. A little over a year after coming back, Top Dolla was released again, leaving Hit Row down to Ashante and B-Fab. Ashante is 1-7 in televised matches this year, with his only win coming back in January. Fun fact… outside of NXT house shows and episodes of 205 Live, he has never won a singles match. Ever. In his entire five-year career. I don’t know what else to say to that, so let’s just say his push is Just Right, because no other option really makes sense. Someone has to lose matches, but he isn’t even really around to do that, not even competing on television in four-and-a-half months.
Asuka: With a 14-7-3 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023, she has had her ups and downs. She had a big win streak in the first half of the year, and while she returned to Earth in the second half, her recent shift to joining Damage CTRL has people excited for her all over again. Sure, she might get lost in the shuffle because of how much talent is in the group, but for the time being, it basically guarantees that she’s going to be a very important part of WWE storylines. I’ll take it. Just Right.
Austin Theory: Hey, remember when Vince McMahon was still in charge and he made Theory his new on-screen pet project? Would it have surprised you if Theory was pushed to the main event back then? It sure wouldn’t have surprised me. Keep in mind… I wrote about Theory years before he signed with WWE, saying that Vince would fall in love with him as soon as he saw him. He started the year as the United States Champion, picking up pinfall victories over the likes of Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Edge, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Sheamus, and Jey Uso. Think about that for a moment. Look at that lineup. Insanity. It has been pretty much all downhill for him since he dropped the title in August, though. Counting the match where he lost the title, he was 15-6 on television or pay-per-view to start 2023. Since then, he is 5-5, for a grand total of 20-11. That’s still pretty good, but he has definitely been moved down the card. I think he’s in a good spot right now, though. Much more fitting than where he was. His pairing with Grayson Waller is perfect, and they could be heat magnets for a long, long time. Just Right.
Bayley: I think it’s safe to say most of us assume Bayley is going to be kicked to the curb by the rest of Damage CTRL at some point in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps she could use the change of scenery, as her year hasn’t gone well when it comes to wins and losses. She currently has a record of 6-18-1 on television or pay-per-view this year. Pay-per-views and title matches have been a thorn in her side for a while now. The last time she won on pay-per-view was at Clash At The Castle, 15 months ago, and the last time she was victorious in any sort of title match was SummerSlam 2020, when she defended the Smackdown Women’s Title against Asuka. If Damage CTRL does, indeed, toss her to the side, I think that could be really beneficial for her. A face run could be what she needs to get back to the top. Until that happens, though, I’ll say her push is Just Right. She’s losing a lot, but she also isn’t doing the best work of her career. Personally, I feel she’s so much better as a face, and I’m looking forward to her righting those wrongs.
Becky Lynch: Her record on television or pay-per-view this year is 18-10-1, but she has reached that rare air where her record almost doesn’t matter. She is one of the biggest stars in the business, man or woman, and is going to be involved in major matches and storylines, no matter what. We’ve seen her successful on the main roster and in NXT, and recently, it seems like her role has been to make as many younger talents look amazing as physically possible. So far, so good. She has been making women like Tiffany Stratton, Xia Li, and Lyra Valkyria look like they’re going to have incredibly bright futures. This is a great role for her. Her push is Just Right.
Bianca Belair: She started her year off with 11 straight wins on television or pay-per-view, not picking up her first loss until Night Of Champions on May 27th. Her overall record in those types of matches is 18-3-1, which seems like the fourth consecutive year that has featured her barely losing at all. In that regard, no woman on the WWE roster is pushed as hard and as much as Bianca has been. Is she deserving of that push? I don’t see how you can say she isn’t. She’s the most consistent woman in WWE right now, delivering time after time after time, especially in “big match” situations. Would I like it if she lost a little more often? Yes. I think that could be beneficial for her. For now, though, just like Becky Lynch, she is far too big a star to be just about anywhere other than where she is now. Just Right.
Bobby Lashley: He has had a weird year. With a television or pay-per-view record of 11-5-1, it’s not bad, but it immediately makes you notice that he hasn’t exactly been busy. He had his WrestleMania plans scrapped at almost the last minute when Bray Wyatt was put on the shelf with a mysterious illness, and it’s a crying shame that the company couldn’t give him something else to do on its biggest show of the year. After Mania, Lashley went after the United States Title for a month or so, and then he simply disappeared. He wrestled on the May 12th episode of Smackdown, and his next match on television wasn’t until October 6th. He’s been back on television for over two months now, and still only has a total of five matches, as he has become more of a manager/advisor/big homie for The Street Profits. He’ll be turning 48 in 2024, but I think he still has plenty of tread left on his tires, so to speak. He’s Underpushed. I think he could easily be working in and around the main event scene right now. He’s still a monster, and more importantly, is a “believable” monster.
Braun Strowman: It has been over seven months since we’ve seen him wrestle, as he is still recovering from a major neck fusion surgery. At one point, it was reported that he would be out of action for at least a year, which would mean he would be out until at least Backlash. His 2023 was pretty nondescript. He had a 5-8 record on television or pay-per-view, and he spent almost his entire time in a tag team with Ricochet. While the pairing was initially strange, especially since it came after Braun’s controversial comments online about “flippy floppers” in wrestling, I think it was a good spot for Braun. It allowed Ricochet to handle the bulk of the work, while letting Braun look like the monster he is, but in shorter bursts that kept him fresh. If you want to base things on when we last saw Braun, I think his push was Just Right. We don’t know what his future holds, and if he’ll be back with Ricochet when he returns, but it might behoove him to at least be paired off with someone, especially after this current injury that he’s battling.
Brock Lesnar: Just Right. Super easy to figure out. He is fully entrenched in the “special attraction” role, and that’s exactly where he belongs. As long as he never wrestles Roman Reigns again, I love being able to see him pop up every few months, bring chaos and anarchy, have a kickass match, and then disappear for a while again. It has been over four months since his last match. That’s the longest he’s gone between matches, outside of the pandemic, since he went four-and-a-half months between WrestleMania 32 (vs Dean Ambrose) and SummerSlam 2016 (vs Randy Orton). I don’t know if that means anything. It’s just an interesting stat I found out when doing research for this column.
Bronson Reed: Triple H decided to bring Reed back after he was released in August 2021, and thus far, the return has been a bit of a mixed bag. In the beginning, Reed was getting little-to-no reactions from live crowds because they had no idea who he was. Not only was he not with the company for nearly a year-and-a-half, but when he was there, it was on NXT, which was getting a fraction of the viewership that Raw was getting. A lot of returns that Triple H orchestrated suffered the same fate over the last year or so. Reed has a 15-11-2 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but if you remove Battle Royal appearances and title matches, the record becomes 15-5-2, which looks fantastic. That seems to paint a clear picture of where he is on the proverbial ladder. He can beat a bunch of people that are lower on the card, earning himself spots in the midcard title scene, only to fail at becoming a champion. That’s a good place for him right now. He’s working his way up the card, and also with reactions from the WWE Universe. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a midcard champion in 2024, and I think it will happen, but for now, his push is Just Right.
Brutus Creed: If we’re going strictly off of their work on Raw, the Creeds are currently 4-0. Throw in their NXT work, and their television or pay-per-view record in 2023 is at 10-8. Right now, let’s focus more on what they’re currently doing on Monday nights. Obviously, it’s entirely too early to fully talk about the push they’re receiving. What we know is that they have already earned a shot at the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles, currently held by Finn Bálor and Damian Priest. Is it too early to push the Creeds to the top? Probably. I love them, and their futures can be incredibly bright, but the average member of the WWE Universe has seen them wrestle exactly four times now, with zero knowledge of anything they did in NXT, or as amateur wrestlers, etc. Let the Creeds build a connection with live crowds first. They’re not getting great reactions yet, as crowds are still getting to know them. Their push is Just Right, unless, of course, they become the new tag champs this early on, which would change everything.
Butch: Underpushed. Easy. For years now, I’ve been saying that Pete Dunne would be able to succeed on the main roster of WWE, even though he is much smaller in stature than wrestlers that the company usually gives big pushes to. His “Bruiserweight” style means that he hits harder, and is more physical, than many of his larger counterparts. It doesn’t matter if you’re the size of Dragon Lee, Bronson Reed, Omos, Roman Reigns, or Damian Priest… your fingers can be broken, and it’s going to hurt. You can argue that it’s too late for him now, as he has been “stuck” in this role for nearly two years. That might be true, but it’s also something that can be changed with just a little bit of effort. Unlike what I said with the Creeds, Butch has had a lot of time to make some sort of connection with live main roster crowds. Again, we’re slowly coming up on two years since he became a member of the Smackdown roster. Fans have seen him have a bunch of really good matches… banger after banger, if you will… so a more straightforward and serious push for him could work. Possibly. Maybe. If Triple H wants it to.
Cameron Grimes: As always, whenever Cameron Grimes is brought up, I am legally and contractually obligated to mention that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling event several years ago. As for the man’s current doings… well, it started off decently, but has been slowly circling the drain for a bit. When he debuted on Smackdown, he racked up two straight wins, and things looked good for him. Unfortunately, he has lost his last seven matches, with his last victory coming nearly seven months ago. He has been another victim of WWE taking wrestlers from NXT and just throwing them in the waters of the main roster with no introductions and no reasons for main roster crowds to care about them. Having him on television so infrequently hasn’t helped him in the slightest. He’s more than talented enough to be in a better position, but I’ll say his push is Just Right for now, because there’s still no real connection that has been made.
Candice LeRae: Let’s keep the theme going… here’s yet another victim of being thrown out in front of main roster crowds that don’t really know who the person is, or why they should care. To this day, she still walks to the ring to very little crowd reaction, and that’s a shame. Her 1-11 record on television or pay-per-view makes things worse, and her inconsistent usage has only added shit to the pile. Like Cameron Grimes… and again, I am legally and contractually obligated to mention that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling event several years ago… Candice is more than talented enough to be on the receiving end of a solid main roster push, but for this column, I’m saying her push is Just Right. Until WWE gives live crowds more of a reason to care about Candice, one way or another, any real push wouldn’t make a ton of sense.
Carlito: He has wrestled exactly three matches since returning to the company, so he qualifies for this column, but just barely. Backlash was where we saw him again, as a part of the magical night involving Bad Bunny in Puerto Rico. We saw Carlito again at Fastlane, where he made his official return to the company by participating in a minute or so worth of action in a ten-minute match. He hasn’t won a match since, but again, he has only wrestled two more times on television. That’s good work if you can get it. With the LWO being ripped apart after Santos Escobar turned heel and knocked Rey Mysterio out of action, the focus of the group seems like it will shift even further away from Carlito, but at least he’s still popular. Just Right.
Carmella: She is someone who has experienced quite the roller coaster ride over the last year-plus. Last August, she got injured and was forced to miss time. A couple months later, she revealed to the world that, not only did she have a miscarriage while she was out of action, but that an ectopic pregnancy had caused another one. She returned to the ring this February, where she would go 2-3 on television or pay-per-view before being taken off the road once more… because she was pregnant again. Thankfully, she and her husband, Corey Graves, would get to have a child (Graves already had three kids from a previous marriage) as they had a baby boy last month. With all that going on, does it even matter what Carmella’s push is? We have no idea if/when she’ll return to the ring, but if she does, you can expect her to be in the same vicinity that she always is, and that’s fine. Just Right.
Cedric Alexander: Without a doubt, he is one of the most Underpushed performers WWE has had in a long time. He is an incredible wrestler, and based on pure skills, he would belong in the main event scene quite easily. With a 1-9 record on television this year, he doesn’t have much to show for all that ability. His recent matches with Dragon Lee were a brief reminder of what he was capable of in the ring, but those bouts were used as a vehicle to get Dragon Lee over, not him. In an ideal world, Cedric would be in regular contention for the Intercontinental or United States Title, depending on what show he was on, with the occasional trip to the Tag Team Title scene with a partner. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world.
Charlotte Flair: I’ve defended Charlotte a lot in the past when people have been hard on her, but I think it’s pretty clear that she’s Overpushed right now. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I watched a match of hers where it looked like she was motivated and looked like she really cared. When you’re a 452-time champion, give or take one, I guess it’s only a matter of time before it seems like things bore you because you’ve done it all. She’s always going to be one of the most used women on WWE programming, participating in the biggest storylines, winning the most matches, and bringing home more titles. It doesn’t have to be that way. Actually, it shouldn’t be that way. However, now we play the waiting game after Charlotte suffered what is rumored to be a serious injury on Smackdown. Early rumors are that it’s a knee injury, but as of the time I get ready to post this column, it’s only speculation.
Chad Gable: I find myself torn on this one sometimes. On one hand, the man is clearly one of the best technical wrestlers in the business today, and is more than deserving of a major push because of it. However, on the other hand, he seems to be more over with the average live crowds because of his character work, catchphrases, and the overall relationship he has with Otis and now, Maxxine Dupri. In the right situation, with the right opponent(s), I could definitely see Gable as a World Champion one day. At the same time, I could definitely see his feud with Gunther as the peak of his career. It’s tough, but I’m still going to have to say that he’s Underpushed right now. He seems to have been brought back down a bit after his series of matches with Gunther, and that’s a shame.
Chelsea Green: An 11-18 record on television or pay-per-view doesn’t really look all that great, but as one-half of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions (with Piper Niven), she’s in an important spot on WWE programming right now. Here’s a factoid that will tell you all you need to know about those WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles… Chelsea and Piper are currently the second-longest reigning champions in the history of the belts, and, as of the day I post this column, they’ll be 34 days short of passing Asuka and Kairi Sane to own the longest reign. I know, I know… the first 28 days of the reign featured Sonya Deville as Chelsea’s partner, until a torn ACL forced a new partner to be named, but you get my point. How you feel about her push depends on your feelings about what is important in wrestling right now. There aren’t many women in WWE who do better character work than Chelsea Green, if there are any at all. If that’s what you feel is important, you certainly aren’t going to think she’s being Overpushed at all. However, she isn’t very high on the list when it comes to the women who are having the best matches (to be fair, she isn’t in a position to be doing so, anyway). If that’s what you feel is important, you would probably like her to go away for a while. I love character work, but that only goes so far with me, especially when there are much better in-ring options that aren’t able to advance ahead of said character work. I’m going with Overpushed here. I don’t think this reign is doing anything for those titles, and that should change soon.
Cody Rhodes: At 23-5, he has one of the best records on television or pay-per-view of anyone on the WWE roster. That makes sense. Not only is he one the biggest stars in the company, but he has to look as strong as possible for the inevitable rematch against Roman Reigns that everyone is expecting to happen in a few months when WrestleMania 40 rolls around. I think he’s being pushed Just Right. There’s not a lot higher he could be pushed right now, but he shouldn’t be pushed any less. That rematch with Roman, if it happens, needs to be as big as possible. Don’t expect to see Cody losing many times between now and April.
Cruz Del Toro: When the members of Legado Del Fantasma joined up with Rey Mysterio to form the new version of the Latino World Order, I was hoping to see pushes for everyone, and not just Mysterio and Santos Escobar. Don’t get me wrong… those two were obviously the most deserving of pushes, but I was hoping that Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro would form a solid duo in the tag division. Well, the fact that CDT has wrestled a total of nine times on television this year should tell you a lot of what you need to know about his push. The fact that he won one of those matches… tagging with Wilde to defeat Mace and Mansoor on an episode of Smackdown 11 MONTHS AGO… should tell you everything else you need to know. There is no push whatsoever. Being kicked to the curb by Escobar, and having Mysterio on the shelf for a while with an injury, isn’t going to help them. I would’ve preferred a push, but it’s probably too late for that now, and that’s why I’m going to say Just Right here. Someone has to lose, and it might as well be CDT and Wilde, because at least they’ll get to do it in somewhat higher profile matches.
Dakota Kai: A torn ACL has kept her out of action for the last seven months, but perhaps it can be seen as a good sign that WWE has kept her on television for the last few months in something of a managerial role with her Damage CTRL buddies. Far more often than not, a torn ACL means you’re completely gone from our vision until you’re medically cleared to compete again, even if that takes over a year. Before her injury, Dakota had a bit of a bumpy year. She entered 2023 as one-half (with Iyo Sky) of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, in their second reign, but they would drop the belts at the end of February to Becky Lynch and Lita, who moved around the ring like she was stuck in cement. Dakota’s overall record on television or pay-per-view this year is 2-7. Not exactly strong. With the new additions to Damage CTRL, and the rumors of at least one member being removed sooner than later, it’s difficult to gauge where Dakota’s push is going to be when she returns to active competition. If Bayley is the only member removed from the group, that puts Dakota in an important spot, as she would need to handle the promo time for the group. For the time being, I’ll say her push is Just Right. Even when losing, she was still all over WWE programming, and now, she has the potential to be moved up the ladder. Time to wait and see what happens.
Damian Priest: Not only has Priest been busy this year, he has been all over numerous important storylines and feuds, as well. He has participated in a total of ten different title matches on television or pay-per-view, ranging from a shot at the United States Title in the Elimination Chamber to a World Heavyweight Title shot to having two reigns with Finn Bálor as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions. That doesn’t even count his victory in this year’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match, participating in War Games at Survivor Series, and facing Bad Bunny in one of the wildest atmospheres in WWE history. When reports came out that said WWE higher-ups were pleased with the work Priest had been doing, it made sense, and nobody doubted it for a second. He’s 32-19 on television or pay-per-view record, which is an impressive record, but an even more impressive display of usage by the company. I think his push is Just Right. He has worked so hard to reach this position, and he looks every bit of a major superstar. I know a few people who would say he’s probably Underpushed, feeling he should’ve already been a World Champion. He still has the Money In The Bank briefcase, though, so that’s something that could change any day now.
Dexter Lumis: The good news? He started the year with a 2-0 record on Raw. The bad news? He lost his next three matches on Raw. The good news? Two of those losses came in Battle Royals, so it’s not like he was pinned or force to submit. The bad news? It has been seven months since the last time he wrestled on television. The good news? He wasn’t released for a second time. The bad news? His lengthy hiatus has nothing to do with an injury (that we know of), but instead, has been because of the dreaded “creative has nothing for you.” It would be difficult to say he’s Overpushed when he’s been sitting at home since May because the WWE writers don’t know what to do with him. I can’t say he’s Underpushed, because his strong suit is the character work he has done, and not his matches, so I’m not in a big rush to see him wrestle more often. With that said, I guess I don’t have a choice but to say his push is Just Right.
Dominik Mysterio: I’m going to go ahead and say it… he’s Underpushed. Now, allow me to explain. I’m not saying he should be the World Heavyweight Champion right now. Hell, I’m not even saying he should be the NXT Champion right now. I do think he should be winning more of his matches, though, and that’s simply based on him being a heat magnet. The amount of heat he gets would be magnified if he won on a more frequent basis. Even with the help of The Judgment Day at his disposal, Dom loses more often than he wins. He doesn’t need to go on a Roman Reigns-like streak, not being pinned or submitted in 29 years, but he could be more than he is now. You can keep him as the snotty, punk “kid” that he portrays and still get more mileage out of him. The strange part about my opinion here? He is 15-8-1 in singles matches on television or pay-per-view this year, and 8-12 in matches where he has at least one partner. The man is winning matches at a higher clip than many of his fellow performers. I simply want the company to find that “sweet spot” where he can win more without making it seem ridiculous.
Dragon Lee: Right now… at this very second… in early December 2023… Dragon Lee is being Overpushed. You might view that as a controversial opinion. I clearly don’t. I’m a huge fan of the guy, and I think he is amazing at what he does. However, WWE is really starting to lay it on thick with having people like Rey Mysterio refer to him as the “future of Lucha Libre” and things like that. The average member of the WWE Universe has seen Dragon Lee wrestle no more than eight times, which is the amount of matches he has wrestled on the main roster over the last two-plus months. It’s as clear as day, just by listening to crowd reactions of debuting NXT talents, that most of the people you see attending Raw and Smackdown events are, at best, casual viewers of NXT, and, at worst, aren’t watching NXT at all. They have no idea who these people are. That goes for Dragon Lee, as well. As good as the matches were, you can’t give him two wins over Cedric Alexander, and then expect people to believe the excessive hype you’re giving him. Then, in his biggest main roster match, you have him lose to Santos Escobar in seven or eight minutes in a match that wasn’t even given a chance to be great. The last time main roster viewers saw him win a match was in mid-November against Axiom, who was also met with confusion by the live crowd. We’re in a different day and age than we were back in the days of WCW Saturday Night or WWF Superstars, when stars would get over because of matches against enhancement talent. Fans need more these days. They need a connection. A reason to care, in one way or another. Rey Mysterio simply saying that Dragon Lee is the future of Lucha Libre isn’t going to cut it, considering that we’ve heard that about Santos Escobar recently, and Rey was even saying that about Dominik Mysterio not all that long ago. I would love to see Dragon Lee excel on the main roster. He could be a great United States or Intercontinental Champion in the short-term. I just want to see more effort put behind a push, and not just throwing him out there with flowery words and expecting live crowds to salivate over him. Making him the new NXT North American Champion is an interesting move. It will allow him to be in NXT more, but does that keep him from growing on the main roster for the time being? We shall see.
Drew McIntyre: In many forms of media, the best villains are the characters who, technically, aren’t really villains at all. That’s what we have right now with Drew McIntyre. He’s killing it so far, and it’s all justified. Why wouldn’t he be pissed off about Jey Uso being welcomed with open arms after everything Jey did as a member of The Bloodline? Inevitably, why wouldn’t he be pissed off about the returns of people like Randy Orton and CM Punk, pushing him further down the proverbial ladder? It all makes sense, and he’s doing a great job of having added intensity to his promos and everything he does, without actually having to go full heel, blaming the fans, and all the things that a lot of turns feature. I think his push is Just Right. He’s going to be at the top of the card on Raw, working in the World Heavyweight Title picture. We’re creeping up on three years since he dropped the WWE Title to The Miz at Elimination Chamber 2021. That’s too long. Now that he appears to be back in the mix of a top title, he’s where he belongs.
Elton Prince: He and Kit Wilson started the year 4-5 in NXT before being moved up to Smackdown. As members of the Smackdown roster, they’re 8-2, but there’s one issue I have with how they’re being used. In those ten matches on Smackdown, EIGHT of them have been against some sort of combination of The Brawling Brutes. They debuted on Smackdown seven months ago, and they’re still facing the same team over and over again! That is incredibly lazy, unless we’re trying to make this feud the modern day version of The Rock N Roll Express feuding with The Midnight Express for decades. Pretty Deadly have had a chance to get themselves over with their matches and character work after being called up, but this holding pattern they’re in isn’t helping anything. It’s weird to say this with the record they have, but I think Pretty Deadly has been Underpushed to this point.
Erik: If you’ve watched their work in NXT, or their stuff before they were under WWE contract, I think you would agree that The Viking Raiders, as a team, are terribly Underpushed. Erik, through tag and singles matches, has a record of 5-15 on television or pay-per-view this year. Unfortunately, he is now going to be out of action for quite a lengthy period of time after having neck fusion surgery recently. In his absence, Ivar has been competing as a singles performer, and has been receiving praise from WWE officials in doing so. Does that mean the end of The Viking Raiders? It’s definitely too early to tell, but it’s going to be a long, long time until you see them competing together again, one way or another. Right now, let’s be safe and just say Erik’s push is Just Right. I don’t want to go either way with his future having such an uncertain cloud over it.
Finn Balor: He is someone that could/should be in the World Title scene. At the same time, being a member of The Judgment Day means that he’s going to be all over WWE programming, no matter what. If his record was 50-0 this year, he would obviously be in a great spot, but because of that real estate all over every show, he’d still be in a great spot if he was 0-50. That means his actual record of 23-19 on television or pay-per-view this year has him… you guessed it… in a great spot. Just Right, although I still wouldn’t mind if he was able to get another World Title reign. It’s crazy that he won (and relinquished the next day) the Universal Title almost seven-and-a-half years ago, and he hasn’t been a World Champion since, unless, of course, you count his seven-month reign as the NXT Champion from September 2020 to April 2021.
Giovanni Vinci: Underpushed. By a ton. His work in NXT showed that he is capable of some fantastic matches, whether it’s as a solo competitor or in a tag team. Since coming to the main roster with the rest of his Imperium buddies, he has rarely been able to show any of that off. In fact, most of his main roster storylines have revolved around how incompetent he has been as one of Gunther’s goons. Vinci’s 5-17 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023 is ugly. WWE had a prime opportunity to make Imperium yet another era-defining group, running alongside The Bloodline, but they failed. Imagine Gunther as the dominant Intercontinental Champion he has been, while Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser were legitimate serious threats to be Tag Team Champions at the same time. That could’ve been fun.
Grayson Waller: The start of his 2023 saw him finish up his NXT run with a 1-5 record. His 4-9 record on television or pay-per-view as a member of the Smackdown roster isn’t much better, but he has really picked up a bunch of momentum since being placed in a team with Austin Theory. As I said in the entry for Theory, their pairing is perfect, and they have the potential to become heat magnets for a long time. They’re the type of tag team that you want to give the Tag Team Titles to, just to piss crowds off even more. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens for them sooner than later. They already earned a shot at the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles back in October, but were unsuccessful in dethroning then-champions Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso. The clock is ticking, though, for sure.
Gunther: If you think Gunther is Underpushed, think about the dominance you’re asking for. The man is approaching 550 days as the Intercontinental Champion. He hasn’t been pinned or submitted since April 5th of last year, when Bron Breakker successfully defended the NXT Championship against him. If you think Gunther is Overpushed, then you’re either not a fan of kickass wrestling matches, or you’ve grown so tired of Roman Reigns that your disdain for anyone on a lengthy winning streak pokes through the surface. He has to be in the Just Right category, in my opinion. He has busted his ass to make the Intercontinental Title as important as it has been in forever, racking up great match after great match along the way, and looks to have become a “made man” for as long as he remains with WWE. That’s exactly where he belongs right now. At some point, he will drop the title, hopefully making a huge star out of the person who defeats him, and then he will move up the card and go after whatever World Title that is placed before him. For now, though, let’s make this title reign as legendary as possible.
Indi Hartwell: The “baby sister” of The Way, Indi has been a participant in some very interesting stories and moments over the last three-ish years. There have been a few different times when it looked like she could become one of the top stars in NXT. It finally seemed like it was going to happen this year, as she won the NXT Women’s Title at the brand’s biggest show of the year, Stand & Deliver, during WrestleMania weekend. Unfortunately for her, a foot injury forced her to relinquish the title after only 31 days, and things haven’t gotten much better for her since she returned. She has a 5-12 record on television or pay-per-view this year, with a 1-6 record away from NXT. On the bright side, her one win on the main roster came relatively recently, when she beat Xia Li on the November 13th episode of Raw. There’s a lot of speculation that things could be on the rise for her, as it seems like her “television dad,” Johnny Gargano, is finding a bigger and more important role on Raw with his DIY pairing with Tommaso Ciampa. I do like Indi as an in-ring performer, and I do think she could be successful on the main roster, but for now, her push is Just Right. She still needs to build up a relationship with main roster crowds, so it’s too “early” for her to have anything major going on, but the potential is there.
Isla Dawn: If I said her tag partner, Alba Fyre, is Underpushed, then Isla is also Underpushed. I don’t know what happened to them, but somewhere along the way, WWE just seemed to change their minds completely about them. Isla started the year 6-1 on television or pay-per-view, including winning the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles at Stand & Deliver, as well as a win in her and Alba’s Smackdown debut while they were still the champions. Then, the duo would lose to Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler in a title unification match on the June 23rd of Smackdown, and then… poof… they disappeared. That was their last televised match. They have a handful of dark matches and house show bouts, but that’s it. Very weird, but the women’s tag division is in dire need of actual teams, so I wish we could see these two women on our screens again.
Ivar: When you look back at Ivar’s year, the first thing you’ll probably do is split it up into two parts… his time with Erik as The Viking Raiders, and his time as a singles competitor once Erik got injured. Ivar is 6-10 in tag matches, and he’s 1-4-1 since Erik got injured. Throw in his 0-4 record in singles competition (to be fair, three of those losses came in Battle Royals) while Erik was still around, and do you see any real differences? I don’t. Even though he hasn’t been on a winning streak since Erik went on the shelf, he has been receiving a lot of praise backstage for his performances as a solo guy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he got a bigger push at some point down the road. He’s a lot of fun to watch, as his speed and athleticism will shock you if you judge his book by its cover, so to speak. Let’s go with Just Right here. Even in losing efforts, he still gets to grab the attention of fans by putting in impressive performances. That’s more than you can say about a lot of people with records like his.
Iyo Sky: 12-17-1 is her record on television or pay-per-view this year, but her record as a singles wrestler is 10-7, which says a lot about the way Damage CTRL has been handled and treated. Of the two tag wins Iyo has been a part of in 2023, the most recent came all the way back on May 1st, when she teamed with Dakota Kai to defeat the team of Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez. Now that she is the WWE Women’s Champion, her entire profile has changed. She recently passed the four-month mark as the champion, and we might be in the middle of seeing a new and improved Damage CTRL group. Perhaps this means she will only continue to rise. I guess that means her current push is Just Right. She was underutilized on the main roster for far too long, but things finally seem to be working out for her, and she has earned every bit of it.
JD McDonagh: Before he got the main roster call up, he had a 2-3-1 record on television or pay-per-view in NXT. On the main roster, his television or pay-per-view record is 1-8-1. He is in an entirely different situation than anyone else in The Judgment Day right now, as he is used as fodder for faces to beat up on, and he is used to take pins and keep his stablemates protected a bit. JD is more than capable of being a midcard champion on the WWE roster. I truly believe that. He might have a bit of a ceiling on his potential because of a lack of mic skills and charisma that might be required for a top spot, but he can absolutely “go” in the ring. Does that make him Underpushed? I suppose you could say so… if he was in a normal situation. He isn’t in a normal situation, though. As I said, he is in The Judgment Day to protect the rest of the group, who can participate in matches and lose without being hurt too much because it was probably McDonagh that got pinned or tapped out. Because of that, I’ll say his push is Just Right.
Jey Uso: He really and truly has become a bonafide main event performer after being one-half of what many feel is the greatest tag team in the history of pro wrestling. That’s quite the career. His 2023 has been an insane roller coaster ride, as he was in a tag team, in a stable, on his own, a heel, a face, a champion, a challenger, and a participant in some of the best storytelling WWE has ever produced. A 15-13 record on television or pay-per-view doesn’t look particularly impressive, but he entered the year as one-half (with his brother, Jimmy) of the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions, won the titles a second time later in the year (with Cody Rhodes), has challenged for the United States Title, has challenged for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title, and has now challenged for the World Heavyweight Title. He has been everywhere, and done just about everything. It might sound crazy to some, but I wouldn’t argue with you if you wanted to say that Jey was Underpushed, simply because he probably should’ve become a World Champion in 2023. The storytelling was right for it on multiple occasions, and live crowds were behind him every step of the way. I’m going to go with Just Right, though, for right now… mid-December 2023. If you’ve read my columns, you know I have called for WWE to shake things up by crowning Jey as a World Champion, as recently as SummerSlam in August. Right now, he’s doing great, in one of WWE’s prime positions, where he can lose matches and not really lose his place on the ladder, or with live audiences. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him reach the top of the mountain at some point in 2024, which could change his grade, but I like where he is on the card now.
Jimmy Uso: I have yet to truly forgive WWE for what they had Jimmy do at the end of SummerSlam this year. That was the true “jumping the shark” moment for the entire Bloodline story, and the company hasn’t been able to recover the magic since. Everyone involved at SummerSlam has either stayed the same, or has been elevated, since what went down… except for Jimmy. He became somewhat of a clown-like joke character, who was delusional in thinking that he was still on the same page as Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa. Jimmy is now 1-6 on television or pay-per-view since SummerSlam, with his only win coming against Karl Anderson on the September 29th episode of Smackdown. Compare that to an 8-4 record on television or pay-per-view before SummerSlam, and you see that things really shifted for him that night. He could easily be the heel version of what Jey is doing on Raw, but the damage may have already been done. I’m still going to say that he’s Underpushed, though. We don’t need him competing against Roman right now, but again, he could be doing a lot of damage as a heel solo act on Friday nights, or as a team with baby brother Solo. That doesn’t appear to be in the cards right now, though, and Jimmy seems like he’ll just float on until WrestleMania, when the entire Bloodline story probably comes to an end when Roman drops the title to Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Kazuchika Okada, MJF, or whoever is in the cards.
Joaquin Wilde: I said that Cruz Del Toro’s push was Just Right, so I’m also going with Just Right here for CDT’s tag partner. Like many of you, I thought that the LWO would provide all of the former Legado Del Fantasma members a higher profile, and therefore, bigger pushes. It simply hasn’t worked out that way, especially for Wilde and Del Toro. They don’t wrestle very often, and when they do, it’s probably in a losing effort. Someone has to lose, so it’s not the worst thing in the world when the ones losing matches can look good in doing so, and more importantly, can make their opponents look great in doing so. That’s what guys like Wilde provide.
John Cena: He was only back in the WWE mix because the strikes in Hollywood were preventing him from working there. Now that the strikes are over, he is back to the world of acting, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever see him as an active competitor again. He’s going to celebrate his 47th birthday a few weeks after WrestleMania 40, and as we’ve seen, he clearly isn’t the same in-ring performer that he once was. He went 1-2 in his pay-per-view matches in 2023, but it was his last match that might be the most telling. The beating he took from Solo Sikoa at Crown Jewel will be remembered for years to come, especially if it really was the kayfabe reason for Cena’s in-ring career coming to an end. Sikoa hit him with approximately 8,936 straight Samoan Spikes, and with it, my 20’s began to weep. How do you even grade Cena here? Only three matches, a losing record, continued importance when he is around, but a career that might very well be over now. He can’t really be Overpushed or Underpushed if he’s done, can he? If that’s the case, I don’t think I have a choice but to go with Just Right here, do I?
Johnny Gargano: There aren’t many better examples than Gargano when it comes to Triple H assuming that wrestlers who were popular in NXT would be popular on the main roster simply because of that popularity in NXT. Gargano is one of the most celebrated and decorated wrestlers that NXT has ever seen. He was clearly one of Triple H’s favorites when Papa Paul was running things in NXT, so it makes sense that Trips would want Gargano featured on the main roster now. The problem, as I’ve explained repeatedly, is that Triple H seems to have assumed that the WWE Universe and the NXT Universe are all the exact same people. Television ratings and YouTube views will tell you that’s clearly not the case. The average fan in attendance during any episode of Raw or Smackdown has no idea what’s going on in NXT, so when Gargano comes out on Raw to very little crowd reaction, that’s a failure on Triple H’s part. To Gargano’s credit, though, he has been trying to work his way into the hearts of the WWE Universe, and he is getting much better reactions now, but it still isn’t where they should be. Fans are still waiting to see why they should, or shouldn’t, care about guys like Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, and so on, outside of “hey, these people wrestle pretty well.” Johnny has an 8-10 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but most of those wins have come within the last couple months, when the DIY pairing of Gargano and Ciampa have been reunited. You can probably expect DIY to be in Tag Team Title contention by the time WrestleMania rolls around, if not just after it’s over. Right now, I’ll go with Gargano’s push being Just Right, but I will continue to ask for people like him to get the chance to truly connect with live crowds and get over to where he could be.
Julius Creed: I said his brother’s push was Just Right, so I have to go with Just Right here, too. I’m going to start coming across like a broken record here, but… I just wish these NXT call-ups were given a chance to connect with live crowds. Doing cool moves in matches only goes so far. In the case of the Creeds, doing things that most fans have never seen before only goes so far. Who are they? Why are they on Raw? What were they doing before? Why should the WWE Universe care, or not care, about them? It really shouldn’t be this difficult. I shouldn’t have to make this request in entry after entry.
Kairi Sane: I was really excited to see Kairi make her return to WWE at Crown Jewel. That level of excitement was even greater because we were going to see the “dark” version of her character, which has the potential to be a lot of fun to watch. Well, Kairi is now 0-2-1 since her return, because apparently, Iyo Sky is using up all of the push that WWE has provided for Damage CTRL. Yes, it has only been three matches, and she has only been back for a little more than a month, but it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed with how things have gone so far. Underpushed. I’m not 100% sure how much, though, as we’re still waiting to see the next logical step in the evolution of Damage CTRL, who goes where, and what happens from that point.
Karl Anderson: With a 2-6-1 record on television in 2023, we certainly haven’t seen a ton of Karl Anderson this year. The O.C. hasn’t had a lot of luck this year, with legit injuries to AJ Styles and Luke Gallows, and an entirely separate kayfabe injury for Styles, putting a stop to any real momentum the group could possibly build up. We haven’t seen Anderson win a match on television in over six months now. I’ll just go ahead and say Just Right. Someone has to lose, and the connection to people like AJ Styles raises the profile of guys like Gallows and Anderson, which means that a win over them still carries more weight than a win over your average bottom-tier team would.
Karrion Kross: They say there’s an exception to every rule. Karrion Kross seems to be one of the biggest exceptions to the rule saying that NXT call-ups aren’t going to be given real opportunities to get over on the main roster by connecting with live crowds. He has been given chance after chance after chance after chance, and none of them have worked out for him. The two-time NXT Champion (one of only six men to win the title more than once) has really struggled on the main roster. He has a 4-11 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023, and it has been four-and-a-half months since he picked up a victory in those types of matches. I say this as someone who is actually a fan of what Kross brings to the table, but also as someone who has two eyes and ears to see and hear what is going on… he is Overpushed. The company tries and tries to make him a thing, and it doesn’t work. I’m not sure it will ever work. They might as well use whatever time they give him on someone else at this point.
Katana Chance: If you’ve been reading my work for a bit, you might already know where I’m going with this one. Katana and her tag partner, Kayden Carter, really grew into becoming a really solid tag team in their time with NXT. When it comes to women’s tag teams, both NXT and the main roster have seen too many duos formed by taking two singles wrestlers with nothing else to do and randomly putting them together for a stretch of time. It’s lazy, and far too often, it results in having no chemistry. As time went on, Chance and Carter became a true tag team. Their offense was innovative, and their matches became more and more fun as their chemistry got better and better. Chance saw her 2023 start with a 1-5 record on NXT television or pay-per-view, finishing up her run with the brand, before getting called up to Raw about halfway through the year. On the main roster, her record on television currently sits at 2-6, but things might be looking up. She and Carter defeated Natalya and Tegan Fox on the December 4th episode of Raw, which was their first televised victory since June. They also had a match on two out of the last three episodes of Raw, which is the most frequent usage they’ve had since July. Until further notice, though, they’re Underpushed. The women’s tag division continues to be in shambles, and having a team like Chance and Carter, who bring things to the table that no other team does, is incredibly important.
Kayden Carter: You literally just read what I said about Kayden’s tag partner. She’s Underpushed. Her and Katana are exactly what the WWE women’s tag team division needs right now, and even though it looks like things might be moving in the right direction for them now, they still aren’t where they could and should be.
Kevin Owens: It’s still worth pointing out that splitting Owens and Sami Zayn up was a bad idea. Could it end up being a good idea down the road? Of course, but right now, it isn’t helping either man. Being caught up in the Bloodline story has had Owens all over the map this year. He started 2023 off by trying to take the Undisputed WWE Universal Title from Roman Reigns, while trying to convince his former best friend, Sami Zayn, that The Bloodline was using him. KO couldn’t beat Reigns, but Sami was able to free himself from the heel stable, and we got the Owens and Zayn reunion that we wanted. They would defeat The Usos at WrestleMania to become the new Undisputed Tag Team Champions, holding the titles for five months, and then… Owens was Smackdown-bound mere weeks later. There’s a lot he can do on Smackdown, but a lot of it is probably “beneath” him and where he should be on the card. Because of that, I’m going to say that he’s Underpushed. He can’t be a true top-tier guy on Friday nights right now, as he is 0-4 against Roman Reigns in title matches during Roman’s lengthy title reign. I have no doubt Owens will be competing for the title again after WrestleMania, once Reigns loses and inevitably takes several months off to go film some movies. For now, though, Owens is feuding with the likes of Grayson Waller and Austin Theory. Meh.
Kit Wilson: Look no further than Elton Prince’s entry for my thoughts on Kit Wilson. Both members of Pretty Deadly are Underpushed. WWE is doing these guys zero favors by having them face some combination of The Brawling Brutes seemingly every week for months. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It’s time to get Prince and Wilson away from the Brutes and on to something else, and perhaps something bigger and better.
Kofi Kingston: Obviously, it wasn’t Kofi’s fault, but it really seems like the injury to Big E really deflated the balloon when it came to any momentum that The New Day had. Even before E’s neck was broken, it seemed like forever since New Day had been tag champs of any kind. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember the last time they had tag belts, so I had to look it up. Kofi and Xavier Woods dropped the Raw Tag Team Titles to AJ Styles and Omos at WrestleMania 37. That was damn near three years ago! Have we seen the end of New Day’s time as title contenders? Maybe. It’s hard to tell. What I do know is that Kofi Kingston still has a lot to offer, whether it’s solo or in a tag team. An ankle injury cost him five months of time, but he has a 6-8 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023. Kofi has fallen victim to that “50/50 booking” that has plagued WWE too often through the years. Wrestler A will beat Wrestler B on Raw this week. Next week, Wrestler B will beat Wrestler A in a rematch. The following week, Wrestler A will team with Wrestler C to beat Wrestler B and Wrestler D in a tag team match. Then, Wrestler B will beat Wrestler A the next week, and that will be the end of their feud. Nobody really gains anything that way. I’d love to see Kofi doing better things than going months between televised victories. Underpushed.
LA Knight: I need a bunch of you to pump the brakes when it comes to saying that Knight has been “buried” recently. Did he lose to Roman Reigns at Crown Jewel? Yes. Has he been moved down the proverbial ladder because of the returns of CM Punk and Randy Orton? Yeah, probably. Could he be moved down that ladder even further if the company ends up signing major free agents like MJF or Kazuchika Okada? It’s certainly possible, yes. However, that won’t do anything to stop the crowd reactions he’s getting. In fact, it might only fuel those reactions, as fans cheer louder for “their guy” in hopes of getting him back to the top. Right now, I’m going to say his push is Just Right. What’s the alternative? Sacrifice him to Roman Reigns and have him lose again? WWE booked themselves into a corner when it comes to Roman, so now, we just sit and wait until he loses at WrestleMania. Knight will be fine… for now. Let’s see what his post-Mania plans are. Hell, let’s see what his Mania plans are, if he isn’t going to be involved in the main event of either night.
Liv Morgan: You want championships? Liv’s 2023 has had them, with two reigns (both of them with Raquel Rodriguez) as a WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion. You want 50/50 booking? Liv’s 2023 has had it, as she currently has a 9-9 record on television or pay-per-view this year. You want momentum-shattering injuries? Liv’s 2023 has had them, as her first Tag Title reign was cut short because of a shoulder injury she suffered, and her return to the ring being cut short after a month because of another injury, cutting her second Tag Title reign short. She is one of the most popular women in the company, so I’m sure she’ll be back to being involved in something major whenever she returns, but it’s hard to properly grade her push when she hasn’t wrestled in five months. Just Right, by default.
Logan Paul: He is in the perfect spot right now. Absolutely perfect. Just Right. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen an “outsider” join the world of pro wrestling and pick things up as quickly, and as smoothly, as Logan has done. I’ve said it before, but if he were to commit himself to a full-time schedule, he would be an easy pick to become a World Champion. For now, he gets to be the United States Champion, immediately elevating the title simply by having it in his possession.
Ludwig Kaiser: Like Giovanni Vinci, Kaiser is seriously Underpushed. It’s sad that Vinci and Kaiser haven’t really been able to show off what they’re capable of like they were able to do on a regular basis in NXT. There has been too much of a focus on them losing matches and disappointing Gunther. It’s silly. Kaiser and Vinci really should be in contention for the Tag Team Titles right now.
Luke Gallows: Let’s see… what did I say in Karl Anderson’s entry? The O.C. has seen too many injuries stifle any momentum they could’ve had this year. I think we’re well beyond the point of Gallows and Anderson being legit contenders for the Tag Team Titles, but I also think that they hold weight enough that a win over them counts for more than a win over a “regular” team that loses a lot. Just Right.
Maxxine Dupri: I’m a bit stumped here. She has five total matches in her career, all of them coming over the last five months. Before then, she was always more of a manager type. She has shown good athleticism, which makes sense, as she is a former NFL cheerleader and NBA dancer. Working with Alpha Academy has allowed her to show a different side of her character, and has had her show a surprising amount of strength at times. I have no idea if her future is as an in-ring performer. It seems like it might be, based on her finally getting to work matches, but it’s still far too early to tell. She is over with live crowds, and that’s a helluva start to have, but I don’t think you can say anything other than her push is Just Right, based on how little we can actually tell about her future and what it could hold.
Michin: Yet another O.C. member that has been negatively affected by all of the stop-and-start pushes the group has had due to injuries. The last time we saw her wrestle on television was six months ago, and the last time we saw her win on television was 11 months ago. She has a total of four main roster wins in her entire time with WWE. I’m really not sure why she has had such a rough go of it with WWE. She has been successful almost everywhere she worked outside of WWE, including a reign as the TNA Knockouts Champion in 2016. I think that makes her Underpushed, honestly. WWE could always use some fresh names to push in the women’s division, and I think she could do well in that spot if given the chance.
The Miz: While he definitely isn’t at “special attraction” levels yet, it’s clear to see that Miz doesn’t wrestle a full-time schedule anymore. We’re almost at the end of 2023, and he has wrestled a total of 24 matches on television or pay-per-view. Definitely not on the level of Roman Reigns, but Seth Rollins has wrestled 24 matches today, so there’s a clear difference. At 5-18-1, his record looks ugly, but as crazy as this sounds, a 5-18-1 record for The Miz means absolutely nothing. He is one of the true “teflon” guys on the roster, where wins and losses don’t really matter. He’s still going to get television time, even if he loses 100 matches in a row. His crowd reactions will still be strong, even if he loses 100 matches in a row. Right now, Miz is looked at differently, as he is working face for one of the very rare times in his career. I really enjoyed his mini-feud with Gunther, as it made a ton of sense for Miz. He is one Intercontinental Title reign away from tying Chris Jericho for the most reigns in the title’s storied history, and he is also 26 days away from passing Pedro Morales for the most total combined days as the Intercontinental Champion. This is a great place for him on the show. I’m not sure that we’ll see him as the man who eventually ends Gunther’s reign, but I love seeing Miz in this spot. Even if someone else knocks Gunther off, I would fully expect to see Miz going after that person, too.
Montez Ford: I said that Angelo Dawkins is being pushed Just Right, so I’ll go with Just Right here for Dawk’s tag partner, as well. After what seemed like forever where there were rumors of a potential Street Profits split, it hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve reached the new chapter in their story. I’m a fan of the team, and I’m a fan of having them align themselves with Bobby Lashley. As I said in the Dawkins entry, though, I think it’s time to move ahead with getting the Profits back up the tag mountain again.
Natalya: She is one of the most successful women in company history when it comes to longevity, total matches won, appearances on television, appearances on pay-per-view, and so on. It hasn’t led to as many overall title reigns as, say, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, or Sasha Banks have had, but that’s not due to lack of trying. It seems like every couple of months, Nattie is involved in some sort of title match. She’s had five title shots this year on television or pay-per-view (just for fun, I’m counting the Superstar Spectacle in India here, although that was essentially a house show aired on Peacock), losing all of them. She had three such matches last year, losing all of them. The most amazing thing about it? She does all of this without really having live crowds care about any of it. Whenever she is trotted out to challenge for a title, you can almost hear the “AGAIN?!?” from the crowd. She remains one of the most technically sound women to ever compete for WWE, but I feel that she has such a boring presentation. There’s no reason to get fired up about Natalya trying to win a Women’s Title, or about her teaming with her 74th different partner in an attempt to go after the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Her and Tegan Nox just received a shot at the tag belts after winning one match together, which was one of Nattie’s only televised victories of the year. Enough already. Overpushed.
Nia Jax: LOL. Overpushed. Moving on.
Nikki Cross: If you’re a big fan of the WWE Main Event show that streams on Peacock and Hulu, you’ve seen a lot of success for Nikki Cross. She is 13-1 on Main Event in 2023, with her only loss coming to Natalya back in August. When it comes to actually appearing on television or pay-per-view, though, it’s a different story for Nikki, where her record in those situations is 1-9. Her only win there was in a six-woman tag on the go-home episode of Raw before the Elimination Chamber event in February, where the six women in the EC match were split into two teams (Cross, Asuka, and Carmella defeated Natalya, Liv Morgan, and Raquel Rodriguez). The last time Nikki won a singles match on television was last November, when she beat Dana Brooke for the 24/7 Title and then proceeded to (attempt to) throw the title in the trash after the fact. Nikki’s last non-24/7 singles victory on television or pay-per-view came all the way back on the September 24th, 2021 episode of Smackdown, when she defeated Natalya. Yes, nearly 27 months ago. Nikki is more talented than someone who should be losing that often, but I think the ship has sailed when it comes to giving her any sort of real push. That’s fine. Someone has to lose matches. Just Right.
Omos: Would you be surprised to know that Omos has wrestled on television or pay-per-view nine times in 2023, with a 5-4 record? I know I was. Before doing my research and seeing his numbers, I only remembered three of his matches off the top of my head. As a “special attraction” wrestler, he’s not going to make weekly appearances on television, but it seems like there’s just no plans for him anymore. He hasn’t had a televised match in over four months, and that last one was in the Battle Royal at SummerSlam. Before that, you’d have to go to Backlash on May 6th to find his last match that wasn’t at a house show. I’m not sure why he seems to have been forgotten about, outside of the theory that Triple H isn’t exactly a fan of his like Vince McMahon was. He was clearly getting better in the ring, and while a lot of that has to do with having big matches against the likes of Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, he really did seem like he was learning and getting more comfortable in the ring. This might be weird to some of you, but I think he’s Underpushed. For as long as pro wrestling has been a thing, and for as long as pro wrestling will be a thing, those “special attraction” guys will always have a place. He should be used more.
Otis: He didn’t have a great start to the year, losing his first 12 matches on television or pay-per-view. His first win of that nature didn’t come until the May 22nd episode of Raw. Since that win, he’s only 4-12 in those televised matches, for a total record of 5-24, and of that, he was 1-10 in singles competition. When it comes to wrestlers in WWE that have a good combination of comedic skills and in-ring ability, there aren’t many better than Otis. That clearly has not translated to a bunch of victories, and because of that, I think he’s clearly Underpushed. At the very least, Alpha Academy should be legitimate contenders for the Tag Team Titles, but it’s rare that we even see them sniffing that scene.
Piper Niven: On one hand, she has an 8-8 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but on the other hand, her and Chelsea Green are the reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. I’m glad that she’s no longer using the silly Doudrop name, but what else is there to say about her right now? She’s only a titleholder because Sonya Deville tore her ACL and a new partner was needed for Green. The champions aren’t blowing anyone away with their matches, and with other, more talented (and more deserving) teams out there, I think I’m going with Overpushed here.
Randy Orton: He just made the cut here, wrestling in his third match on last week’s episode of Smackdown. No matter what, I’m just glad that he was able to make his way back from what looked like a potential career-ending injury. He came back looking like he has more muscle mass than at any other point in his career, and his promos show that he is clearly happy and grateful to have another chance to perform for the WWE Universe. Right now, all that I can say is that his push is Just Right. He’s one of the biggest stars in company history, and his return is a major story. He’ll be a participant in big matches and storylines for as long as he’s around. His sights are set on Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, so now, we wait to see if he’ll be yet another name sacrificed to extend Roman’s history-making title reign, or if he has potentially jumped in front of Cody Rhodes to become the one who will dethrone Roman.
Raquel Rodriguez: 16-15 on television or pay-per-view in 2023. Two short reigns as a WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion with Liv Morgan, both of which were ended early because of separate injuries to Morgan. Two-plus months since she won a televised match. Three-plus months since she won a televised match by something other than disqualification. I don’t think WWE knows what they want to do with Raquel yet. She is one of the strongest and most physically imposing women on the roster, but she has been cemented as more of a tag wrestler to this point. She has competed for the Women’s World Title three times this year, losing all three matches, and that extends her streak to 0-5 in those types of matches since she was called up from NXT. The biggest issue with her is that she hasn’t been given any sort of character. She smiles, and she likes to show off her back muscles. That’s literally all we know, and it places a bit of a ceiling on whatever potential she might have. Until we get more, she’s being pushed Just Right. I don’t think you can really take her to the next level just yet.
Rey Mysterio: The man is a legend, and is one of the greatest in-ring performers in the history of the business. That’s clear. He has reached the level where wins and losses don’t matter much, because he will always be super over with live crowds, which allows him to remain relevant and important, even when the wins aren’t piling up. His 13-15 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023 isn’t great, but his story with Dominik Mysterio was all over WWE programming, and that would eventually become the revival of the Latino World Order, which was all over WWE programming, as well. He even got a three-month reign as the United States Champion this year, which was his first singles title in WWE since he dropped that very same title to Andrade in late-2019. I do think that he could be a World Champion again with the right opponents and story, but right now, his push is Just Right. When he returns from his knee injury at some point next month (according to reports and speculation), he’ll return to a heated feud with Santos Escobar that will be an important part of what Smackdown does in the early part of 2024. That’s a good spot to be in.
Rhea Ripley: She hasn’t been on the losing end of a match of any kind, televised or otherwise, in almost four months, and that was a tag match that didn’t see her involved in the fall. Before that, her last loss of any kind came on the go-home episode of Smackdown before Backlash in May, and again, that was a tag match that didn’t see her involved in the fall. Going further back, she was involved in a loss at Elimination Chamber in February, but… say it with me… that was a tag match that didn’t see her involved in the fall. The December 5th, 2022 episode of Raw saw her on the losing end of a Triple Threat Match where… you guessed it… she wasn’t involved in the fall. If you want to find the last time the world had a chance to see Rhea Ripley lose a match by pinfall, you have to go back to the May 29th, 2022 episode of Raw, when she lost to Liv Morgan. That’s a long time ago. “Mami” is being built up as well as any woman in WWE history, becoming one of the biggest stars in the business in the process. How is that possibly going to be anything other than a push that is Just Right? She is amazing at what she does, getting cheers as a heel, and is being portrayed as someone that could beat the hell out of most of the men on the roster. It’s a great spot, and she looks and works like a million bucks.
Ricochet: If Ricochet had more of a personality and was stronger on the microphone, do you think he would’ve won a World Title in WWE by now? It’s a fair question. He remains one of the most exciting pro wrestlers in the world today, capable of making jaw drops with his gravity defying offense at any time. Yet, we’re about to reach six years since he first signed with WWE, and he has won a total of three titles (NXT North American once, United States once, Intercontinental once) in that span… and you’ll notice they’re all midcard belts. In 2023, he is 12-18 on television or pay-per-view, but he hasn’t been having a great time recently. His last televised victory was over three months ago, and that win was by disqualification. We’re coming up on six months since his last televised victory by pinfall. Once his tag team pairing with Braun Strowman was over due to Braun requiring neck surgery, Ricochet has been all but forgotten. He is far too talented for that. Live crowds love what he’s bringing to the table. On Raw, he could easily be sniffing around the main event scene with guys like Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, and so on. You put Ricochet in matches against guys like that, give them 15+ minutes to work with, and you’ve got some great content for episodes of Raw and for pay-per-views. He’s Underpushed, and I don’t think it’s even close.
Ridge Holland: He has faced at least one member of Pretty Deadly approximately 310 times this year. I think he has clearly gotten better in the ring since his days in NXT, but I also don’t think the difference is big enough to really call for a chance in where he is on the card. I’m a fan of his work, but it’s fair to say that he might be holding Sheamus and Butch back by associating with them. His push is Just Right, but I think both Sheamus and Butch deserve better than what he can offer right now.
Roman Reigns: Well, well, well… here we are. Two days after this column goes live to the world, Roman will be celebrating his 1,200th consecutive day as champion, going back to when he won the Universal Title on August 30th, 2020. When this column goes live, it will be 617 days since Roman won the WWE Title, going back to April 3rd, 2022. Four days after this column goes live, it will mark a full four calendar years since Roman was pinned in a singles match. These numbers are completely unheard of in the modern era, and at bare minimum, we have another three-and-a-half months until we see him lose again. Even if you’re sick and tired of him and the entire Bloodline story, and more and more of you can say that with each passing month, there’s no denying how important he is to the WWE product. He tends to bring in extra viewers when WWE promotes his appearances on television. His pay-per-view matches are more promoted than anyone else’s matches are. He still gets crowd reactions worthy of someone in his position on the card, and in his position in history. He’s a big fucking deal. With that said… how can you say anything other than Overpushed here? His reign has come at a cost to numerous names on the roster, who have been fed to him, usually multiple times in a row, causing the WWE Universe to view them differently. You can be a fan of someone like Kevin Owens, but if WWE announced Owens was getting another shot at Reigns, you would groan because of how many times Reigns has defeated KO. Roman has, for all intents and purposes, been holding the company hostage for a couple years now. Don’t get me wrong… this is obviously not his fault. I’ve said it a million times… WWE has booked themselves into a corner with him, and they’ve been forced to pay for their poor decisions. Roman will continue being THE guy for a few more months. When (if?) he loses at WrestleMania 40, a lot of people are expecting his career to be over, or at least be put on the back burner for several months while he goes off to make some movies. Until that happens, we’re going to get more and more and more of the same, for better or worse.
Sami Zayn: Remember when Sami turned on The Bloodline and cracked a steel chair across Roman Reigns’ back after Roman’s match against Kevin Owens at this year’s Royal Rumble? Yeah. Remember the build from that moment to Elimination Chamber, when Sami returned to his hometown of Montreal with all the momentum in the world to challenge Roman? Yeah. He didn’t win, of course, but he and KO got a bit of a “consolation prize” by being the team to finally dethrone The Usos, becoming the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions at WrestleMania. The best buddies didn’t last as long together as many of us would’ve liked, and Owens would be shipped to Smackdown soon after they dropped their titles. Since the team was split up, Sami is 2-4 on television or pay-per-view, with one of those wins being by disqualification in a tag match and the other being in War Games at Survivor Series. The man is lost without his best friend at his side! I think he’s Underpushed, but there’s a problem. The top of the card on Raw is filling up quickly, and will only get more crowded when CM Punk officially joins the Raw roster, as is expected. There’s the World Heavyweight Champion, the person that the World Heavyweight Champion is feuding with, and then a bunch of spots where people are forced to wait around for their opportunity. Sami could easily be back in the World Title picture soon. He could also just as easily be waiting for several months before he gets another shot.
Sanga: He and his tag partner, Veer Mahaan, started the year 2-1 in NXT before moving up to Raw, where they have a 3-1 record. Their three wins on Raw were against enhancement talent not under WWE contract (first match), Performance Center talent (second match), and names at the bottom of the WWE barrel when it comes to pushes (third match). That’s more matches than I remember them having on television. I don’t even know what type of push they’re supposed to be receiving. They lost in the Tag Team Turmoil match on Raw last month, but that was their first televised match in over five months. I don’t think I’m sold on Sanga. I’m a fan of Veer, and Jinder Mahal is someone who still gets a reaction from crowds. Sanga is kind of… there. Because this entire series is based on my personal opinions, I’m going to say Sanga is Overpushed. There are plenty of other names on the roster who could be ahead of him, but aren’t, even with his low level of usage by the company.
Santos Escobar: While I enjoyed his face run with the LWO, I’m very excited about the possibilities of this heel turn and where it could lead for him. This could finally be the breakout that he has deserved for a long time. He’s a complete package that could easily find his way into the main event scene, should WWE see fit. In singles competition, he hasn’t lost a match in almost two months, going back before he even turned heel. I’m optimistic… cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nonetheless… that his turn will lead somewhere good. For now, I’ll say his push is Just Right, but obviously, that could change soon.
Seth Rollins: With Roman Reigns wrestling less and less over on Smackdown, Raw needed a workhorse champion that was willing to wrestle a hectic schedule. That’s where Seth Rollins stepped in, and he’s done a great job of it. For the sake of comparison, Roman has wrestled 11 matches in 2023, and that’s counting house shows. Seth has wrestled 11 matches in the last 37 days, as of the day this column gets posted. If you look at his entire 2023, Seth is 27-6 on television or pay-per-view, and this is after he had a 2-5 start to the year. Needless to say, he is on fire right now. You could make the complaint that he’s winning too much, but it’s difficult to be a “fighting champion” and lose a bunch of times, you know? Seth has been exactly what Raw has needed over the last six-plus months, so he’s an easy choice for the Just Right category. Come back to me if he’s still defending his title at the end of 2026, though, and we’ll have a discussion.
Shayna Baszler: A television or pay-per-view record of 14-9 in 2023 doesn’t look bad at all. When you look at it a little closer, though, you see that she has lost five, even though two of them were by disqualification. Her last televised victory was three months ago. I think most of us expected her to be in a better spot after she defeated Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam and sent Ronda packing. It just hasn’t happened, and now, Shayna’s “spot” seems to be firmly behind that of Nia Jax. I think Shayna is Underpushed, simply because of what she brings to the women’s division. There are a few women who have characters that could fall under the “badass” label, but none of them are at Shayna’s level. WWE loved to take advantage of that factor for Ronda Rousey, but they don’t do it anywhere near often enough for Shayna.
Sheamus: It’s hard to really gauge what kind of push Sheamus has, because… well… he’s not around right now. He has missed the last four months with a shoulder injury. Advertisements for the episode of Smackdown before Survivor Series listed him as returning, but that never happened. He was also advertised for the first few episodes of Smackdown this month, but then had his name pulled from said advertisements. That says his return is imminent, but perhaps that WWE don’t quite know what to do with him yet. It’s not like he was setting the world on fire before his injury, either. His last match was wrestled on August 18th, but his last televised victory of any kind came on April 7th, while his last televised singles victory came on March 10th. You’re telling me that you can’t even get the man to the level of contending for the United States Title? He has the “banger after banger after banger after banger” schtick, and it leads to nothing? As I’ve said a couple times already in this column, I do think he and Butch (but especially Sheamus) are being held back a bit by Ridge Holland. I’m going to give Sheamus a vote of Just Right by default, and we’ll wait and see when he actually makes his return and what WWE has in store for him.
Shinsuke Nakamura: WWE has had a million incidents where they take someone’s momentum and proceed to completely destroy it, seemingly for no reason. One of the more talked-about cases of it happening in recent memory is when Nakamura won the 2018 Royal Rumble, only to have 618 shots at AJ Styles’ WWE Title over the next several months, and failing to win the title in every single one of them. When Nakamura returned to the main event scene this year to feud with Seth Rollins over the World Heavyweight Title, many of us were skeptical, but probably still hopeful that WWE would capitalize on his momentum this time around. Then, of course, he lost to Rollins multiple times in a row. Now, Nakamura has moved on to a feud with Cody Rhodes, who just so happens to be in “look as strong as possible for the eventual rematch with Roman Reigns” mode right now. Looks like more losses are in store for Shinsuke. He should’ve been the WWE Champion in 2018, and you could argue that he should’ve been the World Heavyweight Champion in 2023. He’s Underpushed. The man deserves better.
Shotzi: There are a couple things that I feel are universal truths about Shotzi. One, she stands out from the pack when it comes to the way she looks. From her hair (back when it was long and now that it’s short) to her makeup to her ring gear… she doesn’t look like any other woman, especially in WWE, which is the point. Two, she’s going to have at least one moment in every match she participates in where it looks like she’s either about to kill herself or her opponent. There’s reckless, and then there’s Shotzi. I think the only reason she doesn’t get the negative attention for this like, say, Nia Jax gets for it is simply because Shotzi has almost injured people a bunch of times, where Nia has injured people. It might also be because Shotzi doesn’t get used very much. She has a total of 17 matches on television or pay-per-view this year, and her record in those matches is 8-9. When she is around, she continues to be very popular with the WWE Universe. You would think that her popularity and her ability to stand out would cause her to be used more often, but it hasn’t worked that way. For the last few years, she gets in the vicinity of 20 televised matches per year, and that number spikes around Halloween time and through Survivor Series. Does someone in WWE management also think she’s a bit too dangerous, and that’s why she never gets any sustained pushes? Who knows? Either way, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of hers. She’s not terrible or anything. I just feel like I should be watching her with my hands covering my face as I peak between my fingers, like a lot of people watch horror movies. You know the gruesome scene or the jump scare is coming, but you just don’t know when. Overpushed, but at least she’s not around all the time, so it isn’t as bad as it could be.
Solo Sikoa: He doesn’t get used much anymore (it seems like he gets about one match on television or pay-per-view a month recently), but because of his position in The Bloodline, it remains a big deal when he is used. He’s 15-9-1 in those televised matches this year, but is 3-6 in the second half of the year, altering those numbers a bit. With those 25 matches, only one is going to get major attention moving forward, and that’s his victory over John Cena at Crown Jewel. WWE is going to milk every last drop out of that match outcome for as long as they possibly can. It makes sense, as it could very well be the last match of John Cena’s Hall Of Fame career, and Solo beat the dog shit out of him. Solo could use that win to become a true top-tier player for years. At various points in the Bloodline story, it has looked like Solo could potentially be the man who eventually defeats Roman Reigns. I’m pretty sure we’re not going to see that now, but I would fully expect Solo to remain in an important spot at least until WrestleMania. I think we can say that his push is Just Right. It will be VERY interesting to see Solo’s reaction to Roman’s eventual loss, and how Solo is booked after Mania. Will he fade away if/when Roman goes on an extended break? Does be become the “new Roman Reigns” and become even more angry and dominant? I guess we’ll see in a little less than four months, huh?
Sonya Deville: She’s another name that’s difficult to discuss here, because she’s not around. After suffering a torn ACL at the end of July, she was expected to miss up to nine months. However, reports in the time since have said her recovery might be going slower than she and WWE would’ve hoped. The initial time frame would’ve had her out of action until after WrestleMania, but the new time frame doesn’t sound great. What we do know is that she has a 5-14 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023. It was a weirder year than those numbers would indicate, though. She had a 2-12 record, then she and Chelsea Green randomly won a Tag Team Turmoil match and another match the next week before winning the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles out of nowhere the following week… and her torn ACL took place in the very next match she participated in. None of that makes any sense. Honestly, she’s a bit like Shayna Baszler, because the company should be using her better due to her legit Mixed Martial Arts background, but they don’t. Unlike Baszler, though, it seems like WWE would rather use Sonya in comedy segments. Normally, I would say she’s Underpushed, but she was a champion at the time of her injury, so she gets a Just Right. Barely.
Tegan Nox: Here is yet another example of an NXT call up thrown to the wolves. Every so often, you’ll see Tegan brought back out on television for a match or two, and then it seems like she’ll disappear for a while before the cycle starts all over again. She has a 5-9 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but her numbers have ramped up a ton after wrestling on the last five episodes of Raw before this column was posted. The company currently has her teaming up with Natalya, making her the 1,855th woman to be a tag partner of Nattie through the years. Of the previous 1,854 women, we’ve either seen Nattie turn on them or them turn on Nattie 1,854 times, so you can expect a feud between Tegan and Nattie to start up any week now. Tegan is someone that is easy to root for and be a fan of, but the average member of the WWE Universe wouldn’t know that because they don’t know anything about her. How many promos do you remember her cutting on the main roster? Video packages? Vignettes? Backstage segments? I’m glad to see that she’s being used more recently, with the inevitable feud against Natalya promising more matches in the future, but fans need a reason to care. Being with Natalya alone isn’t going to do that because the fans don’t care about Natalya, either. If the feud with Nattie starts taking up a bunch of television time, for whatever reason, I would say Tegan is Overpushed, but until that happens, her push is Just Right, because it can’t really go one way or the other at the moment.
Tommaso Ciampa: Oh, hey, yet another NXT call up that Triple H just assumed everyone that attends Raw would know and love. Like Johnny Gargano, who Ciampa will be tied to in the history books for the rest of time, this is a man who is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in NXT history. None of that matters when a wrestler goes from NXT to Raw or Smackdown, and we’ve seen that with Ciampa’s main roster run. He’s been used in a few different ways, but none of them have gained him the reactions that he could be getting. With a 7-9 record on television or pay-per-view over the last six months after returning from hip surgery, he is starting to see a bigger profile recently. He had a mini-feud with Imperium that led to a well-received match against Gunther for the Intercontinental Title, and now, he’s back to teaming up with Gargano, and they’re becoming a regular part of Raw episodes. There’s still a lack of the usual vehicles that are used to help “new” wrestlers get over, but at least he’s being used in important spots. It’s a start. Actually, it’s the bare minimum, but at least it’s something. Just Right, perhaps by default.
Trish Stratus: At the age of 47 (she’ll be 48 in a week), and working her longest and most frequently used run in 14 years, Trish showed that he had barely lost a step, if at all. Compare that to Lita for a moment. Lita is eight months older than Trish, and Lita was also coming off of a lengthy absence from regular in-ring competition, but while Trish looked great, Lita looked like she was wrestling in rapidly drying cement and was using Matt Hardy’s knees and hips to do it. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure 2023 Mae Young would move around better than 2023 Lita, and Mae Young died nearly a decade ago. Anyway, back to Trish… we’re not sure if she’ll be back, but she got a nice five-month run out of her, where she went 3-4-1 on television or pay-per-view. She got a nice WrestleMania payday, then had a heel turn that was used to put over that scrappy newcomer Becky Lynch, who was in dire need of something to get crowds to like her. While I would prefer if the part-timers are used to get younger talent over, I can’t complain too much here, as live crowds loved having Trish back. Just Right.
Veer: Remember when Veer was going to be coming, coming, coming, and coming again? Then, he finally came, and he was like a regular Peter North. It sure seemed like Veer was going to get some sort of push, and then, just as quickly as it began, it was over. So… maybe not like Peter North, after all. *ahem* As I mentioned earlier, I’m a fan of Veer. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a World Champion or anything, but he’s an impressive performer. I’m going to say he’s Underpushed. He could definitely be used more in some matches that just brutalize and destroy lower and midcard wrestlers.
Xavier Woods: As I said in the Kofi Kingston entry, a lot of the magic that helped make The New Day so special was lost on the night Big E broke his neck. Kofi and Woods haven’t been the same as characters since it happened. Like Kofi, I think Woods is Underpushed, although not quite as much as Kofi is. Even as a solo performer, Woods has risen to the occasion numerous times, showing that he’s capable of being someone the company could count on in that fashion. He never really had a chance to go on a singles run. Two years ago, I made the joke that Woods would win the WWE Title in 2023 after Kofi won it in 2019 and E won it in 2023. Well, if you look at the calendar, we’re running out of time for that to happen, joke or not. I’m not saying the following SHOULD happen, but… I think live crowds would go nuts for Woods if he were to feud with Gunther and eventually take the Intercontinental Title from him. They had a really fun ten-minute match back in April, and I think they could do something even better now. Just about anything would be better than what Woods has been up to.
Xia Li: The way she has been used has confused the hell out of me. She went 0-3 on television or pay-per-view in the first three months of 2023, then had zero matches in those situations for seven months, and when she returned to television, the company looked like they wanted to treat her as this martial arts badass… only they had her keep losing her matches. After beating Candice LeRae on the October 30th episode of Raw, she lost her next three matches on television, and is going on a month since she wrestled last. Okay then. A month ago, she would’ve been Overpushed, as there was no reason for anyone to take her seriously. If you knew her, you knew she wasn’t treated like anyone special, and if you didn’t know her, you were never really given a reason to care. Now, though, I guess she’s back to having a push that is Just Right.
Zelina Vega: She doesn’t wrestle very often… 5-10 on television or pay-per-view in 2023, with no matches in the last two months… but she has been impressive when she has been allowed to be. Unfortunately for her, I think her WWE career peaked at Backlash, when she was treated like a major superstar in front of her fellow Puerto Ricans, but she still lost to Rhea Ripley, anyway. Someone has to lose matches, so I’ll say her push is Just Right. The LWO losing Santos Escobar and having Rey Mysterio hit the shelf with an injury probably isn’t going to do her any favors right now.
Zoey Stark: If charisma and promo ability didn’t matter at all, Zoey Stark is someone that could easily be the Women’s World Champion or the WWE Women’s Champion. She has proven, time and time again, that she is more than capable of looking great in the ring, having a bunch of really fun matches, both in NXT and on the main roster. Then, she’s forced to cut a promo, and it completely undoes any good that she built up. Because of that, I’m going to say her push is Just Right. She’s able to have those good matches, but not be placed in a position like, say, Rhea Ripley, where she has to do a lot of talking on television, too.
Goodness gracious. After something like 40,000 words, the “Overpushed, Underpushed, or Just Right” series has come to an end once again. Like the previous two entries, your job is to now talk about what I’ve said. Without going name-for-name, who are some people on the WWE roster that you feel are being pushed way too much, or nowhere near enough? Did I hit the nail on the head for any of these names, or did I completely miss the mark on any of them? As always, feel free to hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Now, let’s see if I can get through my Weekly Power Rankings in relatively quick fashion, before closing the column out with the playlist of what I was listening to as I wrote things out this week.
Weekly Power Rankings
Bryan Danielson vs Andrade El Idolo: Congratulations to Bryan Danielson for making this list. He may have been here a time or two before. That kid might have a future in this business if he plays his cards right.
Men’s Iron Survivor Challenge: A chaotic 25 minutes that never dragged on, allowing all five men to have several chances to shine. Trick Williams was already a star, but if there was going to be a “star making moment” for him, this would’ve been it. That crowd was READY for him to win, and they went nuts when he did just that.
Seth Rollins vs Jey Uso: It’s always fun to get a pay-per-view main event quality match on television. It isn’t quite as fun to have commercials during those matches, but it could’ve been worse. We could’ve gotten Nia Jax for 20+ minutes instead.
Bryan Danielson vs Daniel Garcia: Another appearance for Bryan Danielson. Are you surprised? If you are, I have no idea what to tell you.
Jon Moxley vs Rush: Two guys that aren’t afraid to dish out an ass whooping, but who aren’t afraid to take one, either. Just a brutal, hard-hitting affair. The Continental Classic has been a blast so far.
Sami Zayn vs Drew McIntyre: There was a really heavy focus on the in-ring product during last week’s episode of Raw. It seemed like every match went 15 minutes, and they were all booked like pay-per-view matches. Good stuff.
Mark Briscoe vs Swerve Strickland: I think we all knew Mark Briscoe had no chance of winning the tournament, but I’m glad he was never booked as a pushover. He looked really good in his losing efforts. Swerve, on the other hand, continues to look like he is truly ascending to superstardom.
Eddie Kingston vs Claudio Castagnoli: When these two are in the ring together, you know they’re going to beat the shit out of each other based on their real-life history. This match was no different.
Sensical Explanations: When Wrestler A randomly begins feuding with Wrestler B, it can be frustrating if we never figure out why it’s happening. Shinsuke Nakamura has been targeting Cody Rhodes, and it started off by seeming like it was truly random, but Nakamura did an amazing job of explaining himself on Raw. It was smart to bring up his own journey from Royal Rumble winner in 2018 to WrestleMania loser a few months later, comparing it to what Cody Rhodes went through this year, and saying that he was going to “unburden” Cody by taking the pressure off of him and ending him. I like the line about how Nakamura never got to finish his own story, so now, he’s setting out to end Cody’s story instead. Was that so difficult, wrestling companies?!?
Kenny Omega vs Ethan Page: This was one of those matches that was “hurt” by one of the competitors having approximately 0% chance of winning, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. This is the Ethan Page that I’ve been wanting to see in AEW.
Ilja Dragunov vs Baron Corbin: Like I said about Mox and Rush, these are two guys who love dishing out pain, but who aren’t afraid of receiving some, too. Corbin isn’t getting anywhere near the amount of credit he deserves for the work he’s done during this NXT run.
Dominik Mysterio vs Dragon Lee: The NXT North American Title went from one main roster star to another, which is a weird booking choice. I’ll allow it this time around, as Dragon Lee was a very last minute addition to the match, replacing the injured Wes Lee, who I feel terrible for.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa vs Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci: Every now and then, Kaiser and Vinci are booked to look great, even if they end up losing the match. That’s what we got here. This was as close as they’ve looked to their days in NXT as I can remember seeing on the main roster.
Carmelo Hayes vs Joe Coffey vs Tyler Bate vs Eddy Thorpe: A wild match to name the final participant in the men’s Iron Survivor Challenge, and it almost became a preview of the Iron Survivor Challenge itself with all of its moving parts and chaotic nature.
Roxanne Perez vs Thea Hail vs Kiana James vs Fallon Henley: A wild match to name the final participant in the women’s Iron Survivor Challenge, and it almost became a preview of the Iron Survivor Challenge itself with all of its moving parts and chaotic nature.
This Week’s Playlist: “Stop Giving Me Advice” by Lyrical Lemonade, Jack Harlow & Dave… “Risk It All” by H.E.R. & Usher… “Amigos” by J Balvin… “Spirit” by The Killers… “Seeing Red” by Architects… “Break The Cycle” by Andromida & Beyond Unbroken… “Break” by Sakoya & Josh Mowery… “Simon Says (Remix)” by Pharoahe Monch, Lady Luck, Method Man, Redman, Shabaam Sahdeeq & Busta Rhymes… “Man I Used To Be” by K-OS… “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” by Type O Negative… “Wait For Love” by Luther Vandross… “You Are My Lady” by Freddie Jackson… “With You” by Tony Terry… “Runaway” by Del Shannon… “All I Want” by Toad The Wet Sprocket… “If You Could Only See” by Tonic… “Sell Out” by Reel Big Fish… “Right Now” by SR-71… “El Scorcho” by Weezer… “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz… “Silent Lucidity” by Queensrÿche… “Say You’ll Haunt Me” by Stone Sour… “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo… “Cough Syrup” by Young The Giant… “River” by Bishop Briggs… “Not Tonight” by Snow Tha Product… “Silhouettes” by Smile Empty Soul… “There They Go” by Obie Trice, Eminem & Big Herk… “Testify” by August Alsina… “Make It Home” by August Alsina & Jeezy… “Man Of The Year” by ScHoolboy Q… “Who Do You Love?” by YG & Drake… “Move That Dope” by Future, Pharrell Williams, Pusha T & Casino… “SICKO MODE” by Travis Scott & Drake… “For Real” by Rittz… “Switch Lanes” by Rittz & Mike Posner… “In My Zone” by Rittz, B.o.B. & Mike Posner… “Nowhere To Run” by Rittz… “High Five” by Rittz… “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway