I’m not 100% sure why it happened, but my last column received a lot of private feedback from you folks in ReaderLand. In an average column, my feedback will be in public places, ranging from tweets sent to me, posts in the columns section below, or responses on my Facebook. For my last column, though, I got some direct messages on Twitter and messages on Facebook, as well. There were a couple messages of the angry variety, where people ranted and raved about my thoughts on so-and-so, but the responses were largely positive. As I said last week, this is simply something that we’re all doing, anyway.
My original plan last week was to cover the entire AEW roster, but time restraints forced me to postpone the women’s division. Before I get to WWE’s Smackdown roster, I want to make sure I get the opportunity to discuss the AEW women’s division.
The rules are the same as last time. I’m only going to talk about wrestlers that are currently active. Wrestlers that are injured, or tag wrestlers who are off of television because of an injured partner, aren’t going to be listed. Neither are “healthy scratch” talents who simply haven’t been used in a long time for one reason or another. Without wasting any more time, let’s talk about some pushes, shall we?
Abadon: She’s a very interesting case, to say the least. On one hand, she has a win/loss record of 12-2-1 in AEW, which is impressive. That other hand, though? On that hand, you have the fact that her matches show someone that isn’t quite ready for prime time, as the saying goes. She’s still relatively new to the business, and it shows. Her character work is fantastic. She has a look that immediately captures your attention when she’s on the screen, but for me, that’s where it ends. I get why her push is the way it is, but I think she’s overpushed. She hasn’t wrestled on Dynamite in four months, but I think she’d benefit if she was completely away for a bit, only to return when she’s closer to a “final product” for everyone to see.
Allie: This is only a slight exaggeration, but it feels like this woman has gone through 20 different character shifts and changes over the last few years, starting with Impact Wrestling and now with AEW. I think that’s hurting her a bit, actually. It’s hard to keep track of everything, so a lot of people simply stop trying. She owns a 17-7 record in AEW, but when was the last time she was taken seriously in any way? She made it to the finals of the Women’s Tag Team Cup, but one, that was nine months ago, and two, a lot of people felt her team was merely a vehicle to get her partner, Brandi Rhodes, over. I dig Allie’s work. I’m not going to sit here and say she’s one of the best in the world or anything, but she’s a lot better than she usually gets a chance to show. She’s underpushed.
Big Swole: There aren’t many women, AEW or otherwise, who have a better win/loss record than Swole in recent months. She has been on the winning end of her last 14 matches, with her last loss being when she unsuccessfully tried to take the AEW Women’s Title from Hikaru Shida… just about seven months ago. Okay, so she hasn’t wrestled on television since just before Christmas, but she’s still winning her matches. To a much lesser extent, I feel the same about Swole as I do about Abadon. Swole is a lot better in the ring, but I don’t get where a lot of the “she’s one of the best women in AEW” talk comes from. I will freely admit that she’s one of the most charismatic, and popular, women on the AEW roster. She’s had a couple rough showings in the past, and I think that has a lot to do with her not wrestling on Dynamite in so long. I think her push is just right for the time being. The pieces will fall into place, more than likely, and we’ll eventually see a lot more of Swole, so there’s that.
Britt Baker: Underpushed. Easily. There are a couple women on the roster that are better in-ring workers, but nobody has the overall package that Britt Baker brings to the table. The in-ring skills, the charisma, the mic skills, the character work, the facial expressions… it’s all there, and it’s all strong. She could be the “face” of the division, without a doubt, but it just hasn’t happened. It has been over 16 months she has had a Women’s Title shot. She’s building up momentum, though, that’s for sure. Her last singles loss was two months ago, and that was the unsanctioned Lights Out Match that she had against Thunder Rosa which got the entire wrestling world buzzing. It’s only a matter of time before she’s on top of the division. I’m just shocked it has taken so long. At the company’s next pay-per-view, Double Or Nothing, she gets a title shot that many people are picking her to win. Time will tell, but she deserves it.
Hikaru Shida: As of the day this column gets posted, Shida will have been the AEW Women’s Champion for 354 days. She’s 37-8 in her time with AEW, with five of those losses coming in tag matches. The last time she lost a one-on-one contest was to Kris Statlander on December 4th, 2019. She has been carrying the entire women’s division on her back, and she has continuously improved in the ring the whole time, showing that she can put on good matches with opponents of all styles. So. Much. Winning. Here’s the thing, though… her push has been just right. She has been a huge reason why the entire division is viewed in a better light than it was a year ago. Having that level of quality and stability at the top of the division has trickled down to everyone else. If AEW is still around in 20 years, this is the type of reign that will be fondly remembered then and moving forward. She deserves this.
Jade Cargill: She is one of those cases where the push she’s receiving from the company and the “push” she’s getting from her supporters don’t necessarily match up. This is a woman that is four matches deep into her career. Not her AEW career. Her career. Period. Full stop. That hasn’t stopped some folks from calling her one of the best women in the business today. It hasn’t stopped people from saying AEW should be giving her the Women’s Title right now. Call it controversial all you want, but there is something about a black woman in wrestling today that gets people all riled up when they aren’t given Roman Reigns-like pushes from the companies they work for. I don’t see it with every black man in the business, but those women… from Sasha Banks to Bianca Belair to Jade Cargill to Naomi to Ember Moon, and everyone in between… people are ALL ABOUT them becoming champions. Again, I mention the fact that Cargill has four matches in her career. Does she look like a billion dollars? Absolutely. Does she have an “aura” surrounding her, like real superstars tend to have? She sure does. We just need to pump the brakes on some of these wild expectations. Right now, her push is just right. AEW clearly sees her as something special down the road, but they’re smartly moving at a slower pace. I have no doubt that she’ll be the champion at some point, probably sooner than later. Some of you just need to chill out a bit.
Kris Statlander: Kris Statlander is in the position of having to rebuild any momentum she had before suffering a knee injury that would cause her to miss ten months of action. Before her injury, she was a pretty decently pushed wrestler. She wasn’t winning all the time, but she did receive two Women’s Title shots within a two-month period in the beginning of 2020. Upon returning, she has been placed in the Best Friends group with Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Trent. That’s something that almost guarantees her a higher profile on television now. She’s had three matches since coming back, and has won all three of them. It’s a small sample size, but I think AEW is pushing her just right. She should have a prominent spot, and it seems like that’s happening. We’ll see if that changes at all, but for the time being, everything is fine.
Leva Bates: Her stint at Blue Pants in NXT feels like it was generations ago. She was a cult favorite back then, becoming one of the most popular performers in NXT and getting chants on the main roster when she wasn’t even there. AEW signed her, but… let’s see if I can say this nicely… she has been stinking up the joint. She has participated in some of the company’s worst matches to date. That’s not even counting the fact that her Librarian gimmick was almost universally panned. With 15 matches wrestled in almost two years, Leva clearly isn’t in AEW to win titles and main event pay-per-views. She’s still somehow overpushed, though, because she shouldn’t even be having matches, win or lose. Maybe it’s time to stick to the backstage role she has. I don’t know… just throwing that out as an option.
Leyla Hirsch: If you’ve been reading my columns, you already know what I’m going to say here. She’s underpushed. I’m a big fan of hers, but I don’t think she’s ready to be defeating Hikaru Shida or anything yet. What I DO think is that she’s a perfect fit for Team Taz, which would provide her for more television time and bigger matches. She is a very unique talent on the AEW roster, and they should take advantage of that.
Nyla Rose: Rose’s push comes from the old school line of thinking with wrestling. She’s bigger than her opponents (don’t even fucking start in the comments), and therefore, gets the “monster” push. It’s one of the easiest stories to tell in all of wrestling. Right now, I think her push is just right. She’s had her time at the top, holding the AEW Women’s Title for three-and-a-half months last year, but also having received other title shots and mini-pushes. There was a stretch when she won 12 consecutive non-title matches, and while she isn’t that hot of an act right now, the threat is always there. That’s fine.
Penelope Ford: Looking solely at her win/loss record, she’s one of the hottest acts in AEW. She’s 12-3 in her last 15 matches. Most of her wins come against unsigned, “lower” tier players on AEW’s YouTube shows, but as I’ve said, wins are wins. Unfortunately for her, she is now most-known in AEW for being a part of the drizzling shits storyline that brought Miro into AEW. The entire angle with Ford getting engaged and married to Kip Sabian was bad for everyone involved. She can survive that mess, for sure. I like her ability to draw heat. For now, I guess I’ll say she’s being pushed just right. Picking up wins on Dark and Dark: Elevation isn’t hurting anybody or anything.
Red Velvet: In the last six months, the only matches Red Velvet has lost have seen Jade Cargill on the other end. If she can just steer clear of Cargill, she’ll be just fine, apparently. In her brief time with AEW, she has been aligned with Cody and Brandi Rhodes, so that should tell you that they feel a certain way about her. She’s one of the up-and-coming talents in the women’s division and is benefitting from her time wrestling on the YouTube shows. Right now, her push is just right. Her time is coming, more than likely, so we’ll see if that changes.
Shanna: I almost didn’t even include her in this column. She spent almost nine months away from the company last year (COVID travel restrictions would be my guess), returned for seven matches, and then missed two more months before returning for one match… which was a little over a month ago. As far as I’ve seen, her absences haven’t been injury-related, so it just seems like the old “creative has nothing for you” tale. She isn’t overpushed or underpushed, which means her “push” is just right, pretty much by default.
Tay Conti: With a 19-6-1 record in AEW, Conti continues to show improvement every time she steps into the ring. It’s hard to say anything other than the fact that her push is just right, however. To go with the AEW Women’s Title shot she received on Dynamite a few weeks back, she also received a shot at the NWA Women’s Title on Dynamite back in January. She’s moving up the ladder, getting better, gaining experience, and whether she’s trying to or not, she’s sticking it to WWE the entire way. If they aren’t already, they’re really going to regret letting her go.
I’m sorry that it took an extra week, but we’ve gotten through the active AEW roster together. With that over and done with, it’s time to do the same thing with the men and women of Friday Night Smackdown.
Angelo Dawkins: Montez Ford usually gets most of the attention in their team, but Angelo Dawkins is a perfect model of persistence, hard work, and dedication. This is a man who made his NXT debut all the way back in 2012 and had to wait until October 2019 to make his main roster debut, making great strides as a performer the entire way. Dawkins and Ford started their main roster run off strong, winning the Raw Tag Team Titles within four-and-a-half months of debuting. They held the titles for seven months before being switched to being the Smackdown Tag Team Champions after the 2020 Draft sent them from one show to the other. The Smackdown belts would be theirs for another three months, meaning that they were champions for most of the 2020 calendar year. Since dropping the belts, Dawkins has cooled off a ton. He has a 5-6 record over the last four months, and most of the matches he’s been in have been of the six, eight, and ten-man tag variety, with a six-person intergender tag match thrown in for good measure. I can’t help but say that he’s underpushed. The Street Profits are one of the most exciting, and popular, tag teams WWE has to offer, but they’ve been getting lost in the mix recently.
Apollo Crews: This is going to sound weird when he’s having the most success of his WWE career, but Apollo is still solidly in the underpushed category. He’s been all over the Intercontinental Title picture, participating in a total of seven title matches so far in 2021. That’s fine and all, but his push there took a while to get rolling. Doing some of the best work of his WWE tenure, he still went 1-2-1 as a challenger to Big E, with that win coming by disqualification, before winning the title at WrestleMania. Big moment, right? Well, the match was less than seven minutes long, and he was dominated for most of it before pulling a victory out in the end after interference from Commander Azeez. Since then, he has seen the IC Title picture grow to include several names. If we weren’t a month away from Money In The Bank, it would look like we were on the verge of getting a big multi-man Ladder Match for the IC Title. As it is, Crews still hasn’t been fully unleashed to show the world what he can really do. That’s a shame.
Big E: Let’s keep the streak going… underpushed. We all know what we want for Big E. At some point, you have to think he’s going to be in the main event scene. He’s going to be a fantastic foil for Roman Reigns if, as expected, Reigns continues building on his current Universal Title reign. The current Intercontinental Title picture has a bunch of very good workers E can have fun matches with, but I think he’s growing beyond that point. Maybe E will be going after Reigns come SummerSlam. Perhaps it could be Survivor Series. Whenever it happens, he’ll be ready.
Cesaro: This is one that has changed recently, but in a positive way. For years, Cesaro was, arguably, the most underpushed person in all of pro wrestling. He could step in the ring with any wrestler, of any size and of any style, and deliver. He’s had a couple mini-pushes as a singles worker, including an eight-month reign with the United States Title, but he has mainly been a tag team specialist in WWE. He’s had seven different Tag Title reigns, spread across three tag partners, through the years. It seems like he’s finally getting that main event push, though, even if it only ends up being a brief one. With a Universal Title shot coming up at WrestleMania Backlash, this could finally be his chance to prove he belongs, even if he isn’t victorious. His push is just right. Check back in another month or so to see what happens. He could easily get sent back down the card if he loses, forming another random tag team with someone, and he’ll be right back in the underpushed category.
Chad Gable: You really have to wonder what Chad Gable’s WWE career would look like if his listed height was 6’2″ instead of 5’8″. As it is, he has formed a Cesaro-like career, working mostly as a tag specialist and being someone that can be counted on to have an entertaining match with anybody. I’m not sure that he could be a WWE main eventer. Literally not sure, because I haven’t seen if he has the ability to turn his personality up a few notches for that type of role. He could easily be a United States or Intercontinental Champion without breaking a sweat, though. That makes him underpushed. However, I will freely admit that I miss American Alpha. They had a chance to be special special.
Dolph Ziggler: Just right. Simple. He’s had his time as a World Champion, but those days are gone. He’s not bad in the ring or anything. It’s just a case of him not really evolving at all in what seems like 20 years. Being in a tag team allows him to still be very good in the ring, but it means he only has to be exposed at half the level he was as a singles wrestler. Everybody wins.
Dominik Mysterio: He’s 24 years old with only 25 career matches under his belt. This is something that is in his DNA. I have no doubt in my mind that he can be something special one day, but he doesn’t need to be where he is right now. I said it before, but he needed to go away for a while after the feud between his family and Seth Rollins ended. He showcased that his training was coming along nicely, but he needed to go and get some more of said training. It would behoove him to not get “played out” as WWE tends to do with just about everyone they even think about giving a push to. He’s in a very rare position, and it would be a shame if he was “ruined” before he ever truly got a chance to shine on his own. Right now, he’s overpushed, because I don’t even think he should be there.
Edge: I didn’t really know what to do with Edge in this column. His most recent match is still in my pre-determined window of activity, but everywhere you look, he’s a man without a brand. He was on Raw, but then came to Smackdown to go after the brand’s champion after winning the Royal Rumble and was unsuccessful in doing so. Is he still on Smackdown? Does he go back to Raw now? Only WWE knows. Obviously, this isn’t someone that is going back to a full-time schedule, wrestling on Smackdown every week and then at every Peacock event. That certainly makes ranking him in something like this more difficult. I’ll say this… I get why he won the Royal Rumble, and while it wasn’t a terrible decision, I don’t think he should’ve won. That opinion only got stronger once he was pushed to the side to make room for Daniel Bryan in the WrestleMania match. At the time, I would’ve said Edge was overpushed a bit. Now, though… well, I apologize for the cop-out, but I have to go with his push being just right, by default, simply because we don’t know what the future holds for him. When he first returned, it was rumored that he signed a contract for between three and five matches a year. Counting the Royal Rumble, he had three matches in 2020 before he got injured. If you count the Rumble again, he has now had four matches in 2021. Does that mean we don’t see him again until 2022? Maybe we get one more match out of him at some point in the next seven months. So many mysteries!
Jey Uso: One-half of one of the greatest tag teams of all-time, he has had an amazing ride over the last eight-plus months. He’s had Universal Title shots, main events, singles victories over former World Champions… and he has looked as though he belonged there the whole time. He went from winning a ton to losing a ton, all while staying in the spotlight. Right now, he’s in a weird spiral. Outside of winning this year’s Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, he hasn’t been on the winning side of a match in six months. That’s 15 losses and a double count-out. Now, his brother appears to be back and finally ready to return to the ring after being out with an injury for nearly 14 months. These appear to be signs that he’s going back to the role he had before this singles run. If we have to keep it real with each other, that’s going to be just right. I know, I know… The Usos are six-time Tag Team Champions on the main roster, so it’s all repetitive, and that makes it a step back for Jey. Those can’t be denied. Something else that can’t be denied is how shallow Smackdown’s tag team scene is right now. The Usos are needed. Badly. Besides, do we really need two twin Usos running around as singles wrestlers on the same brand? You don’t think THAT is going to be repetitive??
Kevin Owens: In most other situations, I would say Owens is underpushed. However, after losing three Universal Title matches to Roman Reigns in the span of 42 days, I think his current spot is just right. It’s part of the downside to having such a dominant person at the top of your division. Eventually, they’re going to defeat some challengers multiple times, and then nobody really buys those challengers as a threat anymore. WWE has clearly placed Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens on different tiers right now. KO can do his thing elsewhere on the card for a while and can always be brought back to the top down the road, depending on how long Reigns keeps the title.
King Corbin: A lot of people are tired of the King gimmick. I know I am. A lot of people are tired of Corbin always being involved in top storylines that get a ton of television time. I know I am. The truth of the matter is that Corbin isn’t a bad wrestler… people just don’t need to see him pop up all the time. Remember that weird stretch of time where Corbin was literally wrestling in matches that went 15-20 minutes on television every week? Yuck. I can’t say anything other than he’s being pushed just right at the moment. He’s not a main event guy, and he’s not on a huge winning streak filled with victories over people that are “above” him. No, he’s a midcard heel doing midcard heel things, and those characters are needed.
Montez Ford: I’ve already discussed Angelo Dawkins, so you know I think Ford is underpushed. This is a good opportunity for me to say, once again, that Ford is someone that can be a main event wrestler for WWE in the future. He’s not ready for that right now, but it can definitely happen down the road. I’m not saying it WILL happen. Just that it COULD happen if cards are played correctly.
Murphy: Oh, come on, this is one of the most underpushed wrestlers on the WWE roster. He’s “small” enough to be a cruiserweight and wrestle with guys of that style, but he’s “big” enough that he doesn’t look out of place against heavyweight wrestlers. His feud with Mustafa Ali produced some of the best cruiserweight matches WWE has put on in years and years, and his work in the Seth Rollins vs Mysterio Family feud was great, as well. Then… he was placed into a kayfabe relationship with Aalyah Mysterio, and then everything turned to shit. We’re now coming up on six weeks since he’s had a match, and five-and-a-half months since he’s won anything. Looking back at it, it’s incredible just how bad the Rollins/Mysterio feud was, and how little it did for everyone involved.
Otis: Raise your hand if you thought Otis was in deep trouble when WWE decided to split Heavy Machinery up. It doesn’t matter if you thought he was entertaining or not. That split seemed like it was the beginning of the end for both Tucker and Otis. Neither one of them seemed like they were going to be singles stars of any kind, and if you were going to have them be tag wrestlers, why split them up in the first place? At first, it looked like everyone would be right. Tucker was sent packing, and Otis wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Then, Otis turned heel and joined forces with Chad Gable, drawing a collective “HUH??” from the WWE Universe. I’ll be damned, though… their pairing has been working out thus far. Not necessarily working out as far as winning goes, as Otis has a 5-7 record since the heel turn, but their chemistry and in-ring work has been pretty good. With that said, I still think splitting Heavy Machinery up was a mistake. Pretty much everything WWE has done with Otis since having him win Money In The Bank has been a mistake, though, so that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I think Otis’ push has to be considered just right, doesn’t it? He’s not winning much, so it would be hard to call him overpushed, but he’s not really worthy of much at the time being with how things have gone, so he can’t be underpushed. For the 28th time… he should still be one-half of Heavy Machinery. Thanks, WWE.
Rey Mysterio: We’re coming up on nine months since Dominik Mysterio had his debut match at SummerSlam 2020. In those nine months, it seems Rey is more of an on-air coach/trainer for Dominik’s career than an actual wrestler himself. I get that people want Dom to get the right type of training, but Rey is still capable of so much better than this. Somehow, someway, at the age of 46, Rey is still underpushed. He would still make for a very, very good underdog babyface in the main event scene. Just imagine the type of promos that Roman Reigns would cut on him, looking down at Rey, literally and figuratively. I’m not saying Rey should beat Roman for the title, but if you’re looking for another face that Reigns could tear the house down with, Rey can be your guy. Even if Rey and Dom win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania Backlash this weekend, the underpushed label sticks, as he’d still be more of a “babysitter” for Dom than anything else.
Robert Roode: If I said his tag partner is being pushed just right, I guess I’ll also say that Roode is being pushed just right. He’s a lot closer to overpushed than Ziggler is, though. When Dolph is motivated and facing the right opponent, he’s still capable of having a great match. I haven’t seen that from Robert Roode in a long time, and at 44 years old, do we think it’s a switch he can just turn on when he feels like it?
Roman Reigns: Ahh, here’s the most interesting case in WWE, and perhaps in all of wrestling. Since returning at SummerSlam 2020, Reigns has been one of the biggest hot streaks that anyone in WWE’s modern era has ever seen. He has a win/loss record of 14-1, with that loss coming by disqualification in a tag match. In those 14 matches, there are ten successful defenses of his Universal Title. That’s real “fighting champion” energy, made even more noticeable since he’s a heel and those types usually try to defend their titles as infrequently as possible. I couldn’t even tell you how many people I’ve seen say that he should hold the title until WrestleMania 38, which would make for a 582-day reign as the Universal Champion. WWE hasn’t had a main roster title reign of any kind that lasted 582 days since Hulk Hogan’s very first reign as the WWF Champion in 1984, so you can only imagine the type of publicity that the company would put on that kind of an accomplishment. You know what? WWE needs this. Perhaps not a 582-day title reign (although I’m not completely against the idea, depending on the end game), but they need this seemingly unstoppable and unbeatable heel champion. One, Roman makes it entertaining as hell. Two, and most importantly, this is the chance to have someone become a “made man” by being the one to defeat him eventually. Big E? Cesaro? Kevin Owens? Someone not currently on the main roster? Maybe someone not even in the company right now? Who knows? That’s part of the fun, though. Roman is being pushed just right. I’ll gladly go back and change things if all this is leading to Brock Lesnar coming in and ending the reign, or even if it ends at the hands of The Rock, and I actually want to see that match happen.
Sami Zayn: If you’re going solely on in-ring skills, Sami is someone that can easily be a WWE/Universal Champion. In the six years that he’s been on the main roster, he has received exactly zero singles matches for those titles. He’s been in a Triple Threat, a Six-Pack Challenge, a Handicap Match, and a Royal Rumble where the WWE Title was on the line… but not a regular singles match. I don’t know why, but that was pretty surprising for me to find out. Sami is easily in the underpushed category. I don’t think he’ll ever get out of that category, but that’s not what this is about.
Seth Rollins: Arguably the best in-ring performer WWE has to offer, Seth Rollins has been away from the main event scene for a while. He hasn’t had any sort of World Title shot in a year now, with the last being a WWE Title match against Drew McIntyre at last year’s Money In The Bank event. Before that, his last time being in that spot was when he dropped the Universal Title to The Fiend at 2019’s Crown Jewel show. That’s a long time away from the scene. Right now, people are thinking that he’s away from the main event so that he can eventually be brought in to be a challenger for Roman Reigns. You know the deal… former Shield brothers and all that jazz. We’ll see if that ends up happening, but for right now, I think Rollins is being pushed just right. He’s doing a great job in the midcard and upper midcard, working with people like Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, and Cesaro. It’s an important spot on the card, and he’s shining almost as much as the suit jackets he wears every week. He’ll be back competing for the Universal/WWE Title at some point, but let’s enjoy his work away from the title pictures while we can.
Shinsuke Nakamura: *sigh* You know… it really doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get that World Title reign for Nakamura, does it? Nakamura had four WWE Title matches against AJ Styles over the span of about two months in 2018. He lost at WrestleMania 34, which was followed by a double count-out at the Greatest Royal Rumble show three weeks later, then another draw at Backlash a week later, and then a loss at Money In The Bank six weeks later. After that, he was never quite the same, even though he would achieve midcard and tag success since then. Nakamura started off 2021 looking like he might be making his return to the main event. He looked like the Nakamura of old in putting on a great performance in a Gauntlet Match on an episode of Smackdown. The winner of the match was to become the next challenger for Roman Reigns’ Universal Title. After defeating Rey Mysterio, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan, it looked like it would finally be his time, but it was all a set up for Reigns to have Adam Pearce, of all people, stumble his way into a win. Not only did Nakamura lose that match, he never got a shot at the Universal Title at any point after it. In fact, he hasn’t won a match in almost three months now. He’s underpushed, for sure. I think he belongs higher up the card, but I don’t have any faith that he’ll ever get there again.
Slapjack: He was in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal on Smackdown, which was his debut match for the brand, and he hasn’t been in anything else on a Friday night since then. That was six weeks ago. Is he even still going to be on Smackdown? Does anyone care? Retribution was the dirt worst. If he’s staying with that stupid gimmick, he’s overpushed, no matter what they do with him.
Bayley: She has absolutely been one of the company’s MVP candidates during the pandemic era. Her work with, and against, Sasha Banks was great all around. How was she rewarded this year? By not having a match at WrestleMania. That was ridiculous. Underpushed. She has a Smackdown Women’s Title shot this weekend, which would certainly change things for her, but there aren’t a lot of people giving her a legit chance of winning that. While we’re talking about the Smackdown Women’s Title…
Bianca Belair: When Bianca won this year’s Women’s Royal Rumble, it was a memorable, all-time great moment. Her match and overall feud with Sasha Banks looked to be as much of a sure fire hit as any women’s feud in recent memory, but WWE royally botched said feud and were only saved at the end by Sasha and Bianca having a good’un at WrestleMania. Surely they learned their lesson, right? No. Bianca still doesn’t look like the superstar that she should be at this point. Underpushed, and that makes me angry. Don’t even get me started on what will happen if she loses the title in her first defense.
Carmella: She’s had quite the last year or so. It started with her being off of television for over five months, and away from the ring for seven-and-a-half months. After returning, four of her next five matches were for titles… three failed attempts at taking the Smackdown Women’s Title from Sasha Banks and an unsuccessful attempt at winning the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles with Bayley. Then she disappeared and didn’t have a match for two months, only to return for a last-minute built to WrestleMania… and then she disappeared for another month. I like her and all, but I’m glad that she’s staying away from title pictures for the time being. That makes her push just right. She’s really cold right now, even after getting a bit of a character makeover.
Liv Morgan: Underpushed. I don’t think she needs to be the Smackdown Women’s Champion, but it just strikes me as odd that she and Ruby Riott haven’t been serious contenders for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Their in-ring chemistry has been so, so good. Morgan has improved a lot since being called up to the main roster in 2017. I thought we were going to get something bigger for her when she got her own documentary on the WWE Network, but nothing came of it. Shame.
Natalya: Overpushed. Do not get it twisted… she’s one of the best technical wrestlers in the entire women’s division, and pretty much has been since she debuted. I’m just sick and tired of WWE going to the Natalya well over and over and over and over and over again, for no real reason at all. She has had countless pushes that start off hot, then fizzle out completely. I saw that she hasn’t held any kind of titles since dropping the Smackdown Women’s Title to Charlotte Flair in November 2017, but she’s always around title pictures, no matter what brand she’s on. Please stop, WWE.
Ruby Riott: If Liv Morgan is underpushed, Ruby Riott is certainly underpushed. Ruby has been one of the better women in the ring since debuting on the main roster, but what has it gotten her? Not much. She was a big underdog in a Smackdown Women’s Title match against Charlotte Flair at Fastlane 2018, and an even bigger underdog in two Raw Women’s Title matches against Ronda Rousey on back-to-back nights in 2019. Those losses have been the highlights of her run. She deserves better.
Sasha Banks: Many people call her the best woman in the wrestling business today. With her accomplishments and accolades, it’s difficult to argue with that. She isn’t bulletproof, though. Through no fault of her own, she has stumbled a bit over the last few months. From Elimination Chamber to WrestleMania, her win/loss record was 1-4, mainly because of WWE’s stupid obsession with “CAN THEY COEXIST” storylines with two feuding opponents having to tag together. We haven’t seen her since she lost the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania, but when she does return, does anyone expect it will be in a lower card spot? Do you think she’ll come back and be losing four-minute matches to Liv Morgan? I don’t. She’ll be right back around the top of the card, and to be honest, it’s exactly where she belongs. Her push is just right.
Tamina: We’re coming up on the 11th anniversary of Tamina’s first match on the main roster. Want to hear a sad stat? She has had at least one televised match every month for the last ten months, and that’s her longest streak since having at least one televised match for 12 straight months from May 2015 to April 2016. Injuries have decimated her career. At the age of 43, she’s in some of the best shape of her career and is picking up some of the biggest wins to go with it. I’m perfectly fine with that. She’s one of the biggest, baddest women WWE has right now. There’s no problem in her getting to show that more often. Her push is just right. The company might as well take advantage of this bout of good health she’s having these days.
Well, there you have it. In my eyes, the AEW women are largely in the correct spots, while it seems like most of Smackdown is underpushed. It’s worth pointing out that these categories aren’t solely tied to wins and losses. You can win a ton and be underpushed, and you can lose a bunch while being overpushed. As always, I’m turning it over to all of you now. What are your thoughts on the AEW women and the Smackdown roster? Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind. Depending on the news that happens during the week, my plan is to be back with another round of Overpushed, Underpushed, Or Just Right next Wednesday, this time looking at the NXT roster.
Weekly Power Rankings
- KUSHIDA vs Santos Escobar: To be honest, they should’ve been in the second spot here, but they benefitted from some major mistakes on AEW’s part to take the top ranking. I’m glad to see KUSHIDA continuing to look strong, but I have to wonder what’s next for Escobar. He’s more than worthy of a main event spot in NXT, and I would love to see that.
- Blood & Guts: You already know the deal here. The match itself was a ton of fun. If there was ever going to be a commercial-free hour of Dynamite, though, this should’ve been it. Commercials absolutely destroyed the momentum and flow of the match. Picture-in-picture is better than nothing, sure, but we even got some breaks that started off that way, only to end up airing a commercial or two with no wrestling on the screen. Brutal. That spot with Chris Jericho falling on cardboard and cotton balls and silk bathrobes and bundles of cashmere and a stack of chinchilla coats… AEW should be fucking ashamed of themselves for that. You know you’re going to have Jericho fall onto that, so why the fuck wouldn’t you change the way the fall and landing were shot? Jericho looked like an asshole for having to sell that the fall hurt. Film it from a different fucking angle and do a better job of making it at least look like Jericho landed on steel, concrete, or anything harder than your great-grandfather’s dick.
- SummerSlam Possibly Being In Arizona: These are my rankings, so it makes sense to have something that benefits me and doesn’t really benefit most of you. I live in Arizona, so it would be nice for a WWE show… especially their second-biggest show of the year… to take place in my backyard. If it does end up being in Arizona, please be prepared if you plan on making the trip here to watch it, as high temperatures will be around 110 degrees or higher during that time of year. For you Celsius people, that’s 43 degrees. Toasty warm. Don’t wear black. Stick to shorts and short-sleeves. Stay hydrated.
- Cesaro vs Seth Rollins: High-quality work, as always and as expected, with the right man winning.
- Brian Pillman Jr: After watching Dark Side Of The Ring last week, I am rooting for Pillman Jr. more than ever. He’s been through so much in his life, and I would love it if he had some sustained happiness for a while, you know?
- Jimmy Uso Is Back: Will Jimmy stand up to his cousin? Could this all be a bit of a swerve, ending with the full Samoan Dynasty-type stable? Probably the latter, but I love that there’s intrigue here. We’re going to have some more strong mic work, more entertaining matches, and another possible run for The Usos as tag champs. I’m in.
- Raquel Gonzalez vs Mercedes Martinez: Two of the biggest and baddest women that NXT has to offer went to war. The champion needed a win like that to further solidify her status at the top of the division.
- Bobby Lashley vs Drew McIntyre: Not quite pay-per-view quality, but it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be. It was another physical battle between them, and it allowed for Braun Strowman to show up and look as strong as he’s looked in a long time. That only adds to the Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania Backlash.
- Dario Cueto Is Back: Pardon me. The Artist Formerly Known As Dario Cueto is back. Now going by Cesar Duran, the former Lucha Underground boss has arrived in MLW and will be taking on the same role for that promotion. They’ve been leaning more and more into Lucha Underground recently, and this is the latest step.
- Shelton Benjamin: We can all agree that taking Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander from Raw Tag Team Champions to the job squad was a bad idea, just like we can all agree that removing Benjamin and Alexander from The Hurt Business was a bad idea. Benjamin defeating Alexander on Raw might be a sign of a singles push for the veteran, which is good. Having it come at the expense of an Alexander singles push isn’t quite as good, but with Raw, you have to take the silver linings, even when those linings are surrounding fresh, steamy dog turds.
This Week’s Playlist: “Hero” by Weezer… “The End Of The Game” by Weezer… “High As A Kite” by Weezer… “I’m Just Being Honest” by Weezer… “Blue Dream” by Weezer… “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Weezer… “Happy Together” by Weezer… “Paranoid” by Weezer… “Mr. Blue Sky” by Weezer… “Troublemaker” by Weezer… “Heart Songs” by Weezer… “Beverly Hills” by Weezer… “This Is Such A Pity” by Weezer… “We Are All On Drugs” by Weezer… “Dope Nose” by Weezer… “Keep Fishin” by Weezer… “Photograph” by Weezer… “Hash Pipe” by Weezer… “Island In The Sun” by Weezer… “The Good Life” by Weezer… “El Scorcho” by Weezer… “Pink Triangle” by Weezer… “Buddy Holly” by Weezer… “Undone – The Sweater Song” by Weezer… “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer