Comic books and WWE came particularly close at SummerSlam this year, as 'Arrow' star Stephen Amell was dragged into a rivalry with Stardust, the most bizarre and eccentric character on the roster currently. This was a compelling story due to the oddness of those involved, and their peculiar personas. Not only that, but Superman was fighting for the WWE Championship. Oh no, that was actually John Cena.
But that is another example of WWE's close relationship to the comic book world, as superstars on the roster draw many comparisons to superheroes and villains. The Cena/Superman comparison is well-founded, but more can also be found. Stardust's gimmick is inspired by Mr. Sinister, Dolph Ziggler has similarities to the wise-cracking Spider-Man, and Adrian Neville could be his own superhero as 'The Man That Gravity Forgot'.
Which leads to the subject of this article: Guardians of the Galaxy. When this was announced as the title of a Marvel blockbuster back in 2012, many fans of the franchise rolled their eyes. This was a story of five relative nobodies in the world of comic books, far beneath Marvel's standouts of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.
Yet, in spite of their lack of notoriety, fans flocked to this amazing story in theaters, and it is arguably the best Marvel movie made so far. It demonstrated that a comic book flick doesn't require a star headline act at its center, and if the tale they tell is strong enough, people will respond to it. Now, many, myself included, are eagerly anticipating the sequel far more than the latest installment of the Captain America story.
Of course, many of these have been handed a lot of exposure and will be the next generation of 'leading men': Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens for example. These will be your Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man, established names that will attract huge audiences due to their name and past exploits.
But, when you look through WWE's roster currently, there are a number of superstars and divas milling around the midcard lacking the direction and star power as others. Yet, due to their incredible ability in the ring, whenever they have been given a fleeting sniff of the spotlight, they have blown fans away. They have an 'it factor' that is often ignored in favor of the traditional pack, but when used correctly could draw with the best in the business today.
So, who are the five members of the roster that would aptly become WWE's blockbuster answer to Guardians of the Galaxy?
Strangely enough, this list begins with WWE's closest thing to a bona fide supervillain. Stardust has a long and storied history that stretches back to 2007 on the main roster. His alter-ego, Cody Rhodes, is a former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, as well as a member of main event stable Legacy. His new bizarre look and mannerisms has produced numerous entertaining segments, but limited appearances overall.
The fact is Rhodes is one of the most polished superstars on the roster in every respect, be it work in the ring, promo skills or expressing one's character. He has nearly a decade of experience, and has only just turned 30. He still has at least ten more years left in the tank, and is already at a level most others can't match. He has the genetics, the son of Dusty Rhodes and brother of Goldust, but he is his own man.
Although they might be some weird gloved hands, they are more than capable of clutching the ball and running with it. Stardust fits this collection of 'misfits' that has all the attributes to one day rise to the summit.
Cesaro (Drax the Destroyer)
Often considered the most under-utilized superstars in WWE today, Cesaro's tenure with the company has been a puzzling one. At times, the Swiss Superman has been portrayed as a WWE Champion in the making, dominating opponents with his incomparable strength and impressive moveset. However, a few weeks following this indicators, he finds himself off television or falling down the pecking order.
The strange thing is though is no matter how much Vince McMahon proclaims that he fails to connect with the audience, Cesaro connects with the audience. It's so obvious Daredevil could see it! Fans get to their feet whenever he pulls out the Big Swing or his running uppercuts. They love him because he's so good, and they get behind him as it is so obvious that WWE is holding him back for some reason. People love an underdog, even if he could bench press a small vehicle.
For the longest time, Cesaro has jumped at that fabled brass ring, clutched it, and then had a hammer smash down on his fingers. Hopefully one day he will hold on indefinitely.
Becky Lynch (Gamora)
Some would have expected me to place Sasha Banks in this position, and there is no doubting she is the best women's wrestler in WWE and possibly the world right now. But, because of this there is no doubt she will one day be Divas Champion. Becky Lynch therefore takes the spot as someone who may not, but if given the opportunity could swing for the fences.
Lynch has a unique look, style and charm that means she could be a loveable babyface or a despicable heel at a flip of a coin. She is a fantastic wrestler, whose arsenal is directed at a single body part and dismantling it – it's basic, but it works. Compare this to Charlotte; our current champion has zero character beyond being Ric Flair's daughter, and hardly ever targets the leg before locking in her Figure-Eight submission hold.
The fact is Lynch is an underdog with a ton of potential, and instead of being the throwaway member of the Divas Revolution, if the machine gets behind her, could be an amazing champion. She just needs some luck of the Irish.
Luke Harper (Groot)
The Wyatt Family's mystique was down to Bray Wyatt; their popularity was due to Luke Harper. He might have an unconventional look, but when it comes to wrestling ability he can have a great match with anyone. That's because along with his massive size, power and brawling, Harper can also fly between the ropes or pull out a dropkick, and he isn't even bad on the microphone.
Harper represented the cogs that made the Wyatt Family's machine effective. When they needed for Bray's latest opponent to look good in a match on RAW or SmackDown, they turned to Harper, and he always delivered the goods. Yet, he currently only has a brief Intercontinental title reign to show for it, when someone of his enviable qualities should be knocking at the door of the main event.
Sadly, his look will probably be the determining factor in keeping him outside of major title
contention, and will inevitably be stuck as the workhorse lackey of the Wyatt Family. If given some serious attention though, Harper would stand tall as an individual.
Neville (Rocket Raccoon)
Another man who will likely succumb to being judged at face value despite outstanding assets is Neville. He is known as 'The Man That Gravity Forgot' for a reason, as his death-defying leaps and acrobatics set him apart from everyone else on the roster. There are many high-flying performers, but none of them come close to the feats that Neville can pull off on a nightly basis.
Yes, he kind of looks like a troll, is well shy of six foot tall, and will endure the 'British' handicap that has inflicted many superstars previously knocking at the main event. But when you look back at some of the 20-minute spectacles Neville was crafting down in NXT, there is no shadow of doubt that fans bought into them hook line and sinker, and thought of him as a genuine main event star.
Whilst the biggest stars in wrestling have often relied on their power and size, Neville has tools that can combat them – his speed, agility and unpredictability make him a threat to any opponent. Unleash his shackles, and he can undoubtedly soar.
These are the five I have selected that could become the blockbuster success of Guardians of the Galaxy. Who on the roster would you like to see be pushed to superstardom? What comic book comparisons do you draw between WWE superstars and divas? Leave your comments below.
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