The close of the latest Monday Night Raw seemed to mark the formation of a new stable — The League of Nations. The quartet of Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett and Rusev, alongside The New Day, toppled Roman Reigns and his team of Dean Ambrose and The Usos to close the show.
Being that Sheamus is seemingly in the favor of The Authority, it stands to reason that his new comrades are as well. That’s an acceptable reason to unite. As seen in Seth Rollins and Sheamus, it’s a career move that could prove fortuitous, but hardly the most compelling reason to join forces. Aside from that, they are all, or are portrayed as, foreign-born superstars who, predictably, don’t like America. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but it’ll do for everyone but the PC Police aghast that foreigners are so often portrayed as evil in wrestling.
So it does make sense, at least on the surface, that these four would unite. And being that this faction houses the WWE World Heavyweight Champion (Sheamus), United States Champion (Del Rio) and three superstars who hold victories over John Cena, it’s a pretty imposing group. But is it the best position for each of these careers at present?
In a word, no.
The WWE’s roster is perilously thin at present. John Cena, Randy Orton, Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro are among the more popular superstars currently sidelined. Were a few of them around, this group would make for an interesting foil to several of them. As things stand, though, having so many of the promotion’s bigger names at present so heavily invested into one storyline makes its tough to fill out the duration of a three hour show.
Now, this new faction hasn’t totally prevented its members from taking part in different feuds. Rusev looks to have a program with Ryback in the making after the big guy inadvertently caused a collision between Rusev and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Lana. Del Rio’s apparently in the midst of a very uninspiring feud with Jack Swagger, a former client of Del Rio’s current manager Zeb Colter.
But both programs feel like afterthoughts. As noted, both of these men hold decisive victories over John Cena this year, the fact that they’re relegated to bit players and back-up for Sheamus, a guy who’s hardly been knocking it out of the park this year, doesn’t make a ton of sense from a storyline perspective. Nor is it a good move from a business perspective.
With roster depth so limited, the WWE should stretch its resources as much as possible. Del Rio’s a former World Champion and, though he may not reach those heights again, he can surely do better than battling with a guy who’s off TV more often than not. Rusev and Ryback isn’t necessarily a bad rivalry in itself, but it is one between two guys who once looked like future stars that are now just treading water. It could elevate whoever emerges as the rivalry’s victor, but the WWE will need to commit itself to the program and not just have it play a bit part.
As for Sheamus, he once seemed destine to headline several WrestleManias, but now just feels like the best of a bad bunch. It’s fair to wonder if he’d have ruined Roman Reigns’ big moment at Survivor Series even if Seth Rollins was still around. But this whole “pawn in Triple H’s chess game” thing is growing tired and it was even when Rollins was still around. Sheamus is reportedly a known favorite of Triple H’s, but he won’t be able to gain the main event role envisioned for him unless he can take this title reign on his own shoulders and make a success out of it.