Tye Dillinger appeared to finally be gaining his footing on SmackDown Live at this time last month. He had two fantastic matches with then-United States Champion A.J. Styles, and he took one of the best workers in the industry to the limit during their match on the Sept. 12 episode of the show.
While the native of St. Catharines, Canada seemed to be emerging as a mid-card player in September, October hasn’t been quite as kind to the Perfect 10.
Let’s back up.
When Dillinger (technically) made his main roster debut at the 2017 Royal Rumble, he received one of the biggest pops of the evening. The excitement was tangible and bringing him in at No. 10 was a no-brainer for creative.
Unfortunately, it seems like the WWE has sort of run out of ideas for Dillinger since then. Which is a real disappointment, since the “10” chants, at one point, were starting to rival legendary shouts like “What?” and “Yes!” He’s obviously not on the same level as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Daniel Bryan, but his gimmick was over before he even arrived on his first show.
It’s rare to see a wrestler’s presence be felt when he isn’t even in the arena, and that’s where Dillinger was during Raw and SmackDown Live shows while he was still in NXT.
The WWE has cratered that initial excitement, and seem stagnant when it comes to what to do with the Superstar. He was involved in a three-way match for the United States title at Hell in a Cell, but it seems that he was only in the match so that Baron Corbin could pin him instead of Styles.
Allowing him to become listless behind the scenes again shouldn’t be an option moving forward. While fans aren’t incessantly chanting “10” during every single referee count out or during every other Superstar’s corner punches anymore, Dillinger is still lightning in a bottle. He still gets good reactions, and he has a built-in chant that even new fans can quickly get behind.
There’s a pretty clear path for a strong rivalry to develop between Dillinger and Corbin. The latter lost to Sin Cara via count out — which can only be described as baffling — on the most recent edition of SmackDown Live, and it smelled a lot like creative simply kicking the can down the road for one more week while they hammered out details moving forward. Maybe it was a way to kickstart a lengthy feud for Dillinger.
Even if Sin Cara is involved, Dillinger should continue to be a key player in the US Title scene for the foreseeable future. Perhaps he can enter into a mini-feud with Sin Cara, with the winner eventually taking on Corbin in a series of matches that’ll make both performers look strong. Dillinger is the kind of wrestler who can take some tough losses and still remain over, and he’s already dropped to Corbin before.
The seeds have been planted for him to remain, at the very least, a fringe player in the United States title scene. Given how fast fans are to get behind him, the WWE would be wise to keep watering those seeds to see where things go. All he needs is a significant rivalry and consistent airtime. With those two ingredients, Dillinger is a can’t-miss star on the rise for the SmackDown Live brand.