How much fun is it when a superstar finally gets a chance to do something? The audience chanted for it week after week, and WWE finally gave Curtis Axel a chance in the spotlight. Let’s be real. WWE has more than three hours to fill on Monday nights, and Roman Reigns can only spear so many people.
Moving more main-event segments to the 10 p.m., hour has been great to spotlight storylines like the thriving women’s division or to breathe life into the stagnant cruiserweights. Why not use those extra minutes for other under-rated talents?
In honor of Axelmania, who almost ran wild on The Shield Monday night, FRS Slam! counts down the five most-underrated talents on Monday Night Raw, including a suggested angle for all of them. Who did we miss? Don’t like our choices? Sound off in the comments.
5. Darren Young
Do people even remember the “Make Darren Young Great Again” movement? His time with WWE is incredibly underrated, dating all the way back to his tenure with the Nexus or tag-team run with the Prime Time Players. Young’s inspirational backstory and “block the hate” mentality are exactly what you want in the public eye.
— nodaysoff D-Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) October 20, 2017
How does the WWE make Darren Young great again? Think about it.
What would be more fun than Kurt Angle vs. Bob Backlund on the microphone while Young and Jason Jordan go after it in the ring? Neither Young nor Jordan are known for their speaking skills, but Angle and Backlund can be both comedic and serious to build it up.
4. Heath Slater
Speaking of former Nexus members, Slater is the only other active wrestler still with the company. Two-thirds of 3MB are flag-bearing champions, while the former leader of everyone’s favorite rock band finds himself relegated to catering. Raw has never had the same comedic segments as Smackdown, and desperately needs something to break up three hours of wrestling.
Slater still has kids and an above-ground pool. The writing team clearly has an obsession with musical acts in 2017. Why not pit Elias against the One Man Rock Band?
3. Curt Hawkins
The average viewer does not understand, or appreciate, how much wrestling experience Hawkins truly has. If you are a fan of in-ring work, Hawkins has it with 10 years in WWE and a strong independent run before his return last year. If you want microphone work, Hawkins has a strong funny bone. If you want a story, the historic losing streak can go anywhere.
Who would have thought the flipflopping of Jinder Mahal and Hawkins in April would have spawned a new WWE Champion? While Hawkins is not touching the Universal Title anytime soon, find a way to make his losing streak matter. When it breaks, under the right circumstances, Hawkins deserves a chance.
Goldust has been a main-event talent in four different eras, and he deserves a chance to finish his WWE run in a golden spotlight. The eldest grandson of a plummer boasts 20 championships between WWE and WCW and is a three-time Intercontinental Champion. Between Goldust’s and Dusty’s ties to WCW, there has never been a better time for either Goldust or Dustin Rhodes to seize a moment.
Not sure if Goldust still has it? The upcoming house-show version of Starrcade from the heart of WCW country. Sure, it’s a Smackdown-branded show, but we already have a Flair fighting for a championship inside of a steel cage. Give the fans a chance to see a Rhodes in the event they created.
1. Matt Hardy
How does this exalted deity go from the explosive, “orgasmic” re-debut in Orlando to Braun Strowman fodder, six-man tags and off television in six months? At 43 years old, Hardy only has so many years left, and there are a million better ways for WWE to take advantage of the hottest thing in the 2016 wrestling world.
If anything, Brother Nero’s injury and surgery are a good thing for Matt. There is no Hardy Boyz nostalgia act without a high-flying charismatic enigma. Let Matt Hardy “break” out. Because in a WWE Universe with demons and Mrs. Doubtfire monsters and Fashion Police in the spotlight, why not add some broken (or woken) brilliance?
Forget about the Impact lawsuits or the availability of Senior Benjamin and Skarsgard. If there can be a “Balor Club,” then there has to be room for the most under-rated talent on Monday Night Raw to be himself. For the older fans, think about when Brian Pillman revived his career as “the Loose Cannon.” Hardy is the closest thing to that in 20 years.
Re-break Matt Hardy and you have a dozen built-in storylines and wacky vignettes out there. Broken Matt vs. the Demon King (or the Demon Kane for that Matter)? Take my money now.