Sometimes, a new gimmick or heel/face turn is just what the doctor ordered. Superstars can get stale after all, and a change is exactly what they need to get over with the crowd or take them to the next level. A heel turn helped The Rock become the star he is today, while a new gimmick elevated Stone Cold to greatness. However, sometimes this doesn’t always work out and, even if a character is cheered or liked, they look like they’re in desperate need of change. Here are some superstars who need just that.
10. Apollo Crews
It’s somewhat sad to say that for all that he has a great look and some incredible (although still fairly raw) wrestling skills, Apollo Crews doesn’t actually have much of a character beyond “guy who smiles a lot”. Frankly, he should not have been called up from NXT so quickly, and spent more time developing an actual gimmick down there in front of the more forgiving NXT crowd, but since his WWE debut, he’s closer to being forgotten about than becoming the next big star he seemed destined to become. Fortunately, it’s not an irretrievable situation, because Crews is still basically a blank slate, character-wise, which is much easier to change than an established and memorable failure. We’re not saying you need to put him in a costume or something, but what’s his “hook”? Why should we care about Apollo Crews, other than “he seems like a nice guy”? It doesn’t have to be that complicated, at the very least, give us a reason why he’s so darned happy all the time. Maybe a manager or a valet to do the talking for him and offer a different perspective. Whatever the case, it needs to happen soon, before Apollo becomes lost in the shuffle.
9. The Ascension
We actually feel really bad for The Ascension, who were built up into such a big deal in NXT, only to be treated like jokes once they debuted in NXT. There have even been opportunities to salvage the team, but WWE seems to constantly decide not to take them, leaving the gothic duo twisting in the wind as jobbers. Practically anything different would be a positive change for Konor and Victor, you can change their look, alter the facepaint, give them different outfits, and maybe even a manager of some sort (is the Sinister Minister doing anything these days?), and you’d probably be able to push them to the top of the division any time you wanted to, but the most important thing is that they should be seen as an actual dominant team, and not just losers who get mocked on commentary for claiming to be better than the Road Warriors.
Lana completed her face turn shortly after Payback when Rusev blamed her for his recent miseries. It was definitely coming, as crowds were cheering Lana on even when she was a heel, with every arena chanting, “We want Lana!” While a babyface Lana was great at first, her character was quickly and completely derailed. From a dominant and powerful female with great mic skills who seemed to control Rusev, she transformed to a weak, helpless, damsel in distress whenever she encountered opposition. Now that she’s a heel again, with Rusev by her side, things have improved, but only because her character has regressed. A short-lived attempt to turn her into a wrestler appears to have been put on the shelf, at least for now, but perhaps that would be the best direction for Lana to go if she wants to see any significant character evolution in the near future.
7. Curtis Axel
Through absolutely no fault of his own, Axelmania can no longer run wild through WWE. And that’s terrible, because it seemed like after months of trying desperately to show any charisma to go along with his fairly good wrestling skills, Curtis Axel had finally found something that would make him, if not a main event talent, at least a presence on television as something other than a jobber. For that alone, he deserves the attention of the Creative team to help find him a new gimmick that will get him back on TV. The Social Outcasts were a good try, but thanks to Adam Rose’s suspension, legal issues, and release, they have also been pulled off TV indefinitely. It may be difficult, because he’s not very good at promos and it was surprising enough that he could do a decent Hogan imitation, but he put in all that effort and had it taken away by forces outside his control. Plus, like we said, he’s a pretty decent wrestler and we always like to watch those.
6. Dolph Ziggler
Speaking of Lana, her relationship with Dolph Ziggler had just about zero chemistry. Even Dog Ziggler and Coldfish Lana were a better match! But even before this ridiculous relationship derailed his career for most of 2015, Ziggler as a face was getting stale. It’s fun to cheer for him and he’s a great entertainer, but now it’s kind of like, “What are we cheering for? Are we just obligated to cheer for you?” Ziggler became popular because of his “Showoff” gimmick, and that suited him as a heel when he was inching towards the main event scene. Now as a face, he has pretty much settled into permanent midcard status and his feud with Rusev, and a subsequent never-ending feud with the debuting Baron Corbin did nothing to advance his career in any way. At the very least, Ziggler desperately needs a heel turn, because he is still very much capable of being a main event player, but as a face, it’s not happening any time soon.
5. Lucha Dragons
WWE continues to search for their next big Latino wrestler to draw in that coveted demographic, but seems intent on wasting Kalisto, who is nothing if not Rey Mysterio reincarnated in a younger body, in a tag team with Sin Cara. It seems like no matter who is wearing the Sin Cara mask, they just can’t seem to manage to go a week without horribly botching a simple move, and it’s become apparent that the gimmick is probably cursed, and at best, it’s a dead end. But Kalisto still could have a future selling masks and t-shirts to children, and the best way to do that would be to separate him from the anchor that is his partner as soon as possible. And we don’t mean that brief singles run he got as US Champion while Sin Cara was sitting out another injury, we want Kalisto out of the team permanently. As for Sin Cara, just get him away from the gimmick before it kills him.
4. Brock Lesnar
While he’s not really a face or a heel, Lesnar slowly became a face when he returned and started feuding with Seth Rollins. Then he went up against the Undertaker and while he might not have gotten cheered as much, Lesnar should solely remain as a heel. Granted, it’s hard to dislike or boo him because he’s such a great athlete, and you know something big is going to happen right when he enters the ring alongside Paul Heyman, but his character is just suited as a heel and he thrives on it. He needs a feud with a crowd favorite (and no, not John Cena, because we all know Lesnar will continue to get cheered that way) to really bring out heat from the fans. Perhaps his brief return to UFC will give WWE a chance to freshen up his increasingly one-dimensional character. “Suplex City” is nice, but at this point, it’s all he does.
The problem with Rusev is that his nationalism, whether Bulgarian or Russian, is always going to come into play and prevent him from being anything more than an evil foreign heel (or possibly a comedic foreign face, which is a complete waste of his abilities and would doom him to an opening match tag team within weeks). In one of his original incarnations down in NXT, he was simply an angry guy who beat people up, and also there was this thing involving writing his opponent’s name on a wooden board that he would snap across his knee to intimidate them. It was pretty neat, and it’s strange (although given what they turned him into, not surprising) that they got away from that. The glimpses of Rusev out of character suggest that he’s actually an intelligent and complex person, and it would be interesting to see what he can bring to the table without having to drape himself in a stereotype with a flag.
2. Roman Reigns
When the creative team built up Roman Reigns to be the next big thing, they pretty much jammed him down everyone’s throats to the point where fans got enough of him. It’s sad because this isn’t Reigns’ fault—he became Cena V2.0 without even winning a single individual title, yet and it’s all because of the way he was booked. After he lost at WrestleMania 31, WWE was somewhat careful with the way they booked him, but while he’s still getting cheers, there are plenty of audible boos as well. After a fairly unsuccessful period as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, which saw ratings and house show business tank under Reigns, this is the perfect time to change direction with “The Guy”. His career trajectory is scarily similar to his cousin’s, The Rock, if you ignore the main event status. As Rocky Maivia fans got tired of The Rock, but a heel turn galvanized him and really got him over with the fans. Likewise, a heel turn for Reigns could do wonders for his character, feeding on the hate he received and, ultimately, lead to him becoming the superstar he was destined to be.
Hey, we all think Cesaro is perfect in every way, but the word is that Vince McMahon, for whatever reason, thinks he’s boring. So, for Cesaro, he needs whatever gimmick they can come up with that will make Vince see the error of his ways, while still letting Cesaro deliver incredible European uppercuts on a weekly basis. We don’t know what that could possibly be, but given that Cesaro has managed to get himself over a half-dozen times despite the creative team apparently not caring whether he lives or dies, we have confidence that his talent would shine through. The important thing is, he should be WWE World Heavyweight Champion at some point, and he isn’t yet, so he needs to change his gimmick into whatever will make that a reality. Somebody get on that.