WWE – SmackDown Roster Rundown 2019

Way back in November of 2015 I wrote a post about the entire WWE roster at the time and what I thought about each Superstar. I just re-read it and I mostly feel the same way about everyone I covered. Plus I actually enjoyed reading it, so I reposted it here. You might find it fun to compare my thoughts then to my thoughts now.

Roster-wise the WWE is in a golden age. They have never before had so much to-notch talent. I struggle to think of more than a few Superstars that I actively dislike. At the very least I can imagine angles in which almost anyone would be entertaining or appealing, even if WWE isn’t necessarily using them in the best way.

How WWE uses talent is really more of a problem than anything. With such a stuffed roster it’s hard to give everyone the time they deserve and it’s often difficult to become as engaged in modern WWE because a Superstar you like could get lost in the shuffle while someone who may not be to your liking gets the spotlight.

But at the end of the day, it’s all wrestling and there’s no denying that WWE is the gold standard for what is now known as Sports Entertainment.

Read on and find out how my opinions from 2015 have aged and where I stand on the huge amount of new talent that has appeared since then!

I posted my thoughts about the RAW roster last week. You can check that out here.

For your convenience, Superstars that were not around for that 2015 Rundown are listed in BLUE. Tag teams will be listed together unless I feel the individuals need singling out.

smackdown logo

Aiden English – I still don’t understand why Rusev Day had to split up, why Rusev isn’t currently spotlighted, what the heck Lana is doing right now, or why such an interesting potential feud (Rusev vs English) got squashed so quickly.

Whatever the case, English is a fantastic worker and a fantastic character, so of course now he’s an announcer on 205 Live.

AJ Styles – I have been watching AJ Styles since way back in the day when the TNA Wednesday night pay-per-views started. I’ve been a huge fan since his feud with Jerry Lynn. I’ve met him twice and he was a great guy both times, even when I had him sign a picture of him in Gail Kim’s submission move.

gail v aj
Gail Kim is, by the way, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

I say all of this because it’s weird to think that I’ve been following the current greatest wrestler in the world for that long and that his career has brought him to this point. My mind still rebels a bit when I see him walk out on a WWE stage.

Andrade (Cien Almas) – I don’t understand for the life of me why they dropped 2/3 of his name, but this guy is destined for greatness as long as he stays healthy and maintains a positive attitude. Beyond her sex appeal, I never really understood why they added Zelina Vega to his act because I thought Almas’ mic skills were barely a step behind his amazing in-ring ability.

And don’t get me wrong – Vega’s presence has absolutely enhanced Andrade’s character. She’s great, but she wasn’t necessary.

Asuka – I hope she can maintain her return to the spotlight. She’s one of my favorite workers on the roster and every single time she’s on the screen I’m paying attention. I hope she never becomes too much more proficient with English on screen because I love her crazy, screaming, Japanese promos. It’s something different and exciting and there’s not enough of that on the main roster.

Becky Lynch – The best Superstar on the WWE roster at the moment. She puts it all together better than anyone else working right now – in-ring ability, mic work, connecting to the crowd, and believability. The closest second is Samoa Joe, but the crowd just doesn’t respond as strongly to him.

Note: I would have to write a whole other post – and maybe I will – to explain how I rank WWE Superstars, but it’s a combination of so many things, some of which are intangible and some are just personal preference. Seth Rollins is the most over guy on RAW, but he wouldn’t make my top 5.

Big E – New Day are a team unlike anything else in WWE and I want them to stay that way pretty much forever, but I’m going to cover each member because I feel that they all have value outside of the tag division. I’d love to see each of them obtain singles gold by the end of 2019.

Big E has size, charisma, and is a tremendous worker. I’ll never forget the series of matches he had against Cesaro a few years ago. He wouldn’t be my pick as a WWE or Universal champion – though I’d love to see him against Brock – but I think he’d be an excellent IC/US champ. With Kofi and Xavier by his side, of course.

Big Show – I was a little harsh to Big Show last time; maybe because he called me a Popcorn Fart.

I love Show and he’s the best company guy since Kane. Despite what I said four years ago he’s always good for a big pop and he goes out and does business at a high level. It’s unrealistic to think that he could have been used in the same way as Andre in this day and age. Heck, he probably didn’t want to be used like Andre. He seems like a guy that wants to go out and have fun in the ring as much as he can. Or at least, until recently when he’s enjoying a well-deserved limited schedule and “Special Attraction” status.

Big Show is a future Hall of Famer for sure.

Carmella – I loved her as Cass and Enzo’s third, but I never imagined that Carmella would achieve all that she has. Especially how well she would transition from the SD women’s division’s top heel to a staggeringly popular babyface.

‘Mella is truly gifted on the mic and has that “IT” factor that connects with crowds, but her ring work is where she’s really impressed me. It’s not that she’s particularly innovative or technically sound, but she can get in there and look like she belongs with anyone. And when “anyone” includes the likes of Becky, Charlotte, and Asuka, that’s really saying something.

Cesaro – A Main Event run doesn’t seem to be in the cards, but I’m glad that Cesaro has had the tag team success that he has. The Bar are one of the best teams on SmackDown and that’s really saying something considering that they’re hanging with the likes of New Day and the Usos.

One of the best workers in the company, I’d still love to see Cesaro in the Main against guys like AJ, Bryan, Rollins, and Brock.

Charlotte Flair – Thanks goodness she’s a Flair again. That last name drop was even more absurd than WWE’s typical reductions.

While I acknowledge that Charlotte is one of the MVPs of WWE, I think she’s gotten a little overrated. Her ring work is great against the right people, but I think there are still some holes there – spots where there should be something, but it wasn’t part of the plan so there’s a noticeable pause or interruption of the flow of the match. This is not specific to Charlotte, by the way; a number of WWE’s top performers don’t have the best improvisational skills.

Her mic work has improved a little in the past four years, but I still don’t feel that she feels everything she’s saying.

Having said that, she’s still super young in the business even at this point and there’s no doubt she’s a future legend, worthy of the Flair name.

The Colons – Primo and Epico are so damn good it actually makes me a little sad when they show up on TV because I realize WWE hasn’t been using them. But the tag division is so crowded with incredible talent that I sort of understand why you can’t find room for them.

Daniel Bryan – Much like Carmella – and boy, there’s a comparison I never thought I’d be making – Bryan blew me away with a quick and successful turn. He went from being one of the most beloved people in the company to THE top heel.

I am so happy to see him back in the ring doing what he loves. And it’s been long enough that I mostly don’t worry about disaster anymore. I would absolutely pay money to go and boo the shit out of the New Daniel Bryan live.

Gallows and Anderson – Every time I see these guys I see untapped potential. But I also see two guys that, since their main roster debut together have never clicked with me (or the audience) in a meaningful way.

I think their best use is as backup for someone like a heel AJ or Balor. I’d love to see a story where they’re all buddy-buddy with one of those guys again, then they turn and join up with some real heel like Daniel Bryan.

Harper – The former Luke Harper is great in the ring and on the mic and should be an important upper-midcarder. As long as he’s been on the main roster we’ve barely even seen what he’s capable of. Injuries have played a role in that, but booking hasn’t given him as much as he deserves, either.

The Iiconics – Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are incredible heels. I tune in for their promos. They’re both good in the ring, but their character work is definitely their biggest value.

Jeff Hardy – If you had told me four years ago that I’d be writing about Jeff Hardy in WWE I would’ve said you were high. But here we are and after an amazingly successful Hardy Boyz return Jeff is on his own, wowing fans and filling seats on SmackDown.

Hardy’s feud with Randy Orton was just as surprisingly good as the Hardy’s return, though it did sort of sputter out. Whatever the case, I’m glad this guy is clean and still living his dream.

Kane – His Honor is a living legend.

Kofi Kingston – The most proven commodity of the New Day, Kofi is one of the most decorated workers in WWE’s history and has brushed up against the Main Event more than once. He deserves a run at the top.

Lana – Lana has top-notch character work and excels in the believability department. Her ring work is certainly good enough, but for some reason she just walks out with Rusev lately. It’s a shame to have seen her getting huge cheers for doing so well and now see her seemingly relegated to eye candy status, if that.

Mandy Rose – I’m not as sold on her as Corey Graves is, but I love her in a team with Sonya Deville. Rose seems to be better in the ring than on the mic and I sure do wish they hadn’t done the stupid Jey Uso story with her. It was terrible.

The Miz – Another one of WWE’s MVP’s, Miz has been on fire for a while now. His slow transition to fan favorite has been going well, to the point where he has successfully usurped Daniel Bryan’s “YES” moveset. It’s pretty amazing, really.

As much as I don’t want Shane McMahon in the ring, the story with those two has been going so well – and has such a good payoff if Shane and WWE have the balls to do it right – that I can’t complain.

Mustafa Ali – Dynamite. I love this guy. I hope he stays – and WWE keeps him – on track.

Naomi – Naomi truly found her character over the last year or so and I was so happy to see it happen. She’s genuinely likeable but just didn’t seem to be able to click. Now she’s an excellent, family-friendly babyface that live audiences love to cheer. She’s been in a bit of a rough patch lately with the terrible Mandy Rose story, but hopefully that will wrap up soon and Miss Glow can get on to bigger and better things.

R-Truth – Great on the mic, great in the ring, brings smiles to faces. This guy is living the life and I’m thrilled that he’s having so much fun doing it.

But I’d also like to see the Ron Killings from TNA come back for one more serious run against AJ Styles. Holy shit that would be awesome.

Randy Orton – I find him more tolerable lately and can’t help but have respect for the guy, but he still has all the gravitas of an empty paper sack.

Rey Mysterio – Mysterio’s return might be even more surprising than Hardy’s. Not the fact that he did return – that was inevitable at some point, even if it was just to go into the Hall of Fame.

It’s the quality of Rey’s matches that has been incredible. This might be the best he’s been in over a decade. The trifecta of matches against Andrade were so good that 10 out of 10 Needless Things Irregulars agree that we’d be okay if they wrestled every week. And some of us have been known to be quite fickle.

Rowan – I have no idea what they should do with this guy. I like him and he’s good, but I can’t tell where he should fit. I will say that I was tired of the Bludgeon Brothers before their first match.

Rusev – This guy should be Main Eventing wherever he is. Obviously I am not privy to any behind-the-scenes information, but in my opinion WWE has been dicking him around for years now. If he hasn’t had a WWE or Universal title run before the end of 2019 he should run to AEW as soon as he can. And there aren’t many Superstars I’d say that about.

Samoa Joe – One of my all-time favorites, Joe can do no wrong. And even though I’d love to see a major title on the guy, I don’t think WWE has been misusing him. As a matter of fact, I’d say they’ve been giving him incredible treatment. He is always a menace when he shows up and is always taken as a serious threat or contender.

SAnitY – It’s crazy to me that I liked Eric Young when he showed up in NXT. For years I simply didn’t understand what people saw in the guy. He wasn’t bad, but he seemed like enhancement talent at best. And believe me – there’s nothing wrong with that.

But as the leader of SAnitY, he was really doing something interesting and different. At least, until they got punished with main roster elevation.

Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain are awesome. I think Dain has a ton of upside. Whatever the case, this team should be getting more of a spotlight than they are.

Sheamus – I still think Sheamus could have another major title run in him – I’d love to see him against Brock – but I can’t complain about his positioning in the tag division. He puts on great matches and get big crowd responses.

Shelton Benjamin – Another one of my favorites. I wish he was on TV more, but I don’t know where he is in his career now. He may well be transitioning into more of a backstage role for all I know.

Shinsuke Nakamura – While I didn’t find Nakamura as mind-blowing as some of my peers seemed to, I loved his character and found him to be something refreshingly different on the main roster. WWE has absolutely shit the bed with this guy.

After winning last year’s men’s Rumble, he was roundly defeated at ‘Mania with little fanfare and basically vanished from TV only to come back, win the US Championship, and basically vanish from TV.

Sonya Deville – Deville has improved massively since her NXT days and even since she was called up to the main roster. Her mic skills are far better and she is so much more comfortable in the ring it’s not even funny. It’s hard for me to even remember the days when she seemed awkward and unused to a pro wrestling ring.

I like her teaming with Rose for now, but her singles future looks very bright to me. It wouldn’t take much for Deville to be presented as a very serious contender at any time.

The Usos – The best tag team working today, hands-down.

Tye Dillinger – He was great in NXT, but I didn’t see him having a whole lot of upside on the main roster. I like the guy and think he has something, but I’m not sure what.

Xavier Woods – Woods has the most potential of the New Day trio, possibly of the entire SmackDown roster, and I’m not just saying that because I’m sort of acquainted with the guy.

He’s dynamite on the mic and in the ring and has a talent for getting the fans to do what he wants. I think he’s one of the most engaging young Superstars on the roster and I can easily see him in the Main Event picture before too much longer.

Zelina Vega – Few on the roster have her gift for gab. I buy her on the mic every time. I’m still not sold on Andrade needing her, but they certainly have been a great duo. I haven’t seen enough of her in-ring work to know if she’s more than just a few fancy flippity-dos, but she’s a solid addition to the SmackDown roster in whatever capacity she works.

Unassigned Wrestlers

EC3 – I do not like him.

John Cena – A legend walking. Everything he did last year pretty much sucked, but he’s already been a valuable part of 2019. I’m happy when he shows up now, even is he did steal JBL’s hair.

Lacey Evans – She might have potential, but what I’ve seen hasn’t stood out to me.

Lars Sullivan – Definitely a big and terrifying dude and I hope he can get it together to be a valuable part of the main roster, but my reaction when he got called up was, “I wonder how long it’ll be before he gets a dancing gimmick?”

Nick Comoroto – I have no idea who this is.

Nikki Cross – The next MVP of the women’s division. 100% believable in everything she does. Cross is the Superstar I’m currently most worried about WWE fucking up.

Paige – It’s a damned shame what happened to her. But she turned out to be the best on-air authority figure the WWE has had in… ever?

Scott Parker – I don’t know who this is, either.

Shane Matthews – No clue.

Trevor Lee – I’ve heard this name, at least, but I don’t know anything about him.

The Undertaker – Part of me wants him to go ahead and retire and enjoy his Hall of Fame induction. Part of me hopes he can keep showing up from time to time and surprising us with how hard he still works. At this point, though, I have to admit that not knowing what kind of shape he’s in takes away from the thrill a bit.

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